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Protect America Home Security System Review

Protect America Home Security System Review

Protect America is a Texas-based home security company that’s been in business since 1992 and gained a reputation as one of the leading U.S. home security providers. The company caters to hundreds of thousands of households in the U.S. and Canada. Currently, BBB rates Protect America a modest C- due to numerous customer complaints, however.


Quality and Warranty

With Protect America, you can choose how your system connects to emergency operators – via 4G cellular network, landline or broadband. You install your equipment yourself with the customer service phone assistance.

The provider replaces or repairs its equipment, when necessary, but you don’t own your security set – you have to return it when you cancel your subscription.

That said, Protect America’s equipment has a lifetime warranty – as long as you continue service with the company, you are well-covered against malfunctions.

The company offers up to $1400 in free equipment, but fire and smoke detectors are not included.Finally, the warranty covers all damaged or defective equipment. But it only covers damage caused by intruders, not the abuse from the customer.


Features

​Protect America uses Simon control panels and proprietary sensors and cameras compatible with a variety of Z-Wave devices by other manufacturers.

You can choose from two types of control panels – Simon XT Pushbutton and Simon XTi Touchscreen, which can monitor up to 40 devices for security, environmental safety, and automation. On top of that, the company offers a miniature secondary control panel and a remote alarm control with a panic button.

The roster of sensors includes your typical door/window entry sensors, motion detectors, garage door and glass break sensors, smoke and heat, carbon monoxide sensors, and water leak and flood sensors.

As far as cameras and home automation options are concerned, they include indoor wireless cameras, keypad door locks, wireless light control, and Z-Wave appliance modules you can use on an

IFTTT (If This Then That) basis by creating rules that trigger events. This way, you can control your heat, air conditioning, lighting, window blinds and other Z-Wave and X10 connected devices through your Smart Connect mobile app or control panel.

Since Z-Wave and the X10 standard are widespread, you shouldn’t have difficulty finding compatible devices. For example, you can set your living room lights to turn on when the front door is unlocked, or turn on all the lights in the house to alert people with hearing impairment to alarms.

SMART Connect mobile app (Android, iOS) lets you arm/disarm your alarm system, view live video, adjust lighting, control door locks, and more. Text and email notifications warn you of suspicious activities when entry sensors, smoke detectors, and other equipment is triggered.

Note: it’s easier to control your system with a Simon XTi touchscreen, but the caveat is Simon XTi is only available in a Silver package and up at an additional one-time cost of $99. So the equipment is not entirely free after all.

Protect America security camera features 24/7 live feed in HD (to keep an eye on your babysitter), 60-degree field of view, night vision using infrared LEDs, and two-way audio.

Automotive GPS security is one of the unique features of Protect America. For $9.99/mo, you get a small gizmo that tracks your car’s GPS location if it’s stolen.

Protect America offers landline connectivity at $19.99/mo. Not all rural areas have a perfect cellular connection, so analog methods might work best for customers living there.

Last but not least, the company works with renters. If you move, you can relocate the equipment with you.


Price​

Protect America has three plans:

  • Copper costs $19.99/mo and is landline-only. The smartphone app is not included.
  • Silver for $37.99/mo includes ten sensors and one motion detector. If you choose Silver, you can buy the touchscreen version of the control panel for a one-time $99 payment.
  • Platinum is priced at $42.99/mo and features 15 sensors and one motion detector.​

Each plan includes a yard sign and window stickers. Also, you should be able to substitute a few entry sensors with some other security device – inquire with your sales agent. The security equipment fee is $99 for the basic setup.

As with any security company, you are well-advised to read the fine print when signing your contract:

  • Three years is the length of all first-time security contracts with Protect America.
  • Cancellation policy – you must notify the company in writing 60 days before the contract expires.Auto-renewal – if you fail to notify the company as described above, your three-year contract auto-renews.
  • Month-to-month service is available to customers who give adequate notice they do not wish to renew their three-year contract.
  • 15 days – you can cancel your contract during the first 15 days of shipment date if you are not happy with the product. In this case, you will be charged $19.95 activation fee, the first month of security monitoring, and all the shipping expenses associated with delivering the equipment to you and back to the company. Note: you must return the equipment within those 15 days of the date your shipment arrived.
  • Fire monitoring adds extra $10 to your monthly bill, which is unlike many other companies that include fire monitoring in their baseline prices. Video monitoring also costs an additional $10/mo.
  • Cancellation fees – if you choose to cancel the service well before your contract expires, you must pay the remaining balance and the cost of the equipment.

Support

Protect America handles emergency calls 24/7 through three monitoring centers for redundancy. If one station can’t connect to your system for some reason, the other two stations receive the same information and handle your situation.

Regular and tech support are available from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, and from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekends.

A C- rating from BBB is bad news, however. Most complaints revolve around the same thing – Protect America sales agents do not inform customers they are signing a three-year contract. Instead, customers are told they are on a month-to-month service with an opt-out option available any time. Also, customers keep getting billed after they’ve canceled.

The reports of billing-related issues are numerous, too. For instance, the company claims it doesn’t bill customers in cases when the equipment does not work, while in reality consumers report being charged.

The cancellation procedure is mind-numbing and tedious. If you should fail to follow its requirements, you are in for auto-renewal.


Installation

The DIY equipment setup is easy — you plug the camera into the power supply and install it through the mobile app. The sensors’ installation is equally straightforward. But if you worry you might mess up, you can rely on professional assistance over the phone, video instructions, FAQs, and an extensive knowledge base.

Before shipment, each unit is programmed for your unique needs, so that you can get set up quickly. No hammering or drilling is involved – each item is either freestanding or comes with removable adhesive.


Things to Consider

  • You are responsible for regularly checking your equipment. Some user reviews on BBB and Yelp allege that the company fails to warn users their equipment may be malfunctioning or out-of-date.
  • Long-term – if you’re looking for month-to-month service, look elsewhere. Protect America has a hefty cancellation fee if you bail early.
  • Incident procedure – when an event is triggered, the system responds by contacting you or anyone on your emergency contacts list first. Then it reaches the appropriate first responders.
  • You must buy a Silver plan if you want the touchscreen control panel, or home automation and video features.
  • Protect America does a credit check (but most security companies do these days).

Important Tips

  • If your power goes off, your control panel will run off of a battery.
  • You can take it with you if you relocate — ideal for renters.When you relocate your system, you can get a free moving kit from Protect America to help you with disassembling and mounting your system in your new home.
  • The system is more or less pet-friendly – its sensors shouldn't detect animals up to 40 pounds. If your little bud is over 40 pounds, consider glass-break sensors instead of motion detectors.
  • If you want to cancel, remove extra features before canceling. That way, your cancellation fee won’t include the cost of extra features.
  • You can transfer ownership of your contract and equipment to a qualified person.

Summary

Protect America‘s DIY no-fees installation and activation paired with reasonably priced monitoring plans make it a feasible solution if you are looking for a long-term contract with moderate upfront costs. It’s also flexible when it comes to connectivity, as you can choose phone line, broadband cable line, or cellular service.

Not all hardware is free, though, and there are no outdoor cameras on offer. But the biggest gripe here is the long-term contract and constraining cancellation terms that can make you think twice before even trying the system.

3.8

Pros:

  • Wallet-friendly upfront costs
  • Lifetime equipment warranty
  • Easy to install and configure
  • Loud siren24/7 monitoring
  • Responsive sensors
  • Wireless equipment
  • Cell, landline or WiFi monitoring
  • Indoor video cameras
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Home automation
  • Mobile appGPS vehicle tracking

Cons:

  • Three-year contract
  • Requires Silver subscription and up to use interactive features
  • Expensive accessories
  • Cellular monitoring costs more than landline
  • No outdoor video cameras
  • Customers do not own equipment
  • Appalling cancellation terms


Frontpoint Home Security System Review

Frontpoint Home Security System Review

Frontpoint Security Solutions is a Virginia-based company founded in 2007. The company boasts an A+ rating with BBB and an overall positive reputation. Its customers reviews on both BBB and Yelp, however, suggest the service is not without its flaws. Frontpoint’s major strengths include DIY installation, an entirely wireless system, professional monitoring service, and customizable plans paired with responsive customer service. Its high-end plans also include nifty home automation and video surveillance options. However, its plans are quite pricey, and the lock-in contracts hide draconian cancellation fees. You are well-advised to read the fine print.


