Author Archives: Karen
Author Archives: Karen
With over 100 years experience, ADT is the most recognized name in home security. The company provides the latest in wireless home protection with ADT Pulse. ADT offers remote monitoring via Smartphone apps, video streaming, smoke and fire monitoring, flood monitoring and even medical alerts. Despite receiving an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, ADT has garnered thousands of negative reviews on social media and security websites. Poor customer service and aggressive sales tactics are the main complaints.
The sea of blue ADT signs on lawns across my neighborhood may explain why there aren’t many break-ins, fires or other household disasters in the area. That’s why I decided to look into ADT to protect my home. After all, the company’s equipment and services are thorough and cutting-edge; and the mere presence of a security warning sign is enough to thwart some, but not all, intruders. A security system provides a needed blanket of protection for homes – and families - of all sizes.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Home Security Provider
A home security system is a necessity for people in neighborhoods with high crime rates, families with lots of valuables, or homeowners who travel a lot and leave the house vacant. If you own a home, townhouse, or condo, you’ll feel safer by purchasing a home monitoring (security) service.
A Rutgers University study says alarms are a deterrent to burglaries. An increase in neighborhood security reduced burglaries during a five-year time span, the research found.
When an alarm is triggered, it takes a security company an average of 15 to 60 seconds to respond. If security contacts the police or fire department, however, there’s no set response time. It all depends on your local emergency services
If the police arrive and find no break-in, you’ll be fined, so choosing an efficient home security company, one with good track record and satisfied customers, is essential.
Before committing to a home security company, here are some things to consider.
The good news – most home security services provide:
And the bad news – watch out for these possible deal-breakers:
The biggest home security companies have in-house or outsourced monitoring by trained, reliable operators and equipment verified by Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL). Today’s wireless home security systems have sensors placed near doors, windows, and other points in your home. Once an alarm or sensor is triggered, it sends a signal to your home’s control panel, and the monitoring service contacts you (if you’re not at home), the police, or other emergency personnel.
ADT’s comprehensive home security system features traditional and live-streaming video surveillance (at extra charge), smoke and fire alarms, flood monitoring, remote and coded locks, and health alert monitoring.
ADT also offers security systems for businesses and rentals. If you’re renting a house or apartment, check with the owner before contacting ADT or any security company. You may already be covered by the owner’s security system.
ADT is the largest security company in the United States and Canada with 65 million customers. It has one-quarter of the U.S. residential market and four monitoring stations in the U.S. with in-house staff. ADT has been in business since 1874 when it was known as American District Telegraph.
ADT is synonymous with the latest in security equipment and technology, with over a dozen security and safety features offered in their three home protection plans.
According to hundreds of online reviews, their name is also known for poor customer service and high-pressure sales tactics. In 2013 the FTC filed a complaint against ADT for false advertising when it was revealed the company paid experts to give ADT good reviews. This ZDNet article chronicles how hard it is to get out of an ADT contract.
Depending on the type of system you get from ADT, there a wide variety of features you can use.
Phone app for ADT Pulse (Video)
This video, from California Security Systems, demonstrates how to use the mobile app for ADT Pulse.
Activate or deactivate your alarms with a Smartphone or tablet from any location. ADT Pulse will notify you of broken sensors and send alerts when your system hasn’t been armed (but should be). Are you the forgetful type when it comes to changing batteries? Your alarm has a back-up battery that lasts for a few hours, and you’ll be notified when that runs low.
Place motion sensors in hallways and near doors and windows to detect unwanted intruders. When motion is detected, the alarm is triggered, and ADT’s monitoring center will contact emergency services. Press the fire or alarm button on the security panel touchpad and ADT dispatch will contact emergency services.
With ADT Pulse, you can check in to make sure your home is safe using the app on your cell phone. This is a life-saver when you’re away unexpectedly and can’t get anyone to housesit, or when you have a sick or elderly family member at home. Store clips to review later. You’ll need to have domed security cameras, wireless security camera, wireless day/night camera with night vison, and digital video recorder to keep track of happenings in your home. All equipment must be paid for upfront.
