Automated homes that adjust the heat, turn on the lights, remind you what you need from the grocery store, and all but run themselves used to be considered science fiction. Today, there are 1.9 billion smart home devices available on the market.
This is thanks to advancements in technology that allow us to automate many aspects of managing our home. Many companies provide home security and home automation packages with exceptional technology to aid us in this regard.
If you're looking for the best home automation system to make your life easier and improve your home's security, I have reviewed the top companies.
In This Guide
Our Top Picks
These five providers made our list because each offers flexible equipment/package offerings and outstanding customer service. Here's a closer look at each of the top five home automation companies.
Protect America Home Automation
- Free installation
- Affordable plans beginning from $19.99
- Intuitive controls for home automation/security equipment
- 24/7 monitoring for security features
- Customer support isn’t available 24/7
Founded in 1992, Protect America offers some of the most modern home automation tools to help you control everything from your home's lighting to its appliances simply. With affordable plans starting as low as $19.99, and the ability to access your house's functions through your smartphone, Protect America provides you with affordability and easy to use features to make it among the top home automation providers available.
ADT Home Automation
- Live chat feature for quotes
- 24/7 support for email or phone
- Flexible package and equipment offerings
- Remote access for home security and home automation equipment
- 24/7 monitoring from its first responders
- 24/7 monitoring is an optional component for its basic package
- Service requires a contract
ADT has been on the cutting edge of helping you protect your most important asset by supplying home security and home automation equipment. What separates ADT from other providers is its stellar service record. For over 140 years,
ADT has been an industry leader in providing top of the line security solutions for your home, so you can have peace of mind in knowing when you go with ADT, you are aligning with a reputable provider.
Vivint Home Automation
- Flexible packages to align with your needs
- 24/7 monitoring and tech support
- An online support center with equipment guides
- One of the most reputable call centers in North America
- Free installation
- Requires a service contract
- Alarm installation might require a local permit
Founded in 1999 by Todd Pedersen, Vivint's goal is to develop smart home solutions you can use to enhance your life. From the time of its inception, it has done an excellent job offering home automation products to conserve energy, add layers of security and overall make it simple to manage most of your home's functions with the press of a button.
Since 1999, Vivint has installed more than 850,000 systems in the United States and Canada, which is an indication of how well customers respond to its functional product offerings.
Secure Your Home
Some functions that can be automated include managing its thermostat, remote locking/unlocking door and adjusting lighting. These controls can reduce energy costs, save you time, and improve the security and safety of your home.
Speaking of security, many providers that make our list of the best home automation systems do so because they offer exceptional packages that combine home security and home automation functions, with superior customer service. Given that 81 percent of burglars said that they would discontinue a break-in attempt after discovering a home security system in your house, the value of a security system is clear. A recent Rutgers study has also shown that home security systems
A recent Rutgers study has also shown that home security systems increase the safety of your entire neighborhood. Our home automation reviews consider both the functionality of the product, as well as the quality of service the product is delivered with.
Some security features that these providers offer include a remote viewing of your property's security cameras and automated alerts when suspicious activity is detected. They also automatically alert first responders in the event of a fire, carbon monoxide leak, or break-in.
Read More: 10 Surprising Home Invasion Statistics
Key Considerations When Choosing a Home Automation System
Most smart home providers will offer the same type of equipment and services. To separate the best from the pack we took the following factors into account when doing our home automation reviews:
A provider's reputation is indicative of the level of service and cares it extends to its customers. You can do research on your provider by looking them up on the Better Business Bureau's website, who assigns grades based on a variety of components, including resolved/unresolved customer issues. A company tends to have a lower score if they have a high amount of customer complaints without resolution.
2. Customer Service
Building on the previous point, it's important to gauge how other customers that used a provider's service rate it. Often, you can find customer reviews on a company's website, using a third-party review service or even just by reading the reviews listed in our guides. In addition, you can visit the provider's social media accounts to see how it responds to customer questions or comments posted.
3. Monitoring Services
Since most providers bundle packages to include security and home automation components, monitoring becomes a critical focal point. Does the provider have in-house monitoring? If so, is it available 24/7? If the company farms out its monitoring service to a third-party, what is the third party's reputation? What measures does the company have in place in the event of service disruption on its end?
Perhaps most important: how long does it take for the company to actually notify emergency services? With emergency service response times reaching as high as 30 to 45 minutes in major cities, adding even a few minutes to that time could make a huge difference. It's important to know the answers to these questions to ensure you receive reputable monitoring service that will be there for you when you need it.
