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What’s the Best and Most Affordable Home Security System?

We’ve conducted independent research on home security systems since 2007, working together with industry experts and security professionals, and regularly polling customers to get their feedback. Here are our Top 3 picks for 2014, along with our review criteria and things to look for when considering an alarm system for your home. Awards are given each year, with quarterly re-evaluations so you can be sure you’re getting current reviews on the most up-to-date home security systems available.

WinnerRunner-Up3rd Place

Frontpoint

(888) 268-6273

Protect America

(888) 255-7812

LifeShield Logo

(866) 311-1331

ASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 54.86 / 5.0

ASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5 4.67 / 5.0

ASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5 4.17 / 5.0

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Our in-depth objective research, combined with reader feedback, has helped bring these three security companies to the top of the pack this year. We recommend that you:

  1. Open our comparison table (opens in a new tab) as you read about the winners
  2. Check out the best deal currently being offered
  3. View our SlideShare overview of this article
  4. Watch our video that summarizes the winners
  5. See the rest of the pack if you want to see how our top three rank vs. other national players like ADT, Vivint, and others
  6. Get a better feel for our review process and why you can trust our reviews
  7. Read more to become an expert on home security
  8. Check out our super helpful infographic with surprising stats and facts

Comparison Table: Compare Pricing, Features, and MOre

Security Systems Comparison TableUse our handy comparison table to compare security systems side-by-side based on factors such as price, features, warranty, move-ability, and more. We separate our winners by pricing tiers to help you find the right system for your budget.

1st Place Winner: Frontpoint Security

All scores are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 lock being the worst and 5 locks being the best.

Frontpoint Security logoBest Home Security System Award
Overall Ranking4.86 / 5.0

Call

(888) 268-6273

Security PerformanceASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Customer ServiceASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Equipment QualityASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5

Get a Free Quote

Frontpoint Security

Equipment WarrantyASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Ability to RelocateASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Long Term ValueASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5

Congratulations to Frontpoint Security – our 2014 winner! What makes Frontpoint stand out in security? White glove customer service is what initially set Frontpoint apart when they entered the market, and they continue to prove themselves with the strongest customer service record by far. If you spend enough time Googling, you’ll see for yourself that they have by far the highest ratio of positive to negative reviews. Beyond great service, Frontpoint also offers a competitively priced DIY (self-installation) security system with cellular alarm monitoring by Rapid Response and interactive monitoring and home automation in conjunction with Alarm.com.

How Did Frontpoint Lock Up The Top Spot?

  1. Strong Customer Service, No High-Pressure Sales Pitch: When we called to ask questions about their home security system, we got a representative that was ready and willing to answer our questions, not one that tried whatever he or she could do to land their commission. Sadly, that appears to be the norm in the sales world, as we encountered with a range of phone calls to other providers. Additionally, when an emergency happens or a sensor falls off the wall, they are always there to help ensure every customer has a great experience. Seriously, put them to the test, and let us know how it goes with your comments below.
  2. 100% Cellular Service: Frontpoint Security is one of the only providers that actively offers and promotes a dedicated cellular connection between both your sensors and control panel, as well as dedicated cellular communication between your panel and monitoring station (many providers offer only the former). 100% cellular monitoring ensures that when a sensor is triggered in that crucial time of need, burglars will not be able to cut a wire or halt the signal to the emergency responders in anyway. Translation: the police (or fire) department will get the signal in time to respond and hopefully stop any further damages.
  3. Crash and Smash Protection: The Frontpoint system via alarm.com (at the Interactive level and higher) offers patented crash and smash protection. What does this mean? An intruder can’t just bust into your house, trash your alarm panel, and thereby disarm your entire system. Once an active sensor is tripped, a signal is sent to the monitoring station and your alarm is placed in a special status to see what happens next. If the monitoring station does not receive a disarm notice, it will know that something has gone wrong and perhaps the intruder has tried to damage or disable the system. Frontpoint treats this as an intrusion and takes the appropriate action by alerting you and dispatching law enforcement if necessary.
  4. Transparent Pricing: You pay for what you get, and you get what you pay for. There are no hidden fees and their pricing is clearly outlined on their website. We’ve taken this pricing (which we keep updated on a regular basis) and placed it side-by-side to competing providers in our home alarm comparison table. They also offer a no questions asked 30-day money back guarantee, with no restocking or hidden fees. Most alarm companies have fees or reduced trial periods attached to their “money back guarantees.” You can also save up to $300 if you qualify and sign up for a 3-year agreement so be sure to ask about this deal.

These reasons combined helped Frontpoint win our best alarm system award for the last five years in a row. For more, read our Frontpoint Security Reviews article.

2nd Place: Protect America

All scores are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 lock being the worst and 5 locks being the best.

Protect America LogoBest Home Security System Award, 2nd Place
Overall Ranking4.67 / 5.0

Call

(888) 255-7812

Security PerformanceASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5
Customer ServiceASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5
Equipment QualityASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Equipment WarrantyASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5

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Protect America

Ability to RelocateASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Long Term ValueASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5

If you’re looking for a great value, Protect America offers some of the lowest pricing on the market. Protect America also uses very similar equipment – if not the same in many cases – as that of our #1 pick, Frontpoint. For reliability, Criticom, a very reputable central monitoring station, monitors Protect America’s systems. And, similar to Frontpoint, they offer web-based controls and alerts via their own proprietary interactive services. They also offer a DIY installation.

How did Protect America Earn 2nd Place?

  1. Protect America (Affiliate)Lowest Entry Price Point*: Protect America offers the lowest entry price point among our top contenders; monthly monitoring starts at $19.99 and startup equipment is FREE, making it easy for you to slip into a security system. They also offer a price-lock guarantee, ensuring that your monthly monitoring bill stays the same. Unfortunately, good vs. really awesome customer service kept Protect America from locking up the top spot.
  2. Lifetime Equipment Warranty: Protect America is one of the only security companies in our review to offer a lifetime equipment warranty on their products and they offer free equipment for your initial installation with their standard contracts. But be sure to read your contract carefully and fulfill the requirements for eligibility, which may include monthly testing and more. Carefully follow all the warranty instructions starting the day you install the system since you will likely not need to use the warranty for a few years.

*In our experience, cellular monitoring is a must-have, but Protect America doesn’t actively market it or offer it for the entry-level $19.99 price. Be sure you specifically ask about cellular monitoring to ensure the most reliable security communication in times of emergency. .

More on Protect America

Check out our in-depth Protect America review for more information.

3rd Place: LifeShield Security

All scores are on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 lock being the worst and 5 locks being the best.

LifeShield LogoBest Home Security System Award, 3rd Place
Overall Ranking4.17 / 5.0

Call

(866) 311-1331

Security PerformanceASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Customer ServiceASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5
Equipment QualityASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5
Equipment WarrantyASecureLife Rating: 3 out of 5

Get a Free Quote

LifeShield Security

Ability to RelocateASecureLife Rating: 5 out of 5
Long Term ValueASecureLife Rating: 4 out of 5

Our third place winner, LifeShield, was the first all-digital wireless home security system. They are also the only security company to offer whole home fire protection. This, along with other advantages, was key to them earning a Top 3 spot.

  • LifeShield offers both broadband (Internet) and cellular wireless security options for redundancy. Just like our first and second place winners, and in contrast to a large national dealer like ADT, you are dealing directly with LifeShield when you call, and not an authorized dealer.
  • LifeShield offers both DIY installation and their own team of professional certified installers (not third-party contractors).
  • DirecTV recently acquired LifeShield, so we’ll be keeping a close watch on their performance and customer reviews in the coming months.

More on LifeShield

Check out our LifeShield Review article for more details.

Best Current Promotional Deal: Protect America

Call: (888) 255-7812 | Visit Website: Protect America

Protect America has taken over again as the best deal with an opening price of $19.99 per month monitoring and free equipment for your initial installation. This deal is pretty hard to beat but it also covers monitoring via a landline phone so be sure to ask for the specifics before you sign on the dotted line. Call (888) 255-7812 or click on the link above to visit their website and get this discount.

SlideShare: Overview of our Winners

2014 Top 3 Home Security Systems Video

This video reflects our winners for the current year. Check out our 2014 review for a quick 1 minute summary. To see more of our security videos with tips, tricks and reviews visit our A Secure Life Video YouTube channel.

 

The Rest of the Pack

The home security industry is a multi-billion dollar industry with dozens of competitors in the market for your business.

Here’s a list of all the companies we included in our annual home alarm systems reviews:

  1. Frontpoint
  2. Protect America
  3. LifeShield
  4. SafeMart
  5. SimpliSafe
  6. Guardian Protection
  7. Vivint
  8. ADT
  9. AlarmForce

Companies not rated because of lack of sampling data, incongruous product offering and/or deficient reader feedback:

Why You Can Trust Our Reviews

How are our reviews put together? What kind of industry data or analysis do we gather and where do we get our information?

We take great pride in providing you with reviews that you can trust. Unlike many of the reviews you’ll find on the Internet, our reviews are conducted independent of any monetary affiliation or relationships with any of the merchants listed on this page. However, some links are affiliate links. This means that we’ll receive a commission if you click on them and buy (product pricing and service quality will be exactly the same for you). We appreciate your respect and understanding that this is how we can afford to do such comprehensive quarterly research that provides the highest quality, most up-to-date information to help you make the best decision.

For more details on our integrity policies, how we complete our reviews, and how we are able to stay in business, read our review process.

Learn More

We have done extensive research on the home security industry. But to avoid cluttering up this page too much, we divided our research into one article per topic:

Wireless Vs. Cellular

Many home security companies will try to sell you big on their “wireless” capabilities. But what you’re really looking for is a dedicated cellular connection, which offers a lot more security from breakage, cutting or hacking. Read our article on cellular vs wireless for more details.

Equipment Warranties – How Important Are They?

There’s a lot of different equipment warranties being offered by home security companies, from none to manufacturer’s warranties (vs. the security company’s own) to lifetime warranties. It is a lifetime warranty really good for a lifetime? Or are there too many conditions that may void the warranty and not make it worthwhile? Find out more in our article on home security equipment warranties.

The DIY Security System – How Difficult Is it?

As you can probably tell from our research, much of the home security industry is moving away from professional installation and into a DIY installation model. This saves cost and overhead for the alarm companies and makes their distribution network more efficient (meaning more $$ for them), but it’s not all bad for the consumer. It turns out that the customization a DIY system offers you may end up making your home more secure than having a professional installation and it will likely save you money in the long run too. And you can schedule the install around your own schedule! Find out more in our article on DIY home security.

Contracts and Moving Terms

So you’ve spent all this time and money researching and installing your home security system. But what happens if you change your job or suddenly have to move to a new home? Are you able to take your home security system with you? If so, will your alarm company charge you extra for this? Visit our page on home security contracts and moving terms for the nitty-gritty and to learn how to make sure you’re covered when moving.

A Note on Pro vs DIY (Self) Installation

Our top two winners are DIY specialists. The truth is, these systems are very easy to install, even for a non-handy person, and they guide you through the process on the phone. But if this scares you, you’ll want to consider our #3 pick LifeShield, which has certified pro installers on hand to help. Your other option is to go with a local alarm company in your area.

Local vs National Security Companies

Details on local home security companies are hard to come by, as most review sites only review the top national providers. We wanted to give our readers the option of having a local alarm company to deal with, so we’ve gone out of our way to conduct extensive reviews on alarm providers in many cities and states, with more being added every day. Consult our local alarm company listings to see if your city or state has been covered.

Best Home Security System and Burglary Statistics Infographic

Our home security infographic features burglary statistics and a list of the most crime-ridden cities in the U.S. We include our best security system picks and what to look for when purchasing your system. Please share this with your friends!

Infographic: Best Home Security System

Sources: FBI Crime Statistics, Electronic Security Association (formerly NBFAA)

What’s YOur Experience With Your Alarm Company?

Have you had an experience with a home alarm company or home security system installation? Did you hate or love it? Who’s the best (or worst) in your opinion?

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About Alex Schenker

Alex has in-depth experience with security systems, security software, identity protection and privacy legislation. He loves tennis, hiking, and surfing.
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  • Allison

    I am in the process of a new home construction and exploring my various options for a home security system. Our previous home had a hardwired system through Vector Security. I felt rather lukewarm about our experience with Vector’s customer service and monitoring. Nothing horrible to report but, since I do have the opportunity to start fresh, I am going to explore my options.

    Ten years have past since I last shopped for a security system and it seems that quite a bit has changed. I have been reading as much as I can about various systems and it seems that the new technology is making these hardwired systems less necessary, and if I interpret the information correctly, they are even potentially outdated (even when they are connected through a cell phone line for monitoring). Is my interpretation correct?

    I have been pricing various systems and have been considering locally owned and operated companies that supposedly focus on great service but they seem to prefer to hardwire windows and doors. I love the idea of “keeping it local” but I also want the best security system for my money and these smaller companies tend to be rather pricey. I have been quoted $4,000-$5,300 for security and fire monitoring. I am concerned that I am getting potentially oversold. Our neighborhood is extremely safe but I would never consider going without security. Our home is large, has 4 finished floors and we will require 9-10 door sensors, 11 window sensors, glass break coverage in certain areas 3 key pads, and potentially a motion detector and a camera in the basement.

    I definitely do not expect our security system to be inexpensive, but I was taken aback by the figures I have been quoted thus far by local companies on hardwired systems. Maybe that is just what a system this large will cost hardwired or wireless, maybe not? Certainly hardwiring windows and doors is more aesthetically pleasing, but is their any real reason to consider a hardwired system other than you do not have to see the sensors?

    I have a an appointment with ADT (Protect your Home) in a couple of weeks but I am a little concerned that they stated that they will not come in and give me a quote until my drywall is completed. Seems a little slimy as at that point I have then missed my window of opportunity with installing a hardwired system, if I were to want to choose that option. Also, after giving them the specifics about our homes security need (doors, window, glass breaks, key pads, etc) they were rather vague about giving me a quote over the phone. They kept on putting me on hold for to talk with managers about what offers/deals they could give me. My call with them was an hour and fifteen minutes. Really. It left me unsettled with what to expect from them. The ADT Protect your Home representative said, “We are fairly certain we can get your total security and fire needs done for under $1,000.” If that is the price, I am fine with that, but I do know what sort of hard sell I will be given once they arrive and I am stuck with fewer options. I am considering canceling this consultation appointment. I continue to see positive feedback on your site and other sources (BBB, AngiesList, consumers, etc) on FrontPoint Security and wonder if this system could be a good fit for our new home. I am a little concerned that it is a DIY system and I may be missing an area that a professional would recommend alarming and also ensuring that installation is done properly as I am anything but technically savvy.

    Sorry for the lengthy post. Many thanks in advance for your insights!

    • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Jeff Butler

      You are doing a great job with all of your research. Good for you for not just going with one of the first few quotes you received. $4,000+ seems extremely high, but at least it is a firm quote you can use with further research.

      You are correct that technology has come a long way and the wireless systems are actually really easy to install. All of our top three companies offer easy to understand installation instructions and customer support is available by the phone should you have any questions. I personally would not consider a hardwired system anymore because of the high cost of a professional installer and the high quality of the wireless systems.

      My advice would be to call FrontPoint (888-268-6273) and Protect America (888-255-7812) and explain your situation to them. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with their quotes. Hopefully you won’t be on the phone for an hour like ADT!

      • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Michelle Schenker

        Hi Alison,
        Yeah, I agree with Jeff. Protect America actually works with businesses to secure their unique needs so that could definitely be a good fit. Keep us posted!

  • http://www.bestwirelessdoorbells.com Best Wireless Doorbells

    Great article. I loved the way you converged various forms (infographics, videos) for explaining about home security. 3 cheers!

  • Patrick

    As a college student who doesn’t have a big budget, moves around for internships and summer jobs, and wants to do everything from my phone, there is nothing better than Novi Security. They have made it really simple. No contracts or monthly fees. Just affordable, functional protection that I can take with me when I move.

    • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Jeff Butler

      Thanks for bringing the Novi system to our attention Patrick. It appears that it is still in the process of being funded on Kickstarter and will ship in January, 2015. We will be keeping an eye on this product and will have a review in the future.

  • jon

    I have a hard wired ADT system, my contract is up and I’m month to month now. I want to move to a cellular or internet system and drop my phone. I’m not thrilled with ADT and their long contracts/hidden fees. What are my options?

    • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Jeff Butler

      FrontPoint Security is our #1 rated home security system for 2014. Every system they offer is 100% cellular and their customer service is second to none. You can learn more on our FrontPoint Reviews Page

  • http://jewamongyou.wordpress.com/ Reuben H

    Why don’t they ever show black burglars in their ads? They’re hateful toward whites.

  • JT

    I just recently moved and showed my neighbors your rankings and the quotes about ADT as they all have ADT. They could not disagree more with all of the quotes. Their message to me was that their experience was that ADT was top notch with all aspects of home security. Any help with why ADT with the 6+ million customers is not the best option? I am sure that more customers equals more complaints. Their experience was to go with ADT corporate instead of the dealers as they have professional installers. Thanks

    • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Jeff Butler

      Thanks for the information JT. Yes, it is certainly possible that more customers equals more complaints. A lot of this has may to do with the inconsistency of local dealers throughout the country.

      In regards to why ADT may not be the best option, I have a few reasons. First, we believe that cellular monitoring is without question the most secure way to monitor your home. ADT only offers this option on its higher end packages, whereas it is a standard feature on our #1 choice, FrontPoint Security. Second, even though more customers might equal more complaints, we still have to take those complaints into consideration. Based on the feedback we receive, and based on reputable sources like the Better Business Bureau, our top three choices for home security systems all have higher customer satisfaction scores than ADT.

      I encourage you to visit our ADT Complaints Page as well as our ADT Reviews Page (links below). The reviews there are from actual readers, so I would encourage you to ask your neighbors to provide there own experiences with us. The more feedback we receive, the better we can educate our readers!

  • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Alex Schenker

    Hi Jaz,

    AT&T Digital Life does not provide pricing, so we’re not sure what your total installation would cost. One of the questions you need to ask yourself is how many sensors do you need? Cameras and door locks are pricier than the other types of sensors.

    Home automation for Frontpoint and Protect America depends on the Z-Wave protocol, which means you can add any device that supports Z-Wave to your system (ie. light switch, door lock, etc.), even if the security company doesn’t sell these directly (ie. you can get them at a third party retailer such as Home Depot). LifeShield does not support home automation at this time.

    Based on our research, Frontpoint and AT&T will be very similar in pricing. However, Frontpoint has a much better customer service record, which is why they are our number one pick.

  • Steve

    Very helpful. A couple of questions/comments:

    1) What do burglars think when they see a local company’s sign in a yard vs. a sign from a large company like FrontPoint. Do they view local companies as more likely to be on the ball regarding contacting police, because the local company has fewer customers to monitor? As opposed to FrontPoint, which has to monitor thousands of accounts from a remote location.

    2) What happens when a FrontPoint system needs a real pro to figure out an issue? Do they typically have “local” subcontractors available? For example: my system is quite old but still works. However, when a sensor acts up, I need to place a service call so the sensor can be re-programmed. Due to age of system, not all techs have the knowledge or proper equipment to re-program. If a do-it-yourself system is installed, is the simple answer that you either buy a new sensor or the provider sends you one?

    • Jeff Butler

      Great questions Steve. It is going to be tough to answer your first question with any facts that can be backed up, but it is a very interesting point. My gut feeling is that a criminal is more likely to be wary of a home that has a security sign from a company that he recognizes. Security signs from local companies don't generally make reference to the fact that they are a local company. I would be interested to hear if any other readers have any thoughts.

      One of the main reasons that FrontPoint is our choice for the best home security system is because of their great customer support. Each situation is different, but from the feedback we have received, if you have a problem with your sensor and are unable to get it resolved over the phone with customer support, they will send a replacement. They will not send a technician out to look at the problem, but they will make sure that all of your equipment is working properly via other means.

  • patrick

    Vivint is a great home security system. If interested contact them at (855) 300-1751. They are one of the top in the country.

  • Anonymous

    Our company National Monitoring was established in 1998. Since then, we at National Monitoring have managed to secure and maintain top contracts throughout Ireland due to our highly skilled staff, reliability and value for money. We are based in Co. Monaghan but have local highly experienced engineers servicing the whole of Ireland. Our Services are intruder alarms, maintenance contracts, 24 hour monitoring, gate automation, access control systems, SMS vehicle tracking, 24 hour support.

    Marc Mullen
    +353 47 81111

  • Anonymous

    Anyone have problems with their monitoring system being penetrated or violated (or bad Apple employees allowing access to what’s being said in your home).

    The microphone my company installed reportedly will pick up a whisper anywhere in the home.

    Have there been problems with violation of the consumer’s privacy using such systems??

    • a secure life

      That’s an excellent question. We’ll do some digging and see what we can come up with. Thanks for bringing this up!

  • Anonymous

    APX Is my security provider, and I am a 100% satisfied with their service. I do not believe for one moment that half of the negative reviews on here are from real customers of APX, because I would like to believe that if these people have the clear ability to write, they would have enough brain power to read a ONE PAGE contract and decide for themselves if they want the PAID CONTRACTED SERVICE, they have been offered, key word OFFERED.

    I have 7 properties, 4 residential and 3 commercial. ALL have APX alarm systems. I was approached by one of their young men, last year and went through the same thing you all are going through, so bitterly complaining about, so let me delineate:

    The salesmen are just that, salesmen, they WILL want you to make a decision on the spot (THEY DO NOT WORK FOR FREE, as I am sure none of you bitter people do). So make up your mind.

    They are ALWAYS, knowledgeable about the product, and they explain everything included, and I even talked to the company on the phone before they left my house.

    I find it hard to believe ANYONE CAN BE FORCED to acquire something like that, unless they tie you down and point a gun at you (in which case you should call the police).

    As it was with me, you all have SEVERAL chances to say no, several, if you get the product is because you want it.
    The proposal is actually very simple, even kids should understand: They have a service, it costs this much, there’s a promotion today, it’ll cost this much, for this long a contract.

    DO YOU WANT IT?

    They are not a charity, you greedy people, they have top of the line service and gear. PAY FOR IT. OR SAY NO.
    They don’t target seniors, they target anyone that owns a home. (If your senior can’t make decisions by themselves, shouldn’t be living by themselves, be responsible).

    SUMMARY: I recommend APX, it costs more, yes, it does more, and it’s more reliable I give it 4.5/5 stars.

    I worked with sales when I was younger, So I know most these negative reviews are from bitter people who sit in their homes all day waiting for a chance to be mean to someone at the door. Most these young men are honest trying to make money for college, to break the cycle of ignorance so many of us are a part of. Don’t ruin their job, BE INFORMED.

  • Anonymous

    Hey everybody,

    I am not here to bash any company but as a sales person that started at an ADT Dealer, I would like to throw another companies name into the mix. I work for Power Home Technologies whom is the largest dealer in the US for Vector Security. For me, I do have to battle these sales guys that work in the industry that just want the sell with no real concern for the customer, so I do know what you are talking about. One of the main reasons I went with PHT/Vector is because when I leave a house, I want to be able to have a clear conscience. The use of Honeywell equipment is big but the monitoring awards Vector has received is amazing! And, the prices are very competitive. The warranty that Power Home has included with their plans are no trip fees, no equipment costs, and no labor costs. We have offices in every state up and down the East Coast, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. You should check them out just like Hope Depot, Lowes, Toys R Us, Barnes & Nobles, Tiffany Jewelry, CVS, etc… I believe in my product more than any other, that is why I am here. I hope I could help with something.

    • Anonymous

      WATCH OUT FOR THIS COMPANY. Strict Credit Checks for one thing. They only use self contained cheap lynx systems, & they won’t take over your existing system – especially if they have a fire system. If you own a small business, forget it. They are too small & give back to their corporate company Vector.

  • Anonymous

    Security Networks LLC is stopping by today to try to convince me to move monitoring from ADT to their service. Any reason why I should leave ADT for them? FYI, I checked for complaints online for Security Networks and saw lots of issues concerning automatic 3 year renewals. I called ADT and they said I could cancel at any time.

    • a secure life

      Most alarm companies will set you up with annual contracts (typically 1, 2, or 3 years). This is standard for the industry, and is the same setup you’ll get with your cable television provider, etc.

      We’ll do some digging on Security Networks and see what we can come up with for you.

  • Josh3

    Let me start off by saying Front Point by far has the best customer service of any business I've ever dealt with. The only complaint I have are the window/door sensors. They are not vibration sensors, which is something ADT offers. When I called Front Point and told them I wanted vibration sensors just incase some one broke my window, they stated they didn't carry those due to the large amount of false alarms those give. Funny thing, my brother lives right next to a train rail and the train makes his whole house shake. The only false alarms he has had with that system is when his dogs slam into his windows or some one smacks the window. Other than that, the train shaking the glass or the floor does no trigger them. With that said, Front Point was nice enough to give me 2 glass break sensors and 2 motion sensors for free to protect the rooms I was most concerned about. I wish they would have given me 4 glass break sensors but I guess that's as far as they could stretch it and I'm grateful for it. ADT just raised my brother's monthly cost and he called ADT, they did not even budge to lower the price. Front Point security hands down. Except, they really need to start offering vibration window and door sensors.

    • ASecureLife

      I have ADT as well. They just increased my rates and they NEVER budge on their  rates.  I'm looking to change systems.  Maybe once enough people get tired of their HIGH rates and lack of adequate customer service, they'll change their mind frame.

      • Chelsea

        Agreed! I'm very happy with my Secure Pacific system, but they're only on the west coast so it's not a fit for everyone. 

  • a seeker of security

    I am an ADT customer and I am not happy. About 2 months after my warranty expired, the control panel started not working properly and in order to get some one to look at it the service cost is $155 for the 1st one half hour and $39 for each 15 minutes after that. These charges are extremly high and outrageous. 

