Top 5 Home Security Systems 2019 – w/ Advanced Detection
I bet my budgie smugglers that you’ve asked yourself this question at least once within the last year alone. As a rash of break-ins and thefts proliferate across the country, it only makes sense that more and more folks will be looking to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Arvo, mates! My name’s Ethan Walker and I’m a graduate of the SCS Training Institute’s security operations program. I have been testing out security solutions since before I enrolled in uni.
When I was an ankle biter, my mum and dad were victims of a home invasion. I wasn’t home at the time and only learned of what had happened after the fact.
This made the situation seem that much scarier. It instilled a crippling anxiety in me because I was afraid to leave the house, constantly worried about what might happen to my family while I was out.
My parents recognized how debilitating my anxiety was becoming and decided to take action. My ol’ man went out and did some research into home security. After asking around, he settled on Clarke Security since they were located in nearby Underdale SA.
When I came home from school one day, the ol’ man was standing outside our front door, grinning like a shot fox. Above the door, I could see a CCTV camera peering down at us and, on the wall inside, an alarm unit had been installed.
From that day on, my anxiety dissipated and I decided to study all that I could about security solutions. For the last decade plus, I’ve researched and reviewed the top home security systems out there.
Here, I’ll tell you all about the companies that provide a sense of safety and confidence to their customers. I’ll break down the key features one should look for in a home security system and everything else you should consider before purchasing a security solution.
What to Look for in a Good Home Alarm System
What you want in a home security system is the promise that you home and your family are secure at all times, regardless of whether you’re at home or out and about. Choosing the best option depends largely on your personal needs and preferences.
In my review, I’ve tested out the following areas of these alarm systems:
- Security features
- Customer support
- Consumer reputation
The Best Home Security System Available
30-day money back guarantee
Quick and simple installation’
Strong customer support staff
Crash and smash protection
Wire variety of accessories
Requires one or three-year contract
The most expensive plan is required to view live or recorded video
No landline or broadband options if you live in the bush
3-year warranty instead of the lifetime warranty offered by competitors
With monthly fees starting at $34.99, Frontpoint isn’t the cheapest alarm system around, but it’s definitely not the most expensive either. There is no professional installation required and they’re currently offering a 50% off discount on their wireless indoor cameras.
Their touch screen control panel allows you to customize the unit to your needs. You get cellular backup, environmental sensors and Z-Wave/ZigBee compatibility.
Using rapid response for their central monitoring, Frontpoint is able to quickly process your alarm event and dispatch local law enforcement.
This one is fair dinkum, they’re simply the best security company operating today and their customer service can’t be beat. There’s no bollocks with this company, you get transparency, reliability and straightforward, easy-to-setup technology.
How Frontpoint Nailed Down the Number One Spot
Frontpoint has never let me down, it’s always a hassle-free experience with their home security system. They’re always available to talk you through any concerns or issues you might have. What’s more, they take a no pressure approach, never trying to upsell customers on upgrades or more expensive packages.
This is just one area in which they excel.
Monthly monitoring costs are reasonable, although it’s certainly not the cheapest security system on this list. That being said, you get a lot of value for your money. While they charge a hefty activation fee, it’s worth noting that there are no installation fees after that.
Variety of Features
Frontpoint has a lot to offer from door and window sensors to complete smart home security automation, 24/7 video surveillance and a mobile app that alerts you anytime that the alarm is armed or disarmed.
Top Home Security System for Technology & Home Automation
Flexible payment options
High-tech home automation options w/ Z-Wave technology
Quick response time
Advanced, ergonomic technology
High-pressure upsell tactics due to commission-based pay for tech employees
It’s difficult to cancel within their three-day grace period
Longest contract requirement of any home security company at 48-60 months
High monthly fees
Poor customer service
No DIY installation option
Vivint’s Smart Home starter kit is a solid option for a monitored smart home with app control and other attractive features.
I’ve tested out several of their products and I’ve been delighted by how each of them perform. Their seven-inch SkyControl panel is a bit clunky, but the interface is awesome and easy to use.
Their Ping camera for indoor use is as exceptional as their outdoor camera. In fact, the Ping camera enables you to view any room in the house and actually speak to the people inhabiting the room. And a button on the top of the camera allows them to respond to you.
You get night vision and super-fast 20-second video clips when motion is detected. Mobile alerts and Alexa compatibility are but two of the sundry features Vivint offers.
Their new Flex Pay model ensures that their superior home automation is available for users on any budget. Additionally, professional installation is totally free.
