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The Ultimate Guide to Home Security Systems: Video Surveillance and Home Security Services


Here's the ultimate guide to home security systems which sets out everything you need to know about video surveillance and the best home security services.

Ultimate Guide to Home Security Systems

According to the FBI, Home Break-In (Burglary) is the most common threat to our home [1]. In the U.S. a home burglary occurs every 13 seconds, which equates to 2.5 million home intrusions every single year.

Those are some scary statistics.

The point of today’s post is not to scare you, however, it’s to make you aware of the potential threat to your home and what you can do to ensure that you don’t become another victim – another statistic.

Now more than ever, home security is a necessity. There is no telling when your home may be hit or by who, but the risk is certainly there. Luckily, with the increasing advancements in technology, the home security industry has begun evolving at the speed of light and adapting to the threats and tactics that intruders impose in order to ensure that you and your family remains safe at all times.

How effective is home security?

Homes without security systems are up to 300% more likely to be broken into. Simply by HAVING at one installed, regardless of how effective it is or which type of home security system you get, will help dramatically mitigate the risk of a break-in ever occurring.

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A study by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology found that most burglars try to determine if a house has an alarm system before attempting a home invasion. Other research substantiates these findings. In fact, an overwhelming majority of convicted burglars say that they intentionally avoided homes with security systems. If an alarm sounded, they admitted to fleeing the home immediately, detailed info here [2].

If that doesn’t light a fire under your rear to get your hands on the latest home security equipment available, then I don’t know what will. However, before you make an impulsive decision and decide on a home security option, you should be informed of the “tools” that you currently have at your disposal.

This post is dedicated to informing you of what is out there so that you have the data necessary to make an educated decision.

Below, I will be covering exactly what you need to know about home security (everything from infra-red to lens sizes). This section goes into great technical detail so that you are fully aware of what you need before ever stepping foot inside a store for surveillance equipment.

I’ll also be covering some of the most popular home security companies available in the US and Canada, what their services entail, and the type of equipment they offer. I’ll then provide you with expert reviews on what they believe to be the most optimal service for consumers.

There are countless options out there, but only a few may meet your specific requirements…

Finding the Home Security Option that Best Fits Your Needs

Welcome to the technological age. Advancements in home security are improving by the day, creating boundless options, but also confusing a great deal of homeowners as well.

Surveillance systems, wireless devices, various forms of equipment, alarms, services and companies that monitor home, smart home security; which is the best?

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The question shouldn’t necessarily be, “What is the best home security option?” but instead, “What is the best home security option for ME?”

Each option has its pros and its cons. What fits one person’s specific situation may not reflect the needs of the next household. In this guide, I hope to help educate readers on what options they have at their disposal so that they can make an informed decision on what will fit their specific needs.

Video Surveillance: An Extra Pair of Eyes

In recent years, video surveillance has become one of the most popular home security options because it allows people to view firsthand what is taking place in and around their household. Video surveillance technology has increased leaps and bounds, from the grainy security footage of yester-year, to the high definition (and even infra red) cameras that are out there today.

Burglaries are infamously hard to solve. According to the FBI, on average, only about 13 percent of burglaries are solved by police, and recovering victim’s property is even less likely to happen.

Much of this has to do with the lack of physical evidence that is found at the scene of a crime. Without eye witnesses or finger prints, it is increasingly difficult to piece together who perpetrated the crime.

For home use, a larger, more visible camera may be the most sought after choice as it helps deter crimes from actually happening as opposed to the more expensive, hidden cameras that require additional hardware.

In many cases, a visible security camera will discourage burglars from attempting to gain access to your home. After all, burglars are looking for easy an easy mark that minimizes their chance of being caught. Very few burglars will knowingly enter a residence if they are aware that they are being recorded.

That is only one reason as to what makes video surveillance such a powerful tool. By setting up surveillance equipment around the home, it also provides you added “insurance” if a break in were to occur.

Video footage supplies the police with the much needed evidence that is required to catch a perpetrator if they were to enter your home, which in turn helps you in recovering any stolen property that may have been taken in the incident of a burglary.

The measly cost of set-up and maintenance of a video surveillance system pales into comparison of the overall cost of a burglary or home break-in.

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According to the FBI, the average dollar loss per burglary in the U.S. is $2,185, which is significantly cheaper than the cost of running a video surveillance system. With the overall loss, coupled with the cost of potential criminal justice expenditures, the price tag of a typical home invasion can cost the home owner as much as $20,000 or more.

Plus, it isn’t at all uncommon for intruders to return to the same home time and time again. After all, they’ve not only learned how to gain access, but have a detailed understanding of where you may be hiding your most precious possessions. So, the addition of a security camera may save your home from further break-ins.

