Protect America offers five different home security packages and a sixth business package. The equipment does not vary widely among the packages. The devil, however, as they say, is in the details. The packages may seem simple, but things like landline only, cellular and other decisions can add to the advertised price.
It is important to decide exactly what you need before you get locked into a three-year contract with costly penalties for cancelation. Protect America has salesmen to help you choose. Sometimes it is beneficial to think about your needs before having that conversation with someone likely on commission.
The Protect America packages have some basic equipment, but it is very likely that many homeowners will want additional sensors, detectors or Z-Wave devices.
The process of choosing does not have to be complicated. You just need to understand exactly what Protect America offers, the upgrades or additions and their costs. You need to conduct a cost-benefit and risk analysis of your home and family needs. Only then can you make an informed decision about which Protect America package and possible upgrades/additions are best for you. Otherwise, you may realize too late that you have overbought or may need to spend more to get the security you need for your family.
Protect America Packages
After reading the overview article on Protect America, you probably realize that the only real difference among each of the five home security packages is the number of door and window sensors. Here is the breakdown again by price and number of door and window sensors:
- Cooper Package, three sensors, $19.99
- Bronze, six sensors, $35.99
- Silver, nine sensors, $37.99
- Gold, eleven sensors, $42.99
- Platinum, fourteen sensors, $47.99
All packages come with a motion sensor.
Remember that the sensors are the essential components that secure your home. You can buy more, but you will pay out of pocket. The sensors that come with the packages are free as long as you do not cancel the monitoring during the three-year term.
Communication Service Add-ons
The packages are not the only decision you need to make before choosing a package. The prices quoted may not be all you must pay.
The prices quoted provide communication through landline only. This works well but somewhat limits the usefulness of the system.
Most people today have smartphones. The apps for smartphones have expanded the way people use telephones today. There are apps to control TVs, turn your phone into a flashlight, stream videos and perform other tasks.
A rising percentage of homeowners do not have landline phones anymore. Many rely exclusively on wireless or cell phones.
If you opt for landline only, you will not be able to take advantage of the free Protect America app that lets you manage your home security system through your phone. If you plan on switching to cell phone service only in the future, you will have to change your home security plan and module also.
Finally, landline connection makes it simple for any would-be thief to disable the system. By cutting the phone lines, your system is off-line. If the phones go out during a storm, you also lose communications with your monitoring center.
Protect America offers broadband and cellular connection in addition to landline but charges $5 more per month for this type of connection.
Sensor Choice and Package
If you have a small apartment with limited access and live in a relatively low-crime area, the copper package may work for you. The three door and window sensors and motion detector will likely be enough.
You will still need to decide about landline versus broadband or cellular, but this still makes it relatively inexpensive at $19.99 per month with free equipment.
However, if you have a medium or even a small-sized house or townhouse, you will have to consider a more expensive package to adequately protect the residence.
Consider the “Business” Package
Even though Protect America packages only provide door and window sensors and a motion detector in addition to the console, review the business package. Protect America has a business package that, in addition to two door and window sensors, includes a camera and a break glass sensor. The price of the business package is less than the gold or platinum package with cellular.
Cost-Benefit and Risk Assessment Analyses
There is an easy way to educate yourself and determine the best system for your needs. By following a few simple steps, you can save time and money. Taking the time to organize yourself will be much more cost effective manner. You will be armed with all the necessary information so that you do not make any costly errors before signing that contract.
Step 1: Consider Your Residence’s Sensor Requirements
The type of residence you are protecting is the first thing to consider before buying a package. A third-floor apartment or condo may only have one entrance, with no accessible windows. This limits the number of sensors you may need.
Most homes have at least three entrances: front door, back door, and garage door. It is almost certain too that there will be at least five or six, probably more, windows on the first floor that are accessible. If it is a two-story home, you may have at least one access point that someone could enter by climbing on a porch roof or using a shed or railing.
On average then, single family dwellings will probably want at least nine sensors to provide basic coverage at all access points. This means you must opt for the silver, gold or platinum package if you do not want to pay extra for equipment. This brings the cost up to at least $37.99 for landline connectivity only.
Keep in mind that the systems are portable as well as easy to install. If you plan on moving anytime soon, you can always take the equipment with you and purchase more equipment to cover your new residence if necessary.
Finally, always remember that you are signing a three-year contract that can cost you a fairly hefty sum if you want to cancel.
