Fortress Security ReviewBy - 01/24/2016
No monthly monitoring fees equals lower long term cost. Most equipment is wireless. There are available options for landline, VOIP, and GSM alarm systems. 3 years warranty on all equipment.
No professional monitoring. Smartphone control was just recently added to their services so expect some hiccups.
The Bottom Line
Fortress Security is an option if you’re looking for a home alarm system without monthly fees. However, its lack of professional monitoring service is a risk. Professionally monitored systems are more secure as they offer you a direct link to the authorities when needed.
Compare to SimpliSafe Here
Fortress Security Review of Protection & Equipment
Most home alarm companies we’ve reviewed offer equipment + protection through professional monitoring. Fortress Security is different because it is focused on providing home security equipment that you can self-monitor. There are rumors that Fortress might add professional monitoring, but for now, this is not an option.
Fortress’ equipment is diverse. They use both hardwired and wireless systems offering 3 security system packages classified according to the control panel included.
The first package is called SO2 alarm system. The SO2 panel connects exclusively to through a landline including VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems. It offers 72-hour backup battery for added security and it can also warn if someone cuts your landline. It can hold up to 99 sensors grouped into 32 zones. Zones are essential as it helps you pinpoint where the problem lies. On the system’s panel there is a small LED display. The display will show which zone number the alarm is coming from so you know if the emergency is in your bedroom or your living room.
The SO2 alarm system can be armed or disarmed remotely by calling the connected telephone service number. During an alarm event, the panel dials up to 6 emergency contact numbers using your landline or VOIP phone system. When setting up the system you will pre-record a 10-second message and this message will be played when the system calls out in an emergency.
The SO2 packages start at $99. The base package includes a control panel and 2 contact sensors to protect your doors or windows. The most expensive package is $259.99. It includes a main panel, 10 contact sensors for windows or doors, 3 Passive motion detectors, 1 panic button, 1 indoor siren, 1 outdoor siren, 1 panic alarm, 3 key fobs, and stickers. You can also purchase this package from Amazon for $199.99.
Of course if the pre-set packages don’t work for you, you can always customize your own security system.
The second package is called GSM Alarm System. Its panel can use both a GSM SIM card or landline to place calls. Having a GSM backup (also called Cellular Network) is more secure than a landline because there are no wires to cut. Also, cellular signals rarely get disrupted.
The GSM panel can support up to 100 sensors divided into 10 zones. It offers a backup battery that can keep it running for 3 to 8 hours without power.
In an alarm event, the panel dials up to 6 emergency contacts to inform them that there is an emergency using your landline or SIM card. It will also send text messages to 3 phone numbers when using GSM. Here’s the catch: a GSM SIM card isn’t included in the package, which means you’ll have to contact a cellular carrier and pay for a plan.
You can start with the basic GSM package which costs $149 and add more accessories to personalize your system. The basic package already includes a GSM control panel, a standard motion detector, 2 door/window contacts, and 2 key fobs. Or you can also choose from 6 other kits. More expensive= More equipment. The most expensive package costs $329. This package has a GSM control panel, 10 door/window contacts to protect your doors and windows, 4 standard motion detectors, a glass break sensor to detect the sound of breaking glass, a smoke alarm for fire protection, 3 remote key fobs, a 130dB indoor siren, a 130dB outdoor siren, and a panic button. If you have pets, the $269 package is best for you. This package includes 2 pet-immune motion sensors instead of standard motion detectors. The pet-immune motion detector ignores pets that weigh less than 50 lbs., which will help you avoid false alarms. Besides that, it also includes a GSM control panel, 10 door/window contacts, 3 remote fobs, a 130dB indoor siren, a panic button, and a 140dB siren with strobe lights. The strobe light is useful if you are living with a hearing impaired individual.
Total Security System
The third and last package is called Total Security System. It is the latest and most advanced system from Fortress and requires a cellular service connection. It uses a cellular connection to notify you of alarm events. It also includes an Android and iOS app. The app is used to remotely arm/disarm the system, set arming and disarming schedules, and listen into your control panel using a two-way voice feature.
