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That’s not to say there weren’t annoyances — which can become major sore points if you’re interacting with your system every time you leave the house. LiveWatch’s piercing, impossible to mute beeps drew complaints from one tester, as did Link Interactive’s inaccurate digital display. Others, like Vivint and ADT, were easier to incorporate unobtrusively into our daily routines. The majority of home security companies recommend or require you to call when ordering your service. We recommend this as well, because regardless of whether calling beforehand is required, having an attentive lineup of customer service comes in handy, especially when self installing or encountering difficulty with the system. You can often get a lower price by discussing your quote with a salesperson. Sometimes home security systems require an installation fee, equipment fees, or an activation fee. It’s quite common that special deals can waive or lower those. In fact, sales reps from eight of the nine security companies we considered offered us a discount over the phone — we didn’t even have to ask. If you decide that home automation is an important part of your home security, it’s a good idea to research home automation protocols to learn which one will work best for you. As we touched on above, a protocol is the language smart devices use to communicate with each other, and it serves as the foundation on which a home automation system is built.

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For basic home security options, you can get the Iris Security Pack and the Iris Smart Hub. This isn't a combined kit like other systems we tested, but Lowe's sometimes includes the Smart Hub as a bonus item at no cost. Even at full price, the Security Pack and Smart Hub are less expensive than the competition. Iris has three no contract service plans: basic, premium and professional monitoring. The basic plan is free, gives you control over your system and sends alerts to your smartphone when the alarm goes off. The premium plan $9. 99/month expands the basic plan controls and adds video storage. The professional monitoring plan $14. 95/month adds cellular backup and links your home to a certified monitoring station that can send emergency responders to your home. This professional monitoring plan is the cheapest among the systems we tested, tied with SimpliSafe. For cellular backup, you need to buy a modem that plugs into the Smart Hub.