Best Home Security System for 2017By - 12/31/2016
Frontpoint Security is our pick for best home security system in 2017. And it’s not just because they have a 100% wireless system, because they are better than the competition, because they provide secret ways to keep your home safe, or because they take care of their customers like little golden nuggets…it’s more than all of that. As a Frontpoint customer, I can say from experience that they provide a good system and great customer service. I’ve also personally talked to others who use them, and I have researched all the Frontpoint reviews online. Having this accumulated knowledge, I feel confident recommending them to my friends and family. And in my opinion, they have the best home security system in America for homeowners, renters, squatters, and vacation homeowners.
- Wireless Security System
- Uses a Cellular Signal
- DIY-installed without drilling
Frontpoint is for Commitment Phobes
Frontpoint is for commitment-phobes. They offer free trials, they let you move for free, they include everything you need to use the system, and you own the equipment.
One attribute that sets Frontpoint apart from other nationwide home security companies is that they are confident in their system. I can tell you all day long how great they are, but you really won’t know until you try them out for yourself. You can try them out without a big commitment, as they offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
Once the system arrives and you set it up, you have 30 days to play around with it. You get to actually use it! If, after all that, you decide that Frontpoint isn’t for you, return it. They’ll give your money back and pay the return shipping. There is no restocking fee, nothing tricky; it’s a real guarantee.
Most alarm companies, like Protect America and ADT, require that you sign a full 36 month contract, but only provide return periods of 0-14 days. Even then, they might stick you with a restocking fee if you decide to return the system. Other companies, like Vivint, might ask you to agree to a 60 month commitment without a return policy in place to protect you. That’s a very long commitment, and there are financial penalties should you decide you aren’t happy with your service during that 5-year period. Other companies up the commitment level by requiring that you also maintain internet service through them throughout the life of your security monitoring. With Frontpoint, you can choose between a 12-month and a 36-month contract. No matter what length you choose, you will be protected by the 30-day money back guarantee.
Move For Free
Another way the system is right for commitment-phobes is that it’s easy to move. If you prefer a nomadic lifestyle, Frontpoint is a perfect choice. As the system is wireless, it’s easy to relocate. When you are ready to move, give them a call, and they will ship you a free mover’s kit. The kit includes everything you need to relocate your system, including new adhesive. There is no fee for moving- not even a convenience fee, a shipping fee, or a transfer fee. The process is 100% complimentary.
Nothing “Extra” Required
Third, the service doesn’t require you to tie into other commitments. Cable companies who offer home security operate on this principle. If they can, they prefer to lock you into two or more services, not just one. As Frontpoint’s service is cellular, it doesn’t require that you have another service like a landline or high-speed internet. It stands alone. And you don’t need to buy minutes or set up a cellular carrier; everything you need is included in the control panel and covered by the monthly fee.
The Equipment is Open
Finally, at the end of the 12 or 36-month term, you own the equipment. If you want, you can take your equipment and move your service to another company. The equipment is not proprietary to Frontpoint. Now, I doubt you will want to change providers, but I’m just pointing out how flexible they are. They are not tricky. They are not trying to tie you down. They want you to be happy, and they want you to have a great experience so that you’ll tell your friends about them, just like I’m doing now.
Do you even need a security system?
Perhaps not everyone needs a system, but I do. I need the peace of mind, and I need help protecting my family. However, if you are on the fence, there are some things you should know.
Easier Than Ever
In the past, many people found security systems useless. The act of arming and disarming was tedious, and the system was often left unarmed, so every month they wound up paying for a service they weren’t actually using. Fortunately, today’s systems are combined with automation. Many of these tedious tasks can be set up using rules that run without any effort from you. For example, you can set up a rule to remind yourself to arm your system if you drive away without arming it You can also control the whole system from an app on your smartphone
If you purchased a security system more than five years ago and have not upgraded, it might be time to consider swapping out your system for a new one. More than likely, your security system is based on old technology and is being monitored using something other than a cellular connection.
An Alarm is More Than Burglar Protection
With that said, when determining if you need a security system or not, it’s important to understand that they do so much more than protect from burglaries. With the right equipment, they can also monitor for fires and can call for help if needed. The system also includes a medical alert button on the control panel that acts as a one-push panic button in case of emergency.
Also, a security system is an excellent way to jump into home automation. The platform is much more stable than DIY platforms and can do almost all of the same tricks while also implementing some basic home security rules. For example, you might want to set up your lights to turn on automatically while you are on vacation, or you can set your locks to lock when you arm your system.
