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Do you need help finding the best home alarm system for your house but are overwhelmed with your options? Our team has over 75 years of combined experience researching, testing, and using home security systems. We’ve reviewed the top professionally monitored security companies to help you choose the most reliable system at the best price.
- Top 3 Home Security Systems & Category Winners
- Winner: Frontpoint
- Runner-Up: Link Interactive
- Third Place: SimpliSafe
- Comparison Table (Winners)
- Our Best Alarm System Category Winners
- Low Cost, No Contract: Ring
- Professional Installation: ADT
- Smart Home: Vivint
- What About Everyone Else?
- Review Criteria
- Terminologies (Explained So You Can Understand Them)
- Frequently Asked Questions
|Ranking||1st||2nd||3rd||Low Cost, No Contract||Professional Install||Smart Home|
|Customer Service & Reputation||4.8||4.3||4.5||4.0||2.0||1.0|
|Ease Of Use||4.8||4.3||4.5||4.5||3.8||3.8|
How do we arrive at the rankings above? Our researchers consider the following review criteria: customer service, equipment, technology, ease of use, and value. A weighted average score is then calculated to arrive at a total score our experts use to rank the companies relative to one another.
Frontpoint wins this year for the overall best home security system. It’s one of the few home security companies that offer cellular monitoring for every single one of its monitoring packages.
Did You Know…
We consider cellular monitoring to be the best home security monitoring option because it’s the most challenging communication signal to break. If you’re looking for the best home defense system, make sure your provider offers cellular.
Frontpoint’s equipment design is appealing and fits nicely into many home design styles. From an equipment perspective, there are many security and smart home devices from which to choose. Their app is comprehensive and makes it easy to control the system while away from home, and their pricing is in line with competitors.
However, potentially most important is that the majority of Frontpoint’s customers rave about their customer service. This is true for new customers as well as existing customers. We called in as a new customer and found the sales experience more informative than pushy, which was refreshing. There was no urgency to close the sale, so we had time to sit back and consider our options before committing.
From an existing customer perspective, we found the technical support experience to be top-notch as well. Wait times were generally short, and the few calls we made to get troubleshooting assistance were answered professionally and in a way that made us feel like we could make the changes ourselves the next time. I should point out that since COVID-19, wait times have gotten longer, but there is a callback option, and in our experience, calls were returned within the next hour or two.
Frontpoint no longer requires a contract. This is a significant change as professionally monitored companies will typically lock you into one to three-year contracts to recover equipment expenses. In the past, no-contract systems tended to be pretty bare-bones, but with Frontpoint’s extensive equipment lineup, you can now get a full-fledged home security system without the worry of having to pay off a large balance if you decide to cancel early.
We were unwittingly drawn into home security when our neighbor’s house got broken into. At the time, not many DIY solutions existed, and the customer service experience in the industry was akin to going to a used car dealership.
Frontpoint was literally a breath of fresh air because we felt no sales pressure. We called in probably half a dozen times with questions, and they answered them with no strings attached. That was the beginning of a harmonious relationship. Their customer service has always been there for us, and they’ve done multiple equipment replacements at no additional cost to us.
Their monitoring fees may not be the least expensive, but in our experience, a long-term relationship with Frontpoint more than makes up for it. Not to mention, they have some of the more cutting-edge technologies on the market, making us feel confident that we’re getting the best home protection system.Alex Schenker, Editor For Safe Smart Living
|Has 2 monitoring stations||Higher monitoring fees than competitors|
|30-day risk-free trial|
|All plans have cellular monitoring|
|Known for its superior customer service|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home|
|No long-term contract (you pay month-to-month with no cancellation fee)|
Discounts And Promotions
In-Depth Frontpoint Review
For in-depth equipment pricing, details on monitoring plans, a video on installation, a deep dive into the website portal, a tutorial on how to use the app, user reviews, and more, read our dedicated Frontpoint review.
Link Interactive has a three-year equipment warranty, a great customer service team, and its battery backup is shorter (only eight hours) for one of its control panels.
However, its monthly monitoring cost is less expensive than Frontpoint, which puts it right in the running behind our leader. Another advantage that Link Interactive has going for it is its customizability. There are no equipment bundles (everything is à la carte), so you can build your own system and only pay for the equipment you need.
