Our homes are one of our most valuable possessions. We would want to protect it against different kinds of threat, such as unscrupulous intruders, thieves, invaders, and domestic disasters such as fire and flooding.
There are tons of home security options out there, and choosing the best one may seem daunting at the onset. However, in terms of securing your home and the valuables in it, you would want reliability and quality, as well as good value because the cost of home security systems can add up as time goes by.
Thanks to rapid technological advancements, security systems have become cheaper and packed with the latest home automation features that were not easily available 5 years ago. But with all these brands and options, how do you wade through the confusion and choose the best for your home?
We dug through a myriad of home security companies and systems and compared everything including pricing, features, durability, ease of use, customer reviews, brand reputation and customer service to help you determine which system offers the best value.
We took a deeper look at the top providers like Frontpoint, Vivint, SimpliSafe, ADT and Protect America and recommend the companies offering the best technology:
Vivint came out on top of our reviews with their excellent home automation features and top-of-the-line technology.
Vivint wins 5 stars in practically all areas especially in the technology category. The equipment designs are impressive and sleek, with plan options that allows you to fully automate your home security system.
In the past, Vivint was criticized for their aggressive home-visit sales tactics and dismal customer service, but we are seeing improvements in this area and we hope that they continue to improve their relationships with their customers. But Vivint clearly wins the gold medal in terms of design, technology and home security automation.
In general, sensors for doors, windows, freezing and flooding are boring. They are functional, yes, but boring. Not unless Vivint made them.
Unlike many other home security systems, the company manufactures and designs their equipments and do not outsource to other companies and countries. Other alarm companies use GE or Honeywell in their equipments, which make them less interchangeable. Vivint, on the other hand, scrutinizes every single aspect of their design, even in the most basic equipments.
We tested the sensors and we are sure you will appreciate the aesthetics, after all, you wouldn’t mind having good looking security systems installed in your home.
These aforementioned sensors would be deemed totally useless without the Vivint SkyControl Display. Unlike other home security companies, Vivint did not skimp on this panel. SimpliSafe went for a minimalistic design with its small screen and several buttons. Not the SkyControl. The panel boasts of high-end technology coupled with beautiful design. Think of it as the iPhone of all control panels for home security systems.
Vivint equipments work via cellular signals, and this means that potential intruders cannot easily disable your connection. Your cell signal has to be strong for Vivint to work, but if you are in an urban area anywhere in the US, getting a good signal shouldn’t be a problem.
Vivint Security Cameras
Vivint has the most innovative and technology-laden security markets on the market these days. You will appreciate the doorbell camera; you can see if anyone is on your porch even when you are lazing on a tropical island somewhere else in the world. You can use this feature to check if your Amazon package arrived safely, or use the two-way talk to warn wandering kids off your property.
Vivint’s Ping camera is the only one you’ll see in the home security market that features video call capabilities. Your kids can use it to send you a video call to your mobile phone when they arrive from school; this way you are secured knowing they got home safely. The Ping features HD recording from a wide-angle camera and customizable functions for mobile.
Here are other Vivint security camera features that make them highly desirable:
No one can beat Vivint when it comes to home automation. The system fully protects your home and serves as a solid foundation for turning a house into a smart home.
Every single piece of the Vivint Home equipment can be fully automated and customized when you use the Vivint Sky app. On top of that, you can integrate the system with Google Home and Alexa to have total voice control over your smart home and security systems.
The Z-Wave technology makes it much easier to add 3rd party devices to your smart home system. You just need the installer code and you can easily install devices into your system.
The Nest thermostat is a great option to add to Vivint’s Element thermostat because of its impressive interface and aesthetics. Nest runs your HVAC system efficiently by learning when you are home and when you are away.
It is undeniable—Vivint is expensive. When you buy the equipment a la carte, the price per equipment will be considerably higher compared to other companies.
Let’s compare the prices of the top 4 window sensors:
As you can see, Vivint is the most expensive window sensor, and this price range difference is applicable across all other equipments. But if you are anything like us, you will find that paying more for the security is well worth it for the following reasons:
When you look at Vivint’s professional monitoring plans, however, you will get more value as their costs are close to other alarm companies such as Frontpoint or ADT.
No Contracts Required
Another great thing about Vivint is the no contracts required policy. If you can buy the equipment up front, you can choose to pay monthly, which is an excellent deal if you ask us. Other alarm companies bind you to a lengthy contract wherein you will have to pay steep penalty charges if you decide to cancel the service.
For customers looking to finance their equipment, there are Vivint contract options to choose from. But you don’t have to sign one if you bought the equipment outright. It is important to note that the basic equipment package costs $549 for both financed and up front options. Under the financed contract, however, you can pay for the equipment in installments over 3 to 5 years.
