A Quick and Easy Guide to Home Security Systems

The home security market is booming, currently valued at nearly $30 billion, and expected to reach the $50 billion mark by 2020, according to professional research firm Markets and Markets, which analyzed growth rates of both DIY (do-it-yourself) and professionally-monitored security systems. Newer systems take advantage of low-cost camera and monitoring technology that has become available in the last few years.

DIY security systems allow users to view their own video surveillance logs but are typically not connected to professional, third-party monitoring agencies. The so-called “connected” systems alert either local police or a monitoring team if there is a break-in or burglary. Nearly all connected systems charge a monthly fee, while the DIY systems don’t.

Some consumers like the peace of mind knowing that a third-party monitors their video feed when the system is engaged, at night or when no one is home. Others feel that third-party monitoring is intrusive and gives up too much personal privacy. In any case, home owners and apartment dwellers are flocking to the new, high-tech, lower-cost home security systems.


The Best DIY Systems


For $320, the Abode DIY home security system offer a low-price option for those consumers who want to do their own monitoring with no monthly contracts and an easy app interface. The dashboard is easy-to-read and allows connection to any net-accessible device that you own. For no extra charge, users can access up to 72 hours of security history. For anyone who really likes this system, and wants to add the wrinkle of professional monitoring, there is an upgrade available for $30 per month. That gets you a 3-month media database and pro monitoring for your system.


Frontpoint is included in the “connected” section below, but also offers a low-cost DIY security product with a $100 up-front cost. Users report ease of setup and configuration and seem to like the add-on of professional monitoring at $35 per month. There is a special feature of the monitoring that reports your system to operators if it crashes for any reason. Monitoring packages come in 12 and 36-month service arrangements.


Like its closest competitor, Frontpoint, GetSafe also has a monitoring package but without any monthly contracts. That way, consumers can cancel whenever they want and incur no additional costs. Up-front expense for GetSafe is a bit higher than others at $250, but its monthly monitoring is a reasonable $35. One advantage that many users note is GetSafe’s ability to integrate with all kinds of home automation units. GetSafe is one of many security companies that offers both DIY and connected systems. Based on consumer preferences, companies like GetSafe are trying to please those who want to monitor their own video feeds and others who want professional monitoring.


Best of the Connected Systems


ADT is at or near the top of every reviewer’s list of connected security systems. The company’s combination of customer service, installation, technology and monitoring is already an industry standard. Surveillance cameras, broken-glass sensors, window and door sensors and much more are the signature ADT package. They have even added the ability for their systems to detect carbon monoxide and smoke. That way, in case of a fire or carbon emergency, help can be called. The company prides itself on its sophisticated connectivity features; the ADT system interconnects thermostats, garage doors, lights, door locks, and the entire security system seamlessly.

For 3-month packages, ADT charges $37 to $60 per month, with an up-front equipment fee of between $100 and $500 depending on the type of system. Contract terms range from 12 to 36 months.


Simplisafe is an industry oddity because it tries to keep its fee structure and products in line with what its name implies: simplicity and safety. Consumers can build customized security systems that have no contracts and completely transparent pricing. In fact, customers can buy equipment directly from the company’s website without ever speaking with a salesperson. That’s an unheard of option in the home security business, which is akin to the used car market in many ways.

Simplisafe has no activation fees or installation charges. All equipment is pre-programmed and users install it themselves. Contracts are month-to-month, with a $15-$20 monitoring fee per month. Up-front equipment costs are between $230 and $540 depending on the package.

Protection 1:

In business for more than 30 years, Protection 1 is the oldster in this business. Their 36-month contracts cost between $35 and $55 per month, with no up-front equipment cost and an activation fee of $99. The company has built its reputation on both home and corporate security. There are no automated phone systems, so all customer calls are answered by human beings. Most rankings place them at the top of the customer service hierarchy and representatives say that they vow to resolve any customer issue within 24 hours. Even though Protection 1 merged with ADT last year, the two firms still operate as if they are totally independent entities. One downside that some consumers mention is that there is no refund if you cancel before the 36 months are up, and have to pay the full amount of the contract at the time of cancellation.


With monthly monitoring packages that cost between $35 and $50, and up-front equipment costs between $99 and $499 per year, Frontpoint offers both 12 and 36-month contracts. The company’s main selling point is customization of its security packages. Their representatives are known for actually being helpful. That’s unusual in an industry that is known for pushy salespeople and reps who want to sell just about any package they can convince you to buy. Even though there are three “basic” packages, each one can be flexibly configured to anyone’s whim. Pricing on their website is completely transparent, the interface is easy to use and understand, and you always know what your bottom-line price is.


It’s important to note that many apartment dwellers and low-income citizens are now able to purchase home security systems that get the job done. Once available only to middle and upper income home owners, these new, simpler systems are low-cost and easy to install. For people who live in high-crime areas and apartment complexes, even a bare-bones monitoring and alarm system is better than nothing.

As more home security systems arrive on the market, look for more competition and even lower prices for the basic setups. On the higher end of the product line, connected systems will become more sophisticated, include more camera pods, and probably rise a bit in price for monthly monitoring and response.

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