2014 Home Security System Reviews
Industry Expert Florin Onofrei and the Reviews.com research team compiled a list of 25 home security companies and then selected 9 standout companies to review based on 57 home security system features.
How we determined what to review.
What Home Security System Features Matter and Why?
Home Automation is the ability to control events in the home through the security system. This includes the ability to control lights, appliances, and thermostats from a tablet or other mobile device. Homeowners will be able to perform these tasks while at home, or while they are away from home. The best home automation systems will also include scheduled and event-triggered automation, allow homeowners to arm and disarm the system, and open electronic door locks. Empowering the homeowner to control nearly every aspect of the home is the mark of the most innovative security systems. Advanced home automation capabilities like these will be ideal for those interested in a modern lifestyle that utilizes the best available technology.
- Adjust Temperature - You can adjust the temperature of your house remotely.
- Appliance Control - You can remotely turn small appliances on or off using a smartphone or Internet connection.
- Arm/Disarm - You can arm and disarm the security system remotely.
- Change Access Codes - You can change system access codes for different people who may have to enter your home.
- Electronic Door Locks - The company offers electronic door locks that can communicate wirelessly so you are able to lock and unlock your doors from anywhere.
- Event-Triggered Automation - You can set your lights to react to alarm sensors or other events.
- History Log - You can view a logged history of events that have taken place over a specified time period.
- Home Alerts - You can automatically receive alerts from your security system to keep you aware of what is happening in your house when you are not around.
- Lighting Control - You can turn lights on or off using your laptop or smartphone.
- Scheduled Automation - You can set a schedule for lights to be on at specific times of each day.
Monitoring Services refers to the types of monitoring that are contracted with the purchase of the security system. Industry standard will include 24/7 monitoring, as well as police, fire, and medical dispatching. Some companies contract their monitoring to outside organizations, while others perform the monitoring in-house. Monitoring Services is a central category because accessing and acquiring assistance in times of need is the primary purpose of home security systems.
- 24/7 Monitoring - The company monitors your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Fire Department Dispatch - The company will notify the local fire department if an environmental hazard is occurring in your home.
- Internal Monitoring - The company provides internal monitoring services instead of outsourcing these services.
- Medical Dispatch - The company will notify a medical team if a medical emergency is occurring in your home.
- Police Dispatch - The company will notify the local police if a break-in or other criminal activity is occurring at your home.
Sensors and Detectors outlines the equipment available for inclusion in the security and monitoring system. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are common, as are door and window sensors and motion detectors. The best security systems will also include glass break detectors, flood detectors, temperature sensors, and recessed door sensors. Most systems include a certain number of sensors and detectors in the standard price of the system and permit the homeowner to add additional equipment as necessary. Sensors and Detectors is an important category because it identifies the actual equipment that makes up the home security system.
- Alarm Sounding - The security system has an alarm that is triggered inside the house when there is a break-in or other hazardous event.
- Burglar Alarm - The company monitors a burglar alarm signal received from your home and notifies you and the police.
- Carbon Monoxide - Carbon monoxide detectors are available that trigger an alert in your home while also sending a signal to the company monitoring center.
- Door and Window Sensors - Door and window sensors are available that notify the monitoring center when a door or window is opened.
- Fire and Smoke - The company monitors a fire or smoke detector and notifies your local fire department if necessary.
- Flood Detectors - Flood detectors are available to help protect your home against water damage.
- Garage Door Tilt Sensor - Garage door sensors are available that signal when a garage door begins to open.
- Glass Break Detector - Glass break sensors are available that notify the company monitoring center if a window is broken.
- Motion Detector - Motion detectors are available that sense movement and sends a signal to warn the owner.
- Recessed Door Sensors - Recessed door sensors are available. These work like door and window sensors but are hidden from view and installed inside the door frame.
- Temperature Sensors - Temperature sensors are available that monitor and detect significant changes in temperature within your home.
- Wireless Sensors and Detectors - The company offers wireless sensors and detectors.
Control Equipment refers to the devices and panels associated with controlling the security system while on the premises. Key remotes and a panic button are common features, but the best systems will include touch-screen panels, two-way intercoms, and medical devices. Control Equipment is important as it outlines the principal devices and interfaces of the system.
- Cellular Monitoring Keypad - Keypads that communicate with the monitoring service through cellular technology are available.
- Key Remote - The company provides a key remote or fob for you to control your system and alarms.
- Medical Devices - The company offers additional devices for medical emergencies.
- Panic Button - The company provides a remote panic button, which sends an alert to the company when activated within your home.
- Touch-Screen Panel - The company provides a touch-screen panel for controlling the system.