What You Need to Know About Video Surveillance

Video surveillance has become much more than simply hooking up a camera. There are certain variables that need to be taken into consideration before one opts to take this route.

First and foremost, consider what you want to monitor with your surveillance system. For this, you have to have a general idea of where you’d like your cameras to be placed. Do you want to capture people that approach your front or back door or are you looking for more of a panoramic view? Perhaps you’d like to set up cameras within the household? Would you like to be able to make out faces and vehicles?

Once you’ve decided on what you want to see, then choosing the individual components becomes much easier.

Next, you’ll need to decide on the picture quality that you’d prefer. The picture quality will depend on how detailed images can be seen and the frame rate at which the camera views the images.

The frame rate refers to the amount of pictures that the surveillance camera will take in order to construct the video. Just for reference, cameras that operate in “real time” (like what is seen on tv) operate at about 30 frames per second.

However, I’m sure you’ve seen security footage on the news of robberies and break-ins that use lower end surveillance technology that captures video at a much slower frame rate, resulting in jerky video footage.

One might wonder why convenience stores and banks tend to use cameras with a lower frame rate when there is so much potential for loss, but the simple answer is that surveillance footage with lower frame rates save a significant amount of recording space. Since these cameras are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it may be the most economical choice for some, while others may gladly choose the smoother, more defined picture that comes with a higher frame rate.

Below, you can see the basic differences in the frame rate. Note that the footage in the lower right hand corner is set at 30 frames per second, allowing for a continuous flow, while the others are slightly choppier.

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Don’t Overlook Lens Size

Quite possibly the most important variable in choosing a reliable surveillance camera is deciding on the proper lens size that fits your particular needs. This will allow you to better identify objects and people.

A camera outfitted with the right sized lens will yield incredible results, even when used with a lower performing camera, whereas as sub-par lens used with a phenomenal camera can yield poor results.

Lens sizes are measured in millimeters. The larger the size, the more zoom capability the camera will have, which allows for a more refined image, but also a tighter shot.

Think about this for a moment; the human eye has about the same field of view as a 3 millimeter surveillance camera.

So as a general rule of thumb, if you were to close one eye, it would give you approximately the same view as if you were looking through a 3 millimeter camera lens. This is important when scouting out the area that you may like to add your surveillance equipment so that you can gain an idea of an appropriate size.

Below is a diagram that may give you a better frame of reference.

Video camera lens diagram

As you can see, the 4 millimeter lens will not provide the same amount of zoom, while the 8 or 12 millimeter lenses offer a more focused view on a smaller area. There is no one size fits all option when it comes to surveillance. Your specific situation will dictate what works best for you, and this includes the lens size and the area you’d like to observe.

Types of Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance cameras are quickly becoming more popular, and even more importantly, they are becoming more accessible than ever before. Your home, your family, your safety – these are the key reasons why surveillance cameras have become the go-to home security option for so many people.

Video cameras designed specifically for surveillance give an extra measure of safety and security.

Luckily, there is a broad range of cameras to choose from that will fit the needs of any circumstance.

Bright, Low Light, or Both?

The overall level of lighting in the area that you plan to film has a significant impact on your camera choice. If you plan to film in a bright, well lit area, then your camera choices are virtually limitless as most surveillance cameras operate optimally in areas of high ambient light. In a stable environment where the light can be easily manipulated, such as indoors, the choices will be rather straightforward.

However, dim lighting will require additional consideration and may limit the camera choices that you will have at your disposal because not all surveillance cameras are manufactured to support low levels of light.

If you do choose to place a camera where there is lower amounts of light available, then be sure to look specifically for a camera that has a light sensitivity rating of 1 Lux or lower. Chances are, it will be labeled as a “day and night camera” or will be listed as a having a low light compatibility. Day / Night cameras provide the most flexible option because they will allow you to properly monitor an area regardless of the overall lighting conditions.

For those that plan on setting up a camera on the outside of their home, this is especially beneficial as day/night surveillance cameras can match the continuous fluctuations in the level of lighting.

Indoor or Outdoor?

As mentioned above, the level of lighting will have a significant impact on the type of camera you choose. To mitigate lighting issues, a day/night camera may be a solid first option, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that ALL day/night cameras will meet your specific requirements.

The overall environment and weather conditions will also play a hefty role; rain, snow, wind gusts, UV rays, and temperature.

A camera that is specifically designed for indoor use probably won’t last too long in harsh elements. If you plan to film outside of the home, then you will require a camera that can withstand the brutal pounding of the outdoors. These cameras are typically made to last.

Outdoor cameras need to be able to withstand extreme temperatures and humidity and usually come in a weatherproof casing that also helps protect against vandalism.

