When I think of the word “fortress”, I picture a wide moat, a stone wall, and a beautiful castle where a princess waits to be rescued. But maybe that’s just because I watched Shrek recently.
Fortress Security is one of the smaller players in the home security industry. They’ve been around since 2005 and offer a few different security packages along with their mobile app.
In this review, I’ll explain what the Fortress security system entails, how well it works, how convenient it was to set up, how professional monitoring works, customer service, and the app. Let’s dive in!
We're huge fans of Fortress' lack of monthly fees, affordable price, and 30-day return policy.
What does a Fortress Security System Include?
I purchased the S6 Titan 3G/4G WiFi Classic Kit which includes a main panel, entry, motion, and glassbreak sensors, key fobs, key tags, a panic button and a siren. I also purchased Fortress’ indoor security camera, as no security system is complete without one.
S6 Titan 3G WiFi Main Panel
The main panel is the center of your security system. It connects all of your sensors and makes sure that everything is functioning correctly. If any part of your system is breached, the panel will automatically notify you through Wi-Fi, SIM card, or by your landline (if you still have one, that is).
Fortress Door/ Window Contact
You want to know if a door or window opens when you’re not home, right? Luckily for you, Fortress has Door/ Window Contact Sensors for that exact purpose. By using magnets, they can tell when a door or window is opened or closed. They’re white rectangles with rounded edges, only two to three inches tall. Don’t worry, they’ll blend right into your living room’s aesthetic.
Fortress Total Security Motion Detector
The Total Security Motion Detectors sense movement from up to 25 feet by using infrared technology. They have an viewing angle of 110 degrees horizontally, so they can pick up on a lot of space. The sensor can be placed anywhere within 150 feet of the main panel and uses 2 AA batteries. For pet owners, there’s also a Pet Immune Motion Detector. It can tell the difference between us homo sapiens and pets up to 50 pounds.
Fortress Glass Break Sensors
What if your intruders don’t open your doors or windows, but simply smash through the glass? For your largest windows and sliding glass doors, there’s the glass break sensors. Not only can they detect the sound of glass breaking, but they can also tell when someone tries to smash the glass, even if they don’t succeed. The sensor must be placed directly on a window for this to work. This is a cool feature that I haven’t seen in any other security system. The glass break sensors cover a five foot radius and use AC power as their primacy source.
Fortress Remote Fob
If you’re not near your main panel, you can use the remote fob to arm or disarm your system. It also has a panic button which will alert your professional monitoring team (more on that later). I love a remote key fob because it means I can disarm my system before I even enter the building, so long as I’m within 150 feet.
Fortress Total Security RFID Key tag
If you purchase the keypad, you can use these RFID key tags to disarm your system. All you have to do is dangle your key tag in front of the pad. It can be a lot easier than having to log into an app or enter a passcode. More on the keypad below.
Fortress Plug-In Strobe Siren
So an intruder has made his way into your home. You want to scare him as much as possible so that he leaves, right? Fortress’ strobe siren has adjustable volume levels and a backup battery- even if you lose power, this siren is staying on. I love that it has an on/off switch and can be easily transported if you end up moving. At no more than four inches across, the siren is definitely easy to hide, which is ideal for spooking burglars. It even goes up to 110 decibels, about as loud as a jackhammer or rock band!
Fortress Doorbell/ Panic Button
Want another way to remotely contact professional monitors? Use the combined doorbell/ panic button. This may seem like an odd combination, and that’s because it is. To turn the panic button into a doorbell, you just go into the “zone time” settings on your main panel and set it to “chime”. Then, your panel will chime every time your doorbell is rung.
I’m also disappointed that the doorbell does not have any video features. Most modern security systems have video doorbells that not only allow you to see who’s at your door, but also allow you to speak with them through two-way audio. It’s safe to say that this doorbell is way behind industry trends.
Fortress Eye Sight Security Camera
I’m surprised to see that Fortress only offers one camera, the Eye Sight Wi-Fi 720p HD Security Camera. Let’s see how it stacks up to competitors.
When I look at the Fortress Eye Sight Security Camera, the first thing I think of is “Buzz Lightyear”. It looks like what animators in the 1990’s thought security cameras would look like in the future. As you can see, it’s bulky, has antennas, and has a large, clunky base. Definitely not something I would want visible in my home. However, I do like that the camera spins around 360 degrees and can be tilted upside down- but the aesthetics need a serious update.
