At first glance, CPI Security seems to offer everything we look for in a home security system. And they’ve been in business for 30 years now, so they certainly have the experience we like to see. But we’ve been doing this a long time, and we know better than to take companies like CPI Security at face value. Instead, we like to roll up our sleeves and really dig into the systems.
With that in mind, we recently tested CPI Security systems from top to bottom. We looked at everything from pricing and features to tech, customer service, installation, and more. So, what did we find? Well, it was the classic example of “skeletons in the closet.” All right, we didn’t find skeletons, per se, but there are a few things you should know about — like limited availability, expensive equipment, and not-so-hot customer service.
But…was any of these things a deal-breaker? Not really. And to be fair, there were a lot of things we liked about CPI Security. For instance, they offer excellent video monitoring, a no false alarm guarantee, and innovative inTouch™ products. In some ways, the pros outweigh the cons. So, let’s dive in to see if CPI Security is all that it’s cracked up to be.
CPI Security Systems, Inc. has been around since 1991. And from what we can tell, they’ve been growing steadily over the years. The company’s headquarters is in Charlotte, North Carolina.1
Note that CPI Security was named The Security Provider of the Year in 2019 by SDM Magazine.2 So, although they may not be as relevant as today’s home security startups (the “new guard” that’s sweeping the market like Ring and SimpliSafe), CPI still might be a force to be reckoned with. That said, in all of our research about the company, we didn’t come away with any definitive facts or figures that truly stood out. What you see is what you get with CPI.
CPI’s pricing actually threw us for a loop. We were excited when we heard their monitoring starts at $29.99 per month. So, we called in, and after going through a consultation and a credit check (yep!), we were told that the $29.99 monthly monitoring was only for their no-frills Essentials package. Still, anything under $30 per month is darn cheap in our book. After all, the industry average is closer to $40 per month for 24-7 professional monitoring.
Did You Know: Some DIY systems only cost between $15 and $20 per month for monitoring, with others (like Ring Alarm) go for as low as $10 per month!
Now, don’t get too excited just yet, as you’ll still need to purchase the equipment that keeps the bad guys at bay. With CPI Security, equipment runs $500 or more depending on the package. That said, we can all-but-guarantee their premium package — with security cameras and keyless door lock — costs upward of $1,000. So be prepared for the ol’ sticker shock. Compared to systems like SimpliSafe or Frontpoint, CPI Security is expensive. Here are the package options:
|Equipment||inTouch™ Essentials||inTouch™ Essentials Plus||inTouch™ Video||inTouch™ Edge|
|Keyless Door Lock||X||X||X||✓|
Of course, you can also customize a system from the ground up, which is something we really like about CPI Security. Also, we were happy to hear that all CPI Security packages include their touchscreen InTouch™ Smart Hub. Well, every package except for the Essentials option, which comes with a more basic wireless control panel.
Unfortunately, CPI Security isn’t transparent about their costs, as prices are nowhere to be found on their site. You’ll have to call in for a quote, which is always disappointing for us to see. However, if you do call in and find that the equipment is too expensive, CPI Security offers 0% financing over 36-60 months with the CPI Smart Pay Program.3 Even still, we found that these home security systems are not best for folks on a tight budget.
The sign-up process for CPI Security was fairly straightforward. First, we spoke with a sales rep on the phone to learn about our options. Then we chose an equipment package (we went with the Edge package) and a monitoring plan. At $49.99 per month, the monitoring plan wasn’t cheap, but that’s the going rate for security + video + home automation these days.
Now, remember how we mentioned that CPI Security only has limited availability? Well, here’s something to chew on. If you don’t live in the following 12 states, then you’re out of luck, as CPI only offers service in these areas:
Another thing to keep in mind is that CPI Security doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee. In our experience, we’re used to decent offers here — like 30-day or, 60-day money-back guarantees. The well-established security company ADT actually offers a 6-month, money-back guarantee! Knowing that a company stands behind its products helps to instill trust. Alas, CPI doesn’t guarantee anything.
FYI: Although CPI Security doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee, you can exercise your three-day “right of rescission.” This is a federal law stating that you can return your purchase for a full refund within three days of the sale date. It pays to know your rights!4
We like options, and it’s nice to at least have the option for DIY setup. So, we were somewhat disappointed to learn that CPI Security requires professional installation. That said, we’ve almost come to expect it with top brands like ADT and Vivint. Just know that you’ll have to schedule a date and time for a CPI technician to visit your home and get your system up and running.5
Depending on the system and how many devices you purchase, installation can take anywhere between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. So just be prepared. One nice thing about professional installation, though, is that the system is more likely to be installed correctly the first time around. Why break a sweat if you don’t need to? We live by that motto.
We found that CPI’s equipment was surprisingly well-made — especially compared to the low-end DIY systems out there. One gripe we had was with the door and window sensors. The sensors were either a bit sensitive or “trigger happy,” and they were tricky to pair with the control panel when we reconfigured the system. Also, if we’re honest, they’re chunky as all get-out! That aside, we actually liked the equipment. Don’t worry, we’ll dig into our experience with the cameras in just a bit.