    I purposely tripped my alarm and let it go on for 2 1/2 minutes and I did not get a call. When I called ADT I was told "It takes 30 to 60 seconds for the alarm to come into the call center. When your alarm goes off it always seems longer then it really is. You just punched in the code before it came to our call center." I told the sells rep. that I timed the alarm but he maintained that it was not that long. Needless to say, I was not very happy to be called a liar. I will be cancelling my service.

    • a Security Professional

      There's an option on alarm panels called "Delay before Transmission".  This is the amount of time, or delay, before an alarm transmission will be sent to the monitoring station.

      The "designed purpose" of this option is supposedly to prevent a false alarm transmission from being sent to the monitoring station if the homeowner enters their access code at a keypad to disarm the alarm system during the time allotted for the delay before transmission.

      My experience has shown that "delays before transmission" do not work in real life.  As shown in this comment, the homeowner could not tell if their alarm can transmit during an emergency.

      When you do NOT program a delay before transmission, the alarm signal is ALWAYS transmitted, even if you disarm the alarm immediately.  If the central station doesn't receive a telephone line transmission within 45 seconds of an alarm activation, there's an obvious communication problem with the equipment and/or telephone line.

      [More secure wireless communicators such as cell and radio, as well as internet monitoring, transmit in under 10 seconds].

      This example sounds like a panel programmed with a delay before transmission, as well as very poor customer service from the staff who SHOULD have asked the client to perform a test of their alarm equipment while they were both on the phone together to CONFIRM the alarm panel's ability to transmit.

      I do not set delays before transmission on the burglary zones of the alarm panels that I program.

      Unfortunately, there are some states which have bylaws which IMPOSE that "delays before transmission MUST be set on alarm panels".  These bylaws, in my opinion, are not helping matters concerning the security of alarm users since criminals now have more time to "work" after entering your home before an alarm message is sent.

      False alarm issues are greatly reduced by having monitoring station staff first call the premises, and then call the homeowners on their cell phones to verify if the alarm is legitimate, BEFORE dispatching Police.

      Homeowners who accidently set off their alarm should IMMEDIATELY call their monitoring station to cancel the dispatch of authorities. 

  • Anonymous

    Get the best fire fighting security equipments at Kumar Impex. Better to spend a little extra on our own safety rather than risking your life for a little sum of money. Secure your life today!

  • sam

    Can you tell me more about the new merger between Lifeshield and DirecTV? What does this mean for the security industry?

    • Stacy

      I am also very interested in this purchase. It seems like it was a natural progression for a satellite company to get involved in home security, since we are seeing cable companies getting into the field. It seems like the initial reports from DirecTV indicated that they would begin 'marketing' LifeShield later this year and that the way LifeShield does business is not going to change in any significant way. In my opinion, this marketing could really force LifeShield to grow faster than they are ready, but time will tell.

  • a seeker of security

    I have searched everywhere and this is the closest review I have found to Consumer Reports for home alarm systems. It offers great detail on the options to consider as well as each company. Thanks for the great review to help me make an informed decision on this important home safety choice.

    • a seeker of security

      I agree with Seeker. This is a very thorough and informative page. I am looking for a system and this information has been very helpful.

  • Alarms

    When it comes to alarms you want to make sure that you have someone that you can rely upon to take care of your home when you are on vacation. It's an important decision and one that you should take some care with. I think that as long as you feel comfortable knowing that someone is taking care of you and your home then you should be good.

  • Anonymous

    I think what people need to realize when it comes to a monitored security system is that you’re not just preventing burglaries. That’s just the tip of the ice berg. More important, in many neighborhoods, will be the fire and carbon monoxide detection. Carbon monoxide is a gas you can’t smell, and if you’re asleep, with doors and windows closed (lack of oxygen is where the danger lies when it comes to CO), you don’t want to rely on the alarm waking you up in time. With a monitored CO detector, the ambulance will respond with the appropriate equipment in hand in case it’s needed.

    Same goes for fire and smoke. Let’s say your away on vacation with your cats or dogs at home and your fire alarm goes off. If you have monitored fire and smoke detectors the fire department can respond and save your pets. And if you live within a few miles of your fire department make sure to ask your insurance company for the appropriate discount (we have one on our home).

    When we first started shopping for home alarm systems, we thought it was all about security. Turns out these added features have turned out to be even more important than what we initially bought the system for.

  • Anonymous

    If your cable is cut you’re out of luck and a battery back up for your cable modem certainly won’t help.

    "Cable (broadband) – cable systems run off your broadband Internet connection. Unfortunately, it’s possible for thieves to cut these cables as well, especially in older homes, thereby severing your connection to your monitoring station. If you opt for a broadband system, you’ll want to obtain a battery backup for your modem and router, so a cut line won’t shut your system off."

    • a secure life

      You’re right – if they sever the line that’s bringing the data to your house a battery backup won’t help much. Thanks for pointing that out, not sure what we were thinking! We’ve updated the article to point out that a battery backup will only help in the event of an electrical outage, not a cut line.

      This brings to light another advantage of a cellular security system: no worries about lines getting cut.

      • Anonymous

        You’re both a little misinformed as to what actually happens when a cable line providing broadband internet connection is cut.
        The broadband or internet connection used for monitoring your alarm system has “polling capabilities” which means that there is constant data streaming back and forth between your alarm panel and the monitoring station. If your cable line gets cut, the monitoring station is immediately aware that the “continuous polling has stopped”.

        The reason for a back-up battery is to prevent a “nusiance false alarm”; the absence of polling will mislead your monitoring station into believing that your internet connection has been severed by a criminal, when in fact, your internet connection is still intact but you’ve simply lost power to your router.

        If you don’t want to worry about lines being cut, consider radio or cellular wireless monitoring. Both of these wireless formats can also have their security level augmented to include “supervisory heartbeats” which emulate the polling of the broadband connection.

        If the wireless communication equipment gets attacked and damaged, or becomes defective, the monitoring station is immediately aware once the supervision heartbeats cease.

        I hope that this explanation helps make everything clearer for all of you.

        • A Secure Life

          Excellent information, thanks for sharing. We’ll add it to the article so users are more aware of the importance of polling.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all the in-depth research. I notice that this article focuses on alarm systems for the home. Any chance you could do a review of alarm system providers for businesses?

    We’re interested in setting up an alarm system to monitor a 5,000 square foot warehouse. We’ve got corridors, shelves, and everything that are pretty tightly aligned, so I imagine we’d need quite the complex setup of motion sensors, etc. in order to cover all the areas we need.

    I don’t suppose you guys do consulting work – or maybe could send someone out to evaluate your warehouse and give us a recommendation as to what to install and where?

    • a secure life

      Great question. Although this review focuses on residential alarm systems, they can be applied to a business (office or warehouse) environment as well. You’ll want to give your security provider a call and discuss your options.

  • Jean Noble

    This is a true story about VECTOR SECURITY. 

    How to Make Customers Really, Really Angry!!
    1. Make arithmetic mistakes on the contract.
    When our Vector Security sales representative, on Dec. 8, 2011, drafted the
    “Location record rider security schedule” he over charged us. However at the time, we knew that he had made arithmetic errors so we asked him for a detailed breakdown of the costs. He corrected the error. Doing “chicken scratch” in the left margin of a contract over $1,000 is  NOT acceptable business for most customers.  Clearly listing the cost of each option and basic package on the “Location record rider security schedule” would prevent future errors.

    2. Promise the referring party a reward, then do not follow through with your referral reward
    On Dec. 8, 2011, we told our Vector Security sales representative that Jean’s parents had referred us to Vector Security.  He wrote down the referral information at the top of a paper.  No copy was given to us.  To date Jean’s parents have never received credit for the referral.

    3. Do NOT call customers prior to installation, just ring their door bell.
    On Dec. 20, 2011 around 8AM our door bell rang as Jean was dressing for work.  Jean did not answer the door.  Then our telephone rang and it was the first Vector Security installer calling from our driveway! The installer probably remembers the conversation. Call customers prior to arriving at their door and arrange the installation in advance.

    4. Arrive on the job with the wrong work orders
    On January 4, 2012 the second Vector Security installer came to our house.
    He carried in his equipment then asked where the telephone line was located. 
    Jean stated that we had purchased a Vector Security system using a wireless system connected via AT &T with controls accessible via the iPhone.  The Vector Security installer called the home office and found that the work order was incorrect.  He returned the first equipment to his van then retrieved the correct equipment.

    5. Install a system and do NOT test it
    The Vector Security installer told Jean on January 4, 2012 that he had placed a 60 second delay on the garage door so that the security system could be armed and that we could exit the house within 60 seconds. 
    On January 5, 2012, Jean found that the option had not been tested and it did NOT work.
    After reading the security system manual we realized that only Vector Security could set this option.  This meant that we would never (and could never) leave our iPhones at home. 

    6. Have technical support tell the customer that they never installed a system like this, do not know anything about the system, and that the wrong person was on call today.
    On May 28, 2012, we attempted to arm our security system many times between 5:30 AM and 7:45 AM via our iPhones and computer. At 7:45 AM Jean placed the first call to Vector Security for support in order to arm our security system. We were told that technical support would return our call in 10-15 minutes. Jean gave the person our home number to call. No technical support person called.  Jean placed a second call to Vector Security for support. The person referred the situation to her supervisor.  No technical support person called.  At 11 AM (3 hours after the initial call) Jean placed a third call to Vector Security for support.  On the third call, Jean spoke to the first person in support.  At this time he discovered that our home telephone number (our primary emergency pre-dispatch number for security) was entered incorrectly in the computer.  Within 10 minutes the Vector Security technical person called us.  He stated he had never installed a system like this, had never worked on a system like this, he did not know anything about the system and that “the wrong person” was on call today.  Jean said “Then, why did you call me?”
    Jean called Vector support for the fourth time and demand that a supervisor call her within 5-10 minutes.   A supervisor called Jean and by 3:38 PM on May 28, 2012 our Vector Security system could be armed via Jean’s iPhone.

    Follow the above steps and you will make customers really, really angry!!!!

  • a seeker of security

    This is more a question of general security practices rather than the merits of a particular company.

    I have always heard that you should never put your security companies' "banner" (ie. yard sign or window decals) out, as this would give away to a potential thief the nature of your security system, ie. possibly revealing details they need to be able to override the system.

    Let's say I go with a Frontpoint system, for example. Would it help for me to try & "fool" potential burglars by placing an ADT sign in my yard instead?

    Does an approach like this actually work/ make any sense? 

    Thanks.

    • A Secure Life

      Fantastic question. While a particular sign may give a burglar more information about your alarm system, it's definitely riskier to not have a sign at all. Burglars are much more likely to attempt to break into a house without any security signs or decals.

      That being said, I'm not sure it's worth your time to find the "best possible security system sign" and post that in your yard, in spite of the actual system you are using. You're probably better off simply investing in a good system!

  • Anonymous

    Beware of Powell Protection Systems. This is a small company operated out of Carrollton, TX. The fine print in their contract binds you to LIFETIME contract if you forget to cancel 60 days prior to expiration. The contract automatically renews and makes you obligated to pay for the entire year ($400). The company practices telephone threats, threatening letters and a threat of lawsuit to collect the entire year worth of monitoring dues, even if they do not monitor the alarm. They even threatened to rip off our equipment even though we own them. These are mafia-like tactics.

    Their customer service is poor as well. The employees are rude. There is no guarantee that if the alarm goes of, you will actually receive a response.

    Stay away from Powell Protection Systems. And, if you own your equipment, look for a no-contract alarm company. You will save hundreds of $$$ and a headache.

  • a guest

    Looking for more details on how to actually install my security system. Anyone have any ideas? I moved into an older home that already has a wired system installed and want to integrate a current monitoring system and some new sensors with my existing system. Would love any tips and one might have. Thanks!

    • a Security Professional

      You must first provide details of your current alarm system, such as the make and model number.  Model numbers of keypads will also be necessary, as well as any additional information you can provide such as any wireless receivers, zone expander modules, etc.  This would provide determination of whether or not your present alarm system can be expanded to include the additional sensors that you want to add.

      If you have an older hard-wired alarm system with a fixed number of zones, you may be "maxed out" and require upgrading to a new alarm panel.  (I don't like cramming numerous devices onto one alarm zone in an effort to use a smaller alarm panel instead of upgrading to a larger alarm panel with more zones).  If it turns out that you have an 8 zone panel which can't accept additional zones through a zone expander module, you will have to change the alarm panel and you will also have to replace the existing keypads which only display a fixed number of zones.

      If you want to partition or "split" your alarm system into two separate areas such as your home and a detached garage, the smaller existing 8-zone keypad can be used in the garage and a larger new 16-zone keypad (or higher) will be required for the home.

      You will also have to provide more details about the existing alarm equipment which is powered, such as motion, glass breakage and smoke detectors.  These hard-wired powered devices draw their electricity from the alarm panel.

      Alarm panels can only support a limited amount of powered alarm equipment and sirens.  If you have a very large home which requires a lot of hard-wired powered devices and keypads, you must purchase and then add on an additional auxiliary power supply for these additional devices.

      You could avoid passing new wires for additional hard-wired devices and save the possible expense of an additional power supply by upgrading your existing hard-wired alarm system with wireless battery powered devices.  This would become a hybrid alarm system where you "save" and use the existing hard-wired devices, but add on new wireless alarm equipment for your new zones.

      Without the knowledge of what alarm equipment that you presently own, as well as what new alarm equipment that you'd want to add on, there is not much else that I can offer you as far as help or hints since I haven't seen the actual installation.

      The good news is that you already have an existing hard-wired alarm system that can be modified to perform as you'd like, with additional hard-wired or wireless devices.

  • Anonymous

    Out of all the home alarm system reviews I’ve read on the Web, this one is by far the most informative. And it’s not skewed towards the behemoth alarm companies like most sites are. In fact, it appears that the majority of security sites that come up in a Google search are run by ADT. They must be putting massive amounts of money into search marketing, in the hopes that they can grab people before the competition does. Not unusual for a business, but they’re disguised security sites make it difficult to find an authoritative resource on security reviews. A Secure Life is a breath of fresh air in that regard, and I love the open comment policy. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I read your review – very long but helpful for so many reasons. The thing I cannot hardly believe is that Protect America offers a lifetime warranty on their equipment – that is awesome! I am going to call them to make sure this is true and if so, I may just sign up. But, I will be asking how often they update equipment but if they only guarantee out-dated equipment, then that is not as helpful as one would think! HA!

  • Anonymous

    Folks, who are we kidding? Half the sites in the organic Google search results for “best home alarm system” are sponsored by ADT or Protect America. ADT is a behemoth, but they are mired by their old ways. FrontPoint is lean and mean, but not green (ie. not wet behind the ears). Their systems use some of the most technologically advanced sensors and monitoring devices out there. They only sell a cellular connection, which is the highest quality, and like the article above points out – their customer service speaks for itself.

    Folks – this is a no brainer. Give them a try. Worst case, return the system. Why is this such a pro FrontPoint comment? Because they’re my third home alarm system provider. With the first two I had such a horrendous experience that I felt obligated to promote FrontPoint as much as possible to prevent others from falling in the same trap. 3 years a happy FrontPoint customer and still going strong.

  • Anonymous

    I thought this site was rating alarm systems, not alarm companies. I'd prefer to engineer a system myself and then attach it to the monitoring company of my choice.

  • Anonymous

    I would really like some feedback on Protect America and Front Point. I am a little hazy about a wireless system.  So anybody that has one of the wireless systems, I would appreciate some feedback.  

  • Anonymous

    We’ve had a FrontPoint system for a couple years and one of our monitored sensors was finally put to the test (we’ve had several false alarms and the response was almost immediate, which is great from a burglarly standpoint, but I’ve always wondered how responsive the fire/ smoke/ carbon monoxide sensors would be).

    We recently upgraded our in-house smoke detectors (the ones that came with the house) to monitored smoke detectors (there’s also a new law in our state that states that every room (not just every floor) is required to have a monitored smoke detector.

    Long story short, we burnt a pizza in the oven last Friday night, and our smoke detectors went off. As I was waving a towel in front of the sensor to get it to shut off (in addition to having opened our windows), my cell phone rang in my pocket. I’m thinking, no way they’re that fast. Sure enough – FrontPoint is on the phone asking if everything is okay.

    The peace of mind this provides – knowing that if we leave our two dogs home alone during the day and they’re protected in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide – is priceless.

  • Jon

    Thanks for posting the review on Protect America! We're moving into a new house and decided to move away from ADT. We had already considered Protect America, and your review ensured we're making the right decision in using their services. I also like the fact that they have a local Austin office!

    • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Alex Schenker

      We’re glad you enjoyed our reviews Jon. Please let us know how your experience with Protect America has been so far.

  • a seeker of security

    Looking into a Frontpoint system or Simplisafe system. Does anyone have any feedback for the Simplisafe (i.e. cost of system, customer service experience, system functionality,)?

    • Experienced customer

      Hi – I have both.  Simplisafe at my primary residence and FrontPoint at my 2nd home.  If you are still looking for info, let me know and I'll let you know what I like / don't like about each system.

      • a seeker of security

        Hi, Since you mentioned that you already have simplisafe, could you please list out the pros and cons of this home security system and whether you would recommend their monitoring services or not? thanks!!!

        Has anyone had safemart? Your feedback is appreciated!

        • a seeker of security

          Having been recommended by Howard Clark, I purchased a SimpliSafe home security system a year ago and had a problem with cellular reception since my rural location has lousy cellular reception from all carriers. They sent me a new base unit that uses landline. I have had 2 false alarms in the past year, and have accidently set it off twice, and have received a call in almost 1 minute to confirm activity. I am pleased with their service, I am pleased that there is no contract, and I am pleased with $14.95/month monitoring service. I have two door alarms, two motion detectors and no camera monitoring capability.

  • a guest

    I have been searching for a home alarm system for months now and this article I found to be very useful – not only did I learn a lot, it helped reassure me that I am making the best decision. Not only in investing in a home alarm but in choosing the right one.

  • Anonymous

    Thinking about LifeShield because they are offering me the best price right now on my home security system. Does anyone have any experience with them? I would really be thankful for any help on this!

  • a seeker of security

    What about some of these new cable companies getting into home security like Time Warner Intelligent Hom? I know they don't have the obvious reputation of stand-alone home security companies, but are they essentially operating with the same equipment and doing the same thing? It would be nice to keep my life simple and have one less, separate bill to pay, but obviously safety is my primary concern. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!

    • Darrell

      Time Warner is not just getting into security systems. They installed mine in 1996.

    • a security professional

      If safety is your primary concern, then forget about the "convenience" of having only one bill to pay.

      Find an established and reputable local alarm dealer in your neighborhood with many years of experience who has a track record of customer satisifaction.  

      I'm sure that you can find other sites which describle the unfortunate experiences that some customers have with their "cable guy".  The cable companies are entering the alarm industry solely as a means of making extra money.

      I've personally witnessed some horrific alarm pre-wirings made in homes under construction by licensed electricians who were "already there".  Just because you're good at one trade doesn't necessarily translate into being good at another.

      Cable and telephone installers are used to stapling their wiring on baseboards and around door frames so that they are visible inside homes.  Perhaps if you decide to have your alarm installed by a former "cable-guy", you should ask for wireless equipment.

      I seriously doubt that the cable companies can provide better customer service than a true alarm professional.

      Every industry has their share of "rotten apples" which is why you have to use the information provided in this site to seek out your alarm installer.

      To answer your question:  Personally, I'd stay away from the "Jack-of-all-Trades" type and pay my money to someone who does only one job, but who does it really, really well.

      • Anonymous

        With so many alarm companies to choose from, I have been having a very hard time deciding which one to go with. My wife is pregnant with our first baby and we are trying to get ready – well as ready as we can be! – and a house alarm seems to be an important component of safeguarding our home. We are leaning toward FrontPoint Security but are a little nervous about installing it ourselves. Can anyone provide any thoughts on their experience with DIY security systems, especially Front Point? Thanks for me and our growing family.

        • kyle

          I have been looking at ALL of the alarm systems out there.  The self install process is so easy, I actually had my 7 year old help me.  It is literally stick and go.  The chimes let you know it is working right from the get go.  You can monitor all of the sensors from your phone, tablet, computer….. 

          I have a couple of pointers – we have no Air Conditioning, so i stuck the sensors on the SCREEN door.  This way I can keep the door open for air during the day and still receive notice when the actual glass door is open.  Also, I put the magnet on the door instead of the electronic sensor.  Maybe skipping the jarring of opening and closing a door will extend the life of the sensor.  Any other questions, email me.

          Hope this helps.

  • Anonymous

    How do you rate Security Networks LLC out of Florida?

  • Anonymous

    This is a very helpful website. Had a break-in last Saturday and my entire house is still hesitant when walking after taking a short trip to the grocery store. Calling FrontPoint after I post this comment.

    • a secure life

      We’re so sorry you had to deal with a break-in. That’s a violation of your personal space and privacy and anyone that’s had to deal with a break-in or robbery knows how terrible and scary such a moment feels. This is especially the case if you’re in the house while it happens, which was the case for a friend of ours over Thanksgiving break.

      Sadly, without a secure alarm system your house is only as safe as that of your neighbor’s, which is why thieves often go through neighborhoods searching for houses that either a) don’t have an alarm system, or b) have one with an exposed land line they can disable.

      I’m hoping FrontPoint can help secure your home and family so you may feel safe and comfortable in your home again. I know the recovery and healing process take time. Know that everyone here at A Secure Life is here to support you and anyone else that may have had a break-in over the holidays.

  • Anonymous

    VIVINT is the way to go. I have it at my home and the quality of service is outstanding. The sales Rep Anthony and the installer John were great! Look at this website!!

  • Anonymous

    Let’s face it folks, a good product sells itself. And after having ADT try and shove a system down my throat, when all I wanted was some breathing room to learn more about alarm systems, how they work, etc., talking to the FrontPoint rep was a welcome relief.

    Look at it this way – when you walk into an iPhone store – the Apple guys don’t get all over you about how you have to have an iPhone or your life will come to an end. Why not? Because an iPhone sells itself – it’s an awesome product, and word of mouth backs that fact up. That’s the reason there are such Apple loving freaks out there and that Apple is a multi-billion dollar company.

    Why then, do used car salesmen, and most alarm system companies, use such aggressive sales tactics? Think about it…the product must not be that good, so they have to push the heck out of it to make a sale. Not so with FrontPoint. It’s a good system that works. Haven’t had any real break-ins yet, but in the 8 months we’ve had the system we’ve had several false alarms and FPS always gets back to us immediately. The setup was painless, and I’m able to find out exactly what’s going on back at home via their cell phone app. It might not be the cheapest service out there, but when it comes to your family and loved ones, why take chances?

  • Anonymous

    As stated in the article: “We’ve learned that alarm system companies basically break down into two categories: those that outsource their business to local, authorized dealers, and those that oversee their business nationally via self-installed systems. ADT, for example, tends to use local dealers to do their installations. This not only means you have an installation fee, but the service you receive will depend on the reputability of the local dealer you’re using. When ADT says they protect the White House, they are referring to ADT corporate. Don’t be fooled – that is not the same service you’ll be getting for your home.”

    You don’t be fooled… ADT uses their own techs to do the installs. I know because I was an installer for 3 years for them. If you go and buy a cheap alarm system from a dealer you get the dealer employees. No need to put out information if you don’t know what you are talking about. If you want an ALARM system go with the cheap companies. If you want a SECURITY system then go with ADT.

    • a secure life

      Any existing security business meeting the qualifications can become an “authorized ADT dealer.” That’s why there’s such a large discrepancy in their service.

      On their authorized dealer page they say themselves: “When you affiliate your business with ADT as an Authorized Dealer, you’re joining forces with the leading name in the national electronic security services industry. When homeowners think security, they think ADT. That gives your business a powerful advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

      When you join the nationwide network of ADT Authorized Dealers you maintain management and ownership control over your business while enjoying all the benefits and resources of the industry leader.”

      Ie. you have access to the ADT name and marketing materials, but you are supplying your own techs, which may be superior or inferior to the techs provided by another “authorized ADT dealer.”

      Visit ADT’s authorized dealer page for more details.

  • a guest

    One of the reasons they are 1st place….. "Finally, they offer transparent pricing. You pay for what you get, and you get what you pay for. There are no hidden fees and their pricing is clearly outlined on their website"  Where on their website?

    • ASecureLife.com

      Good question. Here is where you can find the pricing for FrontPoint on their website:

      FrontPoint's Cellular Monitoring Pricing

      1. Go to the FrontPointSecurity.com website.
      2. Click on "Service + Plans" in header menu at top of screen.
      3. Click on "Protection" – $39.99/month or;
      4. Click on "Interactive" – $42.99/month or;
      5. Click on "Ultimate" – $49.99/month

      FrontPoint's Equipment Pricing

      As for equipment, this will vary widely based on your needs so you would be best served to call a consultant directly at (888) 268-6273 to talk through your specific requirements together and come up with a plan that suits your home. You can try out the FrontPoint Security system for 30-days with a money back guarantee. To give you some ideas on the hard costs of equipment, each is listed on their site under the main menu header "Equipment." Click on the control panel as that will be a necessity and "price", then go on from there.

  • Anonymous

    Everything about APX is the best: National Service, all over U.S. & Canada, LCD Touchscreen Control + Wireless Components, TWO-WAY VOICE OVER CELLULAR, Medical Fire and Burglary Response, Energy Management, Temperature Control, Affordable Service, Alarm.Com SmartPhone App, Free Installation, Lifetime Service Plan, Free Move Certificate, World Class Monitoring, And the BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE – VOTED BY J.D. POWER & ASSOCIATES IN 2008 & 2009. I could go on, but I will cut to the chase. If you own a home, and you’re not a part of the APX Family, you’re missing out! :(

    • Anonymous

      Vivint was previously known under the names APX and Apex. Both former company names had BBB reviews of F which is VERY hard to get and suggests horrible service. They have recently changed their name again – this time to Vivint but beware. This is the same shotty company.

