Pros and Cons
- No-Contract Monitoring
- Affordable Rates
- Choice Between Basic and Smart Features
- Limited Area Availability
- No Monitoring Center Redundancy
- Dated-Looking Security Systems
Smith Thompson is a locally operated company that provides good quality customer service and no-contract monitoring. They also claim to offer monitoring rates that haven't changed since 1978.
Smith Thompson's services are a little outdated. Its limited area availability means moving is with your security system isn't easy. It's also only offered to homeowners.
Smith Thompson is a solid and well-known option for homeowners in Texas. Their systems are versatile; they offer wired and wireless systems. Their offers, however, are not as innovative as other alarm companies.
Who's It For?
Smith Thompson only operates in Texas, especially in the Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin area. Unfortunately, Smith Thompson only caters to homeowners and small businesses. They don't offer services to apartments and renters.
On the bright side, Smith Thompson caters to those who need a new security system and monitoring, those who already have a system but needs monitoring, and those who have had their homes pre-wired by a builder.
Smith Thompson Sales Process
To get started with Smith Thompson, you're required to get a quote first. The company's website has a sample quote generator, where you can input what security system you want, a few details about your house, and the features you're looking for. The system will generate a quote based on the information you provide. However, it's just a sample quote to give you an idea of what to expect. You'll still need to talk to a sales rep to get a final quote.
You can speak with a sales rep by calling the number provided on their website or you may also leave your contact information here and wait for a response.
Once you're ready to buy products and services, the sales rep will send over an agreement. The agreement is not a contract that will tie you down to the service for the next few years, but rather an outline of what to expect from the service. If you agree to the agreement, a technician will perform the installation and walk you through how the system works.
Smith Thompson Equipment Review
Smith Thompson offers two types of systems: a slightly outdated system built around a DSC master control panel and a wireless system that uses a touchscreen Qolsys IQ Panel 2. The DSC system is for customers who want basic home security features living in a home pre-wired with alarm system wirings. The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 system, on the other hand, are for customers looking for more advanced features, such as home automation and security cameras access.
Most alarm companies that require long-term contracts usually offer free equipment, but they actually recoup the equipment cost by adding it to the monthly fee. Smith Thompson doesn't do that, so they were able to keep their monthly rates low and offer monitoring with no contracts. The only downside is that you'll have to buy the equipment upfront in full price. They do, however, provide equipment packages at a discounted price. You can find out more about Smith Thompson's pricing plan, packages, and promotions here.
Basic System With DSC Master Panel
The DSC Master Panel, a computer box that connects to an existing alarm wiring, is the main component of Smith Thompson's basic systems. It's usually placed in the basement, but you don't have to worry about installing it because Smith Thompson will send a technician to install it for you.
Although it's mainly for wired systems, you can add components or modules to make it wireless. For instance, you can connect it to a wireless receiver that will allow you to add wireless motion sensors to your system. The master panel also supports a wireless transmitter which allows it to bypass its landline connection and transmit alerts via cellular signal.
The master control panel is only that: a control box. Aside from it, you'll need a control keypad so you can arm and disarm your system as you come and go. The keypad that comes with the system is an analog keypad. It has a backlit screen and a physical keypad.
Aside from the control panel and keypad, Smith Thompson offers other basic home security and life safety sensors.
- LCD Keypads — $99
- Motion Sensors — $99
- Glass Break Sensors — $99
- Cellular Wireless Transmitter — $89
- Keyfob Remote — $49
- Door/Window Sensor — $29
- Battery Backup — $25
- Smoke/Heat Detector — $129
Home Security System With Home Automation Features
Smith Thompson's more advanced home security system is built around a touchscreen control panel. Unlike the DSC master control panel, it doesn't have to be wired into your home. You simply have to plug it in, turn it on, and connect it to Wi-Fi. It also has a built-in cellular transmitted, allowing it to transmit alarm signals without landline or internet.
The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 is known for its built-in security features.
For one, it has a touchscreen interface. You can control your security system through the control panel itself, although you may add extra analog keypads to give you control in multiple parts of your home.
Second, it has battery backup. The DSC control panel doesn't work during power outages unless you buy it a battery, which means your house is unprotected when there's no power. The Qolsys panel, on the other hand, has a built-in battery that can keep it powered during blackouts. On top of that, it uses cellular signal to transmit alerts, so landline and interruptions won't affect its operation.
Third, it has a built-in 5MP camera. It uses the camera to capture snapshots every time a user attempts to disarm your system. It sends the snapshot to the main user via email.
Fourth, it has a built-in glass break sensor and siren. If someone breaks-in through a window or glass door, the control panel will sense it and the siren will sound. The siren also integrates with other components.
The Qolsys control panel supports a wider range of equipment that includes home automation devices and cameras. These devices are not compatible with the DSC panel.
- Motion Sensors — $99
- Glass Break Sensors — $99
- Smoke/Heat Sensors — $99
- Carbon Monoxide Sensors — $99
- Flood Detectors — $99
- Door/Window Sensors — $29
- Z-Wave Appliance Modules — $59
- Z-Wave Dimmable Bulbs — $59
- Extra Keypads — $199
- Temperature Sensors — $39
- Z-Wave Smart Thermostat — $149
- Garage Door Controller — $199
- Z-Wave Plus Smart Lock — $249
- HD Indoor Camera — $99
- HD Doorbell — $199
- HD Slimline Doorbell — $199
- HD Outdoor Camera — $199
Under home automation, Smith Thompson offers Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus equipment, both are wireless standards used in the security and automation industry. Adding home automation equipment to your system lets you control your appliances, lights, locks, and temperature using the touchscreen control panel itself. For example, before leaving, you can arm your security system and turn off your lights.
