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Supplying the best home security system is becoming an increasingly competitive business, which is why it’s always nice to see options like the Protect America Home Security system stick out from the proverbial crowd. Protect America offers up a feature-rich home security system that easily integrates into many of the latest home automation devices that have been released over the past few years. But will those two pluses be enough to get the system a positive score?
Read on in my Protect America Home Security System review to find out!
Price: $19.99 – $42.99/month
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Protect America may not be doing much that’s unique, but what they do offer is still as solid as anything else out there today.
Summary: The Protect America Home Security system makes it easy to get your system up and running in less than an hour, with a stellar mobile app to manage it all from your pocket.
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
The system that we tested from Protect America came with three door/window sensors, one smoke detector, one 720p 30fps wireless night vision-ready camera, a motion detector, wireless key fob, and touch panel. One piece of the puzzle that’s common on most home security systems of this type, yet was conspicuously absent from our configuration options, was any kind of glass break sensors. These are usually small sensors equipped with microphones that listen for the specific frequency of glass breaking, and will set off the alarm if it’s heard in the vicinity. With the window sensors included in the Protect America package, they’ll only sense movement if the window is actually opened. If the glass is broken the two sensors will never move apart, meaning the system won’t go off unless another motion detector or the webcam in your home catches the burglars while the intrusion is already well under way! To install a specialized camera to record at night, read the Piper nv home security system review.
Now, we’ve taken a look at a lot of different home security systems here at Gadget Review over the past few years, and although there are a few standout options like the Scout Alarm system that at least try to maintain some kind of “cool” aesthetic, there’s not a whole lot about the Protect America kit that stands out from a pure design standpoint. Everything is relatively standard for what we’ve seen already, including the flat-white door sensors alongside the flat-white webcam. You won’t be showing off the Protect America system to your friends anytime soon, and if there’s one area we’d wished the system could have taken a progressive step forward, it would be in the implementation of the touch pad. To get a security system that has a flexible motion sensor that can secure hard to reach spots, check out the Scout alarm home security review.
The included webcam streams at up to 720p (recording capabilities sold separately)
We’ve covered our fair share of home security reviews and various setup agents during that time…of all those experiences the one I had with Protect America stands out as one of the best.
This isn’t to say the design of Protect America’s touchpad is objectively any worse than what other touchpads like those on the LiveWatch system or what we saw with Frontpoint, but for a device that is essentially made to take up a substantial footprint in your home, home security touchpads still look and feel like tablets released ten years ago encased in plastic that would look cheap in almost anyone’s home. Not only is this touchpad particularly old-school in its aesthetic, but it’s also so small that it becomes inconvenient to manage most aspects of the experience from anywhere besides your smartphone. Sure, that’s how most people get things done these days anyway, but still we’d like to have a bit more space to stretch our fingers out here, when possible.
The touchpad is smash-and-crash protected (as are every sensor and the webcam attached to the network of devices), and connects either through radio or a broadband connection, depending on the level of subscription you sign up for (more on why your subscription type affects equipment loadouts below).
One slightly unique feature though, which I quite liked, was the addition of small Velcro strips to the window and door sensors. This made it so if for whatever reason you wanted to take them off the window (say during a particularly hot day) but didn’t want the system registering an alarm every 15 seconds, you could simply take the sensors off and stick them together in a cupboard somewhere until you were ready to arm the system properly again. It’s small touches like this that help the Protect America system edge out some of its similarly-equipped competition.
As we mentioned earlier, we’ve covered our fair share of home security reviews by this point, and I could probably fill a room with the number of transcripts it would take to log all the calls I’ve had with various setup agents during that time. This in mind, of all those experiences the one I had with Protect America stands out as one of the best.
Read More: Canary Home Security Review
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. To start the process of setting up the Protect America hardware, first we needed to install the iOS app, which held our hand through every step with the help of a couple cute animations and to-the-point instructions. Even though I’m basically an expert at home security installs at this point, I can tell that even as a layman getting the barebones pieces of the PA system up and running would be a cinch.
…getting connected to every signal being live the entire process took around 45 minutes in total.
Once you’ve got the touchpad turned on and the sensors mounted where you need them, the app gets you connected to an installation representative with the touch of a button. The representative we spoke with was extremely helpful and had great demeanor throughout the call, and from getting connected to every signal being live the entire setup process took around 45 minutes in total.
