How to evaluate a home security system

A home security system is your first line of defense when protecting your family and your property. But home security systems come in all shapes and sizes, from complex, professionally installed systems to simple DIY setups. 

Choosing the best home security system can be intimidating, but it’s easier once you know what you need. We’ll guide you through some important questions you should ask to help you find the home security system that’s right for you. 

Home security facts

What is a home security system?

A home security system usually starts with a control panel that acts as the “brains” of the system. The control panel uses your home phone line, a cellular connection or a broadband connection to call for help in case of an unauthorized entry or signal. Most home security systems also have a device called a “horn” or “sounder” that creates a loud alarm when a security device is tripped. It can be part of the control panel or placed in a separate location. 

Basic wireless home security systems use contact sensors and motion sensors that send signals to the control panel. You can place contact sensors on doors and windows so that an alarm will sound when they’re opened. Motion sensors use passive infrared (PIR) to detect movement. They’re usually placed in the corner of a room and will sound the system’s alarm when tripped.

If you’re looking to go beyond basic home security, you can add in more devices like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, video surveillance cameras, video doorbells, automated lighting, flood sensors, freeze sensors and more.  

With all the options available, it can be hard to even know what to ask when shopping for a home security system. Here are the top five questions you should ask when evaluating a home security system.

How much protection do we need?

When deciding how much protection you need, the most important consideration is the size and layout of your home. 

If you live in a small apartment, a basic system with just a few contact sensors and a motion detector might be all you need. But if your home has multiple entrances and windows at ground level, you’ll probably want more protection. Keep in mind that multiple entrances and/or windows can often be covered with a single motion sensor instead of multiple contact sensors. 

If you frequently travel out of town, you might want to add smoke detectors and home automation capabilities to your alarm system. This lets you arm and disarm your security system from anywhere using an app on your smartphone, and you can also connect smart locks, thermostats and interior and exterior lights for added security and convenience. Video surveillance is also a good idea if you’re frequently away. 

What are our home security must-haves?

Once you know how much protection you need, it’s time to think beyond the basics and consider the features that will help you feel safer on a day-to-day basis. 

For example, if you live in a neighborhood that’s a hot spot for door-to-door salespeople, doorbell cameras, outdoor video cameras and motion sensor floodlights are good investments. If you live in a more secluded area with a long driveway, you might decide to get a driveway alarm. If you have kids, smart locks and home security camera systems are useful. 

How much do we want to pay?

Though it’s not true for all home security systems, a common rule of thumb is that systems that cost more up front typically have lower monthly fees, whereas systems that are cheap (or even free) to install will likely cost you more in monthly monitoring fees. 

On average, you can expect to pay around $200 for a basic, DIY, self-monitored home security system. DIY systems frequently have optional monthly monitoring, so you’ll pay anywhere from $0 to $30 a month for monitoring. You can have a basic system professionally installed from $49 to $99, but your monthly fee will probably be between $20 and $30 or more, because it includes the cost of the equipment along with monitoring.

You can save a significant amount of money in the long run by choosing a home security system with a higher upfront cost, but if you’re on a budget, it might be easier to spread out the cost over several years. 

Do we want the system to be professionally monitored or self-monitored?

Traditional, professionally monitored home security systems send a signal to a monitoring center whenever there’s an alarm event. Monitoring center dispatchers can then call police or firefighters to your residence if needed. Self-monitored systems send an alert to your phone instead, and it’s up to you to call 911. 

Self-monitoring is a great option if you’re on a budget, but because you can easily miss an alert, you don’t get the same level of security as you do with a professionally monitored home security system. 

Do we want to sign a contract or not?

There are many contract-free home security systems, but contracts can help keep your monthly fees low. Before signing a contract, it’s important to understand the company’s cancellation policy, including any fees or other expenses you might be responsible for if you have to cancel. 

Also consider your situation: Is there a chance you could move before the contract term is up? Can you still keep your contract and your home security system in your new home? Make sure you know all the details before signing on the dotted line.

Top home security systems

ADT

ADT is known for its longstanding reputation in the security industry. Its professionally installed wireless home security systems are a good option for those who don’t feel comfortable with a DIY installation. ADT requires a minimum three-year contract, with professional monitoring fees starting at $36.99 a month. It offers virtually every type of security device on the market, and has several redundant monitoring centers throughout the U.S. so you’ll never be without monitoring coverage.

Cove

A basic home security system with Cove will cost you around $275, and monitoring fees start at $14.99 a month.It’s pretty bare bones — the company only sells ten pieces of equipment — but it also comes with a price lock guarantee, and its DIY installation is known to be one of the easiest in the industry. It’s a good choice for smaller homes and apartments. Cove works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but you won’t see smart door locks, smart lights or other home automation products in its lineup, so if having a smart home is important to you, you might want to keep shopping.

Frontpoint

Frontpoint’s affordable, DIY home security systems make it a popular choice among both homeowners and renters. Installation takes less than 30 minutes, and basic home security system packages start at $99 down, with no long-term contract. The only catch is you can’t monitor your own security system — you have to pay a monthly fee to have it monitored by Frontpoint, and at $44.99 a month, you’ll pay more than you would with other home security monitoring plans.

Link Interactive

Link Interactive skips upfront equipment costs and instead rolls it all into your monthly monitoring fee. Once your system is paid off (or if you choose to use existing equipment you already own) you’ll only pay $30.99 a month for monitoring. Link Interactive has a keypad with two-way voice so you can talk to dispatchers at the monitoring center if you can’t get to a phone. Installation is DIY, but you can customize your system so you get only the devices you need. Link Interactive is a lesser known company, but it gets an A+ and a 5-star customer rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Nest Secure

Nest Secure has devices that are both beautiful and highly functional, and it’s a great choice for home security if you already have a Nest thermostat. Nest Secure has unique features like door and window sensors that do triple duty as motion sensors and night lights. Nest Protect is a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that can communicate with your Nest thermostat to turn off your heating and air system if it detects a problem. You can also add on video doorbells and cameras to your system, but Nest cameras have been the subject of some recent security concerns. Nest Secure packages start at $399 with DIY installation. You can monitor your home security system yourself or opt for professional monitoring through Brinks.

Protect America

With no upfront costs and monthly monitoring starting at $19.99, Protect America offers a pretty good deal on DIY home security, but there’s a catch: The low monthly fee is only for landline monitoring, and it comes with a 36-month contract. Still, if you’re looking for a long-term, bare-bones, low-budget option, Protect America is worth considering. Unlike many home security companies, it offers a lifetime warranty on all equipment and a price lock guarantee, so you can rest assured your monthly monitoring fees will never go up.

SimpliSafe

Simplisafe is a DIY home security system with equipment packages starting at $229, but you can get a discounted price when you sign up for professional monitoring. The good news is monitoring is month-to-month, with no contracts, and starts at just $14.99 a month. The bad news is you don’t get mobile access unless you pay an additional $10 a month. Simplisafe equipment is sleek and attractive, but it’s also more basic and not as user-friendly as more expensive systems. Still, it’s an affordable choice, especially for those with smaller homes and apartments who don’t need all the bells and whistles. 

Vivint

If you want all the latest smart home gadgets without having to install them yourself, Vivint is a good choice when it comes to professionally installed home security systems. Installation fees start at $99. Vivint’s equipment is top-notch, but it’s pricey — expect to pay close to $1,000 for a basic system. Fortunately, Vivint offers financing, so you can roll in the cost of your equipment with your monthly monitoring fees, which start at $29.99 a month. 