We also like that Link Interactive has many camera options. So you can keep an eye on your property, family, and pets all through the app.
|Has 2 monitoring stations||1, 2, or 3-year monitoring contract required|
|30-day money-back guarantee||Customers report some installation hiccups|
|All plans have cellular monitoring||You must pay 75% of the contract even if you cancel|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home|
Discounts And Promotions
Our readers are able to take advantage of a special promo by clicking here. Get $100 off any system + a free indoor camera.
In-Depth Link Interactive Review
For in-depth equipment and plan pricing, pros & cons, key features, a deep dive into their app, user reviews, geofencing capabilities, and more, read our dedicated Link Interactive review.
SimpliSafe stands out as another option for those who want to avoid a long-term contract (Frontpoint and Ring Alarm are the only other companies in this article to offer a similar feature). You can pay month-to-month for professional monitoring, and if you decide to stop service, there are no contract restrictions or early termination fees.
However, the website, overall functionality, and especially the app are fairly bare-bones (“simple,” if you will, pun intended) when compared to a company like Frontpoint, and the equipment lineup isn’t as extensive. Their long-awaited camera (the SimpliCam) is finally available as well, and according to them, you will receive priority police dispatch with video-verified events.
But their monthly monitoring price is very affordable, and they offer environmental sensors (smoke, carbon monoxide (CO), water, freeze, and leak detection) to protect you from invisible threats. Keep in mind that there are other threats to your home besides an intruder. Installing environmental sensors can save you thousands of dollars in home repairs, and these types of sensors are being provided today by many home security companies.
This is installed in our vacation home, so we’re not in it year-round. Thus, SimpliSafe offers us a lot of peace of mind for potential criminal acts and environmental alerts from flood and temperature sensors. When temperatures drop too low, we need to ensure that our heat is working to prevent frozen/burst pipes.Michelle Schenker, Editor, Safe Smart Living
|Has 6 monitoring stations||Self-monitoring functionality is tied to a monthly payment plan|
|Excellent customer service||Equipment costs are higher than competitors|
|Self-installation||Website and app don’t indicate low battery alert|
|No contracts||No outdoor security cameras|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home|
|60-day money-back guarantee|
|Easy home security system|
Discounts And Promotions
40% Off New Systems Sale
Get 40% off any new system by clicking here and entering your email. This promo code is time limited and could expire any day.
In-Depth SimpliSafe Review
For in-depth equipment and plan pricing, pros & cons, key features, a deep dive into their app, user reviews, side-by-side comparisons to competitors, and more, read our dedicated SimpliSafe review.
Comparison Table (Winners)
If there are any terms that you don’t understand, we have a terminology section below.
|1st: Frontpoint||2nd: Link Interactive||3rd: SimpliSafe||Low Cost, No Contract: Ring||Professional Installation: ADT||Smart Home: Vivint|
|Equipment Starting Cost (bundled package)||$129||Customizable||$245||$199||Free With Contract||Customizable|
|Pro Monitoring Starting Cost||$44.99/mo||$30.99/mo||$17.99/mo||$10.00/mo||$45.99/mo||$29.99/mo|
|Contract Length||3 years||1-3 Years||None||None||3 Years||3.5-5 Years|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 Days||30 Days||60 Days||30 Days||6 Months||None|
|Warranty||3 Years||3 Years||3 Years||1 Year||Lifetime (Must Pay Additional $)||120 Days|
|Battery Backup||24 Hours||8 or 24 Hours||24 Hours||24 Hours||24 Hours||4 Hours|
|Self Monitoring Option|
|Third Party Monitoring|
|Main Form Of Monitoring||Cellular||Cellular||Cellular||Broadband||Landline & Cellular||Cellular|
|Backup Form Of Monitoring||Broadband||Broadband||Broadband||Cellular||Cellular||Broadband|
|Amazon Alexa Compatibility|
|Google Home Compatibility|
Although these didn’t make the top picks, they are with consideration for their respective category feature.
Ring uses the same company as Frontpoint for its monitoring (Rapid Response), and it’s offered at a very affordable price. It has Z-Wave and Zigbee connectivity but only a one-year equipment warranty.
Ring is the only company in this comparison to offer solar-powered equipment (available for outdoor cameras and yard signs). We love that Ring is leading the charge on this and hope to see more companies providing solar-powered home security equipment in the future.
