Review of Frontpoint Home Security System

Summary: Frontpoint is a do-it-yourself home security system that has a wide range of accessories and it is easy to install. It works fine but it is more expensive than other home security systems and it requires a monitoring contract. 

Advantages:

  • It is easy to set up.
  • It has responsive sensors.
  • It has a broad range of accessories.

Disadvantages:

  • It requires a one- or three-year contract.
  • It has expensive accessories and monitoring plans.
  • It requires a high-end plan to view recorded and live videos.

DIY home security systems like the iSmartAlarm and the Smanos W020i are affordable ways of securing your home. But you need to monitor your home yourself and call the appropriate authorities whenever an alarm is set off. Full systems from Vivint and ADT are monitored and installed professionally. But they are expensive and require you to subscribe to long contracts. The Frontpoint Home Security System provides a balance between DIY and full-blown systems. You install the system yourself and the company monitors the system for you round-the-clock. The system can be used to control home automation devices but the accessories and the monitoring plans cost more than that for similar systems like SimpliSafe. You must also commit to a one- or three-year contract.

Plans

There are three customizable hardware packages and there are three monitoring plans. The base plan is Protection monitoring and it costs $34.99 monthly. It includes life safety or medical, intrusion protection, fire and environmental (water and freeze) protection with round-the-clock monitoring. The Interactive plan costs $49.99 monthly and it adds extra support for smash and crash protection, image sensors, geolocation services, lighting control, smartphone remote control and email and text alerts. The Ultimate plan includes some added things like thermostats and cameras. This gives you everything in the Interactive plan and it adds support for door lock control, support for live video streaming, thermostat control and motion activated video recording.

The three packages can be customized a lot. The Secure package is the base package and it gives you hardware worth $435. These includes four window/door sensors, a yard sign, four window decals, a Simon XT control panel and a motion sensor. If you order for this, it will cost you $99.99 with a three-year monitoring contract. If you decide to go with a one-year contract, the price increases to $374. The Secure Plus package gives you a glass break sensor and costs $149.99 with a three-year plan and $424 with a one-year plan. The Professional package will give you an indoor camera and a 7-inch touchscreen control panel instead of the Simon panel. The touchscreen control panel is the same one used in the LiveWatch Plug & Protect IQ 2.0. It costs $449 with a three-year plan and $694 with a one-year plan.

If you opt for a base system of one motion detector, three window/door sensors and a touch-screen panel. The Frontpoint panel costs $1809.66 over a three-year contract. This means it is arguably the most expensive DIY home security system available. A similar package from Protect America costs $1511 while a similar package from LiveWatch costs $1160. Vivint is quite expensive at $1997 for the same thing but you get a professional system with Vivint.

There are a broad range of Wi-Fi and Z-Wave accessories. The prices of Frontpoint home security systems are not as high as that of Protect America but they are not as affordable as SimpliSafe’s system. A smoke and heat sensor from Frontpoint costs $64.99. A similar sensor from Protect America costs $99 while SimpliSafe sells it for $29.99. Door/window sensors from Frontpoint cost $32.99. These costs $29 from LiveWatch and SimpliSafe gives you that sensor at the cost of $14.99.

Other compatible devices include a keychain remote that costs $29.99, a flood/water sensor for $49.99, an image sensor for $89.99, a panic pendant for $39.99 and an outdoor camera for $299.99. The system is compatible with the SkyBell video doorbell which costs $189.99 from FrontPoint. Other third party Z-Wave devices can be paired but they must be supported by alarm.com and they must be activated on Frontpoint’s end.

Feature and Design

The control panel is the nerve of the system. It comes with a 7-inch full-color screen touchscreen and it connects to Frontpoint using a cellular connection. The control panel has a 91dB siren, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi radios and a round-the-clock battery backup. The panel measures 6.0 by 8.5 by 1.5 inches. It has a camera at the front that captures images when the system is disarmed and an SD card slot at the left side of the system. This is just like the LiveWatch IQ 2.0 panel. From the panel, the system can be armed and disarmed, sensor status can be viewed, the weather can be checked, images can be viewed from the camera and image sensors and home automation devices like lights, door locks and thermostats can be controlled. The settings menu can also be accessed from where new devices can be added, system tests can be run, users can be added, sensor names can be edited and the panel can be configured as a photo frame when idle.

