When it comes to your personal, family and home security; it's very important to conducts in-depth research into reviews. We have compiled the ultimate list of things to consider when shopping for a home security solution.
Home Security System Reviews
There’s a lot to dig through and consider when it comes to making an educated decision about home security products and services and how to decide which are best for your particular situation. Below we outline the 5 central factors to consider: type of monitoring, connectivity, location, installation, and cameras.
One of the first things to consider when researching and reviewing different types of home security systems and plans it whether you’d like to monitor your system yourself or professionally. There are a few key questions to ask yourself:
- How close are your nearest neighbors? When self-monitoring, the only real deterrent is the sound of the alarm when it is triggered. If you’re in an urban environment, that may be enough of a deterrent, but if you’re in the middle of nowhere, the sound of an alarm could have far less of an impact.
- What’s your budget? Some systems require that they professionally monitor, but for those that don’t, you can pinch pennies by monitoring yourself through an app and the mere sound of the alarm.
- What are you protecting? At the end of the day, you get what you pay for—and professional monitoring is far likelier to get law enforcement to your house quickly.
- Where do you live? If the crime rate is low and the chance of an environmental disaster is unlikely, you might be able to get away with the lower level of protection self-monitoring affords.
- How often are you home? If you work out of home, for instance, then your very presence can serve as an added deterrent. On the flip side, if you’re always around, it’s worth considering whether you want even more protection in the event that you were incapacitated during an invasion or environmental disaster.
Self monitoring is a great option for those who prefer not to pay a monthly fee for their home security system. Self-monitored home security systems are typically less expensive due to the fact that no monthly monitoring fee is required, but at the same time, they don't provide the level of security a professionally-monitored system does, so there is a trade-off. If you think a self-monitored home security system is right for you, check out our list of home security systems without professional monitoring.
Most people opt for professional monitoring—you spend a little extra money each month on a lot of peace of mind. In fact, quite a few home security companies don’t offer the gear without their monitoring service—the costs can be bundled together, or in some cases the equipment simply doesn’t work at all without an actively monitored account. There are various levels of home security monitoring, but most include alerting local law enforcement if an alarm is triggered.
Nowadays, you have the option of connecting your system wirelessly or using actual wires. On the one hand, a wired system means there aren’t signal limitations. On the other, wiring your home is inherently invasive, costly, and—because wires can be cut—it runs the risk of being tampered with. Here are a few other things to consider:
- What’s your current setup? If you don’t have a landline, communication is going to have to be wireless or cellular.
- What’s your budget? Wireless systems are less expensive to install.
- Are you installing yourself or through a pro? If you prefer a DIY install, you’re pretty much stuck with a wireless system.
- How often do you experience power outages? Yep, a wired system isn’t going to work if it doesn’t have power.
- Speaking of power, how do you feel about batteries? Wireless systems require changing out the batteries roughly every 3 to 5 years. Then again, if wired systems have backup batteries, you’ll need to track changing those out, too.
- How likely are you to move? Wireless systems are by their very nature portable, so some services let you up and take them with you if you have to move.
Aside from being subject to tampering and power outages, wired home security systems are robust and secure. A fully hardwired system not only connects any sensors to the control panel through a network of wires that run through the walls and floors of your home, it then connects to the outside world using your home's telephone line. If you don’t plan on moving anytime soon, and your home was pre-wired with an older home security system, this solves a lot of problems that going wired might normally cause. Your system is less susceptible to the system interferences that can cause occasional spottiness in wireless and cellular systems.
For those who rent, or are less certain about how long they’ll stay in their home, and who didn’t have a wired system already run through the walls, going wireless solves a lot of problems and tends to save money. There’s no need to drill any holes, you don’t have to have a landline, and there are no wires for an intruder to cut. Just be careful about changing out your batteries to ensure optimal and continuous system performance. If you are starting to seek out wireless security system reviews, take a look at our top wireless home security system picks.
Most home security systems can cover indoor and outdoor environments. Outdoor home security systems work by using a radio (RF) transmitter to broadcast the camera's video, which is then detected by the receiver, which is connected to a monitor and/or recording device for monitoring. But do you need them? A few things to consider:
- What’s your budget? Adding outdoor security is rarely cheap—after all, the equipment has to be waterproof and extra robust.
- What’s outside? For some people, protecting the outside of their home is very important—maybe a car is parked outside, or it’s a high-traffic area, or there are valuables around, and not just in, the house.
- What are the laws? Federal and state regulations impose certain restrictions on monitoring, so it’s always worth researching this first.
- Do you want a doorbell camera? These tend to be hugely popular, and with certain systems allow you to talk to the babysitter who forgot her key, or the mail carrier who’s trying to deliver a package but doesn’t want to leave it outside.
