Brinks Home Security ReviewBy - 03/07/2019
Our Overall Rating
The Bottom Line
If there’s one thing that’s true about Brinks Home Security™, it’s that they are poised to make a comeback. Brinks Home Security™ is a brand that encompasses multiple home security companies including the companies formerly known as Brinks, LiveWatch, and MONI, as well as paid plans that support the Nest Secure system.
MONI and Brinks were never highly rated on our site. MONI, specifically, used policies that we felt were not as customer friendly as other options, which is one of the reasons why they tried to shake the Monitronics brand before becoming MONI. LiveWatch, on the other hand, held a top spot on our list for years, usually placing third on our ranking of top recommended home security systems. In my opinion, one of LiveWatch’s biggest issues has always been a lack of consistency. When I first started reviewing home security, they functioned as SafeMart before becoming LiveWatch. And even once they settled in as LiveWatch, they were forever changing plans and pricing. And now, in true LiveWatch style, they are facing a complete upheaval post the process of becoming Brinks Home Security™. Thankfully, most of the changes are beneficial.
Brinks Home Security™ Equipment & Protection
If you choose Brinks as your home security provider, the first step is to choose your path. They offer four plans. Two of them use traditional security equipment, and two of them use Nest Secure. We’ll start by reviewing the two traditional plans which fall under the name “Brinks Home.”
Brinks Home Plans
The two traditional plans are dubbed Brinks Home Complete and Brinks Home Complete with Video. Both plans combine service and equipment.
|Brinks Home Complete||Brinks Home Complete with Video|
|Equipment Fee if Paid Upfront||$399.00||$499.00|
|Equipment Fee if Financed||$11.08/month||$13.86/month|
|Contract Length||36 Months||36 Months|
|Live Video Streaming|
|Cloud Video Storage|
|Equipment Included||IG Gen 2 Security
Panel, 3 Door/Window
Sensors, 1 Motion Detector
|IG Gen 2 Security
Panel, 3 Door/Window
Sensors, 1 Motion Detector, 1
|Return Period||30 Days||30 Days|
|J.D. Power Ranked Brinks #1 in Customer Satisfaction Among Home Security Brands in 2018|
|Visit Site||Visit Site|
If you compare the current plans to what LiveWatch formally offered, you’ll find that they aren’t that different. LiveWatch had a couple of advantages, including 12-month contracts and a longer return period, but Brinks offers a competitive monthly fee. When compared to MONI, I only see improvements. First of all, MONI’s home automation and video monitoring plan was $59.99 per month, compared to $39.00 for Brinks Home Complete with Video. Second, Brinks’ policies are more transparent, and customers have access to a 30-day trial. Overall, the Brinks plans provide a nice balance between LiveWatch and MONI. But what will happen to former LiveWatch customers who don’t want to convert?
According to a Brinks representative,
“Existing LiveWatch customers will continue to receive the same support on their current equipment with their current pricing and contracts. The only main change current customers will notice is the rebranding. They will see Brinks Home Security™ rather than LiveWatch.”
If you don’t want to pay upfront, you can finance your Brinks system via GreenSky. This option will increase your monthly fee but bring your upfront fee down to $0.
Home Complete with GreenSky Financing
- $0 Down
- $11.08 per month at 0% APR for 36 months
Home Complete with Video with GreenSky Financing
- $0 Down
- $13.86 per month at 0% APR for 36 months
IG Gen 2 Security Panel
The IG Gen 2 Security Panel is the brains of the system and included in both packages. It comes equipped with a cellular chip for communication as well as battery backup. It also has a built-in camera and multiple wireless radios including Z-Wave Plus to help you connect to and control smart home devices like smart lights, locks, and thermostats.
As the IQ panel is touchscreen, you can control devices and even call for emergency services (police, fire, medical) right from the panel itself. Of course, this isn’t unique to the IG Gen 2. Most touchscreen panels offer the same, but IG Gen 2 also has four unique features that set it apart from others.
First of all, one of the panel’s most unique features is Bluetooth disarming or touchless disarming. With your phone in your pocket, the panel can sense your presence and will request to disarm your system. In fact, it can pair with up to five smartphones or tablets.
Second, the panel includes a built-in glass break detector.
Third, the IQ Panel 2 encrypts the signal between the sensors and the panel, adding an extra layer of security.