Quality and Warranty

Unlike many other home security systems, Frontpoint relies on General Electric for its hardware. This allows a degree of flexibility when it comes to spare parts. The equipment is compact, ergonomic and portable, and can be installed and moved quite easily. Some sensors are standing while others have an adhesive strip.

Frontpoint bundles a three-year warranty, so if a sensor stops working they should replace it. On a side note, many reviews suggest a failing battery in a control panel is not covered.


Features

Cellular – Frontpoint’s system is cellular. Instead of relying on WiFi or landline for connectivity, its cellular system can’t be disabled if burglars cut wires.

Note: the camera and the doorbell equipment do need a WiFi connection to transmit your feed. Also, if you live in a rural area with a weak cellular signal, Frontpoint may not be the best home security system for you.

Self-diagnostics – the system runs self-diagnostics several times a day, and sends you notifications should some component fail.

Note: wireless systems have their weak points, too. Namely, they may experience glitches and connectivity issues more often than wired systems.

Customizable – Frontpoint offers advanced customization options when it comes to equipment. It offers two types of control panels – standard and wireless. Top that off with a mobile app, a keychain remote, a panic pendant, a smart lock, wireless indoor and outdoor cameras, a video doorbell, and a laundry list of sensors. You can choose from door and window sensors to glass break, recessed door, water flood, smoke and heat, carbon monoxide, garage door, light sensors, and whatnot.

Depending on your plan, you can optimize your house power consumption through smart home automation sensors, or monitor your video feed from your mobile device remotely.

Crash and Smash Protection – is a nifty feature of Frontpoint’s touchscreen control panel. If anintruder breaks it, the panel sends an automatic alert to Rapid Response.


Price​

The total price is comprised of two parts – the cost of your equipment and the monthly cost of Frontpoint monitoring services based on the type of your contract.

Picking equipment with Frontpoint is a geek’s dream, but if you need advice, you can rely on customer service for guidance.

When it comes to contracts and monthly pricing, Frontpoint is constraining, alas. You get to choose between a one-year contract and a three-year plan:

  • The Basic Protection Plan kicks in at $34.99/mo plus tax and includes 24/7 monitoring, fire protection, life safety, and environmental protection.
  • The Interactive Plan, which features a nifty mobile app you can use to arm/disarm your system remotely, will set you off $44.99/mo plus tax. You will receive email alerts, and text and push notifications. The plan also covers geolocation services and includes Crash and Smash Protection alongside sensor history.
  • The Ultimate Plan is priced at $49.99/mo plus tax, and bundles all the features of the Interactive plus live video streaming, and video and image history. Automated door locks, motion-activated alerts and video recording, energy management, thermostat control and other home automation options (i.e., light, climate) are also included.

The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which may not be enough in some cases. For instance, many reviewers mention identical issues with the magnets in sensors and batteries in control panels – problems that are unlikely to manifest themselves during the first trial month.


Support

Frontpoint customer service office is based in Virginia. English and Spanish-speaking representatives are available 8:00 am – 11:00 pm on weekdays and 10:00 am – 7:00 pm on weekends. When it comes to troubleshooting, the team is helpful and professional.

When you talk to their sales representative, however, make sure you ask all about the contract length, possible extra expenses associated with equipment upgrades, and the cancellation fees. Many reviewers mentioned Frontpoint agents failed to specify these details.


Installation

A technician pre-programs the equipment before shipment, so you can handle your installation all by yourself. If you have a small house, you could make it in under an hour, but if you have a vast area to cover, you may need to spend more time sorting out the sensors placement and connectivity. Each set ships with detailed setup manuals, while the company website provides helpful videos.

Frontpoint partners with Rapid Response Monitoring Services to provide 24/7 emergency dispatching, so security monitoring is around the clock and professional.


Things to Consider

  • You need a personalized quote from the company. To offer you a personalized deal, Frontpoint is going to run a credit check on you. Some customers report the company makes a hard inquiry.
  • It’s cellular-only, which makes it a no-go for people in rural areas with less than stellar coverage.
  • Frontpoint only offers one- and three-year contracts with 85% cancellation fee you would have to pay for the unused months. The clause is covered in the contract’s fine print, which is a must-read.

Important Tips

  • The Skybell HD video doorbell requires a strong WiFi signal outside your door. Ensure your home WiFi signal is strong enough for the video doorbell to work.
  • Before signing up for a long-term plan, consider if you might need to move in the next three years. On the one hand, you can take your security system with you, which is the level of flexibility you won’t find with other providers. On the other, some high rise complexes, for instance, have a community security and fire system and disallow outside systems.
  • Frontpoint warranty doesn’t seem to cover replacement batteries for control panels. Inquire about replacing dead batteries with your sales representative.

Summary

Frontpoint is easy to install and offers an excellent selection of accessories. Its cellular-based system and 24/7 security monitoring are worth an investment, but the high-end price and the binding nature of its contracts might be off-putting to some.

4.2

Pros:

  • Wide selection of sensors and cameras
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Cellular alerts
  • Indoor/outdoor cameras in high-end plans
  • Environmental disaster protection and home automation
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • One- and three-year contracts only
  • Draconian cancellation fees
  • Credit check
  • No landline option
  • Customer service does not specify the length of contracts or the cancellation fees
  • A top-tier plan is required for live and recorded video

Vivint Smart Home Security System Review

Vivint Smart Home Security System Review

Vivint Smart Home is a veteran on the home security arena. Founded back in 1997, the company has evolved into one of the leading home security providers with over a million customers in the U.S. and Canada. In 2017, the brand made it to the Fast Company’s list of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies. Its home security and automation service is a well-rounded pack backed by professional installation and a broad selection of sensors, cameras, web and mobile apps, and a 7-inch touch-screen control panel in subscription-based and contract-less options.


Quality and Warranty

Vivint offers a 120-day warranty on proprietary equipment, such as smoke and motion detectors, and outdoor and doorbell cameras. Its software is compatible with non-Vivint hardware (Nest, Amazon Echo), so if you run those, you need to check with Nest or Amazon for warranty terms.

Vivint proprietary equipment looks sleek, noticeably smaller and more hi-tech than that of its competitors. Its doorbell camera, for instance, does look like an average doorbell without giving away that it’s a camera-powered device.

Its security system mostly relies on cellular connectivity to work and receive updates OTA. It means intruders can’t disable your security system by cutting wires, and your equipment can receive updates without requiring your attention.

Note: cellular-dependent systems may experience performance issues if the signal is weak. Also, customer reviews suggest some equipment starts to act out within weeks after installation.


Features

SkyControl is a 7-inch full-color touchscreen display, which is your security system’s nerve center. Here, you can lock and unlock doors, view live and recorded video, adjust heating and lights, and activate emergency services that alert your local police department directly. The panel also lets you assign user codes, run system diagnostics, and adjust alarm volume.

Connectivity – the cameras communicate with the panel using Wi-Fi, sensors and smoke alarm rely on RF, door locks – on Z-Wave.

Mobile and web UI – besides the control panel, you can control your system and view streams via your mobile app and web portal.

Doorbell camera lets you speak with your visitors even if you are not at home. It pairs with your mobile app and provides video and audio streaming with a two-way voice connection.

Customizable remote can arm/disarm the system and has a panic button. You can customize its functions to lock doors, adjust lights and thermostats, and more.

Indoor and outdoor video cameras offer live streams and can save your footage in the cloud.

Voice-activated home automation through Amazon Echo uses voice and biometric recognition, responds to commands to adjust ambient temperature, locks, lights, and more.

