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The Best Home Alarm Systems – Who Makes the Best Equipment?

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The Best Home Alarm Systems – Who Makes the Best Equipment?
February 22, 2011
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The Best Home Alarm Systems – Who Makes the Best Equipment?

This blog was originally published in February 2011. New product information was added in March 2020.


The

company that manufactures your home security equipment is different than the

company you buy from

Alarm companies do not make alarm equipment. Even ADT, one of the largest home security companies, does not manufacture the systems it sells—ADT buys the equipment from Ademco, DSC, Honeywell, and Interlogix. In the home security industry, the company that sells you the equipment and takes care of the monitoring of your home security system is known as a “dealer”—and there are roughly 13,000 dealers in the US alone.

These dealers put together packages of home security equipment, making it easy for you to implement a full home security system. Frontpoint focuses on a DIY approach to home security systems, which means you can pick and choose what products best meet your needs. These products come from trusted manufacturers, many of which have been in the home security business for years.

The history

of security system manufacturers

A lot has changed since I first joined the home security system industry in the 1980s, but many of the home security system manufacturers are the same. Here are a few examples of the best home security system manufacturers:

  • ITI (Interactive Technologies, Inc.) was acquired by Interlogix, which was, in turn, purchased by GE Security. Then, United Technologies purchased GE Security and changed the name back to … Interlogix! But they are still allowed to use the GE Security name, and the equipment is better than ever.
  • Ademco was acquired by Pittway, a public company, which was then acquired by Honeywell. As mentioned above, ADT primarily uses Honeywell equipment, even though ADT's parent (Tyco) purchased DSC, the next company on my manufacturers list. Go figure! Honeywell is hurting a bit lately since some very large alarm companies have moved away from Honeywell to more current technology (primarily GE Security).
  • DSC (Digital Security Controls) was acquired by Tyco International in 2002. DSC makes a smaller line of equipment, but are credited with creating the first small security keypads and micro-processors for home security systems.
  • Radionics was considered the most advanced and reliable equipment in the late 1980s, with most of the top 10 companies using their devices. After changing hands a few times, the company lost its luster—and was eventually acquired by Bosch, the European technology giant. It’s still very good equipment.
  • Detection Systems was another great company that was known as much for its motion sensors as for its control panels (if not better known). Detection Systems and Radionics had flirted with merging for years, and then, ironically, they were both acquired by the same company: Bosch.

Other, smaller equipment manufacturers have been around for decades: DMP, Napco, and Visonic are good examples. Each company’s technology has its advantages and adherents, and many alarm companies stay with the same equipment for years—until there is a compelling reason to change.

In short, there are have been many home security system manufacturers over the years. The best companies are the ones that continue innovating and providing reliable, trusted products to the market. As the security industry evolves, we will see more manufacturers begin to work with security system companies to offer smart home and home automation devices.

Manufacturers

of Frontpoint products

And what about Frontpoint?

Frontpoint continuously reviews and tests products from trusted manufacturers—and as a wireless system, we focus on wireless home security system manufacturers. While we commonly use DSC, Interlogix, and GE Products equipment, we strive to provide the best products possible to our customers. As new players come into the market providing smart home devices, we have expanded to using Yale and Jasco developed products, including our smart door lock and smart light bulbs.

Picture of Frontpoint Smart Door Lock and Light BulbPicture of Frontpoint Smart Door Lock and Light Bulb
Frontpoint’s value comes in through starter packages and pre-programmed devices.

Starter packages combine popular security products, making it easy for a customer to assess what they need. All packages come with door and window sensors, motion sensors, and signs and decals. Package variants add additional sensors or other security products, such as a glass break sensor, to the package. For all of the packages, you can select additional items like indoor cameras and smoke and heat sensors.

Pre-programmed devices significantly reduce the time (and complication) of adding equipment to your security system. All Frontpoint devices work together through our proprietary Hub, which allows easy integration of new products. And a full system set-up usually takes about 30 minutes.

