Installing a home security system used to be an expensive, long-term proposition. But today’s wireless, modular systems like Frontpoint let you tailor your system to your home. You can put together a bare-bones system or something more elaborate and, if you want, do all or most of the installation yourself, saving time and trouble in the process.
There are plenty of companies offering such systems today and it can be confusing for consumers to navigate the blizzard of ads, online offers and tantalizing websites. Fortunately, there are several well-established companies with strong track records, including Frontpoint. The Tysons, Va., company offers 100% wireless alarms that can be installed quickly and easily by just about anyone.
The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and wins generally favorable reviews on Yelp, ConsumerAffairs and other major review sites. While all companies claim to have the lowest prices, best customer service and so forth, Frontpoint seems to have actually assembled all of the elements in a way that allows it to satisfy a wide range of consumers, from the most tech-savvy to the totally tech-averse.
You can monitor your home, change settings and control devices such as cameras and thermostats remotely, using a computer, tablet, smartphone or even your Apple Watch. There are three basic service plans — Protection, Interactive and Ultimate. Pricing is tiered to the plan you choose and varies within each category by how much equipment you order. A monthly monitoring fee varies depending on service level.
For example, a homeowner with a typical four-bedroom home might order five window and door sensors for the ground floor, two motion sensors, a glass break sensor, a smoke/heat sensor and a keypad control panel. The pricing for that package was $349.95 when we checked the company’s, and was listed as a $323 discount from the retail price. There is no installation fee for customers who install the equipment themselves.
Installation is simple. The sensors are simply taped to the door or window frame and most other sensors are simply mounted to the wall with a strong adhesive. There is no wiring, since all of the components communicate with each other wirelessly.
The system is monitored by a 24-hour operations center, which can summon help from fire, police and medical services when needed. Unlike some systems, Frontpoint’s control panel uses the cellular telephone network to operate rather than relying on the customer’s wi-fi or the wired telephone network.
While the cellular network may fail in a natural disaster, it is much more reliable than in-home wi-fi and, unlike the wired telephone network, a burglar can’t snip the incoming telephone wires and disable it. Frontpoint says the system works well even in area that have weak cell service since it uses a special low-frequency that is more robust than the higher frequencies used for voice and data transmission.
Besides security monitoring, Frontpoint’s system can control such things as thermostats and door locks. There’s also a doorbell that lets you see who’s at the door. Cameras, by the way, operate over the internet, unlike the cellular network used by the rest of the system. That’s because video takes a lot more bandwidth. Keep in mind that how well your cameras work will depend on your wi-fi network and broadband connection.
Price shouldn’t be the first consideration in choosing a home security system. After all, you wouldn’t buy the cheapest door lock or cheapest fire extinguisher, would you? Nor should you buy the cheapest components online and try to assemble them yourself unless you’re a systems engineer with time on your hands.
From what we can tell by perusing Frontpoint’s website, its prices are competitive with other top-tier companies. Online reviews indicate that the company’s customer service is on a higher plane than its competitors. With its 30-day refund policy, Frontpoint appears to be a good candidate for first choice in the home security system derby.