Best Wireless Alarm Systems in 2020
Best Overall Value
A state-of-the-art system and advanced home automation features.
Best DIY System
Easy-to-setup. Small, powerful, and stylish. No middlemen. No contracts.
Best Home Automation
The oldest—and possibly the most trusted—home security provider in the U.S.
There are criminals out there who care nothing for what others feel or the fundamental right of people to be secure in their own homes. Every day they're looking for properties they can classify as “a pushover.”
The good news is that the vast majority of such criminals are opportunistic. They want an easy life - and one that's as risk-free as possible while they engage in their crimes. So, they can often be quickly deterred if they see evidence of sophisticated alarm and security systems around a property.
Modern wireless alarm systems often prove to be such a deterrent.
The first systems weren't renowned for their flexibility or sophistication. And a few big players dominated the marketplace, regarding it as their personal fiefdom. Unsurprisingly, the choice was limited and that resulted in eye-watering price tags.
But that’s history now…
Today there are multiple providers and their products have undergone a quantum leap in terms of what they deliver for property and personal protection. For example, some systems offer customizable and wearable panic buttons that can be pressed to signal for police, fire department or medical help. Intruder detection systems can be adjusted by individual room. Options are endless.
Increased competition has also delivered a greater degree of choice for the consumer in terms of contract commitments and the types of technical solutions available. This, in turn has led to prices that are far more attractive than even a few years ago.
And while a variety of options is never a bad thing, it comes at a cost: too many technical and commercial options can create confusion.
Vivint is a provider with a long track record in the home security space. They're regarded as one of the “big players”, with over a million customers across the USA and Canada.
Commercially, they're flexible, offering both pay-as-you-go and subscription services.
Another attractive point is that they have been externally recognized as being one of the great innovators in this technical area.
What you'll get for your money is configurable but can include:
- A “SkyControl” 7-inch touchscreen console – which is your high-function security and house environment control center
- Cameras that communicate with the panel
- A mobile app and web portal for interacting with your system when out and about
- A doorbell and camera so you can speak with callers (via your mobile app) when away from home
- Remote control with a panic button - it can lock doors, adjust lights and so on
- Internal and external video cameras that store images in the Cloud.
Keep in mind, this is just a summary – there's plenty more.
Pricing – Vivint isn't one of the lowest cost options. A complete selection of equipment will cost around $2,000, and there's no money-back guarantee after 3 days. You can spread the cost of the upfront investment over a selected period of time, but if you do so, you'll need to sign-up to a service plan as opposed to pay-as-you-go (a 100% early cancellation fee would apply to that contract). Service contracts range from $39.99-$49.99 per month.
✓ Long-established provider
✓ Good cellular facilities
✓ Fast response to events
✓ Clever video doorbell
✓ Nice remote-control facilities for doors, cameras, sensors and thermostats
✓ Can offer zero contract option
✓ Good mobile app
✓ Financing is available
✗ Expensive kit
✗ Remote access only delivered via contract options
✗ Contracts for lengthy periods carrying 100% cancellation fees
✗ Have been embroiled in - and eventually settled - legal actions in several states
✗ Financing requires minimum 600 credit score
2. Frontpoint Home Security
Frontpoint, which is based in Virginia, has an A+ rating from the BBB and a solid reputation in the industry.
The standout bonus points for Frontpoint include DIY installation, an entirely wireless solution and a professionally robust monitoring service. The company delivers some nice home video surveillance and automation integration capabilities as well, although they are only available on the high-end plans.
Frontpoint's plans are moderately expensive in comparison to others on our list. You’ll also need to watch out for the “hands-tied” contracts and their embedded severe cancellation fees. Make sure you read the fine print to avoid shocks downstream.
For your money, you'll get a good range of features (variable by plan) including:
- A cellular solution. This is a great feature if you live in an area with great reception because burglars can't interfere with it. Note that the camera and doorbell do need WiFi.
- A self-diagnosing syste. It tests itself each day and automatically notifies you if something's not working.
- Lots of customizable equipment options including a control panel, a mobile app for remote access, a keychain remote, a panic pendant, indoor and outdoor cameras, a video doorbell and various forms of intruder detector sensors -- plus various home peril detectors like smoke and heat.
- A control panel that signals the service center for help if an intruder tries to break it.