Vivint Smart Drive provides 30 days of non-stop video storage for up to four cameras.


Price​

Vivint is pricey, and it offers no money-back guarantee – you only have three days after the installation to change your mind. The installation fee is $49.99.

  • No lock-in contract option – you can buy your equipment upfront and then pay for monitoring services on a month-to-month basis. This way, you can cancel any time without penalties.
  • FlexPay – if you can’t afford to pay for the entirety of the equipment in a single swoop, you can pay in monthly installments. But you have to sign a 42–60 months contract. In which case, the cancellation fee is 100% of the remaining contract balance.
  • Plans – Smart Home is $39.99/mo (24/7 monitoring, mobile app, alert notifications), while Smart Home Video costs $49.99/mo (door locks, doorbell cams, lights and thermostats controls and other home automation perks). Both are available in 42 or 60 months contracts, or on a monthly basis if you pay for your equipment upfront.

Aa full pack of equipment can amount to $2,000 and beyond. Notably, the 3.5-year plan has higher monthly equipment bill than the 5-year contract. Also, you need to have a credit score of at least 600 to qualify for financing, and contract details vary based on your score.

Note: if you buy the equipment upfront, you can choose to monitor the system by yourself (mobile app and 24/7 tech support excluded).

Its pricing is higher than average, though, and BBB scores Vivint C+ due to recurring legal issues and deceptive marketing practices. Vivint had to settle with the States of Wyoming, Arkansas, Oregon, Ohio, and Nebraska in the past four years – all due to deceptive sales practices and the company’s refusal to honor its customers’ cancellation notices. In 2014, Vivint also settled two federal class-action lawsuits for allegedly violating TCPA.


Support

Unfortunately, Vivint features consistently poor user reviews of its customer service, sales representatives, and tech support. 71% of reviews on BBB are negative. Customers have accused Vivint of misleading, aggressive and pushy sales tactics, lengthy queues on tech support, and inability to opt-out of a contract when its tech support fails to fix a faulty system. Billing errors and failure to update customer address when it changes are among frequently reported issues, too.


Installation

Professional technicians install Vivint’s wireless security systems. The equipment then receives OTA updates, so it requires minimum input on your part. On a side note, when things don’t go quite as smoothly as they should, you can troubleshoot issues by yourself, request live phone assistance or schedule a visit from a technician. The latter will set you off another $50.

The basic equipment package includes Vivint SkyControl panel, the mobile app, 2–4 door/window sensors, a motion sensor, a smoke detector, a key fob, and the 24/7 monitoring.

Additional equipment is available á-la carte, so you can stock up on tilt sensors, recessed door sensors, flood/freeze sensors, carbon monoxide detectors, glass break detectors, small appliance controls, doorbell cameras, smart thermostats, panic pendants, and whatnot.


Things to Consider

  • Vivint requires an excellent cellular connection. If you live in a rural area with a signal that’s less than perfect, shop around for alternatives.
  • 3.5-5-year contracts come with 100% cancellation fee.
  • Vivint is notorious for its misleading door-to-door sales process.
  • The company’s installation technicians are paid on commission, so they aim to upsell you on more equipment than you might actually need.
  • To qualify for financing, you need a minimum credit score of 600.
  • The birds chirping smoke alarm is loud, but not alarming. You can’t change it.
  • The SkyControl panel can only handle 2.4 GHz frequency.

Important Tips

  • If you are not interested in equipment ownership, you should be eligible for monitoring-only contracts.
  • You can upgrade your contract or add extra equipment at any time. But you can’t downgrade your plan. Ever.
  • The cancellation period is three days only. If you don’t plan on keeping it, decide quickly.
  • Installation technicians check cell signal strength when installing your system. If the signal is weak, consider canceling.

Summary

The Vivint Smart Home system offers professional 24/7 security monitoring and advanced automation options alongside sleek wireless equipment. Keep in mind, however, that the contracts on offer are lengthy, cancellation is not an option, and the rates are higher than average. But the most disturbing thing about Vivint is its customer reviews. You are well-advised to weigh the system’s strengths against its history of poor customer service.

3.4

Pros:

  • Portable, elegant equipment
  • Cellular connection
  • Speedy event response
  • Nifty video doorbell with two-way voice
  • Remote control for door locks, cameras, sensors, and thermostats
  • No-contract is an option
  • Robust mobile app
  • Financing available

Cons:

  • Expensive upfront cost of equipment
  • Remote access is only available in contracts
  • Alarm sounds can’t be customized
  • Lengthy contracts with 100% cancellation fee
  • Poor customer service
  • Consistently negative customer reviews

LifeShield Home Security Review

LifeShield Home Security Review

Pennsylvania-based LifeShield was founded by Louis Stilp in 2004 as InGrid. With over 20 patents in wireless location, LifeShield holds the title of inventor of wireless security systems. In 2013, the company was acquired by DirecTV, and its user ratings have plummeted. In July 2017, Hawk Capital Partners bought the company, and new leadership seems to be hard at work re-establishing the company’s reputation. Currently, BBB rates LifeShield A+, although customer reviews are predominantly negative and the company is not a BBB accredited business.

LifeShield offers alarm systems in all 50 states. Its strongest selling points are affordable plans, availability of month-to-month subscriptions, practical features alongside mobile access available with its lowest-tier package. The biggest downsides include negative customer service reputation and lack of home automation features.


Quality and Warranty

When you sign up, LifeShield provides you with a base set of equipment for free, which means your equipment is leased and will be replaced at no charge.

If you buy LifeShield equipment (some of it is available for purchase), the warranty covers it during the first 12 months. Understandably, promotional items aren’t covered by the warranty. Nor are the items damaged by you, serviced or altered in any way unauthorized by the provider. Notably, normal wear and tear are not covered by the warranty either.


Features

LifeShield features a so-called Quadruple Defense system, which is based on four modes of threat communication – Internet, cellular network, text notifications, and landline. If one fails, or the wires are cut, your system is still up and running because it always has a backup method.

Monitoring is provided 24/7 by Protection 1 through five monitoring centers throughout the U.S. Each of the monitoring centers relies on a triple redundant system that consists of a primary system, backup system, and a disaster recovery center. That way, security monitoring is live at all times.

Remote and mobile access with LifeShield is available in both of its packages, which is a stark contrast to most home security companies that corner you into a high-tier plan to get the mobile access.

The dedicated mobile app, as well as the web portal accessible through any web-enabled device, allow you to arm/disarm your system remotely, manage your video monitoring settings, change system codes, view video feed, set up and receive custom notifications and alerts. LifeShield HOTLink is a company-provided tablet that comes with both of its plans.

Fire Safety Sensor is an exclusive feature of LifeShield. It “listens” to your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms and alerts the central monitoring station if they go off. It effectively transforms the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home into a monitored system. The fire protection feature is free, and you don’t need to replace your existing fire and CO equipment.

Video monitoring with LifeShield wireless cameras is one of its strongest selling points. The cameras are inconspicuous and easily blend into any background. You can enable video recording on specific dates and times automatically, or when a motion sensor is triggered. Custom alerts also enable you to adjust your camera settings on the go. Your security camera streaming is also available through your mobile app.


Price​

Currently, LifeShield offers two plans:

  • Security Essentials costs $20.99/mo and comes with a starter kit at $199.99 (pricing of the kit may change). Essentials include 8 items to secure your perimeter – control base, keychain remote, a keypad, two wireless sensors you can use for doors and windows, one motion sensor (pet-friendly), yard sign and window stickers, LifeShield’s Fire Safety Sensor, and the mobile app. Essentials also come with the proprietary wireless security tablet.
  • Security Advantage kicks in at $24.99/mo plus the equipment kit priced at $299.99. The plan comes with 11 items, and brings all the features of the Essentials plus video monitoring, one indoor camera, 30-days worth of video storage, four wireless sensors, and a pet-friendly motion detection sensor.

Both plans are available in contract-less form – you can cancel anytime as long as you follow the requirements listed in the provider’s Terms and Conditions and the fine print in your contract.

