LiveWatch Security ReviewBy - 12/07/2016
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
LiveWatch Equipment & Protection
A sister company to MONI, LiveWatch has a pleasantly simple equipment offering. They offer security equipment from industry leaders like GE Security and Qolsys. In the past, they had a Walmart-esque variety show of options through SafeMart, but they’ve narrowed it down to two home security systems that you can purchase along with a monthly monitoring plan.
The two systems are affordable, but the low rates offered by LiveWatch come with one stipulation: you must be a homeowner with “qualifying credit”. If you don’t fit that definition, the two plans are far more expensive.
Plans are broken into two categories: “plans” and “systems”. Monitoring plans include Mobile Pro, Total Home, and Total Home + Video. Each monitoring plan is backed by one of two possible equipment setups including Plug&Protect Basic or Plug&Protect IQ.
Plug & Protect Basic = $99
The first package, Plug&Protect® Basic, uses a cellular Simon XT Alarm Panel from GE Security. The panel is widely used in the industry and is offered by other top security companies like Frontpoint. It isn’t fancy, but it gets the job done.
In addition to the panel, the package includes a wireless motion sensor, two door window sensors, a keychain remote, two yard signs, and six window stickers. You can also purchase extra products for this package such as a flood sensor, freeze sensor, Simon XT wireless talking bi-directional keypad, and an image sensor.
Plug&Protect Basic is a good entry-level equipment package. It works well for those who want home security, but if you want home automation, you’ll need more. If you buy it and change your mind, you can upgrade to Plus within 90 days of your purchase.
Plug&Protect IQ = $99
The second equipment package offered by LiveWatch is the Plug&Protect IQ. The main difference between the Basic package and IQ is the control panel. The IQ package uses the Qolsys’ IQ Panel. The IQ panel is a touchscreen, Android-based tablet equipped with Wi-Fi and a cellular chip. Of course, the package provides home security, but with the Total Home plans, you can also use Z-wave technology to automate your home’s lights, locks, and thermostat. In total, you can connect up to 40 devices for automation and security.
The IQ panel has other unique features like a built-in camera that will take and store a picture every time the system is disarmed. It can also control your entire security system without the use of a mobile app. When you’re home, this is far more convenient than whipping out your phone and inputting a command.
You can also purchase extra equipment for the IQ package that isn’t available for the XT package, such as a glass break sensor, GE Crystal smoke detector, vibration detector, carbon monoxide detector, Crystal panic button, and a garage door sensor.
|Price for Homeowners||$99||$99|
|Control Panel||Simon XT||7″ IQ Touchscreen|
|Control Panel OS||NA||Android|
|Wireless Door Sensors||2||2|
|Wireless Motion Sensors||1||1|
|Yard Sign / Window Stickers|
|Security Camera||TOTAL HOME + VIDEO Only||TOTAL HOME + VIDEO Only|
LiveWatch Monitoring Plans Compared
LiveWatch changes their security monitoring plans like most people change underwear – frequently. As mentioned earlier, they have three primary monitoring plans to choose from: Mobile Pro, Total Home, and Total Home + Video. The package pricing was increased by $10 per month several months ago, and then they swapped out the features offered by the entry level plan by adding a fourth package. Why is this important? This is important because two of their big selling features include shorter contracts and a long cancellation policy. I’m a fan of both, but there’s a catch. If you aren’t locked in with a contract, you aren’t locked into a monthly rate. This means that you may be paying $10 more per month next year. Is a shorter contract period worth it?
- Basic Monitoring = $29.95 per month and includes 24/7 professional monitoring and ASAPer.
- Mobile Pro = $34.95 per month and includes everything offered by the Basic plan plus smartphone control.
- Total Home = $39.95 per month and includes everything offered in the Mobile Pro plan plus smartphone control, home automation, LiveVoice Assist, real-time alerts, smart image capture, and location-based control.
