Best Overall Security System
Protect America is our pick for the best overall home security system. We recommend their Copper Package with Cellular monitoring to get started with protecting you home. Protect America has full range of products and services to accommodate those who are interested in basic protection to an advanced setup with full home automation.
- Transparent Pricing
- No Activation or Installation Fees
- Lifetime Warranty
- Over 25 Years in Business
Best No-Contract Security System
Our runner up for the 2017 best security system is GetSafe. GetSafe offers cellular monitoring for a low monthly price of $35. The system is very easy to install and configure. It’s the most flexible system we tested due to the fact it integrates with any Z-Wave device.
- No Contract
- Low Monthly Cost
- Flexible Equipment Options
Best Professionally Installed Security System
ADT is the oldest name in home security. An ADT Monitored Home Security system is professionally installed and can include home automation with the ADT Pulse® package. You can choose from a variety of plans starting at $36.99. You can customize your home security system to include monitoring for home security, home automation and medical alerts.
- Professionally Installed
- Oldest Name in Home Security
- Two-Way Monitoring Available
How We Selected the Home Security Companies
- We only reviewed companies with central monitoring stations. Do-it-yourself systems that call a predefined set of numbers when an alarm is triggered were not considered in this review.
- We only reviewed national home security companies that have a Better Business Bureau rating. /li>
- We only reviewed companies that provide cellular-based monitoring services. Cellular monitoring is the standard in home security. In a cellular-based setup the security system (in the home) communicates with the central monitoring station wirelessly. This technology is superior to landline and broadband-based systems due to the fact there are no wires to cut. Broadband and landline home security systems have wires running outside the home to an outlet box. If these wires are cut it can render the home security system useless.
- Customer feedback was a big part of this review. We interviewed dozens of home security customers and asked them what they thought was most important, why they selected company and what they like most about their home security system.
Security Companies that Were Not Reviewed
There were many companies that we didn’t review due to regional availability, lack of cellular monitoring or poor rating with the Better Business Bureau. Below are some of the larger brands that did not make the list.
|Security Company||Reason for Not Including|
|Guardian Protection Services||Regional Availability|
|CPI Security||Regional Availability|
|ASG Security||Regional Availability|
|AT&T Digital Life||Cellular Monitoring Not Available|
|Comcast Xfinity Home Security||Cellular Monitoring Not Available|
|LifeShield Security||Cellular Monitoring Not Available|
|Century Link Home Security||Cellular Monitoring Not Available|
What Matters Most
There is an endless amount of options to choose from but when it comes to the essentials we found that most home security customers want the following from their home security system:
- User-Friendly Interface – If the control panel interface is difficult to use, you won’t use it. What good is a home security system if it never used?
- Fast Response Time – When an emergency or break-in occurs a quick response time is critical. This is the number one reason people choose a monitored solution vs a stand alone home security system.
- Alert Notifications – If a sensor is triggered when the home security system is disarmed, like a door sensor, the system can be configured to notify you via text message.
- Remote Arm/Disarm – If you forget to arm the home security system before you leave, having the ability to remotely arm the system is an essential feature.
All of the top rated security companies that we have ranked on this page possess all of these features.
If we expand beyond the basics needs of a home security system, the next level is incorporating aspects of home automation. These are the features that are most useful when home automation is included.
- Temperature Control – You can remotely control the temperature of your home. If you go on vacation and forget to adjust the A/C, you can do it remotely.
- Light Control
- Electronic Locks
- Scheduled Automation – You can schedule your lights to go on or off during certain times. This is useful when you are away from your home and want to appear that you are home.
Protect America has been in business for over 25 years and continues to grow their expanding base of happy customers. We ranked Protect America as the best overall home security system for their affordable pricing, lifetime equipment warranty, easy to install system and outstanding monitoring services. Their systems are monitored by Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS), which is a leading central monitoring station in the home security industry.
Installation is a breeze. The Protect America home security system took use less than 30 minutes to install and activate. Find a good place to plug in your control panel and download the Protect America app on your smartphone. Next, install your window and door sensors by peeling off the adhesive backing. You will go through the same process for the motion sensor. The last step is activating the system which requires a call to their activation team. Protect America also provides the option to schedule the entire installation and activation by having a support person walk you through the entire process over the phone.
Protect America has five different equipment package and three types of monitoring that you can choose from.
*Each package has a different price based on the monitoring technology. There are three options for monthly monitoring which are Landline, Broadband and Cellular.
You can add equipment to any package to customize it to your liking. Once you select your equipment package you can select landline, broadband or cellular monitoring. We highly recommend cellular monitoring for any home security system you are considering.
Warranty & More
Protect America is one of the only companies that offers a lifetime warranty on home security equipment. As long as you are a customer your equipment carries a lifetime warranty. If you have an existing home security system and want to add monitoring, Protect America take over the monitoring, however not all systems are supported. Protect America customers also enjoy nationwide coverage so if you have to move within the United States, you can take your system with you.
GetSafe is a subsidiary of Bay Alarm that has been in business for over 70 years. GetSafe is their wireless DIY option that integrates fully with Z-Wave home automation devices. They offer a professionally monitored security system for $35 per month and best of all there is no contract. GetSafe is a broadband monitoring system but includes a cellular backup from AT&T
GetSafe’s basic package includes a hub (control panel), a motion detector and door/window sensor. The package comes with an accessories kit that contains all of the batteries for each device. Once you install the batteries plugin the hub to an outlet. Next, download the GetSafe app and register your system. Place the window/door sensor and the motion sensor and you are ready to test the system. The entire setup process takes around 20 minutes.