Comparing home security system companies

ADTCoveFrontpointLink InteractiveNest SecureProtect AmericaSimpliSafeVivint
Starting price for installation$99$275$99$0$399$0$229$99
Installation typeProfessionalDIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIYProfessional
Smart home integrationsWorks with Alexa, Nest, Ring and Z-wave devicesWorks with Alexa and Google HomeWorks with Alexa and Google Home and Z-Wave devicesWorks with Alexa, Google Home and Z-wave devicesWorks with Nest and Google HomeWorks with Alexa, Google Home and Z-wave devicesWorks with Alexa and Google Home Works with Alexa, Google Home and Z-wave devices

*Prices as of March 31, 2020

Shopping for home security doesn’t have to be painful. First, decide on a budget and determine your basic security needs by asking the five questions outlined above. (Remember, you can always choose to add more security later on.) Then, check out our top picks for the best home security systems and decide which is right for you.

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Electrical Generators and Home Security: What to Know

Make sure your home security system stays armed with a backup generator

Anyone living in a winter-weather state can tell you that when the power goes out having a backup generator can bring a huge sense of relief. A generator for home use keeps your appliances, heat and lights on when you’re without power. And if you have a home security system, generators also help with safety by keeping the system engaged no matter what.

People tend to shop for generators at Home Depot and other stores right before or after a storm when generators are in the highest demand. Products like Generac home generators help to keep your home safe and secure by making sure your home security system stays armed during a power outage, but there are several different types of generators to choose from. In this article, we look at the different generators out there and how to choose the right one for your space. 

What is a backup electrical generator and how does it work?

A generator is a machine that produces power when an outage occurs. A backup generator kicks in when the power is out, either automatically or with a switch, usually restoring electricity to your home within a few seconds. How it does this depends on the type of generator. 

Types of power generators

To determine the right generator for your home you need to understand the different types available. Generators vary by size, fuel used and how they operate. While the most common is a portable generator, a standby generator is best for when you want to keep your security system armed. Here are the different types of generators:

  • Portable generatorThese generators provide a temporary solution when the power goes out. Some use gas while others use diesel to provide electrical power. If you’re running the basics, like your refrigerator, freezer and television, this is an excellent choice. However, because of their fuel, these machines also have a high emission rate. Prices range between $140 for an 800-watt generator to $5,000 for a 10,500-watt generator.
  • Standby generatorstandby generator, also called a backup generator, doesn’t require a manual start. That means when the power goes out you don’t have to do anything because your electricity will restore automatically. Standby generators have a larger fuel tank compared to a gasoline-powered portable generator, so you can run them for longer. On the downside, the larger fuel tank makes these machines bulkier and more challenging to move. Prices range between $500 for a 7,000-watt standby generator and $13,000 for a 22,000-watt standby generator.
  • Inverter generatorAn inverter generator offers the same benefits as a portable generator, but they’re more efficient, lighter and quieter. As this generator runs, its engine speed varies according to electrical demand meaning that it produces less noise and uses less fuel than a standard standby generator. Prices range from $29 for a 200-watt inverter generator to $4,000 for a 7,000-watt inverter generator. Inverter generators are cheaper than standby generators because a standby generator turns on automatically and runs for several days without the need to refuel.
  • Portable power stationInstead of using fossil fuels to deliver power, a portable power station uses a rechargeable battery. They’re excellent for charging anything with a USB port. Because there are AC outlets, you can use them to power things like small appliances, small coolers and CPAP machines. Prices range from $38 for a 20-watt portable power generator to $12,000 for a 48,000-watt portable power station.

How to keep your security system armed in a power outage using a generator

When your power goes out that means there’s no electricity to run your security system. If you’re away from home, that’s problematic. Installing a standby generator restores power automatically. And while it may be tempting to pick up the most affordable generator, the goal should really be picking the generator that will do the best job keeping your security system armed.

For example, a standby generator with 20,000 watts or more should power everything you have under your roof, including your security system. If you would prefer to use a smaller portable or inverter generator, you’ll need at least 7,500 watts to keep your home security system, lights, refrigerator and chargers going. Your home security system alone will need at least 100-watts to maintain its ability to keep your home secure when you’re away.

A recreational inverter or midsize inverter that’s up to 2,000 watts will keep your refrigerator, lights, chargers and home security system activated. If your power is going to be out for an extended period, you can get away with using one of these machines for keeping the bare necessities running.

How to use a power generator safely

Whether you’re using Generac home generators or Home Depot generators, they all come with safety guidelines you must consider. Generators have safety features to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, injuries, fires and electrocution. 

Electrical generator safety tips

  • Use it safely: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid electrocution, fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure you’re using home generators correctly to avoid disaster.
  • Keep generators outside: Position generators away from structures on the outside of your home.
  • Keep generators dry: Otherwise, they aren’t safe to operate.
  • Disconnect your electricity: Before operating a portable generator, disconnect power going into your home to prevent power surging or back-feeding.
  • Ground the generator: Prevent electrocution and shocks by grounding your generator. 
  • Don’t use wall outlets: Never plug your generator into your home’s wall outlets or electrical panel. That could cause a fire, shock or electrocution. Instead, hire a professional electrician to hard-wire the unit.
  • Let it cool: Before refueling, turn off your generator and let it cool down.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does a generator work? 
    Generators don’t create electricity. Instead, they convert chemical or mechanical energy into electricity. Generators for home use force electrons created by motion and force them through a circuit.
  • What is the best generator? 
    The best Home Depot generators include Generac home generators, as well as generators from Briggs & Stratton, Champion and Durostar.
  • Is it safe to use a generator indoors? 
    No. Using a generator inside your home can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Should I use my generator outside? 
    Yes. The only safe place to operate a gas or diesel-fueled generator is outside of the home.
  • Can I receive a tax deduction for a whole-house generator? 
    According to Intuit, there are no tax deductions for a whole-house generator.

Author Biography:

Jenn Greenleaf is a professional writer from Maine who also works part-time as a bookkeeper for her husband’s residential construction business. She specializes in writing about HVAC, commercial construction, and other home-related topics.

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Best video doorbell cameras

Forgem/Shutterstock

Best video doorbell: Reviews and comparison

Do you have concerns about what’s happening at your doorstep when you’re not home or while you’re sleeping? Video doorbell cameras can provide some peace of mind. We’re rounding up information on the five best video doorbells for your home, including details on what to consider when shopping for and comparing video doorbells.

What makes the best video doorbell?

It’s important to choose the right doorbell camera based on how you like to use smart home technology and for your own home security needs and budget. Here are some of the features we considered  when comparing video doorbell options:

  • Price: Average prices range between $149.99 and $199.99.
  • Customer reviews: Look for reviews covering the product’s ease of installation, quality, night vision, motion detection, etc.
  • Customer support: Ensure customer support is available through live chat, phone and/or email.
  • Advanced features: The best doorbell cameras have advanced features, including infrared night vision, mobile alerts and two-way audio.
  • Warranties/guarantees: Many doorbell cameras feature a limited one-year warranty, but some extend as long as three years.

Our selections for the best video doorbell

Arlo Video Doorbell

Arlo is considered one of the top internet-connected camera brands due to its assortment of products, including indoor/outdoor cameras, indoor-only cameras, mobile cameras and baby cameras. The Arlo company also carries a broad range of accessories, including magnetic wall mounts and security lights.

The Arlo video doorbell captures video better than traditional doorbell cameras with high-dynamic-range video (HDR video) and a 180° viewing angle. Not only will you receive notifications when it detects motion, but each time someone presses your doorbell, you’ll receive a phone call or mobile alert.

Price: $149.99

Average reviews: Arlo’s doorbell camera receives an average of four stars from consumers regarding its motion detection, night vision, ease of installation and technical support. Some consumers have concerns about Arlo’s customer service, wiring requirements and its lack of functionality across multiple platforms.