Pricing – To start, you select and pay for only the equipment you think you need (prices vary). There are three levels of plans to choose from, with prices that range from $34.99 to $49.99 per month. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee. One and 3-year contracts are available, but we would caution you to read through everything before making such a long-term commitment. A lot can change during that time.
✓ Good choice of sensors and cameras
✓ DIY installation regarded by most as “easy”
✓ Cellular alerts
✓ Internal / external cameras (high-end plans only)
✓ Integrates environmental disaster protection and home automation
✓ 30-day money-back guarantee
✗ Limited contract options
✗ Punishing cancellation fees
✗ A credit check is required
✗ Doesn't support landline options
✗ Customer service isn't forthcoming on contract lengths and cancellation fees
✗ Only service isn't forthcoming on contract lengths and cancellation fees
For many, ADT needs no introduction. It’s the oldest, and perhaps best-known, security services provider in the country. The company has a huge customer base across the US and Canada, and this nationwide presence, coupled with extensive experience, are two attractive points in their favor.
ADT’s wireless home security services are built around quality Honeywell, GE, and ITI hardware. They also offer a service package (QSP), which provides manageable-cost component replacement services.
Unlike some companies that outsource, ADT owns its own service support centers – 2 in Canada and 4 in the US.
For your money, you'll be able to pick the equipment components you need from an extensive list of security devices. In addition to conventional sensors, this includes:
- ADT Pulse – a wireless system offering video cameras plus remote control over things like lighting, thermostats and door locks
- Medical alert pendants with GPS tracking
- Streaming of video cameras to your smartphone (ADT Pulse only)
- Home automation that integrates with Alexa and Nest.
- A mobile app for arming/disarming your system, voice commands to control your system, adjusting home automation settings, etc.
Pricing – ADT offers three separate packages, which vary in terms of options provided. The basic home security package is $28.99 per month. Home automation and control costs around $36.99 and video services come in at $52.99. Installation and other fees may apply. Contractually, this is a 3-year contract with a six-month trial. The good news is this means ADT accepts cancellations without penalty for the first six months – but only if the company fails to resolve any installation or service-related concerns. If you’re unable to prove this, early cancellation fees apply.
✓ Wireless or hardware options
✓ Medical bracelets and pendants GPS capable
✓ Environmental protection/monitoring
✓ Alexa/Nest automation
✓ Six-month trial
✓ Multiple provider-owned monitoring centers
✓ Professional installation
✓ Mobile access and control possible
✗ Tied-in to 3-year contract
✗ Customer service reputation is patchy and variable
✗ Pricey overall
✗ Not all packages offer warranty
✗ Some approved retailers vary equipment options
✗ You can't opt for DIY installation.
Simplisafe is a Boston-based wireless alarm system provider with 12 years under their belt. A nationwide provider with an A+ rating with the BBB, the company is highly regarded in terms of its ability to match functionality with affordable prices.
Simplisafe is a DIY solution that also provides a high degree of flexibility and versatility. It’s most appealing to people who are looking for a budget-centered approach to their wireless alarm system, as opposed to a “mission to Mars” solution in cost and sophistication terms.
The company doesn't have lock-in contracts, and there’s a 3-year warranty on defective components plus a 60-day money-back guarantee – two things that aren't, unfortunately, commonplace in the market.
As for the solution, you’ll get:
- A separate (from the keypad) controlling base station. This is useful because the base station can be hidden, which means burglars can't smash it upon entry. In fact, destroying the keypad achieves nothing.
- An indoor camera with a motion sensor, night vision, HD video and wide-angle view. Thsi makes it easy to view video online and transmit footage to police.
- A keychain remote for arming/disarming the system, which includes a panic button
- Entry sensors initiating either audible or silent alerts
- The option to buy the equipment with or without a monitoring package -- meaning you can monitor it yourself if you wish
Pricing -- There is no contracts with Simplisafe. You simply purchase a system to your own specification and own it. There is no service agreement or even any need to buy a monitoring package. What’s more, you can DIY install or use professional installation services at $199. Equipment costs start at $99 for a single SimpliCam, and packages are available that include both equipment and monitoring. Pricing for this these packages range from $299 to $489, depending on all the bells and whistles you want.
