Best Home Security Systems in 2018

Best DIY Installation
Best for the Basics

Best Home Security Systems in 2018

Product Recommended
vivint smarthome logo Best Overall
Frontpoint_logo Best DIY Installation
ADT-Security-Systems-Logo Most Reliable
SimpliSafe Logo Best for Renters
Protect America Logo Stacked Best for the Basics

Your home is your most valuable possession. Naturally, you want a security system that will protect both your family and your stuff from a range of threats—from nefarious intruders or a burst pipe to a band of roving rabid squirrels.

Considering you have a million options for home security systems, how do you choose the best one for your needs? The answer is with our help, of course.

We dug through a slew of home security systems and providers to find the ones that stand out from the crowd. And because this is, we’ll always recommend the providers with the best technology.

Overall Comparison

ProviderMonitoring priceContract lengthInstallation typeDetails
Vivint$39.99–$49.99 /mo. 42–60 mos. OR noneProfessionalView Plans
Frontpoint $34.99–$49.99 /mo.12–36 mos.DIYView Plans
ADT$27.99–$58.99 /mo.36 mos.ProfessionalView Plans
SimpliSafe$14.99–$24.99 /mo.NoneDIYView Plans
Protect America$19.99–$54.99 /mo.36 mos.DIYView Plans
Link Interactive$30.99–$40.99 /mo.12–36 mos. DIYView Plans
Scout$9.99–$19.99 /mo.NoneDIYView Plans
LiveWatch$19.95–$49.95 /mo.12 mos.DIYView Plans
Armorax$28.95–$36.95 /mo.36 mos. OR noneDIYView Plans
Moni$29.99–$59.99 /mo.36–60 mos.ProfessionalView Plans

What to look for in your home security system

Decide if you want basic protection, video monitoring, full-blown home automation, or all three.

Basically all home security providers offer systems in at least one of these three tiers:

  1. Basic security equipment (window and door sensors)
  2. Security cameras (indoor and outdoor)
  3. Home automation (smart equipment, including everything from thermostats to light bulbs)

Not every provider goes all the way to the home automation tier—and not all customers want that level of technology. That’s why we’ll be using this three-tier model to describe what security and technology each provider offers, and what you can expect from each type of system.

Because we love cool tech around here, we’ll also judge systems first and foremost by their equipment. We’ll tell you who has run-of-the-mill devices and whose systems are worth the extra cash. We can even help you decide if a CCTV system is a better option than a home security system.

Along with technology, we consider price and customer service when we choose our favorite providers. We want to get you the best technology for the best possible price. Of course, “best” means different things to different people, so we’ll make it clear which provider works best for which type of customers so you can pick the one that fits your individual needs.

Vivint Smart Home

With excellent technology and home automation features, Vivint wins our top recommendation.

Vivint pros

  • Top-notch equipment
  • Home automation
  • Sleek mobile app

Vivint cons

  • Aggressive sales tactics
  • High price

What can we say? Vivint wins big points from us in almost all areas, and definitely in the technology category. Vivint designs and manufactures sleek, top-of-the-line equipment that makes our nerdy little tech hearts happy. Plus, Vivint’s basic system serves as a solid foundation for whole-home automation.

Vivint has gotten a bad rap in the past for overly aggressive sales tactics and lackluster customer service. And it’s true—the company has previously faced complaints, specifically for door-to-door sales tactics. We’d like to see Vivint continue to improve its sales and customer service relationships. But when it comes to clean design, awesome home security technology, and the latest home automation capabilities? Vivint takes the gold.

Vivint monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly priceSee details
Smart Home$39.99/mo. View Plan
Smart Home Video$49.99/mo. View Plan

Basic security

Generally speaking, window, door, flood, and freeze sensors are rarely exciting. They’re functional; that’s it.

Unless they’re made by Vivint.

Vivint designs and manufactures its own equipment, which is rare in the home security space. Most security providers use common equipment like Honeywell and GE, making their systems more or less interchangeable. Vivint’s attention to design comes through even in its most humble sensors.

In our tester house, we liked how the sensors looked sleek enough on doors and windows that even when we did notice them, we didn’t mind the aesthetic. Considering how secure your home looks is almost as important as how well your security system functions, there’s something to be said for good-looking equipment.

Vivint sensor options:

  • Door/window sensor
  • Glass break detector
  • Motion sensor
  • Flood/freeze detector
  • Tilt sensor
  • Smoke detector
  • Carbon monoxide detector

Vivint SkyControl display

All those beautiful sensors would be nothing were it not for Vivint’s SkyControl panel. Most providers keep the control panel simple. We’ve seen panels as minimalistic as a few buttons and a tiny screen (e.g. SimpliSafe). But as with everything Vivint, its SkyControl panel combines top-notch tech with beautiful design. This thing is the iPhone of security system control panels, and it works beautifully with the smartphone app on your actual iPhone.

SkyControl panel functions:

  • Arm/disarm system
  • View system activity log
  • Customize alarms
  • Use two-way talk
  • Review video footage
  • Control all smart aspects of your home
    • Locks
    • Thermostat
    • Lights
    • Garage door
    • Security cameras
    • Sensors
Info box icon Info box icon

What else you should know about Vivint's equipment

What else you should know about Vivint's equipment

All Vivint’s equipment works on a cellular signal, and that’s a good thing. Cellular is the most secure connection available because potential burglars have no easy way to disable it.

Your location does have to have a strong cell signal for Vivint to work. But signals are sufficient across most of the USA. If you live in a fairly urban area, you’re good to go.

Vivint security cameras

Just like its other tech, Vivint has some of the best and most innovative security cameras on the market. The doorbell camera is our personal favorite. You can be on vacation in the Bahamas and still be able to see who’s on your porch. Whether you use that feature to make sure your Amazon packages arrive safely or to scare the neighborhood kids with the two-way talk feature is up to you.

Vivint doorbell camera highlights:

  • Knows whether it’s a human on your porch or just a car driving by
  • Sees clearly even at night
  • Allows you to see and talk to visitors in real time from your phone or SkyControl panel
  • Gives you a 180º view from your front door

We also love Vivint’s Ping camera. It’s the only camera we’ve seen with video call capabilities. When your kids get home from school, they can press the button on top to send a video call to your phone. You can see for yourself they made it in safely.

If you don’t have kids or if your kids are old enough to have smartphones, we see less value in the Ping’s two-way call function. Who’s going to use an indoor camera when they can use FaceTime? Even so, the Ping is an awesome security camera with wide-angle HD recording and custom mobile notifications.

The doorbell camera and the Ping camera aside, Vivint’s outdoor security cameras are sleek little beasts with all the top features we expect from our cameras.

Vivint security camera features:

  • HD recording
  • Night vision
  • Mobile alerts
  • 20-second smart clips
  • Motion detection

Vivint home automation

Vivint rocks the home automation game. Your Vivint system not only protects your house but also serves as a foundation you can use to turn your entire house into a smart home. Or at least the best iteration of a smart home we currently have, which mostly means automating things like lights, thermostats, and locks.

Third-party accessories that integrate with Vivint Smart Home:

You can customize and automate every piece of Vivint equipment you own using the Vivint Sky app. Beyond that, Vivint integrates with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to give you full voice control over your security and smart home systems. Vivint also uses what’s called Z-Wave technology, which makes it super easy to add third-party items to your smart home environment.

As for our personal favorite smart home device? The Nest thermostat. Vivint makes its own Element thermostat, but we love the Nest aesthetic and interface. On its own, Nest learns when you’re home and away and runs your HVAC system accordingly. Combine it with Vivint, and the Nest becomes a natural part of your whole-home system.

Fortunately, Vivint makes it super easy to install third-party Z-Wave devices into your larger smart home system. All you need is an installer code and you’re ready to plug and play.

