Looking for Home Security System Recs


“Dear PoPville,

I have made my first investment into homeownership in the District and am wondering who has had recent experience with selecting a home security system? Although I’m in a condo, I have my own entrance from the outside and am interested in finding out more about what security systems people have liked and not liked. I’m especially interested in recommendations from anyone who has tried the new kinds of security systems that are internet-based and you can install yourself, as well as people’s thoughts on Comcast home security and the usual established players. If you were a new homeowner, what would you install?”

46 Comment

  • Simplisafe!! And thank you to the PoPville people who recommended it. Very easy to install and use. I would not go to the Comcast route because they have terrible customer service with cable/internet so can’t imagine their home security to be much better. I have heard ADT and the like is expensive ($40 month, no thanks) and it’s a pain when you have problems because you have to meet an ADT person at your house.

    • I’ve had simplisafe for about a month now. Easy to install and kind of idiot proof. The only problem is that my base station stopped connecting to the dispatch center (seems to be a common issue). I called them yesterday and they’re sending me a new base station, so we’ll see how that goes.

    • justinbc

      Had multiple companies come out and do estimates, and then looked into the cost of equipment and doing it myself via SimpliSafe and ultimately went that route. I posted a long analysis on it a while back on here if anyone wants to dig it up for the pricing. SimpliSafe is just so much cheaper and it’s very easy to do.

  • My house came pre-wired with a ADT provided system, but I set it up with Ackerman. No issues with them, and they were a lot cheaper than ADT. I opted for the cell connection since I didn’t have a landline.

    That said, if I was starting from scratch I’d probably also look into simplisafe.

  • ADT is priced correctly if you ask me. Why go cheap on home security – $40 bucks a month is a drop in the bucket for a peace of mind. I’ve never had an issue with them. They dispatch the police pretty efficiently, even when it is a false alarm. MPD will show up immediately and ask for ID, passwords, etc.

    • HaileUnlikely

      My house came pre-wired with ADT, which I declined to renew. When uninstalling it, I subsequently found that many weird electrical problems in my house could be traced back to an incorrect connection in the junction box that provided the juice to their system, which I don’t really know but feel that I can safely assume that they probably installed.

    • Any UL-listed monitoring company will dispatch the police effciently. Alarmrelay or Simplisafe are both UL-listed, and will do it for less than a third of what ADT charges, and without a three- or five-year contract.

    • justinbc

      Saying something like that only shows that you’ve never actually shopped for it to make an educated decision.

  • I highly recommend FrontPoint. I am also in a condo with my own entrance. The self install was so simple and when I decided I didn’t like one of my motion sensors (dog kept setting it off) they let me trade it for another window alarm. I got two door alarms, a couple motion sensors and a few window alarms for around $350. I got the middle package for $42 a month which includes the app and have been loving that. They are super responsive and I know that because unfortunately before I switched out one of my motion sensors my insane dog kept setting off the alarm. Also should note that when/if you move you just pick up the equipment and take it with you.

    • +1 for Front Point. Super easy to install yourself. My SO and I got a system of door and window alarms on our ground floor rental apartment. The app was really easy too. Great customer service. Nothing was permanently installed so when we moved out we just took all the equipment with us.

    • +1. Have been using FP for about a year now. They are reasonably priced, the system is easy to install, the app is really convenient, and they are responsive and prompt.

    • +1 for Front Point. It’s a little expensive, so I might look into Simplisafe or something if I were to do it again, but they have been great so far. One thing to check is cellular service. If you have internet based service and your power and/or internet goes out then so does your security. Front Point uses a cellular connection so you are never disconnected.
      Also any base station should have smash and grab protection. Pretty clear to figure this out if you google it.

    • I’ve been using Frontpoint for about three years and love it.

      • Linc Park SE

        +1 on Frontpoint – love the key fob disarm, arming/disarming features, customer service – couldnt be more satisfied.

    • +1 for Frontpoint

      • I also recommend Frontpoint for all the reasons others have mentioned. We have the $42/month option and have found it meets all of our needs for our single family home. Also, when you do settle on a home security system, be sure to contact your insurance company about getting a discount on your homeowners insurance.

  • SafeMart is a great option – it’s affordable, easy to install, and has the option for keychain remote control to turn on/off the system instead of entering a code (I’m sure other services/companies offer this as well). We used to have ADT and realized that we could have better service at a lower price with another option. We’ve been very happy with the customer service and quick response time when the alarm has been triggered.

    • I bought my system from Safemart, too, and I use Alarm Relay for the monitoring. They charge me $15 a month for monitoring via cell phone. I paid $10 a month for the monitoring when I used a landline.

    • I have Safemart/LiveWatch. As far as I’m concerned, ADT and the others are unnecessarily expensive.

  • My recommendation is also for Simplisafe. It’s incredibly easy to install… took me about a half-hour to do all of the doors and windows in my house. It’s completely customizable and upgradeable. If you don’t want to pay for monitoring, you don’t have to, and the system just works as a simple alarm system. The only downside for me is that it’s certainly not the most attractive home security system on the market… no fancy touch-screen pads or anything like that. But if you just want an inexpensive, basic system, it’s my definite recommendation.

  • we looked into a couple different options and went with ADT. I don’t want comcast to control another part of my life. I think the ADT sign is pretty valuable. I’d like to think it’s a crime deterrent (please don’t tell me this isn’t true).

  • epric002

    we also went with ADT b/c it was already installed. no complaints so far. we just upgraded to cell monitoring so we could get rid of our landline. i love being able to control the system from my cell or computer, and monitor the camera that came with it.

  • Thank you for all the recommendations! Please keep them coming.

