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Best wireless home security systems

How to find a wireless security system that fits your needs

by Kate Williams, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team
woman using wireless security system

The best wireless security systems are secure, easy to install and affordable. They can include home automation features if you want additional convenience and security. Add on a monthly monitoring package to make sure your family and home are protected at all times, whether you’re at home or not.

Methodology: To find out what consumers need to know about installing wireless security systems in their homes, I read 14 articles and three E-books about wireless security systems. I also talked to Tyler Wright, author of Wireless Network Security–A Beginner’s Guide and founder of LeetSystems Cybersecurity and Dr. Kevin Du, IEEE Member and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University.
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best OverallProtect America Visit website
  • DIY installation
  • Monitoring plans start at $19.99/month
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best Customer ServiceFrontpoint Visit website
  • DIY installation
  • Monitoring plans start at $34.99/month
LabelCompany nameLogoContactSummary
Best ValueVivint Visit website
  • Professional installation
  • Monitoring plans start at $39.99/month

Pros and cons of wireless home security systems

Unlike wired security systems that run through your phone lines and can require more extensive installation, wireless systems can be installed in a matter of minutes as a quick and painless DIY project. “Convenience is the major reason people switch to wireless,” says Du, and it’s hard to argue against a 10-minute setup when the wired option requires professional installation of wires underneath your house.

However, convenience doesn’t necessarily come with added security. Going from wired to wireless security means potentially exposing yourself to outside attacks if you don’t do it right. “You don’t need to enter a house to cut the wire with wireless,” the way you would with wired security, warns Du. Without taking the proper security precautions, you could be leaving your home open to intruders who can jam your system and enter your home without your sensors picking up their presence

woman checking wireless security on her mobile phone

How to keep your wireless security system secure

Don’t write off wireless systems based only on the added security risks. “It’s not an unsolvable problem,” says Du. Homeowners just need to be aware of the risks so they can prevent unwanted security breaches.

There are several guards consumers should put in place to keep their homes safe. The first is encryption, which comes standard on my top three wireless security system picks. (Note: encryption isn’t standard on all systems. Ask for more information if a company’s website doesn’t specifically discuss encryption.)

Encryption scrambles the information you send into a code that isn’t accessible to outsiders. Your wireless router should come with encryption on it, but it might not be enabled. Make sure to enable it manually if it isn’t already to keep your data and information secure.

Another form of security some companies use is Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS), which isn’t encrypted. Insted, the signals are spread out to multiple channels that can be captured if sniffers know which ones to check.

“Frequency hopping is a countermeasure against jamming,” says Du, and it is the technique used by the military to counter jamming attacks. “The effectiveness of this approach depends on how widely the frequency is spread and how hard it is to guess the hopping sequence.”

Additionally, make sure to change the manufactured password credentials immediately and replace them with a passphrase that will make it difficult for an intruder to guess.

Monitored vs. unmonitored security systems

Monitored home security systems
Monitored home wireless security systems are monitored by an outside monitoring center 24/7. Your system needs to be able to communicate with your monitoring center 24/7 through your landline, cell phone or broadband connection. You can still have a wireless security system if you use a landline to communicate with your monitoring center, however, a cell phone is more reliable since the line can’t be cut in the event of a break in. Broadband is capable of making contact with your monitoring center four times faster than a landline, and is the cheapest option, although it can be less reliable than using a cell phone.​

Unmonitored home security systems
Unmonitored, also known as self-monitoring home security systems, are not monitored by an outside center, which means there is no additional monthly fee associated with it. Instead, you self-monitor your home by receiving alerts on your cell phone whenever there is activity inside your home. It’s up to you to call the authorities if you believe there is a break-in. While you save money by not paying a monthly fee, you don’t have the peace of mind knowing that someone else will contact the authorities in the event of an emergency.

Best wireless home security systems with monitoring

Monitored systems are ideal for anyone who wants the comfort of knowing someone is always watching their home. Monitored systems range in what they have to offer, from basic packages that include sensors and a keypad to extensive systems that also include video monitoring with live video streaming, remote access and temperature control.

 
Starting monthly price$19.99$34.99$39.99
Upfront cost$0$149.95$549.99
Wireless option
Contract length36 months36 months42 months
Customer satisfactionRead reviewsRead reviewsRead reviews
 Starting monthly priceUpfront costWireless optionContract lengthCustomer satisfaction
$19.99$036 monthsRead reviews
$34.99$149.9536 monthsRead reviews
$39.99$549.9942 monthsRead reviews

Bottom line

Wireless home security systems are a worthwhile investment that protects your home and the people in it. Monitored systems respond to emergencies quickly and can give you the peace of mind that your home is protected at all times.

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by Kate Williams, Ph.D. ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kate Williams, Ph.D. believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase. She spends countless hours researching companies and industries before writing buyers guides to make sure consumers have all the information they need to make smart, informed buying decisions.