Armorax is shaking things up with its progressive approach to an arguably stagnant home security industry. Armorax gives consumers the latest home security technology from Alarm.com, while at the same time providing versatility through a number of monitoring choices, including DIY monitoring, mobile, and professional monitoring. But Armorax also offers a pay-as-you-go monitoring option on top of versatility. The combination of industry-leading equipment and adaptable monitoring agreements makes Armorax perhaps the most formidable hybrid security system available to date. In fact, Armorax earned the 7th spot in our top ten best home security systems rankings for 2017. I’ll tackle what makes this system truly unique as we dive deep into the Blackbox for this hands-on review.
- Uses Alarm.com equipment
- GC3 touch control panel ($120 one-time upgrade)
- Versatile monitoring options
- 100% cellular monitoring
- Pay-as-you-go option
- Mobile access
- Easy setup and installation
- Quick response time
- Supports Z-Wave device add-ons
- Integrates with Skybell
- Upfront equipment costs
- Fee for mobile access
- No central monitoring for Control Plan
What makes Armorax stand out?
Combining equipment versatility with the ability to pay as you go make Blackbox a truly unique home security solution. Armorax combines major league equipment with “Do-It-Yourself” versatility and control of customizing your system to your needs. The Blackbox allows for scalability, which means you can add on more Alarm.com compatible devices.
How much Armorax costs really depends on you. For just the basic system, you’ll pay $649.95 in upfront equipment costs, but you can get a discount if you sign a monthly monitoring agreement. Armorax pricing for monitoring and equipment discounts breaks down into three different plans:
|View Plans||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website|
|Coverage||Central Station Only||Alarm.com Only||Central Station + Alarm.com|
Signing a three-year contract gives you upfront equipment discounts, but you’ll pay the same monthly price as you would with the pay-as-you-go option.
|View Plans||Visit Website||Visit Website||Visit Website|
|Coverage||Central Station Only||Alarm.com||Central Station + Alarm.com|
Something to note: Each plan provides a different type of monitoring coverage, and it gets a little confusing. You get central monitoring with the cheapest (Cover) plan, but no mobile access. If you want mobile access, you’ll need to pay $10 more for the Control plan, which allows for Alarm.com monitoring, but you’ll forfeit the central monitoring station, unless you upgrade to the Complete plan which supports both.
Inside your box (which is actually Armorax orange) you’ll find the GC2 Alarm.com control panel, which comes standard, but you can upgrade to the GC3 for a one-time upgrade fee of $120 (I upgraded to the GC3). Armorax only ships the GC2 and GC3 to make sure you have the best, most up-to-date equipment. Accompanying your control panel are two door/window sensors, a motion detector, yard sign, window decals, and necessary mounting accessories.
Armorax’s third-party integration with the control panel means you can find Z-Wave and 2GIG devices through Armorax, Amazon, or even brick-and-mortar vendors like Lowe’s or Home Depot, which will all connect with your Blackbox system. We recommend double checking with Armorax through its 24/7 support chatline before purchasing equipment, but according to my conversation with Armorax via the chatline, anything with Z-Wave or 2GIG should be compatible. Take a look at Armorax’s equipment page for more details, or check out five of our favorite compatible devices below:
Kwikset 99140-002 SmartCode
2GIG KEY2-345 Key Ring Remote
2GIG GB1 Glass Break Detector
Again, make sure to double-check with Armorax before you purchase anything third-party.
My experience with Armorax
What stands out to me, and what really makes Armorax worth considering, is the control panel. Armorax provides you with the same control panel used by our #2 home security system, Link Interactive, and just like Link, allows you to piece together and only pay for the equipment you want. I tested the GC3 and in my opinion it’s worth the extra $120 for the upgrade. The GC3 supports 2GIG devices and is compatible with Z-Wave, so you can add additional equipment from other top brands. And it’s super easy to use.
Equipped with a redesigned touchscreen interface, the GC3 screen feels and responds more like an iPad than a security control panel, which makes for a smooth user experience.
