PiSector and Fortress offer similar (and the same in some cases) DIY home security systems which can be confusing when deciding to purchase one of their alarm kits. It also seems the 2 companies don’t get on because of this similarity, as they struggle to differentiate their offering from each other.
It appears to me that the companies are buying the same components from a supplier in China and building up their packages. Overall the systems from both companies get good reviews and they both give good to excellent customer service. Even though the products are similar (or the same) there are differences in service and help.
PiSector have 4 main ranges of alarm systems available. They are all wireless systems that are designed to installed by the customer and self-monitored. Their GSM and the GS08 series of home alarms can contact you over the cellular network as well as over your landline with the purchase of a SIM card and cellular plan. Their other 2 ranges – PS03 and S02 can contact you over your landline or VOIP when there is an incident. The PiSector PS03-M Professional Wireless Home Security System Kit is the most popular of their systems and I’ve written a full review here. From their GS08 range I have reviewed their GS08-M 4G Cellular GSM Wireless Security Alarm System – my review is here
Fortress Security Store have 2 main ranges. They are both DIY wireless security systems that you self-monitor. They are both well regarded systems. These 2 ranges are the GSM and S02 and are similar to that supplied by PiSector. From the GSM range I’ve reviewed the Fortress Security Store GSM-B Wireless Cellular Home Alarm Sysstem Kit where the system can contact you using the 2G or 3G cellular network. It can also notify using a landline or VOIP line. You can read it here.
The S02 range uses either a landline or VOIP for monitoring by the customer. You have a choice of different packages that provide you with a number of options in the number of sensors you get when you purchase the system. I have reviewed the Fortress Security Store S02-B Wireless Home Alarm System Kit in detail which you can read about here.
For this comparison of Fortress and PiSector I’m going to use the 4 systems I’ve looked at in detail to give an insight to how they compare. As I review more of their products I will add to my comparison table and description.
All 4 systems I’ve reviewed are easy to install and don’t need too much in the way of technical of DIY skills. They all communicate wirelessly so there is no need run cables through your walls to get the sensors to talk with the control panel.
They come pre-programmed to work out the box and most times they do that very well. If there are any issues the support from the companies will help you to work through any issues.
The only component that can be a bit involved to install is the external siren. This needs to be installed near an AC socket – the power cord supplied is about 5 feet long, so you may need to have a power source installed near where you want the siren to be located.
All the hardware – screws and double back tape – are included in the box. The tape supplied by Fortress is up to the job now and works in most circumstances, however the same cannot be said for that supplied by PiSector and if you go for one of their systems be prepared to buy your own tape or use screws or glue to attach the sensors to the doors and windows.
The other area that Fortress Security Store is ahead of Pisector is in the installation instructions and videos. The installation manual supplied by Fortress now does a good job at explaining what is needed to install the system and there are plenty of videos available online to demonstrate how to set up the systems to make calls and to modify the system set up if you want. The PiSector manual is brief and not as easy to follow (some customers do find it very difficult to follow) and there are not as many videos to help with the set up.
The internet is not required in the set up process as the systems work independently of the internet but if you require the manual or want to watch the videos you will need the internet to view these.
Both companies have very good customer support reputations. They stand by their products and help customers with their issues. My experience with both of them, when I asked them questions, was that they were quick and provided complete answers. It appears to me that on the whole Fortress is more responsive and there are fewer issues with them missing messages and calls – however as I opened the paragraph both companies score highly with customer service overall.
Fortress do offer a longer manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years to PiSector’s 1 year warranty. The money back period is also longer from Fortress at 45 days versus PiSectors of 30 days.
Both companies office hours are Monday to Friday with Fortress offering longer hours of 8.00 am to 5.00 pm Pacific Time and PiSector’s being 10.00 am to 5.00 pm Eastern Time. Missing from both companies is out of hours support when most people are likely to be needing help.
Third Party Monitoring
Both PiSector and Fortress systems are designed to be self monitored, that is you monitor them personally and do not involve a professional monitoring company. This avoids ongoing fees but means you need your phone with you at all times so you can take the call when there is an incident and call emergency services as required.
When I contacted Fortress they said that it was not possible to use a third party monitoring service with this system. PiSector say you can use one that uses ADEMCO standard but you need to arrange that yourself. They do not suggest any providers of the service.
If you are considering a third party monitored system and want one that you pay by the month rather than being locked into a long term contract then Simplisafe is a great option – you can read the full review here
Cost and Features Comparison
As discussed in the opening paragraphs the comparison I’m doing is limited to the 3 kits I’ve reviewed so far.
In terms of features for the price the PiSector PS03-M provides you with pet sensitive motion detectors for a similar price as the Fortress S02-B kit which has standard motion sensors (pet immune sensors cost $5 more each than standard ones) meaning it would cost $15 more (on this estimate) to buy. For this you get a system that can have more components added to the system.
The GSM-B system is more expensive than the other 2 alarm kits. It was approximately $70 more when I checked for this comparison review. This extra provides you with the ability to add a SIM card (bought separately) to connect to a cellular network. The other 2 systems can only contact you over a landline or VOIP. If you don’t have a landline this can work out a cost effective way to be able to monitor and receive notification from your system.