- Total Home + Video = $49.95 per month and includes everything offered in Total Home plus live video streaming, and it includes a security camera.
|Monitoring Package||Mobile Pro||Total Home||Total Home + Video|
|Contract Length||12 Months||12 Months||12 Months|
|Fee Lock and Increase||Fee Locked for 12 Months, Frequently Change Plan Pricing||Fee Locked for 12 Months, Frequently Change Plan Pricing||Fee Locked for 12 Months, Frequently Change Plan Pricing|
|Price Per Month||$34.95||$39.95||$49.95|
|Crash & Smash Protection|
|Smart Video Capture|
|Live Streaming Video|
|Includes Security Camera|
|BBB / Angie’s List||A+ / Super Service Award Winner||A+ / Super Service Award Winner||A+ / Super Service Award Winner|
LiveWatch Features Explained
Most of the services offered by LiveWatch are fairly self-explanatory. However, they do throw around several proprietary terms including LiveVoice, Location-based control, ASAPer, and more.
Crash and Smash Protection
Crash & Smash Protection is a patented term by Alarm.com, a service provider for LiveWatch. The technology is both software and hardware based, which sets it apart from other solutions that are solely hardware based. The solution will protect you if someone breaks into your home and destroys your control panel.
With Crash & Smash, the moment someone enters your home, a soft call is placed. This happens if it is you or a bad guy. If you are entering your home, you input your security code to let the monitoring centers know that everything is okay. If a burglar breaks into your home and smashes the panel, the “okay” signal is never received. When that happens, the soft call turns into an emergency call, and help is sent.
LiveVoice is their term for two-way audio. This is a feature that sets them apart from other alarm systems as it is only offered by a couple of other companies including ADT. Two-way talk occurs through your control panel. You can use the control panel as a walkie-talkie to communicate with LiveWatch’s central monitoring center.
Location-based control is what the rest of the home security industry calls geo-fencing. Using your smartphone, you can set a virtual fence that will tell your system when you are home or away. Based on your location, you can schedule things to happen. For example, you can arm your LiveWatch system when you leave home or turn on your thermostat when you arrive back home.
ASAPER for Added Speed and Security
LiveWatch also uses ASAPer. ASAPer is an interactive communication center that connects your whole family and can be accessed by your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
For example, let’s say that you have an alarm event at your house. You may have no idea whether it’s a false alarm or real emergency, but you still have to call your spouse, your three kids, and your babysitter to warn them to stay away until the alarm is cleared. That’s five frantic calls, and that takes time. With ASAPer you have an emergency response communication system that sends a simultaneous message to everyone in your circle, saving you time and protecting your loved ones.
Does ASAPer Make LiveWatch the Fastest Home Security?
On average, a traditional alarm notification system takes about five and a half minutes to notify emergency contacts of a triggered alarm. On the other hand, ASAPer contacts everyone simultaneously. The process takes about thirty seconds. While this is amazingly fast, mobile apps have improved most traditional alarm notification systems. So though LiveWatch touts speed as the biggest benefit to ASAPer, I would disagree. I would argue that the biggest benefit is consolidated communication. It’s basically like a giant chat room for your family members.
So how do you get to this chat room? If an emergency occurs, each contact is sent a link via SMS, notifying them that an alarm has been triggered and prompting them to click the link. Clicking the link takes them to the chat room. For example, your daughter might enter the chat room and explain that she accidentally set off the alarm. If the source of the alarm can be identified as a mistake by those in the chat room, there is a button at the top of the page which says “False.” Clicking this button will prompt the emergency contact to input their safety code and disarm the home alarm system. If, on the other hand, the cause of the alarm cannot be identified or help is needed, a second button which says “Help” can be pressed to call for help.
Alarm.com for Mobile
LiveWatch has partnered with Alarm.com to create their mobile app. The app is available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows phone users, Pebble Watch, Kindle, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and the Apple Watch. If you prefer, you can access your account by logging into m.alarm.com from any Internet-enabled device. The partnership is not limited to the mobile app; it also bolsters the ability to control your home automation devices as well as providing some of the features we’ve already discussed like Crash & Smash.
But certainly the fact that the app is available for so many platforms makes it unique. If you are using your TV to access your alarm, you can watch a simultaneous video stream from multiple cameras. And if you prefer to use your voice, Alarm.com even allows you to arm your system using Amazon Echo.