I must say that this camera’s video quality is sub-par. It only has 720p, which is not up to industry standard. The camera can’t zoom or pan, and the worst part? No one at Fortress could tell me what the camera’s field of view is. Of course, that speaks more to their customer support, but I’ll get into that later.
I’m pleased to see that the camera has two-way audio. This means that the system’s owner can communicate with whoever the camera is recording. It’s awesome for scaring away intruders, talking to someone from another room, or even checking in with your family from a work trip.
Usually when cameras lose marks for storage, it’s because they only have cloud storage and no local. Fortress, in contrast, only has local storage. This makes sense given that Fortress doesn’t have any in-house monthly subscription plans. Given a choice, I’d take local storage over cloud any day. Once you have the files locally on a hard drive, you can upload them to a personal cloud like Dropbox. It’s important to back up your footage in two different ways to make sure it doesn’t get lost.
Smart Platform Integration/ Artificial Intelligence
Unfortunately, this camera has no smart platform integrations or artificial intelligence features. That means that it can’t connect to anything like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and it has no way to differentiate between people and pets, shadows and cars, and most importantly, your intruders and loved ones.
I’ll be frank: I didn’t purchase the next few items. My bank account can only take so much, and all of these security systems add up! I did, however, still want to tell you about them, and I will do so right now.
Total Security RFID Keypad
This six inch keypad is yet another way to arm/ disarm your system. All you’ll have to do is swipe your RFID tags to disarm your system. Unfortunately, you cannot use the tags to arm your system. Instead, it requires a password. While I’m a little annoyed that the tags only work for disarming your system, it’s not the end of the world.
Fortress Smoke Alarm
Fortress’ smoke alarm will not only beep in the event of a fire, but it can also detect smoke through an electric sensor. Unlike a regular smoke alarm, which just beeps, this smoke alarm communicates with your main panel, giving you some added backup.
Fortress Gas Leakage Detector
I look at tons of security systems, and this is the first time I’m seeing a gas leakage detector. Now I’m wondering why they don’t all include one. This detector can monitor most combustible gasses and has a built in 85 decibel siren- that’s about as loud as a passing diesel truck or a snow blower. Of course, it connects with your alarm system so you can be notified of any issue.
Fortress Water Sensor
When it comes to water leaks, you want to know before you have an indoor swimming pool. This water leak sensor works through floating in at least 1/8 an inch of water. If the bobber lifts, it will trigger the sensor and you’ll be alerted.
Professional Monitoring with Fortress
On top of your hardware, you’re going to want 24/7 professional monitoring for maximum security. Professional monitoring basically means that you have a backup plan. Let’s face it: you’re not always going to be available to deal with your home’s issues, be it an intrusion, fire, or what have you. That’s where the monitoring team comes in. They’ll oversee your system and handle any alarms that go off. After assessing the situation, they’ll contact emergency services for you, no matter where you are. I recommend that you invest in 24/7 professional monitoring with any security system you purchase.
We're huge fans of Fortress' lack of monthly fees, affordable price, and 30-day return policy.
How monitoring works
Fortress does not have any professional monitoring in-house. However, you can protect your Fortress security system through third party companies. They recommend Alarm Relay, which can be purchased for as little as $8.95 a month.
Unfortunately, I encountered some confusion regarding Alarm Relay. When I called the company, they told me that they only work with the Total Fortress Security System, and even that only works half the time. In general, they’ve had a lot of issues connecting with Fortress systems.
I called back Fortress and they didn’t seem to be aware of any issues. They said Alarm Relay has worked when they’ve done tests and weren’t able to give me any other options. I’m disappointed by their lack of knowledge.
On a more positive note, Alarm Relay uses cellular backup. That means that your monitoring team will stay connected to your security system, even if the power goes out or the intruder cuts your phone line cords.
Fortress recommends that you purchase professional monitoring from Alarm Relay. Their Basic Monitoring plan includes 24/7 professional monitoring, which covers burglaries, fires, and medical emergencies. It only costs $35 to install and from there costs $8.95 a month, or $107.40 a year.
Unfortunately, Alarm Relay requires that you pay for your subscription annually. There is no way to get out of paying the entire length of the contract unless your system didn’t work for a significant amount of time. If you move, you’ll have to pay another $35 fee to set up Alarm Relay at your new home. This isn’t the most flexible contract in the world, so if you’re looking for something more short-term, I would recommend something like SimpliSafe– they don’t require a term-length contract.