Included with ADT Pulse wireless plans, a smoke and fire sensor can be set to react the way you want – it can unlock doors or shut off AC to slow circulation of smoke when an alarm is triggered.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Unlike carbon monoxide detectors you buy online, ADT’s detector contact the monitoring center when triggered. You can buy a second alarm, an indoor sounder to alert you know when the alarm has been activated.
The Z-Wave Garage Door Opener and Controller closes and opens your garage door remotely and alerts you if it’s open too long. Many of the smaller security companies don’t include separate garage door controls.
The Ring™ Video Doorbell allows you to act as if you’re home and speak to the visitors or remain silent.
August Smart Lock enables you to lock and unlock your doors from a mobile app, so you can let housekeepers and repair techs (or you kids when they’ve forgotten their keys). The Kwikset SmartCode Home Connect Z-Wave Deadbolt has an illuminated keypad and 128-bit wireless encryption for entering individual entry codes.
Set temperature from the thermostat or mobile devices. This comes in handy when you’re on vacation – keep heat or AC off when you’re away, and turn it on just before your return home. The Nest Learning Thermostat (worth $249 ) is included with ADT Pulse.
Schedule lights to turn on and off remotely, or set them to turn on when a sensor detects motion. Use with the Z-Wave network – and an in-wall switch, dimmer switch or on/off lamp appliance module.
Water sensor alarms are triggered when water rises in your basement, garage or wherever sensors are placed. ADT monitoring will contact you, ad alert authorities if necessary.
Backed by ADT’s 24/7 monitoring, its medical alert system is comparable to Medical Guardian and other medical alert system specialists. It’s separate from home security plans and requires one-time fees for accessories. The Medical Alert Basic plan starts at $27.99 per month, with a choice of wristband or pendant.
ADT offers three home security plans:
Remote (ADT Pulse)
Video (ADT Pulse)
All plans come with a 36-month contract with an early termination fee, and all monitoring is done in-house in six monitoring centers in the U.S.
Ease of Installation — 2 stars
Unlike Frontpoint, Scout, LinkInteractive and most other home security companies, you don’t have the choice to install sensors and control panels yourself, and there is an installation fee for the technician to do it.
Customer Service And Monitoring — 2 stars
Encounters with rude customer service reps and pushy salespeople make up the bulk of bad reviews. Some locations have glowing reviews, but there are few “in-between” customer service experiences. You may get lucky and live in one of the areas with efficient and polite local reps.
Equipment — 4 Stars
ADT offers choices for every conceivable safety and security feature. They offer Z-Wave wireless technology with ADT Pulse. You can pick and choose what equipment you want (even models not sold by ADT), but call and make sure it is compatible with ADT’s system.
Cost – 2 stars
It’s hard to gauge the final accost of your plan from the website, which lists only the basic monthly charge. ADT pulse advertised as $49. There’s a 36-month monitoring contract with an extended warranty and early termination fees. Even if the product works fine, the contract and fees make it problematic.
Given ADT’s lack of transparency re price, it might be a good idea to research reviews from previous customers in your local area before signing a three-year contract.
Technology — 4 stars
ADT offers the latest technology with all the bells and whistles for safety beyond burglary and fire protection. The abundance of features may far outweigh the chance of encountering rude customer service reps for some people.
ADT attracts more customers than other home security companies, but they also have a high attrition rate (customer cancellations). Here are a few links to positive and negative reviews on the Internet and social media.
Positive Reviews –
On Consumer Affairs.net, ADT received an overall satisfaction rating of 4 stars, based on 1,049 ratings out of 2,808 reviews. In a five-star review, Terry of Fort Worth, TX writes, “We have been protected by ADT for fifteen years. Every interaction that we have had with them, from the techs who have come our home, to those we have contacted by phone or online have been positive and helpful. We have never been disappointed in any way. They are great company to do business with.”
Yelp reviews for their Brisbane, CA dealer, contains a handful of 3, 4 and 5-star reviews while most of the reviews are one star or two stars. “I canceled my account giving a 30-day notice, but was still charge for half a month even though I was told my balance was zero at the time”, writes Jeanie R. of San Francisco.
If ADT doesn’t appeal to you, consider the following home security providers. They offer burglary protection, mobile apps, remote control access, and most of the features ADT provides, but with better customer service, pricing, or other qualities ADT lacks.
