The Best Home Automation System

The best home automation system doesn’t just give you the ability to turn off lights with a smartphone; it helps protect your home too. That’s why we reviewed the top seven home security companies to find the ones that best combine intrusion protection, 24/7 monitoring, and convenient automation features.

The 4 Best Home Automation Systems

Best Technology
Vivint
Vivint
The widest catalogue of advanced smart technology
Pros
Smart-home integration
Affordable automation
Cons
Frequent sales calls

Why we chose it

Smart-home integration

Techies who want to integrate all their smart home devices into one cohesive network will love Vivint. It offers the tightest integration with popular smart-home devices like the Amazon Echo, Nest Learning Thermostat, and Kwikset smart locks. All our top picks support at least a few third-party devices, but Vivint’s app and technology offer a much nicer experience when using them.

Vivint’s built-in compatibility with Amazon Echo means that you can control your home’s security with your voice, simply by commanding “Alexa.” Vivint customers can also purchase select Z-Wave devices, such as smart light switches from retailers like Home Depot, and a Vivint technician will add those lights to your home’s automation capabilities. Technically, you can install third-party devices yourself, but Vivint recommends having a professional do it — it takes some serious know-how.

Affordable automation

Every package with Vivint is compatible with home automation, unlike its competitors. With all of our other picks, you’ll have to upgrade to higher tiers for access to smart home features. Vivint’s base package starts at a monthly $10 cheaper than our other favorites. It’s also our only pick with a month-to-month contract option, though you’ll have to buy your equipment upfront.

Points to consider

Frequent sales calls

Vivint’s know for being a bit sales-pitchy, and when we requested a free quote online, a customer service rep called back four times in a 24-hour span until we picked up. Still, our conversation was pleasant, and the sales rep didn’t put any pressure on us to buy a system right away. It also only has a three-day trial period, so the pressure to commit is greater than other providers.

Most Reputable
ADT Pulse®
ADT Pulse
Decades of trusted service and quality
Pros
Biometric voice recognition
High cost for high quality
Cons
Fewer integration options

Why we chose it

Biometric voice recognition

One cool feature that ADT Pulse has that none of our other top picks do is biometric voice recognition, which means that its proprietary control panel recognizes your unique voice. You can instruct your system to lower the lights, lock the doors, and more. Pretty nifty. (With some of our other top picks, such as Vivint, you can only control your home via voice control with third-party devices, like the Amazon Echo.)

High cost for high quality

ADT’s a la carte home automation devices are also pricier than most (ADT’s window/door sensor is $80, compared to Vivint’s, which is $35) but there are a few reasons for that. The company never uses refurbished or pre-owned parts, grants a six-month money-back guarantee, and offers a lifetime warranty on its equipment. If a camera malfunctions in three years, you’ll get a brand-new one free of charge.

Points to consider

Fewer integration options

While the company directly sells approved Z-Wave light switches, dimmers, and small appliance on/off switches, unlike many other companies, which require you to purchase from a third-party and install yourself. The only downside is that ADT's list of approved devices is smaller than what’s offered by Vivint.

Best for DIY
Frontpoint
Frontpoint
A simple and intuitive system that you install yourself
Pros
Simple self-install
Vigilant monitoring
Cons
Home automation equipment sold separately

Why we chose it

Simple self-install

Frontpoint is our top choice for security buffs who don’t mind rolling up their shirtsleeves and dedicating about 30 minutes or so to install a security system themselves. All its devices connect wirelessly, so no power tools are required, and you save on installation costs. Another silver lining to DIY installation is that if you move, you can uninstall the sensors yourself and take the whole system with you to your next home.

Vigilant monitoring

The company runs diagnostics on your sensors 24 times per day. This means you never have to test your sensors and batteries on your own (like with Protect America) or worry if the system is down while you’re away. And all of its systems are 100 percent cellular, which means none depend on a landline — they’re impervious to power outages and snipped telephone wires.

Frontpoint’s Interactive and Ultimate plans come with “Crash & Smash Protection” too. It works like this: When you enter the home, you have 30 seconds to disarm the control panel. If you don’t disarm it in 30 seconds, the police are notified. If a burglar does smash your control panel, the panel will still alert the Monitoring Center to send help, because you didn’t disarm it within the 30-second window.