Fortress’ Customer Support
Customer support tends to be one of the more frustrating parts of adulthood. I have to admit it- personally, I wasn’t impressed with Fortress’ customer support.
First I used the live chat feature to inquire about the camera’s technical specifications. I had to ask the representative the same questions multiple times to get answers- her immediate response was to copy and paste the camera description that’s already on the website. Like I said before, she didn’t know what field of view is (which seems odd for someone who works at a security company) and kept repeating that the camera swivels 360 degrees around.
The next time I spoke to customer support was over the phone. I was trying to inquire about the Fortress/ Alarm Relay confusion, and the man didn’t seem to be aware of all the connectivity issues. He couldn’t recommend another company for professional monitoring, and told me to just google “local professional monitoring”. I will say that both of the reps seemed like nice people- just not knowledgeable about their products and services.
Okay, so I didn’t have a great experience with Fortress’ customer support team. But my opinion isn’t the end all be all. I’m still going to take you through your options when it comes to customer support, as well as discuss some internet reviews from real life Fortress customers.
How It Works
Go on Fortress’ website and you’ll see a section of FAQ’s, programming instructions, user manuals, as well as some informative videos. If you’d like to communicate with a customer support representative directly, you can either write them a letter (a shocking option in 2018 but I digress), live chat, call their phone number, email them, or fill out a form online.
I’m not going to depend on a company to tell me about their customer support- I’m going to ask the customers themselves. There are a million different websites to review everything from restaurants to skin care products, but I turned to two internet giants, Amazon and Google.
Better Business Bureau
Yikes! Fortress has an overall BBB rating of F because it has failed to respond to two customer complaints. When I took a look at the complaints, they both complained that the sensors’ battery life was too short, so that’s definitely good to know. There were no further customer reviews, unfortunately.
The Titan security system only had four reviews on Amazon, which is a pretty small sample size. Overall, they received 3.9 out of five stars. Most people rated the system four or five stars, while only one person selected two stars. Unfortunately, no one mentioned customer support- the issues seemed to be with the system itself.
Fortress Security has a 3.4 out of five star rating on Google with 38 reviews, an above-average reputation. One five star review mentioned customer support specifically.
“Always friendly customer service and knowledgeable technicians…I felt like I’ve gotten personal attention at this company that you just can’t get at the national companies. Outstanding experience overall!
wrote a man named Greg earlier this year. One man’s trash!
The My Fortress App
For someone more tech-savvy, you can control your security system through the My Fortress app. I want to tell you about the app’s features, as well as what customers think of it.
Note: you might be a little bit confused about which app to choose. I found both the My Fortress app and something called Fortress Total Security. I asked customer support, and they told me that My Fortress is the way to go- that’s the app I’m talking about today.
The My Fortress app allows you to arm or disarm your system, control all connected devices, get push notifications regarding your home’s security, change your system’s settings, and review a record of your home’s activity.
Let’s be honest: it’s much easier to look at your phone than it is to pretty much anything else. When it comes to your security system, you want an app that’s dependable, that instantly connects to all of your sensors, and that’s super simple to navigate.
What do customers think of the My Fortress app?
Strangely, the My Fortress app does not have a rating on the Apple store. I see that the Fortress Total Security app has a 1.8 out of five star review, with the large majority of the reviews at one star. The lack of ratings on the My Fortress app coupled with the negative ratings on the Fortress Total Security app do not inspire confidence in me.
The My Fortress app fared slightly better on the Google Play Store, with an overall score of 2.6 out of five stars. Many people complained that the app had issues connecting to the servers, and that the app itself freezes and crashes constantly. Seems like that’s something Fortress needs to work on.
Recap of the Fortress Security System
Okay, so clearly Fortress’ security system is a mixed bag. They did have some good aspects, like:
- Two-way audio
- Gas leakage detector
- Glass break sensor can tell when someone tries to smash glass, even if they don’t succeed
- Local storage
- RFID keytags
However, there were definitely a lot of negatives, including:
- 720p HD camera
- Camera has no zoom/ pan
- No cloud storage
- No smart platform integrations or artificial intelligence features
- Professional monitoring has connectivity issues and makes you sign a one-year contract
- Unknowledgeable customer support
- Buggy app
- No video doorbell
Of course, we all have different personal preferences, so the decision is all yours. If Fortress doesn’t sound like the right security system for you, check out the best security systems of 2019.