As seen in:
PiSECTOR
3G/4G Cellular & Landline
Fortress Security Store
S02-A Wireless Home and Business
SimpliSafe
Wireless, 8-Piece
Fortress Security Store
GSM-B Wireless Cellular
Home8
Oplink Connected TripleShield
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Good

Ample sensors ensure your safety. GSM, land line, and VOIP- connected. Possibility of saving money on insurance premiums with Ademco compatibility.

Can auto-dial up to six emergency numbers. Customizable alarm. Quick and easy to install. No monthly fees.

No contract required. Customizable add-on features like carbon monoxide detection. Wireless emergency signal is nearly impossible to block. Easy to set up and use.

A great system for larger homes. Features that appeal to bigger families such as multi-person enable/disable mode. You'll still get the message if a burglar cuts your land line.

Two wireless IP cameras let you keep tabs on your home remotely. Wireless operation prevents intruders from tampering with your security system.

Bad

A few (rare) complaints about faulty sensors.

Land line is usually required to operate. Occasional failure of individual units. This system does not connect to an external monitoring service.

External siren is not standard, but an add-on is available for purchase.

No monitoring service means a delay if you have to call law enforcement. Occasional problems with mount sensor adhesive.

Although there is a free option, most owners agree the monthly fee is a "must."

Bottom Line

The security system that costs the most, but also offers the most in terms of features and protection. You cannot find a more comprehensive home security system on the market today.

Suitable for small to medium-sized homes. Good equipment in a modest package.

Thousands of highly satisfied customers love the price, the features, and the fact that no contract is required. Hands down, the best budget-priced home security system on the market today.

More options than the Fortress S02-A. GSM connectivity is a hit with owners. No monitoring service is a drawback, but no monthly fee is a plus.

A standout device with wireless service, cameras that keep you in the know, and cloud connectivity. Monthly fee not required, but more or less necessary for quality service.

How we decide
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Products received from manufacturers
86
Models Considered
43
Hours Spent
1
Experts Interviewed
204
Consumers Consulted

Best Security Systems

With hundreds of different home security systems on the market, it's no easy task to sort the useful features from the hype. After extensive research, we identified the top five home security systems that deliver the comprehensive levels of equipment and support you need. The top contenders are:

Products we Considered

PiSECTOR
3G/4G Cellular & Landline
Fortress Security Store
S02-A Wireless Home and Business
SimpliSafe
Wireless, 8-Piece
Fortress Security Store
GSM-B Wireless Cellular
Home8
Oplink Connected TripleShield

Considerations

Sensors

Door and window contacts -- those that set off an alarm when broken -- are common, as are motion sensors. However, some systems go a good deal further, detecting carbon monoxide and even water leaks.

Alarm & Alerts

Some modern home protection systems do more than just set off an alarm. Some systems can also phone your cell and/or alert the police -- even if the intruder smashes the control unit.

Installation, Features & Fees

All of the home security systems on our shortlist are do-it-yourself installations, although hiring a professional to install your system is always an option. Some systems include useful additional features, and there may be monthly fees for monitoring services.

Price

Given the technology on offer, it's remarkable how little you have to spend for a good home alarm. Having said that, if you spend a little more, you often get extra coverage.

Considerations

Sensors

Fortress Security Store (TM) S02-A

The Fortress Security Store S02-A Wireless Home Security Alarm System may be called a "starter kit" by the manufacturer, but that doesn't mean it's poorly equipped. The S02-A includes a total of seven sensors: two that can detect motion and five that can be fitted to doors and/or windows. These two types of sensors, in combination, ought to provide adequate coverage for small to medium-sized homes. We appreciate the fact that you could theoretically have your magnetic door and window sensors on and your motion sensors off at the same time. The system is deactivated by either entering a code into the control panel keypad or by using one of two key fobs when you enter your home.

Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System

The Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System includes units that are similar to the Fortress S02-A. The system includes one motion sensor, four door/window sensors, and one remote sensor for arming and disarming. The manufacturer points out that the system is customizable and that additional sensors can be added at any time. Additional options include sensors for carbon monoxide, freezing pipes, and water leaks.

Fortress Security Store (TM) GSM-B

Not to be confused with the Fortress 502-A, the Fortress GSM-B provides you with three infrared motion detectors, ten window/door contacts, and three remotes. You should be able to comfortably equip a substantial home using this system. We like the fact that you can give several family members a way to enable and disable the Fortress GSM-B system. This is a particularly useful feature for large, busy families.

Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield

The Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield Home Security System offers only one motion sensor and two window/door units. It also features two wireless IP cameras and a free smartphone app -- a bit of an unusual feature -- so you can see what's going on in your house from anywhere via the Internet. This includes night vision! Like the Simplisafe2, the Oplink is an expandable system, so you can add more sensors or cameras if you so desire. The OPU (Oplink Processing Unit) simply updates itself to accommodate the extras.

PiSECTOR 3G/4G

You get plenty of control options with the PiSECTOR 3G/4G Wireless Security Alarm System. In addition to the main panel, there's a wireless version that you could mount somewhere else, such as the garage or a rear door. Three multifunctional remotes and two RFID door access tags (just hold them near the unit to activate/deactivate) are also included. The PiSECTOR provides an ample number of sensors, too, with three for motion detection and nine for doors/windows.

Owners love how easy it is to customize the Simplisafe2 to their specific needs.
Considerations

Alarm & Alerts

All of our top five home security systems provide warning stickers for windows and doors, and these really should be used. Many burglaries are committed by opportunists, but the visual deterrent of a warning sticker will stop some criminals from even attempting to get in. All of our finalists also feature some form of panic alarm, should you be unfortunate enough to encounter an intruder while you're at home.

Continuing the theme of good equipment in a modest package, the Fortress S02-A offers an external alarm that produces 110 decibels (described by one owner as "ear-splitting") so that all your neighbors will be alerted if someone attempts to break in. There is also an automatic dial-out system that can call up to six numbers if a breach is sensed. The alarm control unit can play a recorded message or custom sound if something sets it off, and you can even phone in and eavesdrop on what's happening. This system normally relies on a functioning land line, but some enterprising owners have managed to set up their S02-A alarm system using VOIP.

Surprisingly, the Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System does not come with an external siren. An external siren is available as an add-on, and at 105 decibels, it's more than loud enough. The internal siren reaches 85 decibels but, as one owner pointed out, there's a 30-second delay before it sounds. Thirty seconds could well be long enough for a burglar to break in and smash the internal siren, disabling it. What an intruder won't be able to defeat is the Simplisafe2's wireless, U.L.-certified monitoring. A built-in, cellular modem sends an emergency signal that is almost impossible to block. This signal goes out to the response center even if the control panel is damaged. In the event of a power outage, lithium batteries keep everything running.

The Fortress Security Store GSM-B takes the ideas incorporated into its S02-A model and improves upon them. The GSM-B's external and internal sirens are similar to those of the S02-A, but in addition to the six landlines, you also have the option of adding three SMS numbers and text alerts (if you get the appropriate SIM card). What this really means is that if a burglar cuts your standard phone line, a warning call or message can still get to you.

As is common, the Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield Home Security System features both internal and external sirens. As is not common -- but we suspect it will become more common in the future -- the Oplink's entire system is monitored and controlled by smartphone. We'll look at this in a bit more detail in the next section, but essentially, the Oplink is a wireless alert system that, like the Simplisafe2, makes it virtually impossible for an intruder to block warning signals from getting to you and/or your monitoring service.

The first alert from the PiSECTOR 3G/4G Wireless Security Alarm System comes by way of an alarm via strobe light. Unfortunately, this feature is only internal. When it comes to alerting the home owner, however, the PiSECTOR is anything but limited. The manufacturer calls this security system a "dual system," but with GSM, land line, and VOIP connectivity, this product effectively has three ways of telling you -- or your monitoring service -- that there's a break-in. If you get a power outage, the system will shut down, but battery back-up readily kicks in. PiSECTOR also gives you the option of pre-programming the alarm to arm and disarm itself at the times you choose.

Intruders cannot defeat the Simplisafe2's wireless, U.L.-certified monitoring.
Bill
Expert Consultant
Bill
Engineer, Do-It-Yourself Guru

Bill has been a hardware store owner, locksmith, and general home repair guru for over 40 years. His ability to solve problems and repair every item in every situation is a true gift. In his spare time, you may find Bill working in his garden, tending to his perfectly manicured lawn, or riding his bike.

