A sucker is born every day: don’t be one! There’s so much phony Internet marketing around security systems going on that it’s easy to get suckered into paying too much for something you don’t really need, or ending up with an alarm company that spends all its dollars on marketing instead of customer service. ASecureLife.com has been reviewing security companies since 2007. Our market research is rigorous and includes installing and testing systems and conducting anonymous consumer research calls to gauge customer experience.
For more info, visit our home security systems reviews page, which contains side-by-side pricing and comparison charts.
Questions to Ask Before You Buy
Before we get in too deep, you’ll want to have these questions in-hand to make the most informed buying decision for your home. I mean, what security system components do you really need? How much should you expect to pay for an alarm system? What does installation involve and how complicated is it? I’m sure these are some of the questions running through your head – they were for me.
Here’s a run down of the questions you should ask the company before you buy. I have also put together the answers to help you choose the best home alarm system for you.
- What Are My Options?
- How Much Does It Cost?
- Is There Installation/Setup Involved?
- Are There Contracts?
- Do I Need a Phone Line?
- I’ve Heard a Lot About ADT. What’s All the Hype?
- What Happens if I’m Broken Into?
- So Which is the Best Home Alarm System?
There are many (in my opinion, just enough to make it super confusing!) home security options, and lingo, out there. One thing you might be wondering is what’s the difference between home alarm and home security? As far as the industry’s concerned, not much. Technically speaking, a burglar alarm consists of just the skeleton sensors necessary to detect an intrusion (door, window, and motion) and notify the home owner with an audible noise. An alarm system extends this to also include fire and smoke detectors. Taking it a bit further, a home security system also can include monitoring by a central station, home security cameras, remote control via your smartphone, and home automation options such as automated lighting and door locks. With all the tech options today, you probably want to choose this more comprehensive security system to best meet your needs.
A simple burglar alarm can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $20. A self-monitored alarm system includes an extensive set of sensors including carbon monoxide, freeze and water sensors. A popular version is offered by SimpliSafe and it can be purchased for around $260. A full-fledged home security system is monitored by a central station and can be upgraded with all the bells and whistles, including home security cameras. It typically locks you into a 3-year contract and starts at $20 per month plus installation fees of $100 and up (but if you ask nicely, they might just offer free equipment and installation).
For most home alarm options, yes. The burglar alarms you buy on Amazon are self-install or DIY. It sounds scarier than it is. In fact, it can be very easy since this usually involves simply attaching sensors to your doors and windows using sticky peel-and-stick adhesive tape (which is also provided). For most of the national security system companies there are usually professional install options available if you prefer. But they can be an added cost and could involve drilling holes in your walls. So with wireless technology, more companies, including FrontPoint and Protect America are relying on a DIY (Do It Yourself) model. DIY allows customers like you to save on installation today and moving costs down the road. This also means you can do it when it’s convenient for you vs. taking time off work to meet the installer.
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There are only contracts with the home security systems that include a monthly monitoring package. And contracts vary based on your needs but the longer the contract, the better price you will likely receive so be sure to ask. Also be sure to read your contract carefully before you sign on the dotted line to make sure you are not caught off-guard with any extra costs or loopholes.
Not anymore. Older alarm systems relied on phone lines, but these are also prone to cutting by thieves, especially on older homes where the phone lines are exposed. The more cutting edge systems, including those you can buy and install yourself, offer a broadband (via your home Internet connection) or cellular (via cell towers) signal option which are much safer and reasonable options for most… unless you are a dinosaur
ADT is huge, and they are old. They’ve been around for years, and they use an authorized dealer program to sell their product in local markets. The upside of this is that they’re available nearly everywhere in the United States. The downside is that their customer service record varies greatly depending on location. This makes it difficult for us to review them as a national provider so be sure to check with your neighbors and also your reviews on your local Better Business Bureau, Yelp! and Angie’s List.
The answer to this depends on the type of alarm system you have installed. With a self-monitored security system, if someone breaks into your house, you are notified. With a system monitored by a central station, you are notified first but if the alarm company can’t reach you, they act fast. They will quickly dispatch local law enforcement to your home to prevent further damage.
We’ve done extensive research on this subject since 2007. If you can afford it, we recommend FrontPoint Security as the best home alarm option. They offer a 100% dedicated cellular connection (nearly impervious to tampering), the best customer service record from the companies we reviewed, and patented crash and smash protection (when a break-in is detected, a signal is sent to the monitoring station; if a burglar smashes your alarm system control panel before a “disarm” command is received by the station, they will still deploy law enforcement).
INFOGRAPHIC: Reasons to Get A Home Security System
I’d love to hear your feedback on this article, and give me a shout if there’s any questions I didn’t answer. We at A Secure Life can only serve you better if we know how. So do not hesitate to leave questions, thoughts, ideas, recommendations or anything else you want to share. But, please leave the sales pitches to yourself as we are here to serve our readers first and foremost. Thanks!