The Total Security System panel automatically calls up to 8 emergency contact numbers in sequence when an alarm is triggered.
Besides security, the panel can also handle basic home automation. More on that later.
Total Security packages start at $200. With the basic package you’ll get a Total Security panel, a Total Security Motion Detector which uses PIR (Passive Infrared) to more effectively detect motion from intruders, 2 Total Security door/window contacts built specifically for this package, 2 remote keyfobs, and 2 RFID tags for more convenient arming/disarming. Note that the RFID keypad isn’t included, so you’ll have to buy it as an add-on accessory.
Just like with the GSM packages, Total Security has a packages designed for pet owners. The pet friendly package costs $369 and includes a Total Security panel, 3 pet immune motion detectors, 3 Total Security remote fobs, 4 RFID tags, 10 Total Security door/window contacts, a panic button, a Total Security Plug-In siren, and an Indoor/Outdoor Strobe Siren. Finally, the most expensive Total Security Package costs $570. This package protects you using a Total Security panel, 4 Total Security PIR motion detectors, 4 Total Security remote fobs, 8 RFID remote tags, 10 Total Security door/window sensors, a Total Security Plugin Siren, a solar-powered siren, a smoke detector, and a glass break sensor. It also gives you control over your system with the help of 4 remote fobs, 8 RFID key tags plus 1 secondary keypad with RFID, and 1 panic button. It even has home automation in the form of 2 smart outlets.
Total Security accessories exclusively connect to the Total Security panel, so take note of that when adding accessories. Of all three packages, this one is the most technologically advanced.
Fortress Add-On Equipment Costs
Compatible With Any System
The following devices are compatible with all three systems.
Pet Immune Motion Detector ($25.99)- Pets trigger false motion alarms. If that’s your problem, the pet immune motion detector is for you. It also uses PIR and it can detect motion. However, it doesn’t trigger an alarm when the motion comes from a pet (or a child) that weighs less than 50lbs.
Smoke Alarm ($27.99)- Besides intrusion, home fire is one of the most popular reasons why people buy home security systems. Early fire detection with the help of a smoke alarm can save you thousands of dollars and even your life.
Gas Leakage Detector ($34.99)- You can add a gas leakage detector to detect any leakage of combustible gas including LPG, LNG, and Carbon Monoxide. It has a 75 dB integrated siren for added protection.
Glass Break Sensor ($34.99)- Broken glass is always a bad sign. A thief can come in through your window without forcing it open. Door/window contacts will not protect from a glass break, which is why you need a glass break sensor. It covers a 50 ft. area to monitor for the sound of broken glass.
Vibration Detector ($24.99)- You can use a vibration detector to reinforce entry points. It sounds an alarm the moment it detects vibration which could indicate that someone is forcing his way through.
Water Sensor ($24.99)- Floods and water leakage can cost thousands. Some leaks are hard to detect as they are hidden away under the sink, in the basement, or behind walls. You can use the water sensor to detect leaks early before they get worse.
Indoor/Outdoor Siren ($49)- You can use this robust outdoor siren to sound an alarm inside or outside your house with its 130dB loudspeaker. It is particularly helpful if you have a large house or you want your neighbors to know you’re in trouble and need help.
Indoor/Outdoor Strobe Siren ($59)- You can also mount this siren indoors or outdoors. But unlike the first one, it has louder speaker (140dB) and a red strobe light. The strobe light easily catches attention during an alarm. It is also a great way to potentially deter a burglar.
Small Indoor Plug-In Siren ($39.99)- Small but loud, this plug-in siren directly plugs into a wall outlet. It has a strobe light plus an 85dB siren.
Internal Siren ($19.99)- This siren connects directly to the panel with an audio jack. You can only connect one internal siren to your system. It sounds an alarm that is 130dB loud when an alarm from any sensor is triggered.
Wireless Signal Repeater ($54.99)- You can use the wireless signal repeater to extend your panel’s signal. It can add an additional 200 to 400 feet to your panel’s coverage so that you can protect your whole home.