You will undergo a credit check to qualify for month-to-month payments. Otherwise, you should sign a 36- or 60-month contract, complete with hefty cancellation fees.

Other highlights include:

  • 30-day money-back guarantee – you can return the equipment and cancel your service within the first 30 days of your order without incurring any early cancellation fees.
  • Early cancellation fees are unsurprisingly restricting. If you should bail early, you will have to pay the entirety of your remaining contract in full. Month-to-month plans do not have an early cancellation fee.
  • Auto-renewal – unless you specify otherwise, your contract auto-renews.
  • Canceling auto-renewal – if you do not wish to auto-renew, you must notify LifeShield at least 15 days before the start of new renewal term (written notice is required).
  • If you prefer professional installation, you can get it for $99.99.​

Support

While Protection 1 handles your security monitoring 24/7, LifeShield customer and tech support’s availability varies by location. Typically, live phone customer service is available Monday-Saturday from 9 AM to 10 PM EST, and Sunday 10 AM to 9 PM EST. You can also contact their customer service via email, but there is no live chat.

There is no direct line for installation assistance if you do it yourself. You must go all the way through automated machines to get to a human, who then redirects or handles your technical inquiry.

During LifeShield’s time under DirecTV, its customer ratings were mostly negative due to poor support experience and difficulty setting up the equipment. We have yet to see if Hawk Capital Partners takes a customer-centric approach to turn tables here.


Installation

Installation is fairly simple – the equipment ships pre-programmed. It is also freestanding or comes with adhesive strips, so no drilling and wiring is involved, except for cameras, which need a power source.

Although the process is straightforward, LifeShield’s manual and mobile app do not provide nearly as detailed step-by-step instructions you will find with some other top-tier providers.

The smoke and carbon monoxide alarm detector is also easy to set up because it’s a peel-and-stick device you can mount almost anywhere. Replacing batteries is also hassle-free.


Things to Consider

  • No home automation is on offer – LifeShield does not support managing automated thermostats, locks, and lights.
  • LifeShield requires new customers to pass a credit check.
  • If you fail to cancel within the grace period, you are subject to early termination fees.
  • Although it’s always recommended to take online reviews with a grain of salt, LifeShield’s customer reviews are mostly negative, which is worrying, especially considering that many of them revolve around hardware quality. Committing to a lengthy contract could be risky under the circumstance.
  • LifeShield’s wireless equipment is not compatible with other home security systems, which is a problem if you ever want to switch providers. But since the system is wireless, you can grab it with you if you move.

Important Tips

  • Since LifeShield’s sensors are wireless, they do not require direct power. The exception is LifeShield’s camera, which has a wireless video feed and a battery backup, but still needs a direct power connection.
  • The base/keypad has a battery backup but should be plugged into an outlet.
  • The base provides backup in case the control panel is broken by the burglar, in which case it immediately alerts you and local authorities.
  • Customers based in Florida can cancel their agreement by sending a written notice to the provider within three days after they have signed the contract. You can also cancel your contract (without early termination fees) upon a doctor’s order you cannot physically receive the services.
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces and reserves called for military duty away from their residence can cancel the service by providing proof of their service.

Summary

LifeShield gets a lot right — it’s wallet-friendly, DIY, flexible, and allows mobile access in all of its plans. It could be an ideal solution for small to midsize households not looking for home automation features. But its customers’ reviews and frequent change of ownership in the past few years adds a dose of confusion and uncertainty about the quality of their hardware and support. If you qualify for a month-to-month subscription, it could be a good idea to start with that instead of a long-term contract.

3.5

Pros:

  • Mobile access
  • Broadband, cellular, and landline connection
  • Easy DIY install
  • Professional installation is optional
  • Fire and carbon monoxide protection
  • Security cameras available
  • Reasonable prices
  • Renter friendly
  • Five monitoring stations

Cons:

  • No home automation features
  • LifeShield equipment you buy has a one-year warranty
  • Limited customer service hours
  • Limited equipment selection
  • Negative customer service reputation
  • 36-60-month long contracts

SimpliSafe Home Security Review

SimpliSafe Home Security Review

SimpliSafe is a Boston-based home security systems provider with 12 years in business and an A+ rating with BBB. Available nationwide, SimpliSafe offers one of the best price-per-value ratios on the market without lock-in contracts, while monitoring is optional. It’s DIY, versatile, and ideal for budget-conscious consumers.


Quality and Warranty

SimpliSafe manufactures all the equipment they sell. It is quality hardware that not only looks sleek but also has advantages over the competition. For example, its backup batteries in control panels and cameras run for days during power outages, while with other providers you get 24 hours backup at best. Also, their pet-friendly motion sensors aren’t weight-focused but engineered to detect the unique heat signature of humans, not pets.

SimpliSafe has a three-year warranty, during which it will replace any defective devices. Top that off with a 60-day money-back guarantee, and it sounds like a lucrative proposition.

For security surveillance, SimpliSafe works with C.O.P.S. Monitoring, an award-winning agency, which has multiple locations that back up each other’s calls in case of natural disasters and other emergencies.

Equipment options include a pushbutton control panel, keychain remote control, SimpliCam indoor video camera, a panic button, a high-decibel siren, and a laundry list of sensors and environmental protection detectors.​


Features

With SimpliSafe, you can choose from a landline, broadband, or cellular monitoring options. Most of the SimpliSafe equipment is wireless and doesn’t require a landline phone. The base needs a power source, while the keypad and sensors are mounted with sticky pads.

Unlike other providers that use a control panel to control sensors and sound alarms, SimpliSafe uses the main base station that’s independent of the keypad you use to arm/disarm the system. Here’s why it’s an advantage.

Most alarm systems have a “grace period,” typically around 30 seconds, during which they do not alert you to an intruder. Knowing this, most burglars locate your control panel and destroy it. Since finding it is easy because it beeps, disabling your security system with brute force is no rocket science.

By contrast, the SimpliSafe keypad doesn’t control anything. Your base station does. If you hide your base station, any burglar trying to smash it is out of luck. Also, the keypad does start beeping if the system is triggered, tricking intruders into smashing the keypad but not the base, which is the actual brain of your system.

Other highlights include:

  • SimpliCam, an indoor camera, features a motion sensor, night vision, HD video quality and a wide-angle view of up to 120°. You can view your video online and send footage to police.
  • The compact keychain remote lets you arm/disarm your system with the push of a button and comes complete with a panic button, while the entry sensors can trigger an audible – or silent – alert.
  • The Standard monitoring package bundles email or text alerts, while the Interactive package allows you to arm/disarm your system and adjust your settings through a mobile app or any web-enabled device.
  • SimpliSafe lets you buy the equipment without the monitoring package if you want to monitor your system by yourself.
  • No smart home automation features are available with SimpliSafe, except for its integration with Nest.​

Price​

  • No contract – buy your security system, install it, own it, take it with you if you move. You are free of any minimum service agreement. You don’t even have to buy a monitoring package if all you need is the system.
  • Choose between new or used and refurbished equipment, which comes at 15-30% discount.
  • Professional installation is available for $199. A DIY installation is free.
  • SimpliSafe costs begin at $99 for a single SimpliCam. No monitoring is included.
  • The Foundation package ($299) includes 24/7 alarm monitoring, a free SimpliCam, one base station, a keypad, and one entry sensor.
  • The Essentials ($259) adds one motion sensor and three entry sensors.
  • The Hearth ($374) tops that off with one key fob, 105dB siren, and one smoke detector.
  • The Knox ($449) adds six entry sensors and two motion sensors to the above package.
  • The Haven ($489) bundles one key fob, four entry sensors, two motion sensors, 105dB siren, a panic button, one freeze sensor, one water sensor, and one smoke detector.

Preset packages aside, you can build your own kit. The monthly monitoring plans are Standard $14.99/mo (no mobile control) and Interactive $24.99/mo (with mobile control).

Monthly monitoring is optional with SimpliSafe. Without it, your system works as a local alarm, which sets off a siren when triggered.