Vivint price

There’s no way around it: Vivint is pricey. Its à la carte equipment is undeniably more expensive than most other providers. For example, let’s compare Vivint’s window sensor prices with some other major providers on this list who offer à la carte equipment.

Window sensor price comparison:

  • SimpliSafe – $14.99
  • Link Interactive – $22.00
  • LiveWatch – $29.99
  • Frontpoint – $32.99
  • Vivint – $34.99

If you choose Vivint, you’ll pay more for your security equipment, and that’s a fact. But we’re okay with higher prices for two reasons:

1) Vivint designs its equipment in house for precise quality control.
2) Vivint regularly sends over-the-air updates that keep your system up to date with zero effort on your part.

As for Vivint monitoring plans, they cost roughly the same as providers like ADT or Frontpoint, sometimes less, which means Vivint’s monthly plan costs are roughly on par with competitors.

Vivint does not require contracts

Vivint also doesn’t require contracts. If you can afford to buy your equipment up front, you’re welcome to pay month to month, which is a huge deal. Most traditional security providers require long contracts and demand penalty fees if you decide to cancel in the middle.

While Vivint offers contract options for customers who want to finance their equipment, as long as you buy your equipment outright, you don’t have to sign one.

Keep in mind you’ll have to pay for a $549 basic equipment package—either up front or financed over the course of your contract. In fact, if you agree to sign a contract, you can finance all your equipment and pay in installments over the course of your 3- or 5-year contract, which takes a bit of the bite out of those high prices.

Vivint: the bottom line

  • Vivint wins our Best Overall home security provider for its stunning technology and forward-thinking home automation functions.
  • Vivint equipment tends to be pricier, but it’s worth it for the level of technology, quality, and reliability you’re getting.
  • Vivint cameras offer some features unique to the industry, such as the Ping camera’s video calling function.
  • Choose whether to buy your equipment up front and skip the contract or finance equipment with a 3- or 5-year contract.
  • Always call to order instead of going with a door-to-door salesman.


Frontpoint makes DIY easy with excellent customer service and good technology.

Frontpoint pros

  • No installation costs or hidden fees
  • Excellent customer service
  • Good technology with home automation options

Frontpoint cons

  • Higher prices
  • Tricky doorbell camera installation

Frontpoint has built its reputation on customer service. The company is known for having friendly, knowledgeable reps and a smooth user experience.

We took a Frontpoint system for a test drive ourselves and found this to be absolutely true. But in our security reviews, we tend to prize your everyday interactions with the system over your (hopefully infrequent) encounters with the company reps. So does Frontpoint’s technology stack up?

Overall, yes, Frontpoint offers solid technology with some top-notch features that we don’t necessarily expect in a totally DIY system. Installation is (mostly) easy, and, as several of us here at are renters, we love that Frontpoint is so easy to move from place to place.

Frontpoint monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly priceSee details
Protection$34.99/mo. View Plans
Interactive$44.99/mo. View Plans
Ultimate$49.99/mo. View Plans

The Protection plan will get you professional monitoring and basic security support, like automated system checks and unique user codes. Upgrade to the Interactive plan or higher and you get mobile control. If you want a live feed for video cameras, you’ll need the Ultimate plan.

Basic security

Frontpoint offers the same full range of sensors and environmental detectors we expect from basically every security provider.

Frontpoint sensor options:

  • Door/window sensors
  • Motion sensor
  • Glass break sensor
  • Smoke/heat sensor
  • Carbon monoxide sensor
  • Flood sensor

All of Frontpoint’s sensors are cellular-based, which we love. Cellular is the most secure connection type available (as opposed to landline or even broadband), and we like that Frontpoint keeps it simple and offers only one connection type.

But if you like more connection options, other providers on our list like ADT and Protect America have choices galore. Protect America offers all three connection types for all of its plans. But in our opinion, that makes the buying process harder and more confusing than it needs to be. Frontpoint makes it easy.

Cellular does tend to cost more, and Frontpoint’s equipment stays true to that trend. But we think cellular is worth the money if you want to feel super secure in your home.

Frontpoint control panels

Frontpoint offers GE security equipment, so its control panels look similar to what you’d get from other providers who use GE hardware, such as Protect America.

Frontpoint offers both standard and touchscreen control panels. We personally prefer touchscreen, but if you use the Frontpoint mobile app, you probably won’t use the control panel much anyway and could potentially downgrade.

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Cellular systems need a cell signal to work. So if you live in the middle of nowhere, check your coverage. Basically any urban area is fine.

Frontpoint control panel functions:

  • Arm/disarm system
  • Communicate wirelessly with sensors
  • Control home automation devices

For our test, we went with the touchscreen control panel and liked it—especially for the camera function. The touchscreen panel takes a photo every time someone disarms the system, which is neat. You’ll always know whether it was the babysitter who turned off the system or if the babysitter gave her boyfriend the code.

But if you don’t care about the camera function or about watching security camera clips on your control panel instead of your smartphone, you can really choose either panel.

Both panels are compatible with Z-Wave technology, too, which is useful for home automation.

We’d like to see Frontpoint include two-way talk functionality in its control panels, like Vivint and ADT Pulse do. But for now, these panels get the job done.

Frontpoint security cameras

Our favorite camera offering from Frontpoint is the Skybell video doorbell. Similar to Vivint’s doorbell camera, the Skybell lets you use your smartphone to see and talk to everyone who comes up to your door. Whether you want to see your kids get home from school safely or you just want to see when your Amazon shipment arrives, doorbell cameras are pretty nifty.

Skybell video doorbell features:

  • Two-way audio
  • HD video feed
  • Motion detection
  • Color night vision

Frontpoint also offers a full range of indoor and outdoor video cameras. We especially like that Frontpoint has wireless indoor cameras because nobody likes tripping over camera cords.

Frontpoint security camera features:

  • HD video feed
  • Infrared night vision
  • Motion detection
  • Weather-proofing (for outdoor cameras)
  • Two-way audio (for indoor cameras)

Keep in mind, you have to subscribe to Frontpoint’s Ultimate monitoring plan to get camera support, so you will pay more per month. And many of Frontpoint’s cameras, including the Skybell, rely on broadband rather than cellular, so your porch needs a strong Wi-Fi connection.

Frontpoint camera installation

As we’ve said, Frontpoint is DIY installation, which is fine for most of its components. We had no problem installing the sensors and control panel (simple peel and stick). The one device we had trouble with? The doorbell camera.

Frontpoint’s instructions to install the Skybell video doorbell were for an older model than the one we got, and it took us a while to figure out how to get the newer version to work in our tester’s house. You can check out our full Frontpoint review for more on that.

Once we got the Skybell up and running, it worked well. But we’d like to see clearer instructions from Frontpoint on how to get doorbell cameras set up—especially as new versions of the device come out.

Frontpoint home automation

Frontpoint is on the Z-Wave technology train, just like other providers such as Vivint, Protect America, and ADT. That means you can add third-party Z-Wave compatible devices directly into your Frontpoint system.

Z-Wave compatible devices:

  • Smart lights
  • Smart locks
  • Smart thermostats
  • Small appliance control

Frontpoint also offers Apple Watch integration, which we hadn’t seen from a security provider before. You can use certain features of the full Frontpoint app directly from your Apple Watch, as well as see with a glance what’s going on in your home. If you get to work and realize you forgot to lock the front door, you have a lock button right on your wrist.

What about the Frontpoint app?

The Frontpoint app gives you complete control over every aspect of your Frontpoint system.

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What else you should know about Frontpoint

What else you should know about Frontpoint

Frontpoint offers some geo-smart features we don’t always see with security providers. Basically, the system can arm or disarm based on the location of your smartphone.

Want the system to disarm automatically when you pull up to your house after work? Done.