The system can be controlled with an iOS or Android mobile app or a Web-based console. All these are powered by Alarm.com and they are easy to navigate. The mobile app doesn’t support creation of home automation rules. You have to use the Web portal to do that.

The mobile app has a home page that displays the system status, the most recent snapshot taken, sensor alerts, the most recent snapshot image taken and a list of home automation devices that are installed. If you want to arm the system, you tap the status icon and select Arm Stay or Arm Away. Arm Stay arms all window and door sensors while Arm Away arms every single sensor.

The clock icon in the top right corner of the screen displays a history of events which includes arm and disarm times plus alarm triggers. It also displays door openings, Web console login attempts and image uploads. If you tap the three-bar icon at the top left corner, you get a list of tabs where you can jump to the status page, view images and control connected lighting devices. The notifications tab brings you to a screen where you can enable push notifications and add notification rules like sending notifications when the front door is left open for a period of time. There is a Geo-Services feature that allows you use your phone location to trigger rules like setting a reminder to arm a system when the phone crosses a geofence border.

Rules can be created for home automation devices like lights, thermostats and video cameras. All these have to be set up at the Automations tab in the Web portal. You can also do things like having the light come on at certain periods or when some sensors are triggered, or even have the camera record a video when doors are opened.

Performance and Installation

The Web-based instructions from Frontpoint will take you through the installation process. Installation is fast and easy to use. When you open the box, you get a personalized card with an individual code number and instructions to visit the Frontpoint’s website using a browser. Once you enter your code and the URL, your account data will be downloaded and you will be prompted to check your boxes to ensure that everything is in there. Then you place the panel in a central location, plug it in and confirm your address and a pre-dispatch contract address you provided to Frontpoint during the phone order. Then you get a screen that asks for a password that will be used to access the mobile app and Web portal. The panel takes about ten seconds to connect and then you will be prompted to enter a Master code which is used to disarm and arm the system. You will also be prompted to enter additional User Codes for friends and family members. After that, you then configure Wi-Fi settings for software updates.

Then, it is time to install and name the sensors. They have all been pre-paired and labeled at the factory. Every sensor screen has detailed instructions on how to install them along with drilling instructions for recessed door sensors and where and how to place window and door sensors. The sensors are already pre-paired so you have to follow the instructions to test each one. After five minutes, you will be done with testing and you will be prompted to activate the system. Now, you can decide to put the system into a Non-Emergency Response Mode which lets you get familiar with how it works without calling the authorities. Training is the final step and it includes a video that shows you how the system can be used.

The system worked just as it was advertised and responded immediately a sensor was triggered. The siren was loud and could be heard throughout the home. The system reacts immediately to commands that disarm and arm the system either through the keychain remote, panel or smartphone.

An automation rule to have the light switch turn on whenever the recessed door sensor was triggered worked perfectly well. Image sensors worked fine taking snapshots whenever there was a motion around it. The photo quality of the images was a bit soft but it is enough to identify those walking around the home. The water sensor worked fine and it triggered an alarm whenever it contacted moisture.

Conclusion

The Frontpoint home security system is a good DIY system that gives you flexibility as regards contract terms but you will need to pay a lot of money upfront for a one-year plan which is more than you will for a three-year plan. There are various monitoring plans that you can select from. You can customize your order and select the exact thing you need to protect your home from fire, floods and outside intruders. The installation is easy and the system is responsive. The system is powered by Alarm.com just like the LiveWatch Plug & Protect IQ 2.0. Its touchscreen panel is bigger and easier to use than the one that comes from Protect America.

Add-on devices are quite expensive and the cost of the system over a three-year period is costlier than that of its competition. If the Frontpoint home security system is too expensive for you, you can try out a SimpliSafe system. It is more affordable than the Frontpoint system and it doesn’t require a contract. If you want a professionally installed system, you can get the Vivint Sky system but you must commit to a five-year contract. If you stay in a small apartment and you want a portable monitoring system, you can get the LG Smart Security Wireless Camera. You can monitor the activity yourself or you can subscribe to a flexible Canopy round-the-clock monitoring from ADT. This gives you the same kind of emergency dispatch services that you get with a dedicated security system.      

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