Know What an Alarm Is and Isn’t
I think something else that people need to realize is that an alarm system is a warning and a deterrent. Meaning that the system is likely to make someone think twice before breaking into your home and can call for help if needed, but it does not make you impervious to crime. I understand the purpose of a security system and for me, having my Frontpoint system is an important part of my total home security.
Why You Might Be a Match
While reviewing home security system reviews, it might be hard to tell if you are a match or not. 96% of customers give Frontpoint a thumbs up. You should consider them if you want a home security system that can call the police on your behalf 24 hours a day and 7 days per week. You should also consider them if you want a system that can be your eyes and ears, monitoring for everything from fires to floods to a door that was accidentally left open. This is a system that can do it all while providing peace of mind through mobile technology. Their app (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Pebble, Kindle, Apple TV, Apple Watch) can tell you who is in your home, if you left a light on, and can also help you remember to arm your system as you drive out of your driveway. It is a home security system and a home manager that you can let run automatically or that you can control while at home or from halfway around the world. That is TOTAL home security.
Besides the obvious reasons stated above, there are other reasons why Frontpoint stays on top.
Cellular, Battery Backup, and Secret Sauce
Is there a way to improve upon the best? The answer is yes. Cellular monitoring is the most secure, but you can improve upon that, and this is exactly what Frontpoint has done.
Frontpoint uses a dedicated cellular signal, which means it is dedicated to your security system only and is separate from the signal your cell phone uses. But, the most important feature is that they use a dedicated cellular signal that talks to your sensors and control panel and also between your panel and their central monitoring station. Many providers offer a cellular signal between your panel and the monitoring station, but not between your sensors and control panel. This is a feature that really sets them apart.
The “secret sauce” is built into the control panel. Yes, the control panel has built-in cellular, but it also has battery backup. If a burglar cuts your wires, it still works. If a burglar jams your signal, it still works. If a force of nature takes out your internet and power, you will be protected until the battery runs out. When the power comes back on, the battery recharges, and the control panel is ready to protect again.
Also built into the panel is Alarm.com’s Crash and Smash Protection. If a burglar finds and destroys your control panel, it calls for help even if it’s on the ground in a million pieces.
In actuality, it won’t really call for help. Instead, an all clear signal is never received. You see, Frontpoint instantly sends a soft alert no matter what. Other companies have a delay. This delay was created to help prevent false alarms, but there’s a better way. Frontpoint sends a signal instantly. This soft alert is sent to the monitoring center. They know this means that you are okay, you’re simply on your way to disarm the system. After the soft alert is received, they wait for you to tell them everything is okay, which you do when you enter your passcode. Just like other security systems, this process helps reduce false alarms. The difference between this process and the process used by other companies is that someone else has your back from start to finish. To explain using a real-life example, let’s assume that a burglar opens your door. When he does so, the soft signal is sent. He sees your panel and he smashes it. In this case, the all clear signal is never received by the central monitoring agency. The soft alert turns into an active alert and help is dispatched.
And while we’re at it, there are some rumors floating around about cellular monitoring that simply aren’t true. The truth is that:
1. A cellular alarm system does not use your cell phone minutes.
2. You do not need a separate cellular line for a cellular alarm to work.
3. A cellular alarm system does not interfere in any way with your cell phone.
4. You do not need a strong cellular signal at your house for a cellular alarm to work
I’m Not the Only Frontpoint Fan in the Sea
I am not the only person to use Frontpoint and like it. There are others. For example, Yelpers. Yelpers are notoriously hard on businesses, but at the same time, the site uses a proprietary algorithm to weed out fake reviews, and they pay particular consideration to those that have taken steps to say, “Hi there, I’m a real person”. With that said, it’s impressive that in the majority of cities we checked, Frontpoint has 4 – 5 stars. Like in Washington DC where they hold a 4 star average after 170 reviews, in Nashville they hold a 5 star rating, and in Sacremento they have 28 reviews with an average of 4.5 stars. Remember, Frontpoint is nationwide. They can provide service in all 50 states (plus Canada), but I wanted to pull a few examples to give you an idea.
In addition to Yelp, they have some fans on Angie’s List. They’ve won the Angie’s List Super Service Award five years running and of the 7,617 reviews they have on the site, 6441 of them are an A, giving them an overall A rating.
Finally, Frontpoint holds an A+ rating with the BBB and has held that rating for several years.