You should also examine a provider's fees based on monthly service, equipment charges, and installation costs. This will let you decide between the expensive but fully-featured offerings and the cheap home automation systems that still get the job done.
5. Difficulty of Onboarding
Onboarding is the process during which you sign up for service and a technician comes to install equipment. During this time, a reputable company will take the time to help you learn more about the equipment, such as how to use its services online and its mobile application.
While it's easy for most novice users to pick it up, it's still important the technician shows you all the different home automation/security features available to you and tests them before leaving. A reputable company will also do a follow-up call after the installation to ensure everything is operating smoothly.
This process will be a good way to gauge the overall quality of customer service the company is going to provide, so make note of any red flags during the onboarding process.
6. Service Contract and Guarantees
Many home automation companies are similar to cell or TV providers in that they will require you to commit to a service contract. The term of the commitment, normally specified in months, is how long you agree to keep purchasing service from that provider. If you elect to end service early, you might incur early termination fees or be required to pay for the unused service.
With these things in mind, it's important the provider offers a trial period, where you can try its service then cancel without penalty. Not offering a trial period is a big red flag that the provider is more concerned with its own profits than its customers.
7. Installation Assistance
Installation is a crucial phase because it is when the technician installs all your equipment for service. Before doing this, however; you might have to acquire an alarm permit or other permits required by your local government.,
Most providers can send your city's application for these permits. There might also be restrictions on the type of equipment you can install. Finally, if you are a property owner with an HOA, it's important to double check your HOA agreement to confirm that security or home automation systems are allowed by the HOA.
8. Credit Check
Many providers require a credit check to sign up for services as they'll be trusting you to pay them on time each month. They do this to verify who you are and to see if you have outstanding balances in arrears with similar companies. If you do, it might make it more difficult to obtain services.
Understanding the Different Types of Systems
Home security systems seem pretty straightforward but there are actually several different types with varying degrees of sophistication. All are designed to protect your home against break-ins and burglary and some even guard against dangers like fire or carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Different systems all come with several different extras like security cameras, temperature monitoring, or remote monitoring. However, there are two major choices to make when choosing a security system:
Hardwired or Wireless
A hardwired system involves physical wires that run from the control panel to each sensor on the windows and doors. These involve the most complicated installation process because they require a professional to run wires behind walls and beneath floors. In exchange for this burden, you get reliability.
Wired devices, in general, are more reliable than wireless systems because they are immune to interference or loss of signal. Unless the wires are severed, your sensors should remain constantly connected to your control panel. Unfortunately, getting that extra dependability means some interior construction. Use this system if:
- You are confident that you will be in your current residence for an extended period.
- You are able to run wiring through walls and under floors.
- You prefer the added reliability that comes with a wired system.
A wireless system does not require wires to communicate between the controller and the sensors. Instead, wireless systems are connected by radio waves that are broadcasted from the sensors to the system. While this kind of security system is simple, easy to install and even portable, it does have drawbacks. Wireless systems are vulnerable to electrical interference and may lose connection if signals are mixed. In fact, many systems still use technology from the 90s to communicate wirelessly.
Use this type of system if:
- You like that this system can be easily moved into a new home.
- You don't want to open up walls and floors for wiring.
- You want easy installation.
Monitored or Unmonitored
Monitored home security systems offer a lot more than just the protection and warning of an alarm. When your alarm goes off, an operator will respond by contacting you to determine if it's a real emergency or a just a false alarm. If you do not respond or if the operator otherwise determines that it is an emergency, he or she will contact the authorities on your behalf.
Home security systems can also detect things like fire and carbon monoxide as well as burglary and break-ins. This is useful for when you are not home or if you become incapacitated and unable to call police or firefighters. This type of service typically comes with monthly fees, which average $30 a month, but can cost as much as $100 a month. Use this service if:
- You want the extra security of home monitoring.
- You can afford the extra expense.
- You want protection from more than just break-ins.
Unmonitored systems have no outside home monitoring and typically use sounds and lights to alert residents and neighbors and to scare off intruders. With an unmonitored system, you have no extra monthly fees but you are also responsible for calling the police yourself during the emergency. Additionally, some systems involve remote monitoring and alerts so that you can at least monitor your home from a cell phone, computer or tablet.
Use this when:
- You don't need the added security of a monitoring service.
