Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

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Championship0911
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Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Championship0911 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:02 pm

I've been looking into alarm systems recently. At this point, I've narrowed it down to Simplisafe and Frontpoint. I have some concerns about the simplisafe with regards to their customer service and the fact that there is a way to hack the system. I like Frontpoint, but the cost is substantially more than Simplisafe by $20 per month for the plan I'm considering. Does anyone have any experience with either of these?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:13 pm

No, but Joel, one of Clark Howard's employees uses Simplisafe and says it's easy and works great. Clark says you shouldn't pay more than $18 a month for monitoring so if Frontpoint is $20 more then Clark would probably say "no" on Frontpoint.

I haven't heard of any situations in which hacking into Simplisafe has taken place. What's the problem with their customer service? Is it long wait times? It appears they got mostly good reviews through cnet (below):
The Bottom Line Home security options are evolving rapidly, but SimpliSafe is one of our current favorites. If you want a comprehensive, easy-to-use system that features live monitoring, you'll have a hard time finding a better option at a better price. source: https://www.cnet.com/products/simplisafe-home-security/
Frontpoint isn't without criticisms too:
"They also have a ridiculous cancellation policy, so be warned."
"Absolutely the most inept customer service I have ever encountered."
source: https://www.google.com/search?q=frontpo ... 8&oe=utf-8
edit:
Oh, I see the problem with potential system vulnerabilities:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrew ... e187833b00

Thing is,
An attacker would have to pay at least $250 for their own SimpliSafe system to carry out this attack. But Zonenburg and IOActive head of research Cesar Cerrudo told FORBES an attack of this calibre could be carried out using a software defined radio and related hardware that could be bought for under $50. Just a few hours’ work would be required...

"The security of our systems is our top priority. We’re working to resolve this concern, which also affects other major home security providers. It’s theoretically possible but highly unlikely, and we’re not aware of it being exploited.

"Our system provides customers notifications of their disarm events, so they could catch the criminal in the act. Also customers can change their passcodes anytime locally or remotely via our webapp; so if this ever did happen, any passcode data collected useless in a matter of minutes.

"Unlike with many alarm systems, SimpliSafe customers are protected from many of the more common, low-tech, and easy methods to bypass home security systems, such as cutting the phone line or power to the home."

It's unclear just how far away a hacker would have to be to hoover up PIN codes. The SimpliSafe keypad works up to 100 feet, but Zonenberg believes the attack could work up to 100 yards away, even taking into account the disturbances of obstacles and humidity in the transmission of radio waves.
If someone wants to find a way in, they usually will. Make sure your stuff is insured and check with your insurance company BEFORE you buy a security system to see what they consider to be secure. Maybe they would recommend one over the other due to these concerns.
Last edited by arcticpineapplecorp. on Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dakotah
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Dakotah » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:17 pm

I've had a pretty extensive Simplisafe system for about 3 years. I've been very happy with it.
I wouldn't be too concerned about the publicized Simplisafe exploit. Any wireless system (including frontpoint) can be defeated without the complex process that particular exploit utilized. All one must do is actively jam the frequency spectrum where the wireless sensors operate...and the sensors will be rendered useless during that time.

I always tell friends to not utilize the brand-specific security signs/stickers on their house. Why would you give anyone passing by such a key piece of information about your home's security? Just utilize a generic security sign.

123
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by 123 » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:23 pm

A dog is proven technology for home protection in many circumstances.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

Luke Duke
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Luke Duke » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:24 am

I've been happy with Smith Thompson.

takeshi
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by takeshi » Tue Jun 06, 2017 7:37 am

Championship0911 wrote:Does anyone have any experience with either of these?
Don't overlook prior discussions as both have been covered before. I've had FrontPoint for years and their customer service has been excellent. Z-Wave integration available with FrontPoint has been incredibly useful for me. I also specifically wanted recessed door sensors which Simplisafe didn't seem to offer. No experience with Simplisafe though.