Step 2: Assess the Risk and Do a Simple Cost/Benefit Analysis
Assessing the actual risk can also help you determine the type of system best for you and possibly save you money. Most people know their neighborhoods and the types of crime that can occur. If you live in the inner city, you probably need a more robust system with all the doors and windows and possible access points alarmed. Living in the suburbs usually means less risk of a robbed or burglarized.
High-risk areas require closer attention to how you security your home. In a high-risk zone, you may want to consider using window, break glass and motion detectors to secure accessible window areas. You also would not want to risk having a landline system only and would want something that a thief could not as easily disable.
For lower risk neighborhoods, redundancy and accounting for all contingencies are critical components of a security plan. An apartment in a low-risk area probably only needs a few sensors to provide adequate protection. A home in the low-risk suburbs also may only require security on the ground floor.
However, part of the risk assessment always includes peace of mind. Safe neighborhoods have crime too. You may find that despite the statistics, your do not want to risk being the exception. You may have exceptionally valuable antiques or other items that, despite the low-risk area, could be a magnet for criminals.
Thinking about your personal situation prior to deciding on a home security system will help you, at the very least, know why you should purchase the platinum system instead of the copper.
Step 3: Think about Communications and Use of Technology
As mentioned, many people do not even use landlines anymore. If you are a smartphone user, chances are too that you use your smartphone apps to accomplish various tasks or to make those tasks easier.
This argues for considering expending the additional $5 per month and using cellular service. The Protect America smartphone app is free and lets you do anything that you can do manually using the Simon XT panels provided, but remotely. The added convenience of this for most people will make the extra charge worth it.
If both parents work, and you have children coming and going to school, you also may want to consider having cellular and broadband service. Many twelve-year-old boys and girls are more tech savvy than their parents are. They will more likely use a smartphone to arm or disarm a home security system than remember to use a console.
Think about smart home technology too. If you like the idea of using the Z-Wave functions with door locks, thermostats or appliances, then you want the upgraded communications. Getting the most out of Z-Wave components usually requires remote access. You will want to change thermostat settings, perhaps open or lock doors and view any camera video feeds when you are away from your home.
Step 4: Consider Purchasing Additional Components
Protect America packages come with all the necessary sensors and other components you need for a basic home or apartment setup. You may want to consider spending more money for some additional sensors that may allow you to contract for a cheaper package but give you better coverage.
May homes have backs on windows that look out over a garden or backyard. Some may have six or seven windows in a row. Thieves can break a window without activating a sensor too.
Buying a motion detector or a glass break sensor can take the place of several door and window sensors. From a risk analysis point of view, these sorts of sensors provide better protection also. The GE break glass sensors will give 360° coverage up to about fifteen feet. This means that even an entire wall of windows or large plate glass areas can be protected with just one sensor.
Using a motion detector in conjunction with the plate glass will give you the additional peace of mind in case someone leaves a window unlocked.
Buying these two components, some as inexpensive as $60 or less each, can take the place of a half dozen or more door and window sensors.
Hence, by spending an extra $120 or more, you can save at least twice, probably three or four times more than that by the savings you realize monthly over the three-year contract period.
Step 5: Consider the Need for Additional Equipment
Once you have done all the steps above, think about the need for additional equipment. You may have a flooding problem in your area. In the northern climates, a freeze or temperature sensor may be something additional that would improve the usability of your system. A disaster sensor may also be something to consider since all three functions, freeze, heat, and flood, are combined in one component.
Don’t forget about smoke and carbon monoxide detectors either. Networking your smoke detectors to your home security system improves the safety posture of your home also.
Cameras have become a very popular item for home security systems. Remember that you will need an internet connection and, unless the location of the camera is only a few feet away from your LAN, home wireless.
Finally, think about possible smart home appliance needs. Using a smart home thermostat has proven to lower home utility bills by a significant amount. The use of smart home lighting is an easy and cost effective way to deter thieves.
Taking the time to think about your personal home security needs will save you worry and money. First-time purchasers in particular need to be prudent in their package selections. It will likely cost you more to upgrade that it would if you make the right choice from the start. It will cost you more to downgrade given the contract cancelation penalties.
Following these steps before you purchase your package will give you peace of mind. You will not second-guess yourself, and you can be confident that you are making the right choice. Learn more about the security system by reading my Protect America reviews.