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“Recommendations for a Wireless Home Security System?”

by Prince Of Petworth April 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm 32 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user William E Heaton IV

“Dear PoPville,

I’m purchasing a new home and am in the market for a new home security system. The home is not pre-wired, so I’m gravitating towards a wireless system.

I’ve been reading a lot about some of the ‘smart’ security systems and SimpliSafe’s pricing structure seems intriguing (pay for hardware but minimal monthly cost with no long-term contract).

Does anyone have any suggestions for a quality system that won’t cost me and arm and a leg? I know I can always bundle a security system with my Comcast account, but I’m open to any and all suggestions. Thanks!”

  • H

    I’ve been satisfied with our Frontpoint system.

    • Rach

      +! for Frontpoint. I liked that the pricing is clear (you own the equipment, not renting it like ADT etc) and it was super easy to install by myself.

    • Neighborly

      +1 for Frontpoint. Good equipment and excellent customer service.

  • PettyShabazz

    I have SimpliSafe and I do the $14 a month option and it’s been working out great for me. I use a combination of the motion sensor monitor and entry way sensors. I also have a remotelock electronic lock on my front door and am planning to also install a Ring doorbell system.

  • Autoexec.bat

    I’ve been very happy with my Simplisafe service and equipment.

  • MadMax

    I use SimpliSafe, highly recommend it. You can customize the hell out of it to give you whatever bells and whistles you want for far less than the basic systems from most of the door-to-door companies.

  • Most alarm companies will have wireless systems nowadays. Ackerman is reasonably priced. ADT Pulse looks cool too, it’s pretty new. I have heard of Simplisafe getting hacked so be warned. I also don’t think alarm systems should be DIY style, but that’s just me.

    • MadMax

      Why should an alarm system not be DIY? All the equipment is made in the same part of China, all monitored by the same call centers, the only difference is ADT or Ackerman will charge you 3x more to have someone “professionally” install a sensor over your door, window, etc. If you can’t figure out those things, well, then I guess pay more?

    • TJ

      You work for an alarm company?
      I have a DIY. Was easy to install and serves my purposes perfectly. All a modern alarm system needs to do is make noise if someone breaks in and tell you that it happened on your phone. The whole pay for monitoring so someone at a call station in Florida can call the police, who will come too late to catch anyone, is a scam.

  • Daniel in Park View

    We’ve done well with Ackerman though the gear was already installed when we bought the house.

  • AtlasCarto

    We are near H st and have Abode and love it! You can have DIY monitoring or pay a pretty fair price for cellular backup and/or 24 hour monitoring ($10/mo cellular back up or $30/mo cellular + 24 hour monitoring). They had a deal where you could get a starter kit + a year of cellular and 24 hour monitoring (where you only pay 10/mo). Overall the system is seamless very easy to integrate with other security features like smartthings, schlage keypad deadbolts or nest fire alarms. The service is great and they are constantly improving their app UI and technology which I appreciate.

  • AdmoDan
  • anon

    a dog is wireless

  • Jack

    If I were you I would get a SmartThings hub or a Vera hub and get all the way into home automation. Z-Wave or ZigBee motion sensors, door sensors, window sensors, etc will cover you from the alarm side and you can use the hubs to trigger sirens, etc, plus send alerts to your phone and trigger a monitoring service. Vera is already beginning to offer a full on alarm monitoring service for their hubs and Samsung is going to as well. Plus you’ll also have the ability to do smart lights, smart locks, etc.

    • AtlasCarto

      +1 for Z-Wave and automation. We are all decked out with Z-Wave light switches, schlage locks, ecobee, adobe, arlo etc etc. It really does make life easier and gives you a lot of control/peace of mind when you are away from home.

      • FloridaWoman

        How do you like your schlage locks? I just bought a place and need to replace the locks, and they look good. Just a question of how well they function.

    • MadMax

      I’ve yet to find a motion sensor that our cats don’t set off. All the ones that are supposed to be rated for ~25 pounds (based on heat signature) still get set off by the cats moving around.

    • AdmoDan

      I had a vera, but it was way too unreliable. Homeseer has smaller self-contained units in the same price range that are far more stable. I switched and am much happier.

  • anonymous 11

    Related question: my apartment came with an ADT box and sensors on the door. Can I use that with another system and do I have to swap out equipment and sensors? I really don’t want to sign up with ADT at all.

    • MadMax

      Yes you can, usually.

    • Nathan

      Yeah its no problem. My house came installed with an ADT system. Usually its a Honeywell system that many monitoring companies use and can monitor w/o issue. I went with Ackerman and they were able to monitor and add the cellular monitoring service to my existing system.

