Topics:Home Automation Home Security 101 Home Security Tips Personal Safety Tips Home Security Companies Security News Security Equipment Alarm Monitoring home security diy home security systems simplisafe guardian protection home security reviews Best Home Security Company
Do-it-yourself home security has come a long way. What used to amount to little more than installing an additional deadbolt and guard dog in the late nineties, now accounts for nearly 50 percent of the $78.5 billion home security market. This shift is in large part due to growing consumer preference for an online-first shopping experience, one-time payments over long-term subscriptions, and smart home integration. Home security companies have adapted accordingly, with some major professional installers adding a DIY package to their existing product lineups and others making individual products like video doorbells available a la carte. Security providers like Cove, meanwhile, are flipping the traditional home security model on its head, and focusing wholly on developing reliable, state-of-the-art technology that, as Cove mentions on its website, “even a kid can install.” Online-First Approach Door-to-door salespeople have long been a hallmark of the residential security industry. Comb through most negative home security reviews online, and you’ll easily find accounts of push sales reps employing sometimes deceptive tactics to sell security systems, often leaving homeowners scratching their heads as they try to figure out not only what they just paid for, but also how much they’re paying, and for how long. The traditional sales model is just one of the ways in which Cove is breaking from the pack. In place of a pushy salesperson, Cove provides a helpful online questionnaire that takes all of the guesswork out of what a given homeowner might need to secure the home. The questionnaire asks what kind of structure is being covered, how many doors and windows it has, and what other security features might be needed. Customer Review: D Kenneth from Saint Clair Shores, MI “Easy to deal with, not pushy sales people like other companies. The speaker through the alarm was a bit spotty talking to the rep, but it was clear as could be over the phone.” Once the user completes the questionnaire, Cove generates an expert recommendation, complete with a priced, itemized list of suggested home security equipment. This list can be shortened or expanded to feature other security products (more on these below). In short, customers will know exactly what they’re getting, and exactly how much they’re paying before they even submit their credit card information. Freedom over Contracts One common complaint among home security customers centers on companies’ stringent contract policies. In many cases, customers signed up for services without realizing they were committing to a long-term (e.g. 36- to 60-month) contract. Others reported difficulty in cancelling their services or returning their products without paying hefty early termination or restocking fees. Customer Review: Jordan Wright from El Dorado Hills, CA “We recently moved and wanted to install an alarm system. I didn’t want to get stuck with a long-term contract or have an exorbitant up front cost. Cove hit all the things we wanted in an alarm system, and it was super easy to setup.” Cove has thought of this as well. Not only does Cove not require customers to sign a contract for services, but customers also receive a generous, 60-day free trial in which they can receive a full refund of the products they paid for, including shipping fees. So while some providers are in a rush to sign homeowners up to long-term contracts and a fraught return window, Cove gives customers up to two months to use their gear, risk-free. Robust, Easy-to-Install Technology Every piece of home security equipment Cove produces is designed to be installed and set up within minutes. From the central control panel to the HD outdoor security camera, each security device operates on a reliable wireless network — meaning no drilling, no wires — and comes with a lifetime warranty. The Cove Touch Alarm Panel at the heart of every system features a simple, intuitive user interface that makes everything from arming and disarming the system, to adding and naming sensors and cameras, as easy as clicking a button. This ease of use is similarly reflected in Cove’s remote key fob and mobile app. And if homeowners need additional support, they can communicate with a service rep directly through the control panel, over the phone, or through Cove’s 24/7 online chat feature. Customer Review: Janay Peters “It's been amazing! From the setup, which was surprisingly easy (My younger siblings could absolutely set this system up)! To the functions of the daily arming and disarming is basically flawless! We've had a couple accidents forgetting to disarm the system and as soon as the alarm goes off, not even 30 seconds later, Cove calls to make sure everything is alright. If I just so happen to not answer, a police is at my door in about 10 minutes. I love Cove!” All Cove sensors feature a durable adhesive backing and five-year battery life, meaning motion detectors, door/window sensors, and glass break detectors can be installed safely and easily. And because sensors are programmed to check in with the control panel once every hour, if communication lapses at any point, the homeowner will be notified immediately. A recent addition to Cove’s security offering is its indoor and outdoor security cameras, which are both wifi compatible and can store up to 30 days of continuous streaming through Cove’s cloud storage program. Both cameras feature enhanced night vision and employ AI technology to distinguish familiar faces from intruders. Although Cove lacks some smart home integrations like smart locks, lighting, and thermostats, the company does provide some home safety devices like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, flood sensors, and personal medical alerts — all of which are designed to trigger the system in the event of an emergency. Granted, Cove’s line of home security products may not be as extensive or diverse as some leading professional installation companies. For example, the company does not as yet offer video doorbell cameras, which are quickly becoming a staple among industry leaders. But what Cove may lack in product types and diversity it makes up for in simple, effective design and set up. Cove’s DIY approach to home security may not be ideal for everyone. Sensors operating on a closed wireless network come with limited ranges in larger houses, and customers will still need to pay extra if they want added features like professional installation or monthly monitoring. The good news is that the DIY home security industry is still growing and developing. While they may not fully supplant traditional home security companies in terms of market share, DIY home security providers like Cove will continue to provide transparent prices and user-friendly products. Full Cove Review To learn more about Cove and to read verified Cove reviews from actual customers, check out our full Cove review. Learn More