Though most indoor cameras won’t last much longer than a snow cone in a heat wave, most outdoor cameras will work just fine indoors.

Wired or Wireless?

You’ll also need to decide whether your security system will be wired or wireless.

Wired surveillance cameras will typically send higher quality video footage because the picture is transmitted through a cable and not through the air like a wireless network.

On the other hand, wireless cameras can be placed virtually anywhere without requiring an installer to run a cable through your home. It’s important to remember that some wireless systems require a clear line of sight in order to transmit the signal properly.

That means that there can’t be too many obstructions between the camera and the receiver or the picture may not be transferred properly, where as a wired system does not, but will usually cost more for installation.

In the past, signal security was an issue as people could easily tap into a wireless camera. Though this was extremely rare, it wasn’t unheard of. However, advancements in encryption protocols allow users to securely run their cameras without worry thanks to Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP).

PTZ or Fixed?

Would you prefer your camera to have a fixated line of sight or one that allows you the ability to look around, in a wider, more panoramic view?

If you simply require a camera that points towards one location, such as a walk way, door, or driveway, then a standard fixed camera will fit the bill just fine, but if you’re prefer the ability to remotely swivel to cover a wider perspective or have the ability to zoom your camera and follow movement, then you may opt for a pan-tilt zoom (PTZ) camera.

Remote Viewing or On Premises?

Once you begin recording, how do you plan on viewing the footage? For most, a simple video feed that connects to a digital video recorder (DVR) or a CCTV monitor in the home will be more than enough.

But what if you travel frequently? How will you keep an eye on things? After all, the majority of robberies occur while the home owners are away for a significant amount of time.

You could just wait until you get home to view your recordings, but by then, there may be nothing you can do to recover your stolen goods, or even worse, stop further break-ins from occurring.

Luckily for you, someone came up with the brilliant idea to invent remote access surveillance devices. Most commonly known as “network cameras” or “internet cameras”, these nifty gadgets link to a computer network via a wireless connection, allowing users to log in to their recorded footage from anywhere in the world where the internet is available.

 

Additional Options

Infra-Red Cameras

This type of camera is outfitted with LED’s around the lenses that allow users to see in the darkest regardless of whether there is ambient light or not. Though most indoor/outdoor cameras have similar night time capabilities, some may not come equipped with infra-red, which may limit visibility.

If you truly want to dig even deeper into the subject, there are various types of infra-red cameras that can adjust the objects in front of them. These are what most experts consider “smart infra-red” capabilities.

Below are two camera images. One is with a standard infra-red camera and the other from a camera that has “smart infra-red”.

Camera with Smart Infra-red vs. camera without smart infra-red

Courtesy of: CCTV Camera Pros

Though both have night-time capabilities, the camera with the “smart IR” is able to adjust the intensity of the LED’s for maximal visibility, regardless of how close an object gets.

The added detail that “smart IR” provides, could mean the difference between identifying an intruder or not, so choose wisely when deciding on this specific option.

Mini Security Cameras

Surveillance technology advances at the speed of light. With these advancements, comes the new breed of surveillance cameras that were once only seen in spy movies.

These miniature cameras are a fraction of the size of the more traditional models, but still offer extremely good resolution, which is ideal for unobtrusive surveillance. The compact size of these cameras make them extremely easy to hide and increasingly difficult to find.

Mini security camera

Mini cameras are typically for indoor use and can be installed virtually anywhere in the home; keep track of the children, watch over employees, or simply install them for peace of mind.

Dome Cameras

Dome cameras are an extremely popular style of surveillance camera that comes equipped with all of the latest bells and whistles; infra-red for night vision, 3-axis internal camera adjustment, and a varifocal lens, just to name a few.

Because the actual lens is protected by a dome, they can be installed indoors or outdoors and can withstand some of the harshest elements imaginable. They can also be mounted underneath overhangs and on walls, which provides users with almost unlimited possibilities.

Below is a dome camera that is installed underneath an overhang.

dome security camera

The 3-axis positioning option makes it simple to easily obtain the overhead or wall-mounted shot that you desire while the varifocal lenses provide the right field of view for “choke points”.

An additional added benefit of using a dome camera is that they are far less recognizable to intruders because they blend in with the environment, which may provide you with a better opportunity of gaining facial identification of anyone within view.

Back-Up Batteries

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, areas in Louisiana were without power for up to 23 days. In that time, looting and burglaries were rampant. Thieves saw an opportunity to seize goods completely unopposed as security systems were rendered useless during the widespread outage.

Of course this is an extreme example, but a home that is clearly unprotected is far more likely to be burglarized than one that isn’t.

