Home Wireless Security Systems Review

A neighbor was burglarized a few days ago, and although the idea of yet another monthly charge was upsetting to me, I decided to check out what options were available.  I called ADT, Brinks, Metro Guardian, Protection One and Protect America.

I went into this knowing nothing other than a few of the big names, and was very surprised on what I found.

From very early on, most companies wanted to sell me a wireless package.  And since that sounded like the best solution, all my reviews are for each companies wireless package.

Each place I called offered a near identical package:

  1. Keypad
  2. Keyring FOB
  3. 3 Sensors, used on doors or windows
  4. 1 Motion sensor

Where each differs is their up-front cost, the monthly monitoring charge, the length of contract you must sign, and the per item charge for add-ons.

At the end I will discuss what I chose and how much money I landed out saving – and trust me, it will surprise you.



ADT is the most expensive system and they are not ashamed of it.  Talking to ADT was great.  The rep on the phone was paid on commission and sounded like someone I could trust and told it to me straight.  His viewpoint was that yes they were more expensive, but that you get what you pay for, and their products were better.

ADT does not outsource their monitoring like most other do.  They have 5 different monitoring centers around the US, and boast that they have the quickest response times, and smallest amount of false alarms because of their great monitoring and products.

Their “wireless” system has a fully wired brain that could sit in your closet, with all the components then being wireless.  They use an Ademco/Honeywell wireless system.

ADT was also the only one of the group that admitted on this post that their Motion Detectors  don’t work too well with pets, no matter what anyone says.  The false alarms, they found, were unacceptably high.

Total Price: $894 up-front, $35.99 per month for 2 years.


  1. Motion: $165
  2. Glass Break Sensor: $150
  3. Door/Window Sensor: $70



Brinks will absolutely not quote any prices about their wireless product over the phone.  They will only do so by setting an appointment.  So I can only assume that their wireless product is more expensive.

The woman I spoke to made me feel I was talking to a McDonalds drive through attendant.  She failed at being able to directly answer my questions, and too often would go on long dialogues of reading off a script.

I was told from another source that Brinks did not offer a fully wireless system, so I asked her “Is your wireless FULLY wireless, or are the brains wired in?”.  She answered, “We offer a Wireless system that gives you…” and she would continue spouting the glories of her system, all not answering my very specific system.  I asked her 3 seperate times, varying my question, all getting pretty much the same, rote answer.

Total Price:  $99 up-front, $29.99 per month for 3 years (for wired product)


  1. Door/Window Sensor: $70
  2. Didn’t bother asking about other products


Protection One

Protection One would not talk about anything over the phone. I met a nice enough guy at my house today and we spoke about their offer.

Protection One sells both the Ademco/Honeywell Wireless Security System and the GE Concord 4; the latter is what they showed me in my house.

The GE Concord 4 is very similar to the GE Simon 3 that Protect America offers, with the major differences being the LCD on the keypad, and the brains wired into your house in a different location.

This is both good and bad.  Having a completely wireless solution like the Simon 3 is easier, but if someone were just rip it off the wall before it had a chance to call the police, it would fail to work.  So having the brains somewhere else protects you against that.

This problem is also easily fixed with the Simon 3 by just putting the keypad in a more central location which would give you enough time before a burglar could find it.

In order to get the Concord 4 through Protection One, you are forced into buying the GSM Module that allows the system to call your monitoring service over their cellular network.  This adds significantly to the price of the quote, and adds $10 more per month for the monitoring.  Although this is a great option, in every other product I can choose to add this myself; I don’t like being forced into it.  Yes, my phone line could get cut by a burglar, but since the majority of burglaries are done by amateur kids, I don’t think it is necessary.

Other than that, the Concord does everything the Simon 3 does:

  • X-10 Compatible
  • Ability to monitor remotely through web
  • Can arm and disarm by calling the system
  • Can use a Key FOB to arm and disarm system
  • Extremely customizable

Protection One’s pricing almost made me chuckle.  The same door and window contacts I can get here for $18, sell for $81.

They also do their own monitoring.

Total Price: $398, $42.95 per month for 3 years


  1. Motion: $139
  2. Glass Break Sensor: $140
  3. Door/Window Sensor: $81
  4. Smoke: $130


Protect America

The horribleness that was Protect America cannot be written succinctly enough in a couple paragraphs.  I was lied to many times, the sales woman was pushy but was supposedly, “not on commission”.

You can view the full scathing review here.

Protect America does offer probably the only fully wireless alarm system, the GE Simon 3.  With this system you get many features you just don’t find in basic packages with the other companies.  It is so customizable, I will devote another article to just this system.  It is a VERY cool system.

