Security System vs. Medical Alert: Which is Right For You?

Safety Team
Updated Mar 3, 2020
4 min read
Monitored home security systems and personal medical alert devices have a lot in common, but which one is right for your home and family? Perhaps one over another, or even a combination of the two is necessary. It’s important to understand the similarities and differences between the two.

The Benefits of a Home Security System

For families who desire the ultimate level of comfort in safety, home security systems are a necessity. There are thousands to choose from at different price points, from industry giants like ADT to do-it-yourself systems. Here are some benefits to installing a security system into your home:

  • They keep an eye on your property. From motion detectors to cameras, home security systems will keep an eye on your home even when you’re not there. Most companies have mobile apps that allow you to check your camera activity from anywhere.
  • Professional and self-monitoring. Professional monitored home security system are installed and watched over by the pros. That means they'll respond to your alarms, and call in emergency help, even if you're not home or you're unable to do so yourself. It's like having an extra set of eyes on your home at all times. On the other hand, self-monitored systems
  • Quick response to emergencies. Home security systems help to ensure the fastest possible response to emergencies like break-ins, fire, carbon monoxide and flooding. If your system is professionally monitored, they will automatically call emergency services at the possibility of danger in your home.
  • Integrated security cameras. As mentioned above, some (but not all) home security companies will place cameras inside and outside your home, depending on where you want them installed. This is typically done around the most vulnerable entry points of the home like the front and back doors.

Security System Cost Range

Currently, the best home security systems start at $15-$28.99 per month for professional monitoring. Still, you'll need far more information in order to calculate the true cost of home security with your desired systems, features and provider. Some providers require you to buy equipment up front, others allow you to roll the cost of equipment into your monthly monitoring fees. There's also the issue of contracts – some companies require long-term contracts of three years of longer, while others have month-to-month plans. Keep in mind that DIY security systems might appear cheaper than a professionally installed system at first glance, but you should consider the cost of add-ons, repairs, and whether you can install the system correctly.

The Benefits of Personal Medical Alerts

It’s impossible to anticipate a medical emergency, but you can certainly be more prepared with a personal medical alert. These wearable devices go where you go and act as a panic button or fall detector, depending on the exact device used. Here are some of the benefits of wearing a personal medical alert:

  • Wide range of connectivity options. Some personal medical alert systems work anywhere that cell towers can reach, while some connect to your phone via Bluetooth which requires you to have your phone at all times. Others are house-bound options that require a landline. Whatever your range of mobility may be, there’s an option for you. 
  • You are number 1. The goal of every personal medical alert is to protect the person above all else. Unlike a home security system, they are designed to protect you, not your property. 
  • Professional monitoring. Like home security systems, professional monitoring is the headline feature of any medical alert system. With a monitored medical alert device, the user can summon professional help at the touch of a button. Some even have mobile apps so that a loved one can monitor the device and the wearer's location at all times.
  • Automatic fall detection.  If the device is equipped with automatic fall detection (and the monitoring plan supports it), then the professional will automatically respond if the wearer takes a spill. For people with limited mobility, this can be a lifesaver.

Personal medical alert cost range

The best medical alert systems of 2019 currently range between $19.95 and $44.95 per month for professional monitoring. The wide range in price is due to various benefits and features on each device. As with home security systems, you'll have to carefully evaluate upfront costs and contract length, as this varies greatly between providers.

How do I decide between the two?

When making your decision, it’s important to know the real purpose of each solution and how it would fit into your life. “Although they are both based upon safety, security and medical alert systems have different goals,” said Tara Skinner, Director of Marketing at BoomerAlert.

“Home security systems are used to secure family from danger, prevent property theft, and call emergency responders on your behalf. As such, security systems help ensure your belongings aren’t stolen while protecting the safety of your loved ones. On the other hand, medical alert systems focus mostly on seniors who prefer to remain in their own homes as long as possible while ensuring their health, wellness, and personal safety. In the event of an accident or medical emergency, such as a fall, emergency services are dispatched immediately and family or friends are notified instantly.” 

Who should consider a home security system?

  • An individual or family who wants security cameras
  • Homes where crime and break-ins are a top concern
  • Households highly concerned about fire, carbon monoxide, or flood potential
  • Growing families or large households with heavy foot traffic
  • People who prefer to monitor the system themselves and not pay for a monitoring service
  • Tech-savvy houses where home security systems can integrate with other smart home devices

Who should consider a personal medical alert?

  • People living in smaller apartments where a whole system isn’t necessary
  • People with medical conditions or limited mobility
  • People who live alone
  • People who are less tech-savvy; many medical alert devices are designed with seniors in mind so they are simple and easy to use

Can't Decide Between Systems? Choose One That Can Do Both

If you’re looking for companies that offer a combination of the two, some home security systems like ADT offer an integrated add-on wearable panic button. These panic buttons act as a medical alert system, and though they are not considered to be an actual medical alert system, are similar in many ways. Someone using a medical alert device can contact the company’s monitoring center at the push of a button. The operator will call emergency services no matter what kind of emergency, regardless of whether or not it’s medical (break-in, fire, etc.)

Home Security Experts

Safety Team

The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.

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