While there are some complaints on large complaint sites, the amount of complaints compared to other large, nationwide security companies are minuscule. By far, the most significant number of complaints are specific to the motion detector. Motion detectors are tricky, especially if you have pets. If you have pets or are concerned about this, it may be better to use a glass break sensor to cover large areas or other sensors besides a motion detector. This is a good tip for any security system, as you do want to reduce your chances of costly false alarms, which can bring a penalty in some cities.
What Makes A Good Wireless Security System?
Are you a Candidate?
Before digging into the details of what makes a good wireless system, you should make sure you are a candidate. Wireless security systems are great for the average home. If you have a home over 4000 square feet, you might want to consider a wired system versus a wireless system. Or, you should really dig into the wireless range of the system you select before investing. Just make sure you choose a system that has some traditional home security elements. Things like door and window sensors, glass break sensors, and motion detectors are proven to work. For the rest of the world, wireless is ideal.
Wireless is best because you can move your components around as your security needs change. Also, should you ever need to move to a new home, you can take your wireless system with you. Some companies will install wired systems that can’t be moved and then charge you to move or worse, make you buy out your total contract value.
A good wireless system is easy to install. It’s so easy to install that you don’t need tools, and you don’t need any technical knowledge. With that said, when researching wireless home security systems, you should look into the installation policy.
Is the system self-install? How long does the average person spend installing? What if you want to expand your system? What if you need technical support? Is an appointment required? Do they charge for this? Ideally, these would be things you can do on your own and things you should be allowed to do for free.
When looking for a good wireless system, you will want to investigate the company behind the system. Many home security companies use the same equipment, so the company and its policies are the make or break.
Start by looking into a company’s online reputation. Take a look at their BBB score and online reviews, but make sure they are reputable. In the past, I read many online reviews recommending LifeShield. Before LifeShield was owned by Digital Life, they had an F rating with the BBB. At the same time, companies like LifeShield have very long contracts, and other companies have very short to no return policy. You want to make sure you have a chance to check things out before being locked into a long commitment.
Total Home Protection
Ideally, your system will also be able to monitor for smoke, carbon monoxide, and medical emergencies. On the peripheral, check to make sure the system can grow with you. You might not be ready for home automation now, but you might want this in the future. Can you add additional equipment and expand your system? Is it easy to do? Keep in mind that some companies, like Digital Life, restart the clock on your contract if you make any changes.
Also, dig into the components of home automation as it related to home security. Do you want video surveillance with security cameras you can view from your smartphone or your TV? What about automatic locks? A security company may say they have home automation, but that doesn’t mean they do everything. For example, SimpliSafe only offers a security camera and others lack lock automation.
On a related note, being able to control your system and set up rules is paramount. I already touched on this above so I won’t go into detail here, but being able to set up your system to arm and disarm itself on a schedule is not only cool, but it increases its ability to protect your home. A good mobile app includes remote arm/disarm, rules, and capacity to set up text and email alerts for multiple people. Most home security companies will call you if a system is breached, but making sure your entire family gets a text to stay away until the alarm is cleared is priceless.
Finally, good alarm systems provide monitoring services. Many self-monitored options can provide a good entry into home security, but it is best to have someone watching your back especially when guarding against home invasions or fires. However, the best systems also provide good monitoring. Good monitoring is always UL listed, but you should make sure that they are responding to alarms promptly.
Frontpoint uses a company called Rapid Response Monitoring to monitor alarms. Rapid Response has an excellent reputation in the industry. Their list of accreditations includes:
- Department of Defense approved
- Underwriters Laboratories Inc. tested
- Factory Mutual approved
- New York City Fire Department approved for commercial buildings
Rapid Response also employs redundancy tactics to make sure that THEY stay up and running when the power fails. After all, what good is it if your control panel remains online if it has no one to talk to? Rapid Response has redundancy backups for power outages, telephone outages, internet, etc. They also use servers that have built-in redundancy to protect against failure.
Frontpoint’s Price is Clear with No Gotchas
Frontpoint has all of the features of a good wireless home security system. And they don’t nickel and dime for extra features. Instead, they clearly lay out their pricing so you can make an educated buying decision.
No Hidden Fees
Pricing includes everything you would expect. All plans include access to monitoring for burglaries, fires, and medical emergencies. A 3-year warranty also backs your equipment purchase. There are no extra fees for tech support. In fact, their salespeople are technically trained so that you can get more value out of a conversation and less fluff.