Features:

  • Max Video Resolution: 1536 x 1536
  • Night vision with high powered Infrared LEDs
  • Single motion sensor
  • Full Duplex two-way audio
  • SIP audio/video call
  • Outdoor UV and weather-resistant
  • Single microphone array

Warranties/guarantees: One-year warranty

August Doorbell Cam Pro

August aims to ensure their customers are more secure through the control and visibility of their front door. The August Doorbell Cam Pro allows homeowners to answer their door no matter their location. Because it continuously monitors doorsteps, it captures every moment leading up to motion alerts. When subscribing to the free subscription for Basic Video Recording, homeowners can replay videos the doorbell camera captures within the last 24 hours.

Price: $199.99

Average reviews: The August Doorbell Cam Pro has mixed reviews, with an average three-star rating. It does receive several five-star ratings from consumers regarding the doorbell camera’s quality and value. Some consumer concerns include the length of time before playback video is available, motion-sensing delays and volume inconsistencies.

Features:

  • Easy installation
  • Use your phone to let guests in
  • Full-color HD night vision
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Free 24-hour recording with a live HD video feed
  • Requires an Android (5.0 or higher) or iOS (9.0 or higher) smartphone

Warranties/guarantees: One-year warranty

Ring Video Doorbell 2

Ring doorbells were some of the earliest to come to market back in 2013 and the company is now owned by Amazon, meaning they will interact well with other Amazon smart home devices. Ring’s goal is to help reduce the amount of crime neighborhoods experience and increase peace of mind in your homeThe Ring Video Doorbell 2 allows you to monitor your home from any location with instant mobile alerts and is compatible with Android, iOS, MAC and Windows 10.

Price: $169.99

Average reviews: The Ring Video Doorbell 2 receives just over four stars from consumers for its material quality, motion detection, picture quality, night vision, WiFi signal and sound quality. Consumers have concerns with the lag time between the doorbell ringing and then establishing a video connection.

Features:

  • Receive mobile alerts instantly
  • 160-degree horizontal, 90-degree vertical HD wide-angle views with adjustable motion sensors
  • Built-in speakers and microphone with two-way audio with noise cancellation
  • Infrared night vision
  • Live view on-demand audio and video
  • Battery-powered or hardwired

Warranties/guarantees: One-year warranty

Nest Hello Video Doorbell

Nest launched its first product, the Learning Thermostat, in 2011. In 2014, Google purchased Nest and, also during that year, Nest purchased a start-up security camera company by the name of Dropcam. In 2017, Nest developed their first video doorbell, the Nest Hello Video Doorbell.

With 24-hour streaming and a three-hour look-back on recording history, the Nest Hello doorbell camera shows everything that’s happening on your doorstep. When subscribing to the Nest Aware service, you can keep an eye on your packages with its package recognition and instant alerts.

Price: $199.00

Average reviews: Consumers rate the Nest Hello doorbell video camera with nearly five stars. Their reviews include this doorbell video camera’s ease of installation, video quality, camera features, set up and app features.

Features:

  • 8x digital zoom and a 1/3-inch color sensor
  • Captures up to 30 frames per second in HDR
  • 160-degree diagonal view
  • Built-in microphone and speaker with noise and echo cancellation
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Infrared night vision

Warranties/guarantees: Two-year limited warranty

SimpliSafe Video Doorbell

SimpliSafe launched in 2006 as one of the first producers of professional-grade home-monitoring systems. In 2019, the company expanded to the U.K. to offer them the same products and level of support. The SimpliSafe Video Doorbell provides video streaming with dual-sensor triggering while ignoring unnecessary motion such as cars passing. 

Price: $169.00

Average reviews: The SimpliSafe video doorbell receives a wide variety of reviews, including five-star ratings for its ease of installation, motion detection, picture quality, night vision and technical support. Some consumers, however, have concerns about connectivity issues and customer service inconsistencies.

Features:

  • Two-way audio
  • Motion alerts
  • Pan and Zoom
  • HDR imaging
  • Infrared night vision
  • 162-degree field of view

Warranties/guarantees: Three-year warranty

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Everything you need to know about ADT home security systems

A home security system can provide peace of mind for you and your family, but choosing one can be a confusing process. If you’re curious about the ins-and-outs of ADT home security, you’re in the right place. We’re here to help you wade through the technical jargon and filter out the vital information.

An ADT home security system comes with brand recognition, but you need to know what devices and services you need to protect your home before you sign up. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of the company’s offerings, as well as a breakdown of ADT home security costs and customer reviews. Even though ADT has been around for many years, make sure you read up on all you need to know before entering a contract.

What is ADT home security?

ADT (American District Telegraph) formed 145 years ago following a nighttime break-in. The founders used a telegraph “call-box” to connect more than 50 homes to a residential security system. Today, ADT home security has over six million customers throughout the U.S. In early 2019, ADT acquired the security company LifeShield, which allowed ADT to expand into the DIY home security market.

ADT home security systems come in three standard packages that can include various primary and smart security services. When it comes to ADT home security costs, the standard options are some of the more expensive security systems in the market and often require professional installation. On the other hand, Blue by ADT is a newer contract-free solution for customers looking for DIY and ‘build-your-own‘ security systems.

ADT home security notable features

  • ADT offers a number of add-on smart home accessories, from smart locks to smart light bulbs. Smart home accessories work with Amazon Alexa, Kwikset, and Z-Wave.
  • Home security features connect to a mobile app for easy control. This app offers 24/7 emergency services at the push of a button.
  • The digital panel has a modern design that you can program with the touch of a finger.

ADT packages and prices

ADT home security systems come in three standard tiers, plus the more affordable Blue by ADT. Before choosing a package, note what each package includes, as well as the cost of each. To access detailed plans and pricing, you will have to contact ADT for a free quote. To give you an idea of the ADT home security costs, here are four basic offerings to choose from: 

ADT Essentials

ADT Total Protection

ADT Premium Protection

Blue by ADT

  • Equipment price: Depends on which kit you choose
  • Monitoring costs: $19.99/mo.
  • No contract
  • Includes professional monitoring? It can, depending on your plan.

*Information as of 2/19/2020. Information sourced by SafeStreets, an authorized ADT provider, and Blue by ADT. 

Understanding ADT pricing

Standard ADT is more expensive than many other home security systems. According to Consumer Reports, the average monitored home security system costs $40/mo. ADT’s monitored systems begin at $36.99/mo. — and that’s for its most affordable plan. So ADT will cost you more than some other home security systems. However, ADT uses authorized dealers for its day-to-day sales, so you may be able to find a more affordable option through them. Note that some prices may vary based on the service dealer. 

Not included in these monthly fees are taxes and additional charges. ADT may charge for activation, early termination, guard response service, local permits, and security deposits.

However, if you choose Blue by ADT, you have a much more flexible home security plan. First, you choose the equipment, with costs ranging from $199.15 to $346.34, and build the security system you need. Then, you choose whether or not you want to self-monitor or choose a professional monitoring service, which you can get for $19.99/mo. If you’re worried about the cost of traditional ADT security packages, it’s worth checking out Blue by ADT.

ADT equipment

With any ADT home security plan, you can get an array of digital and smart home equipment. The digital panel is the touch-screen center of your security system, and you can get a wireless key fob that allows you to disengage the security system remotely. Motion detectors can go on your windows and doors, and you can register contacts in the system, so it knows who is allowed in and out of your home. The doorbell, outdoor cameras, and indoor cameras all connect to the ADT app for easy checking. However, ADT equipment remains company property.

