Long before we tested Philips LifeLine, we knew the Philips family of products. Over the years we’ve owned Philips Magnavox TVs, and we’ve used Philips Hue lights (among other products). So we were excited to try out Philips LifeLine medical alert systems and learn about their prices and options.
It’s important to know that LifeLine isn’t the cheapest medical alert brand out there. But when it comes to reliability and fast response times,1 we think LifeLine is a top choice. Also, they offer free equipment, cheap installation, and monitoring plans that start at under $30 per month. Philips is clearly a pioneer in the world of electronics – but do they have an alert system that makes sense for your budget and lifestyle? Let’s take a closer look.
The best features of this system
Philips LifeLine allows seniors to live at home (and on-the-go) with a little more confidence and peace of mind. Their alert plans start at $29.95 per month and range up to nearly $50 per month. Sure, it’s a little pricey — as we’ve tried brands that only charge $19.99 per month — but Philips does have some redeeming qualities. Here we break down the monitoring prices and other fees for each Philips LifeLine system.
|HomeSafe Standard, Landline||$29.95 per month||$0||$50||$19.95|
|HomeSafe Standard, Cellular||$43.95 per month||$0||$50||$19.95|
|HomeSafe With AutoAlert, Landline||$44.95 per month||$0||$50||$19.95|
|HomeSafe With AutoAlert, Cellular||$58.95 per month||$0||$50||$19.95|
|GoSafe 2||$49.95 per month||$99.95||$99.95||$19.95|
We really like that LifeLine offers free equipment and month-to-month monitoring; there are no long-term commitments or contracts to worry about. But again, we wouldn’t say the price is right. We think $29.95 per month for a landline plan is a bit steep, especially considering top-rated Bay Alarm Medical starts at $19.95 per month for similar coverage. And as we’ll discuss, many companies don’t require activation or installation fees, which is nice.
But from what we’ve seen with LifeLine, the costs and fees are reasonable and right in-line with the helpful features included — like the new Philips Cares app that we think you’ll like. Don’t worry, we’ll touch on that in just a bit.
Along with medical alert systems, LifeLine sells a key lockbox and can monitor an automated medication dispenser. These add-on equipment options are nice, but we’d like to see more products added to the menu (like extra wall buttons, a Vial of Life, etc.).
|Lock Box||A combination lock that holds a house key for emergency personnel||$29.95 each|
|Medication Dispenser||An app-connected dispenser that releases medication doses at preset times||$59.95 per month|
Lockboxes are smart investments. If your system calls for help, LifeLine shares your lockbox code with EMS. This lets paramedics enter your home without having to break a window or break down a door. Other brands sell these at similar prices, and we’ve seen lockbox rentals at about $3 per month.
We think the medication dispenser is unique. Brands such as Medical Guardian and GreatCall have medication reminder services that cost much less, but the LifeLine option actually dispenses medication, which helps to reduce the chance of dosage errors. Note that this product can hold up to 60 doses at a time, and each dose is released in a small cup at a preset time.
LifeLine medical alert systems are compatible with Philips Cares, a free app for caregivers. A main benefit is that the primary caregiver can create a Care Circle of people for LifeLine to contact in case of emergency (of course, LifeLine can call EMS too). Each contact can share their availability within the app.
Also, Philips Cares allows caregivers to share notes and other important details with one another. It has handy wellness rating categories too, like “Memory,” “Mobility,” and “Mood.” We really like how the app automatically charts these ratings; it let us easily see trends in our loved one’s well-being. In many ways, the app reminded us of Medical Guardian’s Family Guardian app.
Unfortunately, GPS tracking isn’t part of the deal, unlike with other brands. We’d like the option to know location if, say, we had a parent with dementia who wandered from home. That said, a LifeLine agent told us that GPS tracking for GoSafe 2 is in the test phase. So we’ll keep you posted on it!
It’s worth mentioning that Philips Cares has mostly 5-star ratings at Google Play.2 It’s also well-rated in the App Store, although people have complained that the iOS version is buggy. LifeLine releases app upgrades pretty frequently to improve service.
Philips LifeLine sells systems for in-home and on-the-go. For in-home coverage you can choose between landline and cellular units. One system, HomeSafe With AutoAlert, even has fall detection and a unique in-car alert service. For on-the-go coverage, you’ll want to go with GoSafe 2. This option offers fall detection and uses nationwide service on the AT&T wireless network. But at $49.95 per month, it’s not cheap.
FYI: Automatic fall detection is a potentially life-saving feature and is included with two LifeLine systems: HomeSafe With AutoAlert and GoSafe 2.
HomeSafe Standard is available for landline or cellular service. It includes a base station with speaker and a waterproof button to wear around your wrist or neck. This button can connect with the base station from a couple hundred feet away (Philips doesn’t get specific about range, unfortunately).
We like that the button’s battery lasts for years, and the base station has a 30-hour battery in case home power is lost. This system is cheapest with a landline connection at $29.95 per month. But if you choose cellular service, it costs $43.95 monthly. In our experience, $43.95 for an in-home cellular alert is high compared to the industry average (which is roughly $28-$35 monthly).
Who It’s Best For: HomeSafe Standard is made for home-bound seniors who don’t want or need fall detection.
AutoAlert is LifeLine’s name for automatic fall detection. HomeSafe With AutoAlert is identical to HomeSafe Standard except for the fall detection upgrade. These systems are available with landline and cellular base stations, and typically a base station can monitor a button from other rooms of the house (but note that you’ll get longer range with other brands).
We like that the buttons hold power for up to three days per charge, and the plug-in base system has a 30-hour battery in case of a power outage. The monthly rate is $44.95 with a landline connection and $58.95 with LifeLine’s wireless AT&T connection.
