Home Security Systems, How They Differ

Family sitting in living room smiling

By Johnny Base

Home security systems work. A company such as FrontPoint Security, can and will protect your family, and property from bad guys, home fires, and medical emergencies. Most home security systems have similar characteristics. Currently security companies offer remote access, text and e-mail alerts, cameras, and home automation systems. Amazingly new technology now allows special z-wave door locks to physically be locked or unlocked from your smart phone, iPad, or tablet, from anywhere in the world. Need your cat sitter to come to your home but you don’t want to give her the keys or combination to your home security systems. No problem with the new z-wave systems.

Security systems are either hardwired or wireless. They communicate to monitoring stations through land-line telephone networks or the cellular networks known as cellular monitoring or GSM. Alarm.com’s the best remote access app on the market with over a million customers. GE Security’s Simon XT only uses the Alarm.com app for good reason. It’s the best!

Home Security Systems Breakdown

  • Providers : These are the companies which provide security. There are local companies which service limited areas and national companies which offer service throughout the country such as FrontPoint SecurityADT Security and Protect America.
  • Equipment : Most home protection companies either use Honeywell Security or GE Security equipment. I would stay away from any company which does not use either Honeywell Security or GE Security equipment. Both companies have been in the market for more than thirty years. They’re trusted industry leaders in the security industry. Also security technicians are familiar with these two brands which makes for easier installs, troubleshooting, and repairs. Frontpoint Security offers  GE’s Simont XT with cellular monitoring only. Protect America offers the Simon XT with land-line monitoring and cellular monitoring. With ADT you could receive either a Honeywell Security system or a GE system land-line or cellular monitoring.
  • Monitoring : Not all central stations are created equal. The best are Five Diamond Certified central stations which are members of the Central Station Alarm Association or CSAA for short. CSAA is a trade association incorporated in 1950. Some of its goals are to cut false alarms, develop industry standards, and check future technologies. Out of about 3000 monitoring station in the USA about 200 are members of CSAA. Central monitoring stations needed a way to delineate the best from the rest so they created the CSAA. Member of CSAA are held to the highest standards in the industry. ADT Security is a Five Diamond Certified central station.
  • Pricing : Each security company has their own pricing structure. Back in the 1970’s a home security system cost around $1200. Today you can get one for as little as $29.99/mo. How is this possible? The industry in the 1980’s came up with the idea of contracts and monthly payments. The end price is still about the same only spread out over the course of 36 months. You’re billed annually, quarterly or monthly by most national companies such as Frontpoint SecurityADT Security, or Protect America.
  • Contracts : Not all contracts are equal. Read your contact. Read the small print. People have told me they signed a one-year or two-year contact. Upon reading the small print in these contracts, they are three-year contracts. Also look closely at any “evergreen” or “rollover” clause. Avoid these contracts. The stipulations are so onerous it’s difficult to get out of these contracts even after the customer is technically “out of contract”. Neither Frontpoint Security, ADT Security, or Protect America have any rollover clauses. Yet ADT Security states in their contract they can raise your rates after the first 12 months.
  • Complaints and Reviews: Read complaints and reviews from review sites such as the Better Business Bureau or AngiesList. I have found that large complaints from a site such as the BBB often correlate to the some dissatisfied customers from any one company. Also see if the company’s accredited with the BBB. We do not put much weight in the letter grade rating by the BBB. But we do pay close attention to the number of complaints. The reasons for those complaints, and if there are any government actions against the company.

Home security systems are very important and if you want the best, only use GE Security, or Honeywell Security  equipment.


updated 10-26-2013