ADT home security systems also can include smart home devices that use Z-Wave technology. For example, you can install a smart door lock or smart light bulbs that make your day-to-day easier. ADT also sells smart garage controllers — in case you can’t remember whether you closed the door when you left — and smart thermostats to program your home to the perfect temperature.

ADT home security system installation

Installation costs of an ADT home security system range from $99 to $199, and it depends on which package and service you select. ADT sometimes offers a DIY option for people who prefer to install the system themselves, but this isn’t always the case. 

On the other hand, Blue by ADT is all DIY. Everything this package offers runs on a wireless platform, so there are no wires for you to install. That way, you don’t pay for installation.

ADT reviews

It’s essential to look at ADT home security reviews. ADT has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but customer reviews aren’t quite as brilliant. Reviews range from one to 3.5 stars. According to customers, the prices and the strict contract seem to be the most off putting parts of the service overall. The lower scores appear to stem from poor customer service experiences and a lack of flexibility in the contracts. However, reviews of ADT home security systems are better than or on par with the competition.

Pros and cons of ADT

Advantages of using ADT

  • Offers smart home devices
  • Well-known brand
  • Can go DIY and contract-free with Blue by ADT

Disadvantages of using ADT

  • Contract penalties
  • Traditional plans are on the more expensive end
  • Low customer service ratings

Frequently asked questions

  1. How much does ADT cost? Monitored plans range from about $37 to $53 a month. All plans come with a 36-month contract.
  2. Can you get professional monitoring with ADT? Yes, all traditional ADT systems come with professional 24/7 monitoring. If you go with Blue by ADT, you can decide if you want to self-monitor or pay for professional monitoring for $19.99/mo.
  3. How much does professional monitoring with ADT cost? ADT includes professional monitoring in all its traditional packages, and the price of the package depends on which one you select.
  4. Do I have to have to pay for installation? Yes, unless you go with a Blue by ADT package where you can set it up yourself, you’ll have to pay between $99 and $199.
  5. Can I get out of a contract with ADT? Always read the fine print before you sign any contract. ADT requires you to sign a 36-month contract before you can get service, so take a look at the cancellation policy carefully before signing.

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The Ultimate Home Security and Safety Checklist Every Family Needs

Whether you’re planning on moving, are in the middle of a move, or are simply looking to upgrade your current setup, home safety and security are extremely important. In the United States, a home burglary happens every 23 seconds — but you can take a few simple steps today to ensure you don’t become a statistic. Review our checklist to see how secure your home currently is, and what you can do to make it even safer.

Home Security

Protect your home from burglars by ensuring that your home is equipped with helpful security features and technology. Make sure: 

  • All doors are secured with deadbolts
    • About 58% of burglaries involve forcible entry, which can be deterred by strong locks. All locks should ideally be changed before you move into a new home, and all deadbolts must be in working order.
  • All windows and sliding glass doors can be locked or secured with dowels
    • This is especially important if you live on the ground floor or if your windows or sliding glass doors are accessible from the street.
  • A neighbor or nearby friend has a copy of your house key
    • This is very helpful if you lose your keys or need a trusted person to access your home.
  • Each member of your family has a key
    • This can prevent lockouts and other inconveniences or emergencies.

 

  • Your valuables are secured in a safe
    • The average victim loses $2,416 in a burglary. Keep items like passports, fine jewelry, and birth certificates in a safe that is fireproof, waterproof, and anchored to a wall.
  • Your home is equipped with a security system
    • Consider surveillance cameras, doorbell cameras, and/or motion sensors.
  • Your home has flood lights and motion-sensitive lights
    • Strong, bright lights can be a deterrent to thieves looking to slip into your home undetected.

  • Your indoor and outdoor lights are on a timer
    • 65% of burglaries happen during the working hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Timed lights can prevent burglaries if you’re out of town or away most of the day.
  • You have exterior signs or decals stating your home is monitored 
    • Burglars are often deterred if they suspect they could trip a security system.
  • Your doors and windows can be locked remotely 
    • Many security systems have features that enable you to control locks or even your garage door from your smartphone. 
  • Trees, shrubs, and bushes are trimmed to minimize hiding spots for burglars 
    • Landscaping features should not obscure your windows or your yard, as they provide an ideal hiding space for would-be burglars.

Home Safety

Make sure you and your family are prepared in case of emergencies, natural disasters, or daily accidents. 

  • You have a first-aid kit handy
    • Your kit should include basic items like band-aids, gauze, and ice packs, and should be easily accessible.

  • You have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
    • These come standard in most homes, but check often that yours are in working order. One in four smoke alarm failures are caused by dead batteries. 
  • Fire extinguishers are available throughout your home
    • 52% of house fires are caused by cooking. Be sure you have portable fire extinguishers available in your kitchen and other areas of your home.

  • You have basic emergency supplies like batteries, flashlights, candles, canned goods, and bottled water
    • Keep your home filled with light sources and stocked with food and water in case of a power outage or storm.
    • If you want to make sure you always have emergency supplies on hand, refer to the list here to stock your supply kit.

  • You have an emergency escape plan
    • Every member of your family should know how to escape in case of an earthquake or fire, and where the meeting point is. 
  • Your home is covered by basic insurance policies
    • Depending on your location, this could include flood, fire, rental, and theft coverage.

 

  • Your home is child- and pet-proof
    • If you have a young child or pet, you’ll want to make sure wires and outlets are covered and out of reach. 

Download and print our Ultimate Home Security and Safety Guide to begin to prepare your home.

 

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Adobe Home Security

What is Adobe Home Security?

Home Security Camera Shot

Photographicss / Shuttershock

Abode home security came on the scene in 2014. In 2018, it became majority-owned by the Italian tech company, Nice. Nice is an industry leader in home automation, security, and smart technology. Not only are their products designed to protect, but Abode security systems are also made to comply seamlessly with other smart home technology, like smart lights and thermostats. Abode has over 15,000 customers and counting.

The Abode system has attracted users with its simple DIY security solutions that don’t require a contract. Abode also provides home automation and environmental protection that you can monitor with your smartphone. Abode offers customizable plans with varying levels of protective features, which make it easy to apply Abode systems to different homes and environments. 

Abode home security system notable features

Abode says its products were designed to be simple and customizable, allowing customers to build and configure their system to match their home. Here are some features to take note of:

  • DIY installation instruction included: The Abode home security starter kit comes with instructions on how to set up the system. The owner has the freedom to place the equipment strategically, in order to work along with the interior design elements of the home.
  • Professional installation is an option: If you are not confident in your DIY skills, there’s an option to have a professional install the devices for you.
  • No long contract required: The plans are available on a monthly or annual basis, and customers can change plans with the click of a button.
  • A modern design with a contemporary touch: The hardware is sleek and modern with geometric color patterns, making the design unobtrusive.
  • Affordable monitoring fees: The costs begin at $3.33/mo.* for monitoring with a media storage period of three days.

Abode packages and prices

Basic

  • Plan price: $179.00 (includes smart security kit)
  • Monthly cost: $0*
  • Equipment: Includes gateway, one mini door/window sensor, one motion sensor, one key fob, one security sticker, and a self-monitoring phone/web app.
  • No contract
  • Can purchase on-demand professional monitoring (3 days for $8/mo. or 7 days for $15.00/mo.*)

Connect

  • Plan price: $219.00* (includes smart security kit)
  • Monthly cost: $3.33/mo.*
  • Equipment: Includes gateway, one mini door/window sensor, one motion sensor, one key fob, one security sticker, a self-monitoring phone/web app, and cellular backup.
  • No contract
  • Can purchase on-demand professional monitoring (3 days for $8/mo. or 7 days for $15.00/mo.*)

Secure

  • Plan price: $279.00* (includes smart security kit)
  • Monthly cost: $8.33/mo.*
  • Equipment: Includes gateway, one mini door/window sensor, one motion sensor, one key fob, one security sticker, a self-monitoring phone/web app, and cellular backup.
  • No contract
  • 24/7 professional monitoring

*Prices as of 2/6/2020

Understanding Abode pricing

Abode’s $8.33/mo service fee for the Secure plan and the $3.33/mo. for the Connect plan both require the purchase of a starter security kit. Customers can choose between the Smart Security Kit and the more-expensive iota All-In-One Security Kit.