- You don't want the extra fees.
Other Factors to Consider
Since home automation and security systems come in all shapes, sizes, and with different features, determining what features you really need is an essential step in the process. Get a system with too few features and you'll be wishing you got a better version. Go with a smart home product with too many features and you'll be wasting money that you could have used elsewhere.
When shopping for the best home automation system, consider the following:
Are You Renting?
If you are renting you'll probably want to find a home security system you can install yourself. There's no need to get a super complicated system if you may find yourself moving from one place to the next when your lease is up. Even if you plan on renting the same place for a long time, you'll still want a system that can be easily removed in case plans change.
If you're a homeowner you can pretty much install any security system you want. Your house, your security system.
Related: The Renter's Guide to Security
How Often Do You Move?
Some people move pretty often due to work or other circumstances. Often this can be every one to three years. If this is the case then you're going to want to pay attention to the alarm company's contract to see what they allow. For example, if a company requires a long-term contract for the security system then it's obviously not going to work for you.
You may also want to consider a system you own outright so you can just take the equipment with you when you move.
Choosing Your Features
What Kind of Access Do You Want?
This is where it gets fancy. When considering a home security system you'll want to take into account how much remote access you want to certain monitors around the home.Most alarm systems let you arm and disarm your system from a remote or your smartphone, but some companies let you control other kinds of settings around the home.
Here is a list of things to consider when determining what you want kind of remote access you want:
- Arm and disarm the alarm
- Lock and unlock doors
- Monitor thermostat
- See which windows and doors are open
- View live video via camera feeds
- Get real-time notifications via text, email or video
- Get notified if specific locations, such as a medicine cabinet or garage door, have been opened
- Adjust lights
- Monitor water and flood sensors
- Motion Sensor Lights
- Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
While not all of these may be necessary, it's important to note that some features can save you from costly damage. For example, temperature and water sensors can notify you of when temperatures get dangerously low in your home. This can help you avoid having a pipe burst in the winter.
Do You Want/Need Cameras?
Security cameras come with some advantages you may want to consider. Besides catching an intruder, you can also use security cameras to see who is at the front door, check on the babysitter or keep an eye on things while you are away.
Once you've chosen the features you need, it's time to find the best system for your needs. If you are new to home automation, want to switch providers, or just need more information, our informative guides on home automation are a great place to turn. In each, we provide pertinent information to assist you in learning more about how home automation and home security work.
For a full list of our guides, head over to our Smart Home Guides page.
- Advancements in technology have fundamentally changed how you can do everything, from communicating with others to controlling the functions in your home with just the press of a button. Home automation is an excellent example of the unique abilities technology gives you. Our guide on how home automation works helps you learn more about its components and functions.
- There's nothing more important than keeping our families and our homes safe. When you're away during the day and sleeping at night, you can feel comforted knowing that your home is safe and guarded by top-notch home protection services. When traveling, the same applies. The last thing you want when on vacation is to fear that your home is at risk of a burglary or other danger. Our guide on five ways to improve your home protection supplies tips to assist you in keeping your home safe.
- Home monitoring systems are becoming more common as families seek to protect their homes. They are also more affordable than ever. However, just because you can afford one doesn't necessarily mean you actually need one. Use our guide to see if a home monitoring service is right for you.
When it comes to keeping you and the people you love safe, there is no way to overthink the measures you're taking to protect them. When figuring out the best home security companies for your specific needs, you should, in addition to checking out our list of favorites, consider a few aspects of each service above all else. Here are some very important things to consider when you're checking out security providers.
When moving into a home one of the key things that is top of mind for people is security systems. You want to make sure that you and your family are safe, but with so many systems on the market and so many different features, it can be difficult to narrow it down to the one that suits your needs.
Truth be told, your decision may just come down to your personal preference of home security features. Furthermore, your living situation could heavily affect your decision. Our guide on things to consider when purchasing a home security system can help you pinpoint the right one based on your needs.
With the rapid advancements in technology, home automation will continue to become a growing demand for families due to all the unique benefits available such as reduced energy costs, enhanced security measures and the simplicity of customizing your living environment according to your needs.
When choosing a provider, reputation, service offerings and customer service are huge factors to keep in mind; this is why the five providers we selected are the best because each exemplifies a commitment to providing you with the most intuitive home automation products available and excellent customer support to compliment them.
Want to make sure your home is safe, even if your home automation system fails? Check out buyer's guide to home insurance companies.