Frontpoint app functions:

  • Arm/disarm the system
  • Get alerts about which user is arming/disarming the system
  • Customize alarm settings
  • Check security camera feeds
  • See recorded camera footage
  • Control smart devices
    • Lights
    • Thermostat
    • Locks
    • Small appliances

While Vivint still takes the prize for our favorite home security app, Frontpoint’s is nothing to sneer at. It gets a 4.2 star rating in the Google Play store, and we had no trouble using the app to control our test system.

Frontpoint price

Frontpoint isn’t the cheapest provider on our list, especially considering you have to buy equipment separately, but we think Frontpoint’s customer service and level of technology make up for its price point.

Plus, Frontpoint tends to offer substantial discounts for things like good credit, homeownership, or longer length of contract. For example, we got $300 knocked off our initial order for having good credit.

We’ve also seen $300 discounts offered for customers who sign the 36-month lease over the 12-month. That is a substantial chunk of change and makes Frontpoint seem reasonably priced.

Frontpoint: the bottom line

  • Frontpoint offers excellent customer service to support its DIY-installation security systems.
  • Frontpoint has somewhat pricey monitoring plans, but we think the technology is worth it.
  • All Frontpoint equipment uses a cellular connection, which is great.
  • Frontpoint is upfront and transparent with its pricing and plan structures, and we appreciate that.
  • Frontpoint offers discounts (but you’ll need to check if you’re eligible for them during your ordering process).


With a long history of providing reliable security systems, ADT offers a stunning range of system options.

ADT pros

  • Extra monitoring centers to ensure reliability
  • Full range of system options
  • Home automation support

ADT cons

  • High price
  • Somewhat opaque pricing
  • Confusing array of equipment

What can we say? ADT is the most recognized name in home security for good reason. It’s been around for over 140 years. That’s a long time to build a brand, and built a brand it has. We daresay no home security emblem is more easily recognized than ADT’s logo.

ADT monitoring plans

PlansMonthly priceSee details
Basic$27.99/mo. View Plans
Basic Wireless$48.99/mo. View Plans
Pulse$52.99/mo. View Plans
Pulse + Video$58.99/mo.View Plans

But has ADT’s technology kept up with the times? We’d say yes—with some caveats.

On one hand, ADT offers solid equipment and extremely reliable monitoring, considering it has ten monitoring centers across North America. Because ADT’s monitor centers are interconnected, someone will always be able to answer your call even if your nearest monitoring station goes down for some reason.

On the flip side, ADT’s technology tends to be a bit of a hodge podge. It offers equipment from multiple manufacturers, and there have been many instances of people inheriting equipment when they purchase a house only to find ADT no longer supports those models.

Even so, it’s safe to say the equipment ADT provides does the job, even if it’s not the prettiest we’ve seen. And if you’re going for name recognition, there’s no better choice—potential burglars will know what that blue shield means.

The Basic plan will get you a basic landline connection, while higher plans give you cellular and broadband connection options.

ADT basic security

We can’t easily discuss the specifics of basic ADT equipment because it uses so many different models. Fortunately, one door sensor from ADT is just as good as any other, so it doesn’t matter too much which model you get. The bigger question is what kind of system you want.

Some security providers offer equipment with only one connection type. For example, Vivint, SimpliSafe, and Frontpoint offer only cellular-based equipment. But ADT lets you choose from all three connection types:

  1. Cellular
  2. Broadband
  3. Landline

We highly recommend cellular-connected equipment because it’s the most secure. If your security system relies on a landline, burglars can cut it with just a pair of scissors. But keep in mind that cellular equipment tends to be more expensive, and ADT is no exception. You also must live in a location with a strong cell signal to have it. (Virtually any urban location is fine.)

Every ADT security system, cellular or otherwise, comes with a base equipment package:

  • 1 control panel
  • 3 door/window sensors
  • 1 pet-immune motion detector
  • Window decals and yard signs

We appreciate that ADT includes some basic equipment in its security packages rather than making you purchase all equipment up front. Remember though, you are locked into a 3-year contract with ADT, whereas some providers, like Vivint, allow you to buy your equipment up front and don’t require such a commitment.

ADT control panel(s)

As with most of its equipment, ADT offers several different options for control panels, and your experience will depend on which model you get. It’s safe to say all of them can arm/disarm your system and will include basic features like panic and fire buttons.

If you opt for a lower-priced, lower-tech package like ADT’s Basic plan, you can expect a basic control panel with a small display screen and some straightforward buttons. But if you decide to shell out for the ADT Pulse or Pulse + Video plan? Now that’s where you get the good stuff.

ADT Pulse uses a touchscreen control panel reminiscent of our favorite: Vivint’s SkyControl panel. It’s not as pretty, but it does basically the same stuff.

Info box icon Info box icon

Vocab tip

Vocab tip

Two-way talk means the monitoring center can talk to you through your control panel and you can talk back.

ADT Pulse control panel functions:

  • Arm/disarm system
  • Use two-way talk
  • Customize alarms
  • Control home automation devices
  • View video footage
  • See traffic, news, weather, sports, etc.
  • Display photos from your Flickr account

We think it’s cool you can use your Pulse control panel as a digital photo album. But . . . only from Flickr? We’re sorry, but is this 2006? The control panel as a whole relies heavily on Yahoo! accounts and services, which wouldn’t be our first choice. We’d like to have access to additional platforms such as Google—especially for Google Photos, if we’re going to be taking the digital photo album route.

ADT security cameras

True to form, ADT offers a large array of security cameras. No one can accuse ADT of having too few options.

ADT security camera types:

  • Wireless cameras
  • Dome cameras
  • Indoor cameras
  • Day/night cameras
  • Outdoor cameras

Although ADT offers a variety of security cameras, it stays vague about the exact models. Why? Because, as with everything ADT, it uses multiple. Again, we don’t have any major complaints about ADT equipment’s actual quality, but shopping is always easier when you know exactly what you’re getting, so we’re not too enthused with the actual buying experience.

ADT’s Pulse system does work with the Ring Video Doorbell, which is nice. But we have some complaints about the actual integration. You can’t view or speak through the Ring Video Doorbell using your ADT Pulse app—you need the (separate) Ring app, which is inconvenient. Ring makes a pretty cool video doorbell, though, so we’d still recommend it.

Keep in mind, if you want to add security cameras to your ADT system, you have to pay for the ADT Pulse + Video monitoring plan.

ADT Pulse and home automation

ADT released its ADT Pulse system to compete with providers like Vivint that make home automation the heart of their operations—and ADT has created a pretty good rival.

Like Vivint, ADT Pulse uses Z-Wave technology, which lets you add in third-party smart devices, including smart locks and lights. ADT Pulse also works with Amazon Alexa to give you voice control over multiple aspects of your home.

When it comes right down to it, we’ve found Vivint to have a smoother user experience and better overall design. But ADT Pulse is no slouch. We love that it integrates with the Nest thermostat—one of our favorite energy-saving smart devices. And its app is straightforward and easy to use—you’ll definitely use it more than your touchscreen control panel.

Speaking of the ADT Pulse app…

No matter which monitoring package you have, ADT lets you use a basic mobile app to do things like view system activity logs and pay your bill. But if you want to use an app the arm/disarm your system, even if you don’t have home automation devices, you have to get the ADT Pulse or ADT Pulse + Video package.

If you just want basic security with app control, but no home automation features, then you’re going to end up paying a lot of money per month just to get access to the app. We’d like to see ADT introduce a control app for users with more basic systems.

What else you should know about ADT

ADT requires professional installation for all its security systems, including Pulse. But if you do want to go the DIY route and retain some smart home features, ADT has an option for that too. In 2016, ADT released ADT Canopy, a DIY system that competes with providers like SimpliSafe and Frontpoint.

ADT Canopy integrates with a variety of smart devices, like those from Samsung SmartThings and LG Smart Security. And it’s the only way to get professional ADT monitoring without the contract.