What info are you specifically looking for on both? Why did you narrow it down to these two? What is it that you like about FrontPoint? Simplisafe?
Championship0911 wrote:I have some concerns about the simplisafe with regards to their customer service and the fact that there is a way to hack the system.
Don't assume that any system is completely failproof. Security is about layering and deterrence.

KT785
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by KT785 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:33 am

My wife and I chose LiveWatch Security after looking at various options for a few months. We also strongly considered SimpliSafe but in light of the exposed and unfixable "hack" (vulnerability) of that system and its proprietary technology, I decided against it.

Our plan with LiveWatch is $40/month and includes various remote functionality and notifications via our iPhones. Total cost upfront was around $150 IIRC and included the base station, a motion detector, and 10 door/window sensors (we have a large dog so a motion detector wouldn't work on the main floor).

LiveWatch, like FrontPoint, uses the Alarm.com infrastructure (phone app, web interface, etc.) and the same equipment so the experience and functionality is virtually the same; however, the biggest pro of LiveWatch vs. other Alarm.com based systems (FrontPoint, Protect America, etc.) for us is that the monthly fees are somewhat less and the contract is only for 1 year as opposed to 3 and I believe you can cancel at anytime. We've had the system for several months and customer service has been quite good--we have a dedicated contact person at LiveWatch that I've emailed several times to discuss adding additional sensors and they've been incredibly responsive and helpful.

SimonJester
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by SimonJester » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:54 am

123 wrote:A dog is proven technology for home protection in many circumstances.
Ha no its not..

http://www.homesecuritysystems.info/we- ... ty-system/
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:13 am

I much prefer my system of "nothing of any value worth stealing". A crook running away with some stainless forks doesn't bother me all that much. They can feel free to take the keys and steal a car.....I'll collect more from insurance than it's worth.
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NHRATA01
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by NHRATA01 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:16 pm

Dakotah wrote: I always tell friends to not utilize the brand-specific security signs/stickers on their house. Why would you give anyone passing by such a key piece of information about your home's security? Just utilize a generic security sign.
I use brand-specific security signs/stickers on my house. I just lack the brand specific security system. :P

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BolderBoy
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by BolderBoy » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:21 pm

123 wrote:A dog is proven technology for home protection in many circumstances.
Recently read that a small ,yappy dog may be much better than a big dog which may not bark much. Small dogs have razor sharp teeth, too. But mostly it is that annoying yapping.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Championship0911
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Championship0911 » Tue Jun 06, 2017 6:53 pm

Arcticpineapplecorp, my concern with SimpliSafe is the older technology and from my limited experience in contacting them for quotes the wait time was much longer than others I contacted. I've read that is part of how they keep the cost low, but can't say for sure.

I do plan to purchase a sign for another alarm company such as ADT to prevent anyone from knowing which alarm system I have.

I have two friends who seem to really like FrontPoint and it always seems to rank very high on all reviews. I also like the updated technology, but when taking into account the higher monthly cost I'm not sure it's really worth it. The ability to integrate it into smart homes is nice, however, I'm not sure how much we will use it. SimpliSafe also seems to usually be relatively highly ranked and the monthly cost is the selling point in my opinion. I also like the ability to expand the system. This seems like the type of thing you don't want to cheap out on.

I'll have to look into LiveWatch. I hadn't seen much about them when searching online. The shorter contract and lower pricing seems attractive. And the upfront cost seems in line with FrontPoint. Does anyone else have LiveWatch?

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Geneyus
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Geneyus » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:52 am

I've been using SimpliSafe for 7 years, and I haven't changed the batteries in any of the door/window sensors, except maybe 1 or 2. I'm amazed they've been working for so long with the same battery. I haven't had any issues with the customer service. I emailed them a random billing question last week, and they responded within a day. As for the SimpliSafe hack, you should put stickers on your doors and windows for a different alarm company, so no one can research what kind of alarm you have. That's a good idea for any alarm system. I bought ADT stickers on Ebay and slapped them on every door.

