When looking to secure your home you want a home security system that is reliable to protect your home, valuables and family even on a tight budget. Otherwise it doesn’t make it worth it whatever the good deal you got on your system.
There are a lot new products coming on to the market promising to reduce the cost of home security and make it affordable for those that can’t afford to have a professionally installed wireless or wired monitored system. Many of them you can work with a Smart Phone App.
As I looked at them it became apparent that the down side on these is you get very few sensors making them more suitable for small apartments rather than houses. This means you need to buy more sensors for decent coverage of a home and end up spending more than $200 which defeats the purpose really. They also seem to have a number of bugs they are still working through with frequent software updates.
In compiling my list of the best systems under $200 I looked for systems that could give you a good coverage of your doors and windows, include motion sensors and they contact your phone over a landline or VOIP. The best systems that use the cellular phone networks were unfortunately too expensive.
I’ve spent a number of hours working through the systems available. I’ve read 100’s of reviews, checked their manuals, asked questions of the suppliers and gone through the specifications to get a good full understanding of how each one works and determine if it does meet the criteria for securing a home reliably for less than $200.
I compiled the results of my investigation into a spreadsheet so I could compare the systems side by side to help in the decision of the best systems.
All of the systems in the list can only send notifications of an incident using a landline or VOIP and they can contact a Smart Phone (you just can’t control the system with an App- it’s like using a landline to call a cell phone).
The control panels are powered by the power supply and come with back up batteries in case of power outage. The wireless sensors all use batteries and they can be sourced easily.
These systems could be used by renters and in apartments because they do little or no damage to the building as they can be attached using double-back tape and they are portable. There is no drilling into the walls as you get with wired systems. See my apartment best of post here.
You can add more sensors if you want including smoke detectors and water detectors. These can be added piecemeal as you want and can afford it for more comprehensive coverage
My top 2 picks are from PiSector and Fortress (see here for a detailed comparison) and they are similar systems with the PiSector being a later model than the Fortress system. Although both are good at customer service I chose Fortress as number as they do have a better customer service reputation for helping out if there is a problem.
On To The Best Of List
This system comes with 10 door/window contacts, 3 motion sensors, loud internal and external alarms, 3 remote key fobs and 1 panic button. In the event of a security incident as well as sounding the sirens it will phone up to 6 phone numbers and playback a 10 second recorded message. The system is wireless and can be installed in less than 2 hours. It is pre-programmed to work out of the box so there is minimal set up required – you input the phone numbers and record the message.
You can phone into the system to arm/disarm it, you can listen in to the room and speak into the room via the speaker in the control panel. You can take this system with you if you move. You get coverage of 10 major entry points on the ground floor, motion sensors for 2 ground floor rooms plus one to monitor bedroom access to detect any intruders. Read my full review here
It comes with the same number of components as the S02-B above. They are more modern looking and don’t have little aerials showing. You get the same amount of coverage of the ground floor and the bedroom access of your home. In addition the motion sensors are pet immune. They ignore pets that weigh under 50 lbs. This means there will be less false alarms caused by pets moving about the house when system is armed in away mode.
You can schedule the system as to when it is armed or disarmed.
The sirens are loud and hopefully this may be enough to get the intruder to leave as they don’t like to be noticed. At the same time the sirens sound the system contacts the numbers programmed in and plays back the recorded 10 second message and the name of sensor triggered. You can also phone the system to listen in to you r home and arm/disarm remotely. Check my complete review here.
This system comes with 2 door/window contacts, 1 motion sensor and 1 key fob, but you can upgrade to the SC-2200 and get 8 door/window contacts, 2 motion sensor and 2 key fob remotes for under $200. They do look old-fashioned and the door/window contacts can be tricky to install on curved frames. It does come pre-programmed so you just need to add in your phone numbers and record your message to have it set up.
The control panel and the auto-dialler are separate so even if the control panel is destroyed the notifications can get out. You can record up to a 40 second message for it to playback when it contacts you and up to 8 other people.
You can change the sensitivity of the motion sensors so that they can be immune to pets.
If you have children or have visitors you can give them a secondary pass code that allows them to arm/disarm the system as needed. You are able to add up to a total of 30 sensors including environmental sensors.
Read my comprehensive review here
These 3 systems are basic but do give you good level of coverage and are affordably priced. They are suited for those who don’t want to break the bank buying an alarm system but want a reliable system.
You do need to be prepared to monitor the system yourself. You may be (unlikely) able to get a third party monitoring company to monitor but they will charge a monthly fee. If monitoring is important to you should take a look at Simplisafe it isn’t under $200 but monitoring cost is reasonable and you own the system outright and can cancel the monitoring at any time without a penalty.
You can’t add cameras to any of these systems but can be used in conjunction with monitoring cameras such as Dropcam Pro. You can have these home security systems notify you and then take a look at what is happening using the camera to assess the situation.
These systems are all wireless and come designed to working out of the box. You don’t need to be a technician or electrician to install these systems buy they are made for a DIY installation.
These systems are for people who are prepared to self-monitor and install themselves and understand the risks of self-monitoring. They need to have a landline or VOIP if they want notifications (they can be used without they just sound the siren) and want to be able to remotely control the system. They aren’t monitored using an App, nor can they integrated as part of home automation nor can then a camera integrated.
Instead you want the peace of mind you can get from a system that is reliable, gives good coverage of the entry points and rooms at an affordable price under $200.
Filed under: Buying Advice
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!