A Solid Runner Up
Pick #3—Link Interactive
Terrific customer service
Crash & smash protection
Z-wave compatible technology
Zero activation or installation fees
12, 24 or 36-month contracts
30-day free trial
Easy DIY setup
Provides cellular-based security system
Customers can customize their security package
Limited customer service hours
Customer pays remainder of contract if they decide to cancel
No landline or broadband options if you live in the brush
No professional installation
This US-based home security service provides 24/7 central-station monitoring and cell-based automation to customers the world over. Their home security system is one of the best security systems of 2018 and beyond because you get exceptional technology at an affordable price point.
Link Interactive won’t just protect your home or business against intruders or thieves, it can monitor sensors for frozen pipes, water leaks, carbon monoxide and more.
They have several packages, some of which include wireless video cameras for both the inside and outside of your home. The equipment comes pre-programmed, so there’s no need for the headache of setting up your unit on your own or having to pay extra for installation.
If you have any trouble installing the system, Link Interactive’s friendly customer support team are always there to answer any questions you might have. The only thing that’s a bit rubbish about the company is the fact that, even though they have one or two-year contracts, the contract automatically defaults to three years if you don’t inform them that you want a shorter contract.
That being said, you can choose from a variety of security cameras, a touchscreen deadbolt, a remote panic button and recessed window and door sensors. That combined with their 30-day money back guarantee makes them one of the most reputable outfits available.
Pick #4—Abode Home Security
Mobile and web access
No-contract monitoring plans offered
Power outage backup
Easy to use
Option-packed mobile app
On-demand monitoring option for when you’re away on holiday
Works with third-party devices
Limited (one-year) warranty
Cannot manage notifications from mobile app
No control panel included
Abode’s professional-grade DIY security system gives you visual verification. Their new wireless, all-in-one smart home security system may be the most advanced, but their starter kit is excellent as well. It works with many third-party devices and offers voice control via Alexa or Google Assistant.
Bridging the gap between self-monitored DIY and a professionally-installed and monitored, Abode’s system is flexible and user-friendly. The starter kit provides all of the basics one could ask for in a beginner DIY security system.
You get a gateway hub, a motion detector/camera combo sensor, a keychain fob and two door and window sensors. The gateway has a LAN port, SIM card slot, battery backup, power connector and USB port.
The scalable hardware and monitoring services are second only to their smart integrations and optimal performance. You get IFTTT recipes and voice commands, and the system can be paired with tons of other smart home products, such as door locks, smart switches, lights or Nest devices.
3-year system warranty
60-day money back guarantee
Wireless, easy-to-setup hardware
Holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
24/7 remote monitoring
Remote monitoring plan offered
Cellular monitoring at an affordable price
No security cameras are included
No smart home automation
Additional fees for interactive access from a computer or smart device
Upfront gear costs can be steep
Batteries must be maintained for wireless system
Known for catering to families on a budget, SimpliSafe is a contract-free security solution with no hidden fees. While the initial hardware cost is quite high, the savings in the long run are well worth it.
A completely configurable system, SimpliSafe is offered in five unique packages. The Ultimate Security package is the most expensive, but you get everything but the kitchen sink. Hardware components include a wireless keypad, a base station, two motion sensors, a keychain remote, a water and freeze sensors, window decals and a carbon monoxide detector.
For the frugal type who just wants the bare essentials, SimpliSafe has a Standard plan with 24-hour coverage. Since the base station doesn’t connect to your Wi-Fi router, you can place the unit pretty much wherever you want.
You get an eighty-five decibel siren, a SIM card for cellular communication for monitoring and a backup battery. Although the system is lacking in appearance compared to the sexy design of other smart home products, it makes up for it with its crook-proof wireless alarm.
Variety of state-of-the-art devices
Used by millions
Reliable monitoring in a number of locations
User friendly smart home control app
Upgrades and add-ons can increase the monitoring fee
No upgrades after three years unless you request it
Installation fees apply
ADT is a home security solution that has been enjoyed by millions of people and with good reason. With multiple monitoring centers running 24/7 to prevent service outage, they are one of the most dependable security companies around.
ADT Pulse is their smart home security solution, a wireless system with a number of central components, such as the CellGuard backup box and the hub.
There are several tiers to ADT, but all of them come with ADT’s dedicated team. Their sales reps work in tandem with ADT technicians to size up your property and determine what kind of package would work best for you.