Also, in order to take advantage of Abode’s pricing for these two packages, users need to purchase a full year of service. The price is valid for the first year, and it is subject to change after that.

There are no contracts or hidden fees. Abode doesn’t require you to purchase any add-on products to use their service, only one of their basic security kits.

Abode equipment

The Abode home security system is designed to fit either the iota or the Gateway kits. The iota comes with more features than the Gateway. It has a built-in motion detector, is Wi-Fi-enabled, has a built-in streaming camera, and it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit. 

While the Gateway has none of these features, it’s a smart home hub, allowing communication with smart home devices. It’s compatible with Z-Wave and Zigbee devices, and with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant as well.

Both the iota and the Gateway provide users with simple connectivity via either ethernet or Wi-Fi. However, iota’s built-in camera, motion sensor, and two-way voice compatibility make it a more versatile choice. 

Abode also offers a mobile app that allows you to self-monitor your system. That app is available on both Google Play and the Apple app store.

Add-on devices for Abode systems range in price, from $24 door/window sensors to $130 cameras

Abode home security system installation

Abode offers professional installation, which costs $99 for an Abode home security starter kit install and an additional $25 up to five add-on devices. However, the Abode home security system does not require professional installation. The user can DIY the install in a few straightforward steps.

  • First, you have to set up the main hub. You plug it in and then connect it to your router. The hub will start to boot up automatically.
  • Then, activate the battery backup by pushing the backup switch on the rear of the hub.
  • You then install the Abode app by downloading it from either the Google Play Store or the Apple app store.
  • After registering the app and verifying your email, you activate your account and enter basic data (like your name and address).
  • You then enter an activation key, and the app is fully installed and ready to connect to your system.
  • You then have to follow the on-screen directions to connect each device.

After these steps have been completed, you invite household members and select the Abode connected home security service plan that best fits your needs. After selecting the service plan, your system is operational.

Abode reviews

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives Abode a C rating on its site. There have been six customer complaints logged on BBB’s website over the last three years and four in the last 12 months. All of those complaints have been resolved or answered, according to the BBB. Three customers have reviewed Abode on the BBB site, giving it an average of four stars (out of five).

Abode earns a similar rating of 4/5 stars on TrustPilot, based on over 2,000 customer reviews. 

Even though a few customers complain about Abode’s cameras not working, difficulty with the system not arming, and an unhelpful or uninformed support team, the overall ratings are boosted by those who are satisfied with Abode’s products and services.

To put Abode’s reviews in perspective, one of its competitors, SimpliSafe, earned a similar overall customer service rating of 4/5 stars on Trustpilot. The concerns pulling down its score mostly concern unhelpful support staff. SimpliSafe gets an A+ on BBB but averages only 1.5/5 stars from customers. Similar to what’s reported on TrustPilot, most of the complaints are concerning unresponsive or unhelpful customer support.

Pros and cons of Abode

Advantages of using Abode

  • No contract
  • Easy setup
  • Relatively high customer satisfaction

Disadvantages of using Abode

  • Sirens are built into the base station, making it hard to know whether you’re shutting off the siren effectively if the base is far away.
  • No built-in streaming camera on the Gateway
  • Some of the add-ons, like door and window sensors, are expensive

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much does Abode cost? $219 for the iota hub or $179 for the Gateway hub, plus $8.33/mo for the Secure plan or $3.33/mo for the Connect plan.
  2. Can you get professional monitoring with Abode? Yes, you can. Abode has on-demand monitoring that you can pay for or 24/7 professional monitoring with its Secure plan.
  3. How much does professional monitoring with Abode cost? $8.33/mo. on the Secure plan.
  4. Does Abode work with Google Home? Yes. There are over 30 commands you can use with Google Home’s assistant.
  5. Does Abode work with Alexa? Yes. There are a variety of commands recognized by Alexa.

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What you need to know about Brinks Home Security systems

Home Security System Concept

Selecting a home security system from all the competitors out there can give you a headache. We’re here to provide a breakdown of one of the better-known brands on the market, Brinks Home Security. Whether you’re looking for a whole-house security system, a Brinks Home Security safe, or a Brinks Home Security box, we have you covered. 

What is Brinks Home Security?

Brinks has over one million residential and business customers in North America and maintains its headquarters in Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas. Brinks Home Security manages an extensive network of independent authorized dealers in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada, but you don’t have to contact a dealer to get service. Reliance on local dealers means customer service can vary from one community to the next, but that authorized dealer may be able to offer an in-home consultation.

Brinks home security systems come in four smart package options that allow you to choose which features you need and which to leave out. Each package includes a way to automate smart features in your home, like lights and locks. The more features you want, the more expensive the plan will be. Additionally, Brinks gives you an easy DIY-installation option for all of its plans, if that’s your cup of tea. 

Brinks Home Security notable features

Brinks’ systems bring customers many unique options, from smart devices to safes. Take a look at the features that make Brinks stand out from the competition:

  • Smart security: Each of the packages includes the Brinks Home Touch, a control panel that you can use to connect your smart home devices.
  • DIY installation: You can install any of the Brinks systems yourself, or pay for professional installation if you prefer.
  • No-contract option: With the Nest Secure package, you will get Brinks Home Security monitoring but won’t have to sign a 36-month contract. Instead, your plan is month-to-month, so you can cancel anytime.
  • Additional products: Brinks sells add-ons, like smart switches, smart locks, and smart thermostats. Also, look into a security safe or a Brink’s home security box for cash.
  • Two-year warranty: If your system breaks in the first two years, Brinks will come out and repair it.

Brinks packages and prices

Brinks Home Security systems come in three standard tiers, plus a Nest Secure option. 

Smart Security Ultimate

  • Equipment cost: 1,099 
  • Monitoring fee: $39/mo.
  • Equipment included: Brinks Home Touch, a video doorbell, outdoor camera, two wireless motion sensors, three wireless door sensors, professional installation, yard signs, and stickers
  • Requires a 36-month contract
  • Includes 24/7 monitoring

Smart Security Complete

  • Equipment cost: $499 
  • Monitoring fee: $39/mo.
  • Equipment: Brinks Home Touch, two wireless motion sensors, an indoor camera with night vision, three wireless door sensors, yard signs and stickers
  • Requires a 36-month contract
  • Includes 24/7 monitoring

Smart Security Essential

  • Equipment cost: $199
  • Monitoring fee: $29.99/mo. 
  • Equipment: Brinks Home Touch, one wireless motion sensor, two wireless door sensors, yard signs, and stickers
  • Requires a 36-month contract
  • Includes 24/7 monitoring

Nest Secure

*Pricing as of 2/5/2020

Understanding Brinks pricing

The cost of a Brinks home security system can be more expensive than many other options since the average cost per month is $30 to $40 for monitored systems, according to Consumer Reports. For the Smart Security Essential Plan, you’ll pay the least at $29.9/mo. plus $199 for equipment. However, keep in mind that you can finance a Brinks system, breaking it into monthly costs over 36 months. 

You will also be charged taxes in your monthly bill, along with other potential fees. Brinks states that it may charge an early termination fee if you cancel before 36 months.

