LiveWatch Home Security Review

It’s not as simple as we’d like, but this DIY wireless security system has some unique offerings.

It’s not as simple as we’d like, but this DIY wireless security system has some unique offerings.
Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
DIY install and setup
Ability to cancel anytime
Generic equipment

OVERVIEW

LiveWatch’s wireless home security system offers seriously discounted equipment with four monthly service (monitoring) plans. However, the most interesting thing about LiveWatch home security service is the ability to cancel service at any time. (You also have a year to return the equipment.) It’s not the best wireless home security system we’ve seen, but LiveWatch might be the best for those that are afraid of long-term contracts.

LiveWatchMonthly price*ContractLearn more
$19.95–44.95/mo.12 mos.View Plans

*Does not include equipment.

LiveWatch security system

LiveWatch’s bread and butter is its two DIY wireless security system packages, Plug & Protect Basic and Plug & Protect Complete, each of which comes with a specific set of equipment (see image). The two system packages will work for most people looking for home security, but really, you can pick and choose from a ton of equipment to make your own LiveWatch system—and that can make figuring out what you want a little complicated (and more expensive).

LiveWatch, like many other home security providers (Frontpoint, Moni, Link Interactive, etc.), gets its equipment from Alarm.com, which matters only because it means you get the same type of equipment you’d find elsewhere. Don’t get us wrong—Alarm.com equipment works well. It’s just that some LiveWatch equipment seems awfully generic, like in a mass-manufactured, all-white, plasticy kind of way.

What a la carte security equipment does LiveWatch have?

Here’s a small taste of what equipment LiveWatch offers.

  • Door/Window Sensor
  • Smoke Detector
  • Wireless Water/Flood Sensor
  • Wireless Glass Break Detector
  • Wireless Freeze Sensor
  • LiveWatch FireFighter (Detector)
  • Motion Sensor with Image Capture
  • Wireless Immune Infrared Motion Sensor
  • Wireless Garage Door Tilt Sensor
  • Motion Sensor
  • Keychain Remote
  • Wireless Flood Detector
  • Wireless Vibration Detector
  • And more

It might feel overwhelming to have so much equipment to choose from, but in general, we consider more options a plus. After all, LiveWatch is an install-and-set-it-up-yourself system, so it makes sense that you can customize it to your heart’s content.

The real downside to having so many equipment options is price.

The real downside to having so many equipment options is price. We did some comparison shopping for Alarm.com equipment on Amazon and LiveWatch, and we found most equipment had lower prices on Amazon. However, some of the Amazon sellers seemed a bit sketchy, so we’d rather pay the extra dough to make sure we get it from a reliable seller (LiveWatch) than roll the dice on Amazon.

The control panel

Little pin Little pin

Tip: Get the right equipment for the right control panel

Tip: Get the right equipment for the right control panel

Not all LiveWatch equipment works on both control panels, so double-check on LiveWatch.com before you order additional equipment.

A home security system starts with the control panel, and with LiveWatch, you have two choices: the Simon XTi-5 or the IQ Gen 2. (Note: we don’t know the reason behind the confusing nomenclature.) The most important thing to know is that while both panels support most LiveWatch equipment, a handful of equipment works only on certain panels.

The Simon XTi-5 control panel

This Simon XTi-5 control panel comes with LiveWatch’s Plug & Protect Basic plan, and it’s pretty much like most standard control panels, albeit with a touchscreen (see image). It’s got a five-inch color LCD screen and works with just about any smartphone (iOS and Android). The XTi-5 control panel also supports most of the LiveWatch equipment we looked through, like wireless door and window sensors, wireless motion sensors, and keychain remotes.

We got our hands on the LiveWatch Simon XTi-5 control panel.

LiveWatch says the Simon XTi-5 control panel can support up to 40 items of equipment, which is likely more than enough for the average homeowner. However, if you want to add even more equipment or you’re looking for a more sophisticated panel, you’ll want to check out the IQ Gen 2.

IQ Gen 2 control panel

The IQ Gen 2 control panel has a larger touchscreen (seven inches), and it’s not nearly as chunky as the Simon XTi-5. In fact, the IQ Gen 2 control panel is only three quarters of an inch deep, whereas the XTi-5 is closer to two inches (without the wall mount). If you want something sleeker with a little more functionality, the IQ Gen 2 will appeal to you more than the Simon XTi-5. (It also just looks better.)

If you happen to need some serious alarm hardware, the IQ Gen 2 can connect up to 120 items. It also has hands-free disarming via Bluetooth, so the system will automatically turn off if it senses your phone nearby (e.g., you’re walking in the front door after going out for a walk).

LiveWatch’s window and door monitor

Window and door monitors

LiveWatch’s window and door sensors look like almost every other window and door sensor we’ve seen—the exception being ADT, which were larger than we expected.