The first home security system was invented in 1966, and household burglaries have decreased dramatically since. As industry leaders continue to innovate and make systems more affordable, the frequency of burglaries decreases. As a matter of fact, burglaries in the United States have decreased by 56 percent between 1994 and 2011. Now Google is stepping into the market to continue driving that innovation. Google acquired Nest Labs back in 2014 and has since then acquired Dropcam, a startup that specializes in automatically recording security cameras, which has made its place in the home automation market. Now it looks like Nest is taking another step onto the home security stage. The Nest Secure system is Nest's attempt to make a splash in the home security industry. Is it worth it, and will the splash really be that big? Here's the breakdown. Nest Secure features One of Nest Secure's biggest selling points is the price tag of $499. This is pretty impressive considering some of the more well-known home security companies will charge a hefty installation fee along with a large monthly monitoring fee. However, some of the other leading companies will offer services like free installation and a monthly monitoring fee as low as $20 per month. This equates to nearly two years of service for the same upfront cost of the Nest Secure system. The biggest attention grabber is the Nest Secure's sleek design. Many home security companies haven't upgraded the design of their systems for several years, so they can occasionally look like an eyesore. Nest Secure also operates using entirely wireless and cellular signals, which enables you to communicate with it using a mobile device. Basic packages for home security systems usually operate using landline connections that don't feature smartphone connectivity. Nest Secure's sensors also function as motion detectors, and you can arm and disarm them with just a push of a button on the sensors themselves. For standard home security systems, arming and disarming your system involves turning all of your sensors off at once. Nest Secure has taken a forward-thinking approach that will surely be more convenient for consumers. How does it compare? How do these features really measure up with other top-rated home security systems and their features? To give an adequate comparison, here are Nest Secure's basic features ($499 upfront) and Protect America's basic features ($20 per month). Nest Secure Wireless/cellular communication The Nest Guard brain unit Nest App functionality Two Nest Detect Sensors Also function as motion sensors and can be disarmed individually "Pathlight" function activates a small light, allowing you to see in the dark Two Nest Tags (key chain fobs to turn the system on and off) Protect America Landline communication Standard control panel Three door/window sensors Motion detector Yard sign Professional monthly monitoring As you can see, there are important differences in the features that each basic system offers. The Nest Detect Sensors are impressive, but you only get two of them when you order a basic $500 system. With Protect America's most basic package, you get three sensors for your doors/windows, but they can't be individually disarmed. The Nest Tags are convenient tools to arm and disarm your system without punching in a numerical code, but you don't get a yard sign for your home. And, believe it or not, yard signs can be enough to ward off burglars. The biggest difference of all is the professional monthly monitoring. Nest has yet to announce what the price tag will be for professional monthly monitoring. Until the company announces what its pricing plans are, it'll be difficult to make an accurate comparison. The fact that the company didn't announce this with the system hitting store shelves next month means it may not be as low as consumers want. Some competing systems like Ring's Protect system have promised monitoring plans for as little as $10 per month, which is unheard of, so Nest has some stiff competition. Contract Most home security companies operate on contracts that span multiple years. It's incredibly rare to find a home security company that lets you use your system on a month-to-month agreement, and even then, that company probably charges a high installation fee. It's fairly standard for a home security company to lock you into a 3 to 5-year contract. Take Protect America, for example. If you purchase the company's basic $20/month package, you're locked into a contract for three years. In essence, this product is going to cost you at least $720 in the long run, which is much more than Nest Secure's initial cost of $499. If you want to get out of this contract, you usually have to buy out of it, so you need to be absolutely sure it's what you want for the next three years. This is also one of the most reasonable contracts in the industry. To put things in perspective, companies like Vivint operate on 5-year contracts and charge at least $40/month, so expect to pay at least $2,400 over the long term. Currently, Nest Secure hasn't said anything about a monthly contract. More details should become clear as its monthly monitoring costs become public. Warranty According to Nest Secure's specs, the system comes with a 2-year limited warranty. This is adequate; however, companies like Guardian Protection, Vivint, and Protect America offer lifetime warranties on their equipment. Maybe after two years, your college student visits home and drops a bunch of textbooks on your Nest Guard brain unit. Then what? You're out to buy another one. If you were with one of the aforementioned companies, they would send you new equipment with minimum hassle. The takeaway The Nest Secure is really cool. It's sleek and stylish, which is something most home security systems don't have going for them. Despite its numerous strengths, the biggest potential weakness of the system is still under wraps. If it turns out that Nest Secure's monthly monitoring price isn't much different than a typical home security system, you might as well go with a traditional company that won't charge you the upfront cost of equipment. Maybe monthly monitoring isn't a big deal to you. If that's the case, the Nest Secure is seriously worth considering. But if you want to be absolutely sure your home is secure even when you miss a notification, Nest Secure probably isn't for you. Take a look at the best home security companies to see if another system fits your needs.