We haven’t heard from many ADT Canopy users—it doesn’t seem like the system has gained much of a foothold yet—so we don’t have much to say on it. For now, we still recommend ADT Pulse if you want to get in on all the home automation goodies.

ADT price

That said, ADT includes some equipment in its monthly price, which automatically makes it a better financial deal than Vivint. And if you finance your Vivint equipment rather than pay for it up front, then your monthly price could still come out higher than it would be with ADT.

If all you want is a super reliable, basic landline system, then ADT is an excellent choice. If you’re going to go full video and home automation? We still rank Vivint higher (another reason why it’s our Best Overall provider).

Price is our least favorite thing about ADT. It’s a pretty expensive system for what you get, especially compared to providers like Vivint and Frontpoint that offer lower monthly monitoring prices.

Vivint’s top monitoring package: $49.99 per month
ADT’s top monitoring package: $58.99 per month

ADT: the bottom line

  • ADT is the oldest provider in the industry.
  • It’s also one of the most reliable because of ten call centers across the continent.
  • ADT has relatively high monthly prices.
  • For home automation and mobile control, we recommend the ADT Pulse or ADT Pulse + Video monitoring plan.


No frills, no contracts, and no home automation. SimpliSafe keeps things, well, simple.

SimpliSafe pros

  • Easy buying process
  • No contracts or commitments
  • Low prices

SimpliSafe cons

  • Low tech
  • No home automation

SimpliSafe is a renter’s home security dream—it offers basic security equipment at bargain prices, plus 24/7 monitoring for one of the lowest monthly prices we’ve seen. You don’t have to sign a contract, you don’t have to drill holes in your walls, and you don’t have to spend a fortune just to feel safe in your house. peace of mind.

SimpliSafe monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly priceSee details
Standard$14.99/mo.View System
Interactive$24.99/mo.View System

SimpliSafe basic security

Basic security is SimpliSafe’s bread and butter. The whole point is to give bargain shoppers a low-maintenance, low-commitment option for basic home security. And we gotta say, SimpliSafe does this pretty well. Similar to Vivint, SimpliSafe designs and manufactures its own equipment—something we rarely see in the home security industry—and it’s kept the installation process super simple.

SimpliSafe offers a ton of equipment packages to choose from, but everything is priced à la carte, so you can basically get whatever you want. For our test, we stuck with simple window and door sensors and a motion sensor.

Plus, every SimpliSafe package comes with these products:

  • Base station
  • Wireless keypad
  • Keychain remote

SimpliSafe sensor prices

  • Door/window sensor – $14.99
  • Motion sensor – $29.99
  • Glass break sensor – $34.99
  • Water sensor – $19.99
  • Freeze sensor – $29.99
  • Smoke detector – $29.99
  • Carbon monoxide detector – $49.99

Since we tend to avoid human interaction, we love that you can order everything online. And if you want to get SimpliSafe’s already pretty cheap prices even lower, you can get a refurbished system for about 30% less.

SimpliSafe wireless keypad and base station

There’s not much to say about SimpliSafe’s wireless keypad. It has a tiny screen and some buttons. You can use it to arm and disarm your system. That’s about it. Honestly, the keypad could just as easily be from 1990 as from 2018, but it works well nonetheless.

One of the coolest things about SimpliSafe actually doesn’t involve the keypad at all. With most home security systems, your sensors communicate directly with the keypad/control panel. With SimpliSafe, sensors communicate with the base station.

The SimpliSafe base station is a separate unit you hide somewhere in your house. This way, if an intruder breaks into your house and smashes the keypad, it doesn’t affect the system or the alarm whatsoever. Plus, when a sensor is triggered, the keypad makes a beeping noise, which theoretically lures intruders toward it rather than the all-important base station.

So the humble little SimpliSafe keypad might not have many functions, but at least it does give you some crash and smash protection.

What else you should know about SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe’s equipment works on a cellular signal, which is great. Cellular is our favorite type of connection because it’s the most secure. Unlike landline and broadband connections, potential burglars have no way to easily disable your system’s signal.

Keep in mind that to use a cellular-based system, you have to have a strong cell signal where you live. Urban areas are fine, but if you live off the grid on a beet farm in rural Pennsylvania, SimpliSafe may not be the best fit for you.

SimpliSafe security cameras

Until recently, SimpliSafe didn’t offer any cameras. But in summer 2017, SimpliSafe created its first foray into the security camera sphere with its SimpliCam camera.

We’re happy to see SimpliSafe venture into the camera world, and the SimpliCam itself is decent—especially for the price. For $99, it’s not a bad little camera, and it’s super easy to install.

You can use Simplicam only indoors, and SimpliSafe doesn’t currently have any outdoor security cameras to offer.

SimpliSafe SimpliCam highlights:

  • Heat-based motion detection
  • 120° field of view
  • 720p recording
  • Night vision
  • Sound recording

SimpliCam doesn’t have pan, tilt, or zoom capabilities, but many security cameras don’t—especially not $99 ones—so we don’t expect that from this little cam. But in its next iteration, we’d like to see the SimpliCam offer two-way talk functionality.

We’d also like to see SimpliSafe venture into outdoor security cameras so renters and DIYers have even more security options.

SimpliCam pricing

You can use SimpliCam for free (even without a security system), and you’ll still get motion-triggered alerts and be able to see events as they happen. But if you want to store any video footage to review later, you’ll have to pay $4.99 per month per camera for SimpliSafe’s camera plan.

The camera plan sends all recordings to the cloud so you can review them later. It also gives you unlimited recordings, albeit with a 30-day limit—meaning after 30 days, your videos will be deleted.

Overall, SimpliSafe’s camera option is still cheaper than other providers, especially big players like Vivint. But keep in mind that if you want multiple cameras and want to be able to save footage, that $4.99 per month can add up fast.

SimpliSafe home automation

SimpliSafe has virtually no home automation options. Its target audience is generally renters and DIYers on a budget, so it makes sense that they avoid including a lot of frills and extras. But even renters might want to implement things like smart lights.

In the future, we’d like to see SimpliSafe integrate with voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home.

While smart lights and voice control are nice, our biggest problem with SimpliSafe’s home automation options actually has to do with its mobile app. You can’t use the mobile app to arm/disarm and monitor your system unless you sign up for SimpliSafe’s $24.99 per month Interactive monitoring plan.

SimpliSafe isn’t the only security provider who charges higher plan prices for mobile control (cough, ADT, cough), and even its “expensive” plan is still cheaper than most competitors. But we still find it absurd to pay extra for mobile control.

So what can SimpliSafe automate

We’ll throw SimpliSafe a bone; it does have one smart integration option in the Nest thermostat. And lucky for SimpliSafe, the Nest thermostat happens to be one of our favorite devices.

Your SimpliSafe system can help Nest learn your patterns by telling it when you’re home or away. You can also see the temperature on your Nest thermostat from the SimpliSafe dashboard or app (if you have the Interactive monitoring plan, which again, you to pay for if you want the app, and we’re still salty about that).

We recommend using Nest’s dedicated app over SimpliSafe’s to control Nest settings and functions. Still, we’re happy to see SimpliSafe offer at least one home automation perk. It could mean SimpliSafe will expand similar offerings in the future. And no worries—we will update this review if it does.

SimpliSafe price

What do we love best about SimpliSafe? Say it with us—the price! SimpliSafe is super affordable, and we love everything about its prices—and its ordering processes too, for that matter. Well, everything except for paying a higher price for a mobile app, but we’ll try to look past that for now.

When it comes right down to it, SimpliSafe offers cheaper equipment than basically everyone else.

Window sensor price comparison

  • SimpliSafe – $14.99
  • Link Interactive – $22.00
  • LiveWatch – $29.99
  • Frontpoint – $32.99
  • Vivint – $34.99

SimpliSafe equipment is à la carte, so just pick what you want and complete the checkout process online. You can also order over the phone if you’d rather speak to a human. Either way, SimpliSafe lets you get what you want and leave what you don’t.