While Ring was close to making our top picks, their system and app have limited functionality because they offer fewer equipment options than competitors. However, lower equipment fees, an affordable monthly monitoring plan, and a lack of contract make it our best home alarms pick for our low-cost, no-contract category.
Safe Smart Living purchased a Ring home security system for me so I could test it out. My system includes a base station, keypad, motion sensor, six door/window sensors, range extender, smoke/CO listener, and a Ring video doorbell.
I’ve been thrilled with the performance of my Ring Alarm security system. It’s easy to operate via the keypad or through the app. I’ve had zero false alarms, and the equipment has functioned properly for me.
The value of this system is incomparable. You can’t find a security system with this quality of equipment and professional monitoring at such an affordable price. It’s an excellent solution for those who want a security system for their primary home or vacation home.Kimberly Alt, Security Expert For Safe Smart Living
|Has 2 monitoring stations||Limited equipment reduces the system’s capabilities|
|Attractive equipment design|
|If your equipment is stolen, Ring will replace it for free|
|Professional monitoring is optional|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home|
|Option to add emergency contact|
Discounts And Promotions
Ring products are generally discounted from MSRP on Amazon.
In-Depth Ring Review
For in-depth equipment and plan pricing, pros & cons, key features, a firsthand installation video by Kimberly, user reviews, side-by-side comparisons to competitors, and more, read our dedicated Ring security system review.
ADT is the name that comes to many people’s minds when they think about home security. It’s one of the oldest and most well-known companies in the arena. But because of the professional installation, it’s more expensive than much of the competition. In addition, customer service varies by location, and ADT has a long list of customer complaints.
On the plus side, it’s available nationwide, is professionally installed by a local authorized dealer, has a solid app, and allows many equipment options. If you want a big-name company that will install the system for you, ADT fits the bill. But you can get cellular monitoring with similar equipment for a lower price from other providers by installing it yourself.
Authorized Dealer vs DIY Installation
Professionally installed systems, like those provided by ADT, tend to be outsourced to local authorized dealers. This means your installation and customer service experience may vary greatly depending on whom your local ADT provider is.
Wondering how difficult it is to install your own system? Our experts answer the top DIY home security questions.
|Has 10 monitoring stations||3-year monitoring contract required|
|6-month guarantee||Requires a technician to visit your home and install|
|Can be professionally installed in your home within 1 to 2 days after ordering, in most cases||Cameras have 720p resolution, not 1080p|
|Includes basic equipment at no additional cost||Many customer service complaints about ADT, including extra charges on bills|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home||More expensive|
|May charge 75% of the remaining contract if you cancel early|
|Not the best home security options|
In-Depth ADT Review
For in-depth equipment and plan pricing, pros & cons, key features, a deep dive into ADT Connect, user reviews, side-by-side comparisons to competitors, and more, read our dedicated ADT review.
Vivint is another company that offers cellular monitoring for all of its plans. But it comes with a high price and a lengthy contract. Also, its control panel only has a four-hour battery backup, which is minimal compared to other companies.
Vivint won the best smart home award because its app allows users to control its extensive smart home equipment lineup, and it’s very user-friendly.
|Has 2 monitoring stations||Requires professional installation|
|All plans have cellular monitoring||3.5 to 5-year contracts if you finance equipment|
|Excellent smart home options||If you want cameras, you must purchase the highest monitoring plan|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home||Expensive4-hour battery backup|
|If you pay for the equipment upfront, a month-to-month monitoring plan is available||Short equipment warranty|
|Must provide written notice 30 days before your desired cancellation date, and you’re responsible for paying the remaining balance in full|
In-Depth Vivint Review
For in-depth equipment and plan pricing, pros & cons, key features, coverage of their extensive smart home capabilities, side-by-side comparisons to competitors, and more, read our dedicated Vivint review.
What About Everyone Else?
The company you were looking for may not have landed in our top 6 this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the company best suited to your needs. We’ve reviewed dozens more home security companies. You can find them all (with links to their full reviews) on our home security companies listing page.
How do we arrive at the rankings above? We take into account the following review criteria:
We conduct anonymous phone calls and test out customer service quality at the point of purchase. Here are the top three criteria we’re after:
- Friendliness – When you’re trying to find out about a new system, are the sales representatives pushy or hands-off, giving you the space you need to make an informed decision?
- Informed – Are they able to answer all of your pre-purchase questions and concerns? We also call into tech support in post-purchase scenarios on systems we physically test at different locations to see how good they are at troubleshooting existing customer issues.
