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A home security system that isn’t watched is nothing more than a bunch of expensive equipment.
Self-monitoring works for some, but with your phone buzzing every time a car passes by your doorbell camera, you might start ignoring those alerts. You might ignore them so often, in fact, that you miss it when a burglar breaks in when you’re out of town.
That’s why a lot of people opt for systems with 24/7 monitoring. That way you know someone is always out there, looking out for you and help is always just minutes away.
We’ve compiled a list of the best systems that will be there for you when you need them most.
With such a long history and such a great reputation, it’s no surprise that ADT offers some of the best professionally monitored home security systems in the industry today. Their nationwide monitoring centers employ the best technology to keep you and your family safe, and they have so much faith in this monitoring that they offer a $500 theft protection guarantee — if you’re burglarized, ADT will pay $500 toward your home insurance deductible. How’s that for reassurance?
You can’t have a conversation about home security without mentioning ADT. And if you’re talking about the best professionally monitored systems, you’ll probably be talking about ADT a lot.
They’re one of the most well-respected security brands for a reason. Their professionally installed systems are second to none, their prices are more than reasonable, and the protections they offer are robust to say the least. Their customers have complete control over the equipment they choose, whether it’s from one of their pre-built packages or a fully-customizable, bespoke system. They even recently launched a DIY system. It’s a little lackluster right now, but we fully expect them to beef it up in the coming months. You can read all about it in our review of ADT Self Setup.
We have a full breakdown of this in our guide to ADT’s pricing, but the quick version is this: There are four packages you can choose from and customize. Your bottom line will depend on the size of the package you select and the equipment you choose for it. Keep in mind, these prices include both the equipment and professional, 24/7 monitoring.
We know that’s a lot to digest all at once, but if this has piqued your interest, we’d encourage you to head over to our ADT review to learn more about the system.
With flexible packages, exceptionally designed equipment, and home automation features built right in, Vivint routinely tops our best-of charts, but it’s their stand-out home monitoring that gives them the number-two spot here. Their customizable plans make it easy to pick the equipment and monitoring you need, and their optional professional installation makes set-up a breeze.
Vivint is a leading industry home technology provider with over one million customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. And they offer some of the most diverse equipment available. Their equipment includes a control panel, a wide range of home automation features including environmental disaster protection, fixed and pan/tilt cameras, door and window sensors, keyfobs, and more.
Since everything with Vivint is professionally installed and packages are fully customizable, you’ll have to contact a sales rep to have them build out a system and give you a quote — we will say this, though, they’re not cheap. To comprehensively outfit a normal sized home, you might be looking at a little over $1,000 when all’s said and done.
The good news is their home monitoring is relatively inexpensive. It starts at just $29.99 per month and tops out at $44.99 per month.
Mostly known for being one of the best contract-free, DIY-friendly options out there, it might surprise you that SimpliSafe also offers some of the best home monitoring. Their rates are reasonable, and their protections are robust, so SimpliSafe is certainly worth checking out.
SimpliSafe manufactures their own equipment so they can offer you the lowest prices possible because they eliminate the middleman. They have redesigned their equipment to be smaller, faster, and stronger so you have double the range with their cellular connection which is reinforced with Wi-Fi. They have six monitoring stations and they provide you with a 24-hour battery backup for power outages. And all signals from your system to theirs are encrypted. All their equipment is wireless so there’s no need for drilling, wiring, or tools of any kind. Additionally, the SimpliSafe motion sensors are designed to detect the heat signatures of humans, not pets so you’ll have fewer false alarms.
SimpliSafe’s equipment package — many of which include their flagship SimpliCam HD camera will cost anywhere from $200 to $600. Not too bad for a DIY system, if we do say ourselves. And their monthly monitoring costs are affordable as well — packages start at just a hair under $30 per month.
When it comes to high-quality DIY home security systems, Frontpoint is a standout because they provide so much value for your money, not to mention their exceptional customer service regardless of when you call. Here is a quick summary of the Frontpoint pros and cons.
Frontpoint is consistently rated one of the best home security/automation companies in the industry. They offer affordable pricing and customer service that is beyond reproach. The Frontpoint equipment is a DIY wireless installation that can be done in about 30 minutes. Additionally, Frontpoint has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
Frontpoint also offers plenty of options such as window and door sensors, touch-screen control panels, customization features, mobile app, surveillance cameras, home automation features including door locks, lights, and thermostat. They also provide environmental protections, geo services, remote access and controls, night vision and more. All of which are extremely user-friendly and easy to install.
Their equipment and monitoring packages are pretty reasonable by current industry standards. Equipment packages will start at $129, and monitoring costs $49.99 per month. Just be careful — there are a lot of options with Frontpoint, and if you get carried away adding security equipment to your cart, your costs can add up quick.
Like all DIY home security services, Cove toes the line between an out-of-the-box, wireless experience and serious protection from hazards and intrusions. Their products are definitely easy to use and afford. With Cove, you can walk away with a fully protected living space for under $300 (plus monthly monitoring fees). But we’ve found it’s Cove’s professional cellular monitoring service (with RapidSOS) that really makes the difference for households looking for a reliable safety net in emergencies.
While we consider Cove a low-maintenance approach to home security — no contract, no hardwiring, and absolutely no tech experience required — it is a monitored service. All home security services with monitoring are plan-based. Cove is no exception. Cove’s monitored security packages, will cost either $17.99 or $27.99 per month, depending on the package you choose. Equipment is also on the cheap end. Rigging an entire home shouldn’t cost more than $400 max.