Unfortunately, Protect America should be treated like a scary person in an alley.  Just turn around and walk away.

Price:  FREE, $34.95 per month for 2 years

Their add-on’s are much cheaper than everyone elses, but I didn’t bother to break it down.  For example, if I were to get 10 Window/Door sensors and 2 motion detectors, it would be only $300 up-front.


Metro Guardian

Despite a storm taking out their computers, the guy helping me was very nice and as professional as ADT.  I trusted what he said, although everything he said I had heard so many times prior, “we also give you a backup battery, 24 hour monitoring…”, yadda, yadda.  It is amazing how each person tells me the same things and make it sound how they are the ONLY ones that offer it.

All in all, I really liked how I was treated with them, and being a smaller, independant company, I like that they try to earn my business without gauging me with ADT prices.

Metro’s wireless system is made by Honeywell.

Total Price: $49, $32.95 per month for 3 years


  1. Motion: $99
  2. Glass Break Sensor: $99
  3. Door/Window Sensor: $65
  4. Additional Keypad: $125
  5. Outdoor siren: $125


What I decided

After I spoke to Protect America and found out they use the Simon 3, I googled and found a company that not only sold it directly, but pretty much every wireless system I was offered from these companies.  In fact, I found several companies that sold them, but after speaking to SafeMart, I decided to purchase through them.  They have been so nice through each of my 4 phone calls, and I have spoken to a different person 3 of the 4 times.  I also contacted Home Security Store, but the guy seemed more annoyed with me than helpful.

Safemart also recommended the Simon 3 over every other system because of the ease of use and installation.

The other great part of using Safemart, is that they have $9 monitoring through Criticom, who even Metro Guardian uses and charges you $32.95 for.

Additional accessories are also much, much cheaper, while others aren’t even possible to get with most of the companies I spoke to:

  1. Sensor: $18 – $30 (depending on quantity and type)
  2. Motion: $59 – $100 (depending on the type)
  3. Keychain: $29 – $38
  4. X-10 tranformer: $15
  5. Outdoor sensor: $125 – $145
  6. Smoke: $84.50
  7. Glass break: $69 – $85
  8. Carbon Monoxide: $115
  9. Water sensor: $53
  10. Freeze sensor: $55

So if I price a basic package like I was offered through each company, it will cost me about $248 plus whatever shipping is.  And when you then factor in the $9 no contract monitoring, it adds up to a big savings.  For three years, this would cost me about $600!!

Now, compare this $600 with every other quote I got (over 3 years):

  1. ADT: $2,189.64
  2. Protection One: $1,658 (without the Cell add-on)
  3. Protect America: $1,258
  4. Metro Guardian: $1,236
  5. Brinks: $1,178

I can also add Smoke, fire, flood, and carbon monoxide monitoring for free, where as that would cost another $3 – $10 per month with each company.

Also worth noting is how much would be saved when you factor in all the additional sensors you actually will need, and the fact that you will probably have the system running for a long, long time.  I would much rather be paying $108 per year, than up to $516, that’s for sure!

In Conclusion

I don’t expect everyone to want to install the system themselves.  And if you are that type of person who would rather pay more to not have to deal with it, then definately go with the company you feel most comfortable with (as long as it isn’t Protect America!).  You will be paying almost 4 times more per year for the benefit, but that is your choice.

Me, I am very happy with my choice, and cannot wait to get my Simon 3 installed and customized.

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79 responses to “Home Wireless Security Systems Review”

  1. thank you for your review on security systems. I had did a little research on home security systems – wireless sometime time ago, and never pursued it. (x10 was one i had checked out) I am interestred in purchasing a system soon and was wondering if you have installed yours, how it went, and if your as happy with it as you thought you’d be? How about the monthly monitoring fee? Any input your willing to give i would appreciate.

  2. I like you article about home security systems. How easy/difficult to run the wiring for this? I am building a house and need to get the wiring in.

    Obviously, the keypad has to be wired, but I have no idea how to do this. Any ideas?

  3. An electrician will have to help you wire up the control panel if you dont want to have it just plug into a wall socket. Other than that, everything is wireless.

  4. I read your review of the different systems available and I would like to know what you ordered exactly to protect your home, because I was with Pinnacle and they were bought out by ADT and we are no longer under contract. Because of this they are only giving us the bare bones of service. I would like to get a new system and I just don’t know what to purchase exactly. F Y I our sensors are taped to the doors because the glue they used melted in the desert heat and Pinnacle suggested we use gorilla glue to keep the sensors up. Please give me some advice.

