Searching for the best home security system? Here are some tips for using feedback from actual customers to zero in on the best type of alarm system for you, as well as the best deal.
What to Look for in a Security System Review
Reviews not only point you to the best-liked products, but also help you sort out your own priorities. Other customers may share info about features we didn’t even know existed, and they can warn us away from problems we hadn’t considered. When checking out home security reviews, look for a few specific buzzwords, like “wireless” and “interactive.” And of course, find out which alarm companies consistently provide great functionality, reliability and customer service.
The #1 Security System on Industry Review Sites
Many websites are dedicated to providing unbiased recommendations, for everything from electronics to hotels to home security. Angie’s List and Consumer Reports are the best-known, but you have lots of options, including Top Consumer Reviews and Top Ten Reviews. Several sites specifically address the home security market. These include A Secure Life and Security System Reviews.com. Of the rankings we found, FrontPoint Security was rated #1 more often than any other nationwide security provider. Lifeshield and Protect America were often mentioned in the top five, but on Angie’s List in particular, Protect America received some very bad grades, and their customer reviews also reflect a lot of negative experiences. Although ADT is the most familiar name, we were hard-pressed to find anyone who ranked them at the top, usually because of price and installation problems.
Security Systems with the Best Customer Reviews
The websites you rely on for a restaurant review will most likely provide reviews on home security systems, too. Check out your local sites – Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local, etc. When we dug around, FrontPoint was again a stand-out. For example, Yelp, in the Washington DC area, had 36 reviews for FrontPoint and almost every one was 5 stars. On the other hand, reviews for ADT and Vivint were surprisingly negative. Often ADT customers cited issues with the installation, such as:
“It took months and probably a dozen visits from technicians to get the system properly installed” – Yelp Customer
Here are a couple comments comparing FrontPoint and ADT (you will see many like this):
“In my opinion the best thing about FrontPoint is their customer service. We previously had ADT and that company really isn’t interested in anything but selling you equipment and monitoring.” – Yelp Customer
“In the end, these guys are very reliable, cheaper than ADT, and when we needed help, they were right there giving awesome customer service on the phone. Top notch!” – Yelp Customer
Security System Features and Options
Many security system reviews talk about specific features that customers really like. You’ll see references to wireless equipment, iPhone and other mobile apps, light control, video cameras, etc.
Wireless – one of the biggest trends in security systems today. You can set up a wireless system yourself, without the hassle and expense of professional installation. Reviews show that customers love the easy DIY feature, as well as the flexibility. Most security providers now offer wireless sensors, but many still sell the old-fashioned, hard-wired control units. If wireless is the way you want to go, make sure you find a system that is 100% wireless.
Cellular Monitoring –24/7 monitoring is very important to your home security. The alarm system connects to the monitoring station using either a cellular, landline (home phone) or internet link. If the connection is through your phone or internet line, it will require professional installation. A cellular system connects automatically, without complex programming or drilling. Cellular means you don’t have to own a home phone. Cellular connections are also more reliable during power outages or storms and don’t go down when burglars cut the lines.
Mobile Apps and Interactivity – Security companies can now leverage modern technology to make their alarm systems more convenient and interactive. Reviews indicate that most customers love the mobile apps, which let them use their iPhone, Android, Blackberry or tablet to arm, disarm and check their system from anywhere.
Light Control and Home Automation – Some security customers list light or thermostat control as a surprising side benefit of their alarm system. These features are part of a growing industry called Home Automation, and are easily integrated into the more advanced, feature-rich security systems. With these interactive systems, controlling your lighting, inside temperature or door locks is just as simple as arming your alarm system. Of course, the systems that offer mobile apps let you take this control on the road.
Few of us are lucky enough to shop without worrying about price. Reviews often help point you to the best pricing. Ultimately, though, your price for a security system will depend on the specifics of your home and your priorities. Decide which features are important to you first, and then get a full quote from the providers you like. The prices you see advertised online often don’t match the price on your bill, once you choose a complete system. Make sure you have all the facts, and watch out for hidden fees. Of all the websites we studied, only FrontPoint provided simple, straight-forward pricing. The others showed a multitude of packages with so many variables it was impossible to predict the bottom line.
Your Resources for Security System Reviews
Several of the best review sites are already mentioned above. Here’s a quick summary of helpful links, starting with another of the most popular and reputable – the BBB: