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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
    $49.99/mo

    Our Take on ADT Home Security

    ADT is one of the most well-known home security providers. You can expect traditional security with professional monitoring and installation. Choose from three packages, but keep in mind that you’ll need to upgrade your package if you want smart home or surveillance features. ADT also requires long-term contracts, but equipment financing is available. 

    Recommended Plan: We recommend the Complete package to give you everything you need from the start. It’s the only plan that includes security essentials, smart home compatibility and surveillance. Professional installation and monitoring are also included. Best of all, you’ll get ADT’s 6-month money-back guarantee and theft protection guarantee.

    Pros

    • 6-month money-back guarantee and theft protection guarantee
    • Wide variety of smart home equipment
    • Over 140 years of experience with award-winning professional monitoring

    Cons

    • Must upgrade plan for smart home or surveillance features and equipment
    • Professional installation and monitoring are required
    • Long-term contract required

    Research ADT

  • Best Smart Home Security

    Vivint Home Security

    Our rating
    9.7
    Starting at
    $29.99/mo

    Our Take on Vivint Home Security

    If you’re looking for smart home security, Vivint is our top choice. It offers the most extensive line of smart home and security equipment. Its intrusion and environmental equipment are filled with smart features, and the control panel doubles as a smart hub to connect and control your smart home devices. The only downside is that Vivint requires a long-term contract if you finance the equipment. Professional monitoring and installation are also required.

    Recommended Plan:  Vivint offers two packages: Smart Home and Smart Security. We recommend the Smart Home package to give you video monitoring, smart home control, environmental monitoring and the security essentials in one package.

    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 is a DIY security option that offers wireless security and smart home equipment. It’s a close runner-up compared to SimpliSafe. You’ll have more surveillance options with two indoor cameras, an outdoor and doorbell camera. Professional monitoring is required and can be costly compared to others, but you can save money with Frontpoint’s easy DIY installation. Mobile app and video surveillance are also included in the cost instead of an extra fee.

    Recommended Plan: Frontpoint’s Bunker Package is ideal for most homes. It comes with the essentials for intrusion, plus an indoor camera and smoke detector for $634. If you’re debating between the Bunker and Fortress packages, the big difference is that you’ll get more sensors with Fortress — good for larger homes.

    Pros

    • Smart home equipment available
    • Financing available to lower upfront cost
    • Mobile app and video surveillance included in monitoring cost

    Cons

    • No professional installation option
    • Expensive professional monitoring
    • Trial period is only 30 days

    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 is our top home security pick because it offers reliable home security equipment at a cheaper price than most competitors. Even though smart home equipment isn’t offered, you’ll have the flexibility to create the system you want within your budget thanks to SimpliSafe’s customizable plans. But keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for equipment upfront because financing isn’t available.

    Recommended package: The Haven plan offers the best value among SimpliSafe’s offerings. It gives you intrusion and environmental monitoring equipment for less than $500. The package includes security essentials, a smoke detector, a temperature sensor and more. You can add cameras and SimpliSafe’s Video Doorbell Pro for the full SimpliSafe security experience.

     

    Pros

    • Equipment and monitoring plans are cheaper than competitors
    • Optional professional monitoring and installation
    • Customizable packages and easy add-ons

    Cons

    • Upfront costs are more expensive than competitors
    • No smart home equipment available
    • Must upgrade to plan for remote and smart home control

    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
    $49.99/mo

    Our Take on ADT Home Security

    ADT is one of the most well-known home security providers. You can expect traditional security with professional monitoring and installation. Choose from three packages, but keep in mind that you’ll need to upgrade your package if you want smart home or surveillance features. ADT also requires long-term contracts, but equipment financing is available. 

    Recommended Plan: We recommend the Complete package to give you everything you need from the start. It’s the only plan that includes security essentials, smart home compatibility and surveillance. Professional installation and monitoring are also included. Best of all, you’ll get ADT’s 6-month money-back guarantee and theft protection guarantee.

    Pros

    • 6-month money-back guarantee and theft protection guarantee
    • Wide variety of smart home equipment
    • Over 140 years of experience with award-winning professional monitoring

    Cons

    • Must upgrade plan for smart home or surveillance features and equipment
    • Professional installation and monitoring are required
    • Long-term contract required

    Research ADT

  • Best Smart Home Security

    Vivint Home Security

    Our rating
    9.7
    Starting at
    $29.99/mo

    Our Take on Vivint Home Security

    If you’re looking for smart home security, Vivint is our top choice. It offers the most extensive line of smart home and security equipment. Its intrusion and environmental equipment are filled with smart features, and the control panel doubles as a smart hub to connect and control your smart home devices. The only downside is that Vivint requires a long-term contract if you finance the equipment. Professional monitoring and installation are also required.

    Recommended Plan:  Vivint offers two packages: Smart Home and Smart Security. We recommend the Smart Home package to give you video monitoring, smart home control, environmental monitoring and the security essentials in one package.

    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 is a DIY security option that offers wireless security and smart home equipment. It’s a close runner-up compared to SimpliSafe. You’ll have more surveillance options with two indoor cameras, an outdoor and doorbell camera. Professional monitoring is required and can be costly compared to others, but you can save money with Frontpoint’s easy DIY installation. Mobile app and video surveillance are also included in the cost instead of an extra fee.

    Recommended Plan: Frontpoint’s Bunker Package is ideal for most homes. It comes with the essentials for intrusion, plus an indoor camera and smoke detector for $634. If you’re debating between the Bunker and Fortress packages, the big difference is that you’ll get more sensors with Fortress — good for larger homes.

    Pros

    • Smart home equipment available
    • Financing available to lower upfront cost
    • Mobile app and video surveillance included in monitoring cost

    Cons

    • No professional installation option
    • Expensive professional monitoring
    • Trial period is only 30 days

    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 is our top home security pick because it offers reliable home security equipment at a cheaper price than most competitors. Even though smart home equipment isn’t offered, you’ll have the flexibility to create the system you want within your budget thanks to SimpliSafe’s customizable plans. But keep in mind that you’ll need to pay for equipment upfront because financing isn’t available.

    Recommended package: The Haven plan offers the best value among SimpliSafe’s offerings. It gives you intrusion and environmental monitoring equipment for less than $500. The package includes security essentials, a smoke detector, a temperature sensor and more. You can add cameras and SimpliSafe’s Video Doorbell Pro for the full SimpliSafe security experience.

     

    Pros

    • Equipment and monitoring plans are cheaper than competitors
    • Optional professional monitoring and installation
    • Customizable packages and easy add-ons

    Cons

    • Upfront costs are more expensive than competitors
    • No smart home equipment available
    • Must upgrade to plan for remote and smart home control

    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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