Nothing is more important than protecting your family and property. Home security systems play a major role in preventing burglaries, home invasions and property theft, and often provide valuable information to law enforcement when crimes occur. Today’s home security systems combine the benefit of professional monitoring with mobile technologies that allow you to access your system from almost anywhere. Choosing the best home security system might seem daunting, but following a few buying guidelines, along with the advice of consumer professionals, can ensure you purchase the best protection for your home and loved ones.
Choosing the Best Home Security System
Home security systems involve an investment in equipment and typically require a professional monitoring contract, so shop around to find the best combination of value and service. When shopping for home security systems, read customer reviews, research Better Business Bureau ratings, and search for industry awards and certifications.
Key factors to consider when shopping for home security should include:
- Technology: Most new home security systems connect wirelessly to home Wi-Fi networks. Wireless home security systems usually provide enough protection, but can fail during internet and power outages. For maximum protection, look for security systems that offer cellular backup, which continues to send data to monitoring centers, even if your electricity or internet service fails.
- Mobile operation: Home security systems that include mobile apps enable you to remotely arm and disarm your alarm system and receive real-time alerts when something triggers a camera or sensor. Some apps allow you to access video live streams and control smart home devices such as door locks, garage doors and thermostats.
- Expandability: The security system you buy today may not fit your needs in the future. Shop for systems that enable you to add additional cameras and smart home devices. You may also consider security systems that integrate with popular voice-activated technologies such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- Professional monitoring: The best home security systems offer included or optional 24/7 professional monitoring. By choosing professional monitoring, you can receive faster emergency services response and oftentimes avoid municipal false-alarm fees. Most monitoring services require two- to five-year contracts.
- Trial periods and warranties: Most home security companies offer a money-back guarantee for equipment and services. Typically, guarantees range from 14 days to six months. Likewise, most security packages include equipment warranties for up to two years.
J.D. Power’s Best Home Security Company Survey
Each year, J.D. Power conducts a home security study, which rates companies based on factors such as overall customer satisfaction, technology, mobile operation, property protection and price. Overall, J.D. Power gives high marks to the home security industry for delivering products and services that keep up with evolving technologies and meet consumer needs. In its 2018 Home Security Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power ranked these 5 companies as the best in home security:
#1 Brinks Home Security
#2 AT&T Digital Life
#3 Vivint Smart Home
#5 Xfinity Home Security
Brinks Home Security
Brinks Home Security boasts over one million customers and has an A+ rating with the BBB. Perry Brink founded the company in 1859, and it quickly rose to become a national – and later international – leader in secure cash management.
Today, Brinks Home Security offers several home security systems, ranging in price from $499 to $1,499. For qualified customers, Brinks offers 0% APR, 36-month financing on all its home security systems. All Brinks security systems include the Brinks Home Touch control panel, along with motion detectors and wireless door or window sensors, window stickers and yard signs. Some Brinks systems also include indoor and outdoor cameras with night vision technology, doorbell cameras and Nest Secure devices which seamlessly integrate with Google Assistant.
Brinks designs most of its home security systems for easy self-installation. Devices such as door and window sensors attach to surfaces with adhesive tape. For its top-of-the-line Smart Security Ultimate system, which runs $1,499, Brinks includes professional installation.
Brinks’ 24/7 professional monitoring costs $29-$39 per month. Brinks-branded systems require a 36-month monitoring contract. The Nest Secure system offers monitoring for $29 per month, with no contract.
The Brinks Home Security App, available for Android and Apple cellphones and tablets, gives users complete system control from their mobile devices. The app also enables users to access stored video footage, see video live streams and control compatible smart home garage doors, lights and thermostats. App users give it a 3.6 out of five stars rating.
Brinks systems feature 4G LTE cellular backup technology, which many competing brands do not offer. This technology allows systems to continue sending data to Brinks monitoring centers, even during internet and power outages.
Brinks offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee on all its security systems, as well as a two-year warranty on all equipment.
AT&T Digital Life
The company we know as AT&T dates to 1876, with Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone. In addition to offering telephone and TV services throughout the United States and Mexico, AT&T provides home automation and security services in 75 U.S. markets under the Digital Life brand and has earned an A+ rating from the BBB.
AT&T Digital Life offers one home security system for $549.99, but does not have a financing program. The system comes with door and window sensors, a keypad, a motion sensor and an indoor siren, and includes professional installation. The wireless system does not require a landline and works with any high-speed internet service.