  • Kelly

    Wow – this is A LOT of info to take in but so helpful and understandable. Thank you for helping me to narrow down my choices. So now how do I decide between Protect America and Frontpoint? They seem so similar… anyone got any thoughts on this?

  • Anonymous

    Anyone heard anything about Vivint?

    • Anonymous

      Yea I have it at my home! I control my entire system from my iPhone. It's really cool and I was really impressed with the service. They told me one price over the phone and to my surprise it was correct! No hidden fees!! I had ADT come out and they wanted $920 to install the same system I got from Vivint for $99. They were awesome. Truthfully awesome.

    • Michelle Schenker

      Read our Vivint review article to learn more about them, including some customer reviews in the comments. http://www.asecurelife.com/vivint-reviews

  • Anonymous

    For anyone who needs home security, the choices are very wide. Whether you need hard wired, wireless, camera surveillance, 2-way monitoring, smoke detectors, glass break sensors, anything you name, today it is available on the market. And that too in varying ranges. You just have to choose. AlarmForce Reviews and AlarmForce Complaints can be found all over the Internet – all you have to do is choose the best.

  • Anonymous

    Hi. What security system would you recommend for a do it yourselfer that does not want any monthly fees? Thanks.

    • Rino

      Hi, I ended up going with alarmshield, they provided the equipment and install. Now I self-monitor the system with no monthly fees or contracts. They are an Ontario based company and I'd totally recommend  them if you live in Canada.

      • A Secure Life

        Glad that you made a decision that you are happy with on your alarm system. Please keep in mind that self-monitoring comes with a great deal of risk – has your phone ever rang and you were not able to answer it in time? That is exactly what self monitoring is like (you have a break in and your security company calls to tell you about it but you are in a doctor's office with your phone turned off. Then, nothing will happen to alert 911 of the emergency.) Just want to make sure you understand all the risks associated with self-monitoring in addition to the added stress you add to your own life to always be on call for the safety of yourself and your family. All the best and take care.

  • Anonymous

    Frontpoint is a nobody. They have “no bad reviews” because they don’t have door to door sales reps. Duh! Also they don’t install themselves. Sooooo who is to blame for problems, you! Yet they have you sign a contract and you do all the work. Straight profit. It’s funny how “smart researchers” will jump onto thinking frontpoint is nice because they pay “desk jockeys” to write posts and spam the Internet with their stories. The worst part of researching security on the Internet these days is that most people see “horror stories” and don’t get an alarm. WHY!? scared to spend a few dollars to protect your house. Large companies always have bad reviews, it’s the nature of a monthly service company. I work for PINNACLE SECURITY. I’ve been door to door selling and managing for 4 years and nothing compares. Pinnacle is the only company with manpower to install anywhere nationwide and we keep all of our monitoring in house. We use the ge Simon xt version 2 with the NEW touchscreen for lighting homeautomation and alarm.com web control with apps for most phones including the iPhone. 3 year agreement for 35-50 a month. Prices vary due to customer needs. I can pay for a complete system and install! Only responsibility is the monitoring. Oh and does front point have a lifetime warranty plan? Ouch. No. Pinnacle does, with next day service with a licensed pinnacle tech. Please think of SERVICE! These alarms need to be professionally installed at all times. For more info you may contact me email @ [email protected]. I’ve been dealing with alarm.com and GE alarms only from the first prototype version and boy have they changed the world of security! You’d be surprised how badly people need to upgrade. You deserve this and don’t need to wreck yourself researching anymore.

  • Brian

    I recently had three different location protected by ADT. My main home had $13,000 water damage to the basement when an ADT sump pump high water alarm malfunctioned. It was supposed to set off the alarm when high water level was in the sump pump pit. Well, it was under water for a couple of days and NO alarm ever went off. I contacted ADT, they sent a rep out to investigate. I filed a claim against ADT for my deductible on my insurance. It has been 6-7 months and I have not heard one word. The bill came due for the next year and I canceled my service. They kept the monitoring going for another month after I canceled and then sent me a bill for $98. Now I am getting threatening letters that they are turning me over to collections and filing with the credit bureau. I then canceled another one of my properties and will be cancelling the last one this week. They have the nerve to send me a bill (and probably will on the others) and not even reply to my claim. This is just another example of what big companies can get away with. They will try to hurt my credit and yet they owe me money!! I will never use ADT again and am making it my #1 priority to warn everyone I know not to use them. Best security… a dog and smith & wesson.

  • Anonymous

    I have to admit that I was a bit leery about an alarm system that you install yourself. I had some fear that you had to be some kind of electronics wiz to do it. But one of my friends just installed a FrontPoint system in his house and because I had been tossing around the idea of doing it in mine, I asked if I could come over and observe him while he got everything set up. Mind you, he may be a guy, but he is not mechanically inclined at all. In fact, I don't think he even knows the difference between a roofing hammer and a drywall hammer. That's why I was pretty sure if he could do it, so could I.

    I was pretty impressed by how easy it was for him to install the system. He did call customer service a couple of times, but it was not really about installation issues. It was more a matter of double checking to make sure that he was making good decisions as far as where he placed everything. Each time he called Frontpoint, he was happy with the customer service he got, and that meant as much to me as seeing that the system is so user friendly and easy to install. FrontPoint will probably be what I go with for my home security needs.

  • Anonymous

    Other than ADT, they seem to be the only player in town near me. Any other experiences with them (other than the one potential employee talking about them below)?

    • Devcon user

      I got a Devcon system when I purchased my house in the Los Angeles area in Oct 2011. The installer was quite professional and even helped me with the wiring when switching out my porch light for the sensor activated one I purchased earlier that day. He mentioned that the Devcon guys were new to the California market and all the installers worked for Devcon and not contractors like ADT.

      I have been pretty happy with them. I like that they are also integrated with Alarm.com so I have control of my panel no matter what. When we lost power in the area last November I got a call from their service to make sure everything was fine since the system lost power.

    • a seeker of security

      Not sure where you live but many other national companies cover just about every area in the country including easy self-install options like FrontPoint and Protect America. Call them and ask if you are wondering (phone numbers are above in this article). Probably better to go with a national company with a good recommendation than a lesser know one. Another good way to research is to look up ratings in your area on the better business bureau… anyone that has a C or lower should not be considered at all.

  • Anonymous

    Home alarm systems should not only serve as a deterrent to intruders, but can be extended to alert us to safety (fire, water, smoke, carbon monoxide) and structural concerns. We can use them to control automated systems and keep us informed about our environment. By transmitting digital, audio, and video signals to central monitoring stations, we can keep all of our essential “alerts” monitored by professionals (fire, police, doctors, etc.).

  • Dan Weisberg

    Typically, 94 to 99 percent of burglar alarm activations are false alarms. Many police departments have found that responding to false alarms is a huge resource drain and are responding in several ways.

    Some have adopted "Verified Alarm Response" policies. They will not respond to a burglar alarm signal unless a private guard service or some other individual visually verifies that a burglary is in progress at your home. They may also require cameras and/or microphones to be installed so your monitoring service can verify that there is actually a crime. One exception: police will usually respond to human-activated alarms, such as panic buttons.

    Other police departments place a low priority on responding to burglar alarms. In addition to the possibility of a false alarm fine, response times may be as long as an hour or more.

    • Lynda H.

      One of the other responses stated that the "old" system only had the loud alarm and wasn't connected to a call center.  You just relied on your neighbors to phone the police if you weren't home.  Another said to put up an "alarm company sign" in your front yard to deter thieves.  Now you are saying the police don't even react to the alarm activation, because it's usually a false alarm, so response time could be an hour.  

      So why connect an alarm system?  Get a sign in the yard, put stickers on your door and window and put in the equipment and you save $400 to $600 a year by not connecting it???

      I'm so confused?   What happens if the thief does enter you house?  Do they ever catch them?

      • Alex

        Hi Lynda,

        Police response times in our neighborhood are lightning quick. I doubt they ever take an hour to get there, but if you're not certain, call your local police department and ask them what their average response time is.

        Additional incentives to having a home security system include the ability to monitor your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide. If you're asleep and there is a fire, or dangerous carbon monoxide leak, the fire department could save your lives. You can also monitor what is happening in your house when you're not there (such as checking to see if the cleaning lady or babysitter show up and leave on time). Further, you have home automation options that let you automate lights, door locks, etc. The lights are a big one because it will make it look like someone's home even if you're not. Lastly, you could use a motion sensitive video camera to keep an eye on your dog, teenagers, etc., or capture a video clip of a burglar.

  • Anonymous

    While I really appreciate the in-depth insight into the components of a home security system, I’m wondering if you have any articles that go in-depth on what specific alarm companies offer? In other words, reviews of security systems that detail what each system offers, price points, and how it stacks up to the competition.

    • a secure life

      We’ve reviewed several companies over the years, and try to keep tabs on their developments and keep our reviews as up to date as possible. The best way to find a particular review is to search our site (using the box at top right), using the name of the alarm company or system you’re searching for.

      Meanwhile, we’ll work on putting together a list of reviews that are currently published, so you’ll have quick access to a comparison of pricing, features, options, etc.

  • a seeker of security

    Does anyone have any opinion on Monitronics? I looked it up and found quite a few negative reviews though it was recommended by a trustworthy source.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Gerrie

      I had nothing but issues with my hardware and Monotronics wanted to charge me every time something broke. They called it a "co-pay". The sensors started going bad within months of install. I wouldn't recommend them.

    • Josh3

      Some relatives have had Monitronics for years and they've been amazing towards them. One time a balloon that was left in the living room set off the alarm. They called them within 1 minute of that person leaving the house. My relatives (on the day of installation) were told that the security would not be activated until later that week. They decided to test out their home alarm. Had the local police calling the Swat team within 2 minutes after they pressed the code for domestic hostage situation. I've only heard great things about them due to my relatives. I'm not so sure how good they are in your area but they've proven themselves so far with my family. Only downer, no wireless. That whole robbers can cut the phone line and prevent the alarm from setting off is a lie by the way; the system automatically sends a distress signal. I own Front Point security and it's also a great company; just costs a little more. The customer service is superb though. 

  • Anonymous

    I just got involved in selling and installing home security equipment and I have learned a great deal about how to look at the different services and what goes into a quality install and service.  The first thing you really want to look for is the reputation of the company.  There are a lot of ways you can check up on this but I always take a look at how long they have been around and what their Better Business Bureau report looks like.  I know that the BBB is not the end-all-be-all of consumer safety, but it does give you a good snapshot of how a company treats their customers.  If things are good for the people buying the service, that will tell you a lot of what you need to know.

    The other thing I would definitely check when it comes to home security is the length and the quality of the warrantee that comes with the equipment or any other part of the service.  A good company will stand behind their products for years to come.  If the warrantee looks soft, you can bet you’re going to be taking a chance.
     

  • Anonymous

    We have to leave the country for three years for my husband’s work. Frontpoint says I have to pay $750 to cancel my contract. I am astounded and amazed. I found in small print towards the back of the contract the statement that I have to pay 80% of the remaining term for monitoring if I cancel before three years. It blows my mind. Obviously if I am moving out of the country I can’t have it monitored there and why pay to monitor a house I no longer live in. I would beware of this company!

  • Bill

    No more ADT on the top 3? I am not surprised as they have been not getting very good reviews else where as being one of the best home alarm companies. People just trust the brand they know but that doesn't mean it's good. 

  • Anonymous

    This article was put together in order to help homeowners wade through the jungle of finding actual solid information and reviews about various home security companies and systems. Unlike many other articles and sites, this is unbiased with a number of detailed reviews that provide both the positive and not so positive things about the various companies.

    To me, one of the things that was most appealing about this article is the fact that they actually took the time to explain their review criteria. Anyone can claim that company A is the top pick, but actually stating which features were examined and what was considered most important is critical for someone who is making their own decision.

    There was also a huge amount of additional information which I think most people will find very helpful. They discuss issues such as an alarm system using a cellular or wireless connection, how difficult it really is to install your own system and a number of other important issues that anyone interested in making an informed decision should have a clear understanding about. Anyone interested in a home security system should read every word.

  • Anonymous

    Based on BBB files, Protect America, Inc. has a BBB Rating of C on a scale from A+ to F. Reasons for this rating include: 996 complaints filed against business.

  • a seeker of security

    Well, I am bummed..  FrontPoint requires a credit score of 600 to get the 3 year deal. Nowhere did I see that on their website.  And they do not lower the monitoring if you pay total full price up front.. so a penalty if you have credit issues… not happy at all..  so the search goes on….

  • Anonymous

    Wow – there are just so many home alarm companies to choose from! I had no idea until I started researching just how many options there were and so many new terms to understand – cellular, wireless, smash & grab, keypad! Soooo much to learn before I can decide what to do.

  • DIY Guy

    Anyone who is doing their own system should really check out the EnvisaLink 3. It allows you to "web enable" your panel for interactive but the big thing is that there are no monthly fees!

    I put in my own panel. I used a hybrid DSC system with wireless sensors that I got from HSS and used the EnvisaLink and now I can remote access my house through my Android and get alerts of any alarms or other events on my system. You can tie in IP cameras as well so you can see what is going on at the house.

    The best part is that I don't have any contracts and I don't pay a monthly fee. The board was only $99.

    • a seeker of security

      I was wondering and wanted to know what system you purchased? is there a specific model or kit that you bought? Which one and about how much? i move frequently and need my system to be portable when I move. Thanks.

      • A Secure Life

        Any wireless security system (e.g. Protect America, FrontPoint, LifeShield, etc.) will be portable as you move around. So, be sure to find the best one to meet your needs. Keep us posted on what you decide! All the best, ASecureLife.com

  • Anonymous

    The only one of these I had ever heard of was the ADT one. Maybe that's because it has more advertising in this area than any of the other ones listed on here? No idea for sure.

    I keep reading about these systems getting hit by lightning, which brings up a point I had been thinking about. I am no electrician. I can do just about any remodeling job in the house, but when it comes to electricity, I get a bit intimidated. I know it looks rather simple, but there are elements to consider that you only know if you are very well versed in electricity. The lightning issue is just one of the issues I'm talking about. I know you have to ground certain things and there are ways you can protect your electrical items from being damaged by electrical surges, like those that you get when the place is hit by lightning. This makes me wonder if a homeowner is really being wise by installing the system themselves. Yet I also wonder…do the people who install these systems have to go through any security checks when they get the job? How ironic would it be to get robbed by the guy who set up your security?

    • a professional alarm installer

      In the province of Quebec in Canada where I install alarm systems for a living, alarm sales people, installers and monitoring station staff ALL have to have criminal background checks before they are issued their photo IDs.

      This ensures that the people who visit your home, or who view your confidential information and passwords at the monitoring station, are not known criminals.

      These measures, as well as financial requirements such as the alarm company having liability insurance, were enacted to protect the general public from unscrupulous security personnel.

      If you're in Quebec, ask to see our Photo ID

  • Anonymous

    I installed a FrontPoint system at the beginning of the month and really love it so far. It’s way cool to see what’s happening at home when I’m out of town. In addition, they have the absolute best customer service I’ve ever experienced.

    One problem that is making me crazy is the day after I installed FrontPoint and got my wireless camera up and running, there seems to have been some sort of conflict with something on the computer. When I leave the computer unattended for a short while and come back, the screen is completely white. The only way to get back to any screen is to re-boot. Very frustrating.

    I’ve tried everything to repair but it seems to be a conflict that is related to installing the security/video monitoring. Can anyone give info to fix this problem?

    • a secure life

      I recommend giving FrontPoint a call ((888) 268-6273). Their technicians/ support crew should be able to help you troubleshoot. Please post back with your findings.

  • Anonymous

    Funny because this site tells us quite the opposite of what I’ve read elsewhere… Who to trust?

    • a secure life

      To be quite honest, that’s the same problem we had. There’s so many alarm system reviews out there, and so many written by reps of the actual alarm systems (as well as bad ones by competitors), that it can be difficult to gain a clear picture. When in doubt – ask your family, relatives, friends, and neighbors what their experience is. Every alarm system uses local authorized dealers to distribute, market and install their home alarm systems, and some are better than others.

  • Anonymous

    I really hope to be able to afford a security system in the next year or so.  I understand that you need a significant investment in order to get a system like this up and running properly and I definitely do not want to go into a decision like this without making the best choice I possibly can.  Gambling with a lesser system just because it might save me some money certainly does not make sense if the whole idea is to protect my valuables and my property!

    I think I will seek out more articles like this independent home security systems review in general.  One can never have too much information when it comes to something like this.  I would ideally like to talk to two or three experts from different companies as well to get an idea about how this type of project is approached by different people in the industry.  I would then like to get two or three estimates of cost on a good-better-best type of scale with each company to see what the high end is and the low end.  I usually shoot in the middle for that.

  • Anonymous

    You mentioned GE Security, FrontPoint Security, US Alarm and Rapid Response. Who does what?

    • a secure life

      Sorry – we were unloading our minds onto this page and failed to organize the information in a cohesive way. We’ve since gone back and cleaned up the article. To answer your question:

      GE Security – they are a provider of GE-based alarm system equipment. You can get a GE Security alarm system through dozens of national dealers, two of the more prominent ones are FrontPoint Security and Protect America.

      US Alarm is an authorized dealer of both GE Security and ADT systems.

      Rapid Response is the monitoring station used by FrontPoint Security. All they’re responsible for is monitoring your system and dispatching the appropriate authorities in the event of an alarm.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone have feedback on Brinks Broadview?

  • Anonymous

    How would you rate Power Home Security?

    • Anonymous

      If you search the Internet for "power home technologies security review" I think you'll find more or less what I did, which is that this is one alarm company to best steer clear of. All the reviews I read indicated rude sales people, innattentive customer service, and an overall bad experience as far as system functionality and reliability.

  • Anonymous

    Hey everyone,

    Just to clear up a few things up. APX has been puchased by ADT. Voxcom has been purchased by Protectron and AAA is now SecurTek. In my experience Vigilon is the best company – it has over 350,000 clients it deals GE equipment: 2-way voice cellular, and fire as well as medical protection. It is a great system and if they ever knock on your door jump on the deal. Sorry for my spelling.

    • Anonymous

      Nice try, APX will never be bought by ADT. For one, APX is part owned by Goldman & Sachs. APX alarm is a great company.

      • Anonymous

        I work for them and trust me… NOT that great!

        • Anonymous

          Apex changed their name to APX, and changed it again to Vivint – all in an attempt to hide from their F rating with the BBB.

    • Anonymous

      To anyone who’s reading all these posts, don’t believe everything you read. APX has not been bought by ADT, they merely sold some of their 2008 accounts to them for extra funding. AAA is not SecurTek either. AAA is owned by MTS (Manitoba Telephone Systems), and SecurTek is owned by SaskTel, the telephone systems in Saskatchewan.

      They made a deal that all SecurTek in Manitoba would go to AAA, and all AAA in Saskatchewan would go to SecurTek so that the two companies could service clients better without being so spread out. This guy obviously doesn’t have much experience, since Vigilon has been kicked out of more provinces and shut down more offices than any other company.

      They started up from an APX region of sales reps who were all fired, including the Regional Manager Graham Wood, for poor business tactics. Owned by Pinnacle, they don’t service nor monitor their own customers. And the GE equipment they use is dated. Nice try Vigilon Rep.

  • Secure Pacific

    I'm not trying to put in a plug for our company, but I do think it's important to note that not all security companies operate like the ones on the list. Verified security providers do not make you decide if an alarm is real or false– we can tell what's going on and get police to your home in around 7 minutes (compared to 45-60). 

    Rather than put consumers in a dangerous situation, highly trained operators in our in-house Verification Center use live video and audio to determine if suspicious activity is going on and then immediately dispatch police. 

    Feel free to get in touch with us if you want to know more about verification– it's a topic that our company is passionate about!

  • Anonymous

    I would like to use this site to convey my thanks to MHB Security for the ADT security system they installed in my house. My uncle, who is an RCMP Officer, recommended them to me and being a police officer myself I know how important a security system is. I found that, after meeting a couple of local security providers, the sales manager and installer of MHB Security were very professional people compared to the rest of those I met with.

    I had phoned and seen websites of ADT Corporate, Voxcomm/Reliance, Alarmforce and others before I found MHB Security, which had lot more free equipment in their packages. MHB is an ADT dealer and was able to give a better price on everything than corporate ADT.

    So, thank you MHB Security for a pleasant experience. I would highly recommend this company to any one who is looking for high quality ADT system.

  • Anonymous

    It is ironic that we only see the value of the system once we stumble into an awful experience and we swear never to be in that predicament again. I hope your new system works out for you sufficiently.

  • Anonymous

    I like connect your home! I got a free Monitored Home Security System valued at $850. No activation or equipment costs. Free keychain remote valued at $120, front and back door protection, plus more. Call now for details, Monday Thru Friday, 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM PST.

  • Aaron

    We have a Protect America home security system and love it- have nothing but great things to say about how good their customer service is and how well they keep us protected. Something to keep in mind that not everyone things about is how a monitored home smoke detector is key to ensuring you stay safe as well (in addition to a home alarm system). When you are home it will not only go off, signaling to you and others that there is a potential risk of fire, but also the monitored smoke detector alerts your monitoring service and thus signaling to call for help. When we were away traveling recently we had a false alarm, but luckily ProtectAmerica called me and notified me of the situation so that if there was a fire we would know about it right away versus have to wait until it's potentially too late. We then used our home security camera which we can access via smart phone that we could see into our home while we were gone and see in fact that everything is okay. 

    • Sadie Cornelius

      Aaron, glad to hear you love your Protect America security system. I have one personally as well and been very pleased with their customer service and response time. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Jamie

    When I first came to this page, I was so confused… I mean, where is ADT? But then I realized that Bluelight is an ADT dealer and they are the most reputable ADT dealer that serves most of the country. So, that clear a lot up. Not that ADT is awesome (they are NOT from what I hear and read) but at least I can trust that you have covered your bases in this review. 

  • a seeker of security

    This website has fallen viticm to the "DIY" services that still lock you in a 3 year contract. 

    Why would you not at least provide one option that is month to month?

    Notice that when you click over to front points website your web address will have asecurelife at the end. This would indicate to me that your endoresment is now a "paid lead" for that comapny (nothing wrong with that, I just don't understand why you have a security expert talking about professionally installed systems and then your being paid by a company that provides crap diy systems) 

    Also, negitive comments about Front Point:

    http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/frontpoint-security-texas-c352821.html

    While Front Point does a great job of responding, I still cannot get over the fact that they mail you a system that you could easily purchase and put you under contract without even looking at your home. 

    Long of the short of it, your professional knows, just like the rest of the real dealers that read this website, that GE equipment isn't really GE equipment. (owned by UTC now) It's one of the cheapest panels they can get their hands on. ADT discontinued the use of the Simon XT by its dealers because their cancellation rate was thru the roof and the Simon was constantly failing. The idea of self installation works, in theory, but a homeowner reading a manual cannot possibly make all the considerations that a well trained professional could.   

    Lastly, NO one has mentioned the increasing costs of local permits, and they very rarely will. It is both the consumer and the alarm companies responsbility to ensure tha the consumer has a permit on file where required by law. Alarm companys should take more responsbility in either obtaining or helping the consumer obtain a permit for response. 

    • A Secure Life

      Yes, just like we disclose in our terms, disclosure page, and at the bottom of each article that has affiliate links, we can continue to operate by working with various companies to drive leads – wired and wireless security systems alike as well as malware, antivirus, online privacy tools, private investigation and other types of security products and services. If you hover over the links of any merchant URL on our site you will see the word "affiliate" popup when there is a relationship with asecurelife.com. We are constantly keeping track of the changes in the security system industry and the companies that operate in it and award our top three winners at the start of each year – the most recent in January 2012. We personally are customers with FrontPoint and continue to find them exceeding expectations at every turn.

      The security professional who writes articles every now and then and also comments is a helpful reader who is not paid by our company. He is indeed a wired security system professional. We value his contributions to our readers' experience immensely and believe that even though his wired preference is different from our researchers year after year, there is still much for us all to learn from his experience and tips, regardless of the method of installation he prefers. So while there may seem some disparity, it is our responsibility to our readers to provide different points of view alongside our unbiased "best of" choices each year. We feel this provides a more well-rounded experience and education on the best security products to meet their unique needs.

      • Anonymous

        REPLY FROM: "a Security Professional", the pro who wrote this article:

        Thank you for helping to educate the rest of the readers.  This is EXACTLY the type of comment that people need to hear and understand.

        This website does indeed get paid referrals for sending readers to FrontPoint and other alarm companies.  It's how they survive and pay the bills.

        The reason that I decided to post my comments is to help more consumers than I can reach on a personal one-on-one basis.  I obviously can't physically install everyone's alarm for them.

        While I agree entirely with you that it's best to have a professional come out to look at your home, a LOT of people will go the DIY route.  These consumers usually end up purchasing a less expensive basic alarm system package - – so they end up with lesser security while still believing they have "an alarm system".

        While a self-contained wireless security product is the perfect choice for a tenant who moves often since they can "take" the alarm system with them, there are BETTER choices for homeowners – such as a hybrid alarm system which can take advantage of the less expensive and more reliable hard-wired components (have you noticed how everyone else is claiming untruthfully that wireless is "better"?) as well as wireless alarm devices.

        Homeowners whose residence has an attic, crawlspace, unfinished basement or removable ceiling tiles where it will be very easy to hide alarm wiring would be much better off with a hybrid security system.

        I also understand how some alarm installers have the same reputation as the "cable guy", in that they don't own the alarm company and they're only "doing a job".  My article provides information to the consumer on how the alarm system should be conceived and installed, so the consumer now has the knowledge to tell the "cable guy" how to do the job properly.

        If you and I stay quiet, consumers will still grab up these products thinking that they have a "complete alarm system".  Hopefully, our comments will help those that want to learn the facts purchase better security products, have the job installed properly by a professional or self-install a complete alarm system.