  5. Unfortunately, I never buy it! I did all that work, and then we put it on the back burner with the birth of our son and never got back to it.

    I do plan on getting it this year, though.

    I re-looked at it a few months back and checked out Safemart.com and found the updated version of the Simon 3 called the Simon XT.

    I don’t know if it is better – I plan to just call them when I am ready to buy. They were so great and knowledgeable, I don’t feel the need to look other places.

  6. Hi there, thanks for that thorough review. I’m wondering if you already installed your system, and if you did it yourself. If so, how’s it working? We are interested in installing ourselves. We also have no land or VOIP line and are looking for a monitoring company who can work with that.

    Thanks again for the helpful post!

  7. You do not need a land line – but you will have to buy the GSM Module for about $189 and pay a bit more for monitoring.

    Although it is more expensive, it is a better way to go anyway since a land line can easily be cut.

  8. is this monitoring you quoting Two Way Voice or is the standard digital where you actually have to answer the phone. I also thought you had to have a dcjs liscence to install security equipment that was being monitored

  9. I would call the company i suggested in the review and they can answer your questions. I am sure you don’t need a license – if you did they couldn’t sell the product along with the how-to instruction kit.

  10. Scott,
    Did you finally go with SafeMart? If yes, how do you like it? $9 is such a low price that it hard to believe the company is reliable.

  11. Sorry Anna – I still haven’t done it yet. Too busy having babies! This year – I really hope.

    If you want super reliable and have the money to pay for it, then get a more expensive solution. For me, I live in a good neighborhood and have really nothing of value – so I want it more for the alarm than for police.

    For me, the chances of being robbed are so remote, and the chances of being robbed AND the robber not being scared off by the alarm is just too crazy.

  12. I use a Radio Shack X-10 wireless security system, but it is no longer available. Sounds like it is identical to the Simon ST system. I pay no monthly fee because I have my system call my son’s home and give them a pre-recorded message. Thanks for your excellent review. I now know where to go for my next replacement system.

  13. Thank you for this analysis Scott. It is very helpful.

    I am currently evaluating switching my ADT system. I think your audience should be aware of some of the gotchas in their “service”. Some details: I pay apprx. $120/month for their monitoring service. They do a very good job of monitoring but what they do not tell you is that they do not have an agreement with the local police and fire departments to respond. I found this out when I was on a trip overseas. I got a call from ADT telling me my alarm was on and would I like them to contact the police. (I thought this was odd, because I thought this is what I was paying for). I said yes. They called me back and said the police would not respond unless I was also there. Again, very odd. You may imagine my frustration at the absurdity of all this.
    1. I am paying for a service to have them dispatch police when my alarm goes off.
    2. They tell me I have to be present when the police arrive. I am in China or who knows where, so what good is the service? Even if I was 15 minutes away, this would be plenty of time for a thief to clean me out.
    3. Here is the icing on the cake……….I called the police directly to complain when I returned. They told me they have no agreement with ADT to respond and do not feel obligated to do so. They went on to say that ADT should not have represented their service this way to me and rudely told me that my problem is with ADT false representations and not them.

    So in my estimation ADT should be sued for false advertising or at the very least be exposed as lying to the public about their service.

  14. I have an alarm system that I can simply walk into any house and plug this device into the wall wait 30 seconds an now every door skylight and window are now armed no wires or contacts needed, I can set this so if someone simply just taps on the window from the outside it will go out and jiggles the door to see if it is unlocked it will go off…. then i bought an auto dialer to go with it the auto dialer will call up to 10 numbers you can set it up to a monitoring company or just to the police station I have mine set up to mine and my wifes cell phone so I can personally call the police and not have to pay a monitoring fee email me at joemoho21687@yahoo.com for more information

  15. Just an FYI any security company will earn the money back over the contract term! here in canada where I live some companies give the alarm system away for free and charge you like 30 bucks a month over like 3, 5 and 7 years. it will only cost like 3 to 5 bucks for them to have it monitored. that 9 bucks that was mentioned is good but read the fine print what will they and will they not do if the alarm sounds. as for wireless systems GSM set up is the best overall as it has better reliability, well so I have been told by my step father who has installed every type of system you can think of including government systems. 🙂 hope this helps.

  16. Scott,

    Any luck on having babies? Congrats if you did!! : ) And thanks for this article. You did a lot of research, and everyone who reads your blog appreciates it.

    Did you by any chance look into the X10? I want a system with surveillance that I can also control with my android phone.

