Protect America has been in the home security system business for over 20 years and is a well-recognized competitor in the home security market. This is largely due to its pricing, as it is the least expensive subscription monitoring service available. In this case, consumers get what they pay for: a cheap product with poor customer service. Summarization (2.7 Stars) Protect America is an affordable option for home security, which may be an attractive benefit for young homeowners or apartment-dwellers. It is flexible enough in design to connect via cell phone, broadband Internet or landline technology. It offers the basic complement of home security hardware options and is seemingly better designed for smaller spaces. Protect America only charges its subscribers monthly for monitoring service, with no activation or hardware fees. Installation fees are a non-issue because this product is entirely self-installed. On its surface, Protect America seems to offer a no-frills, low-cost home security option. Unfortunately many customers are displeased with both the product and its technical support. The Better Business Bureau has logged hundreds of complaints, and angry subscribers have taken to the far reaches of the Internet to vent their dissatisfaction. Complaints range from products that don’t function, billing problems, and untruths on the company website. The buyer interested in home security should beware of Protect America. Cost (Five Stars) Protect America’s low-cost packages are arguably what make this company a contender in the home security market. Starting as low as $19.99 per month, subscriptions carry no equipment fees. Because the product is self-installed, there are no installation or activation fees. Renters are not excluded from subscriptions, which is appealing in a market that often restricts its products to homeowners. A homeowner’s discount is applied, however, to incentivize these customers. Contracts are three years in length, and pricing is locked in for the duration of the subscription. Monitoring Services (Three Stars) Home monitoring for Protect America home security systems is a 24/7 service, operated by three support centers across the country. Monitoring stations require employees to be trained, tested and certified for alarm response. In the event that you experience an emergency, two other stations stand as backup for your primary monitoring center. Landline, broadband and cellular options for connection are all available; broadband and cellular setups automatically include interactive SMART Connect technology. Broadband monitoring promises to alert emergency responders within 2 seconds of an alarm. Landline phones are not required, but Protect America can integrate with them. Landline users can upgrade to a two-way voice and talking command station upgrade that enables them to communicate directly with the monitoring station. Sensors and Detectors (Two Stars) Protect America’s wireless door and window sensors create a magnetic field that, when broken, triggers an event alarm. One is recommended for each accessible window and door, and Protect America’s packaging is generous in its supply. A tilt-activated garage door sensor is available as an add-on to subscriptions, alerting the monitoring station and calling the authorities once the garage door reaches a 45-degree angle. A glass break sensor, also available as an add-on, detects the sound of breaking glass within 20 feet. Indoor motion detectors are heat- and movement-sensitive to within 25 feet; however, these will react to the movement of any pet over 40 pounds. Smoke and carbon dioxide detectors are also available, as is a medical panic pendant. The pendant may be worn around the neck or as a watch, and is waterproof. The medical monitoring feature is available for an additional $19.99 per month. Control Equipment (Two Stars) In addition to the Simon XT home base unit, a mini pin pad is also available. Able to arm the security system, disarm it, and alert emergency responders, this unit is pocket-sized and portable. Digital voice technology enables a talking wireless keypad that, powered by AA batteries, functions much like the Simon XT and is wall-mountable. A portable panic button is also available as an add-on to subscriptions. The keyfob-shaped device that does not attach to a keychain works within 50 feet of the main control panel, and will both arm and disarm the system and contact the monitoring system. Home Automation (Two Stars) The Simon XT Control Panel is included with all subscriptions. Claiming ease of use as a major benefit, Protect America offers one-button arming and disarming features, as well as one-touch access to emergency response personnel. The Simon XT Panel supports up to 40 sensors, fewer than some in this market. Battery backup will operate the control panel for only 24 hours during a power outage. A latchkey feature requires children returning home to enter a password that notifies a parent they’ve arrived safely. Door and window chimes may be programmed to alert the triggering of a sensor. Mobile Access (Two Stars) In addition to the Simon XT home base unit, a mini pin pad is also available. Able to arm the security system, disarm it, and alert emergency responders, this unit is