Best Cellular Security Systems

Security.org TeamOctober 3, 2019

Why choose cellular home security? The best cellular security systems are more dependable than landline-based systems. Instead of wires they use cellular signals to alert emergency operators and your mobile phone. Compared with landline alarm systems, cellular security systems are less vulnerable to criminal tampering and inclement weather.

Read on for five best security systems with cellular connectivity and professional monitoring available month-to-month or with long-term service. Compare the pros and cons of these leading alarm companies:

Best Cellular Security Systems

  • SimpliSafe – Best Cellular Security Overall
  • ADT – Best Professional Install Cellular Security
  • Frontpoint – Best DIY Install Cellular Security
  • Vivint – Best Home Automation and Cellular Security
  • Protect America – Best Value Cellular Security

Check out ADT and Vivint if you’d like a company technician to install your security system. See SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, and Protect America for systems that you can easily set up yourself, no tools required.

SimpliSafe – Best Cellular Security Overall

SimpliSafe is a longtime leader in wire-free home security systems. They sell high quality equipment at low prices, and no payment is needed to keep a SimpliSafe alarm system running. However, it’s only with paid monitoring that SimpliSafe uses cellular signals and can send mobile alerts; without a monthly payment, your SimpliSafe system will communicate over home Wi-Fi and won’t connect with smartphones.

Emergency backup from SimpliSafe is highly regarded, and their emergency response team is Central Monitoring Station of the Year. They dispatch police, firefighters, and paramedics. This cellular security service is flexible and affordable, starting at just $14.99 month-to-month. For $24.99/month you’ll also get remote control over your home with voice commands and a smartphone app.

These security systems are designed for simple do-it-yourself installation. No tools are required unless you install the SimpliSafe video doorbell, which calls for a Phillips. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to set up a basic cellular security system with entry sensors, indoor motion sensors, freestanding camera, and wire-free keypad.

Cellular Coverage, Prices, and DIY Installation

Along with an award-winning monitoring center, what makes SimpliSafe the best cellular security brand overall? An expansive cellular network, low prices, and easy DIY installation make SimpliSafe a great value for millions of households.

  • Expansive Cellular Network – The cellular chips in SimpliSafe security systems can communicate over networks used by Verizon and T-Mobile. This helps make cellular home security available across virtually all the USA. Before buying a SimpliSafe set, you can call the company and verify that cellular security service can be activated at your address.
  • Low Prices – SimpliSafe prices are relatively low. That’s true of the equipment and optional cellular monitoring. For equipment, customers get factory-direct deals and can also buy refurbished security systems with long warranties included. The cheapest SimpliSafe starter kit has a $229 MSRP.

A system’s siren will work for free, provided that your Wi-Fi network is running. For $14.99 month-to-month you can activate cellular signaling and have professional 24/7 monitoring of alerts. This Standard Plan also lets you receive security alerts with a mobile app, though it doesn’t give your smartphone control over the system. For example, you can receive a smoke alarm alert but won’t be able to remotely disable the siren.

SimpliSafe’s top-tier $24.99 Interactive Plan for pro monitoring lets you remotely control the alarm system with your phone. It also lets you use voice commands to control the components. Voice commands are with Amazon Alexa. A sample command is “Alexa, set alarm to HOME.”

The Interactive Plan supports limited home automation; you can use SimpliSafe to monitor and control Philips Hue lights, August smart locks, and Nest thermostats. Amazon Alexa can be integrated with these devices as well. For example, “Alexa, lock all doors.”

  • Simple DIY Installation – As you’d expect from the name, SimpliSafe is simple to install yourself. Each system arrives with a thumb drive that guides you through tool-free setup. Most equipment is freestanding or can attach to flat surfaces with removable adhesive strips. For instance, you don’t need to plug in or hardwire SimpliSafe motion sensors; their batteries can last for up to seven years.

Overall SimpliSafe is the best cellular security choice for budget-conscious shoppers. The brand offers a wide range of equipment to help keep your home safe from intruders and environmental threats, and the Interactive Plan can help automate your house or apartment. Cellular monitoring is offered without a long-term payment commitment, and monthly rates are low at just $14.99 and $24.99. You can get even lower prices with a one-year deal.

