The Bottom Line
Let’s start with a little background. Protection 1 is a home security company that’s been around since 1988. In 2016, an acquisition led to the merger of Protection 1, ASG Security, and ADT. Of course, the real question is, what does that mean for you? And should you choose Protection 1?
For now, Protection 1 is its own company in that it has its own products and plans. Most of the changes are “operational” in nature, changes you as an end-user might not even see. However, you should know that the plan is to make the companies one, so though you might choose Protection 1 now, that might very well lead to a contract with ADT in the future.
Protection 1 Package and Plan Costs
Protection 1, much like ADT, is mostly sold through a collection of individual dealers. Though dealer service might range in quality, the cost of monitoring should not.
The first level security package is called Secure. Secure offers 24/7 monitoring and protection from intruders using door contact sensors, motion detectors, a yard sign, and window stickers. The package also includes protection from fire, carbon monoxide, and floods. Secure is less expensive than the other options as it’s landline monitoring, which is not something we typically recommend. The other packages, thankfully, offer cellular monitoring.
Though Secure may be the cheapest, Protection 1 recommends Smart Control, and we tend to agree with them. This package includes cellular connectivity, full home automation, mobile app access, and the ability to take snapshots of events using the 2GIG image sensor. At $49.99 per month, the package is competitively priced.
|Price per month||$21.49||$34.99||$44.99||$49.99||$49.99||$54.99|
|Mobile App Access and Control|
|Energy & Home Automation|
|Fire, Carbon Monoxide and Water Protection|
|Cellular Connection||Additional charge for cellular connection.|
|24/7 Monitoring for Intrusions|
|Extra Equipment||1 Additional Motion Sensor||Image Sensor||Indoor Night Vision Camera Included, Image Sensor|
|Installation||Self ($0)||Pro ($99)||Pro ($99)||Self ($0)||Pro ($99)||Pro ($199)|
|Equipment Warranty||90 Days, $11/month to Extend||90 Days, $11/month to Extend||90 Days, $11/month to Extend||3 Years||90 Days, $11/month to Extend||90 Days, $11/month to Extend|
|Contract Length||60 Months||36 Months||36 Months||36 Months||36 Months||36 Months|
|Return Period||14 Days||14 Days||14 Days||30 Day Risk Free Trial||14 Days||14 Days|
Perhaps the most confusing of all the plans is the Self-Install Plan. The plan mimics Secure+ but has a smaller price tag and also eliminates the installation fee. The option is targeted at renters. Unlike homeowners, renters are asked to sign a longer 60-month agreement.
Protection 1’s wireless equipment is designed for self-installation. However, they push in-home visits and in-home installs. And as you can see, there are more options for those willing to pay for professional installation. In general, the installation cost will depend upon the equipment you purchase. With the included equipment, it may be as low as $99, but will increase if you choose to add home security cameras and smart home devices.
Home Security Equipment
All of Protection 1’s monitoring plans include the same base equipment package. And like many of our top companies, Protection 1 uses wireless technology. In fact, they use the same wireless technology as our number two pick, Link Interactive Home Security. Like Link, they use wireless 2GIG equipment including the 2GIG color touchscreen control panel.
Protection 1 uses the GC2 panel. The panel is included with all packages, even Secure. It offers an embedded cellular chip, battery backup, and a Z-Wave radio. It’s also considered an AIO device in that it can connect with and control both home security and smart home devices.
The control panel also allows access to an integrated two-way voice feature which allows Protection 1’s central monitoring station to listen in and talk to you if an emergency signal is received. In addition to two-way voice, the panel supports voice response, which is an entirely different feature. Voice response simply means that the panel will provide verbal feedback as you change system status and to report alarms and emergencies.
Other Connected Sensors
No matter which monitoring plan you choose, it will ship with the basics (a Keypad, three Door Contacts, a Motion Sensor, and a Keychain Remote). If you want more, you can add more; if you’re willing to pay.
Unfortunately, while Protection 1 is forthcoming with their monthly plan pricing, they are not forthcoming when it comes to equipment costs. While Protection 1 is rather secretive about the cost of add-on equipment, users claim extra equipment is expensive. Though we tried several times to obtain this information, they would not provide it without an in-home visit. What they offer is listed below.
Of course, that’s just the basics. They also have an emergency button, FireFighter, freeze sensor, appliance controller, wireless doorbell, and more. It’s safe to say that they have everything you need to protect your property.
Another added cost is equipment protection. All of the packages ship with a limited warranty. During the first ninety days post installation, Protection 1 will repair or replace defective parts. Lack of a longer warranty is a little disappointing, but they do offer continued phone troubleshooting for free. Unfortunately, not everything can be resolved over the phone. If you want hands-on tech support, you’ll need the Extended Service Plan which sells for $11 per month.
If you subscribe to the Extended Service Plan, Protection 1 will replace the limited warranty with a better warranty. Under this plan, your equipment is covered so long as you continue to pay for both the monthly Service Plan and your monthly monitoring plan. The Extended Service Plan is month-to-month and not tied to your home security contract. It automatically renews every 30 days unless you provide written notice 30 days in advance.
Do we recommend the Extended Service Plan? Maybe. It depends on your comfort level and the cost of replacement equipment, which is a figure we do not have. If you run into a situation where your issue can’t be resolved via phone call, your best option is to replace broken equipment. According to online reviews, the replacement cost isn’t always affordable.
Case in point, Andrew’s Yelp review. While I’m not sure that I’m buying that a Key FOB would cost $150, Yelper Andrew E was certainly under the impression that this was the case. If this is true, Protection 1 is charging 5x what most companies charge for the same device.
Protection 1 for Home Automation
Protection 1’s home automation service is separate from ADT Pulse. At this time, the service is powered by Alarm.com.