Brinks equipment

Brinks offers advanced equipment focused on smart home automation. You can choose to add doorbell cameras, outdoor cameras, and indoor cameras. The company also sells many smart home products, like smart locks and smart thermostats.

With every Brinks home security plan, you’ll get Brinks Home Touch, which is a smart home hub that controls all of its equipment. You can connect it to Amazon Alexa, Z-Wave, and the Brinks app on your phone for ultimate smart home management. The wireless door sensors and motion detector sensors protect your home from intruders and send you updates direct to your phone.

Brinks Home Security system installation

Because the company operates on a wireless network, all Brinks home security systems allow you to install them yourself. The company claims, “If you can open a box, you can set it up.” They label each device, so you know exactly where to put them.

Also, if you prefer professional installation, you can pay for someone to come to your home. Installation by a professional of a Brinks home security system costs $199, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Brinks reviews

In 2018 and 2019, Brinks received J.D. Power’s #1 rating in customer satisfaction with professionally installed home security systems.

Looking at reviews can give you a better idea of how the company performs. Brinks Home Security has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but its customer reviews aren’t as glowing. They rate the company between 1.5 stars and three stars. Complaints focus on third-party installation and contract issues. Brinks received a three-star (out of five) average score from Trustpilot, receiving similar feedback. Reviews of Brinks home security systems are on par with its competitors’ ratings.

Pros and cons of Brinks

Advantages of using Brinks

  • Provides smart home devices
  • Well-known brand
  • Can go DIY with any of its plans

Disadvantages of using Brinks

  • Penalties for breaking contract
  • Can be more expensive
  • Low customer service ratings

Frequently asked questions

  1. How much does Brinks cost? Brinks security systems vary in pricing based on monitoring, equipment, installation, and smart home automation add-ons.
  2. Can you get professional monitoring with Brinks? Yes, all Brinks systems come with professional 24/7 monitoring.
  3. How much does professional monitoring with Brinks cost? Brinks includes professional oversight in all its packages, and it costs between $29/mo. and $39/mo.
  4. Do I have to have to pay for installation? No. You can install every Brinks home security system on your own. If you want professional installation, however, that costs $199.
  5. Can I get out of a contract with Brinks? You have 30 days to decide you want out of a Brinks contract. After the initial period, though, all contract terms apply and you may pay a termination fee.

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Everything You Need to Know About Choosing Frontpoint Home Security

Outdoor security system for safer home

 

Whether you’re designing a brand new home or giving your existing home a facelift, now is the time to think about your home security. Modern home security solutions have come a long way, offering sleek equipment that blends into the background and seamlessly integrates with smart home technology. 

Although not as well known as the industry giants such as ADT, Frontpoint is getting recognition for its streamlined DIY installations, no-contract professional monitoring service, and commitment to customer service. Here’s what you should know about Frontpoint home security.

What is Frontpoint?

With over ten years in the home security business, Frontpoint has long been a disruptor in the market. The company was one of the first to use cellular monitoring instead of broadband and was the first to provide a self-guided app for DIY setup. Frontpoint home security has caught a lot of media attention, including recognition as one of the best home security systems for 2020 by Money magazine.

You can choose a packaged Frontpoint home security system or build your own. Even if you start with a package, you can customize your system with a wide variety of add-ons. Professional installation is not available, but the company claims that DIY setup can be completed in just 30 minutes with no tools, drilling, or wires. 

Furthermore, Frontpoint home security does not require a contract

Frontpoint notable features

As an innovator in home security monitoring, Frontpoint home security is smartly designed and filled with the latest technological innovations. Notable features include:

  • Cellular monitoring: LTE monitoring providers up to 120 times faster response rates than other monitoring methods.
  • Sensor checks: Your system will test your sensors once per hour.
  • Smart technology: Frontpoint learns your routine and alerts you of anything out of the ordinary.
  • Compatibility: Your Frontpoint home security system is fully compatible with other smart home systems, like Alexa.
  • Risk-free: In the first 30 days, Frontpoint will refund your money if you aren’t satisfied with your system.
  • Sleek, modern look: Frontpoint’s equipment looks contemporary and unobtrusive.

Frontpoint packages and prices

Frontpoint home security offers a variety of fully customizable equipment packages, as well as the ability to build your own. You simply pay for the equipment up front or finance it through Affirm, and then pay your monthly monitoring fee. The company offers two monitoring plans from which to choose:

Interactive Plan

  • $1.48/day
  • Includes 24/7 professional monitoring
  • No contract

Ultimate Plan

  • $1.64/day
  • Includes 24/7 professional monitoring, motion alerts, live video streaming, and video history
  • No contract

*Pricing as of 2/5/20

Understanding Frontpoint pricing

Frontpoint pricing is straightforward, with all products and prices listed on the company’s website. The lowest-priced equipment package is $69, the highest is $479.90, and all packages include a free indoor camera. Add-ons range in price from $29.99 for a motion sensor to $167.50 for an outdoor camera. Monitoring charges range from $1.48/day to $1.64/day and are entirely separate from equipment costs.

Frontpoint equipment

Frontpoint is committed to leading the pack in the home security space. Custom rules, smart technology that learns your routines, temporary disarm codes for guests or workers, advanced video analysis, and a strong mobile app are just a few of the features that have earned the security a customer satisfaction score of 4.7 on Trustpilot across more than 6,600 Frontpoint home security reviews. Frontpoint systems are fully compatible with Alexa, as well as a variety of smart home technologies.

Frontpoint home security system installation

All Frontpoint home security systems feature simple DIY installation with no wires, drilling, or tools required. In fact, SafeWise says, “If you can change a lightbulb or peel a sticker, you can install a Frontpoint system,” while Consumer Reports notes that Frontpoint is “Easy to set up and use.” 

Frontpoint systems work well for renters, as there’s no contract, and the equipment is easy to remove without leaving damage behind. Frontpoint does not offer an option for professional installation.

Frontpoint reviews

The average Frontpoint home security review shows strong customer satisfaction. The company earned a 4.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and a 4.5 out of 5 stars on Consumer Affairs. It’s worth noting that consumer reviews with the Better Business Bureau yielded only two out five stars, but this may reflect the fact that people who contact the Better Business Bureau generally do so because they have a complaint. Reported issues tend to focus on cancellation problems or miscommunication between sales representatives and customers.

Pros and cons of Frontpoint

Advantages of using Frontpoint

  • High customer satisfaction
  • Easy DIY installation
  • No contract
  • Comprehensive home security features

Disadvantages of using Frontpoint

  • Moderately high monthly monitoring fees
  • Lack of professional installation option
  • Difficulty canceling service

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How much does Frontpoint cost? Frontpoint home security equipment packages start at $69. The highest-priced package is $479.90. Equipment add-ons are also available at a variety of price points.
  2. Can you get professional monitoring with Frontpoint? Professional monitoring is required with Frontpoint home security systems. There is no self-monitoring option.
  3. How much does professional monitoring with Frontpoint cost? Frontpoint offers two levels of professional home security monitoring at $1.48/day and $1.64/day. The level of monitoring you need depends on your chosen equipment.
  4. What type of monitoring connection does Frontpoint use? Frontpoint uses cellular monitoring on the LTE network, resulting in fast response times and stable connections.
  5. Can I finance my Frontpoint equipment? Frontpoint does not finance equipment directly. However, financing is available through Affirm at an interest rate of 0% to 30% depending on credit score and terms.
  6. I’m a renter. Is Frontpoint right for me? Frontpoint is a great fit for renters. There’s no contract, allowing you to walk away when you no longer need Frontpoint service. There is no complicated installation and uninstallation, and removing the equipment will not leave damage behind.