Any drawbacks? SimpliSafe isn’t top choice for outdoor video surveillance, as they have just a video doorbell for outdoor security. Also, the base station may seem limiting to some shoppers. It can monitor up to 41 sensors, which might not be enough for a large home. The SimpliSafe base station supports home automation but doesn’t have a Z-Wave chip, which would allow for integration of countless third-party components. Again, SimpliSafe is limited to smart locks, smart lights, and smart thermostats as of late 2019.

PROS

  • Affordable equipment
  • Simple DIY installation
  • Affordable monitoring for police/fire/medical emergencies
  • Intrusion protection, environmental safety, and home automation
  • Monitoring not required
  • No credit check
  • Works with Amazon Alexa

CONS

  • No weatherproof cameras
  • No continuous video recording (Only motion-triggered)
  • Does not support Z-Wave

SimpliSafe customers tend to be very satisfied. Customers get a 60-day money-back guarantee, and equipment is under warranty for up to three years.

ADT – Best Professional Install Cellular Security

ADT is America’s longest-established home security company. Their digital division, ADT Pulse, professionally installs cellular systems. They provide the best professionally installed cellular security service on-demand; if you call before 2 p.m. you could get installation the same day. ADT Pulse is also the best professional install security company in terms of buyer protection: You can live with the system for 30 days before a cancellation penalty would apply.

Each ADT customer gets a customized security system. A technician can install basic security sensors, indoor/outdoor surveillance cameras, environmental sensors, and home automation devices such as smart lights, keypad locks, garage door sensors, and smart thermostats. Following pro installation, you can add more sensors yourself without advanced DIY skills. The ADT Pulse hub is Z-Wave compatible to give endless add-on possibilities, and the ADT mobile app helps make setup easy.

Remote control options with ADT Pulse include a smartphone app, a desktop app, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. For instance, you can use the voice command, “Alexa, dim the living room lamps.”

Compared with SimpliSafe, ADT Pulse gives you access to lots more equipment without upfront payment. However, ADT customers sign 36-month contracts for professional 24/7 monitoring, which also help pay off the equipment over time.

Prices vary depending on the installed equipment and your region of the US. When your contract is up, you can choose to have the equipment monitored by an ADT competitor; the equipment isn’t proprietary.

PROS

  • Same-day professional installation
  • Pro monitoring to send police, firefighters, and paramedics
  • Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Intrusion protection, environmental safety, and home automation
  • Hub supports Z-Wave devices

CONS

  • 720p camera resolution (Crisp, but higher resolution is available)
  • Continuous video recording not included (Motion-triggered only)
  • Prices not advertised

Overall, ADT Pulse is a leading option if you’d like professional installation and monitoring, but also the freedom to add Z-Wave devices yourself. The ADT Pulse trial period is 30 days.

Frontpoint – Best DIY Install Cellular Security

Frontpoint is a best choice for people seeking expert cellular security monitoring but do-it-yourself installation. Systems can be monitored by Frontpoint’s partner, Rapid Response Monitoring Services, with month-to-month or annual agreements. Among Rapid Response’s accolades are accreditation from the Department of Defense and the New York City Fire Department.

Installing a 100% cellular security system is easy; like SimpliSafe, Frontpoint provides equipment that you can set up without tools. Also, Frontpoint lets you move your cellular security system to a new address for no charge. Each cellular security system with a Frontpoint Smart Hub can automatically move to Wi-Fi if cellular towers are unavailable.

Pricing for Frontpoint cellular security systems starts at $69 for equipment, plus $34.99 to $49.99 for monthly monitoring. The best Frontpoint plans ($44.99 and $49.99 per month) include Crash and Smash protection, which lets the system alert dispatchers even if a criminal attempts to destroy security equipment. Moving from the basic Protection Plan to a $44.99 or $49.99 plan also adds options for video monitoring, smartphone remote control, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.

Frontpoint finds that customers save up to 20 percent on home energy bills when a smart thermostat is included, so this helps offset the home security expense.

Why choose Frontpoint over SimpliSafe? One advantage is outdoor video surveillance; Frontpoint has weatherproof security cameras. Another advantage is Frontpoint’s Z-Wave radio chip. With Z-Wave and the Frontpoint app, you can easily integrate gadgets from third parties. Adding a component takes about 10 minutes.

Why choose Frontpoint vs ADT? Frontpoint publishes all its prices, and you can choose month-to-month service instead of signing a contract. Since you’ll purchase Frontpoint equipment outright, you won’t need a credit check either.

