America’s home security providers have a problem: they all claim to be the ‘best’. Why is this a problem? Because, by definition, they cannot all be the best. Try as they might, there can only be one best of anything. That begs the question of how they can get away with making such claims.
If you look closely, you will notice that it is usually not the companies themselves claiming to be the best. Rather, it’s the people that review their systems. Some of those reviewers are paid directly by manufacturers. Others are paid by media and marketing firms. Others are hobbyists, choosing to review and publish on their own blogs.
Either way, it is all in how information is presented. As long as manufacturers do not make unsubstantiated claims about what their products can do, they have a lot of leeway in terms of marketing. But that doesn’t help you figure out the best home security system for your needs.
It’s a Relative Term
‘Best’ is a relative term by its very nature. In order to determine the best of something, there has to be criteria by which it can be measured. What are the criteria for judging home security systems? Consumers get to make that choice. One reviewer might look at bottom-line cost and value. Meanwhile, a colleague’s review may focus more heavily on features.
You are the consumer. Maybe none of that matters to you. Perhaps you think brand-name and the availability of 24-hour monitoring are your top two priorities. What either of those reviewers claims as being the best may not resonate with you. Who is to say that your best wouldn’t be third or fourth on reviewer lists?
Security System Features
It’s probably safe to say that most consumers begin the process of considering home security systems based on features. The homeowner knows what theywant to accomplish by installing a security system. They startlooking for packages aligned with their goals. They may be convinced to add other features as theyshop, but theystart with an idea of what theyneed first.
According to Vivint, here are some of the features found in most modern home security systems:
- Forced Entry Protection – At the top of the list is protection against forced entry. This is accomplished in three ways: first-floor window sensors, first-floor door sensors, and broken glass sensors. These three types of sensors are fundamental to basic home security.
- Video Surveillance – Window and door sensors alert when forced entry is attempted. Video surveillance is a means of preventing the attempt to begin with. When criminals see video cameras surveilling their activities, they are more likely to turn and walk away.
- Smoke and CO Awareness – Home security systems can include smoke and CO detectors. Both are invaluable tools in making homeowners aware of fire and carbon monoxide leaks.
- Flood Sensors – Though flood sensors are not necessarily considered standard in every basic home security system, they are popular enough that security providers make them available.
- Medical Alerts – Another less common feature more people are taking advantage of is the medical alert system. Medical alerts are ideal for anyone who suffers from any chronic illness or health issue that could result in an emergency scenario.
A consumer judging the best home security system based on features may consider one with all the bells and whistles better than all the rest. But there is also the question of how those features are implemented. You have to consider the quality of the equipment, the options each piece offers, brand-name, and the manufacturer’s reputation.
Security System Value
Consumers who would normally rank a home security system based on value look beyond just features. They also look at how much they would pay for those features and whether the price is commensurate with quality and functionality. Here’s the thing: bottom line price doesn’t always line up with value. It is possible to spend a ton of money and get very little in return.
There is also the question of ongoing costs. With a DIY system, you purchase the equipment outright and install it yourself. If you don’t want to pay a monthly monitoring bill, you can self-monitor. On the other hand, professionally installed systems almost always come with rental fees and a monitoring subscription. You pay a monthly bill to have a third-party monitor your system.
Ongoing costs add another factor to the value question. Do you get enough value from monitoring to invest in it? That is a really hard question to answer if you have never experienced an event for which home security monitoring would have been helpful.
Integration with Home Automation
Still another factor for some consumers is the ability to integrate home security with smart home automation. If integration is important, you probably wouldn’t be interested in a standalone security system that can be integrated with things like geofencing, smart speakers, and smart door locks.
On the other hand, a system with full integration capabilities might be high on your list. Perhaps a complete package marrying both security and home automation would be considered your best if it:
- offered typical security features
- included smart speaker technology
- included a smart thermostat and smart lighting
- allowed for geofencing integration.
It should be obvious that there are a lot more possibilities when home security and automation are combined in the same package. Indeed, companies offer integrated packages because people want them. Integration is the hottest thing in home security and automation right now. It is driving the future of both paradigms, perhaps to a point where they will no longer be viewed as separate and distinct.
Home security reviewers have a habit of claiming the title ‘best’ for all sorts of systems. Only one can truly be the best, but even that point is arbitrary. Determining the best is about figuring out what you want and how much you want to spend for it.