Setup and installation
Blackbox comes ready to plug and play. There’s no lengthy setup process for this out-of-the-box security system. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that it took me almost 5 minutes to find where to plug the power cable in—it’s on the back, beneath the removable backplate. The good news is, once I found the plug, the rest of the setup only took another 5 minutes.
You can mount the GC3 control panel to the wall if you wish, but it’s designed to let you place it wherever you’d like, so you don’t have to drill holes in your wall. I put mine on my kitchen countertop.
Door sensors and motion detection
The two door sensors and motion detector connect automatically when you power up your control panel. You don’t have to punch in activation codes for these components to connect to your Blackbox (though you will need codes for any additional equipment you add to Blackbox, which can be found in a handy little instruction manual Armorax has provided).
Both the door sensors and motion detector work as advertised. My wife and I particularly love that the GC3 announces “Entry 1,” “motion detected,” etc. when any sensor has been triggered, even when the system is disarmed. This helps us know if my three-year-old daughter goes downstairs and triggers the motion detector or opens the front or garage doors.
Depending on the plan you choose, your daily monitoring experience can change drastically.
With the Cover and Complete plans, Armorax’s central monitoring station will alert you to any system triggers via email or phone. Armorax’s response time was less than two minutes when I deliberately triggered the alarm. The monitoring agent asked me questions about my home, what triggered the alarm, made sure there was no need to contact or send out police, and was very respectful. I came away feeling very positive about my experience. If you are looking to use Blackbox as a professionally monitored system, you won’t be disappointed.
Having the option to monitor the system yourself for no monthly fee is part of what makes Armorax so appealing. If you prefer the DIY route, you’ll have two options with Blackbox. You can save on monthly fees and monitor your system through your desktop and via email alerts (this will not alert a central monitoring station or authorities if your alarm is triggered) or you can pay $29.95 per month for the Control plan, which gives you mobile access to your system through the Alarm.com app.
Monitoring your system yourself is more difficult because, in many cases, you cannot respond as quickly as a central monitoring center. However, with the Alarm.com apps, you’ll receive instant notifications of activity, have the ability to check system history, activate and deactivate your system remotely, and control any home automation devices you add with your GC3 control panel. I couldn’t be happier with my experience using the Alarm.com app. I found it to be well designed, easily navigable, and the geofencing feature was extremely helpful when I forgot to arm the system before leaving the house: It registered the GPS signal on my cellphone as being away from home and sent me a reminder to arm my system. In my opinion, it’s worth it to spring a little extra for access to the app.
You’ll hear the alarm, and so will your neighbors. I love that the GC3 control panel produces an earsplitting alarm when a sensor is triggered while the system is activated. It’s loud, which means if an intruder doesn’t take off right away, they’re more likely to attract attention from friends or neighbors.
Armorax receives overwhelmingly positive reviews for its customer service and flexible monitoring options. On the equipment side, Blackbox compatibility with other Z-Wave and 2GIG devices caters to users who want to customize their system. As for customer service, Armorax uses prompt response time and accessibility to build its reputation for excellence. Most negative reviews come from delivery delays or untimely upgrades for the release of the GC3 control panel.
“Impressed with the service these guys provided right from when I placed the order to the post-purchase support. Their 24-hour chat feature comes in really handy and it brings me great peace knowing someone is always available to help.” – Clayton L., BBB.org. 9/27/16
“The thing I like about Armorax is that they’re quick to add the latest compatible gadgets to their store. So whenever something new that I want to connect to my system becomes available on the market, I can count on Armorax having it.” – Bernard J., BBB.org, 10/7/16
“I was told that shipping takes 2-3 business days but it took longer – about a week in my case. Apparently there was an issue with the service. But even then I should have received it within the 3 day mark.” – Tammy Larson, BBB.org, 6/7/16
Would I recommend Armorax?
Absolutely! I’m impressed by Armorax’s ability to cater to every kind of security need with such a simple product. If you’re a DIYer, you should consider it. If you don’t like extended contract commitments, you should consider it. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty security system with excellent customer service, you should definitely consider Armorax. The combination of industry-leading equipment and adaptable monitoring agreements makes Armorax perhaps the most formidable hybrid security system available to date.