To learn more about security systems, read our blog: “Do I Really Need a Home Security System.”


Frontpoint makes life easier and more efficient. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.

Get safer, smarter home security

Packages starting at $99 + FREE Doorbell Camera

300 off
Comments
Alan
February 23, 2011 at 5:09 AM
These are my absolute favorite type of posts Peter! Every time I learn something new. Thank you! And being the industry pro you are, it makes the posts that much more interesting.
Alan
February 23, 2011 at 5:09 AM
These are my absolute favorite type of posts Peter! Every time I learn something new. Thank you! And being the industry pro you are, it makes the posts that much more interesting.
Peter Gram
April 21, 2011 at 3:11 PM
I think the big boys know how to outsource and brand their product... Anyway, thanks for writing. It was an interesting read. :)
Peter M. Rogers
April 21, 2011 at 3:26 PM
Peter - Thanks for your comment. You are correct about outsourcing and branding - although Honeywell is currently losing share to GE/Interlogix (actually owned by United Technologies). One of the main reasons is that Honeywell has traditionally kept development in-house, as opposed to partnering with third parties when it makes sense. A great example is the GE-Alarm.com relationship to provide interactive monitoring services, when compared to Honeywell's Total Connect. Honeywell insisted on building their own interactive services platform (Total Connect), which took longer to develop, and was not as robust. It has just never caught up with Alarm.com, and in my opinion never will. There have been several high-profile large scale alarm dealer defections from Honeywell to GE/Interlogix - and a significant factor in the decision is the perceived gap in advanced interactive services. Glad you found the post interesting, and thanks again for your comment.
Peter Gram
April 21, 2011 at 3:11 PM
I think the big boys know how to outsource and brand their product... Anyway, thanks for writing. It was an interesting read. :)
Peter M. Rogers
April 21, 2011 at 3:26 PM
Peter - Thanks for your comment. You are correct about outsourcing and branding - although Honeywell is currently losing share to GE/Interlogix (actually owned by United Technologies). One of the main reasons is that Honeywell has traditionally kept development in-house, as opposed to partnering with third parties when it makes sense. A great example is the GE-Alarm.com relationship to provide interactive monitoring services, when compared to Honeywell's Total Connect. Honeywell insisted on building their own interactive services platform (Total Connect), which took longer to develop, and was not as robust. It has just never caught up with Alarm.com, and in my opinion never will. There have been several high-profile large scale alarm dealer defections from Honeywell to GE/Interlogix - and a significant factor in the decision is the perceived gap in advanced interactive services. Glad you found the post interesting, and thanks again for your comment.
Frank
July 17, 2012 at 7:03 PM
Tons of great information. Thank you. Has any of this changed since this article was written?
Peter M. Rogers
July 17, 2012 at 7:33 PM
Frank - thanks for your question. The landscape looks pretty much as it did. Each of the alarm equipment manufacturers continues to release incremental benefits and features to their existing lines, but no major breakthroughs as yet. We are still bullish on GE Security, which is now owned by United Technologies, as they are working on a very significant development in the next generation platform - and once that is released, we are confident it will take some time before the other companies catch up. We also like the GE Security products becasue of their seamless integration with Alarm.com, the best of all the interactive platforms. Thanks again!
Frank
July 17, 2012 at 7:03 PM
Tons of great information. Thank you. Has any of this changed since this article was written?
Peter M. Rogers
July 17, 2012 at 7:33 PM
Frank - thanks for your question. The landscape looks pretty much as it did. Each of the alarm equipment manufacturers continues to release incremental benefits and features to their existing lines, but no major breakthroughs as yet. We are still bullish on GE Security, which is now owned by United Technologies, as they are working on a very significant development in the next generation platform - and once that is released, we are confident it will take some time before the other companies catch up. We also like the GE Security products becasue of their seamless integration with Alarm.com, the best of all the interactive platforms. Thanks again!
Lalit
July 25, 2012 at 4:26 PM
Which one to have it Bosch or honeywell for residential security including door & motion?
Peter M. Rogers
July 25, 2012 at 4:54 PM
