When looking for the best home security system, you have a lot to consider. Which alarm system is perfect for you depends on what you want. Suppose you want professional monitoring, add-ons, smart home automation products such as smart thermostats, and more? Once you've decided what kind of security solution you want, you'll need to choose your provider, each with its unique security features. There are several providers available - two we're going to look at today are Vivint and Ackerman Security.
Vivint is a large provider covering most of North America, with over 1.4 million customers. Ackerman is a Georgia-based security provider with more than 50 years of experience in the industry. Both have unique pros and cons; let's take an in-depth look at them.
Vivint Vs. Ackerman Security - What are their similarities?
- Long-term contracts: You'll be required to sign up for a long-term contract.
- Professional installation: Either way, you'll benefit from a professional installation performed by qualified technicians.
- Hardware: You can purchase similar equipment from both companies - such as motion sensors, indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, and door locks.
- Cellular backup: Either system can run on a cellular connection, leaving you less vulnerable to power cuts and tampering.
Vivint vs. Ackerman Security - What are their differences?
- No theft guarantee: Ackerman has a unique and valuable no theft guarantee. If you're the victim of a burglary, you'll be given compensation of up to $25,000.
- Home automation: While both do offer home automation, Ackerman doesn't provide compatibility with Z-wave/IFTTT products, but Vivint does.
- Service area: Vivint is practically unlimited - anywhere you can get cellular service. However, Ackerman is only available in a handful of states.
- Transparency: Ackerman isn't the most transparent service provider. You can't find a full breakdown of their prices online; pricing information is hard to come by.
- Landline options: Ackerman offers low-priced landline-based systems that promise to reduce monitoring fees. Vivint only uses wireless systems.
- Mobile app: While the mobile apps share similar functionality - allowing you to receive notifications and arm/disarm the systems, Ackerman's app is considered buggy and is poorly rated for this reason.
Ackerman Security - What you need to know
Ackerman Security is a traditional security provider with limited service coverage but unique features. Ackerman has been in business for more than 50 years, so you know they're not some fledgling company that'll fold in a few years.
You can't DIY install this system - professional installation is necessary. You'll also need to pay a $99 activation fee. A qualified technician will come to your home and install your system, leaving you without worries.
Here are some ideas for what you could include in your Ackerman system, according to their website:
- Window and door sensors
- Smoke alarms
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Control panel
- Smart thermostat
- Doorbell camera
- Video cameras
- Garage door control
While Ackerman does have a variety of home security products, you can't integrate them with your existing products. Ackerman isn't compatible with IFTTT tools. Vivint is a better alternative if you're looking for a comprehensive smart home system.
It isn't very easy to pin down Ackerman's costs. They'll seemingly only share pricing information with customers arranging a contract; prices don't seem to be fixed and may even vary by area code.
- No theft guarantee: Their 'no theft guarantee' is an excellent and unique feature.
- Reliable connection: A reliable security connection is a must-have; you don't have to worry about your wires being tampered with or a power outage. Ackerman can run via your landline and also benefits from cellular backup, so you'll never have reason to worry. Aside from this, you'll always be observed by their monitoring centers.
- Pro installation required: You can save some time and money by performing a DIY installation with some companies. With Ackerman, you'll need a professional to complete the installation for you.
- Long-term commitment: You'll need to sign up for a 36-month contract when you purchase an Ackerman system.
- Customer service: Customers have reported difficulties canceling services, including installation and reliability issues. While our SecurityNerd didn't deal with this personally, it's something to keep in mind.
Vivint: What you need to know
Unlike Ackerman, Vivint provides an array of smart home options and is compatible with Z-wave technologies. Vivint offers skilled technicians alongside outstanding equipment, professional monitoring, and smooth installation. You'll also enjoy a wealth of smart home options compatible with Z-wave technologies.
While you should be careful of upselling, it's great that a qualified technician will come to your home and deal with everything for you. The only drawback is that they are paid partly on a commission basis, leading to upselling attempts.
Vivint offers an array of complete security packages, but you can also buy equipment on an a la carte basis:
- Indoor and outdoor cameras
- Smart home devices
- Window sensors
- Door sensors
- Video doorbell
- Smoke detectors
- Motion detectors
- Freeze and flood detectors
- Garage door sensor
- Panic pendants
- Secondary keypad
- Glass break sensors
Your home security system will be compatible with Z-wave products, including the Nest Thermostat, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant. You can also buy dedicated smart home features such as smart locks, doorbell cameras, and garage door sensors.
- Equipment costs: You'll typically pay for your expenses every month, meaning you won't have upfront costs. Once your equipment is paid off, your monthly fee will drop considerably. An essential equipment bundle will usually cost around $10 a month, but you should contact Vivint to get an up-to-date quote.
- Installation costs: Vivint quoted us $100 for installation and mentioned that promotions are occasionally offered for free installation. Before you purchase a system, double-check active promotions.
- Monthly costs: Professional monitoring is available and will cost between $39.99 to $59.99 per month, depending on the number of cameras you have and whether you want video surveillance or not.
- Customization: You're able to fully customize your security equipment and add more on an individual basis. You can also consult with a professional and ask them to suggest additional equipment for you; be mindful of upselling.
- Smart home options: You'll have an impressive collection of smart home options from smart door locks to smart thermostats and more, with Z-wave compatibility increasing the integrations available.
- Price: The price is relatively high; if you're looking for a cheaper system, a DIY approach is probably ideal for you.
- No satisfaction guarantee: Some companies offer a warranty or moneyback guarantee, but Vivint only offers a three-day return window. You may be unable to experience how it works for you in such little time.
Ackerman or Vivint?
Ackerman is a great traditional security provider, with unique offerings such as their no-theft guarantee, in addition to excellent monitoring services and quality home security cameras. It's rare to find such a guarantee and demonstrates high confidence in their excellent response centers and equipment. However, you can only benefit from this if you live in one of a handful of areas.
It's also worth remembering that Ackerman isn't exactly the most modern company - Vivint is far better if you're looking for a smart home system, including popular smart home products such as Amazon's Alexa, the Nest Thermostat, and the Apple HomeKit.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.