Most home security systems come with a variety of indoor sensors and features, and then all-weather outdoor cameras can easily be added on. The distinction tends to be about durability and functionality, so it really boils down to what areas you need to monitor. Indoor cameras tend to be smaller, more lightweight, and less bulky looking, so they can blend in more easily with their environments. Dome cameras, some of which are built for indoor environments, others of which are meant to be outdoors, hide the direction the lens is pointing. There are also indoor cameras that can be disguised within other sensors, like smoke detectors.
Cameras that can handle the elements tend to be quite a bit more expensive—they are, after all, exposed to light, weather, and are inherently less protected from intruders than cameras locked inside your house. But they’ve grown very sophisticated, and can often pan, zoom, operate in different levels of light, and record and store data. Before you plop down hundreds on a single camera, carefully consider which features you require.
Gone are the days when home security systems are automatically installed by professionals. Especially with the rise in wireless connectivity, installing a system can be as simple as removing adhesive strips, placing sensors, and pressing a button to configure the whole setup. As with anything, there are pros and cons to either approach:
- How handy are you, and do you have the tools? Not all DIY systems are created equal, so research what other users say about how easy a system is to install and be honest about whether you think you can do it.
- Do you rent? If so, you’ll probably need permission from your landlord if you’re going to be the one doing the install.
- How important are warranties to you? In general, home security companies are less prone to offer extended warranties if they haven’t been the ones to set up the system.
- How advanced of a system do you want? Typically, the more robust the protection, the more complex the install. Not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it’s worth considering.
It used to be that the better the system, the more likely it required a professional to install it. That’s not so much the case anymore thanks to wireless technology and sophisticated adhesives, but the more complex the home security system, the more likely the company is to require that a professional set it up. Sometimes the cost is embedded in the system itself, other times you have to pay out of pocket, but pricing has become very competitive, and if you aren’t tech savvy—or are tech savvy enough to know your limitations—hire a professional.
A lot of home security systems these days can be set up by the customer, and some systems are so easy to set up they don’t even have a professional installation service you can hire. The good news is, these systems can involve as little as adhering sensors to windows and doors and pushing a button that initiates system calibration. You don’t really have to know what you’re doing, and you don’t typically need tools—plus you can call customer service if you get stuck. If you have decided on a DIY solution, and need DIY home security systems reviews, see our top picks here.
Home Security Cameras
Security cameras are a key component of any home security system, and they come with a wide variety of features. Today, most home security cameras come with an indoor / outdoor option, and some let you pan, tilt, and zoom. When reviewing cameras for your home security system, these are some of the features to consider:
- Do you need a camera with a wide-angle view that's clearly visible on the entire screen? Your space will determine what you need, and could vary from one area to the next.
- Does the security camera have a night vision option? This can matter for indoor and outdoor cameras.
- Does the camera have a low-light viewing option? The lower the camera's lux rating, the better it can see in the dark when using the night-vision feature.
- How much wiring is required? If you’re renting or doing a DIY install, this might matter.
- Will the cameras be fixed or adjustable? If you want to view a large area, then you should consider a camera that can be panned, tilted, and zoomed in for more thorough viewing and recording.
- Are the cameras waterproof? A waterproof rating of 65 is recommended.
- Is there an available security app for remote viewing on your mobile device?
- What alerts are offered, and are they customizable?
- Is the camera always on with a continuous power supply?
- Is the recording history stored in the cloud?
Traditionally, home security cameras have required wires to pull power and transmit data. Then, wired PoE IP security cameras used a Cat 5 or Cat 6 ethernet cable to connect to the home router or NVR for both data and power needs. Either way, if you go this route, data transmission tends to be super reliable, and you don’t have to worry about interference from other devices.
Today, wireless cameras use Wi-Fi to transmit data and batteries for power. They tend to be more expensive and do run a relatively small risk of being hacked or facing interference from nearby devices, but they’re easy to install and far more portable—ideal for renters and people who might be moving in the not-so-distant future.
Why Are You Buying?
As a general note, it’s worth investigating the primary reasons you’re on the hunt for a home security system. Is your neighborhood high in crime? Are you suspicious of neighbors or your nanny? Have you experienced natural disasters in the past? Are you a senior who wants to live independently for as long as possible? Or do you just want general peace of mind? Getting to your guiding motivations will help you prioritize what you want out of your security system.
Home Security Company Reviews
After you've spent some time learning the basic components of a home security system, you will then need to research a variety of security companies to find one that will best suit your needs and budget.
Below are some of the most popular home security companies offering great value and a wide variety of available features and options. We’ve also compiled a short list of top systems here.
- Abode – Abode offers professional grade home security in a DIY system.
- Ackerman Security – Ackerman is a great, regional home security company that offers solutions across Atlanta.
- ADT – ADT is the largest home security provider in the U.S. and Canada. They offer wired and wireless systems along with a wide variety of home automation features.