Window Sticker (Pack of 4 for $4.99) &Yard Sign ($9.99)- Both the window stickers and the yard sign are good for deterring would-be intruders.
Compatible With SO2 & GSM Systems ONLY
Battery-Powered Contact Sensors ($12.99)- Monitor anything that “opens and closes”.
Standard Motion Detector ($22.99)- A Fortress Standard Motion Detector can detect motion from up to 20 feet away within a 120-degree radius.
Solar-Powered Outdoor Siren ($99.99)- You can use the solar-powered siren solely with a solar charge = no batteries. It connects wirelessly to the panel within 150 ft. and can produce sounds up to 130dB.
Remote Fob ($14.99)- The remote fob gives you control over your system with just a press of a button as long as you are within a 150 ft. range from the panel. It has 4 main buttons used for arming, disarming, going into home mode, and setting of the alarm.
Panic Button ($14.99)- Unlike the key fob, the panic button only has one function and that is to trigger all alarms whether the system is armed or disarmed.
Extra Magnet Piece For Contact Sensor ($3)- A second magnet is ideal if you want your window to be left open by a few inches to let air in. In that case, your contact sensor will only trigger an alarm when both the two magnets are disconnected from the contact.
Wireless Doorbell ($27.99)- Stick the doorbell button at your desired location then plug the speaker to a wall outlet and your wireless doorbell is ready to use. There are 50 melodies to choose from and the volume can be easily set using the buttons at the side of the speaker. As an added function, you can hook up your sensors to the speaker so it plays a tune when they are triggered. You can set different tunes for different sensors so you’ll know whether a door was opened or there was motion detected just by listening to the sound.
Compatible With Total Security System
Finally there are those devices that will only work with Total Security
Total Security Door/Window Contact ($14.99)- This contact sensor works similarly with the one compatible with SO2 and GSM. However, it has an added function that notifies your panel when a door or window is left open before arming your system. That way, you can avoid leaving intruders a way in.
Total Security Motion Detector ($24.99)- The Total Security Motion Detector is more powerful than the one for SO2 and GSM systems. It uses the same PIR technology to detect motion but it can detect it from 25 feet away. Also, it has 110 degrees horizontal viewing angle and 90 degrees vertical viewing angle.
Total Security Remote Fob ($14.99)- Functions the same as the other.
Total Security Outlet ($29.99)- For basic automation, you can use the Total Security Outlet to remotely control the power to any appliance plugged to it. You can also set schedules to automatically turn on or off the outlet.
Total Security RFID Keypad + 2 RFID Tags ($59.99)- You can use it as a traditional keypad to arm/disarm your system and can arm/disarm your system from any room. For more convenience, you can simply swipe the RFID tags ($7.99 each when bought separately) in front of the keypad to disarm your system without entering your security PIN. However, you’ll still need to enter the PIN when arming your system using the RID keypad.
Total Security Plug In Strobe Siren ($39.99)- This siren is unique in that it has volume control buttons and an on/off switch.
Total Security Solar Siren ($99.99)- This siren is a powerful siren (110dB) with a strobe light that is powered by the sun.
Total Security Strobe Siren ($59.99)- Fortress has lots of sirens, and here’s yet another. It can alert you with its 130dB speaker and a strobe light. It plugs into a wall outlet.
Fortress Security also offers home automation but it is limited. First they offer a smart plug. The smart plug only connects with the Total Security System panel. The panel can support up to 20 smart plugs. Once connected to the panel, the plug can be controlled remotely using the Fortress app. You can also set schedule times to turn on or off the plugs.
Second they do offer one security camera coming soon for $79.99.
Customer Service and Support
Fortress Security holds an A BBB rating. I’ve been reading hands-on reviews and for the most part, customers are happy. They also cover all of their products with a 3-year warranty. According to them, you can simply give them a call or email them if you are having trouble with your system. If phone support cannot resolve your issue, they will decide to either repair or replace as needed.
If you are interested in learning more about Fortress you can checkout their website.