And like other DIY-install wireless security systems, you just peel and stick, and you’re done. They’re not too conspicuous either, which is nice if you’re worried about equipment being an eyesore.

Home automation and smart home features

Mobile control

LiveWatch uses the Alarm.com app for its mobile control, which is available with any monitoring plan. The app is available on iOS and Android, and oddly enough, many other home security companies use it (Frontpoint, Armorax, Link Interactive, and more). Because the Alarm.com app is used by a bunch of home security providers, it doesn’t make LiveWatch stand out from the competition, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

...the Alarm.com app gives you access to video (live and recorded) if you have video cameras or image sensors set up with your LiveWatch system.

The Alarm.com app is easy to use and lets you quickly see the system status (doors locked, garage closed, etc.). You can even control Z-wave compatible devices, such as lights or a thermostat, directly from the app. So if home automation is something you want to get into, it’s good to know your home security system can handle it.

Last but not least, the Alarm.com app gives you access to video (live or recorded) if you have video cameras or image sensors set up with your LiveWatch system. The quality of video will depend on the type of camera or image sensor you use, and you’ll need an internet connection  (fast Wi-Fi is a must for any LiveWatch system).

Home security cameras

LiveWatch Motion Sensor with Image Capture

LiveWatch’s Motion Sensor with Image Capture is pretty much what it sounds like—a motion sensor that snaps a picture. The sensor itself feels a little cheap, but that’s because it’s incredibly light and made entirely out of plastic.

The motion sensor uses PIR (passive infrared) and captures images at 320×240 resolution, which is a far cry from high definition (1280×720), but it still produces an image of acceptable quality (you can easily make out which neighbor is “borrowing” tools from the garage). If you’re wondering if the motion sensor works at night, it does, but it captures images only in black and white.

LiveWatch Wireless IP Hi-Res Video Camera

This LiveWatch indoor video camera captures images in high definition (1280×720), but it’s available only as a separate purchase (not included in either of the two system packages).

LiveWatch Indoor Wireless Fixed IP Camera with Night Vision

LiveWatch’s Indoor Wireless Fixed IP Camera with Night Vision is the sleekest video camera it offers, but its specifications aren’t that much of an improvement over the IP Hi-Res Camera. It’s the same HD resolution (1280×720), but its wider field of view lets you cover more ground.

Customer experience

Ordering LiveWatch felt needlessly convoluted, but we appreciated the support we received.

After ordering LiveWatch’s Plug & Protect Complete system online, we thought we’d done most of the legwork to get our home security system. We were wrong. After completing an order online or over the phone, we had to log in to livewatchsecurity.com and set up a profile.

After ordering LiveWatch’s Plug & Protect Complete system online, we thought we’d done most of the legwork to get our home security system. We were wrong.

It didn’t take too long to complete, but we didn’t realize we had to schedule an activation call ourselves and fill out a monitoring agreement via email. In fact, we had to contact customer service after a few days to figure out where we were in the order process.

Between checking emails for documents and constantly logging in and out of the online portal, we felt a little lost. We didn’t have to make as much an effort to get set up with competitors, so we hope LiveWatch will work on simplifying the signup process.

To LiveWatch’s credit, the representatives we spoke with were helpful and patient. We don’t ever like having to call customer service, so it’s nice to know that if you have to call, you’ll get the help you need.

The system monitoring

LiveWatch’s professional monitoring means your home security system will notify a monitoring center if an alarm is activated, and if necessary, the monitoring center will dispatch the appropriate emergency services to your home (police, fire department, etc.). As we mentioned, the professional monitoring from LiveWatch includes ASAPer, which will notify emergency contacts first to verify the nature of the alarm.

The installation

LiveWatch’s DIY installation isn’t the easiest we’ve thrown together, but it’s certainly doable.

When we opened our LiveWatch package, we weren’t exactly impressed. The package was a mess of equipment, and the front piece of the control panel had popped off.

We sorted through the equipment and figured out what was what after a few minutes, but we’re experienced with home security, so we’re more worried about what it might be like for someone who’s never done this sort of thing before. It’s also a little unfair to LiveWatch because the previous home security system we received was from Frontpoint, which was beautifully packaged and clearly labeled with easy-to-follow instructions.

If you’re not up to figuring out what’s what in your LiveWatch package, you can speak with a technician to walk you through the setup process and answer any questions for free. All the LiveWatch equipment is pretty much peel and stick, so you won’t have to worry about busting out the tools and hardware.

We like not having an installer over to put the system together, but we realize some people may prefer professional help. In that case, a DIY wireless system may not be the right choice for you. However, if you’re willing to set aside a few hours and try something new, you can install a LiveWatch system with little to no pain.