Finally, the panel uses dual-path connectivity. In addition to using an LTE radio, it simultaneously runs WiFi to help connect to the cloud quickly and efficiently, but also for redundancy. While WiFi is faster than a cellular connection, it’s not as reliable. If your internet is out, the cellular chip will take over all of the heavy lifting.
As the panel includes Z-Wave Plus, it can connect with up to 119 smart home devices, way more than the system ships with. Though the packages you buy upfront are set in stone, you can always add more equipment a la carte.
As already mentioned, both plans include equipment. Brinks Home Complete includes an IG Gen 2 Security Panel with a built-in Glass Break Sensor, three Door/Window Sensors, and one Motion Detector. Brinks Home Complete with Video includes the same plus an Indoor Security Camera.
If you want to add more equipment, you can do so. The chart below lists MSRP pricing, but if you buy the equipment at point-of-sale you will receive a 50% discount. This holds true regardless of if you choose to finance the equipment or not. If you finance, you can also choose to finance add-on products, but this will increase your monthly fee.
- Extra Door/Window Sensors: $29.00
- Motion Sensors: $78.00
- Garage Door Tilt Sensors: $39.95
- Glass Break Sensors: $79.00
- Key Fobs: $29.95
- Indoor Cameras: $249.00
- Outdoor Cameras: $349.00
- Image Sensors
- Smoke Detectors: $79.00
- CO Sensor
- Flood Sensor
- Freeze Sensor
- Home Automation Devices
Brinks Pro Install
Brinks equipment is 100% wireless which means no drilling and a simple install. However, if you don’t feel comfortable installing the equipment, you can use Brinks Pro Install services.
Brinks Pro Install provides installation of your equipment, testing, and even an in-home demonstration. It also expands the warranty of your devices from 2 years to lifetime coverage. If you want to add install services, you can pay monthly at a rate of $10.00 per month or you can pay a one-time fee of $199.00. Alternatively, you can upgrade to a lifetime warranty without installation services for $49.00.
Professional installation is only valid for the two Brinks plans. Nest Secure is also wireless, but it is 100% self-installed.
Nest Secure Packages
Nest Secure is an unusual partnership for Brinks as it’s a security system you self-install and self-monitor, where Brinks is a professionally-monitored, professionally-installed security system.
You might recognize Nest as the company responsible for the Nest Thermostat, but they also sell Nest Secure, a home security system.
Brinks sells Nest Secure two ways. In both scenarios, you will need to buy the equipment upfront for $299.00. The equipment package includes 1 Nest Guard (works as a control panel), 2 Nest Detects (door/window sensors with built-in motion detection), and 2 Nest Tags (key fobs). If you purchase the same package from Nest, you will pay $499.00, making Brinks’ offer a pretty good deal.
|Nest Secure||Nest Secure|
|Monitoring Fee||$29 Month-to-Month||$19 Per Month|
|Equipment Included||Nest Guard, 2 Nest
Tags, 2 Nest Detect Sensors
|Nest Guard, 2 Nest
Tags, 2 Nest Detect Sensors
With your equipment in place, you can choose to add professional monitoring month-to-month, or you can sign a contract for three years of professional monitoring services. The only advantage to signing a contract is that the monitoring fee is reduced from $29 to $19 per month.
Even if purchased through Brinks, you will use the Nest app to monitor and control your Nest Secure system. Through Nest, you also have a third option: Pay $5 per month to add cellular backup to your system.
Besides the app used and cost, there is another difference between Nest and Brinks. Brinks provides fire monitoring. Nest, on the other hand, does not. They sell a Nest branded smoke alarm, but it is self-monitored even if you pay for professional monitoring. Another difference, of course, is that you can’t self-monitor your Brinks equipment. Also, Brinks provides some equipment upfront without a fee whereas you must pay for your Nest Secure equipment upfront. Finally, monitoring Nest Secure is slightly less per month, if you sign a contract, when compared to the monitoring fee associated with Brinks Home.
If you want to dig more into Brinks’ features, read on.
Brinks Home Security™ Features Explained
Most of the services offered by Brinks are relatively self-explanatory. However, they do throw around several proprietary terms including LiveVoice® Assist, Crash&Smash, Location-Based control, ASAPer, and more.