Different home security companies will have different approaches to producing, distributing, installing, and monitoring their systems. For the sake of this comparison, Best Company took two well-known home security companies that have different approaches and compared their services according to our criteria. Here's what you need to know: Professional Installation vs. DIY Installation Vivint is well-known for teams of orange-clad representatives canvassing neighborhoods, pitching potential clients on security systems that will protect their homes while offering robust smart home features. When you sign a Vivint contract, the representative will set an appointment to have a professional installer come to your home. From that point on, your home is professionally monitored 24/7 for burglars, fires, floods, and carbon monoxide. On the other hand, Protect America doesn't have any of these door-to-door representatives or in-person professional installers. Instead, you select a package from the company's website and the company mails the system directly to your door. From that point, you're free to install the system yourself or call a customer service representative to walk you through the process. Protect America systems also feature the same professional 24/7 monitoring as Vivint. Clearly, these companies have different approaches to distribution and installation, but what about everything else? Monthly Price Vivint prefers to quote you a monthly price, but the company website does indicate that monthly fees start at $39.99. However, this is a little high compared to some of the top-ranked companies in the industry. When you want to add home automation features, it'll cost you extra. Protect America features packages that start at $19.99 per month for any consumer—one of the lowest price tags in the industry. This package is the most basic of systems with just a few door/window sensors and a landline connection, but this may be acceptable for consumers who just want the basics. Upfront Fees Neither Vivint nor Protect America feature any installation or activation fees. This is encouraging, considering that many home security companies will charge hundreds of dollars in activation and installation fees. Contract Length Vivint features a 60-month contract, so make sure you've read every inch of the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. If you need to move your system within the contract length, Vivint also charges a hefty move fee. On the other hand, Protect America works on a 36-month contract. If you want to cancel your services before the expiration date on the contract, you must pay the remaining balance upfront with both companies. Monitoring Options For any reputable home security company, your system will be monitored day and night by certified staff through a landline, broadband, or cellular connection. However, not all companies offer all of these options. Vivint only operates based on a wireless/broadband connection. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but if the internet goes down at your house, so does your home security system. If you're considering installing a security system at your remote cabin in the woods, Vivint might not be your best option. Protect America features packages in all three of these monitoring options. The landline packages are the least expensive, but broadband and cellular options are available at about $20/month extra, and these are the plans that feature home automation options. Depending on whether you want just the bare basics or the extra goodies, you'll pay a different fee. Equipment/Tech Vivint Features: SkyControl Panel Vivint Sky App Monthly Professional Monitoring Smoke Detectors Motion Detectors Window/Door Sensors Doorbell Camera (extra cost) Element Thermostat (extra cost) Kwikset Smart Locks (extra cost) Amazon Echo Compatability (extra cost) Vivint Ping Camera (extra cost) Linear Garage Door Control (extra cost) Light Controls (extra cost) Protect America Features: Touchscreen Control Panel Mobile App Monthly Professional Monitoring Smoke Detectors (extra cost) Motion Detector Window/Door Sensors Smart Locks (extra cost) HD Wireless Video Camera (extra cost) Amazon Echo Compatability (extra cost) Light Controls (extra cost) As you can see, the biggest difference is that Vivint's features are arguably more robust, but Protect America features very similar applications at a slightly lower price tag. Vivint will definitely win in this category, but that's only if you decide you want all the bells and whistles and not just the bells. Customer Feedback Unfortunately, Vivint customer feedback is plagued with dissatisfaction. Most customer reviews reflect experiences involving pushy sales reps and lackluster customer service, especially when it comes to canceling services or relocating your system. There are plenty of reviews that speak highly of the customer service and the quality of the systems, so it appears as though positive experiences with Vivint Home Security are hit-and-miss depending on the representative you work with. As of the time this article is being written, Vivint has a customer score of 3.7 out of 10 based on 87 customer reviews. On the other hand, Protect America's customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Based on over 700 reviews, the company has an overall score of 8.8 out of 10. Many customers comment on the easily-installed system, low prices, and helpful customer representatives. Overall The Vivint Breakdown: Leading home automation features Professional installation Lackluster customer experiences Slightly higher prices The Protect America Breakdown: Low, upfront pricing plans DIY installation with step-by-step help Exceptional customer experiences Competitive home automation features The deciding factors in this comparison are prices, customer service, installation, and home automation features. Protect America clearly has the upper hand when it comes to pricing; its basic system costs half the price of Vivint's basic system and still features professional monitoring. However, Vivint has a slightly wider array of home automation features, if you're willing to pay the difference. Protect America's installation is do-it-yourself and features helpful customer reps to help you through the process, but Vivint will take care of the entire installation process for you. Lastly, Protect America's customer service experiences are noticeably better than Vivint's, even if service is hardly ever in person. For a list of the best home security companies operating in your state, click here.
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