That is why it is essential to have a back-up battery installed, just in case your power becomes inoperable. 1000VA or more of battery backup should do the trick as it will ensure that the power supply to your surveillance equipment runs uninterrupted.

You’ll require a battery that hooks up to your camera power supply (no duh) and also to your DVR so that your ability to record the footage coming from your surveillance equipment isn’t hindered in any way.

The higher the “VA” rating of the battery, the longer your surveillance unit will remain powered by the battery. Along with the battery, you may also want to look into purchasing an “automatic reset UPS”. This means that if the power outage lasts long enough to completely deplete your battery, the UPS will automatically restart your unit as soon as the power comes back on.

Obtaining a back-up battery is not a necessity, but it will allow your surveillance unit to run without being compromised, which should be common sense to most.

Video Surveillance Summary

Remember, there is no one size fits all model. Your specific situation will dictate the type of surveillance camera that best fits your needs. As long as you follow the basic guidelines below, you should be able to narrow down your search and find the perfect camera for your home.

  • Know the location that you’d like to view. Is it indoors or outdoors?
  • Get a basic idea of the lens size that you’ll need. The larger the lens size, the more you will be able to focus on a specific area.
  • Would you prefer a wired or wireless connection? A wired connection will cost more as it requires installation, but will allow for much more reliable footage.
  • Would you like your camera to pivot or will it be fixed?
  • Get a back-up battery to ensure continuous security. 1000VA or more.
  • If your camera is placed in an area that has low lighting, then perhaps you may be interested in an infrared camera? If so, then be sure to look for a camera with “smart IR” capabilities because it will automatically adjust the LED lighting to match the distance from objects for a better picture.
  • Choose your camera type; traditional, dome, or mini.

If you can come up with an answer to all of the above bullets, then you WILL be in a perfect position to find the camera that best suits your needs.

Home Security Systems

What if you’re looking for more extensive security? If I had to wager a guess, you’ve probably seen homeowners place a small sign on their front lawn announcing that they are protected by (insert security company). Surveillance cameras can help catch a home invasion in the progress, but nothing will deter a criminal act quite like having an extensive home security system in place.

Home Security providers go above and beyond the scope of what a surveillance system is capable of to ensure you and everyone in your home remains safe.

Criminals break in to homes because they believe the rewards strongly outweigh the potential risk of being caught. This is why they tend to avoid homes that have an active security system, because the risk of being caught drastically increases and grossly off-sets any potential reward.

So below, I am going to review the 2 highest rated security systems, their specifications, and the average price (per month) that consumers can expect to pay for their basic services.

Alright, let’s begin…

ADT Security


ADT Home Security 300x250

ADT – As a top player in the US, for home security, surveillance and monitoring, and automation, there are few other companies that compare. Their cutting edge home security systems and affordable monthly payment plans are one of the most popular options around.

Unlike Frontpoint, ADT does require professional installation. However, ADT offer far more options, upgrades, and equipment than Frontpoint does. You can’t go wrong with either. ADT’s massive coverage area makes it a prime choice among anyone within the US or Canada.

ADT Details:

  • Contract length:  3 years.
  • Equipment manufacturer:  Honeywell
  • Monthly monitoring fee:  $36.99 to $47.99
  • Total installation cost:  $99 to $599

ADT Services

Customer Monitoring Centers – 6 centers, spread throughout the US to keep track of your home 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Burglary Monitoring – Once a burglary alarm is received at a Customer Monitoring Center, a trained ADT professional will notify you and the police in real time.

Temperature Monitoring – Sensors detect changes in temperature and are a great solution to help prevent bursting pipes and other low-temperature home damage.

Flood Monitoring – Helps protect your home from potential water damage. Once an alert is received, a trained ADT professional notifies you immediately.

Fire and Smoke Monitoring – When an alarm from a fire and smoke detector is received, a trained ADT professional will notify you and your local fire department immediately.

Carbon Monoxide Monitoring – In recent years, the threat of carbon monoxide build up within the home has become very real. Carbon monoxide (CO) can be impossible to detect without a warning device because it is not only colorless, but odorless as well.

Medical Alert Monitoring – ADT will set you up with a two way voice intercom system that can be activated with the push of a button. On the other side of the intercom will be a trained ADT professional to assist you. If assistance is needed, the appropriate emergency response service (medical, fire, police) will be contacted immediately.

ADT Pulse

This is quite possibly the best feature that ADT has to offer. ADT Pulse is one of the reasons why we chose ADT above the rest as it provides you with full control over your home from virtually anywhere in the world.

It’s security, control, and automation all wrapped in one interface.