Control Using the Mobile App
Alarm.com has one of the highest rated mobile apps, and they’ve created apps for multiple device types. They support iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Apple Watch, Pebble, and even the Kindle Fire. If you’re shopping Protection 1, finding the right app might be confusing as they offer four of them. Newer systems with the GoControl! panel will use Alarm.com, while older systems might use the eSmart Security app.
The Alarm.com app allows you control over your system and home automation devices. Through the app, you can remote arm and disarm your system, control locks, watch live footage, control lights, and control the temperature in your home. This level of home automation is included in SmartControl for $49.99 per month, but bumping up to Video ($54.99) will add video surveillance.
All of Protection 1’s home automation features are backed by Geo-Services. Geo-Services, like geofencing, creates smarter rules for home automation that can be used to automatically adjust home lighting, your HVAC, or other accessories based on your location or rather the location of your phone. For example, you can have your thermostat adjust to the perfect temperature when you are within 500 feet of your home or you can setup a mobile alert to remind you to arm your alarm if you’ve left the house without doing so.
In addition to live control and geofencing, Alarm.com supports rules and schedules. Using the app, you can create rules such as ” turn off all lights and my thermostat at 9 AM on weekdays.”
Home Security Cameras and Protection 1’s Doorbell
Though the security system is cellular, the cameras require WiFi with a minimum upload speed of 1MBPS and a minimum download speed of 5MBPS. If you want to add cameras to your home security system and you have sufficient bandwidth, you have three options.
The Alarm.com Image Sensor is essentially a motion sensor with an integrated camera. The camera’s resolution is low, and it cannot take videos, only snapshots. However, as you can use the Image Sensor with the more affordable SmartControl plan ($49.99) versus the Video plan ($54.99), it’s an economical way to add visual alerts.
With the Image Sensor, there isn’t an option to live stream, only the option to check out snapshots taken of security events. If you want true video surveillance, the only option is to subscribe to the Video plan. This plan includes an indoor night vision camera. The indoor camera offers a 720p resolution (25fps), two-way audio, and the ability to check a live feed from anywhere. Though it’s a fine little camera, it’s far from perfect. For starters, it has a somewhat narrow field of view (60°). Second, it has a limited night vision range of around 16 feet. Finally, it’s static. If you want to be able to pan around your house, you will need the indoor pan & tilt camera.
Soon, Protection 1 will launch a new HD pan/tilt camera. What’s interesting about the new camera is that it’s mechanical. When it detects motion, it locks in and follows motion by zooming, panning, and tilting on its base.
If you want to expand your coverage, Protection 1 also sells an outdoor home security camera. The HD Outdoor Camera has 24 infrared LEDs to give it a robust night time performance. At night, it should be able to see up to 65 feet. It also offers an HD resolution (720p) and records at 30fps.
Highlights of Protection 1’s video surveillance solution include:
One interesting thing to note is that Protection 1 only offers video storage for clips. There is no way to record continuously or to record longer video clips. While this isn’t a huge deal, it is something to be aware of.
In the same category, but not related, is doorbell automation. This is not to be confused with a doorbell camera. With the purchase of a wireless doorbell, you can connect doorbell events to your security system. You can set up text alerts or even email alerts to let you know when someone rings your doorbell.
If you want a full-fledged video doorbell, they have one of those too.
Working With Third-Party Products
Thanks to Protection 1’s Alarm.com connection, the system has friends. For starters, you can connect your alarm to the Skybell Video Doorbell. If someone rings your doorbell, you can use the app to see who it is. If you have a connected smart lock, you can unlock the door to let them in.
Second, you can connect your security system to your Alexa-enabled device (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, etc.) using an Alexa Skill. The Skill is rather robust and allows for multiple commands ranging from security-related questions to smart home-related questions. For example, “Alexa, can you disarm my system?” You can also ask Alexa to unlock your front door, close your garage door, record a video clip, and you can ask her to turn your lights on and off.
Protection 1 Customer Service & Support
I think some readers will be surprised that we rated Protection One low on customer support. They have a lot of things going for them like an A+ rating with the BBB that they’ve held for as long as I’ve been doing reviews. They also have a 2014 SSI installer of the year award and an award from SDM. However, we feel that these awards come from Protection 1’s focus on business accounts. In fact, right on their website it says,
“We Provide a Higher Level of Service to Business Customers.”
Business customers get their own phone number and own level of support, and this significantly contributes to the awards and ratings. On the other hand, many of their home security customers claim that they experience difficulty with Protection 1.
Contracts and Policies
Homeowners who want to do business with Protection 1 home security must sign a 36-month agreement. When you do so, you will have 14 days to try the system and to cancel the contract less a $79 restocking fee. After that, be prepared to buy out your contract should you decide to cancel.
Fourteen days is a shorter trial period than our top companies provide, but longer than others like ADT. However, with the merger of ADT and Protection 1 in place, I’m not sure which company’s return policy will win out.
My final word of caution is that Protection 1 isn’t as lenient as other companies should you ever need to relocate. As the system is wireless, it should be as simple as packing up the system and installing it in your new home. However, they’ve added some fine print to their moving policy that makes it seem as though it isn’t so cut and dry. On their website, they promise that when you move, they move. However, the fine print reads,
Offer applies to current Protection 1 customers who have already fulfilled their initial contract terms and have been in good standing at the previous address for a minimum of one year. The customer must own the property they are moving to and sign a three-year monitoring contract at the new location.
All-in-all, Protection 1 has a lot of things going for them, but they fall apart when it comes to creating policies that are clear and 100% in favor of their customers. They also continue to keep information, like equipment pricing, close to the chest.
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