Frontpoint and Scout are both top contenders in the world of DIY smart home security systems. Frontpoint is the highly regarded, well-established top player in the industry of home security systems. Scout is the smart and sassy new kid on the block—so let’s see how the two stack up against each other.
The purchasing experience
To ensure the match-up was fair I tested both Frontpoint and Scout with the purchase of a system for my home. I decided to protect my two main access doors and eight windows and purchase two motion sensors. I also purchased any equipment that was required to make the system work (e.g., a hub or control panel), a monitoring plan, and no extras. Here’s how I fared.
First, I looked at the purchasing experience. What is the website like to navigate? How do you choose the right equipment for you and your home? Is pricing clear and easy to understand? Do you have a choice of monitoring plans? These are all questions I looked at when reviewing both companies.
Purchasing from Scout
The Scout website was clean, simple, and easy to navigate. It was very easy to find the information I was looking for and the “How it Works” section lead me step by step through all of the equipment and monitoring plans.
I found it simple to put exactly what I wanted into my shopping cart, although, rather disappointingly, a number of items were out of stock and there was a long wait for them. The fact that I could purchase exactly what I wanted and wasn’t confined to a set package was a big plus for me.
For a Scout hub, two door panels, eight access sensors, and two motion sensors the cost was $597 plus tax. Details for the equipment can be found later in this post.
Purchasing from Frontpoint
Frontpoint’s focus was on personal contact. You are asked to submit your telephone number and they call you to discuss your needs. You do not purchase equipment from the website; instead, the customer service representative speaks with you and recommends the best equipment for your needs. As with Scout, you are not tied to a pre-selected package. You can buy one of their packages or choose specific equipment to meet your needs.
Frontpoint’s equipment pricing is linked to the length of contract you sign and your credit rating but I used the equipment price table found here to calculate the flat cost before a plan or credit discount.
The equipment from Frontpoint comes with a 30-day risk-free free trial. If at any point in those 30 days you decide the system is not what you expected you can return the equipment and Frontpoint will even cover shipping.
Winner of the purchasing experience: Scout
Scout’s pricing was clear and simple, you can purchase easily online, and you don’t have to submit your telephone number just to get a quote.
Equipment & installation
I judged the equipment on several different criteria. I also asked for feedback from the rest of our family, as they would have to use the system too. Being a family of seven, there were plenty of opinions!
- Features and ease of use
- Range of add-on equipment available
- Battery life
Scout equipment comes in three colors: Arctic White, Midnight Black, and Walnut. This is a nice option for those that have wooden windows and doors or darker colors in their home. The white has a tendency to standout which may not be an issue for some people, but if coordination to the the decor and style of your home is a priority then it’s useful to have this option.
The required hub is the brains of the system. At 5.3 inches square it has a sleek modern look and can be placed anywhere in the house. You can have it flat on a desk, upright between the books on a shelf, anywhere you choose.
- Broadcasts a mesh network across the house, so it will not impact your Wi-Fi network
- Can alert you to which specific door or window sensor is activated rather than a general zone the way some systems do
- Runs for 24 hours on an internal battery so your home will not be unprotected in a power outage
- Contains 3G cellular chip to continue running the system if your internet is out
The wireless door panel has an internal 106 dB alarm which is about the sound level of a live rock music concert. It comes with the following:
- Two batteries
- Two RFID key fobs
- One RFID sticker
- Mounting tape
The RFID (radio frequency identification) key fobs mean you never have to remember an access code, you just wave the key fob in front of the door sensor to arm or disarm the system. This means no rushing to a panel somewhere in the house after you open the door. The RFID sticker (just like the security stickers you see on products in the store) can be placed on any item and used in the same way as the key fob.
The motion sensors are wireless and can be placed in any area of the house. If a burglar gains access to your home without opening a door or a window (perhaps by breaking a window), the motion sensor will set off the system. I find this particularly reassuring as we have some large windows that do not open but could be broken.
Unfortunately, Scout does not currently have any cameras for its system, which is a huge drawback for me. I see cameras as an essential part of a home security system and without them, Scout is sorely lacking.
Scout is IFTTT-compatible, which means you can link other equipment to the system—just make sure the other equipment is compatible first.
Frontpoint offers two control panel options. The first is the Simon XTI, a traditional wall-mounted panel with buttons and a small display screen, which is best suited to the base-level Protection plan. The second is the Qolsys IQ, a newer touchscreen tablet-type mobile panel, which is most compatible with the Interactive and Ultimate monitoring plans.
