Understanding Home Security Systems
To start, it helps to understand the standard components and functions of a home security system. At their most basic, they usually include a hub or keypad to arm, disarm and configure the system, in addition to a number of sensors depending on the provider and package. These can include door and window sensors, glass break sensors, smoke or carbon monoxide alarms and/or flood or water leak sensors. Most systems are scalable, so you can always add on more peripherals if necessary, such as additional sensor or cameras.
If the system is professionally monitored – which requires a subscription to a paid monitoring plan – then a triggered sensor issues a signal to a monitoring center. The monitoring center will then call the homeowner and/or emergency services depending on the nature of the alarm and whether or not the homeowner answers the call. If the system is self-monitored (i.e. you’re not paying for a monitoring service) then the homeowner is usually alerted via smartphone app.
Compare Home Security Systems
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24/7 professional monitoring
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- Best Home Security for Industry Experience
Our Take on ADT Home Security
ADT’s a well-recognized name in the home security industry. It offers traditional security that requires professional installation and monitoring at a steep price.
★ Recommended Plan
- 6-month money-back guarantee
- $500 theft protection guarantee
- High-quality equipment
- Must pay for an extended warranty
- Lengthy contracts
- More expensive than competitors
- Best Smart Home Security
Our Take on Vivint Home Security
Vivint has an extensive line of smart security equipment that you can expand over time. The downside is that you’ll have a long-term contract if you finance your equipment.
★ Recommended Plan
Vivint’s Smart Home Service is our recommended plan because it unlocks a larger selection of smart home devices, as well as video monitoring.
- Month-to-month contract option if equipment is purchased upfront
- Backup battery included with the Sky Control panel
- Extensive equipment features, including Vivint Car Guard
- Long contract if equipment is financed
- Installation can take 3-4 hours
- Short (120-day) equipment warranty and service guarantee (unless you purchase Premium)
- Best Pet-Friendly Home Security
Our Take on Frontpoint Home Security
Frontpoint lets you choose both your package and monitoring plan to help build the perfect home security system for renters and homeowners alike. Monitoring can be costly, but free DIY installation helps lower costs without reducing reliability or protection.
★ Recommended Plan
Our recommended Frontpoint plan is the Safe Home Starter equipment package combined with the Ultimate monitoring plan, which will give you access to a smartphone app for monitoring your security devices.
- No lengthy contracts
- Excellent customer service
- Variety of equipment to choose from
- Monitoring fees are relatively expensive
- Short (30 days) trial period
- No professional installation option
- Best Overall DIY Security System
SimpliSafe Home SecurityOur rating9.9Starting at$14.99/mo
Our take on SimpliSafe Home Security:
SimpliSafe is our top pick for inexpensive monitoring, durable equipment and reliable services that simplify home security. You’ll have all the right devices and features to give you peace of mind — even when the unexpected happens.
★ Recommended package: Barrington
- Inexpensive professional monitoring
- Wireless equipment
- Cellular monitoring
- Mobile alerts not available in the basic monitoring plan
- No selection of smart home devices
- Smart home capabilities not available in the basic monitoring plan
- Best Landline Monitoring
Protect America Home SecurityOur rating7.2Starting at$19.99/mo
Our take on Protect America Home Security
Protect America stands out for its low-cost landline monitoring and great coverage for rural areas. Their professional monitoring has over 25 years of award-winning service and monitoring plans that are based on connectivity type. If you’re looking for a capable no-frills home security system you can install yourself, Protect America is a good choice for your family.
- Price-match guarantee
- Smart home devices and features
- Mobile app access & control
- Contract required
- Must upgrade to get video surveillance, smart features and smoke detection
- Cellular monitoring is the most expensive plan
Smart & Remotely Monitored Security Cameras
Security cameras are more popular than ever, but they have limitations, especially for people who are blind, deaf or hard of hearing. First of all, most home security cameras work on a self-monitored basis, meaning that it’s up to the owner to watch them. These cameras provide footage to help find and prosecute criminals or intruders after the fact, but they don’t do much to prevent incidents in the first place (apart from their presence deterring would-be intruders).
It’s best to have your security cameras professionally installed so they’re placed legally, securely and hassle-free. Some professional technicians can show you special features to meet your personal and security needs.
Best Security Camera Features for Deaf
For maximum impact, the best home security systems for the deaf should include cameras with artificially intelligent (A.I.) features like motion detection, people detection and, even, facial recognition. Wireless cameras with these features issue smartphone alerts via their accompanying apps. Even if you can’t hear a bang on the door or someone rummaging in the garage, the camera will detect activity and you’ll receive a notification on your phone. Then, you can tune into the live feed to see exactly what’s going on. Here is a roundup of several great cameras to choose from.
Best Security Camera Features for Blind
It might sound counterintuitive, but the best security systems for the blind should include security cameras as well. Today’s best wireless cameras have mobile apps that make it easy to grant access to someone you trust. It’s also best to check with your security provider to see if their app supports voice alerts for easier monitoring. You set up a camera or video doorbell, allow a trusted friend or loved one to opt into mobile alerts, and then they can tune in if there’s activity detected. Thanks to motion detection and person detection features, a camera can also help you independently determine details like when cleaners, dog walkers, maintenance people or other service professionals arrive and leave, or if someone is intruding in your yard. It also may gather evidence of crimes. Even if you miss the alerts or can’t see the activity, the camera will catch it, and law enforcement or loved ones will be able to review what happened after the fact.
Consider Remote Security Camera Monitoring
Some security companies offer remote camera monitoring to issue verbal warnings or alert authorities of suspicious activity. “Remote CCTV monitoring technology features a PA system that allows for verbal warnings to ward off criminals that may be stepping onto the property,” explains John MacMahon, Managing Director of the UK-based remote monitoring company Re:Sure. “With this, the operators assigned to your home will be able to call the police as soon as there’s a threat.”
There is a privacy concern here – after all, a remote professional will be able to check-in and see the outside of your house. For this reason, we only suggest remote camera monitoring for the external, non-private parts of your home.
Note that camera monitoring is different than the 24/7 system monitoring described earlier in the discussion of home security systems. Home security monitoring centers receive signals from the system’s collections of sensors, but do not have access to your video feed. This helps protect your privacy, but it does mean that your cameras have to be self-monitored (or monitored by a loved one) even if you have a monitored home security system.
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