With on-site consultation, professional installation, video options and remote control, ADT Pulse is among the very best home security systems in Australia.
Pick #7—Nest Secure
Works with Nest cameras
Works with third-party devices
No IFTTT support
No voice commands
Nest Secure is another DIY smart home system that enables users to outfit their homes with multi-purpose sensors. The main part of the Nest Secure system is the NestGuard, a small, round device with a keypad on top of it.
With a motion detector, the NestGuard serves as the hub of the system, connecting to your phone via Wi-Fi to send notifications to your Nest mobile app. The NestGuard sits inside your home and communicates with other devices.
The system has cellular backup, power outage backup and a built-in siren to ward off intruders, this one easily integrates with Nest’s cameras.
Nest also offers their customers Nest Connect which strengthens the mesh networking technology that aids in the communication between the devices and NestGuard.
Note: Certain Nest gadgets are not yet available in Australia. Smart home doorbell and door monitoring system have not been launched in the Land Down Under.
Pick #8—LiveWatch Plug & Protect IQ 2.0
No penalty for cancellation
Discounts for homeowners with qualifying credit
Full refund on equipment if returned within a year
Limit of only four cameras
Default warranty of just two years
Cameras only available with highest-tier monitoring plan
No power outage backup
No voice assistant compatibility
This DIY system is simple to set up and an indoor security camera is included. The control panel comes pre-configured, making installation much simpler than it would be otherwise.
The video-enabled system has become popular because there are no multi-year contracts and plenty of accessories are available from the factory.
It can be managed remotely with Android, iOS or web-based apps, all of which are powered by Alarm.com. You can arm or disarm the system from your Smartphone or tablet and you can view live video from your indoor camera.
This is an all-in-one deal because you can receive notifications, manage control locks, thermostats, lights and more.
SkylinkNet Alarm System Starter Kit (SK-200)
Base station can be used as a keypad
Power outage backup
Amazon Alexa compatibility
No cellular backup
Cumbersome Ethernet cable
No backup internet connection
No environmental sensors
No Z-Wave compatibility
Does not work with third-party devices
No email or phone notifications
No Web browser support
The SK-200 Starter Kit delivers the fundamentals of the modern home security experience. You get a base station that makes it possible for you to monitor your property on your smartphone. It’s a relatively cheap solution that includes a motion sensor and window/door sensors.
Unfortunately, this one fails when it comes to the advanced features many of us have come to expect of our home security systems. There are no phone or email notifications, no event triggering and the three-foot Ethernet cable for the router limits the number of places where you can put it.
What’s worse, there’s no backup which means you’ll have no way of knowing if something has happened at your residence if your internet connection is down.
If all of that sounded a bit negative, I must make clear that it’s not a total trainwreck. One area in which it definitely excels is in volume. There is no doubt in my mind that any burglar who heard this thing go off would promptly soil their strides and flee the scene.
We’re talkin’ 90 decibels that make a heavy duty tractor sound like a remote control car by comparison. The mobile app is another plus, possessing as it does an event log which tracks when your alarm is triggered by the motion detector, sensor or remote. It even keeps tracking of when it is armed and disarmed.
Pick #10—Swann Communications
Awesome nighttime video quality
Variety of systems to suit any budget
Variety of camera system options
Up to 4k resolution for high-end systems
iOS and Android compatibility
Up to four terabytes of local storage
Multichannel DVR & NVR systems
Limited (one-year) warranty
High price tag for advanced systems
No professionally monitored option
Unlike many other companies, Swann Security manufactures their own surveillance gear and sell it on their website and through affiliates like Amazon.
Their kits come with all of the equipment one could want from a security system, but some advanced knowledge is required in order to install and set up the unit. For one, you’ve gotta run 60-foot cables to connect the NVR to your router.
The kit gives you two indoor/outdoor cameras and you can opt to purchase additional cameras to place around the perimeter of your property.
Their mobile app creates and activates Home, Away or Nightmode settings. You can look in on your home with live video streaming, control lights and appliances, monitor your energy usage and receive motion detection notifications.
Other top home security systems include Canary’s smart security camera, but they didn’t make the list due to lack of sampling data. Other home security services that didn’t make the list because of lack of testing or user data include:
Note that regional companies are not included in our national rankings.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Home Security System
There are many factors to keep in mind when selecting a home security system. Everyone’s home is different and, depending on location and size, you may require more or less equipment than others.
If you’re on a tight budget, you may want to go with a landline provider.
