Comparing home security companies no longer means simply deciding between a couple of big name services. With options like wireless home security systems and self-installed equipment now commonplace, you've got plenty of choices. Available technology offers flexibility, affordability, and more control than ever in terms of protecting your home and family.
Choose from basic systems with just the necessary components for preventing intrusion, or create a total home security system with indoor and outdoor cameras, motion detectors, and integrated home automation. In this guide I'll provide you with an overview of the options, from low-key to high-tech.
In This Guide
Key Considerations When Choosing a Home Security Company
There are so many different options among the best home security systems that you may not be sure where to start. Below I've compiled a list of helpful questions to keep in mind as you compare home security monitoring companies.
- Rent or own? If you rent your home or apartment, you'll probably want to opt for a wireless security system. This way you can avoid the holes in walls created by tapping into the phone line. If you prefer a hard-wired security system, you'll want to obtain permission from your landlord before installation.
- What kind of equipment? Do you want just the basics, like motion detectors and door sensors? Or are you looking for a complete home monitoring system, with cameras, sensors, and fire and carbon monoxide detection? Make sure the home security company you choose offers all of the features you want.
- Professional or self installation? Some of the top home security companies that I've listed at the end of this guide offer the option to install equipment yourself. This can save you money, just be sure to read up on the process to ensure you'll be comfortable with it.
- What about home automation? Do you have smart devices which you want connected to your security system? Home security companies are responding to the demands of the modern age by offering integration with things like the Nest thermostat and smoke detectors.
Of course there are other factors to keep in mind in your home security company comparison. These include price, ease of use, level of control through smartphone apps, and the extent to which you can expand the system.
Home Security Types
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), about 47% of American households opt against landline phone service. It comes as no surprise, then, that home security companies now offer various wireless connection methods in addition to traditional hard-wired.
Unlike VoIP, broadband monitoring doesn't require the signal to be converted to voice for transmission to the CMS (central monitoring station). Broadband is a solid choice due to its speed, however it is vulnerable to power outages.
This type of security system connection uses your landline to communicate with emergency services. It's generally considered the most reliable connection method as it's not vulnerable to power outages or interruptions in internet service. On the flip side, hard-wired security systems typically require professional installation, and criminals can cut phone lines.
A cellular security system uses the same kind of network connection as your mobile phone. It requires its own dedicated connection (you cannot use your existing phone number/plan to enable your security system) which comes with an extra fee. As long as you're able to receive a cellular signal inside your home this method should be an option for you.
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a technology which allows phone calls over an internet connection. This connection method is available from a small number of home security companies, however it's not considered the most reliable choice.
Security monitoring via your internet connection is another option. Unlike VoIP, broadband monitoring doesn't require the signal to be converted to voice for transmission to the CMS (central monitoring station). Broadband is a solid choice due to its speed, however it is vulnerable to power outages.
Some security system providers are combining connection methods for maximum reliability. For example, most connection methods are available with cellular backup. This feature may cost you an extra fee, however.
The Top Home Security Companies
Here are a few of the best home security companies you'll likely encounter in your security provider research.
While the name may be new to you, this home security company has been in business for nearly a decade. Frontpoint offers a full complement of services and equipment, and boasts an A+ BBB rating. Frontpoint service is 100% cellular.
- Protection Plan: $34.99/month - includes monitoring for intrusion, fire, water, and medical emergencies.
- Interactive Plan: $44.99/month - comes with all of the above, plus crash and smash protection, mobile and email alerts, and mobile control of your security system and lights.
- Ultimate Plan: $49.99/month - includes everything in the two lower-tier plans, plus security camera monitoring with live streaming capability, automated door lock option, and energy management control.
- Cost - $99 for standard package with Protection Plan, $149 for Interactive Plan, $449 for Ultimate Plan (more if you choose additional components)
- Choice of standard or touchscreen control pad
- Door/window sensors, glass break sensor, heat/smoke sensor, image sensor (device which takes a snapshot when it detects motion)
- Indoor and outdoor security cameras, doorbell camera
- Key fob
- Smart devices - thermostat, door lock, light plug
- One-year or three-year contract
- Equipment paid for upfront
- $300 equipment credit with contract approval
Frontpoint is one of the rare home security companies which offers a one-year contract option. All equipment is paid for upfront and is self-installed. Frontpoint is known for their excellent customer service, and their systems are Z-Wave compatible.
American District Telegraph - better known as ADT Security - is probably the name in home security monitoring companies that you recognize right away. Their offerings have changed over the years, from only landline monitoring to now featuring cellular connection and home automation services.
