LivSecure Hands-On Home Security ReviewBy - 12/16/2016
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
LivSecure Equipment & Protection
LivSecure is new to the home security scene. As a division of My Alarm Center, LivSecure compliments their old school model with a fresh approach: 100% self-installed, cellular security. My hands-on experience was my first experience with either company, though not my first with their equipment maker (Qolsys) or their software intelligence (Alarm.com). As such, I wasn’t expecting a different experience, but it was different. It was a good reminder that sometimes it’s the little things that set one company apart from another.
Before we get started, I want to call out one thing, LivSecure provided the equipment for testing at no cost. If you follow my reviews, you know this is unusual. The vast majority of the time I pay for equipment and service on my own. However, as I’m currently under a three-year contract with another home security provider, being able to test LivSecure without a contract was welcome and in no way impacted my opinion.
Monitoring Service Through LivSecure
LivSecure offers three different monitoring plans. The plans include LivEssential, LivEssential+, and LivPremier. The plans require a $99 activation fee but come with both service and equipment.
All three plans offer 24/7 monitoring for fire and intrusion as well as full access to their mobile app. However, as they increase in price, they also increase in service. The middle package adds access to home security cameras and LivPremier adds smart home capabilities.
|24/7 Monitoring Burglaries, Fire, & CO|
|Total Home Control App|
|Motion Sensor||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included|
|Door & Window Sensors||3 Included||3 Included||3 Included|
|Smoke/CO Detector||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included|
|Arm/Disarm Key Fob||1 Included||1 Included||1 Included|
|Yard Sign & 2 Window Decals|
|Camera||1 Included||1 Included|
|Smart Socket Plug-In||1 Included|
|Remote Climate Control|
|Smart Thermostat||1 Included|
|Remote Light Control|
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
LivSecure Home Security Equipment
All three packages include a control panel, the Qolysis 7″ touchscreen IQ panel. The panel is capable of controlling your entire home security system as well as connected smart home devices. It acts as a go-between, communicating with your security sensors and sending information back to LivSecure’s monitoring company using a cellular signal. The panel includes a battery backup, so it will continue to monitor your home even if you lose power, and the cellular chip will keep you up and running even if your internet fails. With your panel in place, you can add multiple sensors including a pet-friendly motion detector, door/window sensors, fire/CO detectors, key fobs, and smart home devices.
I was fortunate enough to be able to test several pieces of equipment including the control panel, a motion sensor, the door & window sensors, the smoke/CO detector, key fob, smart socket, smart bulbs, smart thermostat, and the indoor camera.
Sometimes with test systems, it’s hard to judge if my installation experience will be the same as yours. After all, the system really isn’t mine, and I might not be the first person to use the equipment received. Also, I miss out on experiencing the sales process. That said, judging what I did test, installation was easy. How easy? It’s so easy that most can probably do it without reading the instructions, though that’s not a recommendation.
To install the system, you’ll follow five steps:
- Plan Your Sensor Placement
- Setup Your Control Panel
- Setup Sensors
- Place Your Yard Sign and Window Decals
- Call To Activate
Installing the panel is as easy as plugging it in. And the sensors are ready to be paired with the panel out of the box. Most sensors are paired by removing the cover, pulling the battery tab, and sticking them on a wall using the included 3M adhesive, no drilling required.
INSTALLATION TIP I found the web portal easier than the app, which I’ve used in the past to setup another Alarm.com system. The web portal’s System Setup is done wizard style with a step-by-step guide.
Final Thoughts on Equipment and Pricing
Regarding equipment and monitoring, the only negative thing to say about LivSecure is that equipment pricing is not available to the public. While they are upfront regarding monitoring cost and fees, it’s impossible to find a list of compatible equipment options and pricing for equipment purchased a la carte.
- 24/7 Monitoring & App Access Included
- 100% Wireless Monitoring via Cellular Signal
- A La Carte Equipment Pricing Unknown
LivSecure for Home Automation
Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at their website, LivSecure offers the full spectrum of smart home devices ranging from smart bulbs to smart thermostats to a possible integration with Amazon Alexa via Alarm.com. The first step into home automation is video monitoring through LivEssential+, which includes one indoor home security camera. And while I’m certain that LivSecure can support all Alarm.com home security cameras, they only promote the indoor fixed IP camera.
Hands-On With Alarm.com’s Indoor Security Camera
Setting up the camera is fairly easy. It’s an attractive camera, small, complete with a stand and an optional wall mount. Alarm.com’s indoor camera is a fixed camera that records in 720p HD. It includes automatic night vision backed by Infrared LEDs, motion detection, and even smart motion zones.
At around $150, it’s not that much less expensive than competitors like Canary and Nest, which both sell for around $170. However, it’s missing features commonly found in newer security cameras like audio, FHD 1080p recording, a large viewing angle (it’s only 112°), and wireless installation (requires Ethernet access during setup). It also lacks a battery and requires high-speed internet, though the rest of LivSecure’s system relies on a cellular signal. That said, when you pair the camera with Alarm.com’s software ability, it has some impressive tricks.
- Supports Motion Zones
- Offers Recording Schedules
- Free Cloud Storage (1,000 Clips/Month)
- Live Streaming Video
- Advanced Customization Options
- Multi-Camera Support
By far, recording schedules are the most useful home security feature built into the camera. You can set it to record based on five different actions:
- Record when an alarm event occurs.