For those who don’t feel confident with doing the DIY thing, professional installation is something to look for in a home security solution.
Before you settle on a specific company and system, let’s look at some of the need-to-knows where home security is concerned.
A Word of Warning About Wireless
Many modern security outfits tout their “cutting-edge” wireless technology and, while wireless smart home security systems can benefit many homeowners, it’s worth mentioning that security researchers have found that some of the top-selling alarms on the market can be easily subverted by thieves.
Hackers can suppress the alarms or create numerous false alarms to render them unreliable. Some tools can compromise a wireless security system from as far away as 250 yards.
Many wireless alarm systems, including those offered by Swann Security, Vivint and ADT, rely on radio frequency signals sent between sensors to a control system that triggers the alarm. Those who have studied this technology have discovered that no efforts have been made to encrypt or otherwise authenticate the signals being sent.
That means that hackers could likely intercept the data, decipher the commands and use it to gain purchase to your home.
There are several measures one can take to prevent their home security system from being hacked. You’ll want to secure your password(s), secure your router (only use a password-protected router and avoid using birthdays as your pass code), install antivirus software on any devices you use to access your security system, never use public WiFi, regularly change your passwords and consider buying an anti-jammer.
Before choosing a home security system, do some research and find out if the company you’re considering offers a system with encrypted signals. They are out there.
Cellular vs. Landline Monitoring
Cellular monitoring is, by far, the most secure form of communicating with monitoring centers. Operating on a dedicated cellular channel, the system sends a wireless signal via an encrypted transmission to the monitoring center in the event of an emergency. Wireless security systems that aren’t cellular are not truly secure.
Landline monitoring has a foot up on cellular monitoring in two specific areas. For starters, it is typically more affordable, making it ideal for those on a tight budget. Additionally, it’s available wherever a phone line exists.
Generally speaking, cellular will always be less vulnerable to hackers. And with landlines becoming all but completely obsolete (almost 6 million Aussies no longer have fixed-line telephones), it only makes sense to go the cellular route.
DIY vs. Professional Installation
There are advantages and disadvantages to each. For the beginner, it is usually best to pay extra for professional installation. But if you’re like me and you’re handy with technology then you may want to consider DIY installation.
Buy installing a system yourself, you can save money and avoid drilling holes. But there are other reasons why professional installation can be beneficial. For one, you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions of the technician(s) that you might have and you’ll get real time answers.
On the flip side, the DIY approach can lead to incorrect installation while professional installation can take take several hours and cost a lot of money. Holes will have to be drilled, cables will have to be snaked through walls. Both methods have their pros and cons.
How I Reviewed the Best Home Security Systems in Australia
I am always careful to look at home security system from all possible angles. This includes looking into their contracts, exploring technical specifications, studying their particular installation process, contacting their customer service to see how fast they respond and how helpful/informative they are.
I also consider their prices, plans and packages, the availability of different equipment, and what their reputation is among online consumers. I’ve even taken a trip to some companies’ headquarters to see what their daily operations look like.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned about the best home security systems out there.
I consider customer support to be of paramount importance when it comes to home security because you want to know that there are people at your disposal who are really monitoring your home to keep you and your loved ones safe.
If you’re paying good money for security, you should be able to have your needs met any any time. Some of the best home security companies have round-the-clock customer service lines.
For instance, Swann Communications have 24/7 tech support. Users can call toll free to talk through any issues with their system. I called each company on this list to see after purchasing their systems so that I could better rate them in terms of the level of customer support. This is how they rank on that front:
- Swann Communications—#1
- Link Interactive—#7
- Nest Secure—#8
Pricing & Affordability
You don’t have to break the bank just to obtain home security. Some of the best security companies operating today offer a number of plans to suit any budget.
Of the home security systems on this list, Swann Communications’ eight-channel security system is the most expensive at $909.95. Nest Secure is the second most expensive at $499. The most reasonable is ADT Pulse which starts at just $49.00.
Features & Equipment
Smart technology has changed the game, putting everything at our fingertips. You can open your garage door before you’ve even pulled into your driveway by accessing an app on your mobile. The same can now be said of the best home security systems.
After installing and testing the systems on this list, I was able to determine which ones perform the best and which offer the most features. Here’s a full breakdown.