SimpliSafe monitoring plans also tend to be much cheaper than the competition, though if you get a bunch of cameras and pay for both the Interactive monitoring plan, the extra $4.99 per month to record and download footage, the cost can rise.

Keep this in mind: you do have to purchase all your SimpliSafe equipment up front, and that can get expensive. If all you need is a couple of entry sensors, fine. But if you plan to outfit your entire house, you might need time to save up some cash first or wait for your tax return.

SimpliSafe Logo

SimpliSafe: the bottom line

  • SimpliSafe makes it easy (and cheap) to get a DIY security system with professional monitoring.
  • SimpliSafe equipment and plan prices are really low compared to other providers.
  • SimpliSafe offers mobile system control only with its top-tier plan.
  • SimpliSafe works best for renters because it’s easy to move from place to place and reinstall without fees.

Protect America

Protect America offers basic security with professional equipment for an unbeatable price.

Protect America pros

  • Low upfront costs
  • Lifetime warranty on equipment
  • Home automation options

Protect America cons

  • Confusing plan structures
  • Landline-only connection for lowest prices

Protect America has more service plans than any other provider we’ve seen, which makes for a pretty confusing buying experience. But despite the hot mess that is its plan structure, this provider gets good customer reviews and has some of the lowest upfront costs we’ve seen for a monitored security system.

Protect America monitoring plans

Plan nameLandline priceBroadband priceCellular priceSee details
Copper$19.99/mo.$41.99/mo.$41.99/mo.View Plans
Bronze$35.99/mo.$47.99/mo.$47.99/mo.View Plans
Silver$37.99/mo.$49.99/mo.$49.99/mo.View Plans
Gold$39.99/mo.$51.99/mo.$51.99/mo.View Plans
Platinum$42.99/mo.$54.99/mo.$54.99/mo.View Plans

The two things we like most about Protect America:

  1. That nice low price. If you want to stick with a super basic landline system, you get Protect America’s professional monitoring for only $19.99 per month.
  2. The lifetime warranty that comes with all of Protect America’s GE security equipment. If anything breaks—ever—you’re covered.

While Protect America is our favorite provider when it comes to super basic monitored security systems, its low price isn’t always what it seems. And if you’re looking for sleek, fancy equipment, look elsewhere. Protect America goes for function over form.

Which plan you choose determines how much equipment you get. Basically, the higher the plan, the more sensors comes with it. While the Copper will give you only three sensors, the Platinum plan will give you fourteen. (Every plan comes with a control panel and a motion detector.)

Protect America basic security

Protect America uses basic GE equipment that, while reliable, has nothing on Vivint’s sleek designs. Still, it’s just as good as any other equipment at detecting intruders or environmental crises, like smoke or flood water. Protect America offers a wide range of sensors and equipment all centered around a control panel.

Protect America sensor options:

  • Control panels
  • Door/window sensors
  • External sirens
  • Keychain remotes
  • Motion detectors
  • Garage door sensors
  • Fire and smoke monitors
  • Carbon monoxide monitors
  • Water and flood monitors
  • Medical pendants
  • Flood and freeze sensors

When you sign on with Protect America, you’ll also get to choose which connection type you want.

  1. Cellular
  2. Broadband
  3. Landline

Remember that cheap $19.99 per month security plan? Yeah, that’s just for landline-based equipment, which, frankly, we don’t recommend. Burglars can easily disable landline systems with a pair of scissors. In our book, cellular is the only way to go. It’s reliable and difficult to sabotage.

Unfortunately, it’s also expensive. We’d say it’s worth it if you can look past the price and live in an area with a sufficient cell signal (i.e. not the middle of nowhere). But if you don’t want to shell out for a cellular plan, we’d recommend choosing at least a broadband connection over landline.

Protect America control panels

Protect America offers two GE control panels:

  1. Simon XT
  2. Simon XTi

The Simon XTi is a touchscreen, although it has a pretty small, rather unimpressive display. Even so, we prefer it over the simplistic, old-school design of the Simon XT.

The XTi does cost an extra $99 when you buy your system, and you have to sign on for at least the $49.99-per-month Silver monitoring plan. Keep that in mind before you get too excited about a (slightly) larger display.

Protect America control panel functions:

  • Arm/disarm system
  • Generate up to eight unique user codes (and one master code)
  • Support up to 40 sensors
  • Control home automation devices (depending on your plan and panel)

Overall, we’re not that impressed with Protect America’s control panels. We’d like to see features like two-way talk functionality and a larger screen. But again, if all you want is the basics, it’s not a bad choice.

Protect America security cameras

Protect America offers both indoor and outdoor cameras, and both are excellent quality. The indoor cameras have two-way talk, so you can not only see but also talk to your kid who’s sneaking into the kitchen to steal that snack you told her not to eat before dinner. And she can talk back (literally).

We see indoor cameras as especially useful for anyone with kids or pets they want to keep an eye on.

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You must choose a broadband- or cellular-based system if you want security camera support.

Protect America indoor camera features:

  • HD feed
  • Night vision
  • Two-way talk
  • Livestreaming to your smartphone
  • Encrypted feed
  • Motion-triggered alerts
  • Cloud storage
  • Easy installation

Not bad for a little indoor camera!

Protect America outdoor camera features:

  • HD feed
  • Night vision
  • Encrypted feed

Protect America home automation

Considering Protect America is our first pick for “the basics,” it shouldn’t surprise you it’s not our first pick for home automation.

Protect America has strong competition in the home automation/integration scene, namely from Vivint and ADT’s Pulse plans. Protect America is humble by comparison.

Still, Protect America uses the same Z-Wave technology Vivint and ADT Pulse do, which means it’s just as easy to integrate third-party equipment like smart locks and lights. Protect America also works with devices like Amazon Alexa, so when you forget to lock the doors at night, you can do it with a voice command instead of leaving your comfy bed.

To really get your smart home going, we also recommend the Nest thermostat and the Ring doorbell camera. We love both those devices, and we’re happy to see they integrate with some of Protect America’s system options. Nest is set to release its own video doorbell early this year, and we expect to see it integrate with Protect America as well, (among other providers).

What about the Protect America app?

The Protect America’s app, SMART Connect, is fine. It’s not as pretty as Vivint’s sleek design, but it’s on par with the ADT Pulse app and it works well. You do have to subscribe to a broadband or cellular plan to use the app, but we think it’s worth it to have mobile control.

Through SMART Connect, you can arm/disarm your system and control integrated smart devices:

  • Lights
  • Locks
  • Thermostat
  • Small appliances

You can also customize alarms and check in on your kids, pets, and property through your security camera feed.

Protect America price

We named Protect America “Best for the Basics” in part because of price. If you get a landline-based system, you’ll pay as low as $19.99 per month. But landline systems are not our favorite, and that’s if you still have a landline to begin with.

Do you want a broadband or cellular system? Be prepared to pay significantly more.

Protect America Copper landline plan: $19.99/mo.

Protect America Copper broadband plan: $41.99/mo.

Info box icon Info box icon



The lifetime warranty does not cover customer abuse, so don’t go smashing those sensors of your own accord.

That’s a mighty big price leap. And if you do want a broadband or cellular system, then Protect America probably wouldn’t be our first choice.

However, Protect America does include some equipment with each of its plan options, so even with a $41.99 per month plan, you’ll still save a bundle of money over a provider like Vivint that makes you purchase equipment separately.

We also can’t forget that lifetime warranty. We appreciate that if your Protect America equipment ever breaks due to a manufacturing error or even an actual break-in, the company will cover it.

What about installation?

Protect America lets you opt for professional installation if you want to, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The installation fee is $199, and it’s easy enough to install the equipment yourself, especially because Protect America will let you call in and have a tech walk you through the process if for some reason you do get stuck.