pocket-sized and portable. Digital voice technology enables a talking wireless keypad that, powered by AA batteries, functions much like the Simon XT and is wall-mountable. A portable panic button is also available as an add-on to subscriptions. The keyfob-shaped device that does not attach to a keychain works within 50 feet of the main control panel, and will both arm and disarm the system and contact the monitoring system. Installation and Setup (One Star) Installation of all Protect America packages and add-ons is self-installed, regardless of connection type. In theory, a wireless or broadband installation of a relatively simple system should be easy for the average homeowner. However, customer service complaints claim otherwise, most often indicating that Protect America is more interested in sales than support. Self-installation of a landline connection could prove to be technically difficult, particularly for the elderly who are most likely to rely on landline telephone service. Though Protect America is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, its performance rating has shown sizable customer dissatisfaction with the products and its customer assistance. Surveillance (Four Stars) Subscription packages that include video surveillance make it easy to check on your children, caretakers or maintenance workers, and record events triggered by sensors in your home. Wireless cameras provided by Protect America can be used anywhere in the home, and integration with the SMART Connect app allows you to access live video feed from your smartphone. Video surveillance cameras are available as add-ons to any subscription package. Support Services (Two Stars) Support options from Protect America are somewhat limited in scope, but several component video tutorials, along with a troubleshooting and FAQ page, are available. Personal assistance is available on the phone at 1-800-951-5111 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Live chat is also available during these times. Because this product is self-installed, technical support is crucial for Protect America subscribers. Online reviews are overwhelmingly negative about customer service issues and their speedy resolution. Company Info Name: Protect America Location: Round Rock, TX Year Founded: 1992 Better Business Bureau Accredited? No Better Business Bureau Rating: A- Phone Number: 1-800-657-2717 Website: http://www.protectamerica.com Company History: Protect America, Inc. was founded by Thad Paschall in 1992 in Austin, Texas. What started as a small home security company has turned into one of the biggest players in the home security market. Specializing in homes and small businesses, Protect America was one of the first home security companies to offer completely wireless protection services. Voted as a top place to work in the state of Texas in 2011, Protect America employs a relatively small staff of about 150 sales representatives and customer service professionals. In 2010, Protect America joined the Rockbridge Growth Equity group of companies. Protect America actively participates in philanthropic endeavors, including work with charities such as the Ronald McDonald House, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Austin Zoo. Pricing Protect America’s monitoring packages are available in five modules. All pricing is billed monthly, and there are no activation fees or equipment charges. All subscriptions must be contracted for 36 months. Copper 24/7 monitoring Interactive app capability Control panel 3 door or window sensors 1 motion detector 1 yard sign 3 window decals Lifetime warranty on replacement parts Free moving kit Homeowner’s discount Starts at $19.99 per month Learn more Bronze 24/7 monitoring Interactive app capability Control panel 7 door or window sensors 1 motion detector 1 yard sign 3 window decals Lifetime warranty on replacement parts Free moving kit Homeowner’s discount Starts at $35.99 per month Learn more Silver 24/7 monitoring Interactive app capability Control panel 10 door or window sensors 1 motion detector 1 yard sign 3 window decals Lifetime warranty on replacement parts Free moving kit Homeowner’s discount Starts at $37.99 per month Learn more Gold 24/7 monitoring Interactive app capability Control panel 12 door or window sensors 1 motion detector 1 yard sign 3 window decals Lifetime warranty on replacement parts Free moving kit Homeowner’s discount Starts at $39.99 per month Learn more Platinum 24/7 monitoring Interactive app capability Control panel 15 door or window sensors 1 motion detector 1 yard sign 3 window decals Lifetime warranty on replacement parts Free moving kit Homeowner’s discount Starts at $42.99 per month Learn more Upgrades and Add-ons Protect America also offers hardware upgrades to customers who have purchased a monitoring package. Subscribers may add: Monitored smoke detectors that summon the fire department Medical panic pendants for elderly or disabled residents Z-Wave Appliance Module able to control small appliances and lighting fixtures Smartphone-activated siren and strobe light Freeze sensor Flood sensor GPS vehicle tracking sensors Protect America also offers customers with existing landline-based security systems a discount incentive to switch services.