✓ An exceptionally wallet-friendly solution
✓ Easy installation (DIY if you wish)
✓ No contracts
✓ Wireless equipment with cellular alerts
✓ Can offer environmental disaster protection
✓ Indoor camera
✓ Optional security monitoring service
✓ 60-day trial
✗ Doesn't offer or interface with home automation
✗ You'll need to pay for your equipment upfront
✗ Outdoor cameras are not provided
Brinks benefits from having a very well-known name and profile in the security industry. In fact, its home security system was recently very substantially overhauled and updated by MONI Smart Security after their purchase of the name rights. The new Brinks proposition is based upon MONI monitoring and Livewatch DIY security systems.
Brinks is widely regarded as being a mid-range option in price terms. What you'll get for your money depends on the package option you choose. Basic options include:
- A Brinks Home Touch display unit
- 3 wireless home sensors plus a wireless motion sensor -- as well as yard sign
The next option up provides:
- Video support with images stored on the Cloud
Pricing – Basic packages are $249.50 for the equipment and $29.00 per month for monitoring. The upper-tier proposition is $299.50 for the equipment and $39.00 per month. There is a 30-day risk free return offer, as well as a 2-year warranty.
While these are clearly reasonable prices, some caution is required. There have been numerous negative reviews and complaints relating to deceptive marketing and poor customer service. Note also that these have all involved a longer-term contractual tie-in and some fairly severe early termination fees. So, be sure you know what you’re getting into before you sign the dotted line.
✓ The familiarity of the name may comfort some
✓ A 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Support for home automation
✓ Regarded as an easy DIY install
✓ Offers live video streaming and associated storage on the Cloud
✓ It offers rate-locked contracts to help plan your finances
✓ Based upon an intuitive control system
✗ Involves long-term contracts
✗ Fairly modest basic proposition
✗ Punitive high cancellation fees
Wireless security systems: the smart solution
Home security systems are a good way (and a smart choice) to help protect homes, people, and possessions from intruders. Traditionally, these systems were required to be hardwired to existing electric and telephone lines within the home to work properly. Today, advanced options are available with the introduction of wireless security systems that offer many advantages to homeowners that cannot be matched with the original technology requirements.
Certainly, most homeowners have heard about home security systems, but many may not be sure of the best type to buy, why they are so important to have, and all of the advanced features of the new wireless home security systems on the market today. After reading this guide, homeowner’s will have a good understanding of how the wireless home security system works, types of wireless systems available, and the advantages of having a wireless home security system installed in a home.
How wireless security systems work
Unlike many years ago, not all homes today have a telephone landline. Since most people now use cell phones or Internet phones versus a home-based landline, a wireless home security system is a necessary choice.
To understand how home wireless security systems work, some basic knowledge of alarm systems is helpful. Although there are a variety of additional system components available including smoke detectors and wireless security cameras, the basic alarm system consists of three main components: a keypad control panel, individual sensors, and a manned monitoring station.
Wireless alarm systems use radio frequency technology, which allows individual sensors throughout the home to communicate with the system’s central control panel. The control panel also wirelessly communicates with the monitoring station via a cellular network, which is known as cellular monitoring.
The difference between wired and wireless
The main difference between a wired and wireless home security system is the installation and performance of the system. There are certainly pros and cons for each type of alarm system. Here are a few to consider:
Pros of Having a Wireless Home Security System
- Wireless security systems are appealing to homeowner’s due to the ease of installation versus a wired system. There are no holes to drill in the walls and no messy wires to install.
- Wireless security systems offer the perfect solution for people who move a lot or rent a home due to its easy movability from one home to another. When moving, simply pack it and take it along!
- Unlike wired security systems, wireless systems allow for “on-the-go” monitoring of your system from a cell phone – anytime, anywhere.
- No power? No worries. Wireless security systems work even if there is a power outage in the home. Wired systems cannot operate when an outage occurs, leaving the home unprotected.
- Since there are no landline requirements for a wireless security system, this means there are no wires for an intruder to disable or cut, making it a safer choice over a wired system.
Cons of Having a Wireless Home Security System
- Some feel that wireless systems are not as reliable as wired systems since the wireless signal can experience some interference, causing a false alarm.
- Wireless systems do require some routine maintenance, including replacing the batteries and system updates.
- The cost of the wireless system is typically more expensive than a traditional wired home security system.
- Unencrypted wireless systems may be vulnerable to hackers.