ADT Video Surveillance Features

  • Video Recording – Record up 30 seconds of any “triggered” event.
  • Video is Data Encrypted – Uses similar security equipment that other companies use for online banking and credit card transactions to ensure that they are nearly impossible to tamper with.
  • Home Video Access allows the ability to monitor devices from any TV in the home.
  • Remote Video Access so that users can monitor the home in real time from anywhere using their tablet or smartphone. It even allows you to play back previously recorded clips.
  • Email Notifications – Users can receive email alerts at the first sign of trouble.
  • Motion Detection – Once set up, video will begin recording and an email notification will be sent if movement is detected within the home.

 

ADT Video Surveillance Equipment

Wireless Security Cameras

Wireless security camera by ADT Security

With an ADT wireless camera, you can do more than monitor your home security remotely — you can make life much easier for yourself. For example, while you’re at the office, you can unlock your front door to let in the cable repairman. Then lock up again as soon as he leaves.

Indoor Color Security Cameras

Indoor color security camera by ADT Security

Using ADT’s high-resolution color cameras allows you (and the police) to see more details, regardless of whether a break-in occurred in bright or low light.

Dome Security Cameras

Dome security camera by ADT Security Service

They can be mounted almost anywhere, provide you with 360° viewing, and their clear, crisp imaging results in sharp video — even in low light.

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

Digital Video Recorder DVR by ADT Security

Get clear audio, video, and remote viewing. You can also record from all installed cameras at once.

Quad Splitter

Quad splitter for home security by ADT Home Security

A quad splitter strips away the limitations of single-image viewing, allowing you to see what is happening on up to four cameras simultaneously.

Video Duplicator

Video duplicator for home securty by ADT Security Service

This device provides users with the ability to see video feed from more than one monitor simultaneously; a video duplicator allows multiple people to keep up with what’s happening at home.

ADT Wireless Security Features

  • Quick Installation – The wireless security devices require minimal effort to install as there is no drilling or hardwiring needed.
  • Battery Operated – No electrical wiring. Simply place the censors and detectors wherever you’d like and replace the batteries periodically.

ADT Wireless Security Equipment

Wireless Motion Detector

Wireless motion detector by ADT Home Security

Wireless Video Camera

Indoor color security camera by ADT Security

See video of your home from any compatible web-enabled computer, mobile device or touch-screen.

Wireless Door Sensor

Wireless door sensor by ADT Home Security Service

An alarm will be triggered when a door or window equipped with a wireless door sensor is opened.

ADT Remote Access Features

  • Online Portal – monitor and manage your home security via web enabled devices
  • Mobile Access – View live video or check your home’s status from your phone.
  • Home Controls – Arm and disarm the system, or control your thermostat, lighting and appliances remotely.
  • Customized Alerts – receive notification via email, text, or by phone if anything occurs. You can set specific criteria for your notifications as well.

ADT Remote Access Equipment

Thermostat

Remote control thermostat by ADT Security Service

Remotely automate, schedule, monitor and adjust your home’s temperature. (not really a security function, but it sure is cool).

Mobile Access

Mobile phone video system by ADT Home Security App

View live video and check your home’s security status with the ADT Pulse app or control your home with your voice using the ADT Pulse Voice app.

ADT Medical Alert Features

  • Fast Response Time – In an emergency, a trained professional will contact the appropriate responder (police, fire department or emergency personnel) to request assistance immediately.
  • Long Range Capability – With long-range capability, the personal help button even works outdoors (up to 300 feet away from base unit).

ADT Medical Alert Equipment

Two Way Voice Intercom

ADT Security two-way intercom system

All you need to do is press the button and you’ll be connected with an ADT professional to assist you.

Fall Detection Pendant

Fall detection system by ADT Security

Compatible with the 3G Medical Alert System, the Fall Detection Pendent will determine whether a fall has taken place, spurring an ADT professional to contact you for support.

Personal Help Wristband and Pendant

Personal help wristband and pendant for medical security by ADT Home Security Service

100% waterproof devices that can call for support at the press of a button.

The Pros of ADT’s Service

With over 100 years of security experience, ADT is at the forefront of home security. ADT is the largest home security systems provider in Canada and the United States, with a customer base of over 6.4 million.

ADT provides 5 different package options, but offer a multitude of different products so that the consumer can essentially customize each package to fit their needs. This is an excellent feature if know what you want (or don’t want) to pay for in additional equipment.

If you’re looking to spend a little more, ADT also offers custom services with advanced monitoring devices and technology.

With the addition of their remote surveillance and email notifications, you can keep a close eye on your home from virtually anywhere in the world. Their advanced video surveillance options allow consumers to securely view video in real time or playback previous alerts.