  • Petitbon was already installed when we moved in, so that’s who we signed up with. No contract, 33/mo. We’ve had excellent customer service with them for the last nearly 6 years.

  • Has anyone used Urban Alarm? I see their signs on various local businesses, and have looked through their website before, but have not heard any first-hand reviews.

    We use ADT, as it came with our house. It is an old security system that is showing its age (lots of wired sensors). ADT has been fine but nothing special.

    • I called and left them 2 messages and tweeted them to get a quote. Didn’t hear a word back.

    • I have Urban Alarm for my row house. 3 doors and 10 windows are secured. Settings include a major clamp-down that includes the sound of broken glass setting off the alarm and just the perimeter for when we sleep. About $45 a month.

    • I had a great experience with them about 10 years ago, tried using them again last year and I can no longer recommend them.

  • We’ve used Guardian Protection for 5 years now and been happy with them. Monitoring is around $40/month, but they are responsive and easy to deal with.

  • We went with our locksmith’s recommendation, getting a dog. We’ve been very happy with the results so far – scary sounding bark, high contrast white teeth on a dark brown background, successfully chases away the mailman EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Added bonus: excellent customer service. And cuddles.

  • I have Comcast (Xfinity Home) and will be moving to Simplisafe once my contract is up. The Comcast base package gives you the touchscreen monitor, wall mount keypad, and two door sensors. Everything else is add on costs. You can have hit or miss support from Comcast that everyone is familiar with so I won’t go into that here. I did have an issue with my touchscreen monitor and had to have it replaced. For the cost Comcast doesn’t offer any Simplisafe won’t at half the monthly cost. I agree with others you don’t want to go cheap on peace of mind however it is the same product, Comcast just marks up service fees and tries to get you to bundle it with a landline no one needs anymore.

  • I have ADT and it’s not cheap. I’d be hard pressed to change, however, as it does work very well and just having that ADT sign plastered all over is a pretty healthy deterrent. If I was sure would-be thieves took other companies as seriously I would consider changing.

    • I doubt thieves take ADT signs more seriously than signs for other alarm companies.
      Even having an alarm system isn’t as much of a deterrent as one would like to think — it just means that the thieves know they have a very limited amount of time to grab laptops, etc. before getting out.

  • I’ve also had very good experience with Guardian Protection. I’m on their wireless system now so can arm/disarm system remotely and get notification when system has been armed/disarmed.

  • I would recommend Guardian Protection and would NEVER trust Comcast with my safety let alone getting a bill right or answering their phone

  • Highly recommend Scout Alarm http://www.scoutalarm.com. Its one of the new DIY home security systems that is fully customizable system and is integrating with home automation (i.e., it works with NEST). They also offer monitoring for $100/year.

    • I also installed a Scout system at the end of 2014 and so far think it is a good system. I’m not yet paying for monitoring, instead opting to try to monitor on my own along with two dropcams set to watch the likely spots where someone would enter the house.

      The primary benefit of an alarm system is the noise it makes and the visible deterrents. The police don’t show up very quickly when responding to an alarm, making it very unlikely someone will be caught in your house. A dropcam can capture footage that is immediately uploaded to the cloud, meaning the crook can’t take the device to avoid possible identification.

      We had ADT when we first purchased our house, in a different technological era. It eventually became prone to false alarms and having the police come out for that reason is annoying and a waste, especially when you pay a monthly fee.

  • Just curious, but why do people think it is a good thing — and a fair allocation of resources — that MPD responds to false alarms? I understand that nationally, approximately 95% of all burglar alarms are false. That is an awful lot of police response that those of us who don’t have alarm systems are supporting.

    Also, does anyone know whether new self-install companies like Simplisafe have a lower false alarm rate?

    • ah

      Not sure what the poster above meant, but I doubt anyone thinks responding to false alarms is a good thing.

      Rather, at least with ADT my experience has been if they can’t reach you immediately to confirm it’s a false alarm they contact the police. The alternative would be to contact the police only once you tell them it’s not a false alarm, which means it’s probably too late. (And, I’ve been happy with ADT except for the rather high prices)

      BTW, at least some communities charge people for too many false alarms within a certain time period – e.g., three false alarms in a year and you have to pay $125 for each visit from the police after that.

    • The point to a monitored system, vs. a simple alarm system, is that the monitors try to call you, and your backups, first, before dispatching the police (or fire). And that’s what you’re paying for with ADT: the continuous monitoring. The cost of about a dollar a day is hardly burdensome.

  • ADT is a bit pricey to install (but buying off-the-shelf kit from Lowes, Nest, or others is getting to comparable prices, but without the pro install and service). We had them install a good system (all windows, doors, cameras and indoor motion) for about a grand, and they fit everything into our entertainment center. Fair warning, a robust system comes with about three boxes to install and ours loops into our cable through ethernet. In retrospect the motion detector is a bit much as all entry points are covered. Comes with internet monitoring (video, status, etc), and remote access if you need to turn it off for a friend, dog walker, etc. Monthly fee is reasonable, and they are responsive, but call to check alarms that are disarmed quickly when set off on accident (yup, we do that once a week). They take USAA discounts. which is nice.
    Of course, one week after installing my wife had a gun pulled on her in the alley behind our house, so that did not help, but the system has given her a world of peace since then. We are installing cameras to cover that little gap in our urban stronghold.

  • Our house came prewired with an ADT system and a contract already with New Technology Alarm from the developers. Rather than find someone new when that contract ran out, we kept them even though I had never heard of them before. Their signage and invoice look a little janky but I guess slick marketing doesn’t really matter as long as they do their job. I will say they have good customer service, came out right away when we first moved in because we were having problems with the system (user error, mostly).

    They bill quarterly but I guess it comes out to about $33 a month.

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