Crash and Smash Protection
Crash & Smash Protection is a patented term by Alarm.com, a service provider for Brinks. The technology is both software- and hardware-based, which sets it apart from other solutions that are solely hardware-based. Crash & Smash helps to protect against a very specific scenario: Someone breaking into your home and destroying your control panel.
With Crash & Smash, the moment someone enters your home, a soft call is placed. If you are the person entering your home, you will input your security code to let the monitoring centers know that all is well. If a burglar breaks into your home and smashes the panel, the “okay” signal is never received. When this happens, the soft call turns into an emergency call and help is sent.
LiveVoice is Brinks’ term for two-way audio. This is a feature that sets them apart from other alarm companies as it is only offered by a couple of other providers, 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.
As a side note, the IQ panel used by Brinks includes two built-in microphones to improve audio quality. The microphones also allow the panel to act as a glass break sensor.
Location-Based control is what the rest of the home security industry calls Geofencing. Using your smartphone, you can set a virtual fence around your home that tells your system when you are home or away based on your phone’s location. Using this information, you can schedule different actions to occur. For example, you can create a reminder to arm your system when you leave home or set it to automatically turn on your thermostat when you return.
ASAPER for Added Speed and Security
Brinks will also adopt one of LiveWatch’s greatest tools, ASAPer. ASAPer is an interactive communication center that connects your whole family and can be accessed via 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 Brinks 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. Although ASAPER’s speed is touted as its biggest advantage, I disagree. I would argue that its 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
If you choose Nest Secure, you will use the Nest app. If you choose Brinks, you will use the Alarm.com app.
The Alarm.com 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. Alarm.com services also provide the system’s ability to control your home automation devices and 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’re 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 or Google Home.
Summary of Brinks Home Security Monitoring and Equipment
- 24/7 Monitoring Services
- UL Listed Monitoring Centers
- Option to Choose Brinks or Nest Secure
- 100% Wireless Equipment
- Good for Renters (No Equipment Discount) and Homeowners
- ASAPer Family Communication
Video Surveillance and Home Automation
Tied into the security features, Brinks includes Video Surveillance and Smart Home services.
Adding a security camera requires that you are subscribed to the Brinks Home Complete with Video plan. This plan includes one indoor camera, live video streaming, and cloud video storage.
Unlike traditional security cameras that function independently, Brinks cameras are closely tied to the security system. For example, you don’t arm and disarm the cameras, but rather they arm and disarm as you arm and disarm your security system. Event recordings are also tied to your security system via a feature called “smart video capture.” 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, and as the cameras record 30-second video clips, that should be more than enough.
Though the Video plan includes a camera, you can also add more, including an outdoor camera.
Important: One important thing to point out is that the cameras are all WiFi-enabled. While the Brinks system can use WiFi and cellular signals simultaneously, the cameras are WiFi dependent and will not work if you lose internet.
Indoor 1080p Wi-Fi Camera $249
The video linked below explores an older Alarm.com model, but I have tested the newer Alarm.com Indoor 1080p Wi-Fi Camera. The newer camera features a few improvements. At a basic level, the camera offers a 1080p resolution, night vision, a 113° field of view, and two-way audio.
The indoor camera requires a 1.0 Mbps upload speed and 5.0 Mbps download speed.
Indoor Dome Hi-Res IP Video Camera $249
The dome camera can help you capture a new vantage point as it is a ceiling-mounted camera.
Outdoor 1080p Wi-Fi Camera $349
The only outdoor camera of the bunch, the Bullet Camera offers infrared night vision, an 88° field of view, and a 1080p resolution.
The SkyBell HD video doorbell allows you to “answer your door” using your smartphone or tablet. If someone rings your doorbell, you will receive an alert to your phone. From there, you can see who is at your door and even communicate with them using two-way voice. The camera offers a 180° field of view and color night vision.
Finally, though not a video camera, an Image Sensor is a camera. Think of it as a motion sensor with a camera that snaps a picture every time motion is detected.
Brinks’ system can control and connect to smart home devices directly, but the system also works with third-party devices and services. We will start with devices that connect directly.