This is not only a nifty feature for those that travel frequently, but also for those that work away from home and want to keep an eye on the kids. With this service, comes an array of upgrades so that you will never feel limited in what your home surveillance unit can do.

$500 Theft Protection

If your security system is breached while under contract with ADT, they will reimburse you up to $500 of your insurance deductable. This is a feature that is unique to ADT and is not offered by any other home security company, which is one of the reasons why ADT is the industry leader.

Nationwide Monitoring

ADT currently has four stations in the US and two in Canada, which provides them the ability to safely monitor any home within their network 24/7. There are security companies out there that outsource their operators to third party providers, but within the six installations ADT currently employ over 2,000 emergency dispatch operators. This only benefits their customers as it allows for quick and concise action when an alarm is triggered.

The Cons of ADT’s Service

Despite all of the benefits that ADT has to offer, they are so drawbacks to consider prior to seeking out their service. Where ADT lacks the most is in their automation. Many of automated features that ADT could offer in their basic packages are only available through upgrades to their ADT Pulse program.

Though the ADT Pulse program is exceptional, it costs more than the standard home security packages and the pricing seems to vary per location. ADT has added what they call the Premium Protection Plus package, which allows you to use the same features as ADT Pulse for your home security system, but comes at an increased monthly fee and an installation fee as well.

Though the monthly fee is relatively low as opposed to many other home security systems out there, they more than make up for with their installation fees. The standard installation fee for the Security Choice ADT monitored packages is $99 (which is higher than most), whereas for their premium packages, installation fees begin at $199.

Another complaint that many have is their lack of support in their Live Chat feature on their website. Obviously, this won’t decrease the overall effectiveness of your security system, it is a pain in the rear.

Though you will be able to connect with an ADT representative in real time, through their Live Chat feature (which is better than email), you likely will not receive the answer to the basic questions that you may have.  They seem to dodge questions regarding pricing and installation information until hard pressed.

To me, this makes the Live Chat seemingly useless as you won’t get the desired answers without calling in. Of course, this is slight nit-pick and shouldn’t dissuade you from checking them out.

Frontpoint Security

Frontpoint Home Security Service

Frontpoint – Considered by many to be the optimal choice in home security systems, Frontpoint offers the protection you need and the true quality in service that sets them apart from the competition.

Installation is DIY, which means that they will send you the equipment, and you can have your system up and running within 30 minutes. There is no need for a professional installer to come out and drill holes all throughout your home because the entire system is wireless and controlled via a cellular signal, making it incredibly secure and simple to install.

Frontpoint Details:

  • Contract length:  3 years
  • Equipment manufacturer:  General Electric
  • Monthly Monitoring Fee:  $34.99 to $49.99
  • Total installation cost:  None.  All of the equipment is DIY, but there is an equipment and activation fee that ranges between $99 to $199.93.

Frontpoint Services

3 Affordable Plans – Protection, Interactive, and Ultimate. Each plan offers a comprehensive amount of security hardware to ensure that your home remains safe, regardless of whether you are there or not.

Wireless and Cellular – 100% cellular monitoring so that you can easily and conveniently control your security system from your smartphone.

Geo Services – Geo-Services allows your phone to know your location so it can apply certain rules to your alarm system when you cross the “geo-fence” or the area you have set to be close to your home or office (location of your alarm).

Email Text and Alerts – If an alarm is triggered, then you will be quickly notified along with the Frontpoint Monitoring Center.

Intrusion Protection – tamper-resistant technology maintains a constant connection with the Monitoring Center that will signal when a breach is detected.

Environmental Protection – Fire, smoke, water and carbon monoxide are all common household threats. Protect yourself from these threats so that you can have some peace of mind.

Remote Access and Control – Frontpoint has their own free mobile app to customize alerts, arm or disarm, view sensor and alarm history, and check visitor activity, from anywhere.

Crash and Smash Protection – in the event that your Control Panel is damaged or destroyed, it will still alert the Monitoring Center to send help.

Live Video Streaming – View video in real-time, so that you can monitor what’s going on in and around your home from any location. It also allows you to access saved clips so that you can re-watch them whenever you’d like.

Automated Door Locks – Never have to worry about lost or forgotten keys again or leaving a key under the doormat for family and friends. Each automated door lock has a pin-pad where a code is required to be punched in before entering. You can even assign individual codes for everyone in your family.

Energy Management – Remotely control the temperature and lighting from anywhere. You’ll never have to enter a dark, cold home ever again.

Frontpoint Control Equipment

Control Panel:  

Frontpoint control panel

This acts as the “nerve center” for your entire security unit. It communicates directly with the Monitoring Center through a cellular connection for secure use. Any and all functions can be controlled directly from this panel.