No Door Knockers
In addition to owning their system, we’ve secret shopped them multiple times. Each time, we found that our sales rep was helpful and not like a hammer looking for a nail. What we really like about Frontpoint’s sales process is that you can call to talk to a salesperson if you want, or you can snoop around online to decide what you want before making a call. This is a complete 360 from companies like Vivint and ADT, who are very secretive online and on the phone. Traditional companies require that you schedule an appointment to meet with a salesperson in your home to get any real information. Once inside, they are as high pressure as it gets, and they are absolutely trained to get you to sign the dotted line before they leave. Maybe you are strong enough to say no, but it’s tougher in your home and uncomfortable. Plus, there are many complaints online that are based on broken promises. Most of them read something like this,
“In my home, the salesperson promised me (free monitoring, free equipment, a short contract, a return period), but in the end, I got screwed.”
Don’t let this happen to you. What’s worse, the FTC warns that many of these door-to-door salespeople are scamming homeowners.
Plans and Pricing
Frontpoint offers three plans. There are no hidden fees or gotchas. You get what you pick, and you get what you pay for. Check out their plans side-by-side in our post here.
Frontpoint vs ADT Pulse vs Vivint vs SimpliSafe vs LiveWatch vs LifeShield vs Protect America vs Link Interactive
We have compared Frontpoint to other systems, though we have not tested every single security system. Some of them we honestly wouldn’t want to test, as they don’t check all of the important boxes. However, we have tested a couple and have solicited feedback from people who have tested other systems and done an extreme amount of research – more research than I would wish upon you. To help you compare, we’ve created this chart that is factual instead of opinion based since we have not tested all of the systems.
If you see any errors on this chart or think that we’ve left something out, please comment below. This chart is intended to be a living, breathing document that is helpful for people visiting the site. We want this to be valuable and accurate.
It’s important to note that some companies offer inexpensive entry price points to lure you in, then perform what they call an “upsell”. They may say they offer a $19 per month plan, but what you will find is that you are required to have a landline or existing equipment or that it is only for burglary monitoring and nothing more. I’m not a fan of the bait and switch, but when comparing base pricing, it is important to note that some companies employ these tactics. In the chart below, we did not include this bait and switch base pricing. Instead, we looked at the cost for each company to see what it would cost to get decent service, which includes our recommended cellular monitoring, mobile app access with remote arm and disarm, and also basic light automation.
|Total Score||9.63 / 10||9.6 / 10||9.34 / 10||9.1 / 10||8.6 / 10||8.2 / 10||7.58 / 10||7.47 / 10|
|Fire Monitoring Included|
|Crash and Smash Protection|
|Light Automation Included||No Option|
|Minimum Contract Length||12 Months||12 Months||0 Months||12 Months||36 Months||42 Months||36 Months||0 Months|
|Website||Frontpoint||Link Interactive||Armorax||LiveWatch||Protection 1||Vivint||ADT||SimpliSafe|
|Professional Installation||Professional Installation||DIY|
|Our Review||Frontpoint Review||Link Review||Armorax Review||Livewatch Review||Protection 1 Review||Vivint Review||ADT Review||Simplisafe Review|
|Equipment Warranty||3 Years||2 Years||4 years||2 Years||Life of Contract for Phone Support Only||Life of Contract||Fee Based||3 Years|
|Move for Free||Limited||Limited||Limited|
|Return Policy||30 Day Risk Free Trial||30 Day Risk Free Trial||30 Day Risk Free Trial||Complicated – See Below **||14 Days Less $79 Restocking Fee||3 Days||0 Days||60 Day Risk Free Trial|
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
** Product Only Purchases: 45 Days 80% Back if Used or 365 Days if Purchased with Monitoring. Refund Less Shipping, Discounts and Services
|Glass Break |
|Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site||Visit Site|
Frontpoint uses the Simon XT control panel. It isn’t fancy, but it gets the job done. It comes with a cellular module, battery backup, and the ability to talk to other Z-Wave home automation devices. It also comes with a built-in siren that is definitely loud enough to attract attention.
If you prefer to control your home with a touchscreen, they offer the Qolsys IQ panel as an upgrade. The IQ panel offers everything the XT offers plus a built-in camera. It can store arm and disarm photo as well as photos of alarm events.
The control panels communicate directly with Frontpoint sensors. They have door sensors, motion sensors, smoke sensors, key fobs, home security cameras, flood sensors, glass break sensors, and more. You can learn more about the equipment and control panels here.
They are also slowly opening the door to 3rd party devices. You can now view your home security cameras from your Apple TV or even arm your system with your voice using Amazon Echo. Their smart doorbell is even technically a 3rd party device made by Skybell.
I know this article is long, but when recommending something as important as home security, I want you to know the “why.” Frontpoint has been good to me and good to others. Being good at customer service and providing a good security system are two entirely different things. Frontpoint offers both.