You can read an in-depth review of the panels here but both have the following features:
- Ability to monitor up to 39 sensors
- Panic/emergency button
- 24-hour battery backup
- Internal alarm
The Qolsys IQ touch screen panel allows you to set and disarm the system from wherever you are in the house and takes and stores a photo of the last person who disarms the system. You can also upload your own photos to the tablet and use it as an electronic photo frame when it’s not being used to actively control the system. This is a nice touch as the tablet would otherwise look rather out of place sitting on the table with the alarm system information on the screen.
Which brings me to the look of the system as a whole. It is, as you might expect, only available in white. This may not be an issue for most people but if you have, for example, wooden windows and doors they do stand out and the choice of a wooden or colored finish would be a nice addition to the range.
Frontpoint has one type of sensor for all doors and windows. It also has motion sensors which have a range of up to 1,000 feet. They are all wireless and are installed with adhesive tape so you can take the system with you when you move to a new home. However, where Frontpoint really excels is in the range of system add-ons:
- Flood detectors to alert you if a pipe bursts or water is leaking in the basement
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire and smoke alarms
- Garage door sensors
- Recessed door sensors for those tricky-to-protect doors
- An image sensor
- Video surveillance camera
All of these items enable you to easily expand your system but you will need to spend more money to purchase them and to have them monitored.
Frontpoint equipment is Z-Wave compatible, which allows you to link to a lot of other smart devices—I was very glad to see that we could link the Nest thermostat. With the higher-level Interactive and Ultimate monitoring plans you also get geo location services so you can automatically arm or disarm the system with your smartphone when you enter a set area around the house.
Winner of equipment: Frontpoint
Although I prefer the look of the Scout equipment, the system as a whole has a limited range of equipment and the lack of camera is a particular issue for me.
Until recently, Scout was available without any kind of plan, which made it a popular option for those who did not want to pay a monthly fee. Scout has recently changed policy and now, like with Frontpoint, you have to purchase a plan with the equipment. However, you do not have to sign a contract with Scout, making it a great month-to-month option especially suited to renters. So what do you get from each company each month and how much does it cost you?
Scout has two plans to choose from, which makes it relatively easy to pick one of them. Its Always On plan features the following:
- Email notifications if a sensor is activated
- Scout mobile app for iOS and Android devices
- Push notifications to mobile devices
- 3G cellular and battery backup
- SMS alerts
- No annual contract
The second option is Always On+ which, as you might expect, has the same features as Always On plus 24/7 professional monitoring service which uses, as does Frontpoint, UL-certified monitoring centers and dispatches the police for you in an emergency.
Frontpoint has three levels of plans. The basic plan is the Protection plan which, as long as you have purchased the appropriate sensors, gives you the following:
- Intrusion protection—Tells you which windows or doors were entered, which windows were broken, and when motion was detected
- Environmental protection—Flood, smoke, CO, and fire
- Life safety—Panic button
- 24/7 service
The next stage is the Interactive plan which gives you everything from the Protection plan plus the following:
- Email and text alerts
- Light control
- Remote access and control
- Geo services
Finally there is the Ultimate plan which includes everything from the Interactive plan with additions:
- Live video streaming
- Motion activated alerts
- HD and night vision capabilities
- Automated door locks
- Light controls
- Energy management controls
Notably, Frontpoint gives you a 30-day, 100% risk-free trial for any of the plans and equipment packages. I appreciate the option to give the entire system a test run before committing myself to the expense involved, especially when I am expected to sign a three-year contract.
|Plan Name||Always On||Always On+||Protection||Interactive||Ultimate|
|View Plan||View Plan||View Plan||View Plans||View Plans||View Plans|
|Contract Length||Month to month||Month to month||36 months||36 months||36 months|
|Contacts Emergency Services|
|Email and Text Alerts|
|30 Day Free Trial|
|3-Year Equipment Warranty|
|Live Video Streaming|
|Energy Management Controls|
Winner of monitoring plans: It’s a draw
I really couldn’t pick a winner of the two. Scout has limited coverage but that’s because it has limited equipment and you only have to pay on a month-to-month basis.
Frontpoint has extensive coverage but costs twice as much to monitor and requires a three-year contract.
Customer service and user reviews
Customer service, company reputation, and user reviews are perhaps the most important areas to consider when making an investment in a security system.
Scout is a newer company that was started through a crowdfunding campaign in 2013. There is a range of reviews and comments around the web that seem to be split firmly between two camps.
Scout: The bad
The complaints about Scout revolve mostly around the battery life of the sensors, false alarm alerts, and the sound level of the alarm itself. Many users appear to have had to replace batteries every three to four months with little warning that the batteries were about to die. Not something you want to worry about if you are going away for a few days.