- Accessible – Can you get to them off-hours, on weekends, and through what contact points (e.g., phone, chat, email, etc.), and how responsive are they?
We also consider any type of guarantees a company may offer (e.g., money-back guarantee, free trial, return period, price match, etc.) as well as the cancellation policy details and how easy it is to cancel with the customer support team.
First, we begin with the company’s equipment lineup. Does the company offer the basics that most consumers expect in a home security system? What about home automation options so you can control your system through the app?
We get our hands on all the equipment we can and conduct extensive testing in real-life environments. Does the carbon monoxide (CO) sensor actually sense CO? Does the smart thermostat respond remotely, and how long does it take to warm up your house? We run as many test cases as we can think of and report back on your home security equipment’s reliability and effectiveness.
Having a thorough and dependable equipment lineup is great, but sometimes equipment malfunctions and a warranty needs to be put into use. How long is the company’s equipment warranty, and how does it compare to its competitors? We also take into account user feedback to determine our Equipment score.
We look carefully at the technology each company offers and how cutting-edge it is. We analyze the types of monitoring available, wireless communication protocol compatibility (e.g., Z-Wave or Zigbee), battery backup, app features, smart speaker compatibility, and more to arrive at our Technology score.
How difficult is it to install the system? Does it require a professional to come to your house, or is it DIY? Is it easy to relocate if you move homes, rent a house, or live in an apartment? We test actual systems and install them ourselves to see how easy the process is.
Once your system is up and running, how easy is it to operate? How user-friendly is the app? These are all critical considerations we take into account in our Ease Of Use score.
We may have just tested the system from the company with the best customer service, the latest technology, and the easiest-to-use equipment and app. But are you getting what you’re paying for?
And is it in line with the competition? We consider contract length, installation and equipment fees, number of monitoring stations, monitoring company, and more to arrive at an overall Value score.
- Equipment Starting Cost – The cost of your system’s equipment can vary based on the devices you select, but these are the base prices for each company. They can go up from there.
- Professional Monitoring Monthly Starting Cost – This is the lowest monthly fee you should expect to be charged for professional monitoring. The monthly fee can increase depending on the type of monitoring (landline, broadband, or cellular) you want and the devices in your system (e.g., cameras and home automation equipment typically result in higher monthly fees). Check out our detailed home security system cost guide and the cheapest security systems.
- Contract Length – This is the standard length of the contract you’ll be required to sign to maintain monitoring for your system.
- Installation – Many companies offer do-it-yourself (DIY) type installation, which is fairly simple since most sensors attach with peel and stick (similar to a sticker). Some companies still offer professional installation if you’d prefer that. If you’re worried about purchasing a DIY security system, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions in our DIY frequently asked questions article. We can help you put your cameras, control panel, sensors, and other equipment in the perfect spots in our home security installation guide.
- Installation Fee – DIY installation typically means there is no installation fee. If you opt for a company with professional installation, you’ll commonly be charged for it.
- Money-Back Guarantee – The time you have to return the system for a full refund without being locked into a contract. Be sure to read how each company defines its money-back guarantee before signing a contract.
- Warranty – This is the amount of time your equipment will be covered for any defects. Each company has exclusions in its warranty — make sure you read carefully so you understand what is and isn’t covered.
- Battery Backup – This is the amount of time the control panel will operate on battery power during a power outage. Power outages are popular times for burglars to break into homes, so the longer the battery backup time, the better. Learn more about battery backup options for security systems.
- Self-Monitoring Option – If you’d prefer to monitor your system yourself and avoid a professional monitoring fee, you can select one of these companies. Keep in mind a self-monitored system means if a burglar alarm goes off, you’re responsible for contacting the appropriate authorities. So, if you’re often away from or mute your phone (including air travel), this may not be a great fit.
- Third-Party Monitoring – We recommend companies that use a third party for their monitoring needs because it’s challenging for a company to specialize and excel in both security equipment and 24/7 monitoring.
- Cellular Monitoring – Cellular monitoring is more secure than landline and broadband (internet) because there’s no risk of any wires being cut.
Learn more about central monitoring stations and monitoring types so you know what to consider before making a purchase.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are questions we frequently get asked by our readers regarding home security systems. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.
Decide on a system, or are you still confused? Let us know in the comments!Tagged With: Comparison