The table below compares the features of the 3 alarm packages.
|Feature||PiSector PS03-M||PiSector GS08-M||Fortress S02-B||Fortress GSM-B|
|Communication||Landline or VOIP||Cellular|
Landline or VOIP
|Landline or VOIP||Cellular
Landline or VOIP
|Contract for Monitoring||No||No||No||No|
|Ongoing Fees||No if have landline or VOIP||Yes for SIM Card||No if have landline or VOIP||Yes for SIM Card|
|Environmental Sensors||Yes - can be added||Yes - can be added||Yes - can be added||Yes - can be added|
|Remote monitoring||Limited with phone||Limited with phone||Limited with phone||Limited with phone|
|Can add cameras||No||No||No||No|
|Max Sensors/Devices Can be|
|50||50||99||99 and 8 remotes|
(Wireless standard for home automation)
|Return period/money back||30 days||30 days||45 days||45 days|
|Manufacturers Warranty||1 year||1 year||3 years||3 years|
|Wireless Coverage||Up to 300 ft||Up to 300 ft||150 ft||150 ft|
|DIY - 2 hours||DIY - 2 hours||DIY - 2 hours||DIY - 2 hours|
|Panic button||1 and on key fobs and control panel||1 and on key fobs and control panel||1 and on key fobs||1 and on key fobs|
|Entry Delay||45 seconds but can be changed||45 seconds but can be changed||Immediate but can be changed||60 sec|
|Exit Delay||45 seconds but can be changed||45 seconds but can be changed||Immediate but can be changed||40 sec|
|Power Backup||Yes - 6 hours||Yes - 6 hours||Yes - 72 hours||Yes - 72 hours|
|Motion Sensors||3 - Pet Sensitive||3 - Pet Sensitive||3||3|
|Siren - Loudness/Type||Internal|
|Price||$100 - 200||$200 - 300||$100 - 200||$200 - 300|
|Review||Read more||Read more||Yes - Read more||Yes - Read more|
There are no contracted ongoing costs for the systems. You buy them outright. These systems are self monitored so you are not paying for the monitoring to be done by a third party thereby eliminating a long term contract that may be rolled over at the end of the contracted period (automatically at a higher cost per month).
There are some ongoing costs for replacing batteries as they run out of charge. The costs for this should be similar for all systems.
The only difference for ongoing costs is for the GS08 & GSM-B system. This is for the cost of the SIM card and the cellular plan you need to enable the system to dial out over a cellular network which is around $100 per year for the plans recommended or althernatively you can try Alarmsim.com for what looks on the face of it to be a good deal.
The other 2 systems use VOIP or landline only so if you have these there will be no additional annual costs.
Protection against being disarmed
If there is a power outage the systems will continue to work for a number of hours as the sensors are battery powered and the control panels have a back up battery. The Fortress battery backup is expected to give coverage for up to 3 days and PiSector for the PS03-M is 6 hours.
However, the sirens will not sound as they are powered by the house supply. The systems will still contact the numbers programmed into them.
The GSM-B model can use the cellular network when a SIM card is purchased separately so the cutting of landline does not stop the notifications going out to the phone numbers as it would with the other 2 systems.
All these systems can be monitored remotely by your phone, They can contact your cell phone or landline and you can phone your system. You can listen into what is happening at home and speak to whoever is in your home through the speaker phone as well as arm or disarm the system remotely.
You cannot control the systems using a smartphone app – your monitoring and control of the system is using technology from before smartphones were in general use but still do a good job of sending out notifications. The systems give you a good basic control of your system from afar.
You can input up to 6 phone numbers into the systems for them to contact in a cycle when there is an incident. They playback a 10 second message you record when you set up the system. The PiSector PS03-M system will let you know the sensor that triggered the event (the other 2 do not). If you are using a surveillance system this can help in determining if it is a real alarm or not by pinpointing where the breach occurred.
The Fortress GSM-B & PiSector GS08 can dial out using either a landline or VOIP (as can the other systems reviewed) or they can use a cellular network if you buy a SIM card and pay for the service, plus it can send a text to up to 3 phones. As many people no longer have a landline this can be a good way to go rather than installing a landline or using VOIP. It also means the system can get a message out even if the telephone line is cut. PiSector GS08 is a new model than the Fortress system and supports 4G, 3G & 2G networks whereas Fortress support 2g & 3g only. The 2G network is maybe turned off in 2016 by the phone companies and I assume at some stage they’ll stop supporting 3G but I’ve not seen any dates mentioned.
As all these systems are designed to be self monitored you are unlikely to get much of a discount on your home owners insurance – the most you may be able to get from an insurer is up to 5% but this is very much on a case by case basis and you need to check with your insurer.
Both companies give you the option to add more components to the system as you want. With the Fortress kits you can add up to a total of 99 sensors (including those that are included in the package) and for the PiSector kit you can have a total of 50.
Both companies have a wide range of environmental sensors that can be added to the systems including smoke, water, CO2 detector, heat and more.
They both do not have any home automation components like timed lights or locks at this time that can be included in the system. Nor are they compatible with the home automation standards Zigbee or Z-wave, s o you can’t add third party components.
Pets and Motion Sensors
You get motion sensors with each of the kits which give you good starting point for covering a couple of rooms downstairs and the entry way to the bedrooms.
The Pistector PS03-M & GS08-M package motion sensors are pet sensitive. They ignore pets that weigh under 50lbs. This means you can set the alarm system when you are away from home and your pets (under 50 lbs) can roam freely through your home without setting it off resulting in a false alarm.
The Fortress kits reviewed on this site don’t include pet immune sensors but you can buy them separately or choose a different package but they do cost more and are rated to ignore pets weighing less than 35 lbs.
These 2 companies offer very similar products (if not the same). Fortress charges more for their products than PiSector. But Fortress provides a better level of customer service and their instructions for installation and set up are clearer and easier to follow making the experience more satisfying.
If you don’t need support or can interpret the instructions then PiSector is a good option. However, if you want support and a better experience overall with less complication then paying the extra is worth it and Fortress Security Store is the best option for peace of mind with a DIY unmonitored home security system.
Filed under: Buying Advice
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