        My article does mention that if you pay for the supply and installation of your alarm system upfront, then you can easily obtain a monitoring contract on a month-to-month basis from a local security firm.  I apologize to you for not mentioning alarm permits.  Since alarm owners don't require those where I live, it completely slipped my mind.

  • Anonymous

    I read your site and A LOT of the comments. What I am trying to find out is what would happen with ADT if someone smashes the panel off the wall during the period you have to enter your code to deactivate.

    Is someone still dispatched or does alarm.com monitoring truly hold the patent on that?

    I guess I can’t see how companies like ADT would get your pick if it just takes someone to smash the panel off the wall during the grace period.

    • Anonymous

      That’s why there is a UL Panel and UL installations. A UL panel is made of thick metal, there is no way to break it with a hammer. And in a UL installation there is a motion detector watching the panel. Also, you can not move more than three feeds without getting detected by a motion sensor. This is mostly used in jewelry stores, banks and commercial environments.

    • Anonymous

      From the research I’ve done, even ADT’s new “Premier Pulse” service doesn’t have the “smash and grab” protection that FrontPoint and other alarm.com systems have. That is, the thief can trash your security console and thereby disable the alarm without the monitoring center knowing.

  • Anonymous

    I just wanted throw my two cents in here. Yes to above – ADT is bad and they are notorious trunk slammers. I have been an alarm installer for about 15 years now and have worked on very wide range of alarm panels, CCTV systems, access, etc., etc., and dread when I have go take over a new account that was installed by them. There are almost always all kinds of code violations for work getting done as quickly as possible (like wires zip tied to fire sprinkler pipes.)

    This makes a lot sense as there isn’t many supervisors per technicians and not much quality control; just a big push too throw it in get out. Anyways, this is very informative and a good start to find what you’re looking for. From preference and customer feedback I would recommend A DMP system.

    • Anonymous

      What is a DMP system?

      • a secure life

        DMP = Digital Monitoring Products. They are an "American manufacturer of advanced security and fire alarm products. Available through professional alarm installing companies worldwide."

  • Sydney Security System

    Anyone has any idea what the best home security system is in Australia?

  • Anonymous

    ADT is in so much trouble. Directors are flying around the world trying to sort out the mess the corrupt CEO got them into when he committed millions of dollars of fraud. As a result, he is now prison. Their service is crap, their managers are crap, and it is not only in one country it is wherever they go. Mud sticks and the rot is at the top working its way through 24 hours a day!!! Don’t touch them.

    • Anonymous

      ADT has unfair business practices when it comes to terminating your three year contract early. They demand that you sign a three year contract when you sign up, then if something in your life (in our case a company transfer) brings about an unexpected move, they demand that you pay thousands of dollars to pay out the remaining contract term. In other words, you have sold and moved out of your home and that city but they insist you have to continue to pay them unless of course you agree to use them again at your new home. (Now why in the world would you ever agree to use such a company again?)

      I ended up reporting this unfair practice and ADT to the BBB and they did agree to "settle" by only making me pay half of the three year fees. Wow, I guess I was supposed to be grateful that I only had to pay for 15 months instead of thirty. Go with local security companies who can assure you that they will not bind you to a three year contract. Stay clear of ADT. This company is making millions of dollars a year from terminated contracts and collecting money for services that they are no longer providing.

  • Anonymous

    I have been looking for a consumer report type over view of home security for ages and am so pleased to have come across your site. It is exactly what I was looking for to learn more and to get a true understanding of who the companies are in this world. You really helped me make the right selection for my home and we went with FrontPoint. You were right, their customer service is the best I have ever experienced, in any industry! Thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a good idea to install a camera to protect your home. What is important to do is to decide which type of security cameras you will use – wired or wireless, as you need to set them up differently. With the wired security camera version you have to move the cables to the place where the camera will be installed. When it comes to the installation of the wireless camera, you will only be required a wireless adapter, that you have to plug into your computer to set the connection between the camera and the actual computer. Make sure you get a homeowners’ insurance policy for feeling safe whatever may happen.

  • guest

    The FrontPoint Security Memorial Day promo is $$, thanks for sharing! I had a feeling there might be a promotion coming along for Memorial day so I literally held off on my Frontpoint purchase a couple days and bingo! Here it is :-)

  • Anonymous

    Three of us are looking at home security for our houses. The houses were hard wired several years ago but are not currently connected to a system. We are somewhat interested in this system and they say we can use our hard wire with our cell phones. Does anyone know anything about Gove Security Systems and COPS Monitoring, and do we have the correct info regarding using the hard wire system in place?

  • Anonymous

    I hate door to door alarm salesmen. All they care about is the sell, not the security of the home. It is all horse crap! I think anyone can also go out and make some statistic about anything and say this is what is real, yadda yadda yadda! I know plenty of security sales dudes and I don’t trust any of them.

  • Anonymous

    I inherited an ADT system when I purchased my home 10 years ago. That system is now failing, most notably by shutting off randomly. I tried to 'correct' it over the phone, but they could not assist; several days later a technician arrived to inspect the control panel. Bottom line: the panel is malfunctioning and ADT will not repair it, so my choice is to replace it with a more 'modern' version, cancel service, or change companies. A rep is scheduled to visit today to assess if a new panel will still work with the sensors I have in the house.

    My position is this: I have equipment that I have no control over, yet I need to purchase new equipment to continue the privilege of doing business with ADT? I think not. If the cable box fails, the cable company will replace it. If my alarm equipment fails, I get to throw it out and pay for a new system plus installation. From a company I've paid monthly for 10 years. Is this right?!?

    • Anonymous

      ADT was installed in our house 11 years ago. Top of the line unit. The so called Rolls-Royce unit (their tech's words). I have paid extra each month in case anything goes wrong. A few times they came out and replaced some batteries. Last month the wall panel started going haywire. The tech came out and says the processor in the main wall panel is going bad AND they don't have parts to service it anymore! What a bunch of crap! Now I'm told I have to upgrade to a new system or go to another company. So much for 11 years consumer loyalty with ADT.

  • Anonymous

    Do you have any information on Per Mar security systems? They are located in the Midwest. I don’t like what I see written in consumer affairs or the BBB regarding Protect America or ADT.

  • Anonymous

    I called ADT about installing a new security system, checking on monitoring, pricing and equipment. After talking to the initial sales person, I spoke to the sales person manager and he gave the same sales talk on how great ADT is and that ADT is installed at the White House. After his speech he mentioned that he only had a limited amount of Visa gift cards for $100 and could not guarantee that if I did not sign up right there, I would lose out on the promotion.

    What really turned me off was when I told the manager I would have to think about the 3 yr contract and would have to call back. Well the manager THOUGHT we had both hung up, but I had not. I heard the conversation between the sales person and the manager and talked about how they HOOKED another sale. The manager spoke to the salesmen about how he almost had another sale and could not believe that I backed out at the very last minute. That really turned me off, talking behind my back, I was just another sale. I will not be purchasing a system from ADT.

    • Anonymous

      If the ADT rep is selling you over the phone and offering gift cards than you are dealing with an authorized dealer. The best way to deal with ADT is through the corporate office at (800) 238-2727. I suggest having a rep come out to the house and speak to you directly about cellular back up and a multiple component alarm system. However, if you want to protect your $200,000 home for $99 then buying it over the phone is for you.

  • guest

    Of all the reviews sites I've come across when I search for "security system reviews," you guys are the only ones that list Simplisafe in the top 3. Folks – these guys do not compensate for referrals (i.e. have an affiliate program)! I'm in this business myself, trying to get traffic to my blog so I can sell security systems. That means A Secure Life is not making any money on this pick, yet they still ranked them higher than more than a dozen of their competitors that could have been more "lucrative" picks. They are doing this because Simplisafe is a good option for the DIY installer. They have, from what I can tell, invested hours of research on behalf of the consumer and are getting nothing in return for this pick.

    None of the other review sites I've come across take this approach. They all have as their top 3 security companies that pay high commissions. And they don't disclose that they are making money off these reviews like you guys do.

    Kudos, thanks for keeping the market honest. Here's hoping that more people realize just how valuable your reviews are, and that they don't get lost in the crowd because some power mongering corporations step into the game thirsting for more $$$.

    • gues

      The do make money on the SimpliSafe listing, hence the Amazon affiliate link. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just saying it's not exactly true.

    • Guest

      Lies. Protect America is a joke of a company. Lifeshield is a joke of a company. Frontpoint is 1st place on the shady versions of these lists – never on legitimate lists. Guardian, Vivint, Alarm Force and ADT are just the easy choices for a list like this, but are all known for their terrible service and long-term contracts with no outs. Simplisafe makes cheap product, and has shills go around the internet pumping their company. So all the top choices here are pay to play, all the bottom choices are crap, and then you have a company that sells a majority of its systems on amazon (affiliate link). So… really? Are you actually in the business or are you just a Simplisafe shill?

      • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Alex Schenker

        You tell us, if everyone is a joke, who do you recommend?

  • Anonymous

    I think it's funny that you mentioned how most of the information out there on house alarm systems is put out there by the companies themselves. That's why I didn't google them. When I am looking to compare products, I always start with terms like "best" or "reviews" so I have a better chance at getting some worthwhile information rather than just what the companies want me to see.

    And since I mentioned it, that's how I got here. I never would have thought that I would be looking up best house alarm systems, but then I didn't plan on my house getting broken into either. At least it happened while me and my children were gone, but I feel bad about the fact that I really had not taken measures to prevent it in the first place. Now, here I am looking up alarm systems.

    Thanks for the information you have here. It will make choosing the best security system for my family and I much easier. I had slotted time to call around and see what was out there, but I knew that was going to take a while. This is a much easier way to compare companies and I love the way you have so much information on this site about each company.

  • Anonymous

    The wireless home security camera has given developers even more to work with since the components can be installed anywhere with just a battery pack as its power source. The technology for the wireless home security is advancing so much so that you can do all sorts of interesting things with it by yourself. The present day wireless home security camera is packed with more features that it seems to be something out of the future.

    • Anonymous

      I certainly agree with you. Good article on home alarms by the way.

  • security43

    Can you tell me why you do not have CPI and ADT in your reviews?
    I have no problem going with the best, but was curios why they are missing.
    Thanks, Tim

    • Michelle
      Hi Tim,

      ADT is there as the brand represented by Bluelight Security, our #3 choice. Bluelight has the best reputation by far on a national level for ADT authorized dealers, which is why we have showcased them. CPI is not a national company, only represented in NC, SC and GA. While they are a strong regional company based in Charlotte, NC, our reader base is scattered all over the US and thus, we offer recommendations based on national availability of the service.

      Wishing you much success with your home security decision,
      Michelle @ A Secure Life

  • Anonymous

    I have signed up as a member for this great community which has so many cool tips on all kinds of information. I am looking to set up a home security system and would like to go with Front Point.

    Your article was very helpful in explaining specifically about cell phone capabilities with Front Point. Can you please send me the coupon code for the $50 off installation and first month free coupon or point me in the right direction to get it?

    • a secure life

      FrontPoint coupon codes have been temporarily disabled (by FrontPoint – we just received notice of this a while back). Bookmark this page and we’ll let you know when coupon codes are reinstated.

  • Anonymous

    It is so hard to pick the best home alarm system. I mean, you have to make sure that it works for your house and that is can grow with your household. I know I would prefer to start out with a simple system that has monitioring as well as an alarm that goes off at my home or on my cell phone, but I also want to be able to add to that system as needed. In my home, I have children running in and out of my house at all times. I also have things like guns and knives in my home. I trust my own children not to mess with anything, but I do worry about other kids coming in and getting curious.

    I also don't have much interest in a contract. I don't want to be locked into anything more than I have to be. I may like the compnay for a while and then learn about a company I like better, but would be lockd into a contract that I could not get out of. That is a situation I want to avoid.

    I think it is a good idea to write down what you want from an alarm system before you shop for one. Then you can add to the list as you learn what is out there. For instance, I never knew that these systems had freeze alarms, which is something that would come in handy where I live.

  • Anonymous

    How can you assure that 60% of burglars were deterred?

    There is no way of knowing that unless burglars come to you on their own and tell you that they turned away because of the alarm system.

    • a secure life

      I believe the estimates are based on break-in statistics. In other words, that burglar will eventually break into a house, and when he does, the statistic (whether or not there’s an alarm sign out front) is tracked.

      Obviously, if he doesn’t break in anywhere, he’s not a burglar. The odds of someone considering a break in, but then not breaking in anywhere because there’s an alarm sign out front (or for whatever reason), is small. In most cases, the burglar will move to a house he considers is easier to break in, and then make the attempt. This is more or less common sense. Can you imagine a burglar with a plan to break in somewhere, only to turn around at the first sign of an alarm sign (or anything else that makes them change their mind) and then on the spot change his or her ways forever and never break in anywhere? Highly unlikely.

      So, as soon as they do break in somewhere, they contribute to the statistic.

  • Anonymous

    How would you ever know that “60% of the burglars are deterred”. Do every 6 out 10 burglars that look at a house come to report that they were deterred by the alarm.

    • a secure life

      Haha – you just gave us a good laugh. That’s a great question. I don’t remember where we got those statistics – but it’s not hard to imagine how they are collected. The police would simply track burglary attempts in houses that have the signs vs. those that don’t.

      For example, if a street has 10 houses, 5 of which have alarm signs in their yard, 3 of them were broken into, and 2 of those 3 did not have an alarm sign in their yard – then the indication is that the sign does in fact deter burglars. While this is a small sample pool – if they collect data for millions of houses nationally, they can gather a fairly accurate estimate.

      In this day and age, just about every imaginable statistic is tracked. That’s why Google’s personal information market is worth so much.

  • Anonymous

    The information is helpful but truth be told, the site is getting a commission for referrals as an affiliate of FrontPoint? When you click through the link, you can see the id tracking so although the site is independent of FrontPoint, you are being compensated. I don’t have a problem with this as long as we know up front. It helps in the decision making process.

    • a secure life

      Yes, we earn a commission for referrals we send to FrontPoint, as well as other merchants mentioned throughout our website. Our reviews our carried out independently of affiliate relationships. Read more about our review process and how we make money running this website.

  • Neil

    The section on hiding your alarm systems vital components is a great tip. Keep in mind that a few security systems now offer smash and grab technology. If this is enabled, should a burglar trip an alarm and then destroy the control panel, the monitoring company will still be notified and the proper authorities will be notified. If you don't have this technology, the monitoring station will not be notified and the burglar will be free to carry on with the break-in. This is sometimes an additional cost, but very worthwhile in my eyes.

    • Vicky

      Good call Neil, I can't believe this isn't a bigger issue in the home security world. I can't imagine putting so much time and energy into a security system, only to have it all completely wiped out by a criminal simply walking in the house and ripping the keypad off of the wall. To me, a system without Smash and Grab technology is basically worthless.

      • David

        The reason why it isn't a huge issue is because it affects mostly self-contained alarm panels/keypads, which are mostly a recent phenomenon. Security systems that have a keypad and a pane located in a different location are not immune to smash and crash but are highly unlikely to be defeated in this way. The burglar needs to locate the alarm panel and then smash the metal box enough times until the metal bends at an angle that can actually damage the alarm panel. It's highly unlikely a burglar can achieve this in under a minute.

  • Anonymous

    This article is very unique in the home security niche, since it actually provides a number of unbiased reviews about different companies along with user comments. One of the best features of this article is that the creator(s) have even broken it up into easily digested pieces or sections of content. So, if someone was interested in seeing what criteria was used to determine these rankings they can just look in the contents section and then go directly to that information.

    Honestly, I think that any place which goes into this level of detail about how they rank sites and businesses is one of the good guys. Anyone who is really interested in finding out some solid information about the topic of house alarms should take a look at this article. There are sections which include things like equipment warranties, the ease of using DIY (self-installed) systems, fire and medical systems, moving a system to a new home, security monitoring, and a whole lot more.

    What I found most beneficial was not so much that there was one particular section which stood out above all the others, but that there is so much here to help me learn which is the best security system for me.

  • Anonymous

    I intended to buy the Frontpoint security system but they advised me that they can’t service the Las Vegas area. Are you aware of this? Why can’t they provide the service?

    • a secure life

      We weren’t aware of that, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t be able to. Did you ask them? Maybe they’re working on servicing that area in the near future. Also, do you know if the service excludes only Vegas, or all of Nevada?

      We’ll try and get in touch with them as well and see if there’s any other geographic restrictions on their home security service.

      • Anonymous

        I called them and asked why they are not available in the Vegas area. I recommend calling them and asking for yourself.

        But to sum it up, Vegas doesn’t require the police station to respond to the alarm systems. Frontpoint didn’t want to be associated with that type of practice so they pulled their license as they don’t want to suspect their customers to that type of service.

  • Anonymous

    I’m in the market for a new alarm. I have a few appointments set up with some local companies as well as ADT. I will now call Front Point, but it is obvious that this site is owned by FrontPoint and is not by an independent company. Give us a break and don’t insult our intelligence.

    • a secure life

      This site is owned and run by Cover Story Media, Inc. – a publishing company that is independent of FrontPoint Security. The aim of Secure a Life is to provide in-depth research on a wide variety of security topics – both online and off.

      That being said, we do have affiliate relationships with many of the merchants we review, and we disclose this in our disclosure policy. Integrity is one of our core values, and we are careful to independently evaluate products and services before engaging in monetization efforts. To learn how our reviews are conducted, we invite you to read our review process.

      The FrontPoint alarm system and interactive monitoring capabilities have won our first place award several years in a row because of the qualities outlined in this article.

      We’re interested to hear who you ultimately select as your alarm company, and your feedback after having been with the company for a while. Please leave a comment at your convenience.

  • Anonymous

    I really like the tone of this article and the message it delivers.  People who think they are getting something for nothing and then only have to pay the thirty dollar a month payments are fooling themselves. I bet they are also the same people who never read the fine print on an agreement and complain when they want to cancel service or actually pay to have a technical expert come out and provide service and find out there are fees attached to that. 

    I do not want to get off on a rant here, but working in customer service, it just amazes me what people think they are entitled to these days and how they expect everybody else to take responsibility for everything. 

    Home security has to be a tricky business to operate within because of this perception that the customer is always right. When a loss occurs, I am sure it is nearly impossible to make someone understand that they are legally still obligated to their own property and they cannot blame somebody else. Turning a profit and maintaining a happy client base is crucial.

  • Anonymous

    Front Point Security seems indeed the best choice when it comes to buying an alarm system. But… we should also consider a budget limit. We can’t all afford it but we all want to feel safe whenever we leave our homes or if we don’t trust our neighborhood. So, is there a cheap way to get the necessary protection?

  • Anonymous

    I work for a company that offers home security equipment, service, and installation and we have gone to great lengths to get our product and service outside of the “security” box and show that it can be useful in a number of other ways. 

    Frankly speaking, not every homeowner perceives a need for security services in their respective neighborhoods.  However, there are not many people that would not want to make their homes more efficient or be able to exercise greater control over them when they are away.  New security hardware and software make this very possible.

    The service we offer allows users to log in to an online account from virtually anywhere they can get on the internet and control certain functions of their home.  They can turn lights on and off, adjust the temperature, and even open and close the garage door, all with the push of a button from their laptop computer or even their smart phone.

    The possibilities of this functionality are truly endless.  The only challenge is how to open people’s minds up to the potential.

  • acustis

    Hi All,

    I’m glad I found this site. I have an appointment to get an alarm system installed from another company but they can’t seem to come out until next week.

    We just had a break-in and feel like the crooks may come back since they have seen what we own. I called them but the offices are closed. I was just hoping to get some answers now. I will call them back tomorrow (Sat).

    How soon does Front Point take to come out? Do they want a huge deposit/perfect credit?

    I’m leaning toward them the more I read about them.

    Thanks for the info!

    • a secure life

      Hi acustis,

      First of all, I’m terribly sorry you got broken in to – that is a very unpleasant and invasive experience to be sure. Our neighbors were getting broken into last year which is why we got a system.

      You can order Front Point by calling (888) 268-6273. You’ll see various ways of contacting them (email, phone, etc.) on that page.

      Let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help!

      Cheers,
      Alex

  • Anonymous

    There is so much information out there about home security alarm systems, it can be completely overwhelming sometimes. After reading this, however, I feel much more informed about the situation. Many times, it seems like things you read about certain company policies are misleading and almost more like advertisements than not. This article was more about making people aware of the hidden workings of the industry.

    Certainly I was, for instance, totally sold on the idea of not paying for a system, until I read about how the so-called free systems really are not so free. Just like the hidden fine print in a cell phone contract, alarm system companies are apparently also using these underhanded tactics. Charging for early contract termination, that is a racket.

    Right along with their nearly used care salesman tactics of constantly trying to up-sell equipment. However, I was also surprised to read about how activating the system at night while you are home asleep is the time when it will do the most good. Before, I assumed like most other people that burglaries rarely occur while you are in your home, so turning it on before bed was not so important.

    • Security Consultant

      A racket is defined as an illegal activity, such as a tradesperson who continually accepts deposits from clients for work that he has no intention of performing (and therefore never shows up to start the job, despite being paid in advance).

      The biggest and actual problem is that consumers have no concept or understanding of what a contract is.  They believe they have every right to break the contract at any time, for whatever reason, and stop making the payments that they agreed to.

      Then the consumers blame the home security company for "hidden and excessive cancelation fees" which they term as "underhanded tactics", when in fact, it is the consumer who doesn't want to pay the signed contract who is clearly at fault.

      When it comes to breaking a legal contract (which you aren't supposed to do) the alarm company is somehow always "the bad guy".

      Unbelievable.

      So, if I were to sign a three-year contract with you for your business service and then I call you up four months later and say that I want out of the deal, do you answer, "That's cool!" and hang up?

  • Anonymous

    It all seems complicated… I thought about DIY installation but gave up and decided to leave it to specialists. I found a local service provider. It cost a lot, but I am happy with the effects.

  • Anonymous

    I like how you touched on the idea of paying for your system up front instead of allowing myself to be locked into those 3 year contracts.  I don't even think most people realize that they can do this.  I think that most people feel that security is just one of those things you pay to have installed and you pay monthly $30 to $70 or so, depending on your system. 

    The fact that you can purchase your system outright if you have the money upfront intrigues me.  I wonder how much something like that would cost.   It's great though because if you do run low on money, you don't have to continue the service.  You can just cancel because the mechanical equipment is already paid for.  However, I can see the downfall in that you have to make sure you are getting a good system. 

    In many ways, you are making an investment.  Should your system fizzle out, there may or may not be any recourse you can take.  With technology advancing at the rate it has been, something that you get right now, might not even be useful 10 years from now.

    • Security Consultant

      Anything that you pay for in installments will always cost more money than paying for it upfront.  Some people are happy with the "convenience" of fixed monthly payments, but there are other options available.

      The recent advances in technology are truly startling.  One can only imagine what the future will hold.

      While you do make a valid point in regard that older alarm systems can not easily take advantage of today's interactive services, some universal kits will soon surface on the market that will provide basic features to those older alarm panels which are still working perfectly after 20 years of service.

      Today's sophisticated component-based alarm panels are intentionally designed to be expandable to accommodate and adjust to future needs, as well as to future equipment add-ons. There was a time when you would "run out of zones" on an older alarm panel and the only solution (apart from cramming numerous sensors onto each alarm zone) was to change the entire panel and all of its keypads to a model that supported more zones.

      Today’s keypads can display dozens of zones, so they don’t need to be changed.  Now, we just add on a zone expander module to the main control panel to gain more hard-wired zones. Wireless sensors add on effortlessly (once the panel can accept wireless devices).

      One of the first things to look for in any alarm product is how many zones are supported?  The “standard” has now become a minimum of 32 zones, which is more than enough for the average home.

      You should have no problems in ten years time with any of the quality alarm products that support interactive features being sold today.  Remember that the most important thing right now is to properly recognize if your security needs are being met, before you concern yourself about the possibility of connecting "new future gadgets" to your alarm system ten years from now.

      Your alarm system is an investment, and should it ever "fizzle out" as you mentioned, you would just replace that one individual part (instead of the entire panel and keypads, as was the case with older systems).  It also helps if the alarm manufacturer has a policy of making new alarm components backwards-compatible with previous releases.

  • A Secure Life

    For Super Bowl week only, FrontPoint is offering a great deal! Ask about FREE monitoring until March 2013 and up to $375 in FREE equipment with your qualifying new contract. Just mention the coupon code: BIG GAME before 2/3/13 at 11:59 PM to see if you are eligible.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, got our Front Point system all up and running and we’re very happy so far. Thanks so much for your detailed article – it definitely pushed us in the direction of Front Point and made our home alarm system purchasing decision that much easier.

    The only thing we can’t figure out is how to simply set the alarm (in home mode), without it beeping for 60 seconds? We let the dogs out at night, and to disarm is not a problem – but to arm the system again and have to listen to a minute of loud beeps is very annoying. Is there any way to arm the system quietly?

    • a secure life

      Good question. There’s a “silent” button on your Control Panel – it’s located inside the flap above the keypad. Not only will it silence the beeps but it will give you an additional 60 seconds (for a total of 2 minutes) before the system arms. You can also control the arming interval via MyFrontPoint.com. Unfortunately there’s not one on the remote keychain, but I’m told FrontPoint is working with GE to have one added.

  • Anonymous

    Haha, I just got an unsolicited email from APX, asking me to try their alarm system, and offering some insane discount. But the email is so poorly written all I could do was laugh. Riddled with spelling errors. Check this out (corrections in []):

    Get your Ffree [free] home Security System Today!

    Monitored Smoke Detectors protect you [your] home…

    Click here to see how a monitoried [monitored] SMoke [smoke] detector …

    Give me a break! Now that I think about it, I’m trying to figure out if this email is even legit…

  • Anonymous

    I find it shocking that people think that they are getting a free alarm. I guess I can understand the thought process behind it.  They think the company is banking on the fact that you will be a customer for a long time, so they are making their money that way, like the cable company, but it's funny that you're telling us that this is actually just so that we can pay for the equipment. 

