Protect America is a full-featured DIY smart home security system. Completely wireless, it’s a self-installed system from a company with a 25-year track record. Positioning itself between the inexpensive DIY home security systems and the professionally installed solutions, Protect America offers a low-cost solution with an emphasis on customer service. If you’re looking for low to no upfront costs and a simple DIY installation, this is a good option. Starting at $19.99 a month, it’s one of the most affordable monitored services available, although to get that low price you have to sacrifice home automation features and make a $100 down payment.
One of the few companies that offers landline monitoring, it’s ideal for those on a budget who don’t want to sacrifice security. A lifetime equipment warranty and the option to pay a portion upfront to lower your monthly costs are both attractive features, but the 36-month contract, even at a guaranteed locked-in rate, may be a turnoff for those looking for more flexibility.
- Some equipment is free with just the monthly monitoring cost
- Option to pay more upfront to lower monthly costs
- A price match promise means if you find a lower price for the same number of devices Protect America will match it
- Requires three-year contract
- No video streaming or home automation available with the Landline package
- Fire and environmental monitoring are an additional charge
Base price and monthly fees: The base package is $19.99 a month with a $100 down payment or $29.99 a month with no money down. This includes equipment for three doors or windows, a hub, a motion detector and a key fob. It includes landline monitoring only with no home automation features.
The next level is $31.99 a month with $100 down or $41.99 a month with no money down. This includes the same equipment but monitors over cellular/Wi-Fi and includes home automation features access through the SMART Connect Mobile App.
You can customize your package to match the number of doors and windows in your home, and adding equipment or upgrading your hub increases the down payment and/or the monthly fee. Video monitoring is $5 per month per camera, (indoor, outdoor and video doorbell), and fire and environmental monitoring is an extra $9.99 a month (although the equipment is free).
Installation: DIY installation only. Each package comes with the devices preprogrammed to your home, and the company offers guided setup over the phone and through the app.
Plan lock-in: Yes, for three years. Your rate is locked in and the contact renews after three years unless you provide 60 days’ notice of cancellation or desire to go month-to-month.
Equipment warranty: Lifetime warranty while you are still a customer, meaning the company will replace any device that has stopped working.
Return policy: You have 15 days from the date of the equipment shipping to cancel the monthly contract and 30 days from the date of purchase to return additional equipment purchased for a full refund.
Home automation: A large selection of nonproprietary Z-Wave devices, as well as August door locks, Amazon Echos, cameras and fire and smoke protection, are offered.
Is Protect America Smart Home the Right Home Security System For Me?
Most home security systems charge separately for equipment and monitoring. With Protect America, you just pay a monthly fee that includes basic equipment and monitoring. You can add extras to customize your setup and choose to pay more upfront to have a lower monthly payment. This is a good option if you are on a budget and want to find the lowest possible monthly cost.
However, the base price offers very few features beyond basic intrusion security. To get home automation, video monitoring, compatible devices and the ability to control the system remotely, you will pay closer to $54.99 a month, plus upfront costs for some equipment. Pricing is very transparent, however, and you can see exactly what you are going to pay and why during the selection process.
Home automation and video monitoring options are robust, including live video surveillance capabilities provided by indoor and outdoor high definition wireless home security cameras (including video doorbell options), but there are no video analytics offered yet. Cameras feature 720p HD feeds, night vision, secure streaming, event notifications, two-way audio and cloud storage capabilities. The cameras also can use a micro SD card for continuous, locally stored recordings.
While Protect America integrates with all Z-Wave devices, works with Alexa and has a good selection of smart door locks, there is a lack of integration with some of the top home automation brands such as Ring and Nest.
Equipment and Fees
Protect America Equipment Gallery
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What security equipment is available from Protect America?
Protect America doesn’t have standard packages. Instead, all systems are tailored for the customer over the phone or on the website. However, you can start with one of three suggested packages and build from there: Basic (protects three doors and windows), Complete (protects nine doors and windows) and Complete + (protects 14 doors and windows).