- Two-Way Intercom - The company offers a two-way voice intercom system to immediately speak to a representative if you encounter an emergency.
- Wireless Keypad - The primary keypad for the system does not require a phone or Ethernet connection.
Installation and Setup addresses a broad set of features associated with the installation and setup of the system. Availability of custom and entirely wireless systems is identified in this category, as well as activation fees and relocation options. The more technically advanced systems will most likely require a technician-led installation, but some out-of-the-box options can be installed independently. Installation and Setup is an important category as it touches on some of the most fundamental decisions homeowners make when selecting a security system.
- Custom Systems - The company provides custom security systems for your home.
- Free Activation - There is no activation fee to start using the system.
- Homeowners Insurance Certificate - The company will provide you with a certificate of installation that can often be submitted to insurance companies and used to obtain a lower homeowner insurance rate.
- Relocation Program - The company allows you to move your security system without assistance from a technician if you move to a new home.
- Self-Installation - You can install your own equipment without the help of a service technician.
- Technician Installation - A service technician will install your equipment.
- Window Decals - The company provides window decals that show the home is protected by a security system to warn potential intruders.
- Yard Sign - The company provides yard signs that show the home is protected by a security system to warn potential intruders.
Mobile Access identifies the functionality that can be accomplished on a mobile device as well as the availability of a mobile application. The majority of systems have an online portal that allows the homeowner to control different aspects of the system. The best security systems enable live video feeds and real-time alerts to be sent directly to the mobile device through an Android or iPhone application. As technology continues to find new ways to revolutionize everyday living with wireless connections, the ability to access and control these innovations through common mobile devices will be increasingly important.
- Android App - The company has an Android app that you can use to access your security system.
- iPhone App - The company has an iPhone app that you can use to access your security system.
- Live Video Feed - You can watch a live video feed of what is going on inside your home.
- Real-Time Alerts - You can keep tabs on your home by receiving real-time email or text alerts.
- Smartphone/Tablet - You can access your system from a smartphone or tablet.
- Status Snapshot - You can get an updated status snapshot that shows what is happening in your home.
- Web Access - You can access your system online.
Surveillance identifies the types of cameras connected to the security systems and the functionality associated with them. The majority of systems will provide fixed video cameras and allow the homeowner to stream a live video feed to a computer or mobile device. The best security systems will provide access to pan-and-tilt cameras and outdoor cameras, and will have the ability to record triggered events. Surveillance will be an important category for those particularly interested in having visual access to their home, office, or property.
- Fixed Video Cameras - The company offers fixed video cameras to record happenings inside and outside of the house.
- In-Home Surveillance - You can view live surveillance footage of what is happening in other rooms on the TVs in your home.
- Live Feed - You can view live feeds of video that is recorded in real time.
- Outdoor Video Cameras - The company offers outdoor video cameras.
- Pan-and-Tilt Video Cameras - The company offers pan-and-tilt video cameras that can be accessed and operated remotely to view more than a fixed area.
- Record Triggered Event - The video camera is triggered to record by an event like an entry, exit, or break-in.
- Snapshots - The company offers a recording device or camera that takes snapshot photos of triggered events, like entries, exits, or break-ins.
- Store Video Recordings - The company offers the ability to record activity within your house and store it so you can watch it later.
Learning Materials includes the resources available to assist with learning how to operate and best utilize the security system independent of support personnel. A thorough user guide is a must for this category. Blogs, FAQs, and other online resources are also appreciated. The best companies will also provide video tutorials that demonstrate the most difficult or important functions. Learning Materials is a less important category, but those interested in mastering the security system on their own will find these resources to be useful.
- Blog - The company provides a blog with security tips and other relevant information.
- FAQs - The company provides a list of answers to frequently asked questions.
- Knowledge Base - The company provides a knowledge base of detailed help articles.
- User Guide - A user guide or training manual is provided by the company.
- Video Tutorials - The company provides video tutorials.
Support refers to the types of resources that are provided by the home security company that are intended to answer questions and troubleshoot problems associated with the security system. An email/ticket system is often available, while support through social media and live chat is becoming more common. The best home systems will provide well-trained representatives available by phone to assist with any problems that arise. Keep in mind that this type of support is not the same as the 24/7 monitoring services provided by the tom home monitoring companies.
- Email/Ticket - The company has an email or ticket system dedicated to support.
- Live Chat - You can contact the company through live chat to get support.
- Phone - You can contact the company by phone to get support.
- Social Media - You can contact the company with questions through social media websites.
Choosing the Best Home Security System
When looking at the best home security systems, it might be easy to get the impression that any option would make a good choice, however, each company offers a very different product made for certain groups of people. The lists below will serve as a guide to help people find the best home security system for the features they value most.