You can monitor your house through the indoor SimpliCam with 24/7 HD video feed cast to your smartphone, tablet, or computer complete with audio, night vision, 120-degree field of vision, heat-based motion detection, and end-to-end 256-bit encryption. It also alerts you when it detects motion, at no extra cost.

An optional recording plan ($4.99/mo) lets you trigger recording remotely from your phone and download and share clips. 30-day storage is included.​


Support

SimpliSafe boldly claims it’s on a mission to fix the security system industry by not having sales people to pressure you into buying, not locking you into any contracts, and not using any “nasty fine print.”

Reviews of their customer service are positive. Their emergency operators respond 24/7, but Boston-based customer service hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST.


Installation

SimpliSafe is easy to set up and use. Your free keychain remote ships with a USB drive, which, when plugged into a computer, shows a setup guide. Plug in the base station, place peel-and-stick sensors around your home, adjust settings via your computer – you’re all set.

Otherwise, professional installation is available at $199.


Things to Consider

  • No home automation, except for integration with Nest thermostats.
  • The mobile app is available with the Interactive monthly monitoring plan only.
  • No outdoor camera.
  • The indoor SimpliCam doesn’t pan or tilt.

Important Tips

  • Monthly monitoring is optional. You don't have to pay for service if all you want is security hardware.
  • SimpliCam uses Wi-Fi, so make sure you have a strong signal where you place it.
  • The base station supports up to 41 sensors.

Summary

SimpliSafe is an excellent, customizable security system you can buy with or without monthly security monitoring. No contracts, robust hardware, no-pressure online shopping, battery backup for all equipment, and cheap monitoring fees make it a go-to solution for modern households that prefer mobility and freedom to restricting contracts. Their 60-day trial makes it easy to recommend.

4.6

Pros:

  • Wallet-friendly rates
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Professional installation is an option
  • No contracts
  • Wireless equipment, cellular alerts
  • Environmental disaster protection
  • Indoor camera
  • Security monitoring is optional
  • 60-day trial

Cons:

  • No home automation
  • Equipment payment upfront
  • No outdoor cameras

Link Interactive Home Security Review

Link Interactive Home Security Review

Link Interactive, a branch of Mountain Alarm, has over 60 years of experience in home security and boasts an A+ rating with BBB and positive customer reviews on Yelp. Its major selling points are transparent pricing structure, ability to cherry-pick your equipment, cellular connectivity, and a decent selection of security options. Customer service is top-notch, and there is a no-contract option on top of 1-, 2-, and 3-year contracts. It’s an all-around excellent home security service that goes unnoticed against big-name companies because they don’t invest much in advertising. Instead, their systems are offered in many retail stores like Costco.​


Quality and Warranty

Link uses quality equipment from 2GIG, GE, and Honeywell, which comes with a three-year warranty. Under warranty, the company is responsible for resolving any device issues and replacing any faulty equipment.

You are not cornered into a pre-set package with the hardware you don’t need. Instead, you get to choose the equipment you need, while the cost of each item is competitive (starting at $22 and up to $112), and easily accessible on their website.

Link Interactive sensors roster includes your typical sensors for doors and windows, recessed doors, plunger-type wireless doors, bypass door and window contact and motion sensors, tilt, glass break, water leak, heat, smoke and freezer sensors, carbon monoxide, disaster sensors, and heat detector.

A basic security package includes a control panel, a keychain remote, environmental sensors, three entry sensors, one infrared motion sensor, a high-decibel siren, a yard sign, and window decals. You can add extra devices at any time. The company offers some advanced sensors you won’t find with other providers, such as a firefighter module and smart motion sensor. The latter comes with an integrated infrared camera that takes a snapshot of an intruder and sends it to your mobile app.

Examples of advanced tech include glass break sensors, automated door locks, clip-on panic button, outdoor and indoor cameras, keypad door locks, and remote control for lights, thermostat, and other Z-Wave compatible appliances.​


Features

Mid- and top-tier monitoring plans feature hands-free voice communication via the control panel. That way, emergency operators can contact you and determine if they need to dispatch first responders.

The panic pendant is waterproof and clip-on, meaning you can wear it on a belt, or around your wrist or neck. They are safe to use in a bath or shower and provide an excellent backup for medical emergencies and break-ins.

Home automation features include centralized control of lights, temperature, dimmers, door locks, and third-party Z-Wave compatible smart devices you can control via your mobile app remotely.

Geo-services enable your alarm system to automatically activate when your smartphone leaves the property.

The mobile app allows you to arm/disarm the system, view video feeds, and control smart home devices.

Link’s video surveillance includes wireless indoor and outdoor cameras that support hi-res video and night vision and can pan and tilt. The Skybell doorbell camera features motion detection, two-way audio, doorbell-triggered video clips, night vision, and HD video.​


Price​

Link Interactive has a 30-day money-back guarantee and a full refund, no questions asked.

Link’s flexible contract terms come in 12-, 24-, or 36-month flavors. Should you choose to bail early, you must pay the remaining balance on your contract, or at least 75% of it.

Their pricing structure is as follows (equipment costs excluded):​

  • Standard - $30.99/mo, professional monitoring, cellular connectivity, two-way voice to the monitoring station, intrusion, fire, crash and smash alarm, smoke, fire, and CO detectors.
  • Gold - $35.99/mo, includes all the features of Standard plus home automation features, such as a remote control app, energy management, lights, locks, and thermostat control.
  • Elite - $40.99/mo, bundles all the above features and adds HD video monitoring on-demand and scheduled, and motion-activated video recording.Equipment and activation fee - $0.

Note: Link provides a three-year guaranteed rate lock, so your bill doesn’t go up throughout the length of your contract.


Support

Link stands out from the crowd with its no-pressure, genuine approach to prospects and customers. You can count on getting the information you need without being pushed into a commitment. This approach – and efficient tech support – has earned the company overwhelmingly positive reviews from its customers.

Tech support is available 24/7 via phone and live chat, while the sales reps are available from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. MST.


Installation

Link offers DIY installation guides while the equipment ships pre-programmed and ready for mounting. It’s either freestanding or peel-and-stick, so no drilling is required. The only tool you need is a Phillips screwdriver for the control panel. The control panel and cameras require a power outlet, but also come with backup batteries, which are easy to replace.

If you need help, Link’s tech support is live 24/7.

Controlling Link’s system is simple with its keychain remote, touchscreen control panel and its robust mobile app.


Things to Consider

Link offers two versions of control panels - 2GIG Go!Control and IQ Panel 2. Both are touchscreen and have the two-way talk with your monitoring station.

IQ Panel 2 has a larger display, supports HD video, and a camera that takes a snapshot every time the system is disarmed. It also costs $200, while the 2GIG panel comes standard with your system at no extra cost. If you buy the IQ Panel 2, you get three door/window sensors and one motion sensor for free, which is still more expensive if you buy the same sensors separately and go with the standard 2GIG panel.

But IQ Panel 2 has some unique features, such as data encryption for every sensor, and support for more user codes and sensors.


Important Tips

  • Although the control panel needs to be plugged in, it has a backup battery that lasts 24 hours if the wiring should be cut or during a power outage.
  • A smash and hit protection feature sends a signal to the station should an intruder break the control panel.
  • The Skybell doorbell camera requires excellent WiFi signal, so consider installing a WiFi range extender if your home WiFi doesn’t reach your porch.
  • Link offers “agreement discounts” if you sign a contract.

Summary

Link Interactive is a top home security provider offering transparent pricing and contract terms, and quality hardware paired with professional monitoring service and excellent tech support. If the tech specs and pricing fit your bill, go ahead with its 30-days trial.