    When you think about it, alarm equipment would have to be so expensive with all its sensors and computers etc.  Then there's the risk that the customer might damage the equipment that you guys have to shoulder.  It's definitely an interesting business.  I'll give you that much. 

    Thanks for making a guest post.  I really like looking under the hood whenever I can.  Companies sugar coat so much that you have to wonder sometimes.  However, in the end, you guys provide a vital service, and I am always grateful and often astonished as the industry offers more benefits with the advancement of technology.  Go geek power!  Seriously, I can actually check the activity at my home from my smartphone?  Awesome!

    • Security Consultant

      People are only offered a free alarm provided that they sign up for a three or five year monitoring agreement.  The alarm company basically, and truthfully, says, "I'll give you a free alarm, on the condition that you must respect your contract agreement."

      The consumer says, "Great!" and signs the contract.

      A year and a half-later, the consumer is transferred out of the country for business.  They call up the alarm company to explain that "they can't possibly use the monitoring services anymore since they're moving out of the country and they now want out of the contract."  The alarm company says, "Not so fast, re-read your contract."

      Then the consumer gets upset once they discover what they believe to be excessive cancelation fees “hidden” in fine print on the contract (that they should have read in the first place when they signed it).

      “What’s the big problem?” these consumers ask.  “We’re only trying to stop the monitoring”.  They rush online to complain that alarm companies are crooks and rip-off artists.  It never seems to dawn on these consumers that they are the ones at fault for breaking a contractual commitment that they agreed to respect.

      If an alarm company actually wanted to give you a free alarm system, they’d ring your doorbell, hand you the equipment in a box, turn right around and you’d never hear from them again.

      In real life, you can only get your free alarm if you respect the terms in the multi-year monitoring contract (which is a fair business agreement considering the actual cost to supply and install your free alarm).

      Seriously: which business does something for you for nothing?

      If this arrangement isn't your cup of tea, then consider upfront payment in full for the alarm equipment that you purchase with a one-year monitoring agreement.

      I hope this explanation helps make these types of contracts easier for everyone to understand exactly why there is no such thing as a "free alarm system".

      Here's the deal about contracts: Don't sign (or co-sign) one that you can't respect.

      Also take note of the fact that the customer isn't "always right".  There are numerous examples of shady businesses taking advantage of consumers.  This isn't one of them.

  • Anonymous

    I hate reading contracts so much.  I'm at a point where I am going to get Prepaid Legal just so that I have a lawyer that can review these things. 

    When it comes to home security systems, I can easily see how it's key to read the fine print, and coming from a professional in the industry, you're really driving this point home. 

    I guess it is really time to grow up.  If I can't stomach the thought of sifting through the Legalese, it is probably better for me to hire someone to do this for me.  I don't want to be locked into a contract like the ones that cable and phone companies often stick you with.  Like you have to stay with them for 2 years or else.  It's ridiculous. 

    You know the funny thing is that most people would remain more loyal to a company if they didn't do that.  Like, I've always used the same cell company off and on for years because they had a pay as you go option.  I tried a contract and ran back to my old company like they were giving away free money.

  • Anonymous

    We just purchased a glass break sensor to add to our Front Point Security system. Quick question – will the sensor go off if it detects a glass breaking in the kitchen or the dining room? It says the sensor has up to 20 feet reception, which would definitely cross into our kitchen and dining room space.

    • a secure life

      Good question. The detection range of 20 feet only applies if there is a clear line of sight between the glass break sensor and the glass. While it’s possible that it will detect glass breakage on the other side of a wall, it’s not designed to do this.

      In other words, in optimal conditions, the sensor can detect the sound of glass breaking up to 20 feet away. If there are objects, a wall, or significant noise interference (such as heat or A/C units) between the sensor and the glass, the detection range gets reduced.

      As a rule of thumb you probably want to place the sensor nearest the glass you’re trying to protect, and away from areas, such as the kitchen, where you anticipate there may be glass breaks.

      Things to note – if you’re going to break a glass in the kitchen it will probably be while you’re inside the house, in which case the glass break sensor might not be armed to begin with. Secondly, you can test the range of the glass break sensor by clapping loudly. You’ll see the red sensor light light up if the glassbreak sensor detects your clap. You may need a second person to help you test if you’re testing from behind a wall.

  • Anonymous

    I think that people misunderstand when it comes to home security. They buy a home security system, but then they become lax in their own behaviors and end up almost encouraging thieves to break into their homes. Just because you have a house alarm system, you should not take it for granted that you are completely protected. Use common sense. The alarm is not actually protecting you, it is just a warning so that you can be prepared. You should still take your other home security methods seriously.

    I'm not saying run out and buy a gun. I am just saying that you should be proactive in protecting your home by taking certain measures along with gettng a security system.

    For instance, you don't need to let everyone know every time you buy something new. This is just a snarky invitation for people who are jealous of what you have. You should also keep your doors and windows locked and be careful about who you let into your home. And, do not post when you will be out of town on Facebook! There is some great home security advice in this article, so I won't go on. Just use your home security system as part of a whole effort rather than counting on it to be the whole thing.

  • Anonymous

    These security system reviews have a lot of information that is very helpful. I had no idea there were so many companies to choose from for house alarms nor did I know that there were so many smartphone interactive options! This is exciting – might be time for me to take the plunge to make my house safer with home security systems.

     

    • Anonymous

      I keep seeing/hearing AlarmForce commercials on the TV with a very catchy jingle that gets stuck in my head.. Are they a good security system company or just one that likes to do a lot of advertising to cover up their weaknesses? Please help as I want to make the right choice based on real reasons; not tv ads!

  • Anonymous

    Just so everyone knows: after 90 days of a dealer install, ADT sends CORPORATE service techs to a customer’s house.

    • Anonymous

      After 90 days the “authorized” dealer SELLS the contract to corporate ADT. I love ADT but everyone should stay away from dealers!!

    • Anonymous

      Is that for follow-up on the quality of the service or what?

  • Steve the security consultant

    If you fully understand that you get what you pay for and that a security system is recommended because it is a need and a want. You need to and want to protect your family. I'm a security consultant and this is what I recommend and can provide for the best prices around:

    • Simon XT – Supports up to 40 wireless sensors and 2 hard wired zones. Can use a translator if more wired zones are desired or needed for an upgrade. System supports up to 8 users and features Smash and Crash technology.
    • Primary cellular dialer – No phone lines or Internet connection needed. Featuring the latest "smash and crash" technology. It is a small chip that is hidden from sight and is protected by tampers as well as the above feature.
    • Image Sensor – A motion sensor camera that sends snapshots straight to your smart phone. Can also be accessed and activated remotely using our mobile control app.
    • Mobile Control "App" – A free application for use on any smartphone or iPad/iPhone. Allows you to arm (away/stay) and disarm your security system remotely through your smartphone. You can also access and peek in on your image sensor/s.
    • Door sensors – I can provide a few with no upfront cost but then you need to pay for any additional door or window sensors at a very fair and affordable cost.

    I have several years in the security industry and have done installs in the past. I am located in southern California. Contact me for a free no obligation security consultation and quotation. Thanks for the great post and for reading my reply.

    Steven Langlois

    (951) 224-1536

  • Anonymous

    When it comes to the Best Alarm System that I’ve had the privilege to check out and test, hands down it was ADT. Their service installs are professional and complete. The computer monitoring system is by far the best I’ve seen. My vote is for ADT.

    Thanks,
    Edgar

  • Anonymous

    I’m all signed up and loving our Front Point home alarm system so far. The customizability over our old alarm system makes it worth the additional $7/ month alone. Plus there’s the fact that our old alarm company had zero customer service and was using our old land line, which is exposed (and therefore vulnerable to cuts). Now that we’re on cellular I feel much more secure.

    One thing I don’t quite understand – when I log into MyFrontPoint, why are there two sensor name drop-downs under Security -> Control Panel Settings?

    • a secure life

      You can use the second-drop down to get more specific. If you have two window sensors in your office, you could define the first drop-down as “office” and the second drop-down to specify the location of each window sensor.

      For example, you could specify the sensor on the north side of the office as “office” (first drop-down) and then “north” (second drop-down). If the window is open as you arm your home alarm system on the way out, your control panel will say “office north open,” or something to that effect.

  • Anonymous

    I used to think that those signs in the yards and windows were great ideas when it came to making someone avoid picking your house as the one to rob. Now I think you might be better off without them. If people know how to get around your system, then you make it really easy when you advertise the brand you are using. Chances are that they know exactly how to get around it if they know which one it is.

    I also agree that the visible keypad is a ridiculous idea. My friend just bought a house with one of those. It is actually on the outside of his garage door. I did not want to point out the obvious fault in that to him, because it would have upset him, but seriously, on the outside of your house? Even if they do not actually rip the key pad off of the garage, all they really have to do is stand there and watch what you type in. And, since everyone has a cell phone with a camera these days, it would be really easy to just stand in a window and record the motions of the hand. Video technology would easily allow someone to enlarge the video and get your code without you even knowing it.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t recommend anyone to Protect America… Instead of honoring a promotion on their product, they gave some lame excuse as to why I didn’t fit their cryptic credit algorithm, which no one seemed able to explain to me (including supervisors). It almost comes across as discrimination when you have an excellent credit score of 765 (verified myself online with Transunion for same day), but still can’t get their service (on promotion — sound shady much?) because "that’s what the algorithm says, you don’t have enough credit cards, etc".

    So now we penalize people for correctly managing their debt (if this was in fact true)? Nice.
    And completely asinine. IMO if they are that mentally challenged that they consider a credit score of 765 insufficient from the get go, I shudder to think about the quality of the product.

    • Anonymous

      I feel your pain. We experienced a similar situation surrounding our homeowners/auto/umbrella liability insurance policies. Like you, we have a stellar credit rating (800), no debt, pay credit card balances in full every month, never had a late payment on anything…ever, etc. Wouldn't you think we would be good risks? Not necessarily.

      We found out that we were not given the best pricing by our insurer due to a "insurance bureau score" based on things like not enough credit (more potential debt) available, no gas credit cards, no sales finance accounts and several other "proprietary issues."

      Upon investigation, we learned that there is a company called ChoicePoint that creates these "insurance bureau scores" and sells them to insurers. The insurers, in turn, mark up their "best pricing" numbers to their benefit, and the local insurance agent benefits also due to their percentage of an inflated number based on sheer HS. We dumped our insurer and found one who didn't use the ChoicePoint system. We complained to our state insurance regulator, and never heard a thing back. ChoicePoint should be shut down, and their executives should be locked up for fraud and collusion. Parasites one and all!

  • Anonymous

    This is the most comprehensive article I’ve found on finding a home security system. It’s amazing to me how many company-generated, biased articles there are out there run by ADT, Brinks, etc. that are simply pimping their annoying sales pitches across the Web.

    It has become increasingly difficult to find an in-depth, helpful review, that doesn’t have a “free trial” or “buy now” link every other sentence.

    Let’s face it – this article provides good information. But like me, you don’t need to make your purchasing decision off one piece of information. As A Secure Life wisely suggests, you should spend a couple days doing your own due diligence. Ask neighbors and family whom they use/ are happy with, search Google for negative and positive reviews on companies, etc.

    Basically – create a “pros/ cons” list to help you come up with the best home security system.

    I’ve come up with my own choice, but am not going to reveal the “winner” to prevent from biasing your perspective. I would like to take the time to thank A Secure Life for doing their write up and helping me gather useful information on not only home security systems, but the ability to research and analyze the home security market, in particular the DIY market, in more detail.

  • Anonymous

    We have had ADT for almost a year and recently had a break-in where the burglars tore the equipment off the wall. Seems that while installation was very affordable, replacement is going to be about 3 times what the initial cost was. I am not asking them (servicing company is California Security) to replace things for free, just to treat me as they would a new customer and I can’t even get them to call me back about it. Thankfully I am only on a 12 month contract, and I will be out of it in just a couple months. Any suggestions on a company that actually treats existing customers fairly AFTER a break-in?

  • Anonymous

    The editor makes the point that this article was written by a person who actually is a home security system expert. Therefore, many others, including myself, might find these tips and pieces of information to be very helpful.

    The first thing that I learned was regarding the prices of these systems. I had been under the impression that it was fairly inexpensive to actually provide the system itself and that the monthly monitoring was where the real money was made. According to this article that is not true. While you may be able to find systems that will only cost 30 or 40 dollars a month, the company will also insist upon a contract. A three year term is pretty standard today. The thing is that if you decide to cancel in the future, you will be required to pay 80 to 90 percent of the remaining balance. Our expert points out that this is because it is expensive to provide such a system, and the security system is ensuring that they will not take a loss.

    • Security Consultant

      In any business agreement, you are required to respect any contract that you sign for the term (amount of time) indicated on the contract.

      If you sign a one-year contract, you are required to pay for one year.

      Each contract will also indicate what is necessary (by the client) in the event of early cancelation, or termination, of the contract.

      Example: A client has signed a three-year contract but now wishes to terminate or end this legal agreement after only one-year.  The contract will stipulate what is required of the client in order to end the contract before its time.

      This is true of all businesses and all contracts, and is not limited to the alarm industry.

      Let's not overlook the fact that a client who wishes to terminate their contract is not respecting the terms that were initially agreed to (regardless of what is now happening in the client's life, such as losing a job or being transferred out of the country).

      There should be no unexpected surprises if you read the contract before signing it.

  • Richard

    Great article. Well thought and researched clearly. Terrific resource. I'd love to talk with you about republishing it on our blog. I'll send an email to you.

    Richard Davis

    A1 Security Cameras

  • Anonymous

    There was a phrase from this article that stuck out to me and it was “sifting through the alarm jungle” in reference to just how many companies there are out there now that are offering similar services and the challenge that lies in trying to pick one that suits your needs. 

    Now, the mixed metaphor aside, I think this really is a fact.  There are so many companies that offer the same or similar kinds of service, how do you make a decision?  I think a big answer lies in how confident you are in using equipment and services like these.  If you have never had home security or management services in your home before, then you may want to find a company that has a better customer service reputation than another who may be somewhat cheaper.

    On the other hand, if you are confident in how these systems operate and how they are installed and so forth, then you can look for a better deal elsewhere.  The one thing I will say though, is the more well-known the company, the more likely burglars are to fear it.

  • Anonymous

    Wow – thanks for the in-depth review on alarm systems! This answered a ton of my questions :)

    One more question I have before I make my decision on a provider, and I’m not sure they all handle this the same way – when a motion sensor is tripped on break-in, does it trip the alarm right away, or does it simply initiate the 30 second sequence (similar to when a door is opened)?

    On that note – does a window initiate a 30 second sequence as well? In other words – I know the door initiates a 30 second (or whatever you adjust it to) alarm sequence, but what is the delay if the other types of alarm sensors are tripped?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

    • a secure life

      Hi Jeff,

      Good question. I got in touch with Front Point about your question, and according to them, by default, the only alarm delay is for the doors, to give you a chance to disarm when you come in.

      However, since, with the exception of glass break sensors (for windows), the alarm sensor type used on the doors and windows is the same, there is an entry delay for the windows as well. All other sensors – including motion and glass break sensors, don’t have an entry delay.

      You can change all this – set specific entry delays for all your alarm sensor types, by logging into your Front Point control panel and adjusting your settings. This interactivity and flexibility in features is one of the benefits of going with Front Point.

  • Anonymous

    You are so right about so many things here. For one, people are buying house alarm systems for all the wrong reasons. My house was broken into a few years back and although it put me in a financial bind because they stole items that I use for work, I still felt a vast sense of relief that my family and I were not home at the time of the break in. You can replace just about any material item, but keeping your family safe should be the main concern.

    I know the keypads you are talking about too. I have always wondered why anyone would want to use such a system. Some are even installed on the outside of the house to allow for shutting the alarm off before going into the garage. I don't even know why you would bother to waste your money on an item like that. You might think just seeing that keypad is going to deter a thief, but the truth is it probably brings them relief. They just tear it off the wall and feel even better because they know that is the only security device you have. The only way I would have one of those would be as a decoy.

    • Security Consultant

      Keypads which are installed outside of a home or business are only keypads which are designed to withstand the elements (rain, snow, etc.).

      Exterior keypads are "tampered" and "supervised", which ensures that if someone yanks them off of the wall that an alarm will be generated.

      All keypads (interior and exterior) should have a programmable “keypad lock-out feature” which will disable the keypad if too many “wrong” access codes are entered by a thief in an attempt to guess one of the “real” access codes.  If the keypad is programmed to “lock-out” for fifteen minutes after three incorrect access codes are entered, you will have to wait until the time expires to regain control of the alarm system.

      Entering a valid access code during the lock-out period will not work.

      Typically, when alarms are installed they are not programmed with the "lock-out feature" on interior keypads of homes.  Keypads inside a business or shop which are accessible by the public (client) and exterior keypads should all have the "lock-out feature" programmed.

      The keypad that I’m not a fan of is known as a self-contained alarm system.  This type of keypad also contains the alarm communicator, or “brains”, which is used to transmit messages to the monitoring station.

      From a strictly security point of view, there is no logical reason for exposing the “brains” of your alarm system inside a keypad that can be accessed by a criminal.

      My understanding of the “Crash-and-Smash” feature of the self-contained GE keypad being offered by FrontPoint and others is that in order for this feature to actually work, two conditions must absolutely be met:

      1. The alarm system must be armed, and
      2. An alarm zone must be triggered (by or during the "Crash") before the GE self-contained keypad is attacked (or "Smashed").

      Ask yourself how many hours, especially when you’re off from work, that you remain inside your home when your alarm system is not armed?  Can you absolutely ensure that a pre-alarm zone will be triggered if the alarm system is armed?

      Now, let’s increase the odds and stack them in your favor that the “Crash-and-Smash” feature will not be circumvented by a criminal (either by your alarm system not being armed, or by non-detection of the "crash"):

      If I were to install the same GE alarm system being offered by FrontPoint and other alarm companies in my own home, I would:

      1. Hide the self-contained GE keypad which has the cellular communicator in a secure location which is difficult to find or gain access to.  I would not use this keypad to arm or disarm my alarm system.  By hiding this keypad, I want to secure and protect the communicator which is inside the self-contained keypad.
      2. Install an additional keypad at my front entrance door (for those very rare occasions when the internet connection doesn’t work or I’ve forgotten my cell phone inside the house), and
      3. Use the interactive features on a password protected cell phone to arm and disarm my home alarm system remotely.

      I have years of security experience behind my reasoning and advice, but you are free to do as you choose with the self-installation of your own alarm system.

  • Anonymous

    If you had ever watched Jeff Foxworthy, you would know that the best home security system is a wife. Or a woman with PMS who happens to be in man-hating mode. I dare you to try and get anything out of that home!

    In all seriousness, I especially like the stress that is put on the fact that you get what you pay for. There are some things you can be cheap on. You can buy cheap socks or cheap curtains, but you never even think in terms of cheap when it comes to your home security. After all, you aren't just talking about your material possessions. You're also talking about your family and any other loved ones that happen to be in your home. How much are they worth?

    I was going to say that the best home security system is the one that involves you never owning anything of value, but that isn't true either. Sometimes people just assume you have something they want or again, it's your family that's in jeopardy, not your material possessions.

  • Anonymous

    I love this article! Please thank your anonymous writer from people like me. Yes, in the very first section the truth is put into black and white. I don't want a security system that just protects my home when I'm not there.  I can't think of a single thing in my house that is as important to me as my family's safety. I want something that will alert me when I'm home and not wait until the guy is already standing in the doorway. I also want the police notified because as much as I know I can protect myself, I'd rather let them do it.

    I truly love the part about how a good security system needs to be unique too. Let's just say that every neighbor in my area buys the same alarm system. That's great because you can always call a neighbor if you have some minor glitch that they might know about. On the other hand, it's not so great when the neighbor's teenagers figure out that the whole area has the same system as they have…and know how to operate and circumvent.

    When shopping for a home alarm system I have been tempted to go with some of the well known names in security, but so is everyone else. I think I would rather just hire a security expert and have a system put in that meets my needs, not my neighbor's.

    • Security Consultant

      I would like to point out that there is no danger in everyone on your block having the same alarm system. I install the same make and model of alarm system at the majority of my clients’ homes.

      Rather, the security danger occurs if all of the alarm systems on your block are installed in exactly the same way – such as by placing the alarm control panel next to the basement electrical box in every home.

      The experienced burglar who enters your home will make an immediate beeline to the basement electrical box, since he knows that all of your neighbors have their alarm panels installed there.

      If you are worried that the neighborhood kids understand too much about your model of alarm system, such as bypassing zones without your knowledge – – then you can have your alarm installer program your security system so that an access code is necessary in order for anyone to bypass zones.

  • Anonymous

    We’ve had an alarm system for 15 years with the same company and recently have had a lot of problems that they don’t want to resolve unless they can sell us thousands of dollars of new equipment, astronomical installation fees, and long term contracts with a lot of special clauses and fees. I have been all over the web doing research and was overwhelmed with all of the conflicting information. Your article is the only truly informative and unbiased information I’ve come across. You’ve just made our decision on new equipment and service a lot easier. THANK YOU!!

    • A Secure Life

      Awesome – glad we could help. Spending a bunch of $$ on problems the alarm company should fix doesn’t sound like the best idea to us either ;) Let us know how your new system goes.

  • Anchoveta

    Very complete and informative article! Learn a lot on what to look for home alarms, and which one is the best so far :)

    Thanks for the info!!

  • Anonymous

    I have actually had the good fortune to research quite a bit about home security systems.  I also am an owner of one system in my home.  I will not name the system I own and the service I subscribe to, but I will explain some of the features and things that I like about if you may want to find your own system.  I would tell you, but I do not want this to come off sounding like an ad or anything and I think there are a lot of options out there that you have as a consumer to find a similar service. 

    The main reason I decided to purchase a security system in the first place was because I travel a great deal for work and my house will sit empty for a couple weeks at a time.  I live in a place that has pretty severe winters so what I am most fearful of is the heat to somehow get turned off or go out and I would have a pipe freeze and burst, causing a flood.  My system monitors the temperature in the house and if it falls below a certain temperature, an alert will be sent to the monitoring center that my system is wired into.  They will then contact me and offer assistance in locating a technician to go fix the problem or at the very least letting me know that I need to call a friend to go check it out. 

    It is also comforting to know that the home is monitored for break ins as well.  I live in a pretty good neighborhood so I generally am not worried about crime taking place.  However, you never know when tragedy can strike and the impossible can happen.  My system is based on a hard-line phone being in my home and is subsequently wired directly to the police and fire departments so that no call needs to be made in order for authorities to show up immediately, the system makes it happen automatically.  This can save precious seconds and minutes in case of an emergency. 

    Perhaps the thing that I like the most is that this system is not just catered around security features, although it obviously is rooted in that.  However, it does have a lot of other functionality.  I can set it to email me alerts when certain things occur.  I can set certain lights to go on and off within the house and even open and close the garage door remotely.  Basically, anywhere I can access the internet I can effectively “manage” my home.  It is a very nice thing to be able to do and I really enjoy the ability to do so.

    • Conley

      Do you mind telling me what kind of security system you have. It took me a long time to get to your email. I liked it. Thank you.

      • Security Consultant

        Hi Conley,

        In case that the person who posted the original comment doesn't write back to tell you which alarm system he/she has, I can assure you that any major alarm manufacturer's product on the market today can be set up exactly as was described.

        Any new features or products introduced onto the market by one alarm supplier will soon be copied by all of the competition, even if that feature is patented.  The competition ALWAYS has alternatives which will "do the exact same thing" as a patented feature of another manufacturer's panel.

        However, there is one point about monitoring in the comment that I would like to address:  Where I live and install security systems, we are not allowed to connect our alarm panels directly to the Police Station or Fire Department.

        Communications from our security systems are sent directly to a monitoring station that first investigates the signals and then tries to confirm if it is a legitimate emergency or a mistake being caused by an end-user.  We identify numerous false alarms this way and avoid sending the Police to homes needlessly, which may incur a false alarm fee being charged to the homeowner.

        Unless there is a bylaw in your community that doesn't allow the use of monitoring stations, I don't recommend alarm signals being sent directly to the Police or Fire Departments.

    • Anonymous

      Can someone help me decide which security system to get? My house was broken into and now I need a house alarm ASAP! I live in Arizona, near Flagstaff and would appreciate your help!!

      • Alex

        So sorry to hear that your house got broken into!! We would be happy to provide some recommendations as well as pros and cons to help you make the right choice for you. Read the article above for details or search this site using the search box at top for "security systems." Please post another comment to let us know who you go with and your experience with that company. All the best!

  • MikeA

    Based on your ratings, and their website, I was excited about using FrontPoint as my next security system. However, when I got the call back from their salesperson she turned out to be the opposite of what you described. While not rude, she was monotone, unknowledgeable, gave me incorrect information, misled me with regard to the specs of the sensors, and tried to convince me to go with a lesser system than I currently have so she could get the sale. To their credit I spoke with the sales manager to complain, and he did spend time with me in trying to make things right. However, neither could find a solution to give me the same level of security that my home currently has with its existing wired system.

    Instead, your number two pick (Protect America) gave me the experience you describe for FrontPoint (are you shore you didn't get the two mixed up and that Protect America should be your #1?).

    The salesperson at Protect America (Kristin) was an absolute pleasure with which to deal. She was very knowledgeable, had only my best interests in mind, properly qualified me as a customer, was extremely friendly, got a technician on the line to discuss the pros and cons with me, and took the time to assure that if I did get one of their systems that it would be a proper fit. Otherwise, she was more than happy to give me a cheery goodbye and part ways if I couldn't be helped.

    My issue is that cellular with the GE product (used by both FrontPoint and Protect America) can only accept 39 sensors. So, when you see both these companies talking about future expansion, keep in mind that you can only expand up to 39 sensors. The FrontPoint people tried to get around this by telling me to use only motion detectors, which you can't use at night when people are in the house. What was their response? "Most break-ins occur during the day." This didn't exactly make me feel all that comfortable.