GetSafe offers no contract and an annual contract plan. The main difference is the cost of the starter kit is included with the annual plan. The monthly cost is the same whether you do a month-to-month contract or select the annual plan. GetSafe also offers a self-monitoring plan for $25 per month, however, we don’t recommend it as the money you save will most likely be offset by homeowner insurance discounts you receive by having a professionally monitored system.
Warranty & More
GetSafe carries a one year warranty on all of their equipment. They also allow you to return their security system within 30-days if you are unhappy.
ADT Home Security Monitoring by Protect Your Home
ADT is one of the most recognized names in the home security industry. They have been in business for over 140 years and professionally install their home security systems. ADT Home Security Monitoring offers four different plans to choose from and three of the four plans include CellGuard®, cellular monitoring.
All of the home security and home automation systems are installed professionally by a local dealer. The dealer will walk you through on how to use your home security system after the installation is complete. This is a big benefit as you can ask any questions. A typical installation will take 2 to 3 hours from start to finish.
The Basic plan starts at $36.99 per month which includes landline monitoring. We recommend starting with the Basic Wireless plan which is $48.99 per month and it includes cellular monitoring.
Warranty & More
ADT offers an extended warranty plan on equipment, however, you will have to call to get the details.
How a Security System Works
Most home security systems come with a minimal set of equipment that includes a control panel, window/door sensors, and a motion sensor. With this basic setup, you can protect two main entrances with the door sensors and a large area on the main floor with the motion sensor. In a wireless security system setup, each component communicates with each other over 802.11 wireless communication, the same technology as your laptop and wireless router. The sensors transmit a signal to the control panel alerting it of their status. When the system is armed and a sensor is tripped the control panel will send a signal to the central monitoring station. At the central monitoring station, a representative calls the home security system owner to verify a false positive alert. If there is no response or if it is a true emergency the authorities are dispatched immediately.
Each company provides a range of monitoring services. When comparing companies it is important to know the basics of each type of monitoring service.
- Intrusion Monitoring – This is the basic type of monitoring that every home security system includes. When the home security system is armed and a sensor is tripped it triggers an event that goes to the central monitoring station.
- Video Monitoring – Video monitoring is performed by you, the home security system owner. This can be done from any browser or through an app on your smartphone. You can place security cameras inside or outside of your home. There are also video doorbells that are now integrated with security systems.
- Environmental Monitoring – Environmental monitoring allows you to keep track of the environment of your home which includes the monitoring of smoke detectors, water, flood, freeze, and carbon monoxide sensors.
- Life Safety / Medical Alert Monitoring – This type of monitoring is there for those emergencies where your life’s in danger. There are panic buttons or key fobs that when pressed will trigger a life safety alert.
Home Security Equipment
- Control Panel – The control panel is the central hub of the home security system as all other sensors and detectors report back to it. The control panel arms/disarms the system and the features can vary from manufacturer. The control panels will communicate to the central monitoring station one of three ways: over a landline, broadband Internet connection or via wireless cellular communication.
- Motion Detectors – A motion detector senses movement within a 35ft range and can be configured to not send an alert if an animal is roaming the home. Typically animals under 50lbs will not trigger the motion detector. If you have a large animal it’s best to put a pet gate in place blocking access to areas where they will be detected.
- Window / Door Sensors – Window / Door sensors come in two parts that when the door or window are closed the two parts are almost touching. The sensor is tripped when the sensors come apart.
- Smoke Detectors – Smoke detectors will detect smoke from a fire. There should be a smoke detector in every bedroom, upstairs hallway and each floor of the home.
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors – A carbon monoxide detector will trigger if there are dangerous levels of CO present in the home. These detectors should be placed on each level of the home.
- Water Sensor – A water sensor also known as a flood sensor are typically placed in areas like a basement or garage where flooding can occur.
- Freeze Sensor – A freeze sensor will alert the control panel when the temperature falls below 41 degrees in order to give you ample time to remedy the issue before it gets to freezing. These sensors are commonly placed by pipes inside the home.
- Panic Button – Some home security systems come with a keychain, keyfob or a panic button that when depressed it sends a panic signal to the central monitoring station.
- Glass Break Detectors – Glass break sensors can detect the frequency glass makes when it is shattered or broken. These sensors are placed within 20ft of windows that are being monitored.
- Siren – A siren is located in the control panel and when the alarm system is triggered a 105db siren will sound alerting anyone in proximity that an intrusion is occurring. You can purchase extra sirens to be placed on another level of the home in order to provide maximum coverage.
Home Automation Equipment
- Light Bulb – Lightbulbs can be controlled independently from light switches. Light bulbs can dim and also change color depending on the type of bulb you purchase.
- Light Switch / Dimmer – Light switches can be turned off or dimmed based on the type of light switch you purchase.
- Appliance Module – This device allows you to turn your small appliances on or off.
- Smart Door Locks – Remotely lock or unlock your doors that have smart locks installed.
- Smart Thermostat – Control your thermostat remotely or setup advanced configurations like turn down the AC when you come home.
- Garage Door – Garage door sensors can monitor if the door is open by the tilt of the sensor. Never leave your garage door open all night again.
- Smart Outlet – Control your outlets remotely.
- Range Extender – If you need to extend the range of your home automation devices you can do it with a range extender.