The Best Home Security Monitoring Companies

The best home security monitoring companies have the infrastructure and trained operators to survive anything from a tornado to a server fire without the slightest hiccup in service. We evaluated the monitoring services of the seven best nationwide home security companies to see which truly excelled at eliminating network redundancy and handling a large volume of alarms.

The 3 Best Home Security Monitoring Companies

Most Reputable
ADT
ADT
The largest network of monitoring stations
Pros
Reputable brand
Large monitoring network of trained agents
Cons
Customer service

Why we chose it

Reputable brand

ADT’s calling card is its reputation. It has nearly 150 years under its belt and controls 25 percent of the home security market, serving more than 6 million people. It owns and maintains six monitoring stations that are scattered across the United States in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, and New York. Thanks to the sheer breadth of its network, ADT has the most widely available security monitoring service throughout the US and Canada.

Large monitoring network of trained agents

ADT customers have six monitoring stations and a team of more than 7,000 trained call operators on their side (that’s 4,000 more than the competition). Each one of those stations has an average of 335 active operators at any given time who are ready to intercept alarm signals. That makes ADT especially equipped to handle outrageous numbers of alarm calls — up to 20,000 per station every day, by its own estimation.

New agents train extensively in and out of the classroom for six weeks fielding monitored calls, running simulations, and taking tests. In addition to learning the role of an operator, agents go hands-on with all of ADT’s current hardware, learning how to troubleshoot systems for customers and handle payment issues.

Points to consider

Customer service

Massive corporations often struggle with customer care, and ADT is no exception. Of the companies we tested, ADT has the largest amount of complaints and negative reviews on its Better Business Bureau page. We had pleasant interactions with both the sales representative and our installation technician, but be wary that your experience could differ.

Most Extensive Training
Vivint
Vivint
Its agents are thoroughly trained to support you
Pros
Thorough training
Call agents keep calm
Cons
To skip the long contract, upfront costs are steep

Why we chose it

Thorough training

Vivint has the most extensive training process of all our top picks. Prospective hires are trained over a 14-week period, spending much of their time shadowing a specialist on the Central Station floor of each monitoring center to get real-time experience handling emergency calls. At the end of the training period, prospects must score 90 percent or higher on the final test to become an agent. If they fail the test twice, they may not continue to apply for the position.

As agents are hired, they begin floor training underneath a dedicated “floor coach,” who makes sure their work is complete and supports them as then learn how to navigate their job. All alarm calls that are routed to a brand-new agent within the first two weeks are reviewed by the floor coach.

Call agents keep calm

In a fun bit of PR, Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen went on the CBS reality show Undercover Boss with the hope of uncovering the day-to-day stresses of a security operator’s job. Pedersen claims that findings from his visit influenced Vivint’s decision to remodel the Eagan facility, which uses large windows with natural light, a walking trail, and areas for gaming and picnics to help keep employees calm in a high-pressure environment. The pressures on home security operators are a big deal, and we like the fact that Vivint has gone above and beyond to help reduce stress in the workplace.

Points to consider

To skip the long contract, upfront costs are steep

Vivint has a long five-year contract and a short three-day trial period. If you opt to choose its month-to-month contract, you’ll have to buy your equipment upfront. Vivint’s advanced tech equipment can run pretty expensive and that initial buy could be upwards of $600. You may also have to pay for the $99 professional installation, depending on the current promotions.

Award-Winning Monitoring
SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe
Its outsourced monitoring services won the CSAA award
Pros
Award-winning outsourcing
Transparent hiring
Cons
History of hacking

Why we chose it

Award-winning outsourcing

SimpliSafe outsources its home security monitoring to COPS Monitoring. It’s easy to be put off by the 90s-style website, but COPS is no joke — it won the 2014 award from the CSAA as the Best Central Station. The company has six monitoring stations (New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Tennessee, and two in Texas) and five of them are Five Diamond certified. (ADT has the next highest of four certified stations.) Simply put, that means COPS has been recognized for exceptional false alarm reduction and the “development of industry standards to assure optimum central station performance levels.”

Transparent hiring

The quality of call operators is a big deal; you don’t want just anyone on the line during a crisis. We liked that COPS went the extra mile to provide some insight to its hiring practices on the website, explaining that every candidate works with an industrial psychologist to determine whether they’re right for the job. (As a requirement of UL certification, all of our top picks have hiring practices that hit certain notes, but it was nice to see a company be transparent about some of them.)