    What set Protect America apart (other than the fact that they didn't try to sell me and were extremely knowledgeable) is they took the time to figure out a way around this limitation by having the knowledge to present me with the exact capabilities of each sensor and calculating how I can get the same protection as my wired system with only 39 sensors; and they did not try to hard sell me on a lessor solution like motion detectors. Also, if the wireless limitation of 39 sensors didn't work, they had a back-up plan whereby they can convert my existing wired system into a cellular system by sending me a cellular box to plug into the phone port of my wired alarm. In this case, my wired alarm would work exactly like it works now, only it would be cellular. The FrontPoint sales manager also brought up this solution when I mentioned that Protect America shows it on their website. However, his solution was to advise me to buy my own wired sensor convertor and figure out how to hook it into their control panel; making it clear that they could not support the system and only offer me monitoring. Instead, Protect America has a better option of monitoring your existing wired system through a cellular plug-in, which they fully support (except if something goes wrong with a wired sensor).

    Overall, I was very disappointed in the level of customer service I got from FrontPoint (it was below average and far below the expectations set by this review). Conversely, the level of customer service and friendliness of the Protect America people far surpassed the expectations that this review set for FrontPoint. It's almost as if the FrontPoint people are happy to talk to naive customers to whom they can sell a simple package, and who wouldn't know better if they weren't getting complete coverage. It was like the sales rep was disappointed when she learned that I was an electrical engineer and understood the what's and where's, and was challenging her misinformation because it made no sense. However, the Protect America person was able to speak at my level and offer me a plethora of security options. After speaking with FrontPoint, my impression was that this is not a company with which I would want to do business. Conversely, after speaking with Protect America, I felt that I would be doing business with a company that has excellent customer service and on whom I could rely.

  • Anonymous

    I’m tired of all the commenters that are complaining that this review does or does not include this or that – the bottom line is there’s a heck of a lot of useful information up there, and it’s not like their shoving any particular alarm system down your throat. Like they say – make your own purchasing decision. They even give you tips of how to setup your home to deter burglars in the event that you can’t afford an alarm system at all.

    I, for one, am a fan of A Secure Life. Thanks for taking the time to share your research with us guys.

    • Anonymous

      The fact that the top two companies on this website are the two main companies who mail you the cheapest system GE sells (The Simon XT) and give you a DVD on how to install it yourself. I am saddened by the thought that an elderly client or a single mom trying to protect their home would have to try to install a system themselves when for a small fee most legitimate companies will have a certified professional do it for you.

      Also the Simon is an all-in-one unit, it is designed to be cheap. So this review is tailored towards the least expensive companies, not the best service. I think this is nothing more than a marketing website for two of the newest and cheapest fads in the security industry.

      • a secure life

        We’re not affiliated with any security company. To address your concern, we’ve published our third place winner – ADT. This should help those that need professional installation find a suitable alarm system as well.

  • Anonymous

    The story about home security customers complaining about the quality of their system and the guy simply saying “you get what you pay for” a little bothersome.  I have worked in the construction and home improvement industry in the past and I understand the trouble with trying to do quality work in a market driven by price and consumer fear.  People want to believe that they can get a quality product and install for a price that is generally much less than is realistic.  Good businesses that do good work have to make good money to do so. 

    But home security is a little bit of a different animal to me than something like replacing windows or building a deck.  Home security is sold on the premise that you and your family will be safer from outside threats while in your home.  Doing sub-quality work does not just mean repairs in the future or more maintenance, it could potentially mean the loss of peoples’ lives.  Is it moral to offer a level of service that will not truly protect the people paying for it?  Perhaps better to not offer it at all if you it cannot be done at a price that will get it done effectively. 

    I realize this is kind of a deep issue for the nature of the story, which is aimed more at the nuts and bolts of what a good system should be and how it should be handled as far as installation.  I am talking about something a little more fundamental.  I think a lot of people are highly motivated by fear these days and spend a lot of their money trying to chase it away.  As a country we throw trillions of dollars at National Defense and as individuals we will spend thousands of dollars on home security.  But for those who are driven to fear by advertising and what they see in the news and cannot afford these things, they can get fooled into buying sub par solutions that will ultimately do them no good in the face of an emergency.  Now they are out of their money and their property and worse off than when they started.

    Ok, I went a little “The Jungle” there, but honestly I just get so fed up with how commercialized this country has become and how blatantly companies can purposely make people feel crappy about themselves, about their lives, and about whatever they decide will make that person believe that their product or service will make it all better.  I believe in freedom of speech, but can we make an addendum to say that if you do not have anything nice to say then do not say anything at all?  Then there should be some kind of vigilante justice law that says we can go after people who are openly ripping people off and then laughing in their faces about it.  Ok, I’m done now.

    • Security Consultant

      Thanks for your comment.  Believe me, I understand you perfectly when it comes to trying to do quality work in a market driven by price.  The true craftsman is dying a slow death because he is unwilling to perform quick and shoddy work that is beneath his standards.

      I wrote the article to provide an explanation of what is being offered, and more specifically, what EXACTLY you are getting in installation standards, by some “$30.00 a month alarm basic packages”.

      If you now decide that this type of “basic package” is inadequate for you, then hopefully I have provided you with the knowledge necessary to specifically indicate to an alarm installer what work that you want performed in your own home.

      The alarm industry is not “ripping anyone off” with their “basic alarm packages at $30.00 per month”, especially since this is exactly what the consumers have asked for.  Higher levels of security do exist which require extra installation time, additional equipment and more overall cost.

      Are you going to install a 10 x 16 cedar deck for $300.00?  If that’s the budget that the client is willing to pay, then I won’t blame you if you substitute less expensive pine instead of cedar and if you don’t use stainless steel screws.

      However, how will you feel when the customer complains that you “ripped him off” because his wood is rotting and the cheap nails that you used are causing rust streaks all over the deck?  At $300.00, I don't call this a "rip-off".  You've done your best to provide a deck, yet now the client's unhappy.

      This is what I meant by “getting what you paid for”.

      The truth is that you probably wouldn't get the job had you told the client what it would cost for you to build the deck "properly" with cedar.  But then again, the client didn't specifically ask for a cedar deck – – he wanted one that cost $300.00.

      Don’t worry about going a little “Jungle” on us.  I get that way myself when I realize that burglars are on the catch-and-release-program.

      What’s the cut-off number?  Fifteen?  Forty?  After HOW many burglaries should the guy just remain in jail?

      Don’t get me started…

      I do understand and appreciate your concerns about panic buying based on fear.  My hope was to provide information so that the purchase decision is based on knowledge, and that you are not taken advantage of by people using your fear against you.

  • Guest

    This is such a useful article. I installed a new Frontpoint system not too long ago but was not sure I was maximizing all of its possibilities. So after reading this article, I did some of the tests mentioned here and setup a schedule to test my smoke alarm batteries, monitoring signal, etc. on a regular basis. Thanks to my iPhone and its reminder calendar, I am good to go on this front. I also called Frontpoint to make sure I was not missing anything and sure enough, I had set up a sensor on the kitchen door that they were not reading on their end. Thank goodness there are security experts out there to help us.

    • Brett

      Good thinking on getting in touch with FrontPoint to make sure everything is working on their end. It is important to remember that these home security companies generally will not contact you if there is a communication problem. That is why I perform a monthly checkup (using Google Calendar, I just send myself an automated email). Yes, it is 5 minutes out of my day, but it is great to hear directly from the monitoring station that all of my sensors are connected and working properly.

  • Home Security systems

    Great post on home security system reviews. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

  • Raymond

    The author mentioned that competition in the industry is getting fierce. Oplink Security is an up-and-coming company that offers the same services that the big boys do. But Oplink has better prices and is even easier to use.

    The most striking thing about Oplink is their DIY Plug-n-Play system, which is more impressive than the platforms of the security systems listed above. On the TripleShield page of their website under “True Plug-n-Play” it states “Save money on installation and stop worrying about how to set everything up. Our patent-pending plug-and-play technology automatically installs the entire network and gets every device up and running in under a minute.”

    Price packages are also better than those of the companies listed above, even better than Protect America, which received high marks for supposedly having “the lowest entry price point among top contenders” with monthly monitoring starting at $19.99. Oplink has both a free plan and a $9.99 plan.

    According to the article, FrontPoint’s customer service is what makes it stand out. Oplink’s customer service and product support is just as good, but you probably won’t even need it since the product is simple enough for anyone to install and use.

    • Matt

      Looks interesting, but Oplink requires an existing wireless network.  A power outage (or disconnect) will disable the security, as outlined in the "cellular vs. wireless" section.

  • Mickey

    I like how you kept it simple in showing us what matters most in choosing an alarm. There's so much info out there and before I found your site, I thought I was going to just call up ADT, but now I know that is probably not the best plan. So, thanks for helping me ask the right questions when I do call for a new alarm service.

  • Anonymous

    You are a fraud for not showing everybody’s comments. what a f*ing joke website that only posts comments that you approve of. guess you are a security system for suckers. s*ck on this.

    • a secure life

      We post all comments that aren’t profane, abusive, or contain spam. We edit them for spelling and grammar as well. Because we receive dozens of spam comments each day, and employ limited staff, the moderation process can take some time and it may be a while before your comment shows up. We apologize for the delay.

  • Anonymous

    I just purchase a large home and I am in the process of installing a gated driveway. Do I have my home alarm system integrated with the driveway, or keep it separate? Also, what about garages that are attached to the home?

    I literally just closed on the home, and I am now shopping for home security.

    Please note, the retaining wall attached to the gate would be approximately 5ft tall, so a very determined burglar can jump it, so can you give insight on security for that as well (motion sensors, etc.). Also, are outdoor motion sensors weight driven? In other words, would a raccoon or dogs running around the property set them off?

    • Alex

      Your home alarm system can be integrated with your driveway, although you'll need to use outdoor equipment for the driveway. Your best bet is probably to get a motion activated and external security camera for the driveway. The motion sensors we cover in our articles are for indoor use, and typically are set off by anything weighing 40 pounds or greater.

  • Anonymous

    I found your article very informative – thanks for posting it.

    My clear conclusion is that the right way to go is to engage a security professional with no monitoring company affiliation to advise you before starting to talk with those firms.

    My question is, how does one find such a person? Do they advertise their services in a separate way than in the context of a monitoring service agreement sale?

    • Alex

      Great question. I recommend you check out our article on this topic, how to find a good local security system installer, as well as checking out BBB ratings of local security companies, etc.

      We welcome local security professionals to contact us or comment here with their expertise, credentials, area served, and contact information.

  • Max

    I decided to go with LifeShield because of the Free Kindle offer they had a few months back and am happy so far with the service. My cousin died in a house fire recently so their commitment to fire safety and their backup system for monitoring was what made me decide to go with them from your review. Fingers crossed I never need to truly test this alarm system company but so far, so good.

  • Anonymous

    DSC (Digital Security Controls) has just announced their new wireless self-contained alarm system IMPASSA, which they indicate is a "distributed wireless system" with a main unit and the possibility of adding on additional, separate wireless keypad(s).

    Here's what their new product literature has to say:

    "Because IMPASSA is a distributed wireless system, installers have the flexibility of positioning the panel away from the premise’s entry point. This allows for the installation of the WT5500 2-way wireless wire-free keypad near the entry point so that even if the premise is compromised, the main unit (the IMPASSA panel) cannot be located by the intruder and tampered with.

    For additional protection, install 2-way wireless sirens away from the IMPASSA alarm system to further camouflage and protect its location".

    It looks as if DSC has been paying attention to some of the advice being offered in your article.

  • Anonymous

    I've read some of your comparison articles before and I would think that this one would have been one of the most challenging articles for you to write.  I mean home security systems are so complex and even though the companies are competing with one another, some of them still do not bother to make sure they have the same options that their competitors do.  It seems like the various companies structure their security options differently.  I also think that one person's best option might be another person's second or third best option just because people have different needs in different parts of the country and world.  In one state, the customers might be dealing with a lot of break-ins while in another state, there are other crimes that are common.  One person that needs security might be extremely wealthy.  Protecting those types of homes takes very special equipment. The home security company that serves wealthy clientele might not offer a good solution for a person in a small apartment.  Some people might need cameras, while others might have set up surveillance with old laptop computers and web cams.  Every home, family, neighborhood and city is different when it comes to keeping safe.

  • Garland Tulk

    I think of alarm systems and monitoring cameras whenever it comes to home security systems. The pity is that in most cases, the system works only after the harm has been done. Everyone should just take enough precautions anyway.

  • Anonymous

    I cannot install my own home alarm system and the ADT sales people drive me crazy! Does any one have any other good recommendations or tips?

    • a seeker of security

      And I have to say Protect America stands alone in excellent discussion about their product and answering my questions—specifically.  We will be buying a security system very soon and I've phoned ADT, Frontpoint and Protect America.  ADT was out quickly because it was like talking to a car salesman, PLUS, they sent emails to say they had an appointment with us, when we never set one up! (I called to say, 'There never WAS an appointment.'  They politely 'cancelled'.)

      Frontpoint's salesman was nice, but he'd never answer my specific questions other than (what seemed to be) the scripted information in front of him.  He literally would switch my question around to 'fit' his response.  And, Frontpoint continued to phone me when I was clear to each company we would phone them back with our decision. (And yes, I called ADT to tell them we would not be going with their company.)

      However, while I see that you've listed Protect America as second place—-in our experience, Protect America has been the best in terms of salespeople, price, explanations and considerations of their product. Their representative was courteous, helpful and didn't 'steer away' from my specific questions.  Additionally, they've only contacted our home one more time to ask if they could answer any more questions.  Not pushy; not salesman-ish; just willing to answer my questions specific to our situation/home.  I was/am impressed.  Haven't purchased the system yet, but from this point, I think PROTECT AMERICA stands out as number one for me..

      • Robert

        It's interesting reading so much praise about Protect America, I put stock in those who have used the service over those who are evaluating solely based on salespeople. You did state that, so I do understand the context of your review/comment. I would trust my home to a 5 year old hamster before I would ever trust it with PA again. I totally agree about the pitch. It was a good pitch, but as far as execution – that's where it fell tremendously short. Here's the gist of the nightmare I lived with PA.

        Installation:

        1. The installer talking me through the self-installation was incredibly impatient and obviously had something far better to do than to help his customer install the sensors.
        2. He provided zero installation advice. It wasn't until I had stuck most of the sensors that I realized I had not placed them in an optimal position.  Without question, placement do's and dont's should have been covered before I affixed the first one.

        Customer Service:

        1.  My little 1 year old had learned to walk and as such was a "Lean Mean Alarm Sensor Removing Toddling Machine".  Yep, the little guy removed some on some windows, all on others. There was no way for me to know what went where, so I did what I knew to do. I had to disable the alarm. Otherwise it would have just gone off all the time. Well PA called me 3 times to tell me my alarm system was off. Each and every time I explained why it was off and that I needed someone from PA to call me and help me reattach the sensors. This happened at at a minimum of 3 times. Did they ever call me back? No. Never. Yet PA continued to charge me monthly even though they knew I had a security system that was completely disabled. I could not enable it because of all the missing window sensors.
        2. Finally when my 2 years was up, I stopped payment. They sent me a letter stating that they had automatically renewed my contract for another year or two, that was the straw that broke my back.

        Essentially when I finally spoke to a manager, he looked at my account and saw all the complaints I had about not being able to use my system because the sensors had bee taken off by my son and I needed help putting them back on, they let me out of the 2nd contract. Yes, I promise you, he literally read my story in my account. He apologized, but how did it continue on that long?

        I would never consider using Protect America again. Never. When my friends ask me if I have a security system or have heard of Protect America. I give them the sternest warning possible.

        Does PA provide good service? I'm sure somewhere they do, but frankly I could give 1/2 of a cent about how they do elsewhere, the way my account was handled was something out of a bad, bad consumer experience encyclopedia of nightmares.

        Good luck with whomever you choose – and for those who have had a great time with PA – more power to you.  As for me and my house, we will never let them cross the threshold of my front door again.

        I'm sure I could have done things differently.  I'm sure I could have called and called and called. But I did tell them what the problem was.  At least the individuals I spoke to assured me the information would get to the right people  If it did, I couldn't tell because I just paid 2 years for a system that I promise you, I only used 3 months.

        • Chad

          Thanks for providing your story, it is always good to hear different experiences.

          My one takeaway is that I find it very surprising that you continued to let Protect America bill you after your system was no longer working? I know if I were paying for a service that didn't work, I would be calling the company every day as well as stopping payment or telling the credit card company not to authorize any purchased from Protect America.

          Also, since your toddler caused damage or misplaced the sensors, I feel that it is your responsibility to purchase new sensors. I am not a PA customer, just my two cents on the situation.

    • Chrissy

      I know that FrontPoint can help you find a sub-contractor to install the alarm for you because I asked them about installation and they said that they can quote for a professional installation. I have FrontPoint and I thought that it would be hard to install the equipment. It literally took 15 minutes. The best part is that they have a 30 day risk free trial so if it doesn't work out, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked. I switched from ADT to them and they are so much better.

    • Anonymous

      Appreciate this post. Very helpful in helping me think about which company to go with for my home security system. You have given me a lot to think about… I will be back soon to make my final decision. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been a loyal customer to them for 15 years. They lied on the phone set up appointment just to charge me $90. When they got there, even though I had a service plan of course, the repair and replacement parts were overpriced. If I was a new customer it would have been free. Now I can’t cancel until 2013, otherwise it’s a $430 charge. Stay away from this company. Buy a do-it-yourself kit – it’s cheaper.

  • Anonymous

    Since comments don’t post right away, are they being screened and only certain posts actually make it to the list??

  • Anonymous

    This website seems like a paid advertisement for frontpoint. If you listed others #2, 3, 4, etc. it may be more believable.

    • a secure life

      Alarm companies are reviewed throughout our site, this article was originally written/ dedicated to the 2010 winner. That being said, we’ve gone ahead and added the runner up and third place winners. Thanks for the suggestion/ feedback.

  • Anonymous

    I'm surprised that so many companies are still out there considering the fact that ADT bought up so many security business. I was also extremely surprised that ADT was considered one of the best companies. I have done a lot of research on home security options and the customer reactions I read about ADT were shocking to say the least. I had actually considered the company before reading the reviews, but now I wouldn't let one of their technicians anywhere near my home.

    I was really impressed with FrontPoint Security and their use of Rapid Response. After all, if it's good enough for military use, it's got to be good enough to protect my home. I also like the fact that the company is award-winning. It means that they must be doing something right.

    I will say that while there are a number of excellent companies on the market, I have also considered DIY systems. I like the idea of being in control of my home security and also not having to let strangers into my home. While many people think that these technicians are professionals, there have been many cases where these employees have taken the job to seek out homes to rob. It's a scary thought and even scarier when you consider that these technicians know how to disarm your system.

  • Anonymous

    I have got to share a story with you guys. My wife and I made a pizza last night, and must not have made the crust thick enough, because the cheese boiled over in the oven, burned, and made a bit of a smoky stink of the place when we opened the oven.

    Needless to say, we couldn’t fan all the smoke out the windows, and our monitored fire alarm (and our old un-monitored one) went off almost immediately.

    Before I could even walk to the panel to disarm the alarm, Rapid Response (FrontPoint’s monitoring station) called to ask if we were okay. The response time must have been less than 5 seconds – unbelievable! The alarm went off again (more smoke) and they called back right away. Needless to say, this time they suggested I could put a 15 minute hold on the alarm until we got all the smoke out. We did, and the air cleared up shortly thereafter.

    We’ve gotten fast responses before for false alarms and such, but this is a record. I’m impressed (and feel safe knowing we’re in good hands)!

    • Anonymous

      Alarm companies call the fire department first and then you. So the house is on fire and they waist the time calling you first? That is wasted time. Any company I know of tells you that they dispatch first and then calls you. Nice pitch for your company that you probably work for. I usually see this from an ADT dealer.

      • Anonymous

        Actually, instructions are customizable. It is up to the customer whether or not the fire department is called first.

        That said, the default instructions for an operator at Rapid is to call the fire department prior to the customer. It is possible that either the customer or Front Line altered those instructions to have the customer called first.

        Either way, the customer can call Rapid and make any changes he or she likes.

        • Anonymous

          In an effort to reduce false Fire Department dispatches, most alarm companies will ALWAYS call the customer’s residence first upon receiving a signal from a smoke detector. Fire departments are not keen on sending a truck and crew over to your home if you’re burning pizza in the oven, or if your smoke detector is defective.

          If the monitoring station first attempts to contact the customer at home, where the alarm signal is originating from, the homeowners can prevent a false dispatch if they are only experiencing “burnt pizza” as mentioned.

          The procedure that the monitoring station will follow AFTER the initial verification call made to the client’s home is then customized to the customer’s wishes. Your alarm company should properly explain the various choices available to you so that you can select how that you wish each individual alarm signal (fire, burglary, panic, etc) to be processed at the monitoring station.

  • Anonymous

    I found this article to be interesting, as the company I work for has recently entered the home security market.  [Ed: our anonymous security consultant continues to provide us with excellent information. As such, and for brevities sake, we have created a dedicated article from this comment you can read by visiting the Security Alarm Systems page.]

    • Anonymous

      I just moved and need to find a new house alarm for my new home. I had ADT but do not have the time (or money!) with my new job to meet and get an estimate, be oversold, and take time off work for the installation. So, I really want to believe that ProtectAmerica, Front Point or one of the other self install companies could work for me. I am not very handy or tech-savvy so I am a but hesitant. Anyone have any tips? I am trying to decide by the end of the day Wednesday so that maybe I can have the equipment to install this weekend if I go that route.

    • Anonymous

      100% dedicated wireless house alarms seem the way to go based on this review… wonder if all the companies are working on this technology and if more do it, will it be cheaper? Hope so because it sounds important for home safety.

    • Anonymous

      I lost my job and cannot afford a home security system. What other ideas can help keep my house safe?

      • a seeker of security

        Get a dog, if you can't afford a home security system. But if you don't have a job, why do you need a security system if you're home all the time? lol

        • a Security Professional

          Your comment reinforces the fact that the majority of consumers truly have no understanding of the importance or usage of home security systems.

          Your own personal belief is that alarms are used when the house is unoccupied, hence your question as to why a person "would need a security system if you're home all the time?"

          The most important usage of a residential security system is when you're at home sleeping, to prevent someone from coming into your house unannounced.

          However, your suggestion of "getting a dog" is a valid point.  A dog which will react to, and bark at, someone entering the home at night would also provide an early warning of potential danger to the homeowner.

          Hopefully, your dog doesn't sleep too soundly and isn't friendly with "strangers".

          • a seeker of security

            OK, after 27 years in this wonderfully fufilling industry, I can't tell you how many homeowners say "I have a dog, why do I need a system?" 

            1. I am also a "pet parent" and care deeply for our two dogs.  We even have them under "canine healthcare", so when I hear this, I ask what about the security of your pets?  Most dog's don't have the needed training to "secure" a facility/home.

            2. What if a fire occurs?  With a Security System that has at least one (1) monitored smoke detector, a dispatch center can alert the fire department of the home's pets.

            Today, most companies will install a security system with either little or no cost upfront.  My question is why wouldn't you get one?  Insurance discounts, peace of mind, and as long as you are using a company that has a positive reputation in your market, it almost seems counter intuitive not to have a monitored Security System.

  • Anonymous

    My ex-boyfriend is using an RF jammer to bypass my ADT alarm system. Is there a system out there that prevents this from happening? I know Response Alarm does but they’re located in the UK.

    • Anonymous

      Sig Sauer

      • Anonymous

        I will second the Sig Sauer. A nice P238 is small and easily manageable, but still powerful enough to stop the ex.

  • Anonymous

    I don't think most people think about fire and medical alarms with their systems unless they are elderly or a family member has some other type of urgent health issue. However, this is so important. As a single mother, I definitely have thought about that function for my own home alarm system, but I realize that most people just think about burglars when they think of security. It is important for a company to have a comprehensive package that covers everything. I think it is also important for these features to be quickly and easily accessible. When I first started shopping for home security, the first thing I looked for was security that would allow me to just press a button and summon help. I started out looking at systems geared towards the elderly because I knew that those systems featured push button functionality, along with the protection from burglars. I think all households should look for push button functionality for summoning the authorities. Keep in mind that you never know what will happen in an emergency. You will not want to think about dialing a phone number or remembering codes.

  • Anonymous

    Due to the high value of this comment, we've created an entire article out of it. Visit our home safety checklist article to see it. We would like to thank the security professional that wrote this for all his valuable contributions to A Secure Life and our readers!

  • Anonymous

    When initially searching for our security system, we first got on the phone with Gaylord Security, apparently the largest authorized ADT reseller. Their customer service representative got downright nasty trying to close a sale. The supervisor came on the phone and literally got to the point where we felt our family’s safety would be in danger if we didn’t choose them as our security provider.

    And they kept bringing up the fact that ADT secures and monitors the White House. Well guess what? Pretty much everywhere on the Internet you’ll see evidence that the system ADT corporate uses on the White House (understandably) is completely different from the personal systems their “resellers” are pushing on people. We were so turned off by Gaylord that at the end of the phone conversation all we wanted to do was hang up.

  • Anonymous

    This is a really good site with a TON of info. I moved into a house that is wired with ADT alarm system — I have no idea how to use it though. If I go with another alarm company, will that mean a brand new installation? I’m not too concerned with property protection, but my job carries a lot of persona risk. I’d like to have an alarm monitoring center on standby in the event someone did break in.

    • A Secure Life

      A lot of times an alarm company can use your existing equipment. FrontPoint and Protect America, for example, use GE equipment. Take a look at the equipment and see what brand it is. Then ask some security companies in your area (or ones we’ve reviewed on this site) if they support that particular brand of security equipment.

  • Anonymous

    After reading this article and plenty others I decided to use Frontpoint. Everything mentioned above is correct. I had a garage door sensor that malfunctioned and they replaced it free of charge. There is a 2-year warranty on equipment.