Touchpads

Security touchpad by Frontpoint Security

For large or multi-story houses, these user-friendly units offer convenient access and control of your system from different locations in your home.

Remotes (Keychain and Panic Pendant)

Keychain and panic pendant home security remote controls by Frontpoint Security

Frontpoint Sensor Equipment

Door / Window Sensor

Door and window security sensor by Frontpoint Security

Not only will these sensors adequately protect your windows and doors, but they can also be placed on cabinets and drawers. For those that have young children, it can be an effective means for keeping them from getting into dangerous areas such as liquor cabinets or cleaning supplies.

Recessed Door Sensor

Recessed door security sensor by Frontpoint Security Service

The Recessed Door sensors protect the most important access points to your home — your home’s first floor doors. Covering these entry points helps protect you from break-ins and helps keep your family safer. These sensors are completely hidden from view so intruders won’t know that they are there until they’ve already triggered them.

Garage Door Sensor

Garage door security sensor by Frontpoint Security Service

One of the most vulnerable areas for a break-in is through the garage. These sensors mitigate that threat by protecting your garage from intrusion. When triggered, you will receive a notice via email or text so that you stay in the know at all times.

Motion Sensor

Motion sensor by Frontpoint security system

Perfect for large, open spaces or areas with a lot of windows in your home. They also help reduce the number of door and window sensors you’ll need, keeping things even simpler.

 

Glass Break Sensors

Glass breaking burglar system sensor by Frontpoint Security

The glass break sensors can detect the unique sound frequency of breaking glass. Because of this special technology, false alarms are fairly uncommon. So, any time glass breaks in your home for any reason, you’ll know right away.

Environmental Sensors

Environtmental security sensors - fire, carbon monizide and other sensors by Frontpoint security

Protect yourself and your family from the frequently deadly environmental threats of fire, carbon monoxide, freezing (which monitors temperatures around your pipes), and flood sensors. Though often overlooked, these issues can cause more damage than what an intruder can inflict.

Frontpoint Camera and Home Automation Equipment

Wireless Indoor Camera

Wireless indoor security camera by Frontpoint Security System

Peek in on family members or keep an eye on any service personnel who may be there. With a viewing range up to 20 feet and infrared technology, you can see exactly what’s happening, even in the dark.

Wireless Outdoor Camera

Wireless outdoor video surveillance camera by Frontpoint Security

Watch footage from your home, along with recorded clips anytime you’d like. Motion at your house will trigger a recording, as well as an alert via text or email to you, letting you know a clip has been generated. This camera also utilizes infra-red technology.

Wireless Pan and Tilt Camera

Wireless pan and tilt camera by Frontpoint Security

Monitor large areas of your home and pan to see everything in the room. It even has zoom capabilities and is fully controlled by an app on your phone.

Light Control

Security light trigger control by Frontpoint Security

When an alarm is triggered, your lights will turn on, illuminating the bad guys and keeping you safe and aware. Light controls allow you to set a schedule for your lights to go on or off when you want them to. Come home to an illuminated house every day or even give the appearance of being home while on vacation.

Keypad Door Lock

Home door remote locking system by Frontpoint Security

You can remotely lock or unlock your doors from anywhere. You can create and control the keypad pin numbers from your control panel or from your phone app.

Smart Thermostat

Remote thermostat control system by Frontpoint security

Thermostat Control can be adjusted remotely so even if the weather takes a turn, your home will be comfortable and cozy when you walk through the door. It’s an easy way to keep energy costs low and especially beneficial for vacation homes as you don’t even need to be at the home to adjust any of the settings.

The Pros of Frontpoint’s Service

The obvious benefit of using Frontpoint is ease of use. There is no need to wait for someone to come and install your system for you as Frontpoint’s equipment is completely wireless and ready to go out of the box.

Everything is connected remotely, so you can access everything in your system directly from your phone, which can be an absolute lifesaver. The service itself is incredibly powerful, but yet so simple at the same time. Though the pricing may be slightly higher than other services, you will inevitably save on the back-end because you will never need to pay someone to come and install equipment every time you make a change to your service.

If you plan to move, you simply need to pack up your equipment and take it with you to your next location (as well as notify Frontpoint), which is far simpler than if your entire system was wired together.

Additionally, I have yet to come across any other home security system that offers the same geo-location security feature. This allows you set specific automated “rules” for your security system and thermostat based on your range from your home.

Frontpoint also offer a 30 day risk free trial, which is a very unique feature among home security systems. . This offer enables you to get firsthand experience with the home security system, and decide if it’s the right fit for your circumstances.

If you’re looking for an effective, yet ridiculously simple and affordable option, Frontpoint is near impossible to beat.