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Everything You Need to Know About Vivint Home Security System

Everything You Need to Know About Vivint Home Security System

Home security has become an essential part of designing and equipping your home. From simple security cameras to fully-integrated smart home security systems, your options are seemingly endless. One of the major players in the home security space is Vivint. Here’s a look at what you need to know about Vivint home security, including reviews and pricing information.

What is Vivint?

Founded in 1999 as APX Alarm, Vivint changed its name in 2011 when the company expanded beyond basic home security solutions into the smart home arena. Vivint was acquired by Blackstone Group in 2012 and has continued to expand both its customer base and its technological offerings since then. Today, Vivint home security has more than 1.4 million active customers in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. U.S. News & World Report named Vivint Smart Home the Best Full-Service Home Security and Automation Solution for 2020.

The Vivint home security model is simple. The basic Vivint Starter Kit provides a touchscreen control panel, two entry sensors, a water sensor, and a motion sensor. It also includes your choice of additional sensors valued at up to $100 total. You can then select add-ons from an extensive list of home security and smart home equipment on an à la carte basis.

Vivint offers financing at 0% interest if you sign up for a monitoring contract. When your equipment is paid off, or if you pay for it upfront, monitoring is available on a month-to-month, no-contract basis. Both basic and advanced security monitoring are available. All Vivint systems require professional installation.

Vivint notable features

  • Vivint Smart Home App: Control not only your home security features but also your entire smart home, with custom actions and full remote access.
  • Seamless Integration: Vivint home security integrates fully with a variety of popular smart home products and controllers
  • Customization Options: Cameras? No problem. Do you prefer outdoor, doorbell, or motion-triggered indoor styles? Maybe you need smart locks, carbon monoxide detectors, or remote garage door control. Vivint lets you purchase what you need while skipping the things you don’t want.
  • Cancellation Policy: If you need to cancel your service due to extenuating circumstances, just call the company. Especially generous policies apply to those in the military. Several options are also available in the event of a move.
  • Look and Feel: The look and feel of Vivint’s home security equipment reflect the company’s status as a major player in smart home technology. Each piece of equipment is thoughtfully designed, elegantly sleek, and relatively unobtrusive.

Vivint packages and prices

Vivint pricing is straightforward. You build your equipment package (the Starter Kit costs $599) and then decide whether to pay for it upfront or finance it for 60 months at 0% interest. Then you simply pay your monthly monitoring fee, plus the monthly cost of any financed equipment.

Monitoring plans offered by Vivint:

Vivint Smart Security Service

  • $29.99/mo.
  • This basic package includes the SkyControl Panel and Vivint’s app, plus additional customized equipment options.
  • Includes 24/7 professional monitoring
  • No contract if you pay for equipment upfront, 60-month contract if financing equipment

Vivint Smart Home Service

  • $39.99/mo. plus $5/mo. per camera
  • This package includes the SkyControl Panel and Vivint’s app, plus additional customized equipment options.
  • Includes 24/7 professional monitoring, along with video surveillance and local video storage
  • No contract if you pay for equipment upfront, 60-month contract if financing equipment

*Prices as of 1/20/2019

Understanding Vivint pricing

Vivint pricing includes two components: equipment cost and monitoring fees. For a full quote, you’ll need an in-home assessment from a Vivint professional. According to U.S. News & World Report, the basic Vivint Starter Kit costs $599, while add-on equipment is available à la carte. U.S. News notes that add-on prices range from $50 for a smart sensor to $299 for an outdoor camera.  The average Vivint customer spends about $1,500 on equipment, which can be financed at zero interest for 60 months, according to U.S. News. 

Monitoring fees are $29.99 to $39.99 per month and are completely separate from equipment charges.

Vivint equipment

Customer ratings at Consumer Affairs and Trustpilot give Vivint high marks for advanced equipment and integration. According to reviews, the company’s products are high-tech yet user-friendly and integrate seamlessly into your existing smart home. Customers comment that the mobile app is robust and the equipment has a sleek, modern feel. High-tech HD cameras offer infrared night vision, and the system is highly customizable. Quality plays an important role in U.S. News & World Report’s decision to name Vivint Smart Home the Best Full-Service Home Security and Automation Solution for 2020.

Vivint home security system installation

All Vivint home security systems require professional installation. The installation fee is a one-time charge of $49 to $99, depending on exactly which equipment components you choose. A major advantage is that a Vivint home security expert will provide a free in-home consultation to help you design your system.

Vivint reviews

A 2018 J.D. Power study ranked Vivint Smart Home third in customer satisfaction among home security brands. Vivint got an 839 out of 1,000 customer satisfaction index rating, trailing closely behind Brinks Home Security (852) and AT&T Digital Life (847). 

Vivint has a 4-star rating across more than 14,000 Trustpilot reviews and a 4-star rating across more than 2,000 recent Consumer Affairs reviews. In Vivint reviews, customers consistently comment on the friendly and helpful customer service, breadth of customization options, and quality of the equipment. Some customers have noted that the cancellation process is difficult and sometimes requires more than one phone call. Also, depending on the issue, some Vivint reviews report being charged for service calls even when the Vivint equipment is faulty.

Outdoor home security graphic

metamorworks / Shuttershock

Pros and cons of Vivint

Advantages of Vivint home security include package customization, technology, equipment financing, and customer service. Disadvantages include equipment pricing, lack of DIY installation ability, and difficulty canceling contracts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much does Vivint cost?

A starter equipment package costs $599, with add-ons increasing the average equipment bill to around $1,500. Financing is available at 0% interest. Monitoring plans starting at $29.99/mo. are sold separately.

2. Can you get professional monitoring with Vivint?

All Vivint home security systems have professional monitoring. There is no option to purchase the equipment without a monitoring package.

3. How much does professional monitoring with Vivint cost?

The monthly monitoring fee is $29.99 to $39.99, plus $5 per camera.

4. Is DIY installation available?

All Vivint home security systems require professional installation.

5. How much does professional installation cost?

According to U.S. News & World Report, Vivint professional installation is a one-time fee of $49 to $99, depending on equipment.

6. Does Vivint require a contract?

No monthly contract is required if you pay for your equipment upfront. If your equipment is financed, you must sign a 60-month contract.

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How Incorporating Safety into Bedtime Routine Can Help Ease Your Child’s Anxiety

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These days, parents have a variety of tech and tools to help with bedtime routines. From sound machines and meditation recordings to aromatherapy and story time, these gadgets can help parents with children get their little ones to sleep. 

But for some children consumed by worry and anxiety, those options aren’t quite good enough to get to help them get to sleep and stay asleep. Studies show that 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years of age (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety. For those children plagued with concerns about the welfare of themselves and their families, feeling safe and secure can make a big difference. 

Our experts put together tips to weave elements of safety and security into your daily nighttime routine as a way to ease causes of bedtime anxiety, so you and your child get the best night’s sleep possible. 

Children need to feel safe and secure before going to bed 

Lack of sleep causes children to feel cranky, irritable, and can even lead to depression.  Sleepless nights can also contribute to physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach aches. We all want good sleep for our children, so what’s getting in the way?

According to the Alaska Sleep Education Center, there are many sources of anxiety that prevent children from falling or staying asleep. Experts say that many of those symptoms revolve around the child’s developmental stage. 

“Toddlers and preschoolers haven’t yet learned the difference between reality and make-believe,” writes Julia Higginson of the Alaska Sleep Education Center. This explains why smaller children will describe their fear of monsters and mythical creatures as a reason why they can’t sleep; they believe them to be real. 