    It just occurred to me about 2 weeks ago that why do I need to pay for monitoring, when setting off a motion sensor will trigger the control panel to call me, send screen captures to my droid, and i can decide to call 911 or not.

    Plus some security systems do the whole home automation thing, like you can use your android phone to turn on lights, or other appliances. And watch any of your cams remotely from any computer w internet. Kinda techno-nerdy and probably overkill, but sounds like the way of the future.

    Anyhow… any thoughts on X10 ?


  17. The SecureLinc system is FAR better than the Simon system. Take a look at it. i am buying mine today.

  18. what about Insteon with smarthome. Seems like it has them all beat. I’m looking for one now.

  19. Oh, and thank you for doing this blog. Very interesting and it led me to find the insteon system, which is my choice to purchase at this time.

  20. So Scott, we have a brinks system that is already installed. All of the doors/windows are not wired with any sensors and we want to add them on. Do you have to go through brinks/broadview to get the additional sensors or will this website store that you’re talking about carry the same things as Brinks and be compatible with the current system?

  21. I don’t understand how to configure a system to operate without a land line. Can you direct me to specific info?

  22. In my town, the police will not come out unless there is a confirmed crime act reported by the security company, that’s why security companies have those patrol cars (outsourcing or not) to respond as a first line of defense.

    You might end up having to call the police yourself wasting even more time.

  23. Thanks for the review. It was informative.

    I’m a bit confused here… Most home security review sites recommend Protect America. Has anyone used SafeMart and Protect America give a recommendation of their experience.

    Scott, Also, it sounds like you chose SafeMart because they were nice to you; are you still using SafeMart? If so, how is it so far?


  24. Great Info. Thanks for doing all the leg (googling) work for us. My only question is why after all that time and effort you have not installed a system to protect those babies?? God Bless. Jim

  25. Are you still able to do that SafeMart option and have the system connected to your cell phone? I don’t have a land line.

  26. one thing that people fail to take into consideration is ADT is the only company the government trust to monitor their buildings. They are the only company with more then one montoring center. These other companies with only one montoring center can’t guarentee a response every time. How could they? If their center is down due to power,maintence,ect. nobody is monitoring your system. Think about that. Sure you can pay $9 a month for one little center with five employees montoring your home. I prefer to know that I am alway monitored no matter what. Security is one thing you don’t want to go cheap on. Its kind of sad most people will pay more for cable or satellite tv then they will for reliable grade a security.

  27. DO NOT go with ADT EVER. We had ADT for three years, and whenever something in the house happened e.g. low battery, we got a call from them. Ok, so far so good.

    But last week I was back i the States and my wife was away and we were burglarized. ADT called 10 minutes after the alarm, went of and when they finally reached my wife asked if they should call the police?!!?!!? Duh!

    It turns out they dispatched a local guard (it took an additional 15 minutes to dispatch the guard and another 15 minutes for the guard to show up. By this time the thieves had their way and we are out $15K of goods. Admittedly it could have been worse, but for the thousands we paid ADT this is certainly not worth it. To make matters worse, they just sent us a bill for the guard to arrive on the scene!! Can you believe that?

    FYI, ADT owns the web domain ADTsucks.com and ADT-sucks.com What does that tell you?

  28. Scott, thanks for the information. You sure did a good job of compiling all this information. It’s going to save me a lot of time. I think i will go with your recommendation of the GE wireless system and just add on as needed. I think I will also get my stuff from SafeMart. Good luck with the kids.

  29. i have ADT system that is not hooked up into the local law enforcement i need to buy a box that will call my cell-phone or my wife when the larm goes off. can anyone help me?

  30. Scott, if only more folks were as diligent as you in both researching purchase options and then documenting it for the benefit of other!

    Most of the folks that you reviewed are the large national home security companies. In my experience, if you live in a major US city, you can find smaller local firms that will install and monitoring for about half the prices that you are quoting above. Not quite as low as the SafeMart monitoring rates, but this option may be a better deal for folks like yourself who prefer a turn key solution.

  31. Scott,

    This is a spectacularly well thought out article. I know it’s quite a while after you wrote it, but you or your readers may also be interested in Simplisafe (http://simplisafe.com) or LifeShield (http://lifeshield.com). Both companies offer similar wireless all-in-one security systems. SimpliSafe promotes its systems to people living in apartments, which is a great use for such systems.


    What you are referring to is known as “self-monitoring” and a Google search will turn up lots of information. There are a number of pros and cons to this approach. The biggest pro is that it saves you money. The downside is that it requires YOU to be a reliable monitoring service.

