Taking action to keep your family and your home safe is vital. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there were over 2.1 million burglaries in America in 2012, the most recent year for which figures were found. That boils down to over 5,400 burglaries each day. Burglaries account for almost one-quarter of property crimes in the U.S.
The good news is, with the proper tools, you can protect your family and property from unwanted intruders. Home alarm systems are recommended by experts, including law enforcement agencies, to reduce the risk of burglary. And, studies indicate that, when used consistently, alarms are effective deterrents.
There are many alarm systems on the market, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Never pick a home security system based on price alone. Customer service, customer satisfaction and the features and equipment offered may make a higher-priced option a better value in the end. When it comes to protecting your family and your property, the money spent on a more intensive pan can be a worthwhile investment. Compare plans and carefully consider the features that are a must-have, the ones you’d consider a good perk and the ones you know you will not need.
Taking into account the various features of each program, we’ve narrowed the field to three strong contenders:
Frontpoint is our top pick, in part, because of the company’s sterling customer service record. The company boasts an A+ Better Business Rating and, over the last three years, has a complaint rate that is one-tenth of the average security company’s.
Another of the top benefits that sets Frontpoint apart is their 30 day money-back guarantee. If you decide that the system is not for you, you can get a complete refund, and do not even have to pay return shipping costs. This lets you take time to truly test your new system without risk and decide whether Frontpoint is for you.
There are three plan levels available from Frontpoint: Protection, Interactive and Ultimate. Prices range from $34.99 to $49.99 per month. No matter which plan you pick, standard shipping of equipment is free. Purchasers also receive 5 window decals and a yard sign as a deterrent to burglars assessing a home’s vulnerability.
The Protection Plan
Price: $34.99 per month
Frontpoint’s entry-level plan offers a basic level of service and protection. The plan offers wireless transmission, which means alarms cannot be disabled by cutting a phone line.
Homeowners who opt for The Protection Plan are not just protected against break-ins. The plan also includes environmental, life safety and fire monitoring. The system can detect carbon monoxide, which is frequently undetectable to humans and can be deadly. The system can also alert you to floods and freezes before they cause expensive damage.
The life safety monitoring can alert authorities when a family member has a medical emergency. A panic pendant is included in the security equipment, meaning help is never hard to reach.
The Interactive Plan
Price: $42.99 per month
This plan has all of the features of The Protection Plan along with enhanced features and protections. The plan’s Crash & Smash guarantee means the system instantly alerts the monitoring system if a burglar tries to disarm the alarm by destroying the control panel. Email and text alerts let you know right away if there is a flood, fire, attempted burglary or other event in your home.
You can also control the system through remote access. Turn lights and appliances on and off from outside your home. View the status of your alarm system, your alarm history and visitor activity through the company’s easy-to-use mobile app.
The Ultimate Plan
Price: $49.99 per month
This plan includes all of the above, plus wireless video features and advanced home automation. The home automation features include remotely locking and unlocking doors, operating appliances, turning lights on and off and controlling the thermostat. This can be extremely convenient when you don’t wish to walk around the house ensuring that your alarm system is on and your lights are off and A/C on for the night. Plus, the energy management control can save you money while keeping your home as comfortable as possible.
The wireless video gives you the ability to view your home from your phone, tablet or computer. You can also be notified with a live video feed if the system’s motion sensors detect movement in your home. Motion-activated video recording gives you peace of mind by allowing you to see what movement triggered an alert. HD and night-vision capabilities mean that you can get a clear picture of what is going on around your home even at night or on your phone.
Frontpoint allows customers to pick from three equipment packages to get exactly what they need for their home.
The standard equipment package includes a control panel, a pet-friendly motion detector, a keychain remote and two door or window sensors. The enhanced package contains all of those pieces, plus a smoke and heat sensor. The light package comes with the standard equipment, plus two wireless light controls. Additional equipment can be purchased separately.
Bottom Line Pros and Cons:
- Quick equipment set-up.
- Wireless service with all packages.
- Money-back guarantee.
- No two-way intercom service.
#2. Protect America
Protect America’s service comes with three guarantees: they offer low price, no equipment fees and lifetime replacement of equipment. This is a strong choice for the budget-conscious homeowner who still values security.
Protect America offers five levels of service: Copper, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum protection. Every plan includes a control panel, a motion detector, three window decals and a yard sign. All plans come with 24-hour-a-day monitoring. Prices below are for landline monitoring; broadband and cellular service are available at an additional cost.
Price: $19.99 per month for landline monitoring
This plan is a basic offering best for apartments, condos or small houses. Three door or window sensors and one pet-friendly motion detector are included.
Price: $25.99 for landline monitoring
This offering is a good pick for houses under 1,200 square feet. The plan includes one motion detector and seven door or window sensors.
Price: $37.99 for landline monitoring
This is the Protect America plan that offers homeowners the best value. The plan includes 10 window or door sensors and one pet-friendly motion detector.
Price: $39.99 for landline monitoring
This plan can cover a home up to 3,500 square feet. The plan includes 12 door or window sensors and one pet-friendly motion detector.
Price: $42.99 for landline monitoring
This plan comes with 15 door or window sensors to protect a larger property. Sensors can be exchanged for other equipment if those are more sensors than the homeowner needs.
A la Carte Services
Glass break sensors, smoke detectors, wireless indoor pan-and-tilt cameras and alarm keychains can be purchased for a one-time fee. Customers who desire broadband or cellular service can purchase these at each plan level for an additional monthly cost.
Bottom Line Pros and Cons: Protect America has fewer features than other companies. However, basic services are available at a highly affordable price.
- Best for low budgets.
- Lifetime equipment warranty.
- No equipment or installation fees.
- Landline services can be overcome by cutting phone lines.
- No outdoor cameras.
- $79 restocking fee for returned equipment.
Vivint offers a number of smart home services that include security, energy management, home automation and solar. The company is headquartered in Provo, Utah and serves 800,000 homes in the U.S., New Zealand and Canada. While the company offers many advanced services, some customers have been subject to unexpected charges or have complained about spotty customer service.
Smart Home Security
Price: $53.99 per month and up
Vivint’s Smart Home Security plan comes with a one motion detector, one touchscreen panel, three door or window sensors, one keychain and one yard sign. If more of these items are needed, they can be purchased separately. Homeowners can also buy carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, panic pendants and glass break detectors to use with their systems.
Vivint offers 24 hour a day wireless protection. Customers can access information about their home security through the Vivint app on their phones or through their computers. All Smart Home Security subscriptions include live two-way communication with Vivint security experts, severe weather alerts and non-emergency alerts. The non-emergency alerts can let you know when a child comes home from school, when a pet enters a room where they don’t belong or when people open sensitive areas of the home such as medicine cabinets or gun storage.
To receive an exact quote for services, prospective customers need to contact Vivint directly.
Bottom Line Pros and Cons: Vivint offers technologically advanced systems at a high-end price. Homeowners that need advanced systems may find that this and other Vivint products serve their needs.
- Wireless operation.
- Cellular service.
- Free equipment.
- Live two-way communication.
- Can be more expensive than other plans.
- Activation fee for service.
Picking the Best System for You
When choosing the right security of your home, you need to consider your level of risk and your family’s specific protection needs. Those in small dwellings or in areas where break-ins are rare may feel adequately protected by a basic system. Those who keep valuable property in the home or who have vulnerable family members who are often alone may choose more robust systems. By balancing your desired level of protection with the plan that fits your budget best, you can keep your home and family secure at a price that you can afford.