School-aged children who know the difference still struggle because of their imaginations. Often, fears movies, books, and other media can spawn their fears. Those inputs can create scenarios where fiction becomes reality. That, coupled with the fact that school-aged children are beginning to learn that scary things happen in the world, means they recognize those things can happen to them or their family members while sleeping. 

Managing anxiety with children: How to create a positive bedtime routine

If these are some of the reasons for your child’s fears at bedtime, there’s good news. The bedtime routine you create for your child helps them know they are safe and secure — and thereby reduces the causes of bedtime anxiety. When children share control over their feeling of security in their surrounding environment and have a consistent routine to promote their safety, they develop a sense of calm necessary for sleep. They also develop the feeling of security that helps them return to sleep if it’s disrupted. 

How to design security into your child’s bedtime routine 

Let your child know the value of taking safety and security measures in the home

Help your child understand it’s a good thing to take safety and security measures. Let them see you map out a security plan for when unexpected things happen. It will make them feel reassured when you acknowledge there are precautions in place if something goes wrong. You’re sending the message that they’re safe, because, as the adult, you have already done the work both to secure the home and prevent unexpected dangers. This preparation helps the child recognize the parent is the first buffer to their worry. 

Consider explaining general safety to your child. Discuss things like the fastest path out of the house from their bedrooms, how to get outside through their bedroom windows, and the importance of defining a meet-up place in case of an emergency. 

The goal is to offer control and confidence, not layer on fear, so maintain an upbeat tone when speaking with your child. Frequently remind your child that even with these precautions, the chances of dangerous things to happen while they’re sleeping are markedly low. 

Tips and tricks to incorporate safety in your child’s bedroom routine

Make sleep a family priority and stay consistent

Talk often with your child about how important sleep is for the family, both for the adults and the children. Explain to them that, with their help, your family will be making bedtime rituals a part of each evening without waiver. All children — especially children with anxiety — operate optimally when they know their routine. The steps you take leading to bed can provide a smooth path to sleep. 

Children model what they see from their parents, so conducting the bedtime routine with them is helpful. 

Be mindful of every part of your child’s bedtime routine. Schedule out your shared nightly ritual to include time for both the home security measures and other needs — like grooming (baths, brushing teeth, combing hair) and calming tactics (reading, singing, tickling). 

Talk to your child about what safety means to them

When parents are tired and ready for their child’s day to be over, it can be easy to listen to their fears with only a portion of attention, then disregard the fear with, “That will never happen. Don’t be silly. Go back to bed.” 

The truth is, most kids don’t want to lay awake; they simply cannot get to sleep with unsettling thoughts about their safety. 

Try not to rush your child away from their fears or hastily guess what they might be. Instead, listen to them, so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. Depending upon your child’s age, level of imagination, and exposure to news events, they could be experiencing some fears at bedtime that a talk about security can help. Help your child identify which fears are real threats and which are made up.

Displaying patience and empathy will allow your child to name their safety worries specifically. This will help when it is time to introduce conversations around the security measures your family is taking. The important thing is not to be afraid to talk openly with your anxious child

Dr. Mona Potter is the medical director of the McLean Anxiety Mastery Program and McLean Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services. She says one of the techniques she often uses in cognitive behavior therapy is, “to practice ‘detective-thinking’ to catch, check, and change anxious thoughts.”

She says she also encourages children “to approach, rather than avoid, anxiety-provoking triggers.” 

This means children are having anxious thoughts in the first place, requiring open conversations between parents and children about their fears.

Create a routine with your home security system to make your child feel secure

As part of the bedtime routine, provide a security walk-through for your child. Have them follow your own nightly routine involving locking all windows and doors, activating the home security system, securing any automated systems like the Nest Smart Home, a camera system, or a doorbell camera, and leaving the outdoor security floodlight on. Even let them do the locking/arming systems themselves, so they get the feel of it. 

It is a good idea to have a conversation about the importance of the alarm system and how it does its job. Be sure to include that keeping the alarm system’s code private is crucial and that it’s not to be shared with anyone outside the family.

You may also want to let your child suggest what they want to do to help secure the home. If they have an additional ritual or two to add to the nightly security walk-through, it will be helpful for them to offer their contributions.

The walk-through, which shows your child how secure and prepared your home is, is meant to give children with anxiety a sense of control and understanding over their circumstances, not ignite more fear. If you sense increased anxiety from your child during the security walk-through, redirect and try other ways to acknowledge and manage fears.

Provide a safe and calming bedroom space

Ensure the bedroom you’ve chosen for your child is a calming place. 

Make sure your child’s room is clear of external stimuli that could disrupt their sleep. A motion-activated flood light near the window, for instance, would invite more anxiety if it’s triggered in the night by a neighbor’s cat. 

Some ideas that can help extinguish bedtime fears are to incorporate silliness and playfulness in your discussion with your child. You can use dramatic play, draw and talk about the irrational fear, and imagine the perceived threat with outlandish features, like roller skates or a pink unicorn horn. Try not to make it a habit to check under the bed or in the closet frequently, as this can feed into ongoing paranoia. 

Another idea is to externalize the worry by “giving it away.” In Guatemala, there’s a tradition of instructing children to give their worries to little dolls called “worry dolls: or “trouble dolls.” According to Childrens MD, parents teach children to have a conversation with their dolls before bedtime, telling the dolls their worries, then they tuck them beneath their pillow. The dolls are supposed to then worry for the child while the child sleeps peacefully. Perhaps teach your child to “give away” their worries to an inanimate object, such as a stuffed animal or a doll you already own.

Books can also help children to process their concerns, so consider finding books to read at bedtime that have themes around comfort and security. Also, consider putting a night light in their bedroom that will stay on through the night.  

Finally, remind the child how close the parent’s room is if there’s an urgent need.

Regardless of what kind of home security system you use, general safety and security is a must

Be sure to check the locks on your windows and doors. Be aware of where your fire and carbon monoxide alarms are, and keep them operational. If you don’t have a security system, making this investment could be an added benefit. 

The advantage of a routine

A child’s sense of ownership is important

[Responsibility] is about an attitude, the idea of taking action and being proud of doing it, not just always having your mom and dad do it for you,” says Alex Barzi, a licensed clinical psychologist and co-host of the talk show “About Our Kids” on Sirius Doctor Radio. 

A child’s sense of ownership, responsibility, and control over the home’s safety and security will give them an attitude of confidence, thereby reducing nighttime anxiety. Allowing the child to perform the bedtime security walk-through and inviting them to add input in the routine helps instill this confidence. 

In giving the child a sense of ownership, you will also eliminate the nightly power struggles that are apt to occur when a child has no say. When a child has ownership and a role in the bedtime routine, they’re less likely to buck at the system they helped to create.

Routines help parents create a positive connection to their child

Children learn to look forward to the things they enjoy, and they will know that the bedtime routine is enjoyable, since they’re part of it. You’ll also find that since the bedtime routine is consistent each night, there will be more time for caring, natural interactions because all the guesswork is removed.

It’s helpful to create a healthy idea of what “secure” means

Now that you’ve opened up the lines of communication about fears and introduced the topic of home security to your child, you’ve developed an easy habit of talking about tough things. You’ve addressed each of their concerns with an open mind and an empathetic attitude, and this will serve your family well. 

Get to sleep, and stay asleep

Sleep is essential to the entire family unit, and your child will experience greater success in getting to sleep and staying asleep when they know their home is safe and secure.

Speak openly to your child about fear and help them separate the irrational fears from the rational ones. Develop a consistent bedtime routine complete with a security component, and decrease anxiety before bedtime. 

Having a security walk-through included in your nightly bedtime routine gives your children with anxiety a sense of control over their safety. This both teaches them the skills they will eventually need to know and helps them take a role in overcoming their anxiety in the present.

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