- Standard monitoring - requires a landline and costs $36.99 per month, includes security, fire, and carbon monoxide monitoring
- Cellular monitoring - available on the rest of ADT's plans, ranging from about $45 to $63 per month
- Pulse - includes mobile and website system control, and optional video monitoring and home automation
- Digital or touchscreen control panel
- Door/window sensors, fire/heat sensors
- Motion detectors
- Indoor and outdoor security cameras
- Key fob
- Home automation devices - thermostats, light switches, doorbell camera, door lock
- Three-year contract
- $99 installation fee (may be waived, depending upon promotions)
- Equipment prices vary - free standard equipment available during some promotions
ADT's equipment, connection options, contract length, and pricing are fairly standard in the industry. ADT does not offer a self-install option at this time. One area in which this home security monitoring company shines is experience, having been in business since 1874.
Vivint offers a cellular home security system with wireless equipment and professional installation. The 17-year-old enterprise is known for its state-of-the-art technology with a focus on home automation integration.
Vivint's plans work a bit differently than other home security companies. Rather than paying for your equipment upfront, you get a set number of points with each plan. You can then spend those points on your choice of equipment pieces, each of which is worth either one or two points.
- Vivint Starter - $39.99/month with 5 equipment points
- Smart Protect - $53.99/month with 7 equipment points
- Smart Control - $60.99/month with 9 equipment points and your choice of 2 standard smart home services or 1 premium service
- SkyControl touchscreen control panel standard with all systems
- Door/window sensors (1 point)
- Motion detector (2 points), smoke detector (2 points)
- Key fob (1 point)
- Smart devices - thermostat, door lock, indoor and outdoor security cameras, doorbell camera (smart home services)
- Five-year contract
- Basic equipment free, add-on components extra
- $399 activation fee for Vivint Starter, $99 activation fee for Smart Protect and Smart Control
While Vivint's contract term is long compared to other top home security companies, you do get a generous amount of equipment for free, including the advanced SkyControl main panel. Vivint is a particularly good choice for those who value smart home integration along with an effective security system.
Related: Vivint vs ADT: Which is Better?
Protect America Security
Protect America is unique among home security monitoring systems in that they offer three monitoring options - landline, broadband, and cellular. Equipment is self-installed through a guided process.
- Copper - $19.99/month with 3 contact sensors and one motion detector (+$22/month for broadband or cellular)
- Bronze - $37.99/month with 9 contact sensors and one motion detector (+$12/month for broadband or cellular)
- Platinum - $42.99/month with 14 contact sensors and one motion detector (+$12/month for broadband or cellular)
- Fire monitoring - $9.99/month
- Video monitoring - $9.99/month
- Simon XT control panel included in all packages (optional touchscreen)
- Door/window sensors
- Motion detector
- Video camera if purchasing video monitoring
- Three-year contract
- Basic equipment free, add-on components extra
- Free installation
If you're looking for a home security company which concentrates on fundamental yet comprehensive services, rather than just a cheap home security system, Protect America could be the right choice for you.
Other Home Security Companies to Consider
While the companies I've listed above are the main players in the security game, there are other options. There are plenty of choices if you'd prefer something different from a traditional home security company, including monitored and unmonitored systems. Here are a few systems that offer a bit of a different twist:
This company gets big points for simplicity. There are only a few components - the hub, a door panel (opens with a key fob), motion sensors, and contact sensors. There are two subscription plans:
- Always On: $9.99 per month: works through your internet and comes with cellular and battery backup in case of a power outage. You receive mobile alerts when events occur.
- Always On+: $19.99 per month: works the same way as the above plan except you get 24/7 professional monitoring including police contact in an emergency.
This security system is similar to Scout in that you choose from a standard array of equipment and pay a low monthly monitoring fee. Unlike Scout, SimpliSafe does offer a security camera as well. Plans are as follows:
- Standard: $14.99/month - professional monitoring via cellular connection, live streaming video
- Interactive: $24.99/month - this option adds remote system control and mobile alerts
Related: LifeShield Home Security
Self-Monitored Security Systems
All-in-one systems like Canary and Piper NV offer a camera, motion detector, and siren in one device. These units allow you to monitor your home yourself and will send you mobile alerts in the event of unexpected activity.
Installing a setup from one of the best home security system companies is a good choice in today's world. According to FBI crime data for 2015, nearly 60% of burglaries are accomplished through forced entry. A system which not only makes noise but also contacts authorities and alerts you in the event of an attempted break-in can greatly reduce your chances of being victimized. If you want a traditional system which connects through a landline, be sure to check out our reviews of the best home security systems.
A system which not only makes noise but also contacts authorities and alerts you in the event of an attempted break-in can greatly reduce your chances of being victimized. If you want a traditional system which connects through a landline, be sure to check out the best home phone service.