4.6

Pros:

  • No installation or activation fees
  • 30-day trial
  • Wireless equipment
  • 12, 24, and 36 months contract options
  • Three-year rate lock
  • Three-year warranty on equipment
  • Easy to install
  • Excellent customer service
  • Environmental disaster prevention
  • Wearable, waterproof panic button
  • Indoor and outdoor cameras with two-way audio
  • Home automation
  • You own the equipment

Cons:

  • No landline or broadband option
  • Self-install only
  • Upfront equipment costs

ADT Home Security System Review

ADT Home Security System Review

Odds are you don’t have to walk far down your street to spot an ADT yard sign. That’s because American District Telegraph is the largest – and the oldest – home security provider in the US and Canada. The sheer size and capital enable ADT to offer a broader range of services than its competitors. You can choose from wireless or hardwired systems, and even connect security systems from other companies to ADT monitoring centers. ADT security highlights include video surveillance, invasion detection, home automation with voice recognition, environmental protection, and medical pendants with GPS tracking.


Quality and Warranty

ADT uses security equipment by Honeywell, GE, and ITI. Warranty only comes if you buy a Quality Service Plan (QSP). With QSP, there is no extra charge to replace or fix faulty equipment in the first 90 days after the installation. After that, you receive free replacement parts and repairs only if you continue to pay for the QSP. Plus, any service trip costs about $25 depending on your location.

Without the QSP, service calls can set you off $400-$500 for the replacement of just one part. There is also a fee attached to the service without the warranty.

ADT owns its security monitoring stations – four in the U.S. and two in Canada. The company provides 24/7 monitoring, but you can choose to monitor your system independently.

Most ADT packages require a landline. For an extra fee, you can have the ADT Cellular Guard with remote and video service features. In this case, your control panel is equipped with a cellular chip.

ADT offers a laundry list of equipment from control panels, keychain remotes, high-decibel siren, to entry sensors, environmental sensors and motion detectors, indoor and outdoor cameras, keypad door locks, remote control for lights and thermostats, as well as medical alert bracelets and pendants.​


Features

ADT Pulse is a particularly popular wireless system that features video cameras and remote control over lighting, thermostats, and door locks.

You can set its pet-friendly infrared motion sensors to ignore up to 40-80-pound weights to avoid false alarms.​

​Medical alert pendants from ADT come with GPS tracking, so you can track them anywhere, unlike alternatives offered by competition that only operate within a few hundred feet of an alarm system base station.

ADT offers indoor and outdoor surveillance video cameras. With the ADT Pulse plan, video can be live-streamed to your smartphone.

As far as home automation goes, ADT Pulse helps you automate lights, thermostats, and door locks. The ADT system integrates with Alexa and Nest. Alexa integration lets you use voice commands to arm and disarm your system, control lights, lock and unlocking doors, while Nest integration allows you to control your thermostat. You can also adjust the temperature manually using your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

The ADT mobile app is proprietary and offers remote access to your system and email and alert notifications. It is only available in select packages like ADT Pulse, and allows you to:

  • Arm/disarm your system
  • Check the status of your sensors
  • View live and recorded video
  • Use voice commands to control your system
  • Adjust settings for home automation​

Price​

ADT sales agents can offer custom solutions, which, in most cases, require a visit from a technician. Custom solutions aside, ADT offers three packages:

  • Traditional, which is its basic home protection system. The upfront equipment installation costs $125, while the monthly monitoring fee is $28.99.
  • Control bundles 24/7 monitoring and home automation features for $36.99/moplus the installation fee.
  • Video kicks in at $52.99/mo and features 24/7 monitoring, home automation, and video surveillance.

If you already own a security system, you can have ADT monitor it for $19.99/mo and up.

There’s also a $25 activation fee, while the installation fees depend on your subscription and equipment. Additional charges apply if your area requires guard response or municipal permits.

You have to sign a three-year contract that comes complete with a six-month trial. Meaning ADT accepts cancellations without penalty during the first six months only if it fails to resolve any installation/service-related concern. So you have to justify your cancellation.

Beyond that, you are charged 75% of the remainder of your contract if you bail early.

If you move, you can take your ADT system with you, but expect to pay a fee. ADT offers a Mover’s Discount Guarantee, but to qualify, you have to be a customer for at least two years.​


Support

ADT features an A+ rating with BBB and a one-star rating on Yelp. Its customer service with headquarters in Florida provides an overall excellent service. But the company authorizes independent dealers, and here is where most of the bad reviews come from due to deceptive and pushy sales tactics and poor handling of tech issues.

ADT live tech support is available 24/7. If they can’t resolve your issue over the phone, you have to schedule an appointment with a technician. The cost depends on your subscription.


Installation

ADT offers professional installation. A DIY free installation is not an option, but the company may offer specials on installation. The equipment is easy to use, and backup batteries are included.

If you have questions, you can reach a representative on the phone, and via ADT’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, or browse the company’s extensive knowledge base.


Things to Consider

  • ADT does a hard credit check.
  • ADT Pulse is not a full Z-Wave implementation. It only works with sensors and smoke detectors you can buy from ADT.
  • The company leases its equipment; its price is included in your monthly payment.
  • ADT is more expensive than some of its competitions, and locks you into a three-year contract.
  • It’s best to deal with ADT directly or its dealer with a BBB seal. By all means, research customer reviews about the dealer because support and features vary drastically.

Important Tips

  • You have three days to back out of a contract – by law.
  • Inquire with your sales rep about a deal to minimize or eliminate the equipment cost when you sign a monitoring contract.
  • In the event of an emergency, your ADT agent will inquire about the type of your system. It makes sense to have it written down somewhere.

Summary

ADT is a solid – but costly – choice. It’s high-tier and professional, but it lacks the freedom and flexibility offered by its competition. Its fees and terms are overly complicated, while customer experience and package features vary by retailer. It’s certainly a leader, but there are better alternatives.

3.8

Pros:

  • Wireless or hardwired
  • Indoor/outdoor cameras
  • Medical bracelets and pendants with GPS
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Home automation with Alexa and Nest integration
  • Conditional six-month trial
  • Six self-run monitoring centers
  • Professional installation
  • 24/7 tech support
  • Mobile access and control available

Cons:

  • Three-year contract
  • Customer service varies
  • Expensive
  • Warranty not included in all packages
  • Package features and equipment options vary by retailer
  • No DIY installation
  • Z-Wave implementation does not support third-party sensors

Armorax Home Security System Review

Armorax Home Security System Review

Armorax is a newcomer, with just three years on the market. But their offer is lucrative – contract and contract-less monthly monitoring, an excellent lineup of 2GIG equipment, DIY installation, and customizable features make it worth a look. Armorax also lets you use their equipment and monitor your system by yourself and bundles some nice home automation features, too.


Quality and Warranty

With Armorax, you buy your equipment, so expect to pay a hefty upfront payment. The company relies on 2GIG and Alarm.com hardware, which comes with a 3-5-year warranty and a $199 installation fee.

They also offer a 30-day trial with a money-back guarantee. You should be able to get a full refund for your equipment if you cancel during the first 30 days of shipping.

The security system is wireless, so you can take it with you when you move, and there is no fee for relocating. Also, make sure you have a strong signal in your area.


Features

Armorax offers 24/7 professional monitoring for medical emergencies, fire, and break-ins. Its wireless equipment has a 150-foot range indoors and a 300-foot range outdoors. The remote control is possible via the mobile app or the provided key fob, while disaster protection comes with fire and flood sensors.

Security monitoring with Armorax features a less-than-two-minutes response time, alerts sent to your smartphone, email or phone. Armorax alarm produces an earsplitting sound, which is very likely to alert your neighbors.

Cameras are available in the indoor ($139) and outdoor builds ($219). There is also a doorbell cam on offer worth $179.

The indoor cam has no pan-and-tilt but comes with a 110-degree field of view, HD resolution, and night vision. The outdoor cam comes with a rugged casing.​

The Skybell HD doorbell cam features a 1080p resolution, colored night vision, and 5x zoom. It also comes with two-way audio, so you can speak to whoever is at your door using your mobile app. It has a motion detector and uploads its recording to the cloud.​

Armorax control panels are 2GIG GC2 panel and GC3 touchscreen panel that work with a wide range of sensors and environmental detectors. You can build your system hand-picking the equipment, but expect to pay about $649 for a basic system if you don’t want to sign a three-year contract.