- Amazon – Amazon has officially entered the home security market with a complete offering of home security products and services.
- Armorax – Armorax offers easy to set up, encrypted, cellular security for your entire home.
- Arlo – Arlo by Netgear offers multiple lines of security cameras to protect your home and business. Netgear is the perfect home security camera solution for apartments, condos, homes, businesses and more.
- AT&T Digital Life – Not only does AT&T offer internet and cable services, but they also offer home security packages that completely integrate into the rest of their offerings.
- Bay Alarm – Bay Alarm has been in the security industry for more than 70 years. They offer the latest home security features alongside their industry experience.
- Blink – Blink is a home security camera system offered by Amazon. Choose from indoor and outdoor cameras to protect and monitor your home from the Blink app.
- Brinks – Brinks, Livewatch and Moni have joined forces to offer consumers one of the most complete home security experiences available on the market.
- Canary – This well known DIY home security system can be set up in minutes while offering protection for you and your family.
- Cox Homelife – Cox offers home security services that integrate with their internet offering to provide a whole home solution for consumers.
- CPI Security – CPI Security is another great regional home security company with a heavy presence in the Carolinas.
- Doorbird – Doorbird has a sleek and professional grade doorbell camera lineup.
- Ezviz – Ezviz offers a huge selection of home security cameras for any need.
- Frontpoint – Frontpoint offers wireless DIY home security systems. Some of their systems also include home automation features as well.
- Guardian – Guardian Protection Services is a long standing name in professional home security.
- Guardzilla – Guardzilla offers unique, 360-degree, home security cameras that provide a view of a room with a single camera.
- Iris – Iris is a DIY home security solution from the trusted home improvement company Lowe's.
- Kuna – Kuna offers stylish and seamless video surveillance integrated into outdoor lighting. Cameras are hidden into outdoor flood lights and porch lights providing an all-in-one outdoor security solution.
- LifeShield – LifeShield offers great value and no long term obligations, making it a great, affordable home security option.
- Link Interactive – Link Interactive has been around since 1952 and offers several different wireless home security systems, as well as emergency monitoring for a minimal monthly fee.
- LiveWatch – LiveWatch offers DIY preprogrammed wireless home alarm systems along with several home automation features and they have a no penalty cancel anytime policy.
- Lorex – Lorex's huge selection of security cameras are great for either home or business use.
- Netatmo – Netatmo offers a unique offering of home security products as well as weather monitoring products.
- Nest Secure – Nest is a home security and home automation company owned by Google. They offer thermostats, cameras, alarm systems, doorbell cameras and more. Check out our review of their home security system.
- Nest Cameras – Nest cameras, also owned by Google, can be used indoor as well as outdoor and integrate perfectly with the Nest Secure alarm system.
- Oco – Small and easy to use home security cameras that can be placed just about anywhere.
- Ooma – Most well known for their VoIP phone service and products, Ooma also offers a home security solution that appeals to many.
- Piper – Piper is a simple, all-in-one home security camera solution.
- Protect America – Protect America offers a variety of DIY wireless home security systems along with a low price guarantee with their three-year monitoring agreement. In addition, they also offer emergency monitoring services for a minimal monthly fee.
- Protection One – Protection One, also known as Protection1, is a division of ADT and offers a professional grade home security solution.
- Ring Alarm – Ring is no longer just a doorbell camera company. Ring has launched it's whole home security system as Ring Alarm, which integrates seamlessly with the Ring doorbell camera.
- Ring Doorbell – Ring is the dominant doorbell camera player in the outdoor security space. With their acquisition by Amazon, they have ventured into other outdoor and even indoor home security systems.
- Samsung – Samsung has partnered with ADT to provide a simple DIY home security system.
- Scout – Scout offers a couple of very affordable wireless home security systems with attractive discounts when you sign a yearly agreement.
- SimpliSafe – SimpliSafe offers several wireless DIY home security systems along with available á la carte equipment options. You can also add emergency monitoring for a minimal monthly fee.
- SkyBell – SkyBell is a worthy competitor to Ring and offers great value for a doorbell camera.
- Slomin's – Slomin's Shield is a division of the Slomin's company, which also offers cooling and heating solutions.
- Vector – Vector Security is a great regional home security company that has a strong presence in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area.
- Vivint – Vivint offers 100% wireless security systems coupled with home automation features for added layers of protection.
- Xfinity – Xfinity by Comcast offers a completed and fully automated solution to your home security needs. Combine your Comcast cable, internet and home security services into a single integrated package.
Reviews of Other Security Offerings
Home security is more than alarm systems, which is why we have reviewed additional home and personal security products to keep you safe and sound:
- Medical Alert System Reviews
- Identity Theft Protection Service Reviews
- Home Security Camera Reviews
- Doorbell Camera Reviews
- Smart Lock Reviews