Types of wireless security systems
There are a variety of different types of wireless home security systems available today that offer consumers a choice of different features to customize the system for individual needs. A basic wireless security system typically includes alarm monitoring, sensors, and an audible alarm. A mid-range wireless system incorporates more features including mobile and remote web access capabilities which includes text and email notifications. Higher end systems offer the addition of cameras for streaming live video and home automation features.
Wireless home security systems can be customized to include different types of sensors and detectors that can perform a variety of functions including the monitoring of household dangers like fires, carbon monoxide leaks, as well as medical “panic buttons” and more.
Features that fit your lifestyle
One of the best features of wireless home security technology is that it is flexible and adapts to any lifestyle. No matter how a family’s needs change, the security system can expand and adapt as needed. Because the wireless system’s sensors are easy to add and move, they can be used to monitor all sorts of unique things around the house, with “real-time” alerts that make owners aware of activities.
From monitoring doors and windows, to making sure the pool gate is secure, to getting a message when your safe is accessed, or even guarding the medicine in the bathroom cabinet - the sensors are small enough to offer unique protection not offered with hard-wired alarm systems.
A popular feature of wireless home security systems is the ability to operate a house as a “Smart Home”. This feature takes your system beyond normal security and makes the home more efficient and smarter!
Smart Home features include HD video monitoring via wireless security cameras, energy use monitoring with smart thermostats, and other house control including automated locks as well as garage door controls – which can all be controlled with apps.
The flexibility and moderns feature of wireless home security systems makes them a popular choice with technology driven consumers.
How reliable are wireless security systems?
Wireless home security systems use cellular monitoring, which is the technology used to communicate with the alarm monitoring center. This technology is quickly becoming the preferred choice by homeowner’s due to it being the most reliable connection as well as offering better protection from tampering.
The only issue is with the reliability is that much like wireless internet routers and cell phones, these popular wireless security systems can be effected by several types of electromagnetic interference including devices such as remote controls, power lines, baby monitors, and microwaves.
The plus side is that the wireless sensors are extremely reliable because they each contain an individual battery, which offers peak performance and even withstands power outages that wired alarm systems cannot.
Can they be hacked or jammed?
Unfortunately, almost every wireless device can be a potential target for hackers. Sadly, security systems are no exception. As with any crime, the criminals are getting more advanced and are finding new ways to get what they want. From new devices that can jam the radio signal and prevent the alarm from reacting to stealing passwords to disarm the system; sneaky thieves never stop trying.
The best way to avoid being a victim is to consider an advanced wireless home security system that broadcasts on multiple channels, which makes it much more difficult for scammers to jam. Key words to look for when buying a wireless home security system include encrypted signals, tamper resistance, and jamming detection for the most secure systems
How much do they cost?
The cost of a home security system includes three factors: equipment cost, installation cost (if any) and the monthly monitoring fee. The cost of a typical wireless home security system ranges from $300 to $1,500 depending on the type of system features desired.
The monthly monitoring service for the wireless alarm system ranges from $30 to $75 per month, which includes 24/7 monitoring of the home, a peace of mind that can be considered priceless by many.
Installation of the wireless alarm system can be a “do-it-yourself” project for those who are handy, but a professional installation is recommended if the homeowner is not familiar with wireless alarm systems, to ensure everything is properly set up. Professional installation can range from $350 to $1,200 depending on the coverage desired and system components chosen, such as wireless security cameras or security lighting.
Many companies offer package deals that include installation and a basic wireless system at a good deal if you sign up for their monitoring service.
Burglary statistics in the U.S.
- According to the FBI, a home is burglarized every 13 seconds in the U.S. That means that while reading this article, almost 9 homes have been victimized. In fact, some people may be surprised to find out the real statistics of this serious crime.
- It is shocking to know that 3 of 4 homes in the United States will be the victim of a burglary in the next 20 years.
- It is also shocking to know that a whopping 88% of all burglaries in the U.S occur at residential homes, with 38% having the potential to become violent crimes due to the use of guns.
- While most people think about stolen televisions and jewelry, identify theft, using information taken during a burglary, is the fastest growing crime in the U.S (as well as Canada and the UK.)
- In addition, the FBI indicates the most common ways burglars enter a home include the front door, a first-floor window, and a back door.
Advice from the Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation's consumer protection agency, offers advice for homeowner’s who are interested in having a wireless home security system installed, including tips on how to choose a reputable company, things to look for in a security system, and precautions to take when working with an alarm company.