Home automation allows you to control your thermostats, lights, doorbell cameras, smart locks, garage door controllers, indoor and outdoor cameras from your system. Some equipment can be voice-activated. Both control panels work with Z-Wave-compatible devices, but the implementation is not universal. Meaning some devices will work with Armorax, others won’t.

Although self-monitoring is no longer advertised, you can choose to monitor your Armorax equipment independently. The fee is $29.95/mo if you wish to have access to the Alarm.com mobile and web app. It allows you to access your security system remotely, adjust its settings, control it, and receive emails and text alerts, as well as view camera streams and save them in the cloud.

Without the monthly fee, you won’t receive an alert on your smartphone. Nor will you be able to remotely arm/disarm your system, or see its status. Without the mobile app, it’s an overpriced and limited local alarm with no remote control.​


Price​

Armorax doesn’t include the equipment price in your monthly monitoring fee, and you can choose to pay-as-you-go or sign a three-year contract. The latter comes with an early termination fee, which depends on how many months remain on your contract.

Armorax has three pricing packages:​

  • Basic - $34.95/mo, + $99 upfront equipment costs if you sign a contract. If you don’t sign a contract, you must pay the full equipment cost upfront ($649 and up). Basic includes 24/7 cellular monitoring, an encrypted control panel, 3 door and/or window sensors, one motion sensor, a keypad, a Verizon sim card, and one key fob. You can upgrade your plan to include video cameras, additional sensors, and a touchscreen control panel for an extra fee.
  • Intermediate - $39.99/mo + $99 equipment fee in contract. Intermediate adds the mobile app to Basic features.
  • Advanced - $44.95/mo + $99 equipment fee. It adds home automation features.

A three-year contract gives you upfront equipment discounts, but the monthly monitoring fees are the same in the contract and contract-less options. Also, your monthly fee is locked for the duration of your contract.


Support

Armorax website provides very little information about their pricing, warranty, ordering, equipment specs or contact information. You have to contact their sales agents by phone or live chat to get the basic information other providers have no problem disclosing. There are no FAQs or knowledge base either. Also, expect long waiting queues to get through to support.

Let’s hope Armorax reconsiders the value of transparency.


Installation

Armorax equipment ships pre-programmed and ready to peel-and-stick. The control panel is a delight to use, especially if you opt for the GC3 touchscreen.

The door and window sensors and motion detectors connect automatically once you power up your control panel. There is no need to punch in activation codes. But additional equipment needs codes, which come in the accompanying manual.


Things to Consider

  • Armorax made a few drastic overhauls in their pricing and features recently, which could mean the company is either evolving or inconsistent. They also lack transparency.
  • According to Armorax BBB A+ profile, the company serves the greater Chicago area and the surrounding suburbs.
  • There aren’t all that many customer reviews for Armorax on Yelp and BBB. The company is only three years in the business, so the reputation is mostly non-existent. Some negative reviews come from delivery delays, others from misleading promotions.

Important Tips

  • You can set the GC3 touchscreen panel to announce “Entry 1” or “Motion Detected” when your sensors are triggered, even if the system is disarmed. This is helpful if you have small children and want to keep tabs on their whereabouts in and around the house, pool, or garage.
  • If you buy a camera, you get 30-day cloud storage that saves up to 1,000 three-minute clips. For continuous recording, you need Alarm.com DVR solution.

Summary

Armorax doesn’t top the industry chart, but the robust equipment, DIY installation, and professional monitoring make it a strong contender. Its pricing structure and ordering process are confusing and seem to change frequently, which is no good for a security company. But its contract-less monitoring option and the 30-day money-back guarantee mean you can try it almost risk-free.

3.9

Pros:

  • Alarm.com equipment
  • GC3 touchscreen panel ($120 one-time upgrade)
  • Flexible monitoring options
  • Cellular system
  • Three-year contract and pay-as-you-go options
  • Mobile app
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Z-Wave compatible home automation
  • Cloud storage for video clips

Cons:

  • Upfront equipment costs can be hefty
  • Additional fee for mobile access
  • Off-putting lack of transparency

Nest Secure Home Security System Review

Nest Secure Home Security System Review

Nest Secure doesn’t disappoint with its sleek looks and unique features. It’s expensive, priced at $499 for a minimal – yet robust – security system apt for a small house with two entries. If your home is larger, extra Nest Detect sensors and Nest Cam will quickly bloat your bill. So it doesn’t appeal to everyone, but if you already run a Nest ecosystem in your house, Nest Secure seems like a logical expansion.


Quality and Warranty

Nest Secure offers a limited 2-year warranty on all of its components. It designs and manufactures its equipment, so you can count on top-tier quality.

Nest Secure equipment relies on WiFi connectivity. You can get an additional backup solution via Nest’s partnership with T-Mobile to have a backup cellular connection for your security system at an additional monthly cost.


Features

The Nest Secure starter kit comes with one Nest Guard (keypad/main hub), two Nest Detect door/window/motion sensors, two Nest Tags, and mounting brackets.

Nest Guard is the brain of your security system. It’s stylish and versatile, allowing four ways to arm and disarm your system:

  • Enter your 4-8-digit code into the keypad
  • Use your Nest mobile app
  • Ask your Google Assistant to do it for you
  • Tap your Nest Tag on top of the keypad​

Nest Tag is a wonderful little RFID keychain that lets you arm and disarm your system without punching out your passcode on the keypad or reaching out for your phone. The Starter Kit includes only two Nest Tags, but you can add more if you have a big family, or would like to give temporary access to dog walkers and babysitters without providing them with the passcode to your system.

No Rush arm/disarm allows you to set the time during which the system won’t beep after you’ve armed it – a voice assistant will tell you how much time you have left.

Nest Guard comes with an embedded motion detector that can sense motion at a distance up to 10 feet. It has a 90-degree horizontal field of view. It has a reduced sensitivity mode, but it’s not what you would call pet-friendly since Nest requires that it should be no more than one dog under 40 pounds. Not love for cats and large dogs then.

You can also set Nest Guard’s motion detector to send you a notification if it senses prolonged inactivity while the alarm system is not armed (in case you leave and forget to arm it).

Nest Detect door and window sensors have embedded motion detectors and lighting capability:

  • Quiet Open lets you deactivate a single sensor by pressing a button on its bottom – helpful if you need to let the pet out without deactivating the entire system.
  • Pathlight is a motion sensor-triggered light that enables in low-light environments. In human speak, it lights up when you walk to the bathroom (or kitchen) in the middle of the night without blasting you blind with full light. Nest uses LEDs, so the batteries don’t wear out quickly.

Nest Detect sensors can also sense open/close and beep. This could be helpful if you want to know when your kids run out the back door.

You can also buy indoor and outdoor Nest Cams with a Nest Aware subscription to record video clips when motion is detected and be able to send them directly to your local police department.


Price​

Nest Secure alarm system starter pack is priced at $499, and includes one Nest Guard, two Nest Detects, and two Nest Tags.

You can expand that with a Nest Cam $99-199 (depends on available promotions) and additional Nest Detect sensors at $59 each.

A $10/mo cellular backup via T-Mobile integration enables mobile notifications if your WiFi goes down or your Nest Secure loses power. It also works well with Nest Aware, which is an optional subscription to the cloud storage for your Nest Cam video recordings.

Nest Secure is ideal for self-monitoring aficionados. For 24/7 professional monitoring, Nest partnered with Moni, offering cellular backup, a free month of monitoring, a $200 discount on Nest Secure, and two subscriptions:​

  • Month-to-month for $29/mo
  • Three-year agreement for $19/mo

Support

Since Nest Secure is a self-monitored system with straightforward DIY installation, you are unlikely to need any help. But if you do, Nest offers a 24/7 live chat support.

Unfortunately, BBB features predominantly negative reviews for Nest that revolve around condescending support and warranty. It appears if one of your Nest units is defective, the company replaces it but does not provide any warranty for the replaced unit.