Equipment aside, the heart of your Cove plan is its monitoring service. This is the human voice on the other end of your sensors and camera when danger strikes. Here Cove stands out in two major ways.
One, all Cove’s products use 4G LTE cellular connections, so emergency communication isn’t dependent on Wi-Fi or even a landline, making it faster and more secure. Two, Cove is integrated with RapidSOS (a platform used by nearly 5,000 911 centers throughout the U.S.). This means that smart data is transmitted directly from your Cove products to first responders via Cove mission control. When the police arrive at your house, they’ll know which window the thief went in and exactly how long they’ve been inside.
It’s true that we’ve tested security products with richer feature sets, but Cove is one of the few companies we’ve reviewed that offers so much bang for buck in terms of monitoring. Read more about our experience with Cove’s monitoring service in our hands-on Cove security review.
When we bought our first security system many (many!) years ago, we admit, we didn’t know we needed a permit until our installer showed up to get our system online. Why, we wondered, would we need a permit to use our own equipment?
Well, in many cities and towns, false alarms from home security systems began clogging up emergency responders’ budgets and schedules. Though false alarms aren’t super common in modern-day systems like ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint thanks to smarter technology, we also know that no system is 100% foolproof.
False alarms still present a substantial nuisance to emergency services, so some municipalities began requiring alarm permits for 24/7 monitoring to recoup some of their losses. The permit price differs from area to area, but you may have to pay a registration fee of about $50 if you want professional monitoring. And if your area requires a permit, you can also expect to pay about $50 to $75 per false alarm that the police are dispatched to.
In mid-size cities like Columbus, Ohio — which happens to be where we live — we’re required to register our alarm system with the city. As residential homeowners under 70 years old, our initial fee was $45, with a $25 annual renewal fee.
FYI: If you happen to be “of a certain age,” we recommend looking at your city’s fee schedule to see if you qualify for a senior discount. Our city’s senior alarm fee is $25. Other municipalities don’t charge seniors at all.
Beyond the budgetary considerations, though, we do want to emphasize that without registering or obtaining a permit, you might be violating your city’s laws. We urge you to check with your city or police department before buying any alarm system.
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not to sign up with 24/7 professional alarm monitoring, this should help with your decision.
First, your system will be connected to a central monitoring center by a Wi-Fi, cellular, or landline connection. If and when your alarm goes off, your security system will automatically send a signal to the monitoring station, and an emergency response agent (not first responders) will reach out to you. If they can reach you, and you tell them it’s a false alarm, they will cancel the call. If, however, you are unreachable or in distress, they will dispatch 911 to your home.
This is how alarm monitoring works in a nutshell. In our opinion, it’s worth the $20 to $40 monthly fee for around-the-clock professional monitoring. It’s an added layer of security that you just don’t get from self-monitoring. But remember, be sure to have some money budgeted for false alarm fees!
The following are common features and benefits of securing your home with a monitored home security system:
Redundant Monitoring is essential when it comes to monitored home protection. Several backup systems serve as a fail-safe in the event one system goes down. This might include secondary signals, multiple monitoring centers, and the like. Because let’s face it, natural disasters, power outages, and other unforeseeable events happen. Get the backup protection you need with redundant monitoring.
The vast majority of monitored home security systems offer both Wireless and Hardwired connections. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. With that said, there’s a wireless revolution happening, as more people are opting for the easy setup and reliability that wireless offers. Hardwired systems are still an option, although they require drilling into walls, splicing circuitry, and other invasive installation methods.
The best monitored security systems can be armed and disarmed locally and remotely. In fact, most systems offer a mobile app that allows you to arm/disarm your security from anywhere in the world. When the system is armed, a security breach will alert the monitoring center, day or night. This allows emergency dispatchers to keep a hawk-eye on your home, 24/7.
Here’s another tech-forward feature offered by many professionally monitored home security systems. Specialized Alert Zones give you greater control over certain areas of your home. For instance, if you keep valuable items like art, jewelry, or firearms in one room — simply set up a specialized alert zone with cameras, motion detectors, the works. Rest assured you’ll be alerted at the first sign of activity.
Entryway Sensors serve as your first line of home defense. These magnetic sensors secure entryways like doors, windows, garages, etc. When the magnets separate, the alarm sounds, you receive a real-time alert, and the monitoring center is immediately notified. This feature is critical to any monitored home security system. Thankfully, every system comes with an assortment of entryway sensors.
A monitored home security system with Glass Break Sensors is the full package. Place these sound-sensitive devices near windows, and rest assured the distinct frequency of breaking glass will be detected. When triggered, the alarm sounds, you receive an alert, and emergency dispatchers are on the line to offer help. Although typically sold as an add-on, these sensors are fast-becoming a must-have component.
Maximize your home protection with Motion Detectors. This feature comes standard with professionally monitored security systems. The infrared detectors are mounted indoors — specifically in large rooms, entryways, and hallways — and keep a constant watch for motion. When triggered, the alarm will sound and both you and the monitoring center are alerted. The best motion detectors can even discern between people and pets.
From manual pushbutton-style, to super-modern digital touchscreen technology — such is the evolution of the Control Panel. The top monitored home security systems offer sleek touchscreens with impressive capabilities. Arm and disarm the alarm, view live-stream video, and take total control of your system with the control panel. Many monitored systems even offer two-way voice to speak with emergency personnel directly through the panel.
If you’re on the market for a wireless home security system with professional monitoring, you’ll love this feature. Cellular monitoring does not require a landline, and yet still offers reliable, around-the-clock home protection. Powered via cell towers, much like a cell phone, cellular monitored systems are unfazed by wire snippers (no wires to snip!), power outages, and other local hazards.