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Last updated on Jan 28, 2020

The Best Home Security Monitoring Companies

The top home security systems with monitoring are there when you need it most ​
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38 Contending Companies

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8 Months of Research

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3 Top Picks

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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 Best Home Security Monitoring: Summed Up

ADT Vivint SimpliSafe
Best Brand Recognition Best For Active Crisis Response Best for False Alarm Reduction
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
Warranty 6 months 120 days 3 years
DIY Monitoring Option
View Plans View Plans View Plans

How We Chose the Best Home Security Monitoring Companies

Cellular systems

All of the companies we looked at offer cellular systems (or systems with a cellular backup). These are important because they’re unaffected by broadband or power outages, and there aren’t any wires for thieves to snip. If the power goes out, the batteries in a cellular-enabled control panel kick in and the alarm signal is still transmitted.

Load-sharing monitoring stations

Hot standby is a method of redundancy used by most monitoring stations where two identical hardware systems run alongside each other simultaneously. If the primary system crashes due to a technical malfunction or server fire, the “hot” system takes over and monitoring continues without interruption.

But what happens if a natural disaster, like a tornado, wipes out the entire facility? The best home security monitoring companies will have at least one load-sharing station in a separate geographical region. If one station goes down, signals are automatically re-routed to another separate location, so it can pick up the slack.

When this happens, the secondary station has to be equipped to handle the extra call volume — that’s why all of our top picks actually have multiple redundant stations. If the worst should happen, it’s a lot easier to spread the extra load between multiple sites, not just one. (ADT claims its stations are slightly overstaffed for that exact purpose.)

Accreditations

Here are a few of the most prominent alarm monitoring accreditations that we required our top picks to have:

The 3 Best Home Security Monitoring Companies

    ADT Home Security Monitoring Company

    Best Brand Recognition
    ADT

    ADT

    Pros

    Reputable brand
    Large monitoring network of trained agents

    Cons

    Customer service

    Why we chose it

    Reputable brand

    ADT 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.

    Vivint Home Security Monitoring Company

    Best For Active Crisis Response
    Vivint

    Vivint

    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.

    SimpliSafe Home Security Monitoring Company

    Best for False Alarm Reduction
    SimpliSafe

    SimpliSafe

    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.

    In that same February article, 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 [is] 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). It also offered a pledge of commitment to security and released a fleet of updated equipment to settle customer worries and instill greater confidence in their services. We still feel comfortable recommending SimpliSafe’s 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. 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 it’s 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 you’re 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 FAQ

    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.