Considerations

Installation, Features & Fees

Fortress Security Store (TM) S02-A

A number of owners report that the Fortress Security Store S02-A is quick and easy to install, with average installation taking between 45 minutes and an hour. Those few who were unsure of the exact process were very complimentary of the customer support they received over the phone. As this is effectively an entry-level product, there are no features beyond those already mentioned and no monthly fees because it isn't possible to connect this system to a monitoring service. Although our research pinpointed numerous satisfied S02-A users, some did say that it's too easy for an intruder to unplug the internal alarm from the keyboard or disable the control panel by pressing the "OFF" button on the side.

Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System

Owners found the Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System easy to set up, and many liked how easy the instructions were to follow. Comments like "Up and running in under an hour!" are typical. The Simplisafe2's smartphone app (available for iOS, Android, and Windows) is a valuable feature that gives you almost complete control no matter where you are. One of this product's biggest selling points, according to the manufacturer, is the fact that there's no contract or long-term commitment required for monitoring. It could be argued, however, that the system is far less effective without monitoring. The $14.99 monitoring fee, therefore, may be low in comparison to other providers, but it is more or less a necessity. Our main criticism of the Simplisafe2 is that if you set it with a door or window already open, you get no warning. The Simplisafe2 is far from the only home alarm system with this "flaw", but having an alarm shouldn't excuse you from taking normal precautions -- like checking windows -- before you leave the house.

Fortress Security Store (TM) GSM-B

The "big brother" Fortress model, the Security Store GSM-B, is perceived by owners in much the same way as the S02-A. Installation and day-to-day operation are largely problem-free. Again, there are no monthly fees for monitoring service -- a feature many customers say they're happy with. The downside to not having a paid monitoring service is the fact that, if you are unable to respond to an incident yourself, there will be a delay while you inform law enforcement. One or two people found fault with the quality of the adhesive used to mount sensors, but this concern was limited to a few isolated incidents rather than a general trend.

Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield

The Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield Home Security System is also considered easy to install, with one delighted owner saying that it took longer to open the box and decide where to put things than the actual set-up itself. One feature that earns the Oplink top ratings is, of course, its two wireless IP cameras. These cameras not only record what's going on, they send images to the cloud so recordings are safe even if the units get damaged. Oplink's free smartphone app, compatible with Android, Windows, and iOS, offers real-time control from any location and can even manage multiple systems and/or share access with others. Like the Simplisafe2, there is a free option, but some owners felt this was a little misleading and that the $19.99 monthly fee was really a "must."

PiSECTOR 3G/4G

When it comes to installation, owners of the PiSECTOR 3G/4G All in one Wireless Security Alarm System have mixed reactions. Some thought it was "OK;" others found it confusing. PiSECTOR's customer support department also garnered mixed reactions. One owner called the service "outstanding;" others rated it as just average. We think the negatives could very well have to do with the complex features available with the PiSECTOR. You can set alarm zones, give them different names for later analysis, and arm different areas. You can compensate for pets accidentally setting off motion sensors. There's even a great "chime" function that lets you know if you've left a door or window open. This parade of useful features continues when it comes to monitoring. The system is compatible with any Ademco service and, as such, you could very well save money on your insurance premiums by employing one.

The PiSECTOR offers a parade of useful features. You can set alarm zones, arm different areas in different ways, compensate for pets who accidentally set off motion sensors, and much more.
Considerations

Price

Fortress Security Store (TM) S02-A

The price on the Fortress Security Store S02-A Wireless Home Security Alarm System is $129. Aimed at apartments and small houses, this product offers tremendous value. One owner we spoke with bought it just for his garage. Any popular product is bound to generate some complaints; in the case of the Fortress S02-A, these centered mainly around product quality and the occasional failure of individual units.

Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System

The Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System costs $259, and to say it's highly rated by owners is something of an understatement. Comments such as "Excellent product!" and "Fantastic system!" are typical from thousands of satisfied customers. Although the monthly monitoring fee needs to be factored into the price -- and additional units would be needed by many owners -- these added costs don't attract criticism. Indeed, several owners we surveyed pointed out that big-name competitors charge three times the amount and demand a 36-month contract as a minimum. We did encounter a few complaints about system errors, but our research indicates that this occurs only in around two percent of all cases.