LiveWatch pricing

Part 1 of 2: the monthly monitoring

The first part of paying for a home security system—and in our opinion, the true cost of a system—is the monthly monitoring fee. Luckily, LiveWatch has four options for monthly monitoring, and the pricing isn’t too shabby compared to the competition.

LiveWatch monitoring plans

  • Basic: $19.95 a month
    • 24/7 monitoring
    • ASAPer*
  • Mobile Pro: $29.95 a month
    • 24/7 monitoring
    • ASAPer*
    • Remote arm and disarm
    • Crash & Smash protection
    • LiveVoice® assist**
  • Total Home: $39.95 a month
    • 24/7 monitoring
    • ASAPer*
    • Remote arm and disarm
    • Crash & Smash protection
    • LiveVoice® assist**
    • Smartphone control
    • Home automation
    • Location-based control
    • Real-time alerts
    • Smart image capture
  • Total Home + Video: $49.95 a month
    • 24/7 monitoring
    • ASAPer*
    • Remote arm and disarm
    • Crash & Smash protection
    • LiveVoice® assist
    • Smartphone control
    • Home automation
    • Location-based control
    • Real-time alerts
    • Smart video capture
    • Live video streaming
    • Camera included

*ASAPer (As Soon As Possible emergency response)
**Monitoring center can speak via control panel

No matter which monitoring plan you choose, you’ll get LiveWatch’s ASAPer (as soon as possible emergency response) service. ASAPer works by sending an SMS text, email, or phone call to each person in your emergency contact list. After that, ASAPer lets contacts communicate with each other to confirm if an alarm is a false alarm or an actual emergency. It’s a neat feature, and LiveWatch claims ASAPer is “ten times faster in emergencies.”1 If there’s no response from your contacts, the LiveWatch monitoring center will contact the police.

Part 2 of 2: the equipment cost

Plug & ProtectBasicCompleteLearn More
Non-discounted price$599$699View Plans
Discount price$99$149View Plans
Plug & Protect
Non-discounted price
Discount price
Basic Complete Learn More
$599 $699 View Plans
$99 $149 View Plans

With LiveWatch, you pay for any security equipment up front. Some may see that as a negative, but LiveWatch’s two pre-packaged systems, Plug & Protect Basic and Plug & Protect Complete, offer plenty of equipment at a steep discount. For example, the Plug & Protect Basic includes two window/door sensors, one motion sensor, one keychain remote, and one control panel (XTi-5) for $99. The non-discounted price for the Plug & Protect Basic is $599, so the discount price of $99 definitely feels like a good deal.

We stuck with a cheaper monitoring service (basic monitoring for $19.95 a month), so we paid more for the Plug and Protect Complete system package, but it’s a low price.

If you have good credit, you can likely get a significant discount for the Plug & Protect Basic or Plug & Protect Complete ($400 off for us). It’s been our experience that home security providers are extremely flexible on pricing for equipment or system packages, so it doesn’t hurt to try and bargain with a representative over the phone. You can even do something as simple as asking for a lower price, because why not?

What equipment is included in a LiveWatch system package?

  • Plug & Protect Basic
    • XTi-5 control panel
    • 2 door/window sensors
    • Wireless motion sensor
    • Keychain remote
  • Plug & Protect Complete
    • IQ Gen 2 control panel
    • 4 door/window sensors
    • Wireless motion sensor
    • Keychain remote

The contracts

LiveWatch really shines with its liberal monitoring agreement. The initial service agreement is for 12 months, but you’re not tied up with an early termination fee (ETF). In fact, you can cancel service at any time, which makes us wonder why there’s a 12-month agreement in the first place. You can even get a refund on the equipment if you return it within 12 months’ time.

ProvidersNo-contract option?Read moreLearn more
NoFull ReviewView plans
NoFull reviewView plans
vivint smarthome logoYesFull reviewView plans
Providers
vivint smarthome logo
No-contract option? Read more Learn more
No Full Review View plans
No Full review View plans
Yes Full review View plans

Other home security providers are not nearly as forgiving as LiveWatch. Most require at least a three-year commitment, so if you’re not into long-term commitments, LiveWatch just might be the alarm system to try out. Also, there are actual no-contract options out there, like Vivint, but you have only three days to return the equipment. Considering LiveWatch gives you 12 months for returns, LiveWatch is technically the better no-contract option (without actually being a no-contract provider).

LiveWatch home security recap

LiveWatch surprised us with its cancel-anytime policy and reasonable monthly service fees. It’s far from perfect—the signup and setup processes are more complicated than necessary, and the equipment is nothing to swoon over.

Still, LiveWatch offers enough to keep us interested, and if you’re looking for a DIY system that won’t penalize you if you’re not happy with it, we think LiveWatch is a good option for a DIY wireless home security system.

Sources

1.    LiveWatch.com, “Compare LiveWatch to SimpliSafe”