Frontpoint is primarily known for their excellent customer service, easy DIY installation process, and excellent technology.
Frontpoint’s strongest selling point is their customer service. Their knowledgeable representatives are friendly which lends to a great user experience. Our test drive proved this to be true.
But of course, you don’t want to be talking to reps every day, no matter how good they are. You want a home security system that does not require fixing once installed. So, does Frontpoint security hold up?
Yes. From our personal experience, Frontpoint home security offers high-grade technology with excellent features that you won’t normally expect from a do-it-yourself system. Most of the installation process is relatively easy, and it is great for renters because you can easily move the system from one place to the next.
The Frontpoint Protection plan offers professional monitoring plus basic security features such as user codes and automatic system checks. If you upgrade to a higher plan such as the Interactive plan, a mobile control feature is added. The Ultimate plan is recommended for users who want to receive video camera live feeds.
Frontpoint basic security has the same expected sensors offered by other security companies:
Just like Vivint, all Frontpoint sensors work via cellular signals, which is a great thing because it is a very secure connection type compared to broadband or landline powered connection. Other companies such as Protect America and ADT offer all three connection types on their plans.
While cellular-based systems cost more, the level of security offered is worth the money because potential thieves cannot easily disable the signal. Make sure that you check the signal coverage in your area, especially if you live far from urban areas.
Frontpoint uses GE equipment, so the control panels are similar to other companies that use GE hardware like Protect America. There are two options—touchscreen and standard. The touchscreen option is alright, but you won’t use the control panel a lot anyway if you have the Frontpoint mobile app.
Here are the control panel functions:
We tested the control panel’s touchscreen and we found the camera function impressive. The panel takes a photo of the person disarming the system so you will know if your babysitter disarmed the system or someone else got hold of your code.
You can choose the standard option if having a camera function is not a big deal for you. Both standard and touchscreen panels are Z-Wave compatible which is great for home automation.
Frontpoint could do better if the system has a two-way talk function in its control panels just like those in ADT and Vivint.
The Skybell video doorbell is our favorite, as it works pretty much like Vivint’s doorbell camera which allows you to use your smartphone to monitor your front porch and see who’s at the door. This is a great feature for parents who want to see their kids get home safe from school or online shoppers who want to see when their Amazon packages arrives.
Frontpoint also has a wide range of outdoor and indoor video cameras. The wireless indoor cameras are great especially for people who do not like unsightly wires. The security camera features the following:
The camera support comes with the Frontpoint Ultimate plan, so you will have to pay more to get this option. Most Frontpoint cameras rely on broadband connections instead of cellular signals, so you need to have a strong Wi-Fi coverage on your porch.
Frontpoint is DIY as there is no option for professional installation. Most of the components are okay for DIY installation, such as the sensors and the peel and stick control panel. The doorbell camera is another story, though. The instructions that come with the package can be confusing and it will take you awhile to figure out how to coincide the older model instructions with the new equipment you have. So this is something that we hope Frontpoint can improve on.
Frontpoint, just like Vivint, is compatible with Z-Wave technology. This means that you can add 3rd party Z-Wave devices to the system such as the following:
Apple Watch integration is also offered by Frontpoint, which is not offered by other security companies. You can use Apple Watch to access certain features of the Frontpoint app, and check your home while you’re away.
Frontpoint has geo-smart features that are not seen in any other security companies. The system can be armed or disarmed via your smartphone. Here are some of the Frontpoint app functions:
Frontpoint features and functionalities are still up there, even if Vivint takes the number 1 spot. Its 4.2 Google Play store rating is to be taken seriously. As per our tests, we loved how easy it was to use the app to control to home security system.
Frontpoint takes 2nd place in terms of being expensive, next to Vivint, considering that you have to separate purchase the equipment. But the pocket dent is somehow made up for by the excellent customer service and the high level of technology used in this system.
Frontpoint also offers discounts on factors such as homeownership, contract length and good credit.
ADT is known in the market for their reliable alarm systems and a wide variety of system choices.
ADT has been around since the 1800s, and more than a century of experience and reputation naturally makes it the most recognized home security brand. There is no home security logo can compete with ADT’s emblem in terms of brand recall. Heck, even the burglars know what the blue shield means.
But can ADT’s 140 years of existence keep up with the latest technology of our times?
We answer with a resounding YES, but there are some caveats.
ADT offers topnotch equipment and unbeatable reliability with its 10 monitoring centers across the country. Because these centers are interconnected, there will always be someone who will respond to you even if the nearest monitoring center is unreachable.
What we don’t like is the confusing array of equipment—they often come from multiple manufacturers so support is sometimes sketchy. But, yes, the ADT equipment gets the job done, but it’s not always done in the best way.