Via Brinks smart home services, you can turn your lights on or off, lock your doors, or even control your home’s temperature from anywhere. They even offer garage door automation. But perhaps the most useful feature is geofencing. By creating a geofence radius around your home, you can tell your smart home devices to react automatically when you enter or leave the area. For instance, you can have your thermostat automatically turn down when you leave to save energy and then have it fire back up when you return.
An important step in creating a smart home is adding the right equipment. Most Alarm.com-compatible devices will work with the system, but you can also find a list of compatible smart home devices here. The listed devices work well with the IG Gen 2 Security Panel though there are also other devices that will work well that are not listed, like the Caseta Smart Bridge.
Pricing will vary based on device, but to give you an idea, if you’re interested in smart lighting, you can buy a Z-Wave Plug-In Fluorescent Light and Appliance Module ($59) or In-Wall Switches. Brinks sells a dimmer version for $57.60 and an on-off version for $64.95. And again, if you buy devices at point-of-sale, you will receive a 50% discount. You can also choose to finance your smart home equipment.
If you want to automate your door locks, you have several options including the Kwikset SmartCode Wireless Keypad Deadbolt and the Leverlock version. Both sell for $249.
You can also automate small appliances using a smart switch ($59). Brinks even sells an outdoor module for $64.95.
Finally, Brinks sells an Advanced Z-Wave Thermostat for $159.95, but I recommend the Alarm.com Smarter Thermostat which sells for around $120.00.
Third-Party Smart Home Devices
Not surprisingly, Brinks works with the Nest Thermostat. This integration works with both Nest Secure and Brinks systems.
Brinks also boasts an Alexa integration. With the right equipment, you can control your home with your voice using Amazon Echo, Dot, or any Alexa-enabled device. You can arm your system (but not disarm it), lock your door (smart lock required), turn on lights (smart light required), control the temperature (smart thermostat required), and close your garage door (garage door controller required).
Finally, you can use your Google Home devices to control your system thanks to Alarm.com. You can use your voice to arm your system, unlock your doors, check on your devices, turn on/off lights, and even change the temperature in your home.
To get started, simply say, “Okay Google, talk to Alarm.com.”
Finally, though MONI worked with August Locks, Bricks will no longer support the integration.
Summary of Brinks Home Automation and Video Surveillance
- Works with Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
- Z-Wave Plus
- Third-Party Integrations
- Voice Control via Alexa and Google Assistant
Customer Service & Support
When Brinks first merged with LiveWatch and MONI, I wasn’t sure how to judge their customer service as I wasn’t sure which company’s customer service culture would prevail. A year following the merger, I think we have our answer, and it’s not good. In the past year, we’ve received comments and emails from former LiveWatch customers who are disappointed in the service, stating that it’s gone downhill. In reading the commentary, it seems like the culture is closer to MONI than it is LiveWatch. That said, Brinks currently holds an A+ rating with the BBB and that should account for something. Also, they have employed several customer-centric policies.
First, in an email to existing customers, Brinks has promised to support existing LiveWatch equipment and contracts so customers can keep what they have versus being forced to buy new. What we don’t know is what will happen when existing contracts end. Brinks has a month-to-month renewal policy, which is great, but will existing LiveWatch customers renew monthly at their current rate or at the new rate? Early feedback suggested that rates are increasing at renewal, which is not good.
Second, you will be able to take your system with you when you move without penalty. As Brinks is 100% wire-free, you can simply pack it up and transport it with you when you’re ready to move. Of course, if you paid for professional installation, that might be something you need to pay for again.
Third, Brinks has changed LiveWatch’s generous return policy, but it’s still a decent 30 days. If you terminate your contract after 30 days, you will be asked to pay off the remaining value of your contract. To compare, LiveWatch customers were allowed to cancel within the first year.
Where Brinks fails regarding customer service is that they merged with two companies who have historically failed to be consistent for those they do business with. We’ve already reviewed the SafeMart to LiveWatch transition, but what you might not know is that LiveWatch increased pricing by $10 per month prior to the merger and then they swapped out the features offered by their entry-level plan by adding a fourth package. The same can be said of MONI, who raised pricing on all three of their packages by $5 per month in 2017. And in October of 2018, Brinks dropped pricing on their packages but added an equipment fee and reduced their return policy from 90 to 30 days. These are all things to consider as pricing is only locked in while you’re under contract. Once your contract ends, your price may change, and you might be stuck with equipment you no longer want to use.
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