- 24/7 Monitoring services for Burglaries
- UL listed monitoring centers
- Wide Variety of Equipment Options and Packages
- 100% Wireless Equipment
- Good for Renters (No Equipment Discount) and Homeowners
- ASAPer Family Communication
For added peace of mind, LiveWatch offers security cameras. The Total Home + Video package includes live video streaming and smart video capture. It also includes an indoor wireless camera. Smart video capture ties security events to your camera. For example, if your security system has a motion sensor, it can trigger your camera to start recording. You can access the clips from the mobile app or web login. The plan includes cloud storage for up to 1000 clips per month.
Camera monitoring is made possible by five unique home security cameras. LiveWatch sells four indoor cameras and one outdoor camera.
LiveWatch Wireless Pan/Tilt IP Video Camera $329
The pan and tilt camera offers a 350° rotation so that you can monitor an entire room with one device. You can also use it to create 20 “presets”. Basically, you teach it where to look. For example, you can have the camera rotate to where your front door is within view and then set your front door as a “preset”. In the event of an emergency, you can forgo pan and tilt and head straight to your presets to see if your front door is secure. This camera, like most of the others, is not covered by technical support.
LiveWatch IP Hi-Res Video Camera $199
The indoor IP camera offers HD streaming and recorded video. You can even share access to the device with your family members. But, like the last camera, if you choose this one, you are on your own. LiveWatch does not provide tech support for those that purchase this camera.
Indoor Wireless Fixed IP Camera with Night Vision $249
This camera is also not covered by tech support. Unlike the last camera, this one has night vision. (featured in video above)
LiveWatch Indoor Dome Hi-Res IP Video Camera $249
Again, no tech support. But this dome camera can help you capture a new vantage point as it is a ceiling mounted camera.
LiveWatch Wireless Outdoor IP Bullet Camera w Infrared $349
The only outdoor camera of the bunch, the Bullet Camera offers infrared night vision. It also records and streams in 720p HD.
With the Total Home monthly package, you can control lights, locks, and the temperature in your home through your smartphone or a computer. You can also create rules for your devices, which are made smarter through location-based alerts. For example, you can ask to receive a text if you leave your house without arming your security system. You can also set rules for your automated devices like “turn on lights when you arrive home” or “turn off thermostat if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off”.
All home automation controls are done through the Alarm.com app or, if you have the touchscreen panel, you can control the devices directly from the panel.
Smart Home Equipment
LiveWatch sells a fairly limited range of smart home products, but they use Z-Wave and can support most Z-Wave devices. From a lighting perspective you have the option of using a Z-Wave Plug-In Florescent Light and Appliance Module ($59) or In-Wall Switches (they have a dimmer version $57.60 and an on-off version $64.95). One product notably missing from their lineup is a smart bulb, which is arguably one of the most convenient devices you can use to automate lights.
If you want to automate your door locks, you have two options – the KiwkSet SmartCode Wireless Keypad Deadbolt or the Leverlock version – both sell for $249. You can also automate small appliances using their smart switch ($59), their outdoor module ($64.95), and the same Z-Wave module mentioned above. Finally, they sell an Advanced Z-Wave Thermostat for $159.95.
- Small Appliance, Lock, Temperature, and Limited Light Automation
- Smartphone App with Remote Control
- Z-Wave Home Automation
- Severe Weather Alerts
Customer Service & Support
In some ways, LiveWatch home security appears to be customer friendly, and they’ve done a lot of things right. First, they’ve held and maintained an A+ rating with the BBB for a long time. Second, they now have a policy that allows you to cancel at any time. And though they still ask for a contract, the contract lengths are 1/3 the industry average. Third, the system is self-installed and wireless; you can move at any time without penalty.
They fail when it comes to being consistent for those they do business with. They’ve merged with a home security company called MONI, formally known as Monitronics, and the merger has caused some growing pains. LiveWatch is usually on their game, but from time-to-time, without warning, they drop the ball. They can be difficult to get in touch with, and they don’t always do what they say they are going to do. If you do some digging through online security reviews, what you will find is that most people are happy with their choice. For the most part, customers get the system, install it, and everything works. The problems begin if there is an issue and customer service is needed. When this happens, customers agree that getting in touch with them can be a difficult and frustrating experience. Also, recent user reviews are stating that LiveWatch is no longer providing free return shipping, even though customers are returning within the given time-frame.
- A+ Rating with the BBB
- Cancel Anytime
- 12 Month Contracts
- Move for Free
- Lifetime Warranty
- Angie’s List Super Service Award