The AT&T Digital Life App, which Android and Apple users rate 3.2 to 3.3 out of five stars, enables you to arm and disarm your system, operate compatible smart home devices and access live video streams. Most home security apps send email or text messages when something triggers a security camera. The Digital Life app uses push notifications, which users can tap for live video stream access.
AT&T Digital Life’s 24/7 professional monitoring costs $39.99 per month and requires a two-year contract. Digital Life security systems come with a 14-day trial period. A restocking fee of up to $99 may apply when returning equipment during the trial period.
Vivint Smart Home
Vivint Smart Home has provided home automation and security products and services since 1999 and boasts two million North American customers. Based in Utah, Vivint has over 10,000 employees and was named one of Utah’s best employers for diversity in Forbes’ 2019 America’s Best Employers survey.
Vivint offers several home security systems, which cost around $710 to $1,790, including professional installation. Systems include central control panels, motion detectors and smoke detectors. More advanced equipment packages feature doorbell cameras, indoor and outdoor cameras, smart home door locks, garage door controllers and thermostats. Qualified customers can apply for no-interest system financing.
Using the highly-rated Vivint Smart Home app, available for Android and Apple mobile devices, users can arm and disarm alarms, control smart home devices, receive real-time alerts and view live video streams. The Vivint app is compatible with Amazon Echo, Element Thermostat, Google Home, Philips Hue and many other smart home devices.
Vivint offers professional monitoring for $44.99 per month, with upfront equipment purchase. Customers who finance equipment must sign a service agreement and pay $49.99 per month for up to 60 months.
The BBB rates Vivint Smart Home D-. In the last three years, the BBB has received more than 4,500 Vivint customer complaints, which generally focus on poor customer service, unclear contract terms, sales tactics and service costs.
In its infancy in 1874, ADT protected a few dozen homes by connecting them to a central office using telegraph-based technology. Today, ADT operates in more than 200 Canadian and U.S. locations and boasts over seven million home security customers.
All ADT security systems are custom-designed to fit customers’ needs. System components include digital control panels, door and window sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, keychain remotes, motion detectors and video doorbells. ADT’s Pulse line of cameras include a doorbell camera and an outdoor camera equipped with night vision technology, two-way audio functionality and Wi-Fi connectivity. ADT Pulse indoor cameras capture 720p high definition video and come equipped with a stand for tabletop placement or wall mounting. Professional ADT installation costs around $100 to $200.
With the ADT Control App, available for Android and Apple mobile devices, users can arm and disarm their alarms, operate smart home door locks, lights, smoke detectors and thermostats, and receive instant alerts when something triggers a camera or sensor. ADT-branded smart home devices integrate with Amazon Alexa for voice commands.
ADT offers 24/7 professional monitoring for $36.99 to $52.99 per month. All ADT systems require a 36-month monitoring contract.
New ADT customers can enjoy a six-month, money-back guarantee on systems and services. ADT also provides a theft protection guarantee, which pays up to $500 for burglaries that occur at a property armed with an ADT alarm system.
The BBB awards ADT an A+ rating. In 2019, PC Magazine listed ADT among its top 10 Best Smart Home Security Systems.
Xfinity Home Security
Comcast provides home security, internet, mobile, TV and voice services under the Xfinity brand. The company boasts 29 million customers in 39 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The BBB gives Xfinity a D+ rating. In the last three years, Xfinity customers have lodged more than 25,000 complaints related to customer service issues, quality of service and technical problems.
Xfinity offers several home security systems, which range in price from $360 to $600 and come with a 30-day, money-back guarantee. Qualified customers can also take advantage of Xfinity’s no-interest, 24-month equipment financing. All Xfinity systems include a touchscreen control panel, door and window sensors and a Xfinity Home Security yard sign. Advanced systems include indoor/outdoor cameras and wireless keypads. Xfinity systems feature cellular backup for maximum protection during internet and power outages.
Users can expand their systems with individual Xfinity-branded devices such as additional door and window sensors, smart home outlet controllers, smoke detectors and thermostats. Xfinity systems also integrate with popular third-party smart devices, including the August Smart Lock, Carrier Cor Wi-Fi Thermostat, MyQ Garage controller and Philips Hue light.
The highly-rated Xfinity Home App works with Android and Apple mobile devices. The app enables users to remotely arm and disarm alarm systems, control smart home devices, receive real-time alerts and view live video.
Xfinity offers 24/7 professional monitoring for $40 to $50 per month. You can often save money by choosing an Xfinity bundle, which can include any combination of home security monitoring, internet, phone and TV services. Typically, bundled services require a two-year contract.