DIY it and save that cash.

Protect America: the bottom line

  • Protect America lets you get a reliable monitored security system for really cheap if you just want a basic plan.
  • Protect America equipment comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Protect America offers you a broadband or cellular system and home automation integration plans—but they will cost significantly more.
  • Protect America allows for DIY installation, and we recommend it to avoid the installation fee.

How we chose our top five

We go for the best technology, every time.

Here at, we’re tech people. We can’t help ourselves—we see some new tech gadget or function and we get all swoon-y. So naturally, when it comes to home security, great tech equals the best in our book.

We want to see reliable, well-designed security equipment with home automation capabilities and decent cameras. That’s why Vivint was an easy pick for our Best Overall provider—its technology is undoubtedly the best.

Aside from technology, we also took into consideration specific needs. For example, Vivint’s great, but maybe not for renters who move every couple of years. And professional installation is nice, but what about the DIY folk? For our top five, we wanted to give you specific providers for your specific needs—with a tech-centric approach.

Other home security providers

They didn’t quite make the top five, but we still think these home security providers are worth a mention.

  • Link Interactive
  • Scout
  • Armorax
  • LiveWatch
  • Moni

We didn’t include these next providers in our top five because either their technology or their pricing wasn’t up to snuff. We also placed some providers lower because they were less suited for specific needs. For example, Link Interactive is great for DIY, but Frontpoint’s top-notch customer service gave it an edge in the DIY market.

That said, you still might find one of these providers fits your needs even better than one higher on the list.

Link Interactive

Our favorite things about Link Interactive:

  1. Free shipping, installation, and support
  2. Reasonable price per month to upgrade to cameras
  3. Mid-range monthly monitoring price

Link Interactive gives you a top-quality security system with home automation capabilities for a pretty good monthly price—and with no installation fee.

Link Interactive monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly priceDetails
Standard$30.99/mo.View Plan
Gold$35.99/mo.View Plan
Elite$40.99/mo.View Plan

Link Interactive equipment

Similar to providers like ADT and Protect America, Link Interactive uses equipment from multiple manufacturers, which means you might not know exactly what models you’ll get. But all Link Interactive’s equipment is reliable, and you can choose from a full range of sensors as well as your standard control panel. Sometimes Link Interactive will also kick in a free key fob when you buy your system.

Equipment is sold à la carte, so you can buy exactly the components you want and none of the ones you don’t.

We’re most impressed with two aspects of Link Interactive’s system:

  1. Its equipment is all cellular based.
  2. Its cameras are top-notch.

We always prefer cellular-based equipment because burglars have a hard time disabling it—and because paying for a landline these days seems silly. As for Link Interactive’s security cameras, they have most of the features we look for in a top-of-the-line device.

Link Interactive outdoor camera features:

  • HD resolution
  • Night vision
  • Motion detection
  • Wireless connection

Link Interactive indoor camera features:

  • Pan and tilt (on select models)
  • HD resolution
  • Night vision
  • Wireless connection

Link Interactive also offers Skybell doorbell cameras with two-way talk functionality. You can see and talk to the delivery driver dropping off a package and tell them to put it at the side door instead—all from your smartphone.

Link Interactive home automation

Link Interactive offers Z-wave compatible equipment, which is great for home automation. Z-Wave technology lets you add third party equipment onto your existing system so you can control everything from locks to lights.

We’re pleased to see Z-Wave home automation options from a provider with relatively low monthly prices. You can get all the home automation goodness with Link Interactive’s lowest priced plan and pay less than you would with ADT or Vivint.

Link Interactive price

For what you get with a Link Interactive system, we consider $30.99 per month a pretty good base-package price. It’s especially good considering providers like ADT have higher monthly monitoring prices for systems that include home automation options, and Link Interactive’s base plan is cheaper than Vivint’s by $9 per month.

Keep in mind, you have to purchase equipment separately, which will drive up your overall price. But providers like Frontpoint and Vivint also price equipment separately, so it’s not out of the norm.

Link Interactive: the bottom line

  • Link Interactive offers home automation options and top-notch security cameras at mid-range prices.
  • Link Interactive has free installation, support, and shipping.
  • Link Interactive is good for people who want monitoring + security cameras without paying a ton of extra money.
  • Link Interactive has cellular-based equipment (and that’s great).
  • Link Interactive has DIY options available.


Our favorite things about Scout Alarm:

  1. No contract, à la carte home security
  2. Very affordable monthly plans
  3. Sleek, stylish equipment

Scout subscription plans

Plan nameMonthly priceDetails
Always On$9.99/mo.View System
Always On Plus$19.99/mo.View System

Scout is a new take on home security that gives you only the essential equipment you need to keep your home secure—plus, it ditches the contract for monitoring plans.

While Scout is an intriguing (and relatively new) offering, we wish it offered more equipment and lost the monthly subscription requirement for self-monitored systems.

Scout equipment

The first thing we noticed about Scout equipment is dang, it’s good-looking. Scout has a very sleek design—available in black, white, or wood—and it makes your home instantly look high tech.

But is Scout equipment actually high tech? We’d say, “sort of.” Its hub uses an ethernet connection (with the option for cellular backup). We’ve said before that broadband connections are not our first choice, and that’s true. But ethernet is more reliable and secure than broadband alone, which makes it a nice intermediary between broadband and cellular.

The rest of Scout’s sensors communicate with the Scout hub via Zigbee technology, which is very similar to Z-Wave. With Zigbee, you can add in third-party devices that are Zigbee compatible, such as Philips Hue lights.

Scout door panel

Scout doesn’t offer a control panel. Instead, it uses a door panel to let you control your security system. While your Scout hub works as the brain of the system and communicates with its various sensors, you need the door panel to actually arm and disarm the system.

The Scout door panel uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which lets you arm/disarm your security system using one of Scout’s RFID key fobs or stickers. Just swipe the fob or sticker over the RFID reader on the panel, and you’re good to go. Scout’s goal is to avoid complicated keypads or button-pushing.

Scout is the first provider we’ve seen that uses RFID technology in its system, but while we think it’s interesting, it can also be overly simplistic. For example, the door panel doesn’t have a panic button you can easily press in an emergency.

You also need that key fob or RFID sticker (or the Scout smartphone app) to disarm the system, which means you either have to give a fob to every family member or every family member must have the app. That’s a pretty big ask for large families whose kids may not have smartphones yet. Entering a code would be easier.

Scout sensors

Scout has shockingly few sensor options—it offers only three types.

Scout sensor options:

  • Access sensor (for windows, doors, cabinets, etc.)
  • Motion detector
  • Flood sensor

The flood sensor is a recent addition to the Scout line, and we hope this means it’ll debut more types of security equipment in the future. We’d like to see Scout come out with smoke, CO, and glass break detectors—at least.

We do like that Scout’s access sensor can be used for all kinds of access, not just doors and windows. If you want to keep alcohol away from your curious teenagers, you can stick one on your liquor cabinet and get alerts whenever someone opens the door

Selecting Scount equipment

As we’ve mentioned, Scout equipment is sold à la carte, so it’s up to you how many sensors you want to buy. If you want to secure every door and window in your home, you can. If you just want the main doors covered and a window here and there, you can do that too.

We do like à la carte equipment plans and wish they were standard across all providers. However, keep in mind this can make your upfront bill pretty steep depending on how many sensors you want to buy.

What about Scout’s cameras?

Scout does not currently offer any security camera options, but the system does integrate with NestCam from Nest. We like Nest, but we’d still like to see Scout offer some cameras options of its own.

Scout home automation

Because Scout uses Zigbee technology, home automation is pretty easy with its system.