- Record when camera detects motion.
- Record when the security system reports an Entry Delay.
- Record when a given sensor is opened or closed.
- Record video when the system is Armed or Disarmed.
While the camera may not be the best camera I’ve ever tested, its ability to connect to the security system as a whole is what makes it unique.
Locks and Temperature Automation
Subscribing to LivPremier will grant you access to more advanced automation features including lock and temperature automation. While LivSecure doesn’t advertise lock automation, it is possible through their service. You can set rules or even rules based on your location aka geofencing. For example, you can set your doors to lock automatically when you drive away from home.
LivSecure calls temperature automation “Remote Climate Control”, and they include an Alarm.com smart thermostat with a LivPremier contract. Disappointedly, it seems as though service is required for the thermostat to have any sort of intelligence. Without service, you cannot program the thermostat. With service, the hardware is capable of several smart features.
First of all, the Alarm.com Thermostat integrates with the LivSecure system. It not only uses your other sensors as triggers, it “learns” from them. Like locks, it can also react based on your location. It can follow a schedule, but also adjust if your schedule changes. For example, if you come home from work early, it will sense your approach and adjust the temperature accordingly. It also:
- Shuts Itself Off If Smoke or Carbon Monoxide is Detected
- Adjusts Based On Outdoor Temperatures
- Shuts Off If You Leave a Window or Door Open
- Works With Temperature Sensors to Deliver Room Specific Comfort
Smart Socket and Small Appliance Control
Of all the smart devices, I was most excited to try the Smart Socket by Qolsys. It’s big and bulky, but its size allows for an on-device screen that provides instant feedback on wattage usage. Unfortunately, the on-device screen is there for a reason: the device can’t do much besides display data.
Post a failed Belkin WeMo experiment, I am still trying to find a sensor that’ll send a notification when my clothes are ready to move from washer to dryer. I was hopeful the Qolsys Smart Socket would be the solution for me. It’s not. According to an Alarm.com representative,
The Z-wave Light Power Meter is meant for smaller appliances and is not designed to send notifications. To receive notifications for a larger appliance like a washing machine a heavy duty switch like the Aeon Labs HEM G1 or G2, which is compatible with Alarm.com would be needed. We recommend reaching out to LivSecure to verify that they support energy monitoring and the Aeon integration.
With the smart socket, you can turn devices on or off from anywhere and check wattage usage on the screen.
With my LivSecure package, I also received two smart bulbs. They installed exactly like Philips Hue, plug them in and hit find device. The bulbs can be controlled from anywhere, and you can integrate them into scenes or rules. Also, you can control each bulb individually, or you can create a scene to control them all at the same time.
App, Web Portal, and Alarm.com
The final piece of the puzzle is app and web portal access. While this is possible via all three packages, it becomes even more essential and powerful when combined with smart home services. The app powers geofencing, as the feature uses your phone as a beacon to know if you are home (doors unlocked, lights on) versus away (doors locked, lights off). You can also use the app to control things on the fly. Using the app, you can turn your lights on/off from anywhere and even adjust your thermostat.
Where Alarm.com shines is in delivering a reliable experience. Every day I was reminded to arm my system at 10:30 a.m., exactly as requested. Every time I logged into my web portal, I received an account accessed notification, exactly as requested. And every time I drove away from home without arming the system, it reminded me, just as I had requested. If you have experience with smart home systems, you’ll recognize how amazing this is. While DIY systems are trendy and hold a special place in my heart, they aren’t always reliable. It takes a certain amount of know-how to build a smart home platform that can support thousands of users. This is something Alarm.com has experience doing.
Final Thoughts on Home Automation
- All Packages Include App Access
- Geofencing Capabilities
- Light, Lock, Small Appliance, and Temperature Automation
Customer Service & Support
In working with LivSecure, I found that they do a lot of things right. They sent tips via email to help get me started including information on adding family members and setting up alerts. I also received proactive notifications prompting me to activate my system, ensuring that I was protected. And as an added gold star, they were nothing but gracious when I called in for help on a rookie mistake. (I decided to start installing without unpacking and thus didn’t realize there was an included quick startup guide to answer all of my questions.) All that said, it wasn’t all roses. When it comes to the policies that back LivSecure’s offer, I have two concerns.
One, while the offer is strong, it lacks a certain amount of transparency. Without a personal contact or access to test equipment, much would remain unknown. For example: How much is equipment a la carte? How long are the contracts? Can you add lock automation? What about an outdoor camera? Does their contract auto-renew? While I have answers to some of these questions, some remain unknown. LivSecure should be more forthcoming without requiring a phone call to their sales department. Two, LivSecure is not nationwide. They currently cover forty states. What happens if you move to an area they don’t cover?
But back to the positives, they have done several things right from a customer experience perspective. If you move to an area they do cover, you simply pack your system up and take it with you, no charge. And while they ask for a 36-month contract, you are welcome to sign a one-year contract if you are willing to pay a higher upfront fee. Next, they offer a 30-day risk-free trial. If you don’t like the system, return it, no questions asked. Finally, they hold an A+ rating with the BBB.
As LivSecure is relatively new to the DIY security world, I’d say they are off to a good start. They have a few kinks to work out, but for the most part, it’s a smooth process backed by strong brands to create a user-friendly and reliable offer.
- A+ BBB Rating
- Coverage For 40 US States
- 30-Day Risk-Free Trial