Alternative #1 – Frontpoint
Frontpoint has only been in business since 2008, but what they don’t have in longevity, they make up for in reliability and customer service. This customer-focused company receives high ratings for its personalized security plans. They offer the latest wireless technology, and you can use their system with VoIP or a cellular signal. (They don’t offer a landline option.)
They offer burglary and fire protection, home automation, remote video, light and thermostat control, carbon monoxide monitoring, plus Life Safety (medical emergency monitoring) on all plans. Crash and Smash Protection ensures the monitoring center will be notified, even if the control panel is damaged. DIY installation is available, and there’s a 30 day, no-risk guarantee and a 12-month contract option. Visit Frontpoint to learn more.
Alternative #2 – Link Interactive
If you want an inexpensive, completely DIY security system, consider Link Interactive from Costco. Their basic Fire and Security package is $24.99 a month with a 30-day money-back guarantee. There’s also a SmartComplete package with remote and Smartphone control, two-way voice, video and touch screen console for $42.99 month. Link Interactive has a low complaint record with the Better Business Bureau and an A+ rating. Like ADT, it has a three-year contract, but there’s no activation or installation fee. You must pay for equipment upfront.
Alternative #3 – Protect America
Prefer to go with another proven name in home security? Protect America, founded in 1992, has protected over 500,000 families with their alarm, home automation, and life safety solutions. They offer five security packages, from Copper (three door window sensors and one motion detector, $19.99 month) to Platinum (14 door/window sensors and one motion detector, $42.99 a month). The average cost for a three-year Protect America contract is $720, compared to $1143 for ADT. Protect America has a 4 ½ star rating on Consumer Affairs.com based on 605 ratings and 2191 reviews. The company isn’t BBB accredited.
ADT Home Security offers you the cream of the crop as far as technology and equipment are concerned. The company has over a century of experience behind it, and protects over 6 million homes in the U.S. The customer service may be excellent or lacking, depending on the authorized dealer in your area, and you must contact a rep for a free quote; there’s no “one-size fits all” total price, including installation and fees. Check out ADT’s main site for new customer specials and more details.
Frontpoint has come a long way since it entered the home security business in 2007. It’s already gaining a good reputation for its cutting-edge wireless technology and excellent customer service. Features like patented Crash and Smash protection, DIY installation and Z- Wave compatible cameras make it one of the best choices for a home security system.
How I Learned about Frontpoint
After some bad experiences with no and low-price home security, my boyfriend and I decided to take the plunge and look for a serious security system. We were apprehensive about the cost, of course, but the horror stories about long-term contracts and equipment break-downs scared us even more. That’s when I discovered Frontpoint after talking to a realtor friend of ours.
Making the decision to sign a home security contract shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you choose the wrong company, it can cost you a lot of money and leave you with more stress than you had before buying the system. A home monitoring system (security system) is
Today’s home security providers offer wireless home monitoring that works with Smartphones since most people prefer cell phones to landlines. (A few companies still offer security systems through a traditional landline.) The wireless technology prevents intruders from cutting cables and disabling the system, and it gives you the chance to monitor your home via mobile phone apps. If you travel a lot, lead a busy life and aren’t home much, or have valuables you want to protect, a home security system may be well worth the investment.
Before buying a home security system, think about the following points:
Nearly 60% of burglars interviewed for a study said they would consider the presence of a home security system as a liability when choosing a target, with 40% of them saying they would probably choose another target if the initial one had home security. With this in mind, it’s probably a good idea to invest in some alarm or monitoring system for your home – even if it’s the old-fashioned DIY system of keeping doors and windows locked and your property well-lit.
Founded in 2007 in Vienna, VA, Frontpoint provides wireless and mobile applications for home security, home automation, medical alerts, and environmental monitoring. They offer DIY installation, but unlike many other DIY home security providers, their equipment and monitoring are grade-A. The company focuses on the customer’s needs, not high-pressure sales. Frontpoint consistently receives high ratings from customers and security experts. You can install their wireless sensors, alarms and video cameras in minutes, and a rep will test it out for you over the phone.
Their systems are 100% cellular, and even their basic home security plan includes water leak and carbon monoxide monitoring and medical alert monitoring. Frontpoint has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 90% positive review rating.