  • sinequinnon

    A friend who researches everything before purchase recommended FrontPoint to me and I have been happy with them.

  • anon

    I have an Arlo system and would NOT recommend. The system, by design, seeks out the wireless channel that your home wireless network utilizes and then chooses that same channel causing significant interference and essentially making both networks useless. This is a known “issue” but Netgear (owns Arlo) pretends that the system was purposely designed to do this because it somehow helps wireless congestion. The work around is to periodically change your home network channel. I imagine that at some point Netgear will get enough complaints to fix their poor engineering choices, but until then, do NOT purchase Arlo.

    • anon

      Sorry– for some reason I read wireless home security camera system. For just the security system I use Frontpoint and it was easy to install, easy to use, and 3rd party monitoring seems to also work well.

  • Anonymous

    If you don’t want to pay monthly fee, check out ismartalarm. You buy equipment and it’s tied to your router and smart phone. It was built for DIY.

    We also have a battery backup for router and hub in case power goes out.

  • SimpliSafe is a sure bet. I bought a home last November, I had this monitored security system installed and functioning the same day I closed on my property. Additionally, the Arlo wireless video by NetGear is an excellent video surveillance system. Available through Amazon. For a monthly fee you can have your recorded video automatically up loaded to their cloud server.

  • Neil

    Going with a GE or Honeywell system would probably give you the most options if you ever decide to change your service provider and also the most variety of sensors. I installed a Honeywell system on my own and use GeoArm for monitoring because they were the cheapest when I looked (and I appreciated that they actually have prices on their website). I’ve been happy with them, though I put up another company’s signs and stickers because GeoArm’s look really cheesy. Also, I’m really happy with the hidden window and door sensors I used, though they do involve drilling: http://www.alarmprofessor.net/alarm-shop/micra-wireless-transmitter .

  • freitag

    I use LiveWatch per the Wirecutter recommendation but I have the cheaper monitoring plan without cameras. It’s about $10/mo more than SimpliSafe but the equipment is nicer and cheaper up front, and the customer service has been outstanding. The mobile app (alarm.com) is great.

    • textdoc

      I use LiveWatch too.

  • Michael

    Huge fan of SimpliSafe. I’ve set it off twice accidentally and MPD responded very quickly when I missed the call center’s phone call to me during the first false alarm. Thankfully received the call the second time and was able to stop the dispatch. Easy to install, reasonable monthly fees. Customer service has always been great, too.

    If you have pets and want to use the motion sensors, they will require some tweaking. My 10lb dog will set one off, even with sensitivity set to the lowest. Had to install the sensor upside down (per SimpliSafe’s instruction), which resolved the issue.

    Keep in mind you have to get the $24/m plan if you want smartphone control, which is super awesome.

    Oh, and if you have poor T-Mobile service at your place, you might want to contact customer care and ask for a Verizon wireless module. I had many communication issues with the base station and call center before switching it out (easily, and for free). They use T-Mobile by default.

  • Lisa

    I did a ton of research when I moved to my new neighborhood last year in Ward 7. I almost went with Simplisafe, but then I read an article (link below) that explained its system isn’t encrypted. So you use your phone or keypad to arm or disarm your alarm, and that code is transmitted wirelessly to Simplisafe. Criminals can buy a receptor to gather these codes, enter your home, and turn off the alarm. This would especially be the case if you advertised that you have Simplisafe with a yard sign, as one normally does as a deterrent. I’ve not heard that this major flaw has been remedied. Honestly, I’m shocked that they are able to market a “security system” that is so unsecure. Shame on them.

    After much research and talking with other companies, I went with Protect America. I don’t love the 3-year contract requirement (which is pretty standard for a lot of companies), but I’m sure I’ll still need an alarm system for at least that long. If you play hard to get and let them call you back a few times, they’re pretty willing to throw in a few more sensors or a keychain clicker (totally clutch!) to seal the deal. I’ve never had an alarm system before, but I’ve been happy and their customer support is quite good and 24/7.


    • Lanphes

      Many wireless security companies, ADT included, are affected by this flaw. It’s not a pleasant flaw to have, for sure, but doesn’t appear to be easily replicated by those crimes of opportunity. This is most likely only an issue during a highly targeted attack, which may render any security system less useful. Keep in mind that they must be staking out your home prior to a break-in to wirelessly sniff the disarm packet to later be retransmitted. SimpliSafe notifies you immediately of all arms and disarms of the system, so there’s that.

      Is there information about Protect America’s wireless system not being susceptible to a similar attack? I’d be interested to read about it.


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