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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

Scout Home Security System Review

Scout Home Security System Review

Scout launched in 2013 by crowdfunding its first product line. Since then, the company has established itself as one of the most affordable and transparent contenders catering to homeowners and renters alike. Scout’s system is flexible – it’s DIY, WiFi, customizable, and integrates well with a variety of smart devices. Its monitoring plans are some of the most affordable, and if you’re looking for a contract-less option, Scout could make the cut.


Quality and Warranty

Scout gets an A+ for transparency and flexibility. It manufactures its equipment and ships it with 1-3-year limited warranty complete with a 60-day return policy and a full refund, shipping excluded.

You pay for the equipment upfront and can shop online – the company’s website is a breeze to navigate, and all products come with specs and pricing.

Scout also lets you return some of your devices if you ordered too many. You can return a sensor and request the same of a different color or a different type of sensor. There are two colors on offer – Arctic White and Midnight Black.

Scout’s home security system is wireless (WiFi) and uses cellular connection as a backup. Self-monitoring with Scout’s mobile app comes at $9.99/mo, while professional monitoring with COPS kicks in at $19.99/mo.


Features

Scout hub plugs in your router via an Ethernet cable and has a 12-hour backup battery and a 3G cellular backup. It has no keypad and requires Scout Alarm mobile app (or web-based UI) to adjust settings, arm/disarm, and add devices.

Scout Alarm mobile app is the control panel of your system. You use it to arm/disarm your system, create IFTTT recipes and integrate third-party home automation devices with your hub, as well as set notifications, view history, pin events for future reference, use a preset mode (Home, Away, Sleep, and Vacation) or create a custom preset. You can access the same interface via any web browser, too.

Also, you can see all your connected devices and edit members to control which rights (arming/disarming) they have and during which times.

Door panels – come with RFID stickers and two key fobs you can use to arm/disarm your system without the mobile app or share with trusted people.

Scout access sensors have a motion-activated trigger and a temperature sensor. You can place them on doors and windows, but also anything you don’t want opened without you knowing (cabinets, drawers, you name it).

Scout motion detector has a 20-foot range and 90-degree view but isn’t pet-friendly.​

Scout water and CO sensors – you can name them based on where they are located. That way, you always know which sensor is triggered and where.​

Siren – 105Db and appropriately loud, it is backed up by the door panel sensor with an embedded secondary klaxon.​

Home automation – Scout works with Amazon Alexa Echo and Dot, IFTTT, Google Home, Roomba, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Lifx, Phillips Hue lights, and more devices via ZigBee and Z-Wave.​


Price​

Scout’s pricing comes in two parts – equipment and monitoring. Here’s the breakdown of its component prices:

  • Hub $129
  • Key fob $5
  • RFID sticker $2.50
  • Door panel $69
  • Access sensor $29
  • Motion sensor $49

Scout also offers water leak ($39) and glass break sensors ($59), door locks ($200), and CO detectors ($69). But if you need a video camera, you’d have to buy a third-party device.

The company also offers several packs, all of which bundle one hub, one door panel, and one yard sign:

  • Small $299 – 1x motion, 2x access, 2x key fobs
  • Large $499 – 2x motion, 5x access, 2x key fobs
  • Elements $599 – 1x motion, 4x access, 1x smoke/co, 1x water sensor, 2x key fobs
  • Architect $799 – 1x motion, 4x access, 1x smart lock, 1x glass break, 2x key fobs

As far as monitoring goes, Scout offers two options in month-to-month and yearly flavors:

  • Always On $107/year or $9.99/mo – 4G LTE cellular and battery backup, email notifications, Scout mobile app, push notifications, SMS alerts.
  • Always On+ $215/year or $19.99/mo – 4G LTE cellular and battery backup, email notifications, Scout mobile app, push notifications, SMS alerts, 24/7 professional monitoring.

You can’t self-monitor without a monthly subscription because you need access to its mobile app to receive notifications from your system. Otherwise, you need to keep tabs on your browser at all times. So if you need the system but not the monthly subscription, Scout may not be for you.


Support

Scout phone, social networks, and email support is available 9 am – 6 pm CST, seven days a week except for major US holidays.

You can also browse tutorials, knowledge base, and Scout community forum for guidance. Scout emergency monitoring is through COPS, which is active 24/7/365.

Scout is by far one of the most transparent companies – everything from ToS to warranty, refund, and returns terms is easily accessible on their website.

The company doesn’t have a record with BBB, which is not unusual for a new company. But their support has quick response rates, and they don’t try to upsell you on the equipment you don’t need.

The ordering process is straightforward, too. Whereas many security companies hide their pricing (to avoid sticker shock), Scout lists its prices with clarity you will appreciate.


Installation

You plug Scout’s hub directly into your router with an Ethernet cord. Other than that, everything is wireless, peel-and-stick, and easy to install and use, or relocate. No professional installation is available, however.

Scout’s mobile app is intuitive but is apparently geared toward mobile-savvy users.


Things to Consider

  • Scout is for fans of mobile device control because it’s hub doesn’t have a traditional keypad, and you need your mobile app to arm/disarm the system. You can use the RFID stickers and key fobs to control the system without the app, but these tend to get lost. If you need a simpler way to let your kids, dog walkers and babysitters in, you need to buy additional door panels.
  • No proprietary cameras are on offer.
  • Sensors are not pet-friendly.

Important Tips

Scout app tells you exactly which sensor in which part of your house is triggered. You can even create names for each sensor.​


Summary

Scout is a rather basic security system, but it’s elegant, affordable, contract-less, and expandable through third-party devices. If you want a system you control with your phone, Scout could be a viable option.

4.0

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Contract and contract-less
  • Simple DIY installation
  • For homeowners and renters
  • Modern design
  • Money-back guarantee
  • One- to three-year warranty
  • WiFi w/ 3G cell backup
  • IFTTT, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, Nest and Amazon Alexa integration
  • Z-Wave and Zigbee support

Cons:

  • No professional installation
  • No proprietary camera
  • Relies heavily on mobile app
  • Self-monitoring without a subscription is via web-based UI only (no mobile app)