Protect America Home Security System Review - 2020
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
- 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.