Some of the negative reviews for SimpliSafe not working properly are from people who can't find a good place to put their base station. I used to have one or two sensors that wouldn't act right when I would put the base station in a closet or kitchen cabinet. I put the base station upstairs after reading others' comments about how the signals work better when the base station isn't sitting on the ground or next to a major appliance. It has worked flawlessly ever since.

Teague
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Teague » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:04 am

I've used Frontpoint for several years. Yes, they are expensive, relatively, and I suppose I should look for a better deal, but I've been too lazy.

I will say their service is outstanding. Their monitoring is top-notch. Twice I've accidentally set the fire alarm off (burned a pizza on both occasions, oops.) Before I could walk the ten steps to the panel to cancel the alarm, the phone was ringing, with someone on the other end asking if I was OK and if there was a fire .
Semper Augustus

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CardinalRule
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by CardinalRule » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:43 am

We are getting XFINITY Home from Comcast installed next week. With Comcast's goofy pricing*, our monthly bill will actually go down, by moving from the so-called Triple Play to the Quad Play (internet, TV, phone, security), and there is no installation fee.

There is a two-year commitment, but we would only have to keep one of the four services to stay in compliance, and it's unlikely that we would ever give up the speedy internet, in particular. So I'm not worried about that aspect.

* Last year I called to see how much my bill would be reduced if I were to drop the phone. My bill would have actually gone up. :oops:

Championship0911
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Championship0911 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:05 pm

I finally made the decision to go with SimpliSafe after reading all the reviews you had. Thank you all for the feedback. Now I just have to find a coupon or sale before I purchase.

Diogenes
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by Diogenes » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:43 am

Alarm.com system, hardwired, with separate video surveillance system, also hard-wired. Backed up on-site and personal cloud.

A couple of years ago I was researching this topic to remotely cover a house for the long-term that is not lived in most of the year. What I found were a few things that jumped out.

1. Don't go cheap on the installation of the alarm component. Don't use wireless sensors, hardwire all key access points and motion sensors. Wireless is sold frequently as a low cost method by companies more interested in recruiting you as a never-ending monthly subscriber than providing meaningful security. They are not nearly as reliable, as I learned from experience.

2. Don't put too many eggs in one basket, as you may want to toss it out later. Meaning, try to keep everything independent of one security company or other provider. NEVER consider using your cable company for this, or any company that wants to 'rent' proprietary equipment. The video surveillance component I own and don't pay anyone for. If the alarm fails, it won't. Also visa-versa. The optical quality of the cameras used is far better with hard wired.

3. Get a quality install, it's not as expensive as you would think.

I choose Alarm.com to provide the interface between my hard-wired system and my monitoring company. They have good apps and interface controls. They also have 'add-ons' for video, climate control, etc. which I don't use. I can select from a number of monitoring companies ensuring competitive pricing and can change that independently. I only pay the monitoring company once per year. By leaving basic wifi active at the property I also leave independent drop cams to fill in the gaps.

Just my two cents, I wanted to own everything and not need to redo the job later. If you don't plan to be away much, perhaps your experience might be different...
Best of luck.

_D_

TallBoy29er
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by TallBoy29er » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:11 am

SimonJester wrote:
123 wrote:A dog is proven technology for home protection in many circumstances.
Ha no its not..

http://www.homesecuritysystems.info/we- ... ty-system/
Hardly an unbiased website advocating for alarm systems over dogs. On the About Us page:
We are happy that you have chosen the Home Security Systems website to help you find comprehensive information about your security system choices. Along with industry professionals, our team of experts work to find the best information, so you can wade through the stream of systems and accessories, and make more informed choices for your situation.
+1 for getting a great family pup for deterrence

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JonnyDVM
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Re: Recommendations on Home Alarm Systems

Post by JonnyDVM » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:09 am

We use Akerman and I hate it. False alarms occur so frequently the system is totally useless. That is despite multiple visits by techs to try to fix the problem. Planning to switch to Simplisafe when the contract expires. My old security system was a big red loud dog. Unfortunately, he's gone and our stuff is a lot nicer.
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. -Dr. Seuss

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