PROS

  • Upfront pricing
  • DIY installation
  • Pro monitoring to send police, firefighters, and paramedics
  • Intrusion protection, environmental safety, and home automation
  • Cellular with Wi-Fi backup
  • Weatherproof security cameras
  • Alexa & Google Assistant
  • Supports Z-Wave
  • Great customer service

CONS

  • Cheaper systems are available
  • Frontpoint equipment is under warranty up to three years. Systems carry a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Vivint – Best Home Automation and Cellular Security

Vivint competes with ADT Pulse for customers seeking professionally installed cellular security systems. While ADT has some advantages, Vivint is the better choice if you want continuous video recording; ADT cameras will only save motion-triggered clips. Vivint is also a best choice for home automation that enhances security, lowers energy consumption, and streamlines your day. The company is a leader in smart home planning and installation.

You can add security cameras for indoor and outdoor surveillance. By default the Vivint video doorbell will store 30-second clips triggered by motion, each with a snapshot summary. Other Vivint cameras will store images and 90-second clips by default. Optionally you can set any Vivint camera to record continuously. Footage has cloud storage for up to 45 days.

Along with a cell chip, a Vivint home security hub has a Z-Wave radio chip. This lets you incorporate an endless variety of smart home devices by third parties. Examples are smart outlets, smart dimmers, and remote-controlled window coverings.

Vivint security plans are relatively affordable considering their high quality features. Prices are currently unadvertised at the Vivint site. However, in our experience the cheapest plan costs just $29.99 per month. For $39.99/month you’ll get remote control over your home with Google Assistant and your smartphone.

Any downsides? Many Vivint customers have only three days to reconsider their purchase, whereas other companies have 30-day refund periods. Another possible drawback with Vivint is proprietary equipment. The Vivint hub can monitor equipment from other brands, but only Vivint can monitor its own brand of cameras and other installed equipment.

PROS

  • Pro installation
  • Pro monitoring to send police, firefighters, and paramedics
  • Intrusion protection, environmental safety, and home automation
  • Works with Google Assistant
  • Supports Z-Wave

CONS

  • Proprietary equipment
  • No free trial

All in all, Vivint is a best choice for cellular home security with virtually unlimited home automation. You’ll need to pay each month for service though; unlike the SimpliSafe siren, a Vivint siren won’t sound unless connected to emergency dispatchers. Energy savings and a Vivint-related discount on homeowner’s insurance might help offset the monthly cost.

Protect America – Best Value Cellular Security

For many homes Protect America has the best value in cellular security. With a professional monitoring plan you’ll receive about $1400 worth of equipment to self-install. Options include basic sensors, outdoor cameras, automated locks, smart smoke detectors, and much more. There’s no charge to get the system but you will need to pass a credit check. Protect America’s monthly monitoring cost for cellular security starts at $41.99. They have a price match guarantee, and you can lock the rate for as long as you’re under contract. After signing a three-year contract with Protect America you can move to month-to-month. The company offers broadband and landline monitoring as well; service starts at $19.99/month.

Along with pro monitoring, Protect America customers get DIY monitoring and smartphone control. If you’d like voice control over the connected components, include an Amazon Echo speaker. A sample command is “Alexa, lock my front door.”

Equipment provided by Protect America is high quality. For example, their hub features an easy-to-use color touchscreen. Entryway sensors have five-year batteries, so maintenance is minimal. Protect America’s indoor motion sensors have a 25-foot range and ignore pets up to 40 pounds. Their indoor cameras have infrared vision up to 16 feet for nighttime surveillance. These have two-way audio for enhanced security, and the resolution is 720p. For 1080p resolution or higher, you can add third-party cameras.

Unlike Vivint, Protect America uses universal equipment. For instance, they provide a Simon control panel. Other cellular security companies can monitor the equipment, so you won’t feel tied to Protect America as your contract nears an end.

PROS

  • Need to talk with an agent to order cellular packages
  • Receive $1400 in equipment without upfront payment
  • Rate locked until you end service
  • Universal equipment

CONS

  • Three-year contract monitoring required
  • 15-day trial is relatively short

All in all, Protect America is a best value for people with stable addresses. You’ll receive lots of equipment and can add Z-Wave for home automation and voice control with Amazon Alexa. If you expect to relocate within the next three years, however, we’d recommend SimpliSafe or Frontpoint instead.