These packages all include a Simon XTi 5-inch touch-screen control panel, door/window sensors, a motion detector or glass-break detector, a yard sign, a keychain remote and four door/window stickers. Add additional sensors or choose the more advanced, larger control panel – the IQ2 7-inch – and the monthly rate or upfront fee increases accordingly.
Some equipment needs to be purchased outright, such as indoor video cameras and a video doorbell. An extra monthly fee starting at $5 per camera applies for live video streaming.
All packages require a three-year contract and can be customized by adding components with a monthly or upfront price increase based on the following individual prices:
- Door/window contact sensor: $39
- Motion sensor: $99
- Glass-break detector: $99
- Indoor camera: $99
- Outdoor camera: $149.99
- Skybell video doorbell: $179
- Wireless smoke detector: $99 (If you add the fire/smoke protection, equipment is free and you pay an additional $9.99 a month monitoring.)
- Carbon monoxide detectors: $99 (as above)
- Firefighter sensor: $89.99 (smoke alarm listener)
- Environmental sensor: $69.99 (flood/freeze/temperature)
- Medical alert pendant: $69.99
- Keychain remote: $49
- Mini pin pad: $49
- Garage door controller: $119.99
- August Smart Lock: $239
- Yale Z-Wave touch-screen lock: $279.99
- Kwikset Z-Wave door lock: $159.99 – $189.99
- Alarm.com smart thermostat: $179.99
- GoControl Z-Wave smart thermostat: $99.99
- Amazon Echo Dot: $49.99
- Z-Wave light and appliance module: $79.99
- Z-Wave LED dimmable light bulbs: prices vary
Prices are accurate as of date of publication and are subject to change. Products can be purchased a la carte from Protect America’s website.
What are the monthly monitoring fees?
Protect America offers three tiers of monthly monitoring fees, depending on which technology you want to use. Landline, which requires a standard telephone, is $19.99 per month, and cellular or broadband is $41.99 per month. With landline monitoring, you get a basic security system. Move up to cellular/broadband monitoring options, and home automation features and a smartphone app are included in the price.
With the app and home automation, you can arm/disarm your home security system remotely, receive app notifications and security alerts, control any home automation devices (locks, garage door, lights), and view video streaming.
Live video streaming adds $5 per month per camera to the base price, and cameras must be purchased separately. Fire and environmental monitoring protection cost an additional $9.99 per month, which includes the equipment.
How easy is Protect America Smart Home to install?
Protect America systems are only available with DIY installation. The system is wireless and requires no drilling, unless you choose to add a video doorbell camera, outdoor camera and/or smart thermostat. All other equipment is peel-and-stick, and the system guides you through the process on the included control panel, in the app and/or over the phone. Devices come paired to your hub and prelabelled to your doors and windows to make installation easier.
How is the system monitored?
Choose from landline, cellular or broadband for 24/7 intrusion monitoring. Cellular, which uses an included SIM card, is the most common choice, with broadband as an option for areas with poor cell reception. The control panel connects to both cellular and Wi-Fi but prioritizes the cellular connection, which is the most reliable. Home automation (including access through the app), video monitoring and smoke and fire protection cost more, and camera monitoring requires a broadband connection.
What are my options if I rent my home/apartment rather than owning?
Protect America is a good choice for renters as it’s easy and free to relocate the system. All of its main equipment is tailored toward simple installation without drilling, including the August door lock. However, the monitoring service packages require a 600 credit score, so renters with lower credit scores might not be eligible.
Using Protect America
How does the Protect America system work?
All Protect America systems come with a wall-mounted or tabletop controller. The 5-inch Simon XTi touch screen is included in all packages, or you can upgrade to the new Qolsys IQ2 panel for $99. A slim, Android-based tablet with a camera and glass-break sensors integrated, the IQ2 can also display camera and video doorbell feeds.
The Protect America system can also be controlled through a web-based dashboard at MyProtectAmerica.com or through the Smart Connect Mobile App for iOS and Android. Arm the system on the control panel or the app or use Alexa voice control with a compatible device. When the system is triggered, it attempts to contact you with a text message and phone call before dispatching emergency services.