The ADT Basic plan gets you the basic landline connection, but if you upgrade to higher plans, you can choose between cellular-based and broadband-based options.
Because there are so many models that discussing the ADT equipment basics is not an easy task. So let’s talk about the kind of systems to choose from.
ADT offers three connection types unlike other companies:
As we mentioned before with Vivint and Frontpoint, cellular-based equipment offers the most security because they cannot be easily disabled. Landline-reliant alarm systems can be easily cut by burglars. Cellular equipment, however, are more expensive, and will only work if your location has a strong signal.
The basic security plan comes with the following:
Keep in mind that ADT requires you to sign a 3-year contract, unlike Vivint that offers packages without a contract as long as you buy the equipment upfront.
ADT offers a few options in terms of control panels, but your experience depends on the model. All of them allows you to arm or disarm the system and also includes fire and panic buttons.
The lower priced ADT basic plans are low-tech and as expected, a very basic control panel with a few buttons and a small screen. If you are looking for a more feature-packed system, you’re better off with the ADT Pulse or the Pulse Plus Video plans, though you will need to shell out more dough. But you get your money’s worth. ADT Pulse is just like Vivint’s SkyControl Panel, but not as pretty.
Yes, it’s great that you can use ADT Pulse as a photo album, but why Flickr? We are not cavemen! ADT Pulse also relies on Yahoo services and accounts. It is already 2018! We would like to have access to Google and other social media platforms.
ADT has always been known for offering a multitude of options, and this is still true with their security cameras.
Types of ADT Security Cameras:
There are so many options that you’d think there will be corresponding details, but no, ADT stays vague about the models of these cameras. This is mainly because ADT uses multiple models in each array. This does not mean they are low quality, though, but it makes shopping more confusing which reduces the level of buying experience.
The Pulse system works with Ring Video Doorbell, but the integration is lackluster. You will need a separate Ring app to use the Ring Video Doorbell—not the ADT Pulse app itself.
Important Things to Know about ADT
ADT is professionally installed, including the ADT Pulse system. There is an option for DIYers called the ADT Canopy which is similar to Frontpoint and SimpliSafe. ADT Canopy can be integrated with different smart devices such as LG Smart Security and Samsung SmartThings. There are not a lot of buzz regarding ADT Canopy yet, probably because it’s still trying to get a foothold, so ADT Pulse still comes first on our home automation recommendation list.
Some equipment are already included in the monthly plan price, which makes this a better deal than Vivint in terms of value. If you want a reliable, yet basic landline system, ADT is #1 on our list. Vivint still takes the cake when it comes to home automation and video.
Price is not ADT’s best feature. It still comes out as an expensive system considering the features and functionalities you are getting, if ADT is to fight Vivint or Frontpoint pound for pound.
True to its brand name, SimpliSafe is ultra-simple—no frills, no home automation, no contracts.
If you are a renter, Simplisafe can be a great security option for you. For really low equipment and monthly prices, you can have basic security equipment and non-stop monitoring. No contracts are required, no more wall holes, and you don’t need to pay with an arm and a leg just to have home security.
SimpliSafe Basic Security is a no frills, low-commitment, zero-maintenance home security, all for a bargain price. But the quality is not bargain. Just like Vivint, SimpliSafe manufactures their own equipment, so the buying experience is super easy, and the installation process is a breeze.
There are many SimpliSafe equipment packages to choose from, and it’s easy to get what you need because you can buy a la carte.
You can order SimpliSafe equipment online and there are refurbished systems that are cheaper by 30%.
The keypad has a tiny screen and a few buttons which you can use to arm or disarm the system. The SimpliSafe base stations handles almost all of the communications, which you can hide somewhere safe. If a burglar breaks into the house and destroys the keypad, the system won’t be affected and the burglar alarm will still be triggered.
An Important Thing You Should Know about SimpliSafe
All SimpliSafe equipments are cellular-based, so they cannot be easily disabled by burglars. Again, you should have a strong cell signal in your location.
What we love—and so will you—about SimpliSafe is the price. It is the most affordable home security system in the market today, with a simple ordering process as icing to the cake.
Let’s compare the window sensor prices of different companies to SimpliSafe’s:
You can buy SimpliSafe equipment a la carte, so you can easily pick what you want online or over the phone.
The monitoring plans are a lot cheaper than other companies, but you have to purchase the equipment up front. If you need just window or door sensors, you’re going to be fine, but for outfitting your entire home with complete equipment, the bill can rack up a bit.
Protect America offers professional equipment and basic security for a low price.
One of the things we didn’t like about Protect America is their numerous service plans—they have so many that buying can be a confusing experience. But the company has one of the lowest upfront prices in the industry, and the customer reviews are stellar.