    I left my home one day and forgot to close the door all the way and before I left my neighborhood Frontpoint called and asked if everything was okay since the alarm was set before I left. I checked the house and it was the front door not being closed all the way.

    I have used Frontpoint since May, 2011 and I am very satisfied.

    • amyb

      It sounds like you have found a great alarm company that meets your needs in terms of home security! Thank you for dropping by with a story of your experience so that others can make a more informed decision on who they choose to utilize for their own home security experience!

    • Anonymous

      I read the great reviews of Frontpoint, but have had problems right off the bat. They sent my system earlier than I had requested, and told me I’d get the first month free, but they charged me for that first month too. I feel like the salesperson didn’t listen to me at all, even though we reviewed the terms and dates carefully over the phone. I sent him an e-mail, and he never replied. I’m starting to question choosing this company. Perhaps it’s just this one sales person. I’ll try contacting someone else and see if I have better luck. If not, I’ll return the system during my supposed 30-day trial period (can I believe the sales guy who told me there’s a trial period?) If I’m having so many problems upfront, that’s a bad sign.

      • Anonymous

        We deeply apologize that your initial experience with FrontPoint did not meet your expectations. What separates FrontPoint from many other alarm companies is the exceptional customer experience, and in this case, we definitely did not meet that standard. By now, you should have been contacted by our support team to directly address your concerns, and properly credit you for the first month of service. Again, we apologize for your initial experience, and hope that we can earn back your trust to provide both the alarm system and service that you expect and deserve.

  • Anonymous

    When it comes to finding the best security system, I'm not sure there is anything I would worry about more than credibility. It does not do any good to go to all the expense and effort of putting in a home alarm system just to have it done by a company that does shabby work or does not check out their employees before allowing them to go work on someone's home alarm system. In fact, I would not even bother with a company that could not provide me with proof of a background check at least. And I would ever pay for a home alarm system to be installed by a company that subcontracted the work rather than using their own employees.

    I think I would much rather hire a company to put in a house alarm system than to do my own home alarm. I know that they are made so that the average person could install them or they would not even bother to make systems that could be installed by the homeowner, but I think I would just rather have a professional do it so it gets done right the first time and I do not have to wonder if I did something wrong. That is the main reason that my first concern is the employees that they use to install the system. If they are coming in my house, I had better be able to trust them!

  • a seeker of security

    I will close on a new house in a month, and am starting to research security systems.  I had ADT on my previous house, and would not use them again as the technology in their systme seems to be lagging as compared to other newer systems.  It always seemed ridiculous to me that they wanted me to manually test remote communcations to their system.  I'm paying them to monitor me — shouldn't they be constantly monitoring the communication path back to me rather than the other way around?

    To me it seems like someday technology will evolve so that a new house will come with an overall home automation control system that controls security functions (internal/external motion sensors, video cameras, entry alarms), remote zoned thermostat controls & monitoring, sump pump/flooding alarms (battery life, water level alarms, loss/return of AC power notificaitons), etc.  Right now the technology seems somewhat proprietary and fragmented.  Maybe as standard interfaces and protocols are agreed upon by the industry, it will really open up these systems to be customized by the end users.

    Anyway, I have looked at the FrontPoint website, and it looks like their GE Simon system will interface with some kind of environmental sensors and video cameras. Is this system my best bet for possible future interfaces with sump pump alarm systems, etc?  I'm not looking to spend gobs of money on fancy home automation,  but it seems like it shouldn't be that hard or expensive to make this technology more open and modular for gradual expansion and integration of new techologies in the future.

    Also specifically, my new house will have two buildings to be secured — a main house and a detached garage with a finished area.  With a wireless and cellular system, would you anticipate a keypad in each building, and would they somehow talk with each other wirelessly, and maybe just the control panel in the main house would have the actual cellular device for remote communications?  Do the control panels still need to be hardwired to a main interface panel like my previous ADT system, as they are only wireless from the control panels to their sensors?  Just curious how this type of system works with multiple sensors and control panels in multiple buildings.

    Thanks for any insight and advice.

    • A Secure Life

      Good afternoon,

      Congratulations on your new home! So exciting. And, here are answers to your questions – hope they are helpful in deciding which security system to go with in your home.

      "Shouldn't they be constantly monitoring the communication path back to me rather than the other way around?"

      We couldn’t agree more on this point. It is hard to understand why anyone today would choose to use an alarm system that has to react to an alarm event and a physical alarm going off, when there are so many ways to defeat a system before the siren sounds, or a sensor is tripped. For example, FrontPoint uses the SimonXT with an Alarm.com radio built in to offer a more proactive solution to monitoring.

      "It seems like it shouldn't be that hard or expensive to make this technology more open and modular for gradual expansion and integration of new techologies in the future."

      You make a very solid point. The SimonXT (offered by FrontPoint) does integrate with different environmental sensors GE makes, including smoke/heat, carbon monoxide, freeze and flood, but there are currently no sensors on the market that monitor sump pumps directly. But with more requests for this feature everyday, we expect to see this type of monitoring device in the near future (from GE and other manufacturers) that will work with a sump pump in the near future.

      "With a wireless and cellular system, would you anticipate a keypad in each building, and would they somehow talk with each other wirelessly, and maybe just the control panel in the main house would have the actual cellular device for remote communications?  Do the control panels still need to be hardwired to a main interface panel, as they are only wireless from the control panels to their sensors?"

      You hit the nail on the head. A system like the SimonXT is usually plugged into a wall outlet somewhere in the main house. It doesn’t need to be hardwired in anyway. For your detached garage, you might consider using either a talking remote touchpad, or a touchscreen keypad to remotely control the alarm system. The brains of the device go through the SimonXT, but the additional touchpads relay communication, from the garage to the SimonXT, through a wireless transmitter.

      Unlike your previous system, a 100% wireless security system does not have a hardwired main interface panel and there is a specific reason for this. These days, more and more people move within a few years, so it makes sense to provide a portable security solution. If you ever decide to move, you can simply take your wireless system with you. Depending on the security company, there may be some fees for moving the system so ask this question when you are making your purchase decision if you feel this could be a concern for you. And of course you can call the home security company if you need additional equipment to work in your new living space.

      We know this is adding more information into your already crowded mind on the complex subject of home security systems but hopefully we have answered your questions and helped you to make a more informed decision for protecting your home.

    • a Security Professional

      Your question of: “I'm paying them to monitor me — shouldn't they be constantly monitoring the communication path back to me rather than the other way around?” highlights a very common misunderstanding of alarm monitoring service contracts which frustrates a lot of homeowners who assume, instead of reading their contract or asking the right questions.

      Read my article here to learn more about how monitoring works and what you are actually paying for with a monitored security system.

  • Anonymous

    The information provided should help me make a sound choice of alarm companies.

  • a seeker of security

    I own a home in Florida and I am looking for a company that offers me monitoring protection without forcing me to sign a three year contract. I have been reading the article and most of the technical explanations are way over my general knowledge and my skills with the English language. However, I got a good idea and I think it is pretty good.

    I've lived in this house for two years and although the area is very quiet I agree that it is better to be protected. The previous owners had an ADT alarm system, in fact, I used it for three weeks until the end of their contract. I contacted ADT to reconnect the service and they informed me that because I do not have a landline I would have to pay almost $200 to install a device in order to be able to do the monitoring and also that my monthly rate was going to be the highest because there are sensors installed in all the windows, doors, fire alarm, etc, etc.

    On top of this, I would have to sign a three year contract with them. I think I read that these companies require customers to sign contracts in order to re-coup their investment, (which I understand perfectly). In this way customers do not have to immediately pay the entire cost of the alarm system upfront. However, if they are only going to reconnect the alarm and I already agreed to pay the $200 dollars, what do they need the contract for? Besides, the ADT agent contradicted herself a couple of times and I really did not like her attitude or the service.

    My husband is a co-pilot and we might move next year if he finds a job somewhere else (including South America), so I do not want to be stuck with a contract that long. I would agree to a one year contract and I do not mind paying $30 bucks to get protected. Is there a reliable company here in South Florida that can offer me what I want? Is there a way we can keep the system we already have installed but get another company to do the monitoring? I am not looking for anything fancy, just a simple plan to feel I have protection. (I do not want to buy a dog because I am afraid of big dogs).

    Please share if you have any ideas or recommendations. Thank you.

    AD

  • Anonymous

    So I do not want to install my house alarm myself, too old to learn new tricks! So I have narrowed my decision down to Vivint and ADT. I read so many bad things about ADT but yet I see their signs in many of my neighbors yards. My good friend tells me that Vivint is the best security system but I had never heard of it before she told me that. I see hear that you think ADT is the best professionally installed home alarm… I think I will call them both to find out which is best for my home's safety. But if they get too pushy, I will likely have to start over! I cannot stand pushy sales people. 

    If anyone has any thoughts that could help me decide, let me know.

    • Daciss

      VIVINT security is by far the best company to go with! There's around 1,400 complaints out of 800,000 customers! That's pretty much a 99% approval rate!! Go with Vivint.

    • another seeker of security

      Google "vivint security reviews"

      As my english teacher says, let a word to the wise be sufficient.

  • Anonymous

    No one has mentioned the benefits of having two 95 lb. Malamutes along with multiple "beware of dog" signs.

    • a secure life

      We did address the use of dogs or other pets as security in our article. The problem lies with the safety of your pet. While the dogs may deter petty thieves, they are unlikely to stand up against serious robbers that attempt to invade your home heavily armed.

      The unfortunate outcome of such a situation may be that your dogs get injured or killed, which is why we advocate a security system not only for the protection of your home and belongings, but your family and loved ones, including your pets, as well.

    • Anonymous

      In addition to the issue of your dogs’ safety, be careful with the "Beware of Dogs" signs – if someone (even a burglar) is ever injured by your dogs they can file suit (and win) against you for knowingly having dangerous animals on your property. It’s along the same lines as booby trapping your home (illegal) or having an "I shoot to kill" sign.

      Consider toning it down to something along the lines of "Dogs on Property".

      • A Secure Life

        Good advice, thanks for sharing with our readers. We’ve heard some pretty ridiculous stories in the past of homeowners getting robbed and sued by burglars (is there anything more ironic or ridiculous?). I’ll see if I can track some of those down and post them on the site.

      • Anonymous

        Maybe where you are but not here in Texas. I wouldn't tone down a thing.

        • a seeker of security

          Love it!

  • Granthana Sunder

    This is a good, solid review (and quite long!). I've also found the comments very useful. The only thing that could make the review better is a house alarm pricing table, or some kind of comparison table that includes pricing, features, and just about anything that sets one house alarm system apart from another. That way I can at a glance see some of the major differences between competing companies.

    Any chance a comparison table is on your "to do" list?

    • A Secure Life

      Thank you! We actually do have a comparison table on home security systems that was recently published and up-to-date! Hope you find it useful and let us know which company you decide to go with.

  • a seeker of security

    Any info about SimpliSafe? They are low cost and no contract so you can cancel at any time. Plus there is a separate base station that you can hide in a closet or somewhere away from the keypad.

    What about LifeShield Security? They claim to have 20 patents and a more advanced system?

  • Anonymous

    What do you know about DSC Security Systems?

    • Anonymous

      DSC is an established manufacturer of security products and is very well known in Canada and the United States. That being said, there are a lot of other fantastic suppliers as well.

      One of the advantages of being well known is the ease in which to find alarm companies knowledgeable about and able to understand and service the products. You don’t want to buy alarm equipment that no one has heard about or don’t have the programming material for.

      The choice of alarm equipment provider should be based on features that you need and ease of use. Most people don’t "test-drive" five different alarm keypads before they decide to purchase, as one would with cars.

      So I don’t know if you’d prefer a Paradox or an Ademco alarm system, since I don’t know what your needs are.

      The wireless DSC Alexor model is more suited for self-installation, and is their only wireless panel that I would recommend you to consider. The PowerSeries PC1616 6-zone or PC1832 8-zone panel would require more alarm programming knowledge than a typical do-it-yourselfer might have, but as I said, it’s a well known panel by alarm installers.

      You should easily find people in your area who know and install DSC on a daily basis and who can answer your questions about features and programming.

  • a seeker of security

    I sure get the idea the owner of this website is owned by someone directly connected with FrontPoint Security. When a negative review of FrontPoint was posted there was even a rebuttal by the company given. This seems like an excellent attempt to appear enough independent to give the idea they are not trying to sell you FrontPoint Security when really they are.

    • A Secure Life

      Hi there,

      We're glad you brought this up. To clear the air, we are not directly connected with FrontPoint or any other merchant mentioned on this website. Do we earn compensation from them? Yes, in fact, we do our best to setup what are called affiliate relationships with as many of the merchants we review as possible. That's how we stay in business. If we didn't get paid, we couldn't pay our researchers and writers and you wouldn't be getting these reviews. However, unlike many of our competitors, we don't establish these relationships until after our reviews are completed.

      The fact is, many of our competitors will modify reviews based on the payout merchants give them. We feel we are one of the few review sites in the industry that does not do this. We are constantly approached by merchants asking them to move their spot up in the rankings for a higher payout. But we don't, and we direct them to our strict internal policies we created just for this reason. You can review these on our disclosure page, and learn more about our team and how we do business on our about us page.

      Bottom line, our credibility and unbiased reporting are of the utmost importance to us. They are what we feel separates us from our competitors and keeps our reviews legitimate and trustworthy. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

      • Security Professional

        I firmly believe this is an independent site, and as a professional who's been in the industry the past several years, the opinions provided are well-supported.  Not everyone will agree with the criteria, but they can certainly be logically defended.

        One suggestion to the writers (this error made me believe instantly that this was an independent site), is that you are misusing the term cellular.  All of the points that you are making are fully valid, but you are often using the term cellular when what you mean is wireless.

        The industry uses wireless to refer to the hardware setup; the confusion is that we consumers think of cellular networks when we hear wireless (i.e., Verizon Wireless). However, the only use of cellular technology in a home security solution refers to the monitoring.  Therefore, when you say "100% cellular," what you mean is that you want consumers to look for a wireless system with cellular monitoring. This language will help when consumers are talking with potential providers.

        As further explanation, the connection between the sensors and the control panel, in wireless systems, is a short-range RF frequency reserved for security systems only; it is not cellular.  Cellular networks are used for the connection between the control panel and the monitoring center, as you rightly mention.  

        Again, the distinction you are making is the right one:  there are wireless systems that connect to the monitoring center via traditional telephone line, and this simply means that the sensors communicate wirelessly with the control panel (no hardwire running behind your walls). On the flip side, it is possible to get cellular monitoring even if you have a security system that is hard-wired, not wireless.  So, the two technologies are mutually exclusive.  

        Both wireless security systems (hardware) and cellular monitoring (connection to the monitoring center) reflect more advanced technology that is continually growing in popularity, so the authors' views are certainly in line with industry advancements.

        • A Secure Life

          Thank you both so much for providing such helpful and wonderful clarification on the difference between wireless and cellular. We have updated our site to reflect this correct information you provided to more accurately assist our readers in making the right decision. Thanks so much and take care!

        • another Security Professional

          Your response is entirely accurate, and appreciated, as the writer(s) of this article are indeed confused about the usage of the terms wireless and cellular within the alarm industry.

          However, I think that most readers may not fully grasp your explanation that "The industry uses wireless to refer to the hardware setup."

          Wireless always refers to the method of communication.  This communication is being made either:

          1. between a sensor and the control panel, or
          2. between the alarm control panel and the monitoring station.

          Cellular refers to one specific type of wireless communication network or path.

          Examples: Wireless alarm equipment implies that a sensor (such as a wireless motion detector) can communicate wirelessly to the alarm control panel.  Hard-wired contacts and motion detectors communicate to the panel using the physical alarm wiring connected between the sensor and the control panel.

          Add-ons such as a cellular communicator will enable any alarm panel to communicate to the monitoring station using a cellular network. A radio communicator will also acomplish the same wireless communication using a radio network or bandwidth.

          As such, it is not uncommon to see the terms "wireless cellular communicator" or "wireless radio transmitter" used to describe the equipment used to send the alarm panel's signals to the monitoring station.  "Cellular" and "radio" transmissions are both obviously made wirelessly over the air waves, so the addition of the word "wireless" as a descrpiton is unnecessary, and only adds to the confusion.

          Finally, the majority of writers and contributers to this site are "pushing" FrontPoint's cellular communicators and, as such, other secure wireless communication devices that  can transmit alarm signals from the alarm control panel to the monitoring station, such as a long-range radio communicator, are for the most part ignored and unmentioned (except by me).

      • a guest

        I understand the whole compensation idea and making money. I'm a sales guy and appreciate that. You answered the question directly, however, may I ask the question a bit differently?

        1. Which of the providers mentioned in your ratings (as of today 11/2012) do you currently get compensation for?  
        2. Is the compensation amount the same across all of those providers? 
        3. If not, is FrontPoint the company that compensates you the most for their referrals?

        Again, I am a sales guy who has worked with partners for many years and I think educating the customer is essential in helping to differentiate one from the competition. If FrontPoint has a superior product/offering/service and is the legitimate winner based on your testing, as you pointed out – by all means highlight those advantages. I'll listen and do my own additional research to validate/invalidate and make an educated decision. That being said, if the compensation structure is different (and in favor for the recommended solution), you have to admit it's something to be weary of (or at least factor into how much you take the recommendations as absolute), no?

        Thanks for the input, I've digested several of the points you've highlighted, reached out to 3 of the recommended companies and will be happy to weigh in once I've had a chance to take this information, and several other resources and come to a conclusion and get up and running.

        • A Secure Life

          Good (and fair) question. While we can't disclose specific dollar amounts (because we are bound by insertion orders that prevent us from doing so), I can say that compensation is comparable across merchants and industries. I can also say that our top pick in any given comparison article does not necessarily earn us the highest commission. If they do, it is a coincidence. In this case, for our home security systems comparisons, FrontPoint does not offer the highest payout.

          I should also point out that we are doing our best to set an unbiased standard in an industry that is awash with review and comparison sites that do place merchants hire in exchange for higher commissions. We have gotten more than one call from merchants indirectly asking if positions were "for sale." In every conversation we have with merchants, we state up front that their position in an article will not be affected by commissions (nor any other incentives) that we receive in exchange for marketing we do for them.

          That being said, we are able to cover merchants' products and services in ways that do not involve a bias (a comparison article would be an example of coverage that is subject to bias). Naturally, we will do more marketing for companies that pay us higher commissions. An example of such marketing might be writing a news article on a new product or service that they're releasing to the market. But again, at no time will we let compensations influence merchants' positioning in our reviews. We realize and value how important it is as a consumer to have access to unbiased information, and we are doing our best to establish ourselves as a trusted go-to source for such information.

          We operate in various industries, not just security. You can learn more about the approach we take, our values, and our journalistic standards on our parent site, CoverStoryMedia.com.

          I hope this answers your question. Feel free to reply back. We would also be curious as to whom you ultimately chose to be your alarm system provider, and why.

  • Anonymous

    I think it really says a lot that a company like Front Point Security will offer a thirty day money back guarantee.  I know first hand how much expense goes in to on-boarding a new customer into this kind of service and if the company is truly willing to refund every penny of the subscriber’s investment, then it says a lot about how they feel regarding their product.

    Every potential buyer really for every service of this nature is afraid of making a mistake that they will regret.  They are not afraid of making the decision, they are just afraid of making the wrong decision, and for a company to be able to guarantee them a full thirty days to change their mind with no penalty it makes it very easy to say yes and ultimately try the service out for themselves.
     
    I would be curious to see how many people actually take advantage of this thirty day money back policy.  I would bet that it is a pretty low number.  Really, it would seem that a well running home security and home management system would be one that you would rarely notice.

  • a seeker of security

    We've had an ADT system for several years because we live "out of town". 

    Our system "crashed" Thursday evening and after MUCH  "telephone tag" we won't get service back until next Wednesday!  Meantime we are without a security system.

    So when you're considering a security system, besides all the bell and whistles, think about service.

    DaC3a

  • Anonymous

    As a single mother of two kids, my friend truly needs to have an adequate home security and management system in place to help her shoulder the load of keeping her family and her property protected.  When she is home, she feels like she can keep her kids safe, but the problem is that she also works a full time job and she is not always home.
     
    Her teenage daughter and pre-teen son live close enough to school that they can walk there in the morning and back in the afternoon, so until she gets home from work a couple of hours later, she likes to know that they arrived safely.

    It seems like all the companies listed in this article provide a service that will notify her when people come and go from the home, but what she really feels like she needs is strong customer service in making sure that the install is done properly and that she can get her questions answered about maintaining the system throughout its duration of use.  I will look closer at these companies and definitely tell her about the top three. 

  • a seeker of security

    ADT pulse is pure garbage, so don't waste your time or money.  First they told me I could monitor cameras real time thru any computer – not!  No federal system will allow QuickTime because of security failures, not even my local library. Then I set the cameras to take stills every 5 minutes; now they cut that back to 30 seconds.  The wireless camera is pure junk and you can't recognize someone 10 feet away. No motion sensors on the cameras, no email of motion trip, pure garbage with 45 degree viewing area.  Save your money and get a rabbit to watch and protect your home – it would be just as effective.

  • Anonymous

    I keep reading interesting things about new security technologies hitting the market – from retinal scanners and biometrics to child detection systems. Are any of these technologies close to being released on the home security market?

    One technology in particular that I would love to see in action as a component of my home alarm system is the ability for me to motion capture video from afar. That is – to be away from home, and have a video camera turn on only when it detects motion. If it does, it would be great to have a text message or email sent to me in real-time to alert me of the incident.

    Any chance technologies such as this will be available over the next couple years?

    • Anonymous

      This camera does what you want, they are on sale at Costco right now.

    • a secure life

      Great question. While the biometric and retinal scanners aren’t on the home security market yet, the wireless and motion capturing video cameras are. In fact, if you order FrontPoint’s interactive package with at least one video camera, you’ll be able to do just about everything you described in your request – capture video based on motion, and have notifications sent to your phone. I think the video file itself can be sent and viewed by you right after the recording takes place.

  • a seeker of security

    I have been searching the web to find the best home alarm system to buy for my new home. I just moved to a new neighborhood and had asked around but wanted to do my own research. Everything seems to be written by ADT – not sure who to trust. This seems to be a good place for honest info and feedback from consumer like me. I am going to go with FrontPoint and will let you know how it goes with this install. Thanks!

  • a DIY newbie

    I am genuinely thankful to the writers of this article. You have helped me choose the right system for me and helped me understand that I should not be afraid of self install/DIY home security systems. I can do it!

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone have any information on this company and their service? They are in our neighborhood going door to door. Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      They came to our house last night, and I am trying to find more information on their company also. Not much on the Internet though.

  • Anonymous

    This is a great review. We’ve been with FrontPoint for several years now and couldn’t be happier. The iPhone app makes not only arming and disarming the system, but finding out exactly what’s happening at any point in time (including when we’re on vacation) a snap.

    Knock on wood: we haven’t had a real burglary attempt yet, but then again, maybe that’s because we’ve got decals and signs up everywhere as well, to deter intruders. Plus, we have two dogs.

    I figure if you have a combination of signs, pets, and an actual monitored alarm system, and you take care with the lights as well (you can get timers that turn your lights on and off randomly when you’re away), you’ll be in pretty good shape as far as preventing break-ins.

  • Anonymous

    These days the best security system to avoid false alarm activation fees is Videofied XL700 alarm systems installed apart from any other alarm systems. It’s monitored through the central monitoring centre. It also sends a 10 seconds video message to you and to the monitoring centre to determine if it’s a real event occurring before calling the police.

  • Peter

    I am looking for information on the comparison of the Xfinity/Comcast Home Alarm systems versus the established alarm systems we have previously discussed.

    • Cruddy Puppy

      I had them install it for 2 weeks, since I was already a Comcast Internet customer; I consider the $64 per month worth it for the bandwidth and speed. The security system only added $35 per month which beat the local guy's cell service. The cable runs through steel conduit anyway. Great system with full sized touchpad and separate entryway keypad. it was completely wireless and accessible online. But,  and that's a big but, they place a blacked-out, cheap, used, banged up POS router onto your cable modem ahead of your high quality wireless router, and you end up with only one device with access to the internet. I had them come back several times with the same result. I know my way around static and dynamic IP addresses, subnet masks, and DHCP scopes, but there's no way I can work with a router without knowing how they programmed it. They weren't up to the task either. I was entering the high end support zone. Translation: big bucks. I suppose I should have inquired about the cell connection option, which wasn't offered and may not have been available here. I just got frustrated with Comcast security for disregarding their own fine Internet service and, in disgust, had them remove it. They can split off TV and phone service into their own "modems". Why can't they do that with security as well? I recommend it only for folks living alone with one or less computers or devices, and not for anyone with computers, iPhones, iPads, Androids, Neflix,  Hulu, Wii, X Box, or anything else that connects through wired or wifi home networks. I guarantee it will slow or stop everything in its tracks. Aside from that, it's a great system.

      the Cruddogge

  • Pamela

    ADT FAILED US and many others!! ADT FAILED to notify fire rescue when our monitored smoke alarms were going off. AFTER our house was a total loss, and 2 LOVING pets perished, the Fire Dept Investigator called ADT FROM MY BURNT HOUSE asking why they didn’t send help. They claimed they didn’t know the alarms were going off! They KNEW that my house was a total loss, yet 4 days later they took out my next month’s payment, and 3 1/2 weeks later, still not a word from ADT!! After the fire, I was speaking to a friend who lost his house 2 miles away 7 months prior. I told him how upset I was with ADT. He then told me that he ALSO had ADT, and they failed to notify fire rescue when his house burned down!! I found out that we are not the minority… 

    Please like my facebook page and read my whole story and see pictures, then please SHARE the page so that others will know the dangers from trusting ADT for their family’s protection: http://www.facebook.com/StayAwayFromAdt
     

    • A Security Professional

      Thanks for sharing your story so that others can learn from it.