As far as the controls go, we think you’ll like the touchscreen control panel and mobile app. Remember, all their packages (except the base Essentials package) come with the touchscreen InTouch™ panel. It’s a sleek way to arm and disarm your system, view your live video feed, and automate your home with smart features. As for the app, it’s nice to have control of your system from anywhere using your smartphone.6 We were able to access all the features the inTouch™ panel offers, but from the convenience of our phone. However, we think the interface could use some work. It’s definitely not as sleek or easy to use as, say, Ring Alarm’s mobile app or Frontpoint’s app.
And what about the 24-7 professional monitoring? Well, one look at the CPI Security website, and you’ll see they really hype-up their monitoring center. Sure, it’s award-winning. And yes, it’s a UL-listed facility with a TMA 5-Diamond Certification.7 But aren’t most of them? We wanted to know how CPI Security performed in real-world situations. So, we simulated some break-in and package theft scenarios to find out!
Overall, we experienced lackluster response times of about 40 seconds (pretty anticlimactic, right?). However, the video doorbell worked decently, and we liked that all CPI cameras offer 1080p HD video quality and night vision, the works.
Pro Tip: UL-listed, TMA 5-Diamond Certification are the industry designations for legitimate monitoring centers, staffed by trained professionals. Most of the larger home security brands meet these standards just fine.
You’ll see that CPI Security offers three main ways to get in touch: phone, online chat, and email. We’ve seen user complaints regarding customer service. Again, we like to get in the trenches and find out for ourselves. Well, what we found was average to less-than-average customer service.
Although CPI’s call center is open 24-7, our wait times varied (but it sure wasn’t fast). And the online chat function seemed impersonal. There is a Customer Care Help Center tab on their website, but it only has a few resources, none of which we found helpful. It got us wondering how CPI Security earned itself an A+ BBB rating.8 We’d give them a B+ in this category.
24-7 Professional Monitoring — Around-the-clock security and environmental monitoring by highly-trained agents located across the nation.
Video Surveillance — CPI’s video monitoring can help to secure the outside and inside of your home.
IVAN Technology — Intelligent Video Activity Notifications (IVAN) will send smart alerts that distinguish between people, pets, and cars.
InTouch™ App — You can receive instant alerts and monitor your home from pretty much anywhere in the world using CPI Security’s mobile app.
No False Alarm Guarantee — Alarm and video verification helps to ensure emergency responders aren’t dispatched unless necessary.
Environmental Monitoring — CPI offers a heat rise indicator, a smoke detector, and a carbon monoxide detector.
Smart Home Automation — Control your lights, garage door, thermostat, and keyless door lock, as well as create custom scenes.
Voice Control — CPI works with Amazon Alexa and Sonos One for hands-free voice control.
Of all the different components offered by CPI Security, we actually liked the security cameras the most. We purchased an indoor and outdoor camera to see how they measured up against other security cameras on the market. And we were pleasantly surprised. CPI’s four-camera options include:
They offered everything from 1080p HD video quality and night vision to Pinch & Zoom, low-light recording, motion detection, live video streaming, and a few other nifty features. We also had access to 30-day video storage with their Stream Video Recorder (SVR) service, but that’ll cost you extra.
CPI Security has a pretty decent lineup of equipment. However, the company doesn’t list prices for the add-ons and upgrades anywhere on their site. We think a little more transparency here would be nice. Here’s a helpful chart listing all of CPI’s offerings:
|Device||Type of Device|
|Light Control||Smart Home|
|Smart Thermostat||Smart Home|
|Touchscreen Door Lock||Entry|
|Garage Door Controller||Entry|
|inTouch 180™ Indoor||Camera|
|inTouch 180™ HD Indoor Camera||Camera|
|inTouch 180™ HD Outdoor Camera||Camera|
|inTouch 180™ Doorbell Camera||Camera|
We tip our hats to CPI Security for a few things, like their video surveillance features and their lineup of InTouch™ devices. But that’s about it. Compared to many of the top home security systems today, we think CPI is too expensive and a little too rigid with their professional installation policy. Also, if you don’t happen to live in the handful of states we listed above, then you simply cannot get CPI Security. And that’s a huge limitation.
With that said, it might be a good fit for some folks. For instance, if you live in the south and want access to decent home security + video + home automation (and you don’t mind paying $500 or more for equipment), then CPI just might fit the bill. All things considered, we weren’t all that impressed with CPI Security. We recommend looking into more affordable options on the market that are just as good, if not better.
Not always. If you purchase the equipment upfront, you can get month-to-month monitoring. If you have to finance the equipment, they will require a 36-month to a 60-month contract.
Unfortunately, CPI Security requires professional installation on all systems.
Yes, in fact, CPI does a great job of offering top quality video surveillance.
You can probably get CPI if you live in the south, but you will have to check with a sales rep to make sure.
Equipment starts at $500 and goes up from there, while monthly monitoring fees range from $29.99 to $65 per month.
Bloomberg. (2020). CPI Security Systems Inc.
Stepanek, L. (2019, May 9). 2019 SDM 100: Above Average. SDM Magazine.
CPI Security Systems, Inc. (2020). CPI Smart Pay.
Chen, J. (2019, July 13). What Is the Right of Rescission? Investopedia.
CPI Security Systems, Inc. (2020). Professional Installation vs. DIY Home Security.
CPI Security Systems, Inc. (2020, April 14). CPI Security. Google.
The Monitoring Association. (2020). TMA Five Diamond Monitoring Centers.
CPI Security: Better Business Bureau® Profile. (2020, April 24). BBB.