We like Protect America for the following things:
Protect America favors function than form, so if you are looking for sleek, go for Vivint. The higher your plan, the more sensors will come with it. The Copper plan only comes with 3 sensors, while the Platinum plan comes with 14.
Just like Frontpoint or ADT, Protect America uses GE manufactured equipment. They are functional and high quality but has zero in the way of aesthetics. There are many different sensor options offered by Protect America:
Protect America offers 3 connection types—landline, broadband and cellular.
Landline-based equipment is cheap at $19.99 per month. The cellular plan is highly recommended but it’s expensive. You would be better off with a broadband connection than a landline, because burglars just have to use a pair of scissors to cut your landline and you’re in the dark.
The company offers high quality outdoor and indoor cameras. The indoor cameras feature two-way talk so you can also have a conversation with anyone you see in the camera.
It is important to note that the security camera support is only available in the broadband and cellular based systems.
Protect America Pricing
We gave the “Best for the Basics” trophy to Protect America mainly because of the price. The landline-based system will only set you back $19.99 per month, but because it is landline-based, there’s not much to expect from this plan. The broadband based plan is a bit steep at $41.99 per month.
Note—the lifetime warranty is not applicable for damage due to customer abuse. If the equipment is damaged due to a break-in or a manufacturer error, the company will cover it.
You can choose to install the system yourself and save money right off the bat. The Protect America installation fee is a whopping $199, and it’s not as if you can’t install the equipment by yourself. You can call Protect America and have a tech help you through the process.
Almost all home security providers offer the following tiers:
Home automation is not offered by some companies, mainly because not a lot of people can afford that level of technology. If you want to really fully automate everything and can afford it, Vivint’s top tier plans can be your best choice.
The best security system is one that matches your lifestyle and home requirements. We also judge systems by their technology and quality of equipment. We then consider the price, then the customer service.
Of course, the word “best” is relative to what your preferences and budget are, plus many other factors. But here’s how we choose our top 5:
This is why Vivint was the Best Overall company for us. Its technology is undoubtedly unbeatable, the equipments are in-house designed and built, and we almost swooned at the aesthetics of the equipment.
There are companies that didn’t make it to the top 5 but are still worth mentioning:
They didn’t quite make it to the list above because their pricing and technology was not up to par.
We love the following things about Link Interactive:
Link Interactive Equipment
Link Interactive’s equipment come from different manufacturers just like Protect America and ADT, so shopping can be tricky. But the equipment is high quality, reliable and there is a variety of sensors to choose from. You can buy equipment a la carte, so you don’t have to buy the components you might not need.
We are impressed with the fact that Link Interactive equipment is cellular-based and their cameras are top-of-the-line.
Considering the quality of the equipment and the various features, $30.99 can be reasonable for a basic package. Compared to ADT and Vivint, the price is cheaper by almost 30%. It is important to note, however, that equipment must be bought separately, so the overall price can be higher.
What we love about Scout Alarm:
Scout Alarm is a new company but it’s slowly building foothold, enough to take on big names such as Vivint and ADT. With Scout, you get all the essential equipment for the security of your home, without the contract.
We hope to see more improvement in terms of equipment choices and wish they could ditch the required monthly subscription for self-monitored systems.
What You Should Know About Scout Equipment
Fortunately, Scout equipment is good-looking with its sleek design that comes in wood, black or white. The aesthetics lend a high tech look to your home, but is the performance high-tech as well?
Well, kinda’. The hub uses Ethernet connection, but there is an option for cellular backup. By now you should know that we favor cell-based systems to broadband-based ones, but Scout’s Ethernet route is a few levels more secure than broadband alone.
Scout only offers 3 sensor options, which is a bit disappointing:
We like that the access sensor can be installed on all kinds of access, including cabinets and other entryways.
Scout uses Zigbee technology, which makes home automation integration relatively easy.
Scout integrates with the following:
You can add any device that’s compatible with Zigbee and you can integrate voice command, thermostat and lighting devices for full home automation options.
Scout is very cheap with two plans at $9.99 and $19.99 per month. So far, Scout takes the bag for being the cheapest in the home security market these days. However, you need to subscribe to a Scout monitoring plan to get added features such as email notifications and mobile app control. Without a monthly subscription, your system is basically useless.
Although it is dirt cheap, we don’t like the fact that you need to pay $9.99 monthly for a system that does not come with professional monitoring. You need to upgrade to the $19.99 Scout Always On + monthly plan to get that. Without the +, you will need to call the police during a break-in. Nevertheless, $19.99 is still cheap compared to other companies.
It’s not the cheapest, but the equipment price is not steep either:
A basic setup will set you back $158, but you can add more components as you see fit.