Fortress Security Store (TM) GSM-B

On offer at $269, the Fortress Security Store GSM-B Wireless Cellular Home Security Alarm System is much like the Fortress S02-A, but with more sensors and a feature that is invaluable to some: GSM connectivity. (Note: an appropriate SIM card is required.) Given the fact that the GSM-B is from the same manufacturer as the S02-A, along with the fact that the majority of the components are the same, you would expect user comments to be similar. Indeed they are, but we actually heard more complaints about the GSM-B. This could simply be a reflection of the fact that more units are included in the GSM-B. One owner was particularly pleased with the expandability of the GSM-B, noting that his control panel could accommodate up to 99 sensors and that these additions are very cheap compared to other manufacturers.

Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield

The Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield Home Security System costs $199. What you get for this amount is an advanced, expandable, smartphone-controlled alarm with unique cameras that can record activity and save it to the cloud for later analysis. Owners were keen to point out that getting the full Oplink benefit means buying the TripleShield option we've rated here rather than the AlarmShield alternative.

PiSECTOR 3G/4G

At $389, the PiSECTOR 3G/4G Wireless Security Alarm System is the most expensive product on our shortlist. In terms of features and functions, it offers more than any other home security system in our top five, combining a multitude of sensors with valuable, real-world options. Owners enjoy a greater buffet of choices when it comes to how they use this product, too. A few owners have reported faulty sensors, but the overwhelming number of comments we encountered about the the top-rated PiSECTOR were along the lines of "Awesome product!" and "Beyond expectations!"

Those owners who had occasion to call PiSECTOR were particularly complimentary about the customer service they received.

Best of the Best

We never review sub-standard products so, in a sense, each of our top five is a winner. Having said that, the best home security currently on the market is clearly the PiSECTOR 3G/4G Wireless Security Alarm System.

As is frequently the case, you get what you pay for. Each of the other home alarms here is an excellent product, but in every important area rated the PiSECTOR comes out at or near the top. It's a breeze to install and includes a multitude of useful features like pet-sensitive motion sensors, open door/window chime, and power loss warning. You can even create different "zones" within your home and arm them independently. Other significant benefits: the PiSECTOR can be armed/disarmed remotely and will alert you to an intruder via land line, 3G or 4G GSM, or VOIP. While it's compatible with monitoring services, the choice is yours -- you only pay for extra coverage if you want it.

The actual owners who use this product on a daily basis get the final say in this product review. While one or two found the sensors a little "clunky," and one person wasn't happy with the lack of printed manual (there's a quick-start sheet included in the package and a full manual available for download), the majority of the comments we heard about the PiSECTOR were overwhelmingly positive. Owners who had occasion to call the manufacturer were particularly complimentary about the customer service they received. Across the board, the PiSECTOR is the very best home security system on the market today, and we heartily recommend it.
Best of the Best
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The PiSECTOR is compatible with monitoring services, but the choice is yours. You only pay for extra coverage if you want it.

Best Bang for your Buck

"Best Bang for Your Buck" is always a tough call, but on this occasion we've given the award to the Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System. The Fortress S02-A was close, and it's certainly a great value if you've got a small home, but the additional features of the Simplisafe2 -- although you have to pay a little extra for them -- make it our winner.

While the basic Simplisafe2 kit isn't particularly comprehensive, it does have the necessary components to get you started, and it gives you the opportunity to custom-build a system that suits your home precisely. Options include detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide, a freeze alarm that warns you if your pipes might burst, and a water sensor to inform you of flooding.

Even if you choose the most complex arrangement, the Simplisafe2 is easy to install. Almost every feature is pre-programmed for your convenience. The system can be controlled remotely via a free smartphone app, and it offers three fail-safe layers for extra reassurance. First, there's no phone line -- so there's nothing for an intruder to cut. Second, even if the control panel is smashed, the Simplisafe2 will send out an alarm. Third, in the event of a power outage, the security system doesn't just tell you about the problem, it continues to function as normal.

Do a little online research on the Simplisafe2 and you'll see for yourself: there are not just hundreds, but THOUSANDS of delighted Simplisafe2 customers out there. Seldom has any product been so highly rated by its users, especially given the price. The Simplisafe2 earns our unwavering respect as the best bang for your buck in this contest. We highly recommend you check it out for yourself.
Best Bang for your Buck
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Thousands of satisfied Simplisafe2 owners endorse this product.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Jess
    Jess
    Researcher
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations