AlarmForce, a Canadian company based in Toronto, quickly went public less than a decade later after the company started in the home security business in 1988. They entered the U.S. market in 2006 and currently operate primarily in five states in the South Midwest.
AlarmForce manufacturers its own products but does not sell them through any brick and mortar or online retailer. Users lease the equipment. Compatible with some competitors products, their system is wireless and works over phone lines. You can purchase their CellWave package, which works over cellular networks, for an additional installation fee and increased monthly monitoring cost.
The company owns and operates six monitoring centers in Canada and eleven service centers in the United States.
AlarmForce was one of the first companies to provide home video and two-way voice service, which became part of their signature product offerings.
They also aggressively market their home care, personal emergency medical device as a separate system, not an add-on, to their home security packages.
AlarmForce offers a solid, no-frills, home security solution for home and small business owners who are not concerned about the latest technological innovations.
- Affordability – AlarmForce provides basic home security without many frills but at a very reasonable price.
- Live Two-way Voice – All AlarmForce packages, even the least expensive, have two-way, real-time voice communications for the user with the monitoring center.
- A+ BBB Rating – Relatively few negative ratings and no consumer lawsuits filed against them listed on the BBB site.
- Very Minimal Basic Package – The basic package contains only one sensor, a motion detector, a siren, and a keypad.
- No Backup for the Basic Package – The company’s primary offering uses telephone lines, and if the line is cut, there is no backup. For cellular service, you must pay extra.
- Poor Battery Performance – One of the major complaints from users concerns battery life. Most sensor batteries last up to five years or more. AlarmForce clients report considerable less time before you must replace the battery.
- Limited Availability – The system is only available in only five states, three in the South and two in the Midwest. Unless they have an installer in your immediate area of the state, you cannot get the system.
- Limited Equipment Offerings and Price – AlarmForce offers few additional options. AlarmForce choices of sensors, detectors, and smart home devices are limited.
- Proprietary Equipment Limitations – AlarmForce only guarantees that their proprietary equipment will work with their system. Some other manufacturers’ products may or may not work. AlarmForce will, however, test other installed products and if they work will include them in your monitoring package at no charge.
- No Interactive Monitoring – AlarmForce lets you, for an extra monthly charge, do certain fundamental things with your system by smartphone app. It does not, however, have the expansive functionality that many competitors offer.
Home Security Packages Overview and Charges
|Packages||Standard||AlarmForce Connect||CellWave||AlarmForce Connect w/CellWave|
|Two-Way Voice Console/Keypad||x||x||x||x|
*Dealers may offer special installation pricing
Medical Alert System Packages
|Packages||AlarmCare||AlarmCare with Fall Detection|
|Console with Panic Button||x||x|
|Emergency Pendent with Fall Detection||x|
All sensors and detectors are wireless.
One of the key, and somewhat unique, offerings of AlarmForce is their two-way voice system that connects the user directly with the monitoring station. AlarmForce claims that this has proven effective especially when monitoring station personnel detect a possible intrusion and address the alleged intruder through the intercom speaker. Anecdotal evidence provided by the company suggests that merely addressing an intruder has resulted in the potential thieve fleeing the premises. AlarmForce provides the two-way voice with all their systems.
Two-way voice also gives the home or business owner a way to immediately contact the monitoring center in the event of an emergency or to notify the center of a false alarm.
AlarmForce also does not outsource, as do many home security companies, their monitoring centers. AlarmForce creates and staffs their monitoring stations with AlarmForce personnel dedicated to AlarmForce customers.
The standard package contains very little other than a basic and uncomplicated security system. Two-way voice, one motion sensor and a siren comprise the basic package. AlarmForce has an interesting and different philosophy on sensors too. The company recommends motion detectors instead of window contact sensors for security. Their contact sensors can be used on windows as well as doors, but the company’s bare-bones approach encourages the use of motion detectors for wider coverage, which also requires less installation and maintenance.
AlarmForce Connect, while still basic, has more technology associated with it, but still relies on phone lines to transmit any alerts or alarms. This package allows smartphone control of essential functions, including any add-ons that the customer may have bought. This package adds two door sensors, but unlike the very simplistic, basic package, adds an installation charge. The monthly monitoring fee increases also.
CellWave does not do anything more than allow the system to use cellular transmission. The monthly charge goes up, and there is an additional installation fee.
The AlarmForce Connect with CellWave allows what many would consider full functionality and a more high-tech approach. The package does not include any video monitoring or additional sensors; it merely combines the smartphone app compatibility with the backup cellular transmissions.
If an owner does opt to purchase other equipment, there is no extra charge for monitoring.
Canceling the three-year contract before the term expires incurs and three-month payment penalty. The user will also be charged for the equipment if it is not returned at the time of cancelation. The client is also responsible for any damage to the equipment as customers technically only lease the products.
AlarmForce manufacturers a limited line of sensors and detectors. From user reviews and the company website, it appears some other companies’ systems will interconnect with the AlarmForce products. It is unclear whether some of the most common, 2Gig or GE, will work, nor is it clear if some other home security companies with proprietary product work.
Nevertheless, if the user’s current system or devices work, AlarmForce will add them to the system at the time of installation and will not charge more to monitor them.
AlarmForce manufactures nine different sensors, detectors, and smart appliance devices:
- Motion Detector
- Door and Window Sensor
- Glass Break
- Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
- VideoRelay Door Camera
- AlarmForce Door Lock
- AlarmForce Power Plug
AlarmForce charges a fee, equivalent to the purchase cost, but retains ownership of it.
All sensors are wireless.
The monitoring centers dedicated to AlarmForce systems are located in the eastern third of the United States and throughout Canada. Currently, there are twelve in the U.S. and six in Canada:
- Charlotte, NC
- Raleigh-Durham, NC
- Greensboro, NC
- Columbus, OH
- Cleveland, OH
- Orlando, FL
- Tampa Bay, FL
- Petersburg, FL
- Sarasota, FL
- Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
- Atlanta, GA
- Cincinnati, OH
- Toronto, ON
- Ottawa, ON
- Montreal, QC
- Calgary, AB
- Edmonton, AB
- Vancouver, BC
AlarmCare Emergency Call Pendent
AlarmForce markets their AlarmCare product separate from their home security packages. The pendants function using their two-way voice system.
AlarmCare consists of a console and one of two different pendants. One of the pendants has a fall detection sensor, which functions similarly to a glass break. The fall detection device costs $4.95 more per month in monitoring fees.
The three-year contract can be canceled at any time. However, customers must prepay a non-refundable three months’ worth of surveillance prior to activating their contract.
The pendants can be worn around the neck or wrist and come with a wrist strap. Battery life is estimated to be 2 ½ years, with replacement batteries shipped free of charge.
The console plugs into AC power. It has a panic alarm button on the console too. The transmission range to the console is 150 feet, which translate to working within the confines of an approximately 2500 square foot house. However, placement of the console in the home may increase or shorten the range.
CellWave will transmit the two-way voice connection and wireless sensor alarm alerts to the monitoring system by cellular waves instead of your phone line. There is no direct backup to the network.
Two-Way Voice Console/Keypad
The two-way voice console uses your home landline to transmit voice or alarm signals.
The motion detectors that come with all packages operate with Passive Infrared technology. The double-backed taping permits the owner to stick the detector on any wall facing the windows or door that the user wants to be secured.
There is no pet safe function. Motion of any sort will set off the sensor when armed.
The 2db siren also works wireless. If the user presses the panic button or an alarm is tripped, the siren will activate.
AlarmForce created a proprietary app for Android and iPhone users. You can control several functions with the app:
- Access the VideoRelay Camera Real-Time
- View any Video Captured by the VideoRelay Motion Sensor
- Communicate with anyone using the VideoRelay Tw0-Way Voice
- Save Video or Photos to Your Smartphone
- Remotely Arm and Disarm the System
- View the Alarm Status
- View the Alarm History
- Send and Receive Email Notifications on Alarm Status Changes or VideoRelay Activation
You must have an active AlarmForce, AlarmCare monitoring contract for the app to work.
The door contacts are AlarmForce wireless electromagnetic sensors powered by a small battery. Battery life varies and users report anywhere from 1-3 years.
VideoRelay Door Camera
AlarmForce manufactures a video camera with a two-way voice microphone and speaker that the user installs at any door leading into the house. The doorbell can connect to the VideoRelay device, and if someone rings the doorbell, your smartphone will be automatically notified. The user can then speak with the person at the door and, if a compatible electric door lock is installed, allow them access.
The system notifies smartphone users if the motion detector, which is part of the VideoRelay Camera, detects movement, and the camera then takes a short video clip. The app user can see the clip on their smartphone or access any of the up to one month’s video footage stored.
The flood sensors work by either the sensor being immersed for more than a few minutes or moisture detected for a set period. Typically the sensor is installed near floor level or by an appliance that can overflow or flood such as a water heater, washing machine or dishwasher.
The temperature sensors detect changes above or below a certain factory-set range. If the temperature remains outside the range of the sensor for more than approximately 10 minutes, it will trigger an alarm to the console.
The glass break sensors function as most of these types of sensors operate. A tiny microphone tuned to the frequency of the sound made by glass breaking will activate the alarm. The user installs the sensors on a wall or in a corner facing the window or windows being monitored.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
AlarmForce provides smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They can be installed anywhere in the home by adhesive or by mounting permanently to the wall or ceiling.
AlarmForce Door Lock
AlarmForce has two types of remote locks they offer, with or without a handle. Each, like the Yale and Schlage for example, has a keypad also which allows you to open it without a key. You can set up to six different combination, allowing each person in the household or at work to have his or her own combination. The app will allow you to see which user accessed the door and when as well as lock or unlock the door remotely.
AlarmForce Power Plug
AlarmForce has a device called the Power Plug. Essentially, you can plug and light fixture or small appliance into it, plug the Power Plug into a wall socket and control the device through your home security system or smartphone app. The user can also set schedules for turning the appliance on or off. There is also a built-in surge protector
AlarmForce has a reputation for catchy commercials on Canadian radio and TV. The company, with headquarters in Toronto, is probably the most recognized home security brand in Canada. Vertically integrated, the company derives revenues from the manufacture, lease or sale, installation and monitoring of home security equipment. The company works through a network of franchise operators and agents.
The company distinguished itself early by offering a unique, signature product, their two-way voice system combined with a no-frills approach and low-cost monitoring.
Founded in 1988 by Joe Matlin, they went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange a few years later. The Board of Directors ousted Matlin in 2013, and Antony Pizzonia took over.
The number of subscribers has remained about the same for the past two years, around 140,000.
AlarmForce entered the U.S. market in 2004. Starting in North Carolina, they have now expanded, as of 2015, to Ohio, Georgia, Florida and Minnesota. The company owns all their monitoring centers.
Total subscriber base has not varied much in the past two years, at around 144,000 customers. AlarmForce has about 40,000 U.S. clients.
Please share with us your experiences with AlarmForce’s service and products. Canadian or U.S. subscribers are welcome to comment.
If you have any questions or points you would like clarified in the review, please contact us.
If you want a no-frills, monitored home or small business security system at a reasonable rate, then AlarmForce may be a good choice. Their two-way voice theft deterrent system makes sense for homeowners in low suburban, low crime areas where many robberies generally are not committed by violent felons and are often crimes of opportunity. Dedicated monitoring centers theoretically provide users better, more customized, service also.
Given that more and more people are relying on cell phones or VOIP rather than landlines, the basic package likely will not be appropriate for the majority of potential U.S. customers.
For technology geeks, and those that may want a system they can expand at a later date, AlarmForce likely is not for them. Smart home appliances like thermostats, for example, cannot be used with the system. Lack of compatibility with someone’s existing system may drive a potential client elsewhere too.
The company’s medical alert system, given it is separate from the home security system, may be appropriate for those seeking only this type of service. For those desiring home security along with panic or medical alert, there are competitors that offer this as part of their home security package.