Pros and Cons of Professionally Monitored Security Systems

Jalesa Campbell
Updated Apr 1, 2021
3 min read
It’s important to protect those things that matter most to you, like your home, possessions, and your family. According to ADT, in 2015, a burglary occurred almost every 20 seconds. With the heightened need for home security yet a large number of options available, it can be challenging determining what’s best for your needs. Learn more about the pros and cons of monitored security systems so you can make the best informed decision for your safety.

What is Professional Monitoring?

Professional monitoring is a service provided by home security companies that helps to ensure your home is monitored around-the-clock. That means when your security system is armed, monitoring professionals are ready to respond if your alarm is triggered. Typically, they will contact you first to validate the alarm, but if you don’t respond, they may send the police out to your home as a precautionary measure.

Sometimes security companies also include monitoring for home fires and medical emergencies, which is extremely helpful in the event your smoke detector goes off or if someone needs 911 assistance. While alarm monitoring usually costs extra, the price comes with extra protection when you need it most.

Pros & Cons of Professional Home Security Systems

Pros

  • 24/7 alarm response
  • Relief from keeping tabs on alerts
  • Potential assistance for medical & fire emergencies

Cons

  • Typically requires a monthly fee & can be expensive
  • May have to enter into a contract
  • False alarms can be costly
  • Best home security for industry experience

    ADT Home Security

    Our rating
    9.7
    Starting at
    $45.99/mo

    Our Take on ADT Home Security

    ADT Home Security is a well-known name in the home security industry. It offers traditional security that requires professional installation and monitoring at a steep price.

    Pros

    • 6-month money-back guarantee
    • $500 theft protection guarantee
    • High-quality equipment

    Cons

    • Must pay for an extended warranty
    • Lengthy contracts
    • More expensive than competitors

    Research ADT

  • Best smart home security

    Vivint Home Security

    Our rating
    9.7
    Starting at
    $29.99/mo

    Our Take on Vivint Home Security

    Vivint is our top choice for smart home security with an extensive line of equipment filled with smart features. The control panel also doubles as a smart hub. The only downside is that Vivint requires a long-term contract if you finance the equipment. Professional monitoring and installation are also required. 

    Pros

    • Smart Hub to connect and control smart home and security devices
    • Extensive smart features for security equipment including package detection and Smart Deter
    • Wide range of security and smart home equipment

    Cons

    • Contract required for service and financed equipment.
    • Professional monitoring and installation required
    • Expensive equipment compared to other providers

    Research Vivint

  • Best pet-friendly home security

    Frontpoint Home Security

    Our rating
    9.4
    Starting at
    $44.99/mo
    1-888-688-5779

    - or -

    View Packages

    Our Take on Frontpoint Home Security

    Frontpoint Security lets you choose both your package and monitoring plan to help build the best home security system for renters and homeowners alike. Monitoring can be costly, but free DIY installation helps lower costs without reducing reliability or protection.

    Pros

    • No lengthy contracts
    • Excellent customer service
    • Variety of equipment to choose from

    Cons

    • Monitoring fees are relatively expensive
    • Short trial period (30 days)
    • No professional installation option

    Research Frontpoint

  • Best overall DIY security system

    SimpliSafe Home Security

    Our rating
    9.9
    Starting at
    $14.99/mo

    Our take on SimpliSafe Home Security:

    SimpliSafe Home Security 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.

     

    Pros

    • Inexpensive professional monitoring
    • Wireless equipment
    • Cellular monitoring

    Cons

    • 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

    Research SimpliSafe

How Much Does Professional Monitoring Cost?

Professional or alarm monitoring tends to range from around $10 per month to $50 per month, depending on the provider. Providers that require professional installation may charge more for their monitoring service than providers with DIY home security systems. It’s also worth noting that some monitoring centers may be in-house while others may be third-party providers. These factors mean that costs may vary between providers, but a lower cost doesn’t necessarily correlate to lower-quality monitoring.

Will I Have to Enter Into a Contract?