Frontpoint offers all the features and benefits of ADT and other industry leaders with an emphasis on customer interaction. All wireless equipment uses Z-wave technology, and you don’t have to buy the equipment from Frontpoint. If you buy equipment on your own, contact them to make sure it’s compatible with your system.
All Frontpoint plans offer 24/7 monitoring from Rapid Response monitoring, a monitoring center approved by the Department of Defense, Factory Mutual, and the New York City Fire Department.
Frontpoint Touch Screen Review (Video)
This video, with security expert Rose Thibodeaux, explains how the Frontpoint video touch screen works.
The Qolsys IQ offers a 7? LCD panel and manages Frontpoint’s home security automation. It has a built-in camera and is a touch screen replacement for the Simon XT control panel.The Qolsys IQ can be attached to a tabletop or wall and is Z-Wave compatible. It comes with a 24-hour backup battery in case of power outage. If your parents or grandparents live with you, they may like the Qolsys IQ’s large icons, which make using it easy for people with poor eyesight.
Frontpoint offers flood and carbon monoxide protection under the “Environmental Protection” banner. The water and flood sensor detects excess water levels in basements, laundry room or wherever you’ve placed wireless equipment. An alarm will sound alerting you, and you’ll receive an email or text alert if you’re not home. If the carbon monoxide detector is triggered when you’re not home, you’ll also receive an e-mail or text alert. All you need to do is pick the right detectors for your home and install them. There aren’t any extra fees for this service.
Fire and smoke protection sensors detect when a room is getting too hot, so it can alert you to problems even before smoke appears. 24/7 monitoring is provided for environmental and fire protection, and Frontpoint will contact you when a sensor is triggered if you’re not home.
Frontpoint offers 24/7 medical alert monitoring with all plans. You pay only for the equipment ( a water and shock resistant panic pendant). There’s no additional fee for the service. (ADT charges for a medical alert plan separately.)
Place image and/or motion sensors anywhere in your house to detect intruders. Prevent the kids or grandkids (or their friends) from accessing forbidden items by placing door and window sensors near gun and liquor cabinets . You can install up to 39 sensors on your own – each one with low-battery detection. Need to move a sensor to anther room? No problem. All sensors are lightweight, and you can attach them in another location easily with their “peel and stick” adhesive. Motion sensors are made to detect intruders of 40 pounds or more, so most pets won’t trigger them. You’ll receive email or text alerts about triggered sensors if you’re away from home
Crash and Smash technology, developed by Alarm.com, ensures Frontpoint’s monitoring center will contact the police even if an intruder destroys the control panel. The patented system, unique to Frontpoint, keeps your system in a special status mode after a door opens. If the intruder disarms the system, monitors will know and contact the police.
Frontpoint’s wireless outdoor camera has infrared night vision to detect intruders. Access video clips from indoor and outdoor cameras anytime through the mobile app or customer portal on the Frontpoint website.
When family members forget their keys, they can punch in a code on the automated door lock to get inside. Away from home? Lock or unlock your door with the Frontpoint app on your Smartphone.
Customize all your sensors, alarms and cameras from anywhere with remote access and control. Turn lights on and off remotely with the light control feature, and adjust your home’s temperature when you’re away with energy management controls.
Receive live video streamed to your mobile device from the wireless cameras inside or outside your home. When a motion sensor is activated, you’ll receive video clips to see what’s happening back at home. With the doorbell camera, you can choose to speak to visitors or ignore them.
Frontpoint offers three security plans:
The Ultimate Plan includes every feature of the Interactive Plan, plus
All Frontpoint’s plans include medical alerts and water, fire and carbon monoxide monitoring. ADT offers medical alerts separately, for an additional fee, and only offers environmental monitoring on its two higher-priced plans.
Plans come with a three-year contract, but if you pay more upfront, you can get a one-year contract. All plans come with a 30-day guarantee. If you aren’t happy with your service, cancel within the first 30 days and get a full refund.
Sensors and controls panels are easy to install. Just peel and stick the adhesive backing close to doors, windows or on ceilings. There’s an interactive tool on the Frontpoint website to help you decide which locations in your home are best for security sensors/cameras.
The Interactive and Ultimate plans include free mobile apps for iPhones, iPads, Androids, Blackberry phones, Apple watch, Kindles and Windows.
Ease of Installation — 5 stars
All Frontpoint installation is DIY. There are no holes to drill or any superfluous hardware needed to install sensors, alarms or monitors – just “peel and stick” the lightweight equipment onto walls, ceilings or near doors. It’s easy to remove sensor or detectors and put them in a new location. Wireless cameras are small and lightweight and connect to your home’s WiFi.
Customer Service And Monitoring – 5 Stars
Frontpoint’s customer service is regarded as the best in the home security business. Reps listen to customers and genuinely try to solve problems instead of “passing the buck.” The company has a low-pressure approach to sales and gears any sales presentation on the customers’ needs
Equipment — 4 Stars
You can buy high-quality home security cameras, sensors, monitors or alarms from Frontpoint. The equipment is Z-wave compatible and moderately priced. (The indoor wireless camera is $189.99, the water and flood sensor $44.99, although you may be able to get equipment for less when Frontpoint is running a promotion.) And you can take the equipment with you when you move. They even provide a free mover’s kit.
Cost – 3 stars
Frontpoint lists plan and equipment prices on their website, and what you see is what you get. You’ll still need to verify the final price with a rep, but the company is pretty straightforward regarding costs. Frontpoint’s plans are a few dollars more a month than ADT, with comparable quality equipment.
Technology — 4 stars
Frontpoint offers cutting-edge technology, with wireless Z-wave cameras and small, unobtrusive sensors and monitors that you can place on a wall, ceiling, shelf or table. You can use their mobile app on just about any device, including ones not usually offered by other security companies, like the Apple Watch and Blackberry phone.
Frontpoint receives mostly positive reviews on social media. (Even the negative ones often mention the company’s helpful customer service.)
On Consumer Affairs.com, Frontpoint has a 4 ½ star rating based on 2352 ratings out of a total of 5437 reviews
The Frontpoint Yelp listing (Washington, D.C. area) contains both positive and negative reviews. David S. of Fairfax VA writes in his 5-star review, “I have the full system. Super easy to use and simple to install…. Very nice staff in the support side if you call in. They have it together.” In a 2-star review, Leigh Z. of Austin, TX writes, “Sadly I am going to have to drop my rating down….because I am about over my sensors working sporatically (sic). .. I have had several sensors replaced and yet the problems persist. ”
Alternative #1 LiveWatch
Live Watch and Frontpoint offer DIY installation and cellular-only service (no landlines). Live Watch (formerly SafeMart) offers a one-year contract, with plans starting at $19.99 a month. Frontpoint’s plans start at $34.99 a month. LiveWatch is cheaper and better for short-term security needs. If you don’t travel much or have a small family, LiveWatch may be worth it. Upfront equipment costs range between $200-$300, and it comes with a two-year limited warranty. Visit LiveWatch here.
LiveWatch vs. Frontpoint Comparison
Alternative # 2 ADT
ADT is the industry leader in home security with 6 million homes covered in the U.S. and over a century of service. They offer the same wireless video surveillance, remote arm and disarm and water/fire monitoring as Frontpoint. If you want a proven name in home security instead of a relatively new company to provide your system or prefer to have a technician install your system, (ADT is pro-install only), consider ADT. They offer monitoring through your landline (many newer companies don’t), and a relocation guarantee. Visit their website here.
Adt Vs. Frontpoint Comparison
SimpliSafe offers DIY installation, with low monthly fees ($14.99-$24.99 per month) and a month-to-month contract. They offer equipment including smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, door/window and motion sensors, base control, keychain remote and a security camera add-on. An easy-to-use and affordable system, it may be useful if you have limited security needs or are new to home security. Visit SimpliSafe to learn more.
SimpliSafe Vs. Frontpoint Comparison
Frontpoint’s laidback sales approach and helpful customer service will attract many people to their security services, but their cutting-edge equipment and reliable monitoring will make them stay. Based on the number of different services provided for each monitoring plan and the quick DIY installation, Frontpoint offers a great value if you’re looking for a medium-priced home security system. Learn more about Frontpoint on their website.