The mobile app took us all the way through the setup process until we connected to the live rep.Protect America includes the option to integrate with your home automation systems, whether they’re connected through the older standard of Z-Wave devices, or are upgraded to the wave of the future with options like the Amazon Echo. The Echo integration is what really sets PA apart in this category, as they’re one of the very first home security options out there to offer full voice-controlled options that can turn protecting your home into a 100% hands-free experience.
Unfortunately I myself don’t actually own an Echo (if you ask me they’re really just another way for companies to spy on you and sell that data to marketers), but I can still understand how useful being able to arm your home system by voice alone can be in a busy household. Not only can you arm your system though, Protect America also lets you control all those automated system from within the company’s own app, as well.
This includes opening/closing your home’s garage door, controlling the lights, and tuning the temperature on the thermostat. These features are all available on both the iOS and Android versions of the app, and even if the software itself isn’t exactly the prettiest or best-optimized (performance of the app on our iPhone 7 testing device could best be described as “clunky”), the sheer breadth of flexibility offered is enough to make the sale on its own.
Performance ratings on the Protect America system were right up there with what we would expect from any home security system of this type at this price, and in all of our top home security tests the Protect America sensors never once failed to register when being opened or tampered with. The motion sensor also had a 100% accuracy rating, and the included webcam was able to deliver high quality 720p video streamed to the smartphone app in both high and low-light situations.
Every alarm that we attempted to trigger was caught by the 24/7 live-monitoring system and reported properly during the testing phase within minutes, and all aspects of the system worked as advertised once we got into more scheduling and customization deeper in the mobile app.
Our testing scenarios included opening the front door multiple times after arming, as well as lighting a small controlled fire underneath the smoke detector and running past the motion detector at various speeds and heights. Any triggered events are recorded in the “Activity” tab, where you can scroll through various alarms and arm/disarm reports from the past 30 days and beyond.
Unfortunately, if we wanted to get any recorded clips of the action on the webcam we had to add our own SD card, and even then clips couldn’t be recorded automatically. If you want to catch your criminal on video, you first need to be alerted to the scene as it’s in progress, then go to the mobile app and start the recording process manually. You can record as much video as your SD card can hold, but there are no cloud services to back this video up so if the criminals happen to notice the camera and take it with them, you’re plain out of luck.
Read More: Netgear Arlo Q Security Camera Review
Lastly, although this may seem like an odd thing to nitpick, the actual tones the touchpad used to let us know the system was arming or a sensor had been triggered could be grating to the ears (as I’m sure they’re meant to be). Even still, I would have liked to see the option to switch them up to make things a little more pleasant all around when it came to what we head whenever the front door was opened or a window was cracked to let a little air in.
So, everything about the Protect America experience thus far has been great – where could it go wrong? Well, on pricing, for a start.
Look, no one is a fan of signing up for contracts. They ask us to predict a lot about where our lives might end up in six months, a year, or even two. So when we heard that you have to sign up for a minimum three-year contract with Protect America just to get the system running for the first time, you can imagine our level of disappointment.
Then there was the monthly cost to run the system, which by all measures wasn’t anywhere near the cheapest option out there to keep up and running. Here’s how the various plans break down in cost:
Copper – $19.99/mo
Silver – $37.99/mo
Platinum – $42.99/mo
Even if you have a large enough home to accommodate the 14 door and window sensor plan, personally we think the Silver plan offers the best balance of cost to the amount of protection you could reasonably squeeze out of a DIY system of this type. This all in mind, all of the hardware and equipment you get with any plan (including the $19.99 option) is free of cost upfront, which helps to take some of the sting off the final number.
Protect America is an extremely solid DIY home security solution that excels on almost every front, save for a few stumbles in the subscription and contract departments. If you’re someone who is already well on their way to automating most aspects of their home experience – whether that’s changing the thermostat from your pocket or just having the garage door open automatically when you pull into the driveway – the Protect America app and integration network makes it possible to gather your home security and automation solutions all under the roof of a single app.
Its included webcam fed back high quality images and its sensors all netted a 100% detection rate in our tests, but for anyone who’s got a case of contract-phobia, then the required three-year commitment may not be right for you. Other than that though Protect America still runs a tight ship, and has made getting your home security system setup simple to install, and easy to manage all from a single app on your phone.