Scout integrates with these products:

  • Nest (cameras, thermostat, smoke/CO alarm)
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Home
  • LIFX
  • Phillips Hue

You can add in basically any Zigbee compatible device for full home automation. Because Scout integrates with thermostat, voice command, and lighting devices, it does give you some decent home automation options despite being such a bare-bones security system.

Scout price

Scout is nothing if not cheap. With only two plans ranging from $9.99 to $19.99 per month, Scout is the cheapest home security provider we’ve seen.

You must subscribe to a Scout monitoring plan to use the mobile app to control your system and get email notifications, which means your system is useless without that monthly subscription.

We find it weird to pay $9.99 per month for a system that isn’t even professionally monitored. (For that, you need Scout’s Always On+ plan for $19.99 per month.) With just the Always On plan, if your house gets broken into, you have to call the police yourself. Usually, the point of self-monitoring is that it’s free. Not so with Scout.

If you do want professional monitoring, we think Scout’s $19.99-per-month Always On+ plan is still incredibly cheap, but providers like SimpliSafe are even cheaper and also offer more sensors and security equipment.

Scout equipment pricing

Scout equipment itself is on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. It’s not the cheapest we’ve seen, but it’s far from the most expensive.

Scout equipment prices:

Hub – $129

Access sensor – $29

Motion detector – $49

Expect to pay at least $158 for a basic setup (the Scout hub and a single access sensor ). From there, you can add whatever components you want.

Scout: the bottom line

  • Scout is a sleek, new system with extremely basic security equipment.
  • Scout requires a monthly subscription for access to the mobile app and/or professional monitoring.
  • Scout integrates with several home automation devices, such as Phillips Hue and Nest products.
  • Scout doesn’t require long contracts and keeps its equipment and monthly plan prices low.
  • Scout installation (and sometimes monitoring) is DIY.


Top things to know about LiveWatch

  1. LiveWatch offers basic security equipment and monitoring with no standout products.
  2. LiveWatch offers a lifetime equipment warranty—but only if you ask for it.
  3. LiveWatch supports home automation devices, but order them from another retailer—they cost more from LiveWatch.

LiveWatch monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly priceDetails
Basic Monitoring$19.95/mo.View Plans
Mobile Pro$34.95/mo.View Plans
Total Home$39.95/mo.View Plans
Total Home + Video$49.95/mo.View Plans

LiveWatch is one of those security providers that just sort of exists. It has a long history of providing reliable home security systems, but nothing about the company or its systems makes it stand out from the crowd.

We also don’t like some of LiveWatch’s pricing structures, especially when it comes to home automation. If you want to order home automation devices, they will almost always cost more through LiveWatch. You can order the exact same equipment from Amazon or other retailers and pay a lot less.

That said, LiveWatch offers a full range of security equipment with home automation capabilities, and we’ve found its customer service to be consistently friendly and helpful.

LiveWatch equipment

Similar to other providers, LiveWatch offers a full range of security equipment, including sensors and a central control panel.

LiveWatch basic equipment package:

  • 1 control panel
  • 2 entry sensors
  • 1 motion detector
  • 1 key fob

That’s a pretty standard array of equipment for a basic package. If you need more than two entry sensors (meaning you have more than two doors and want to secure some windows), you can add them on separately.

LiveWatch IQ 2.0 control panel

We do like the LiveWatch IQ 2.0 control panel. It has a 7″ touchscreen display, so you can be sitting on the couch a few feet away and still have an easy view of your system’s status. The control panel can also do things like display the weather and show your security camera feeds.

LiveWatch includes crash and smash protection with its control panels, which means if a burglar breaks into your house and destroys the control panel, your system will still send out an alert to the monitoring center, which will call the police.

What about a warranty?

Here’s a LiveWatch insider tip: the company generally offers a two-year warranty on its equipment, which is shorter than the industry average of three years. But, if you ask for it during the ordering process, LiveWatch does in fact offer a lifetime warranty, which is pretty impressive.

If you want your equipment secured for life, specifically ask LiveWatch for the lifetime guarantee.

LiveWatch connection type: cellular

All LiveWatch equipment does use a cellular connection, which is the most secure connection type you can choose.

Remember though, you must live in an area with adequate cell coverage if you want your cellular security system to work.

LiveWatch security cameras

LiveWatch uses the same security cameras you would see from a provider like Frontpoint.

LiveWatch security camera features:

  • HD feed
  • Night vision
  • Motion detection
  • Pan and tilt function (on certain indoor models)

Keep in mind: if you want to add cameras to your LiveWatch system, you have to sign on for the highest-tier plan ($49.95 per month).

LiveWatch home automation

LiveWatch equipment uses Z-Wave technology, which makes it easy to add a variety of smart home devices to your existing system, including locks and lights. Multiple manufacturers make Z-Wave compatible equipment that can automate various aspects of your home, and LiveWatch makes it easy to add them to your system.

LiveWatch price

If all you want is a super basic security system, then LiveWatch offers you that pretty cheap. Its Basic Monitoring plan gives you professional monitoring and cellular-based equipment for only $19.95 per month.

Unfortunately, you don’t get home automation options or mobile alerts until you get to the Total Home plan ($39.95 per month). But for a basic (and cellular) security system, we consider LiveWatch a pretty good deal.

Buying LiveWatch equipment

To launch your LiveWatch system, you start with a basic equipment package, the center of which is the control panel. Oddly enough, LiveWatch charges the same amount for two different control panel options:

  1. Plug&Protect Basic – $99
  2. Plug&Protect IQ 2.0 – $99

As we’ve already mentioned, we prefer the IQ 2.0. Why go standard when you can go touchscreen, complete with a motion-sensitive camera and an easy-to-see display, for the same price?

LiveWatch: the bottom line

  • LiveWatch is a pretty basic system with standard equipment and plans.
  • LiveWatch is a reliable, inexpensive option if you just want a basic cellular-based security system.
  • LiveWatch’s IQ 2.0 control panel is better than its basic one, so we recommend it.
  • LiveWatch doesn’t have very technologically advanced equipment, so look at other providers like Vivint and ADT if you want that.
  • Read full review


Our favorite things about Armorax:

  1. Combines top equipment with a DIY approach
  2. Lets you decide to monitor yourself or pay for professional monitoring
  3. Includes home automation options in a low-key DIY system

Unlike traditional providers like ADT that demand you sign a contract and charge high monthly monitoring prices, Armorax gives you ADT-level equipment with a DIY approach and home automation functionality. Once you have the system and get it installed, everything works great.

Armorax monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly priceDetails
Plan #1$28.95/mo.View Plan
Plan #2$32.95/mo.View Plan
Plan #3$36.95/mo.View Plan

Note that Armorax’s plans don’t have names, just prices, which is a little strange to us. But it’s easy enough to remember that the more you pay, the more features you get.

That said, everything else, including Armorax’s website and ordering process, is a hot mess. Armorax is about the most opaque security company we’ve seen when it comes to listing plans, pricing, and contract information—and that’s saying something.

Armorax is still a new company, so it will be interesting to see how its service evolves over time. If it improves its website and opens up about how its service works, it might rank higher on our list next year.

Armorax equipment

Armorax’s equipment is one of the reasons we like the system despite its difficult website and ordering process. Armorax uses 2GIG equipment provided by, which is the same equipment you’d get from a renowned provider like ADT. You can choose from the standard 2GIG GC2 panel or upgrade to the GC3 touchscreen panel for an extra fee (usually about $120).

We generally prefer touchscreen panels for aesthetics and ease of use. But if you plan to use your smartphone as your primary means of control, you can skip the upgrade and stick with the standard panel.

Same as any other provider who offers 2GIG equipment. Armorax offers a full range of sensors and environmental detectors.

Armorax base system (a.k.a. Blackbox):

  • 1 control panel
  • 1 motion detector
  • 2 entry sensors
  • 1 security yard sign

You can also add in third-party equipment yourself as long as it’s 2GIG brand or compatible with Z-Wave technology.