Points to consider

History of hacking

In February of 2016, Forbes reported a flaw in SimpliSafe’s system that allows burglars with “rudimentary hacking skills” to disarm a system by accessing the user’s PIN. (You can watch the hack in action here.) That sounds bad — and it is — but the reality is less dramatic.

SimpliSafe spokesperson Melina Engel told Forbes “our system provides customers notifications of their disarm events, so they could catch the criminal in the act. Also, customers can change their passcodes anytime locally or remotely via our web app; so if this ever did happen, any passcode data collected useless in a matter of minutes.” She also said the company wasn’t aware of a real-life exploitation of the flaw.

SimpliSafe has since released updates that eliminate the vulnerability and it isn’t the first security company to be hacked (ADT, Vivint, and Xfinity have also experienced similar security breaches). We still feel comfortable recommending its systems.

Guide to Home Security Monitoring Companies

While shopping for your home security system, you’ll have to first choose between a professionally monitored system and a self-monitored system (DIY). Depending on your security needs and priorities, you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of each type of system.

Professional monitoring

Pros

Your system will be monitored by professionals 24/7. When an alarm is triggered, the company will attempt to contact you before sending the authorities. If they get ahold of you, you’ll have to determine if its a false alarm or not. They’ll send the authorities if they can’t reach you, or if you feel the alarm is real. Essentially — whether your fast asleep or out of town, there’s someone watching your system and taking action.

Cons

The time between an alarm being triggered and the police being called can be lengthy. If the company can’t reach you, they’ll try your emergency contact. Then the police will be dispatched if they can’t get ahold of anyone — and if the alarm is false you can incur expensive fees from the city. These monitoring prices typically come at a higher monthly rate too (around $40-$50).

DIY monitoring

Pros

When a sensor or alarm is tripped on a DIY system, you’ll receive a notification on your phone. Like with a professional system, you’ll have to determine whether the alarm is false. If it’s a true emergency, it’s your responsibility to call the police. We recommend equipping DIY systems with security cameras, so you’ll always be informed when an alarm trips.

Cons

If you miss an alarm or notification, the police won’t be coming to your home. You’ll still have to pay a monthly fee to receive mobile alerts, but it’ll be cheaper (between $10 and $30). It’s likely you’ll have to pay for your equipment upfront too, because DIY systems don’t usually require contracts.

Home Security Monitoring Company FAQs

What’s the difference between in-house and third-party monitoring services?

Some home security companies run their own monitoring stations, while others outsource this task to third-party security monitoring companies. As Frontpoint’s Peter Rogers points out in a blog post, “It has become far more expensive to build and maintain a world-class monitoring center, and there is constant and significant reinvestment required to stay current.” Hence, dozens of third-party central stations have popped up in the past few decades to fill that niche.

That competition has nudged third-party operators to step up their technology to the point where their technology and training can stack up against just about any in-house monitoring service.

Anita Ostrowski, head operations of monitoring centers for the company Vector Security, told us “Both in-house and third-party monitoring centers can perform basic monitoring tasks equally.” Vector Security is a regional home security company that runs its own monitoring stations, so that statement carries all the more weight.

Rodgers claims hiring a third-party operator allows the company to focus on “providing the best technology, with the best service, at the best price.” And for what it’s worth, Simplisafe and Frontpoint have lower monthly monitoring fees than the in-house provider companies.

Where does an alarm signal go?

When an alarm is triggered, the signal is sent through a landline, wireless, or cellular connection to a monitoring station. Once the signal is matched with your account information, an operator receives will call one of the two primary numbers listed on your account to make sure the alarm was legitimate. If you don’t answer, or the situation is serious, the operator will call the necessary authorities.

What is the difference between a monitored and unmonitored security system?

When a system is unmonitored, no one but you is responsible to reacting to your system. With a monitored system, there’s a service center ready to notify you and the authorities 24/7. The agents will still leave the decision to call the authorities up to you, like if you were monitoring the system yourself. But if they can’t get a hold of you, they’ll call the authorities anyways. Whereas on an unmonitored system, there’s nobody watching if you miss an alarm.

The Best Home Security Monitoring: Summed Up

ADT
Vivint
SimpliSafe
Most Reputable
Most Extensive Training
Award-Winning Monitoring
In Business Since
1890
1999
2006
Contract Length
36 months
Month-to-month,
60 months
Month-to-month
Package Options
5
2
6
Trial Period
30 days
120 days or lifetime
60 days

More Home Security Reviews

We’ve reviewed the entire home security market over the last few years — and we're always updating our research as the technology improves. Check out some of our other reviews.