Installation

Nest Secure is easy to install – the Nest app walks you through the process step by step. Each unit comes with peel-and-stick strips and a QR code. When you scan it, the unit connects to your Nest Guard.

If you need help, you can order professional installation via Nest Pro, which locates Nest-certified technicians in your area.


Things to Consider

  • Alerts from Nest Secure are delivered to your Nest app and can take up to an hour. Chances are your good neighbors will call you sooner because the alarm is loud.
  • If one of your units is defective, Nest replaces it but doesn’t offer the warranty on the replaced unit.
  • Nest is owned by Google. Think twice whether you want a security system that potentially records data about when you’re home or away, or whether you have pets, and sends it to Google to be used for advertising purposes.

Important Tips

Nest Aware for Nest Cam has a somewhat convoluted setup if you need to relocate your Nest Cam. It appears you need to remove the previous location and only then add a new one. But when you remove a location, it triggers an odd cancellation of your Nest Aware subscription. The Nest support seems to lack information on how the whole process works when you need to relocate your Nest Cam with Nest Aware. So it might be a good idea to request tech help before relocating to ensure you don’t lose your Nest Aware subscription.​


Summary

Nest Secure looks posh and offers some unique features, but it’s only attractive if you’ve already invested in a Nest ecosystem. Long delivery times for Nest Secure security notifications undermine the value of the system’s advanced features.

3.7

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Unique features
  • Cellular and battery backup
  • DIY or professional installation
  • Easy-to-use Nest app
  • Multiple entry options
  • Self-monitoring and professional monitoring with Moni

Cons:

  • High upfront cost
  • Nest Aware is confusing
  • Unacceptably slow alerts for self-monitoring with the Nest app
  • Condescending customer service

LiveWatch Home Security System Review

LiveWatch Home Security System Review

LiveWatch, a standalone subsidiary of Monitronics, offers DIY home security equipment and monitoring packages. The company owns and operates its three monitoring centers in California, New Jersey, and Florida servicing more than 200,000 households nationwide. Its strongest features are a “cancel anytime” one-year contract, fast processing of emergency alerts, and limited lifetime warranty. The downsides include pretty generic and expensive equipment and inconsistent quality of customer service.​


Quality and Warranty

With LifeWatch, you buy and own your equipment. LifeWatch gets its hardware from Alarm.com, which is not necessarily bad because the quality is standard, but the pricing is higher than average.

On the bright side, LiveWatch features a unique 365-day return policy, offering a full refund on all of your equipment if you return it within the first year.

The company also offers a two-year warranty on all parts but provides a lifetime warranty – attention – upon request. Meaning you get the lifetime warranty only if you ask for it. Otherwise, the sales agents don’t mention it.

If one of its three monitoring stations goes down, the other two process the alerts – the response time is generally speedy.​


Features

LiveWatch features two control panels – Simon XTi-5 and IQ Gen 2.

Simon Xti-5 is a pretty standard touchscreen panel with a five-inch color LCD screen. It’s compatible with iOS and Android mobile devices and most, but not all, of the LiveWatch equipment. You can connect up to 40 items.

IQ Gen 2 is more sophisticated and sleeker. It sports a seven-inch touchscreen and can connect up to 120 items. It also supports hands-free disarming via Bluetooth and has a built-in camera and weather information.

Both panels offer a two-way live voice assist capability, allowing you to communicate with the monitoring station directly.

LiveWatch also offers a standard Alarm.com mobile app for Android and iOS devices. You can manage just about every setting of your system and home automation, and receive alerts and notifications. The mobile app’s location-based control allows you to set it to adjust your thermostat and activate your alarm system once it detects you have traveled a certain distance from home.

Other highlights include:​

  • LiveWatch ASAPer (As Soon As Possible emergency response) contacts everyone on your emergency list via email, text, or phone when a device is triggered. This translates into faster-than-average confirmation that police should be dispatched.
  • A Crash & Smash Protection is available in all LiveWatch plans except for Basic. If a burglar smashes your panel, your system sends an alert to the monitoring station. If you do not disarm it, the monitoring station dispatches police to your home.
  • LiveWatch offers Z-Wave motion-triggered indoor and outdoor video cameras that capture and upload HD footage to the cloud, but you can use any Z-Wave compatible camera.
  • LiveWatch passive infrared motion sensor captures 320×240 resolution snapshots when triggered.
  • Automated door locks are available as extra addons. You can control them remotely and program to engage at scheduled times.

Last but not least, LiveWatch features a laundry list of environmental protection detectors and motion sensors, keyfobs with panic buttons, or panic buttons with wrist straps, and home automation remotes for door locks, lights, and thermostats.


Price​

Here is the breakdown of LifeWatch fees and important contract details:

  • No early termination fees. Cancel anytime.
  • You sign a one-year contract.
  • Activation fee is $19.95.
  • Equipment upfront costs can be as low as $99 in Basic, and $599-$699 in other packages.
  • Lifetime warranty costs $50.

Monthly monitoring with LifeWatch comes in four plans:

  • Basic - $19.95/mo, 24/7 monitoring, ASAPer.
  • Mobile Pro - $34.95/mo, 24/7 monitoring, ASAPer, remote arm/disarm, Crash & Smash protection, LiveVoice assist.
  • Total Home - $39.95/mo, adds the mobile app, home automation, location-based control, real-time alerts, and motion sensors with image capture on top of the features of Mobile Pro.
  • Total Home + Video - $49.95/mo, adds live video streaming and a security camera to the above plan.

Support

With 16 years in business and BBB A+ rating, LiveWatch only got as far as a 2.5 rating on Yelp. Customers complain about aggressive sales tactics, customer service quality, and billing issues, but your mileage may vary.

Note: LifeWatch agents never mention a lifetime warranty. You have to ask for it.


Installation

Ordering and activating LiveWatch feels a bit convoluted – you need to request an activation call once you receive your equipment. Before that, you also need to create a user profile on the company website. Chances are you might contact live support for clarification a few times throughout the process.

LiveWatch system is wireless and relies on cellular or broadband connection. The peel-and-stick hardware ships pre-programmed, while tech support is available via online chat and by phone. The company website also features FAQs and guides.

On a side note, LiveWatch DIY installation package doesn’t come nearly as organized as it should be. You get a box full of equipment, and it’s up to you to figure out how to connect it. If it’s your first time setting up a home alarm system, you might need to get that tech support on the phone.


Things to Consider

  • You can upgrade and downgrade plans. But if you downgrade, you need to return any system discount you got on your initial plan.
  • LiveWatch runs a hard inquiry on your credit score.
  • LiveWatch charges a higher price on its Alarm.com equipment than you can find on Amazon, or with other retailers.
  • Some customers report the company keeps billing them after they’ve canceled.
  • Professional installation is not an option.

Important Tips

  • If you have good credit, you qualify for significant discounts.
  • If you are unhappy with security cameras from LiveWatch, you can add any third-party Z-Wave-compatible camera.
  • To save on equipment, buy your Z-Wave doorbell camera, smart lock, and other home automation gizmo on Amazon.
  • Not all LiveWatch equipment is compatible with both of its control panels. Cross-check for panel compatibility before ordering.

Summary

LifeWatch shines when it comes to processing of alerts, and impresses with its cancel-anytime policy and lifetime warranty. But its equipment price may knock LiveWatch out of consideration, while the cost of video monitoring is above-average. It’s dependable, but not perfect.

3.8

Pros:

  • 365-day return policy on equipment with a full refund
  • One-year contract
  • No early termination penalty
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Z-Wave compatible
  • Cellular and broadband
  • DIY installation
  • Fast processing of alerts
  • Indoor/outdoor cameras
  • Environmental sensors
  • Home automation

Cons:

  • Video monitoring available in the highest-tier plan only
  • Lifetime warranty available upon request only
  • Aggressive sales tactics
  • Expensive
  • Convoluted signup/activation
  • Customer service quality may vary