      With a tragic story like this, hopefully one overlooked lesson can be taken and taught to others. Everyone needs to remember to test your monitored smoke detectors on a regular basis.

      It would be interesting to find out from the author Pamela when was the last time that a smoke detector at her home was tested for proper communication with the monitoring station.  It would also be informative to find out from ADT's records as to the documented history and frequency of alarm panel transmissions from Pamela's home over the course of a year before the fire.

      Too many people assume that security systems will always work when needed.  Alarm equipment needs to continually be tested.

      Additionally, the alarm control panel should be programmed for self-tests at least once every 24-hours.  Verify your alarm keypad's TROUBLE light to see if it is indicating any troubles, such as a missed daily test transmission.

  • A Secure Life

    Front Point, our winner for top home alarm system is offering a LIMITED TIME deal for qualifying homeowners to receive FREE monitoring until the start of 2013 when you sign up between November 20, 2012 and December 24, 2012. To take advantage of this promotion, call (888) 268-6273 and mention that you heard about this promo on aSecureLife.com. (FYI – This deal originally expired the week after Black Friday and then December 15, 2012. It has been extended through Christmas Eve (Dec 24, 2012) at this time.)

  • a seeker of security

    Well I just dropped AT&T for Vonage and was told by ADT that I cannot do that and that now I will need a GSM installed.  So every night my key pad goes off at 2:30AM and the alarm signal is unable to connect to ADT.  They stated that their GSMs are on back order and that it will take several weeks, at least 30 days until they receive any but that they cannot guarantee that I will get one.  

    Warning:  Never Sign a Contract With ADT.  Thank God the contract is up in December so now I have to look for someone else that can provide service through Vonage or through a wireless GSM set up and just cancel ADT when the contract comes up in December 2012.

  • Anonymous

    It does not surprise me that Front Point Security has come out ahead of the competition in a side-by-side comparison of the entire package.  From what I have read about them, they stand alone when it comes to customer service and the care they provide their subscribers.

     I think for the most part that most home security and home alarm companies are pretty even when it comes to the nuts and bolts of their services.  Technology is such that wireless systems are now pretty common place and even if they are unavailable, the functionality of an alternative system will be essentially the same.  Customers have a wide selection of different configurations they can choose from and now there is even options to install equipment themselves, thus making the service cheaper and more attainable.

    Where a company can set themselves apart, and where FrontPoint excels, is how they treat their people.  Every interaction is an opportunity to reinforce the company’s directives and bolster the subscriber’s experience.  Really, when you are paying for security, most of the service will never be used, so you must provide an experience to make them feel like it is all worth it. 

  • Ken
    I'm somewhat surprised that LiveWatch Security isn't in your top 3. Especially since you have ADT listed. No one has more negative feedback than ADT. My alarm was set off by the dog twice in two years. Both times I immediately got a call. The first time it had been long enough since the installation that I accidentally gave the alarm word by mistake. A deputy  
    showed up to check on things just like they are supposed to. And, the price is right.
  • Anonymous

    I don't think that there is a one size fits all best home alarm. I think that every household has their own needs and way of doing things. That doesn't mean the information here isn't valuable. It just means that is you are going to buy a house alarm you need to be able to get one that suits your needs.

    For myself, I just need something simple and affordable. I want it to alert me when there is an issue in my home and I don't want to have to deal with a bunch of glitches or excuses as to why it isn't working the way it should. I also want to know that other people have used it with success and that there aren't a lot of complaints about the service in general. I also want to know that I can call the company with any questions I might have as to how I can improve my security. What I don't want is some sort of sales associate trying to sell me something that I don't really need. I don't think that is too much to ask either. At this point, I would actually like to have a lot of signs that mention the security system. I find that things like this go a long way toward scaring people that might try to break into the house for one reason or another.

  • Anonymous

    I like the fact that this article is unbiased and the author (or authors) is not afraid to point out both the good and not so good features of various alarm systems. I think that anyone who is truly looking for solid information about the topic will be well served by taking a good look here.

    Many of these types of pages tend to degenerate into the reviewers just being thinly disguised propagandists for the companies. However, this is not the case. In fact, there is so much objective information provided that they had to divide it into a number of different sections.

    For me, the best section was the discussion about their review criteria. They actually take the time to explain the difference between wireless and cellular monitoring service. The author makes the point that the best systems use a wireless connection not only within your home (between the various sensors and the control panel) but also a wireless/cellular connection with the monitoring company. This is important because it ensures that your system is secure enough to withstand the loss of your internet connection.

  • Anonymous

    Home security is the most important thing and to feel safe it is a must. I believe security should not be on a budget list. However, another point for me when taking on a new company is to see how solid the customer service is, not just at the point of sale, but months and years afterwards, while you’re actually a paying customer and using their service and products.

  • Anonymous

    I just wish there weren’t so many companies competing in the alarm market!! It’s like trying to decide on a media streamer to replace our cable tv – there’s so many darn choices it takes almost as long reviewing each one as it does installing and testing each one.

    I like the fact that most of these home alarm companies have return guarantees, although I’m hesitant to test some now that you mention the restocking fee. I’m going to order those systems that I can, see how they install/ how I like them, and then report back.

    Thanks for providing this resourceful article!! Definitely has helped me sift through some of the security riff raff on the Web.

  • Anonymous

    The authors of this material have certainly made it very accessible and easy to consume the confusing subject of home security systems. There is really an incredible amount of knowledge and information here, but at the same time it is all organized very well. You can start wherever you feel comfortable, which was helpful for me.

    I like the fact that everything is here in one place. This way you do not read a review and then leave, feeling hungry for more. Reviews are great and they can be very helpful, but this is only half the game. It is also helpful to dig into some other material that will really help you to understand the industry and how things work.

    Learning about whether it is easy to install a do it yourself home security system may be one of the questions that you would like answered. Look no further. Maybe learning more information about how contracts work and whether or not you will be able to take a house alarm system with you if you decide to move are important questions you have. Those are answered here too. In short, this has something for everyone and it is very useful if you are deciding which security system is the best for you.

  • Brendan Kiely

    I would recommend the Skylink SC-1000.

    Gets great reviews everywhere.

    • Blaine

      The Skylink SC-1000 does appear to get some nice reviews, but this particular article is only reviewing professionally monitored systems. The Skylink allows you to program up to nine numbers to call when an alarm is sounded, but that is quite different from having a central monitoring station that will notify the propery authorities during an emergancy. 

  • Anonymous

    I was wondering how you feel regarding Pinnacle Security Systems? I recently had a door to door salesman come by and do his spiel. I have seen numerous bad reports for them on the BBB as well as on Google. But most of those bad reports have to do with pushy salesmen and not with the coverage itself. Any ideas?

    My husband is currently deployed and I am nervous to install a security system myself. I also can’t afford millions of dollars with all the ‘add-ons’ with ADT for the door sensors. I just want to feel safe in my home with my two children.

    • a secure life

      Hi there,

      Most DIY systems such as those offered by FrontPoint are simple to install, and a tech will guide you through any troubles you run into over the phone. Basically it involves sticking sensors onto doors, windows, and walls; plugging in your central keypad, calling to activate the system, and then you’re good to go. They also come with a free trial, so you can return the system if you don’t like it.

      In addition, most alarm system companies, including those such as ADT that send  professional installers to your home, should have a lower-level, more affordable plan (without all the bells and whistles) you can go with.

      As is the case with most things, you get what you pay for. If you pay too little, you may not get the reliable monitoring and security response you need.

    • Anonymous

      The service has been very good over the last two years. It’s pricey but the equipment seems to work well. Don’t fall for the light on the outdoor sign, it only worked for about a month. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. The cell service allows me to arm and disarm the system from my iPhone. I paid a $50 install fee and that’s it. Key fobs were offered but they are unnecessary with the iPhone app. 30+ month contract. Will shop for cheaper service as soon as the contract is up.

    • Anonymous

      Hi. I’m prior military and originally installed a system for my ex-wife’s security while I was always gone or deployed. I went with ADT (cell phone vs home phone that can be cut from outside). Yes, you will have to install sensors on doors and windows. I recommend the upgrade of what is called "shock sensors" so if your patio door glass is broken with a rock, the glass breakage will be detected. Anyway, I pay around 45 bucks a month for ADT monitored service and I feel safe both when I’m home and away. A gun helps at night if you’re comfy with firearms.

      Hope this helps,
      Mark
      360-584-0126

  • Anonymous

    Devcon Security has hired all of the old Brinks Home Security people and they are quietly becoming the company to beat. They are now a national company and the office in Sterling, VA gave me the best installation experience by far.

  • Anonymous

    It seems as if almost every home alarm company has their own microsite. Everyone is claiming to be the best. The real question is who you can trust. If I were asked that question, after reading this article I would send it to them! The authors have gone to great lengths to provide just a huge amount of quality information and informative content regarding the topic of home security and alarm systems.

    This is really a number of different articles in one. There are individual company reviews, and even rankings. The good thing about these rankings is that the site itself lists out the criteria they used in assigning these rankings. I have never before seen a site actually do this. This information alone will help you to become a better consumer of home security products and find the best home alarm system for your needs.

    You will also appreciate the detailed explanations which are given for each company. You will see the good, the bad and the ugly on each one. Having honest ratings and reviews is a great help for potential consumers like me.

  • Bipul D.

    Thanks for not giving up when the going is getting rough. The home security systems review archive is already wonderful beyond what I could have imagined. It will only get better as you work out all the kinks. Hang in there.

  • Anonymous

    I seem to be confused on what self-installed system to choose after reading so many online posts and watching Youtube clips. Could you help pointing out the differences between ADT Pulse, ViVint, 2GIG Go Control, Homeseer, and Vera? I guess I want to include the home automation and z-wave compatible systems in my alarm system as well. Thanks in advance.

    • a secure life

      Since this page is getting quite long, we’ll work on providing a comparison of all these services in a separate article. I’ll post back here when it’s complete.

  • A Secure Life

    FrontPoint, our top pick for best home alarm system is offering a promotion to receive FREE monitoring for the rest of 2012 when you sign up between November 23, 2012 and November 30, 2012. To get this deal, call (888) 268-6273 and mention aSecureLife.com.

    On Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2012, they will also offer FREE equipment so be sure to ask for details.

  • Sherry L Shafer

    I recently purchased a house in Las Vegas.  I wasn't in the house a week when security companies began knocking on my door.  Like a fool I was swayed by IDT – the local security provider for Security Networks.  By the time they finished I had three different guys in my house.  I didn't really pay attention to what they were doing to the already installed system at the time since it was late at night.

    I checked the system box several days later and found they had used drywall screws to security the door of the electrical panel.  Right away this was a red flag to me because no one with any background in electronics would put a drywall screw in an electrical pannel.

    I removed the screws and opened the panel.  What I found was wire spaghetti.  They had cut almost a dozen wires from the previous system and just left them sticking out in every direction.  The sensors were just left hap-hazardly in the bottom of the electrical control box.

    I called the owner and I was understandably upset by the lack of quality or workmanship.  The owner had the nerve to insult me and be rude. On top of that he told me I had no business being in the box and that they had done me a favor by putting the drywall screws in the box.

    I see neither IDT nor Security Networks listed on any of the top 10 companies for security systems and I know why.  Security Networks basically washed their hands of the whole incident and left me high and dry to deal with IDT.  Subsequently, I am probably going to have a legal battle with IDT over the contract.  They took my old system without asking my permission so when they remove their equipment, I must now seek restitution from them for repairing my system plus the lost components.

    Do yourself a favor, research the security companies in your city before selecting one.  There are a lot of less than reputable companies out there looking to make a quick buck.

  • a seeker of security

    My wife and I purchased a home in November of 2011 and are now wanting a security system to replace the old Brinks system that is in our home.  The Brinks system was installed in the building of the home so all of the smoke/fire detectors are hardwired to a box in the basement and is all controlled by an outdated control panel in the kitchen by the back door.  The system is not active.  I know that Brinks is no longer in business and was in fact purchased by ADT.  I have been told that in order to have the system work as it did when Brinks was still in business (including the door/window and smoke alarms) that I would need ADT to come out and install their system. 

    I would simply love to install a new system over the old Brinks system without signing up with ADT.  Is there a system that will hook up to the box in the basement and have a new control panel installed.  My main concern is that I would love to have the old smoke detectors working along with all of the other security features.  The infrastructure is there as far as all of the wiring, I just want to replace the keypad and get a new company to monitor it. 

    This has been very frustrating….

    Kurt

    • A Secure Life

      Hi Kurt,

      Our Security Consultant is ready and willing to help but we need a few more details on your system. Can you please reply on our contact form with the answers to these questions:

      1. Go to the main control box and take photos of it so we can see as much detail as possible and send them to the email above.
      2. Please provide the manufacturer information on the security system.  Not the monitoring company (Brinks), as they do not make the hardware.  It will likely be GE, Honeywell or some other brand. 
      3. The model number would be beneficial also if you can locate it.

      Once we have this info, we should be able to answer your question to help you make the right choice on your next home security monitoring company.

  • Anonymous

    I have done that for many years and I wish to install it myself and simply have it call my / my wife’s cell phone, what system do you recommend if I want to buy a system and not have it monitored by anyone else but myself?

    • a secure life

      We recommend you stay away from unmonitored alarm systems for safety reasons. While at first thought it may make sense to save on monthly monitoring fees and monitor your own system, you will be putting yourself into a very precarious and stressful situation.

      Why? Because it’s nearly impossible for anyone, in their day to day life, to be "on call" and ready to respond to an alarm event 24/7. And if you miss it (you’re on a plane, in the restroom, your phone died, etc.) you could be putting your family, home, and belongings in jeopardy.

      This is why monitored alarm systems are offered, and central monitoring stations employ a number of people full-time, around the clock to monitor your system and dispatch the appropriate authorities in the event of an alarm. We should also point out that the communication route they use to dispatch authorities is more efficient and reliable than if you were to call 911, since they already have your information/ address, etc. on hand.

      • Anonymous

        I was broken into a week ago.The officer said alarms were a joke. Because all my things of value would be gone before they got here. He said invest in cameras. A picture is the best thing you can find a person but very little thieves without it.

  • Angela

    I would like to add that Envision Security came to my house here in Waddell, AZ and they offered me a full cell primary system. They covered all of my windows and the doors. They gave me a piece of security that I didn't know was out there. It's a motion detector that takes pictures!!!! Amazing. I had a wonderful experience with this company. I went up $15 a month to upgrade, but the price is well worth it. I couldn't be happier with my security system. You should look into this company. I was charged 0 for upgrading, and the sales representative was Jeff. He was a very polite and professional young man.

  • a seeker of security

    It seems that alarm companies recover the cost of their equipment over time through their "monitoring fees", however after 3 years, their fee does not go down.  I would like to find a company (or an alarm monitoring service) with low monthly fees that also allows remote monitoring and control of the alarm via a smartphone app, and preferably also allows control of the home's thermostats.  I don't mind buying the equipment from a website online and installing it myself, but I'm having difficulty finding someone to monitor it who also offers this interactive service.

    I don't mind paying a large up-front expense for the equipment, but I don't want to continue to pay inflated monitoring fees for equipment that has been paid off YEARS ago…

    Any help or pointers would be greatly appreciated!

  • a seeker of security

    My APX (now Vivint) system is about two years old.  When the alarm panel began to show a "low battery" signal (and to beep) I called the monitoring office.  They connected me with a "technician" who pointed me to the box in the basement and tried to get me to "unplug" the system so the battery could be replaced.  After pointing out that there was nothing plugged in to any of my outlets, and her insisting that there had to be because that's the only way APX connects their systems, I realized that what they had done was to tie in to the old, hard wired ADT box.  This was not what my contract called for. Yesterday Vivint installed a system next door and it runs off a small, plug in module in their dining room.  Today I called Vivint and informed them I expect them to send an installer to my house to update my system.  In the present form, my system, tied in to an old, hard wired ADT box, may be a contract breaker if I want out.  Your site with it's comprehensive information is an eye opener.  Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Rapid Response is solid. We have an FPS system, and the response time is unbelievably quick. Our smoke alarm went off the other day because we had burned a cake in our oven to a crisp, and our phones started ringing off the hook immediately. For those that are worried about the whole “call time delay” issue – don’t. If we hadn’t answered our phones, our fire station is within 5 miles of our home, they would have gotten here before so much as a toothpick could have had the chance to burn down.

  • Anonymous

    What feedback do you have for me on dealing with Alarm Force in Canada?

    • Anonymous

      I am looking into them as well….does anyone have any info on them and their services?

  • Anonymous

    Can you please post any info you have on Platinum Protection, or Monotronics (that’s their 3rd party monitoring company?

    • a secure life

      We’ll see what we can dig up!

  • Anonymous

    Stay away from these guys, (Platinum Protection). I have had nothing but a headache since we met. They offered me a "free" system by saying they were trying to advertise in the area. It was free alright after (and partly my fault for not reading the fine print) they got me to sign a 5 year contract. Then I find out all they do is get people to sign up. They use sub-contractors for the install, and a third party monitoring service. On top of all that, which I let go, the system doesn’t even work.

    He sold me on the idea that I could arm and disarm it from my phone, and it would send me a text when my son got home from school. Well there’s a 50\50 chance that it will. Also in the first 3 weeks I’ve had 5 false alarms, the police actually told me they will no longer respond because of the number of false alarms. Platinum response was to tell me they will have one of their tech’s call me within 2 days to set up an appointment, which she couldn’t even give me a time frame on. In the end the final result was for them to tell me I signed a contract therefore I have to live with it or break the contract, which means that I would still have to pay the monitoring fee for 5 years, just with no monitoring.

    • a secure life

      Wow, that sounds like a horrendous experience. We’re sorry you had to go through that and hope you’re able to find an alarm solution that meets your needs.

  • Anonymous

    The reason it's so hard to get any impartial reviews of any kind of service anymore is that so many companies pay for positive reviews to be published. That's why so many content mills are now going to a comparison format only. It's all fine and well to read about the quality of a product through reviews on Amazon and other sites where you can buy products, but you should at least know that some of those are paid reviews. If you go to the site of the product itself, you are very unlikely to find any kind of honest review because there aren't very many companies that are going to leave negative feedback on their site.

    I love reviews like the one on here that offer you details about the house alarms. I mean, there is going to be an issue at some point with almost anything you buy. You either deal with it or go to another company that has its own issues that might be different. What I want to know though is what a security system company has to offer. I like the way this is put together because it makes it very easy to compare home alarm system and find the security company that best meet my personal needs. It doesn't matter how good or bad a review is if the company doesn't have what I need to protect my home in the first place.

  • Anonymous

    Verizon has a cellular phone system which they say can be used with existing land-line phones and wiring. This particular land line is used in an older Brinks security system to report alarms. I would like to know if security systems like this can be modified to work with cellular phones.

    • a secure life

      It might be possible, but I doubt it. We should point out that the cellular connection we refer to in the article uses a dedicated bandwidth for the alarm signals, not the same ones your cellular phones operate on.

  • Anonymous

    It amazes me how many alarm systems there are to choose from. Whether you want to setup a system yourself or choose a company to do it for you, there are hundreds of options. As someone who is a bit of a techie, I want a system that has all the bells and whistles. I want to be able to arm the system from my smartphone and of course must have a system that is wireless. With more and more people ditching their landline service, it's much easier to find companies that offer systems that work through cell phones.

    While there are a number of companies out there, there are also a number of companies that don't offer great service. I personally feel that ADT is one of the worst companies there is. With so many bad reviews it's hard to see how this company became successful enough to buy out many other smaller companies. To me, not only are the products a company offers important, but the service is important as well. I want to speak with people who legitimately care about my issues and will work with me to correct them. One ADT review I read online discussed how the customer was told that the CSR didn't care and hung up on him. Tell me how a company like that stays in business?

  • Anonymous

    I’m interested to know if it’s okay to copy part of this post to use for my Powerpoint project. I’ve bookmark your blog to return later. Thanks!

    • a secure life

      Sure, as long as you give credit where credit is due and don’t republish it elsewhere.

  • play2win

    I am trying to decide between Simplisafe vs. FrontPoint vs. Protect America… what do you think?

  • Anonymous

    Choosing a reliable and professional security Alarm company is a major decision, which will significantly impact the security and peace of mind of your family and/or your company. Select wisely. All companies are not the same. Many big companies are flooding the market with advertisements, but, can they really service all those millions of customers? The answer is NO! You will buy an Alarm System from a Mayor Alarm Company and they will subcontract some “LOW PAY” subcontractor to do the work.

    Big Companies do not have enough technicians to manage that huge volume of clients, so, be ready to wait on the line! Small to Medium Companies will offer you better service because they just have the amount of alarm account they can handle, they are focused on the customer, the employee and on developing long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships.

  • guest

    It's refreshing to see a review site that ranks ADT where it belongs: at the bottom. If you Google "ADT complaint" or something of that nature, or look at any of the established rating sites out there (Yelp, BBB, Rip Off Reports, etc.) you'll see that ADT consistently manages to score rock bottom with an astounding number of complaints.

    Nevertheless, the majority of home security system review sites I run into manage to include them in their top 3. This is no doubt because their payouts for leads are high, so review sites put them there to earn more $$$. Readers beware: if a review site includes ADT in its top 3 (or top 5 even), odds are very high that the review is biased garbage.

  • Anonymous

    I am under the impression that the most common home system that Frontpoint installs has an all-in-one keypad, control center, and siren. This type of system can be ripped off the wall in the first minute of break-in and thrown "in the toilet" (a sample of an online critique). Is this true? Have you done your due diligence regarding equipment?

    • a secure life

      The second one of the FrontPoint sensors is tripped (door, window, glass break, motion detector, etc.), a signal is sent indicating a potential break-in. The only way to prevent this from being converted into an alarm is to have your system send a disarm signal. In this regard, if someone grabs or smashes the panel after entering, the disarm signal will never get sent, and the break-in will be treated as an alarm.

      This "tamper free" handling of alarm codes is unique to FrontPoint and is part of what helped them earn the number one spot in our review.

      • Guest

        This is not unique to Frontpoint but to anyone using alarm.com, such as AlarmRelay or Safemart. There are probably others, too.

    • Anonymous

      First off, let me start with a short story. I am a police officer, which just happen to be 459, for you that don’t know what 459 is, that means burglary. I happen to have a honeywell alarm key pad that is all in one. When I was victimized I had a burglar enter my home and he had the time needed to locate the key pad and rip it off the wall. This in turn stopped the signal from reaching my monitoring provider who was “ADT” at the time. I recommend you DON’T purchase an all-in-one security system.

      I now know, and trust me I had to learn the hard way. It’s best to have a back up for your alarm system. This is something that should have been told to me before I had them install the alarm. Well needless to say I no longer have “ADT” after a long four days, thats right FOUR days of getting the run around not only from the local office but also from their corp office. As a law enforcement officer I deal with a lot of people and companies in my day to day grind, but by far “ADT” is the worst I have ever encountered.

      • Noble

        This is true as well.

        I am very sorry what happened to you.

        I have ADT, and when I ask the sales person why he is offering me this one and not the other, he was wonderful explaining the difference between one and the other.

        I bought what he recommended to me and, one year after somebody tried to break into my house, the system paid off. They tried to run away before they could break into the house (probably because they saw the security camera), and thanks to the outside camera the police found them in less than one week.

        So, mine was a great and happy story.

        I have had ADT for over 15 years I upgrade my security system every 5 years, and I am not going with a self-install alarm system ever!!
        Noble

  • Anonymous

    I woud think that trying to pinpoint the best home alarm in general would be a pretty hard task to undertake. Every home and family has their own needs and concerns, so what may be the best for one home or family may not be the best system for every home and family.

    With that being said, let me offer my thanks to you for going to the effort of putting this information together. It is certainly easier to try and choose the best home alarm for my family when I can compare the various services and options offered, along with the prices. It is also great that you let people comment in here so that potential customers can see the personal experiences of people who have used these companies or some cases, worked for them.

    I would think that if you were going to strive to be the company with the best home alarm system, your first concern would be a quality product followed up with outstanding customer service. Word of mouth has always been the best marketing tool and is even more now that the Internet is so popular.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve got to say I love the comprehensiveness of this review. Any chance you could reveal some of the research data on smaller, local companies? Or maybe put together a chart comparison that would give us an idea of the different costs, features, reliability, etc. of different security systems at an eye’s glance?

  • a seeker of security

    If I am just graduating from college in May and looking to buy my first home, what should I think about in home security system reviews? I will not have much money but will probably not be able to live in the nicest area of town so I think buying the right home alarm system for my needs and budget is really important. Do you have any advice?

  • Anonymous

    There’s no doubt in my mind that Front Point is the best home alarm system. My only problem is that their monitoring cost is so darn high? I’m not sure I can afford $50/ month. And I seem to recall them offering $32.99 and $39.99 plans a while back? What happened to those?

    It’s too bad because I’m a big fan of their new home automation offerings and the fact that I can finally install a swivel/ tilt wireless video camera to capture images and have them sent to my PDA. It’s a setup I tried to install on my own back in the day, but I couldn’t quite get it to work.

    Ugh – throw us a bone FPS!!

    • Anonymous

      Their “protection monitoring” plan is only $34.99/ month. Yes, not the cheapest in the industry, but trust me – you get what you pay for. Our neighbors that are on the cheap local alarm plans ($20/ month or so) don’t hear back from their monitoring station when the alarm goes off sometimes. That should be totally unacceptable.

      We’re on the basic plan, and we couldn’t be happier. We’ve got plenty of sensors to protect our home, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, the remote keychain, and the whole thing is monitored and registered with our local police station. In my opinion, that’s all you really need, but then again I’m older than the young “techy” generation that needs to be online at all times and constantly aware of what’s happening at home. Sometimes, I’d prefer to stay off the grid and not know, unless it’s important, in which case the authorities will take care of the problem – which is the whole intention of an alarm system to begin with, isn’t it?