    Hope this helps!


  32. Scott,

    Great stuff. I went with SafeMart.com and they are fantastic! I got the Simon XT and some accessories. Their Sales Team set me up with exactly what I needed and nothing more. I also went with their Interactive Monitoring as well. If you do some research on their website, you will find this (http://www.safemart.com/Alarm-System-Monitoring.html) video that is very educational, at least I thought it was. Their central station is apparently ADT’s largest competitor in the independently owned “sphere” too.

    I strongly recommend SafeMart. You don’t always get what you pay for, just ask ADT customers! but in this case you do. I’ve always been happy with the effective communication with the people at SafeMart so, take it from a guy who knows and at least give them a shot. I did and I’m happy I did.

    Scott, I hope the kids are doing well. 🙂 Thanks again for all your work!

    God Bless


  33. Great Article. It is good you have taken the decision to get a security system for your home. Every home needs a security system, so I don’t really know why people wait until their home get burglarized before the start thinking about getting security systems.

    Scott, Thanks a lot for this informative article. It will be very useful to people. I did a lot of research before finally getting to your blog, so I hope we can easily find articles like this one on the web.

    I found some good home security system articles on this website (http://www.homesecuritysystemsclick.com).

  34. The description of the different types of security systems is useful for consumers because it allows them to choose the most suitable alarm system for their residential or commercial property. Wireless burglar alarms are the most popular alarm systems in the market today. Most consumers prefer these alarms because they are easier to install and are user-friendly.

  35. Does anyone have any experience with or insight into LifeShield (www.lifeshield.com)? This seams like one of the cheapest options for wireless security however I am cautious that you get what you pay for. LifeShield offers a packages which includes the Base, Console, Handset, 8 Sensors, Grid Extender and Key Chain for $299 plus $29.99 a month monitoring. It does require you to install the equipment yourself. Add on equipment is also very reasonable compared to the other companies. Advice would be greatly appreciated!

  36. Protect America called me out of the blue and the guy was extremely pushy and when I put him off and said goodbye, he started calling again and again the next week, I wont answer his calls. There is no way I will go with these guys if he is any indication of how the company is run.

  37. Hi Scott,

    I’m new to your articles, and I must say that it was very articulate and well written, however I found some differences between your experiences with Protect America and my experiences. I just purchased their home security system. And yes, the three year contract is a pain in the ass but I have to say that was the only downside. Plus, if i fight tooth and nail to get out of it, including filing complaints with the BBB im willing to bet they’ll bend. You are right, to a point, about their representatives. They do try to sell you additional things, but it seemed to be more of a suggestion rather than a command or being pushy. For Example, my rep tried to sell me an additional interior siren. I simply told him that I wasnt interested and that was that. I paid nothing for the platinum package which included 15 window/door sensors, among other things. and I paid $397 for additional sensors and glass break detectors that were completely optional. Overall I think I did pretty well with them. After you saying you can buy your own equipment from safe mart and a $10 monitoring fee, I got mad as I felt I couldve done better. I went on safe mart and priced everything that protect america provided and compared it to what safe mart wouldve cost if I baught the exact same things from them. All the equipment I got from protect america wouldve cost me well over $1000 dollars from safe mart. Plus, a $9 monitoring monthly fee is great, but seems too good to be true. I’m willing to bet theres fine print there (i.e. charges for false alarms, limitations on police dispatching etc…) Let me know what you think as you seem to know your stuff about this. Also, some of my findings were somewhat contrary to yours and I would like to know what you think about that as well. Thank you.

  38. Scott,

    I would just like to add a couple more specifics to my last post. I’m paying 46.95/month for wireless broadband monitoring. And the additional equipment that cost me $397 from Protect America were: 2 micro sensors, a motion detector, 2 glass break sensors, 2 key chain controls, and a hideaway key pad. All of the things listed above are $418 on safemart.com. The reason I added those additional things is because i work shift work in public safety and im away from home at work more than im home, so it was important to me to have every inch if my house covered, which the platinum package itself didnt quite do for my home. You stated in your initial article that buying a basic package (as compared to adt, brinks etc..) from safemart was $298. But lets face it, those basic packages wont completely protect your home unless you live in a cardboard box. 1 motion detector, 2-3 window/door sensors is inadequate protection to say the least. To adequately protect an average size home will cost way more than $298 from safemart. So, it seems protect america actually gave me a deal. Yeeaa…$ 9 compared to $46 for monitoring monthly, thats a huge difference. But I think overall I got a good deal.

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