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What’s the Best Alarm System for Your Home?


What is a home alarm system? By definition it’s a series of components and sensors installed in your home that help detect an intrusion and notify the authorities, who should then take corresponding action to protect you and your belongings as expeditiously as possible. That’s great, but what components do you actually need? And how much does it cost? What does installation involve? I’m sure these are some of the questions running through your head. Here’s the questions you should ask, and our answers, to help you find the best home alarm system for you.

  1. What Are My Options?
  2. How Much Does It Cost?
  3. Is There Installation/Setup Involved?
  4. Are There Contracts?
  5. Do I Need a Phone Line?
  6. I’ve Heard a Lot About ADT, What’s All the Hype?
  7. What Happens if I’m Broken Into?
  8. So Which is the Best Home Alarm System?
  9. Share Your Thoughts

What are my options?

There are many (in our opinion a few too many) home security options, and lingo, out there. One thing you might be wondering is what’s the difference between home alarm and home security? As far as the industry’s concerned, not much. Technically speaking, a burglar alarm consists of just the skeleton sensors necessary to detect an intrusion (door, window, and motion) and notify the home owner with an audible noise. An alarm system extends this to also include fire and smoke detectors. While a home security system goes all the way and also covers monitoring by a central station, home security cameras, and home automation options such as automated lighting and door locks.

How much does it cost?

A simple burglar alarm can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $20. A self-monitored alarm system that includes an extensive set of sensors including carbon monoxide, freeze and water sensors, such as that offered by SimpliSafe, can be purchased for around $260. The full-fledged home security system that is monitored by a central station and can include all the bells and whistles including home security cameras typically lock you into a 3-year contract and start at $20/ month plus installation fees of $100 and up.

Is there an installation/set up involved?

For most home alarm options, yes. The burglar alarms you buy on Amazon are self-install. This can be very easy, however, as this usually involves simply attaching sensors to your doors and windows using included adhesives. For the larger security system options there are usually professional install options available, although companies are increasingly relying on a DIY (Do It Yourself) model that allows customers to save on installation and moving costs.

Are there contracts?

There are only contracts with the home security systems that include a monthly monitoring package.

Do I need a phone line?

Not anymore. Older alarm systems relied on phone lines, but these are also prone to cutting by thieves, especially on older homes where the phone lines lie exposed. The more cutting edge systems, including those you can buy and install yourself, offer a broadband (via your home Internet connection) or cellular (via the security company’s cell towers) signal option.

I’ve heard a lot about ADT, what’s all the hype?

ADT is huge, and they are old. They’ve been around for years, and they use an authorized dealerprogram to sell their product in local markets. The upside of this is that they’re available nearly everywhere in the U.S.. The downside is that their customer service record varies greatly depending on location, which makes it difficult for us to review them as a national provider.

What happens if I’m broken into?

The answer to this depends on the type of alarm system you have installed. With a self-monitored security system, if someone breaks into your house, you (and, if this feature is available, anyone else you designate as a contact) is notified. With a system monitored by a central station, you are notified first. If the alarm company can’t reach you, they dispatch local law enforcement to your home.

So Which is the Best Home Alarm System?

We’ve done extensive research on this subject since 2008. If you can afford it, we recommendFrontPoint Security as the best home alarm option. They offer a 100% dedicated cellularconnection (nearly impervious to tampering), the best customer service record from the companies we reviewed, patented crash and smash protection (when a break-in is detected, a signal is sent to the monitoring station; if a burglar smashes your alarm system control panel before a “disarm” command is received by the station, they will still deploy law enforcement).