Thanks, Lalit, for your question. The market has spoken pretty loudly about which manufacturers' products are preferred - and in this case, the market is the horde of alarm dealers who decide what equipment to sell, install, and service. In this industry, consumers (meaning homeowners) generally do not choose a product: they chose a company to install, monitor, and support that product. So, it's up to the individual alarm companies (also known as alarm dealers) to pick the products they think will best meet the needs of the end users. Increasingly we are seeing dealers turn from Honeywell to other products - and here I am talking about some pretty large dealers, companies in the top 10 or 20 nationally in terms of size. For the most part, all these systems work, and even work in pretty similar fashion: one of the biggest challenges for Honeywell has been the fact that it's interactive services, which they insisted on creating themselves, does not measure up to platforms like Alarm.com, the original (and generally considered the best) of the interactive platforms. We use Alarm.com here at FrontPoint, and feel it offers the best features and the best support - and they keep making it better. So, our money is still on Interlogix/UTC/GE Security, which the equipment we use in conjunction with the Alarm.com interactive services. Bosch is actually not even in the top 3 these days - though it is still perfectly fine to use. Thanks again.
Lalit
July 25, 2012 at 4:26 PM
Which one to have it Bosch or honeywell for residential security including door & motion?
Peter M. Rogers
July 25, 2012 at 4:54 PM
Thanks, Lalit, for your question. The market has spoken pretty loudly about which manufacturers' products are preferred - and in this case, the market is the horde of alarm dealers who decide what equipment to sell, install, and service. In this industry, consumers (meaning homeowners) generally do not choose a product: they chose a company to install, monitor, and support that product. So, it's up to the individual alarm companies (also known as alarm dealers) to pick the products they think will best meet the needs of the end users. Increasingly we are seeing dealers turn from Honeywell to other products - and here I am talking about some pretty large dealers, companies in the top 10 or 20 nationally in terms of size. For the most part, all these systems work, and even work in pretty similar fashion: one of the biggest challenges for Honeywell has been the fact that it's interactive services, which they insisted on creating themselves, does not measure up to platforms like Alarm.com, the original (and generally considered the best) of the interactive platforms. We use Alarm.com here at FrontPoint, and feel it offers the best features and the best support - and they keep making it better. So, our money is still on Interlogix/UTC/GE Security, which the equipment we use in conjunction with the Alarm.com interactive services. Bosch is actually not even in the top 3 these days - though it is still perfectly fine to use. Thanks again.
Gman
August 14, 2012 at 8:37 PM
Not GE. lol
Peter M. Rogers
August 20, 2012 at 6:44 PM
Thanks, Gman, for your comment. As you may know, the GE Security division was purchased a couple of years ago by United Technologies (UTC): the same company that make Otis elevators, Carrier air conditioners, Sikorsky helicopters, and Pratt & Whitney jet engines. In other words, a global, multi-billion dollar corporation at the forefront of technology. We have already seen significant R&D expenditures in new products and features. UTC also purchased the rights to use the GE Security name for a number of years, so people (including FrontPoint) still use the GE brand, but UTC is driving the bus now. And that bus is definitely going in the right direction! The GE equipment has taken considerable market share from Honeywell, the other big player, primarily because GE leads on the integration of advanced interactive alarm services for remote control and notification, home video services, and even smart home control of lights, locks, and thermostats using mobile apps. You cannot even get all this from Honeywell today. So, as far as the "real" manufacturers of alarm equipment go, I'd be interested to hear who it is you prefer - and specifically why. Thanks again.
Patrick Guice
June 19, 2016 at 11:38 PM
"The GE equipment has taken considerable market share from Honeywell, the other big player, primarily because GE leads on the integration of advanced interactive alarm services for remote control and notification, home video services, and even smart home control of lights, locks, and thermostats using mobile apps. You cannot even get all this from Honeywell today." Nice try, but the truth is that you can get all that from Honeywell Security and more LOL!
Gman
August 14, 2012 at 8:37 PM
Not GE. lol