The system also features three emergency panic buttons, a latch-key function to notify working parents that their children have not come home on time, and eight user codes. The app lets you view the last 100 system events (e.g., which door opened or which code was used), watch live video, access smart home devices, and manage codes and alerts (email, text or app notifications). A built-in rechargeable backup battery keeps the system operating for up to 24 hours if the power goes out.
How are video recordings generated and stored?
Video recordings are started by default when the alarm is triggered and when you arm and disarm the system. You can also set video to record at a scheduled time once a defined zone is open or closed or when any Z-Wave device such as a door lock is triggered. Cameras will record 15 seconds before an event, during an event and 15 seconds after an event. Up to 1,000 events are stored in the cloud before the oldest footage is recorded over. Events can be accessed and saved through the app or MyProtectamerica.com. You can go back and find any events that happened on a previous date, but there are no video analytics that can differentiate between people, animals and vehicles.
Each camera also has a micro SD card slot. If a card is installed, it will record 24/7, and that footage will be available for download on the app regardless of whether an event has been generated.
Does the Protect America system use a loud alarm to scare away intruders?
An interior siren triggers if any sensor is activated while the system is armed. It sounds at 85 decibels, which is on the low end for a siren.
What text and email notifications can I get – either in response to a home security alarm or for self-monitoring?
Protect America offers email, text and app notifications, which can go to anyone you choose to allow access to the app. You provide at least two phone numbers when you sign up for the system, which will be called if any sensors are activated while the system is armed. If you do not respond, emergency services will be dispatched.
You can also set up nonemergency notifications, such as if the front door is left ajar. An option to only arm certain sensors, such as those in the front half of the house when you are in the back half, can be set up.
Is the Protect America system pet-friendly so that my pet’s movements don’t create an alarm?
If you have a pet heavier than 40 lbs., Protect America will advise you on where to place motion sensors to avoid false alarms, or where to swap out motion sensors with glass-break sensors or other devices that pets are less likely to trigger.
Does Protect America support an emergency duress or distress code?
Yes, a hostage mode is available. If a burglar is telling you to enter your code, you enter it backward, and the system will shut down while silently alerting the authorities.
Does Protect America offer a panic function?
Yes, a distress button and pendant are available that will trigger the siren.
What home automation technology is integrated with Protect America?
Protect America is based on the Z-Wave home automation platform, a low-power radio communication system that creates a local network to connect devices throughout your home. Z-wave security equipment, including sensors and indoor/outdoor cameras, is primarily made by third-party manufacturers and is compatible with popular home automation products such as the August door lock and the Skybell video doorbell. A wide variety of compatible Z-Wave home automation products can be purchased from Protect America’s website, but its system will work with any Z-Wave devices. This means that if you decide to switch companies at some point, all your devices can be transferred to a new Z-Wave-based system.
Home automation products such as lighting are not tied into the security part of the system but can be set up to run automatically.
Does Protect America work well with smart door locks?
Protect America was the first home security system to integrate with the August door lock, which installs over an existing deadbolt. It also works with Yale and Kwikset smart door locks, which replace existing locks and come in a variety of finishes. Some smart locks have the option of a keypad, the Kwikset Kevo is a touch-to-open lock, and the August door lock works with an existing key as well. All locks can be managed through the Protect America app.
Does Protect America integrate with my thermostat?
Protect America sells two smart thermostats from Alarm.com ($179.99) and GoControl ($99.99), both of which are Z-Wave devices, but it will integrate with any Z-Wave-based thermostat. A separate thermostat tab on the IQ 2 panel lets you control your thermostats from the system’s main controller. You can set automations that incorporate your thermostats and have them react to arming or disarming your system.
Q&A with Zane Schwarzlose, vice president of channel marketing for Protect America
To complement our review of Protect America’s security system, we interviewed Zane Schwarzlose, vice president of channel marketing for Protect America. He provided unique insights into the ethos, people and future of the company. His answers were lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
What are the key factors that affect Protect America’s pricing? What add-ons can the customer pay for?