Points to consider

Home automation equipment sold separately

While Frontline’s security system is compatible with some home automation devices, it doesn’t sell any devices directly. All compatible automated home features (smart locks, thermostat, and smart light switches) have to be purchased independently by you and then connected to the system. That said, it is compatible with the most well-known Z-Wave devices, such as Amazon Echo, Nest Learning Thermostat, and Kwikset Locks.

Most Affordable
Protect America
Protect America
The best value, if your home is landline-equipped
Pros
Budget-friendly prices for landline connections
DIY installation
Cons
More expensive without a landline

Why we chose it

Budget-friendly prices for landline connections

Our most affordable automation system, bar none, was Protect America, which offered a 24/7 monitoring service starting at just $20 per month. The company offers customer service assisted DIY smart home installation and — wait for it — free equipment up to $1,400. And that includes a lifetime equipment warranty. If you’re set on home automation, however, you’ll need at least the $50 Silver plan.

DIY installation

With free activation and a free DIY installation, Protect America continues to prove budget-friendly. Your upfront costs will be pretty low compared to a provider like Vivint. You’ll just have to be comfortable handling the install of your own system. The process is straightforward, and you can even call a professional to be guided through each step. It should take you less than an hour to install, and the Protect America team will verify it’s up and running.

Points to consider

More expensive without a landline

The $20 per month package is landline monitoring connections, which many Americans no longer have or want. Home automation features are still available on landline connections as long as you have an internet connection, but you should know that the company’s cellular monitoring plan is less affordable: $42 per month. Protect America also offers a 36-month mandated service length agreement.

How to automate your home

Home automation is equipping your home with devices that allow you to control aspects of your home from your mobile device. This kind of automation makes it easy to monitor and control your home when you’re away, asleep, or feeling a little lazy.

Surveillance cameras

Security cameras are one of the most popular ways to monitor your home. Not only do they serve safety purposes, but also allow you to look in on any package deliveries or unexpected visitors. Video cameras are also a better choice than motion detectors because you can verify what set off an alarm and use that footage to aide a police investigation. By installing indoor, outdoor, or doorbell cameras — you can have visual access to your whole home.

Thermostats, lights, and outlets

Automating and monitoring your electricity usage is a simple way to add to your smart home. With smart light bulbs, you can tap on and tap off using an app. Smart thermostats allow you to set cooling and heating schedules, control your home's temperature when away, and be more energy efficient. With automated outlets, you can save on energy by turning them off when not in use without having to unplug everything— you’ll never have to worry about whether you left the curling iron on. Smart plugs will also track your energy usage and give remote control over whatever you plug in.

Doors and garages

Up the security and convenience of your home’s entry points by installing smart locks and garage openers. With smart locks, you can monitor who is coming and going, assign special privileges to friends or hired professionals, and never have to fumble with the keys when your hands are full of groceries. Smart garage door openers take traditional garage remotes a few smart steps further. You can sync a smart opener with other devices for operations like turning your house lights on when you arrive home.

Home automation FAQs

How much does it cost to automate your home?

Outfitting a home automation system can be pretty personalized, and your price will heavily depend on the tech you choose to integrate. Individual hardware can range anywhere from $40–$300 for a single smart bulb, camera, lock, or thermostat. We suggest starting small with a few key pieces, making sure they’re all universally compatible, and then adding on as applicable.

What does home automation include?

Home automation can be a pretty broad term, and the options are expanded as technology advances. Essentially, any appliance, access point, security feature, or electrical component that gives you remote control is considered home automation.

What products work with Google Home?

Smart devices communicate with each other on wireless protocols, and the most popular is called Z-Wave. Both Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are Z-Wave compatible, and can therefore sync up with the vast majority of smart technology on the market. With either system, you should be able to voice commands your smart locks, lights, thermostat, and even your security system.

The best home automation system: Summed up

Vivint
ADT
Frontpoint
Protect America
The Best
Technology
Reputation
DIY System
Affordable System
App Store Rating
4.4/5
4.7/5
3.1/5
2.2/5
Contract Length
Month-to-Month
60 months
36 months
12 months
36 months
36 months
Trial Period
3 days
90 days
30 days
14 days

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