This also depends on the provider. Companies like ADT and Vivint may require a contract based on your package selections with them, but companies like SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, and Cove don’t require contracts. Before you purchase a security system, find out if you’ll have to enter into an agreement with a provider and how long the term will last. Breaking a contract could result in costly fees.

DIY vs. Professional Home Security Systems

DIY security systems allow you to self-install your security system and in some cases self-monitor. Abode and SimpliSafe are great examples of brands that offer this feature. 

DIY home security is better if you’re more tech-savvy and want the added flexibility of installing things yourself. We recommend this type of system if you’re on a budget, currently renting, or anticipate moving more frequently.

Do I Really Need a Monitored Home Security System?

We highly recommend purchasing alarm monitoring if you have a larger home and you’re away from home more often. This reduces the burden of having to keep tabs on any potential alerts while you’re away. Additionally, if you can afford a monthly fee of at least $10 or more per month, then we’d say go with it. 

We don’t recommend alarm monitoring if the monthly fee doesn’t fit your budget or if you’re particularly worried about false alarms. Most providers have steps in place to prevent false alarms, but they can be costly if they do happen. There are other alternatives you could pursue to protect your home, such as purchasing a security camera and getting activity alerts. You can also use smart home devices like smart lights to help to deter criminals from your home.

Pro monitoring is better for you if:

  • You’re able to afford a monthly fee
  • You have a larger home
  • You’re away from home more often

You should consider skipping if:

  • You want to avoid a monthly fee
  • You’d prefer to monitor your own home

Here are some security products we recommend as alternatives to alarm monitoring.

  • Best home security for industry experience

    ADT Home Security

    Our rating
    9.7
    Starting at
    $45.99/mo

    Our Take on ADT Home Security

    ADT Home Security is a well-known name in the home security industry. It offers traditional security that requires professional installation and monitoring at a steep price.

    Pros

    • 6-month money-back guarantee
    • $500 theft protection guarantee
    • High-quality equipment

    Cons

    • Must pay for an extended warranty
    • Lengthy contracts
    • More expensive than competitors

    Research ADT

  • Best smart home security

    Vivint Home Security

    Our rating
    9.7
    Starting at
    $29.99/mo

    Our Take on Vivint Home Security

    Vivint is our top choice for smart home security with an extensive line of equipment filled with smart features. The control panel also doubles as a smart hub. The only downside is that Vivint requires a long-term contract if you finance the equipment. Professional monitoring and installation are also required. 

    Pros

    • Smart Hub to connect and control smart home and security devices
    • Extensive smart features for security equipment including package detection and Smart Deter
    • Wide range of security and smart home equipment

    Cons

    • Contract required for service and financed equipment.
    • Professional monitoring and installation required
    • Expensive equipment compared to other providers

    Research Vivint

  • Best pet-friendly home security

    Frontpoint Home Security

    Our rating
    9.4
    Starting at
    $44.99/mo
    1-888-688-5779

    - or -

    View Packages

    Our Take on Frontpoint Home Security

    Frontpoint Security lets you choose both your package and monitoring plan to help build the best home security system for renters and homeowners alike. Monitoring can be costly, but free DIY installation helps lower costs without reducing reliability or protection.

    Pros

    • No lengthy contracts
    • Excellent customer service
    • Variety of equipment to choose from

    Cons

    • Monitoring fees are relatively expensive
    • Short trial period (30 days)
    • No professional installation option

    Research Frontpoint

  • Best overall DIY security system

    SimpliSafe Home Security

    Our rating
    9.9
    Starting at
    $14.99/mo

    Our take on SimpliSafe Home Security:

    SimpliSafe Home Security 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.

     

    Pros

    • Inexpensive professional monitoring
    • Wireless equipment
    • Cellular monitoring

    Cons

    • 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

    Research SimpliSafe

Bottom Line

While some providers make professional monitoring a requirement for their security systems, there are others that allow you to choose. Use these pros, cons, and tips to help you make the most informed decision for your needs.


Safety and Security Reporter

Jalesa Campbell

Jalesa is one of Safety.com's staff experts on home security, natural disasters, public safety, and family safety. She's been featured on Today.com and elsewhere.

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