Customers can choose to pay little to nothing upfront, or pay more upfront in exchange for a lower monthly rate. We call this concept Security Your Way. Customers can also choose to add video service or monitored smoke for an additional monthly fee.
What are the most popular add-ons to Protect America’s system?
The Qolsys IQ2 is quickly becoming our most popular panel upgrade. The IQ2 comes complete with a 7-inch HD touch screen, built-in 5 megapixel camera and multiple wireless radios in a modern user interface. The panel also includes touchless disarming through Bluetooth (geofencing) and an onboard glass-break detector.
How important are cameras to a DIY home security system? Do most customers choose to add them?
Cameras, especially doorbell and indoor cameras, continue to be a conversation driver from our customers. Customers are excited to learn how a guided DIY process can save them hundreds in the installation of these cameras. A large percentage of our customers choose to add cameras, but not the majority.
Please describe the cancellation process for Protect America’s professional monitoring packages.
If a customer wants to cancel, our customer experience team will do everything they can to understand the underlying reason for the cancellation. The vast majority of cancellations are resolved by bolstering the customer’s equipment, restructuring the terms of their agreement or transferring the agreement to another party or another home (in the case of a move). If none of these options are tenable, customers are welcome to notify Protect America of their cancellation and pay the balance of their agreement.
Why did Protect America choose the current smart home integrations it has, and what future integrations can customers expect?
Protect America is committed to providing its customers best-in-class smart home integrations and equipment within a stable and open technology ecosystem. For example, Protect America was the first monitored home security provider to integrate the August Smart Door Lock into our family of products. Looking to the future, Protect America will continue to integrate products and features that represent the cutting edge as long as those products and features are both stable and open.
How compatible are other companies’ tools with Protect America, say if someone wanted to incorporate them into an existing wired or wireless security system?
Protect America’s customers are often surprised to find that many other security companies use proprietary technology which precludes them from integrating with other providers. At Protect America, our family of products is much more open and able to migrate to other monitoring platforms.
Does Protect America offer professional installation?
The vast majority of Protect America customers are installed through our guided DIY installation process. That being said, in rare cases we will dispatch professional installers to complete some installations. These dispatches come with a fee that’s clearly communicated to the customer and are for fringe cases where the installation is technologically or physically difficult.
What sets Protect America apart from a traditional home security company?
In a word, everything. First, the average Protect America customer pays only $99 to $149 upfront to get started. For traditional home security companies, that number is more like $500 to $700 upfront. Next, at Protect America our pricing is extremely transparent. Traditional home security companies rely on dealer networks and door-knockers to generate sales in high-pressure, low-transparency in-home consultations. Finally, if you’re looking to move, at Protect America you can easily move your system from home to home without incurring any fees. For traditional security companies, you would need to either purchase an entirely new system at your new home or pay hundreds in fees to remove and reinstall your system.
Where do you see the home security industry going in 10 years?
Currently, the home security industry is fractured between pure DIY home security providers like SimpliSafe and traditional home security providers like ADT. Pure DIY providers rely on proprietary technology with high upfront costs. Traditional home security providers rely on selling customers through high-pressure sales approaches like in-home selling.
In the next 10 years, I see a convergence of the DIY and traditional home security providers into one larger market. Consumers will continue to demand more transparent pricing from traditional providers. Consumers will continue to demand affordable upfront prices from DIY providers.
Successful providers will continue to simplify the home security buying process with multiple pathways for consumers to research and purchase. They will continue to give buying flexibility to the consumer.
How U.S. News Evaluated the Home Security Systems
The purpose of 360 Reviews by U.S. News & World Report is to evaluate products and services from multiple, diverse vantage points. We make recommendations based on an assessment of what matters to consumers, experts and the community of professional reviewers. We convey what’s most important about a home security system based on an unbiased evaluation of products commonly in the consideration set. Our overarching goal is to empower consumers with the information and tools needed to make their own informed decisions.
You can find more information about our 360 Reviews model for evaluating home security here: Best Home Security Systems methodology.