- Cellular monitoring
- Protection against intrusion, fire and medical emergencies
- Mobile alerts and notification
- Crash and smash protection
- Geo-location services
- Remote access and control
- Sensor history
- Live video streaming
- Motion triggered alerts
- Light control
- Smart lock control
- Night vision
- Smoke and heat sensor
- Internal siren
- Thermostat control
- Voice chimes
- Sensor bypass feature
- Linking multiple Frontpoint accounts
- Award-winning automation w/ doorbell camera
- Key fob, door and window sensors
- Recessed door sensors
- Smart thermostat
- Carbon monoxide and smoke detector
- Automatic door locks
- Pan and tilt video camera
Link Interactive Features
- Crash and smash protection
- Intrusion protection
- Environmental protection
- Smartphone control
- DIY installation
Adobe Starter Kit Features
- Door/window sensors
- DIY installation
- Motion detection
- Smoke detectors
- Light control
- 10-hr battery backup
- Crash and smash protection
- Deep encryption
- Confirmed alerts
- Power outage protection
- Leak detection and prevention
- Fire detection
- Prevents pipes from bursting
- Long-range, compact sensors
- Signal-burst technology for conserving power
- Remote arm and disarm
- Video surveillance
- Multiple cameras and sensors
- Smoke and heat detectors
- Remote locks
- Carbon monoxide detector
- Garage door control
- Video doorbell
- Temperature control
- Light control
- Custom settings
- Flood monitoring
- Voice control
Nest Secure Features
- No Rush arm/disarm feature
- Remind Me notification
- Battery backup
- Cellular backup
- Heads up alarm
- Panic button
- Tamper detection
LiveWatch Plug & Protect IQ Features
- Light control
- Heat detector
- Keychain remote
- Wireless motion sensors
- Wireless door sensors
- Z-Wave compatibility
- Temperature control
- IQ panel with built-in camera
SkylinkNet Alarm System Starter Kit Features
- No monthly fees
- No contracts
- Push notifications
- Event log
- Backup batteries included
- DIY installation
- Keychain remote
Can I Just Buy a Security Camera Instead?
This is a question that I get asked a lot. There was even a time when my best mate ordered a fake, non-functioning surveillance camera online and installed it outside his shop because, he said, no one would dare break into a place if they think they’re being watched.
Sure enough, his place was robbed less than a month later and the thief or thieves even knocked down the phony camera, presumably to take the piss.
This isn’t to say that real security cameras aren’t advantageous for those who are looking to protect their home or small business. Of course, they are good for those who want to keep tabs on their property when they’re away at work or traveling. But they won’t do you much good if someone breaks in.
It can be argued that having a security camera might help authorities to identify a burglar after a theft has occurred, but this is not necessarily the case. After all, most thieves are savvy enough to wear a mask that covers their identifiable features.
Is Home Security Worth It?
Many people question whether home security systems are worth the money it cost to install, maintain and upgrade them. It’s always good to know what you’re paying for and what you’re spending on. That’s why I compiled this list.
There are many benefits to professional monitoring include duress signals, professional guidance during an emergency and emergency response plans.
But maybe you’re still on the fence. Perhaps you’ve already invested in a gun for home defense and you figure you’re covered. But what most people don’t consider is just how unreliable home defense solutions can be and how unpredictable home invasion can be.
Even the best bedside gun safes can fail a homeowner and they’ll do you little good if an armed thief has already entered your home by sophisticated means. Such a criminal can get the upper hand before you’ve rubbed the sleep from your eyes or even processed the fact that some madman is standing over you with a shotgun trained at your head.
With approximately 200,000 break-ins recorded across Australia each and every year, it is imperative that people protect themselves. More than 20% of burgled houses are broken into more than once. A burglar is not going to chance something like that if an alarm sounds during his initial attempt.
As I mentioned earlier, some alarm systems have a siren in excess of 90 decibels. That’s enough to scare off any cowardly criminal with a crowbar and an empty sack.
If that’s not convincing enough, consider the fact that homes without a security system are 300% more likely to be burglarized than homes that have them.
So, is security monitoring worth the cost? Well, think of it like this. The most popular items taken in home thefts are cash, credit cards, laptops, jewelry, cameras, mobile phones, designer handbags, TVs, DVD players, watches, power tools and stereo equipment.
Add up the cost of those kinds of big ticket items on a piece of paper. Then, on a separate paper, add up the upfront cost of the home security system you’re thinking about purchasing and the annual cost of maintaining the system.
I trust you’ll find that the amount of money you will be saving is substantial, to say the least. And as anyone who has ever been the victim of a mugging can tell you, you can’t put a price tag on feeling safe and secure.
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