Who It’s Best For: HomeSafe with AutoAlert is best for seniors who spend most of their time at home and want the extra protection of automatic fall detection.
Good To Know: AutoAlert was developed through thousands of hours of testing. It’s been shown to detect about 95 percent of falls, and false alerts are relatively rare.3
Like any true mobile unit, GoSafe 2 offers emergency coverage anywhere it catches an AT&T cellular signal. And we appreciate the all-in-one design, as mobile buttons from some other brands require mobile base stations to use voice communication and GPS locating. Also impressive is LifeLine’s use of A-GPS, or Advanced GPS, for especially fast location tracking. Finally, you’ll like how it’s shower-safe and works for up to 72 hours per charge. Philips sells the equipment for $99.95 and charges $49.95 per month with fall detection.
Who It’s Best For: This convenient system is best for seniors who want protection at home and away, and who also want fall detection.
FYI: LifeLine outshines many competitors by using multiple technologies to determine your location or the location of a loved one. These technologies include Advanced GPS, WiFi, location breadcrumbs, and an audio signal.
Philips LifeLine has a longstanding deal with AARP: Members can save 15 percent on monthly medical alert service. Also, shipping and activation may be free. Without an AARP discount or other deal, LifeLine activation costs $50 for at-home systems and $99.95 for GoSafe 2.
Military members are also eligible for special savings. These vary, but be sure to ask for military discounts if you’re part of a military family.
LifeLine isn’t advertising other specials as of this writing. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to ask a LifeLine agent to honor promotions we’ve seen in the past. These include free shipping, a free lockbox, and the same monthly savings you’d get as an AARP member (15-percent off!). As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned.
|+ $50 Upfront Costs*||+ $99.95 Upfront Costs*||+ $149 Upfront Costs*|
|View Packages||View Packages||View Packages|
|Wide Range of Operation||Fall Detection||Fall Detection|
|Two-Way Voice Communication||Two-Way Voice Communication||Two-Way Voice Communication|
|Uninterrupted Support||5 Locating Technologies||6 Locating Technologies|
|24/7 Access to Response Centers||24/7 Access to Response Centers||24/7 Access to Response Centers|
|GPS Enabled||GPS Enabled|
|Landline or Cellular Connection|
|Water Resistant Pendant or Wristband||Waterproof Pendant||Waterproof Pendant|
|30-Hour, Worry-Free Battery with Automatic Replacement||Rechargeable Battery||Rechargeable Battery|
|HomeSafe Communicator with High-Fidelity Speakers and Microphone||GoSafe In-Home Communicator with High-Fidelity Speakers and Microphone|
|30-Hour Battery Backup|
|Professional Installation||Professional Installation||Professional Installation|
|Automated Medication Dispensing Service||Automated Medication Dispensing Service||Automated Medication Dispensing Service|
Philips LifeLine monitoring prices are rather high, as noted above. We also don’t like that they charge fees for activation and self-installation. These fees might be waived if you’re a member of the military or AARP… but in our opinion, nobody should have to pay these extra charges. Thankfully, Philips LifeLine offers free equipment, which is typical among our most highly recommended brands.
It’s true that LifeLine is generally superior in terms of speed: In our experience, you can expect a call response in under 15 seconds after pressing the help button. Compare that to some other companies that strive for 30-second or 45-second turnarounds. So if fast response is important to you, LifeLine is a wise choice, as is GreatCall and their affordable alert plans.
FYI: If you aren’t happy with your LifeLine system, you can return it within 30 days for a refund on equipment and monitoring. However, you may still be charged for activation and restocking.
Dating back to 1972, LifeLine was the first medical alert brand to serve North America. It was the brainchild of the late Dr. Andrew Dibner, a gerontology-focused professor at Boston University.4 He grew the company with his wife Susan Dibner, a social worker by training. At first, they marketed LifeLine systems to hospitals. Then in the early 1980s LifeLine became available for home use. Their first mobile unit, GoSafe, hit the market in 2014.
LifeLine was acquired by Royal Philips in 2006. Since the sale, the company has maintained a strong reputation with seniors and their loved ones. You can learn more about the brand background in our recent Philips LifeLine review.
HomeSafe makes replacing batteries simple for users. The AutoAlert button has a non-rechargeable battery that can only be replaced by Philips Lifeline. When the battery has about 30 days remaining, it will send a signal to Lifeline and a representative will contact you to make arrangements for the replacement. The Communicator uses a backup battery in case of a power outage, which is good for up to 30 hours.
Yes, the pendant can and should be worn in the shower, as the bathroom is where the majority of falls take However, it should not be worn in a pool as chlorine can damage the device. Heat can also damage it, so it should be removed before using a sauna or hot tub.
You don’t need anything special. The Communicator connects to the Response Center, using the AT&T wireless network. The wireless service is provided with the Lifeline service. No additional wireless equipment is needed.
Voice extension is a feature that requires an additional box with a speaker enabling two-way talk to take place with the communicator from another room. Philips Lifeline only offers a voice extension feature for an additional $10 per month and only for those using a landline. Unfortunately, when we inquired with a company representative about the maximum distance that a voice could be picked up when using the voice extension, the representative was unable to answer with any certainty.
Philips Lifeline offers a 30-day, money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty on its products.
Philips LifeLine. (Accessed 2020, June 1). Our Response Center.
Philips LifeLine. (Accessed 2020, June 1). Philips Cares Assist.
Philips LifeLine. (2020.) Automatic Fall Detection.
Boston Globe. (2019, July 22). Andrew Dibner, former BU professor who pioneered the medical alert device field, dies at 93.