The Cons of Frontpoint’s Service

As great as it may be, there are a few drawbacks as well. For instance, the monitoring of Frontpoint is done by a third party company called, Rapid Response. Though this may not seem like a big deal to most as the monitoring is incredibly reliable, when problems do arise, it’s always nice to know that you’re only working with one company instead of going back and forth, trying to get answers from two.

Another slight against Frontpoint’s service is that they don’t offer very many options. Though their equipment is state of the art, there isn’t much room for variation or upgrades like other services may allow. Again, it’s important to find a security system that fits your needs. For some, Frontpoint will be more than enough, while for others, it won’t be quite right.

The next service I’d like to review is one of the most used home security options in all of North America (and rightfully so).

What Do The Experts Say?

When researching your potential options for a home security system, it’s important to take into account the various resources at your disposal. Though the majority of reviews out there are biased as the posters are clearly affiliated with the company that they’re reviewing, there are some out there that are legitimate.

That is why I’ve taken to the web to ask some of the most educated reviewers have to say about their #1 choice for home security. Though their opinions may vary from what you’ve read on our website, this does not automatically mean that one choice is better than the next.

When it comes to home security, it’s important to keep an open mind because there is no one size fits all system (yes, I said it again) that is going meet the needs of every single person. However, let’s find out what our experts say is their #1 choice for home security.

The first reviewer featured is the website, A Secure Life. Since 2008, their team of professionals has put together some of the most comprehensive reviews and content on home security. Their material is top notch. This is what they had to say…”Frontpoint is our 2014 winner for best home security systems and they have been for the past 5 years. They continue to beat the competition on every front but mostly with their stellar customer service. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee so you can try out their hard working GE equipment and their seamless DIY installation process with their trained customer service team for yourself.”

The next reviewer is no rookie in the tech world. CNet is the 111th most popular website in the world (54th in the US) and is considered one of the most legit tech blogs out there today. Here is what they had to say about their top home security choice…

“Do-it-yourself home security options seem to be growing more numerous by the day, and we’ve tested a lot of them. None of them have left us quite as impressed as SimpliSafe. With its wide variety of easy-to-install sensors, SimpliSafe protects your home in a way that’s comprehensive and yet also remarkably user-friendly. The system is totally wireless and designed to keep running even if the power gets cut, and unlike most other DIY security kits, SimpliSafe features both live monitoring and a cellular backup. If something’s amiss at home, you can count on your system to keep you and the authorities notified, no matter what.”

The last place I sought a review from Heather Catalano at The Simple Dollar. They are known as one of the top money and finance blogs in the world. They’re ranked as a top-ten personal finance blog on Kiplinger (which is an incredible accomplishment). Few people realize how intertwined the finance home finance is with the home security industry, but they obviously have a profound effect on one another, so here is what they had to say…

“Frontpoint continuously falls at the top of the list in all categories when it comes to monitoring, security devices, alerts, and customer service. The key here is that you don’t have to worry about their system falling short in any realm of your home’s security. Their Crash & Smash protection even allows your control panel to send alert signals in the event a burglar attempts to destroy it.”

It’s fairly obvious that Frontpoint is a clear-cut favorite above the rest. It’s also evident that many people prefer a more simplistic DIY type security system as opposed to the more cumbersome systems that require someone to come and install the equipment for them.

DIY security is becoming increasingly popular because it cuts down on costs and allows the user to have more control over where their equipment is set up, which is a necessity for most.

The Final Say

By now, you should have a detailed idea of the type of home security options you are looking for. Do you simply need a camera for home surveillance or do you want a more comprehensive plan that fully protects your home like with ADT and Frontpoint?

Technology is evolving right before our eyes. There has never been a time in human history when a species can protect their home from intruders to such a degree, without ever having to be there. You have limitless options at your disposal and the ability to ensure the safety of your family.

The goal of this guide is to educate and not to try and sell you on any particular option. I don’t know your needs, so it would be impossible to make an assumption. Instead, you should now have an understanding of what you will need so that you can seek out the particular options that work best for you.

The key is to understand these options and narrow your choices down to a select few that meet your requirements. Though I may have boasted that various security companies are better than others, or specific equipment specifications are the best, it may not be entirely true for your specific situation.

However, if you didn’t find anything that appeals to you in this particular guide, don’t give up. The security of your home may depend on it

I will end by saying this; regardless of what you need, there is likely an option out there for you. Don’t risk the safety of your home. Don’t become another statistic and ensure you have the proper security measures in place to keep yourself, your home, and your family, protected.

References:

[1]  FBI. Uniform Crime Reports – Burglary.  2010.

[2]  Alarm.org. Fast Facts – Property Crime

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