Home automation devices also opens up your system to other possibilities. For example, you can create scenes. Scenes are basically a string of actions triggered by a single command. Instead of turning off each smart light, for example, you can create a scene that turns off all of them at once. Next time you want to turn off all your lights, simply activate the scene using the control panel or your smartphone.
You can also create rules. Rules are essentially programs or recipes that tell your smart home products what to do when a certain action or trigger occurs. For example, instead of arming and disarming your security system as you come and go, you can simply create a rule that arms it when you lock your door and disarm it when you unlock it.
Under cameras, Smith Thompson offers four security camera products, all of which are only compatible with the Qolsys panel. The first product is an HD indoor camera from Alarm.com. It offers live streaming, event recording, night vision, motion detection, and more. The second camera, the HD outdoor camera, offers similar features but designed for outdoor use. It's also a product of Alarm.com. The third and fourth camera products are video doorbells from SkyBell. One is a round-shaped video doorbell with an HD camera, motion sensor, and night vision. It sends an alert to the user whenever it's pressed and transmits audio and video to the user's smartphone, allowing for two-way communication. The other video doorbell offers the same features but it sports a slimmer design.
Smith Thompson Monitoring Review
Smith Thompson's equipment is tied to their monitoring service, which means to use the system, you must enroll to their professional monitoring service.
As mentioned earlier, Smith Thompson's monitoring service is affordable and contract-free. Monthly rates start at $16.95, while professional monitoring with camera and smart home features is $29.95/month.
For $16.95 a month, Smith Thompson will monitor your home security system but nothing more. When one of your sensors, whether a security or life safety sensor, detects danger, your system will send an alert to the monitoring center. In turn, a trained operator will check on you by calling your phone number and verify the alert. If you confirm that there's an emergency or if you fail to respond, the will send help based on the alert. If it's a possible intrusion, they will send the cops. If it's fire, they will send the fire department.
If you want, you can add $6.99 to your monthly bill to enable smartphone access. This feature gives you rights to use a smartphone app developed by Smith Thompson so you can control your security system on the go as long as you're phone is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data.
The basic monitoring plan only works for DSC control panel users and it's landline reliant. The problem with landline is that it's prone to disruptions and it can easily be defeated by a pair of wire cutters. If a burglar cuts your landline wire from outside the house, your security system won't be able to send alerts. You can solve this problem by buying a cellular transmitter. It's a device added to the control panel so it can send alerts via cellular signal. However, additional monthly fees might apply.
Professional Monitoring with Smart Home Features
If you're a Qolsys control panel user, this monitoring plan is required. It will cost you $29.95 per month, but it offers a lot more features than basic monitoring. First, your home security system will be professionally monitored by Smith Thompson. Second, you'll get smart home features, such as scenes and rules that we talked about earlier. Third, you'll receive smartphone access without additional fees. And finally, you can use the app to monitor security cameras. Of course, these features are dependent on which components you own. For example, you can only use the fourth feature if you have security cameras installed.
The Qolsys control panel, and by extension this monitoring package, uses cellular signal to communicate. It's more reliable than landline and wire cutters won't work on it.
Smith Thompson manages their UL-listed, in-house monitoring center, right in their headquarters in Plano, Texas. The central monitoring station houses trained operators that respond to alerts. Unfortunately, there's only one station, so if it fails to operate, for example, during a natural calamity, there is no backup station anywhere else. Fortunately, there are contingency measures that make the monitoring center less impervious to power or communication blackouts. It has two uninterrupted power supplies, multiple backup generators, backup communication lines, and backup servers.
As mentioned above, Smith Thompson's monitoring packages are contract free. But what does that really mean? Alarm companies use contracts to make their customers keep on using their service. If you stop the service before the end of the contract, you'll need to pay a penalty, which is often equivalent to the number of months remaining on your contract multiplied by your monthly rate. For example, if your monthly rate is $30 with a 3-year contract and you decide to stop the service after only two years, you'd be on the hook for $360. On top of that, if you live out your contract, some companies have auto-renew policies where they renew it for another couple of years.
With Smith Thompson, you're free to use the service for however long you want. You can use it for three years (industry standard contract length) or more, or even for just a few months. You have no obligations, so you can cancel the service anytime without penalties. Your only loss is the equipment. Even if you cancel the service, you would have already paid for the equipment and the catch is that you can't really use the system without professional monitoring.
Smith Thompson Customer Service Review
As far as customer service, Smith Thompson is exactly what you would expect from a family-owned, locally operated alarm company. Their customer support lines are accessible and they are within the area of most of their customers so they can easily and quickly provide emergency repair services. Their tech support lines are available on weekdays between 8AM and 6PM as well as on Saturdays between 9AM and 3PM. They are not available on Sundays.
When it comes to customer service quality, Smith Thompson holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and they consistently get good reviews from customers on consumer review websites. The most common commendation is about their technicians showing up on-time whether to perform initial installations or make emergency repairs. This can be attributed to the fact that they operate locally. In addition, several customers have mentioned that their customer support staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and very professional. All of these are promising customer service traits.
What seems to be lacking from Smith Thompson is clearly defined policies. Of course, offering no-contract monitoring means some policies are not needed, such as an early termination policy. However, many customers still deserve to know their moving policy, return policy, warranty, and more. If you want to know more about these policies before signing up, be sure to ask your sales rep about them.