We recommend you check with Armorax first to make sure that 2GIG smoke detector you ordered off Amazon will work with your system, just in case. But chances are, if the device is 2GIG or Z-Wave, it will work with Armorax.

Selecting Armorax equipment

Armorax aims to give you as much flexibility with your system and equipment as possible. As such, you can have as many or as few sensors as you want. Beyond the base system, everything is á la carte.

Keep in mind, though, upfront costs are quite high if you choose not to sign a contract with Armorax. Expect to pay about $549 for a basic system if you don’t want to sign a contract.

If you’re cool with a 3-year contract, then Armorax offers significant equipment discounts. Armorax’s pricing and sales change very frequently (it’s part of what makes the ordering process so difficult), but we’ve seen the base package listed as low as $99 if you sign the contract.

Armorax connection type: cellular

Armorax uses cellular-based equipment, which is a good mark in our book. Cellular is the safest and most reliable home security connection available since burglars have no way to easily disable it.

Keep in mind, you must live in an area with adequate cell coverage before you can install a cellular security system. Basically any urban area works, but if you’re a retired lobster fisherman in rural Maine, check your signal before you spring for the system.

Armorax security cameras

Armorax offers a full range of indoor and outdoor cameras, as well as the Skybell doorbell camera. These are the same cameras you’d get from a provider like Frontpoint.

Armorax camera features:

  • HD video feed
  • Two-way audio with indoor cameras
  • Night vision
  • Motion detection

We personally recommend adding in the Skybell doorbell camera if you want to see, monitor, and talk to every visitor who shows up on your porch, whether it’s a neighbor bringing you some freshly baked cookies or the UPS guy dropping off your Amazon package.

Armorax home automation

Armorax is compatible with Z-Wave technology, which allows you to add in virtually any smart device that uses Z-Wave:

  • Smart lights
  • Smart locks
  • Smart thermostats

You do have to pay an extra fee for Z-Wave functionality, but it’s low—$3 per month. We’d rather there were no fee at all, as no other provider we know of charges a fee specifically for Z-Wave functionality.

Armorax price

Armorax plan structures can be a little confusing. Its plans have had names in the past, but currently do not—they go by prices that correspond to different features. Armorax also makes you pay extra for some things we think of as standard, such as Z-Wave functionality and mobile app control.

Remember, Armorax offers three plans:

  1. $28.95 per month
  2. $32.95 per month
  3. $36.95 per month

With the lowest-priced plan, you get professional monitoring but no mobile app control. If you want mobile control, you have to upgrade to Plan #2 or Plan #3.

Armorax: the bottom line

  • Armorax is a relatively new hybrid system that lets you combine professional equipment with DIY installation and monitoring.
  • Armorax equipment is solid, but its plan structure, website, and ordering process can be extremely confusing and change frequently.
  • Armorax uses Z-Wave technology so you can add in third-party smart devices.
  • Amorax doesn’t make you sign a contract, but if you don’t sign one, you’ll pay a high upfront price for your equipment.


Top things to know about Moni:

  1. It structures its pricing like a cable provider; your monthly cost can change after 12 months.
  2. It has add-ons that can get expensive quickly.
  3. Its contracts last up to five years.

Moni monitoring plans

Plan nameMonthly price (first 12 months)Monthly price (after 12 months)Details
Core$29.99/mo.$39.99/mo.View Plans
Connected$39.99/mo.$49.99/mo.View Plans
Comprehensive$49.99/mo.$59.99/mo.View Plans

Formerly known as Monitronics, Moni offers the same professional security equipment you’d get from several other top providers. Moni’s monitoring employees are also CSAA-certified, which basically means they went through a significant amount of extra training so if an intruder really does break into your house and trigger your system, you know the monitoring rep who gets the call will be well prepared to handle the situation.

On the flip side, Moni has a few hidden fees, and its prices are subject to change after only 12 months. That unfortunately reminds us of some cable companies’ shady pricing tactics.

Moni’s prices are on the higher side to begin with as well, so we’re really not a fan of the potential 12-month raise.

Moni equipment

Moni reminds us of a more complicated version of ADT. If you read our ADT section above, you know that’s saying something.

Moni basic equipment package:

  • Touchscreen control panel
  • Motion detector
  • Entry sensors
  • Keychain remote

Like ADT, Moni uses both Honeywell and GE equipment, and which models you get will depend on where you live and what distributor you go through. That said, Honeywell and GE both make solid, reliable security equipment you can trust, so we’re not too worried about the variation in models. It might not be the prettiest security system you’ve ever seen, but it’ll do the job.

Each Moni package includes basic security components to begin to secure your home.

Moni security cameras

Moni offers standard indoor and outdoor security cameras with standard security camera features.

Moni security camera features:

  • HD feed
  • Night vision
  • Motion detection
  • Wireless (indoor) connection

Moni also works with the Skybell doorbell camera, which lets you see and talk to visitors on your porch through your smartphone. We’ve found the Skybell to be on par with the Ring video doorbell and Vivint’s doorbell camera.

Whichever model you choose, we love being able to scare off package thieves through the two-way talk function and seeing our kids arrive home safe from school on the camera feed.

Moni lifetime warranty

Moni equipment does come with a lifetime warranty that covers your equipment in case of manufacturing defects and even damage from an actual break-in. The warranty doesn’t generally cover customer-caused damage though, so be gentle with those sensors.

Moni installation

Moni offers exclusively professional installation. That’s a great thing if you don’t want to deal with installing your own system, but keep in mind your Moni-authorized dealer may drill into your wall to place the control panel.

On the bright side, Moni’s installation is free.

Moni home automation

Moni rebranded itself from Monitronics to emphasize its smart security functions. A big part of that is home automation. Moni uses Z-Wave technology to accomplish this, just like most other providers on this list, which means you can integrate third-party smart home devices into your existing security system.

Moni also integrates with a range of favorite devices:


One of Moni’s more impressive smart home features is geo-fencing. Geo-fencing lets you customize system settings based on your location (or rather, the location of your smartphone). So when you get home from a long day at work, your house can turn on the lights and start warming up (or cooling down) as soon as you pull into the driveway. Now that’s what we call cozy.

Moni price

Price is where Moni gets sticky. With plans going as high as $59.99 per month, Moni has one of the most expensive monthly monitoring prices we’ve seen—in fact, it’s the highest on this list.

That’s not even getting into Moni’s hidden fees and high activation fees. Moni activation fees range from $99 to $149, and as we’ve already mentioned, your overall monthly price can go up after 12 months as well.

It would be one thing if Moni had 12-month contracts and the option not to renew after a year. But in addition to pricing shenanigans, Moni’s contracts range from 36 to 60 months. That means you could be locked into a higher price for four years of your 5-year contract. Yikes.

We haven’t seen this price-raise tactic with any other home security provider we’ve reviewed. We have seen it with cable TV companies, and we’ve never liked it.

Moni: the bottom line

  • Moni has professional equipment, a range of plan options, and certified monitoring specialists.
  • Moni also has shady pricing tactics and high activation fees.
  • Moni offers standard security equipment with decent home automation functions.
  • Overall, Moni is at the bottom of our list for a reason. We don’t think the value justifies the cost.

Best home security systems summary

  • Vivint wins our top slot for having the best technology and a top-notch everyday experience.
  • Home automation is becoming a bigger deal for providers across the board. Z-Wave technology is an essential feature for all kinds of smart home devices like locks and lights.
  • DIY installation is also becoming more common, with standout providers like Frontpoint and SimpliSafe leading the way.
  • When choosing a connection type, cellular is best (but make sure you have adequate coverage where you live).
  • We’d like to see more providers embrace the no-contract option that providers like Vivint and SimpliSafe already offer. Check out our review of the best no-contract security systems if you’d like more information on living contract-free with a security company.