Peter M. Rogers
August 20, 2012 at 6:44 PM
Thanks, Gman, for your comment. As you may know, the GE Security division was purchased a couple of years ago by United Technologies (UTC): the same company that make Otis elevators, Carrier air conditioners, Sikorsky helicopters, and Pratt & Whitney jet engines. In other words, a global, multi-billion dollar corporation at the forefront of technology. We have already seen significant R&D expenditures in new products and features. UTC also purchased the rights to use the GE Security name for a number of years, so people (including FrontPoint) still use the GE brand, but UTC is driving the bus now. And that bus is definitely going in the right direction! The GE equipment has taken considerable market share from Honeywell, the other big player, primarily because GE leads on the integration of advanced interactive alarm services for remote control and notification, home video services, and even smart home control of lights, locks, and thermostats using mobile apps. You cannot even get all this from Honeywell today. So, as far as the "real" manufacturers of alarm equipment go, I'd be interested to hear who it is you prefer - and specifically why. Thanks again.
Mitch
January 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM
What are the +/1 of a DMP system? The security company pushing it points to its ability to send text messages to cell phones for system status, two-way communication between base station and sensors, and user friendly aspects. Another company is pushing an ELK MT 50 board with GE/ICI sensors. Both are priced about the same. Your thoughts on the right solution?
Peter M. Rogers
January 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Mitch - Great question. More and more alarm companies and alarm manufacturers are jumping into the interactive services arena, since it represents the future of alarm security - especially when you can add video services and home automation, all on the same platform. And when it comes to interactive services and home automation, the recognized leader is Alarm.com, our technology partner. We're not the only company that offers Alarm.com services, but we've been doing it longer than most, and specializing in these interactive features to the point that we have the best reviews you can find when it comes to wireless home security. DMP is a well established alarm equipment manufacturer, but they are late to the game with these services, and do not offer as comprehensive a suite of functions. Elk is another good company - but again, you really want the best. I suggest you check out Alarm.com - and FrontPoint - and read all the reviews you can find. The choice is clear if you look at customer satisfaction over several years, across the US and Canada. Thanks for your question.
Mitch
January 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM
What are the +/1 of a DMP system? The security company pushing it points to its ability to send text messages to cell phones for system status, two-way communication between base station and sensors, and user friendly aspects. Another company is pushing an ELK MT 50 board with GE/ICI sensors. Both are priced about the same. Your thoughts on the right solution?
Peter M. Rogers
January 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Mitch - Great question. More and more alarm companies and alarm manufacturers are jumping into the interactive services arena, since it represents the future of alarm security - especially when you can add video services and home automation, all on the same platform. And when it comes to interactive services and home automation, the recognized leader is Alarm.com, our technology partner. We're not the only company that offers Alarm.com services, but we've been doing it longer than most, and specializing in these interactive features to the point that we have the best reviews you can find when it comes to wireless home security. DMP is a well established alarm equipment manufacturer, but they are late to the game with these services, and do not offer as comprehensive a suite of functions. Elk is another good company - but again, you really want the best. I suggest you check out Alarm.com - and FrontPoint - and read all the reviews you can find. The choice is clear if you look at customer satisfaction over several years, across the US and Canada. Thanks for your question.
Jonah
October 27, 2015 at 9:45 AM
I own a Research and Development company, and I am interested in licensing a product we developed. First, I would like to get some information on which manufacturer could give me an idea of how much it would cost to produce the product. Second, I'd like to know which company would be best to start with in terms of talking about licensing the product. With gratitude, Jonah
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