False alerts occurred for several people when the sensors fell off the adhesive strips, breaking the circuit and activating the alarm.This raised some very serious concerns. Some users complained they had been called to say their home had been broken into, only to arrive home to find all was well. Others said they were told police would be called but they never turned up.
There were also issues around the limited number of modes available for the system. For example, one user said they would like to leave the sensors on their liquor cabinet active while they were in the house, but this would mean the motion sensors would also have to be active.
“After a few months of ownership we noticed that the batteries, which are advertised to last 10-12 months, all died. Unfortunately this happened while we were out of the country and it meant our house was unsecured while we were gone. Not cool. The warning for the low batteries came the night before we left so we had no time to get the new batteries ordered and installed. Even worse, low batteries to most rational people should mean that it can go a little while longer. To Scout Alarm it means DEAD.” Rusi C Patel-Amazon.com
“Great concept, unfortunately, I had issues installing the system. A couple of the items were not pairing with the hub, and I CALLED MORE THAN 5 TIMES to the company, and no one answer. I also left several voice mails, and they never returned my called. They really need to work on that. HOW CAN YOU TRUST AN ALARM COMPANY IF THEY DO NOT EVEN ANSWER THE PHONE, OR RETURN YOUR CALLS.” Brendon K.- Amazon.com
Scout: The good
The users who like Scout really like it. I read a lot of reviews that praised the ease of installation, the ability to only buy the equipment you need, and the fact that you can easily remove and reinstall equipment.
Another popular plus point is the IFTTT integration but this is only a bonus for users who are comfortable in using IFTTT. If you aren’t ready to do things a little more technical this wouldn’t be a plus for you.
“I have had the system for several weeks now and have had a good experience. One sensor was slightly delayed in pairing and I received excellent customer support. In all aspects, the system has been easy to use both from the app and by fob/sticker. I like the ability to customize the modes to cover specific sensors and the subsequent notifications. I have also enjoyed the IFTTT integration, which was a key point in choosing this system over others.” GJ Jones – Amazon.com
“The product is easy to install and setup due to the excellent app. The hardest part was removing my old alarm system! The app is also great after install and makes it very easy to set up scenes for home/away, etc. The downsides I see so far are that the arctic white sensors are rimmed in black and are rather thick. The black really makes them stick out, especially with the door sensor which is exceptionally thick and large.Another issue is that my old system would beep if a window was opened (whether in home or away mode). As far as I can tell, Scout will only beep for an opened window when the alarm is armed.” Amazon Customer – Amazon.com
Frontpoint has an overwhelmingly positive reputation, so much so that I started to wonder if it was too good to be true. Having spent many hours researching their customer reviews, I have to say, people love them.
The customer service representatives are said to be extremely pleasant and always ready to help, and are available 24/7. I found complaints about the equipment and a handful of complaints about the monitoring plans, and a couple of billing issues.
Frontpoint: The bad
“The only thing was their literature. When I was installing the system and when I needed to troubleshoot something, there was no literature online and they didn’t send me anything. It’s almost too mysterious and I found that annoying.” May- ConsumerAffairs.com
“However, we’ve had a bad experience with the sticky stuff they use to make the sensors stay on because these don’t ever stick or stay on. But they’ve always replaced these and helped solve that issue Lynn” – Consumeraffairs.com
Frontpoint: The good
“Installing the device was very seamless. The Frontpoint team gave very clear instructions when walking me through the configuration and activating the sensors with the panel, and was really friendly Ray” – Consumeraffairs.com
Installing the Frontpoint security device was very easy and I really like the system and the ad hoc ordering – giving what we need. It has been very nice setting up. We had a few more pieces in after the fact and their team helped get that setup. We had a few alarms go off and each time they called, it’s been friendly and helpful. Moreover, we extensively use their interactive features. It’s very good and I like being able to see what’s opening and closing. There is an issue with getting notifications when filtering set-up selection and getting notifications but it’s a smallish problem. We got the system right after we got break-in so that definitely made living in the house for my wife a lot more comfortable. We’ve been very happy with them. The whole experience has been simple and out of mind. Robert – ConsumerAffairs.com
Winner of customer service: Frontpoint
There were just too many complaints about dead batteries, system failures, and false alarms for Scout to make a dent on the stellar reputation Frontpoint has built over the last nine years.
Frontpoint is still number one
Although Scout has beautiful, modern-looking equipment and is a good option for someone who is in a small, short-term rental home, the system is still very new and has several kinks to iron out before it becomes an outstanding system.
Frontpoint may have the disadvantage of requiring a contract, but the free 30-day trial, the wide range of add-on equipment, and the company’s excellent reputation makes Frontpoint the security system I would want to protect my home and family.