As technological advances make security equipment increasingly user friendly, fewer home security systems require professional installation and they are instead developing more systems with DIY installation. Two leaders in this niche of the industry are Link Interactive and Protect America, which claimed their second- and third-place spots in our list of top-rated home security companies.
I’ll more closely compare each of their features, but first, here’s a glimpse into what makes these companies different.
Custom equipment from Link Interactive
Link Interactive is a fully customizable home security system that allows you to tailor your equipment selection to your needs without forcing you to buy any equipment you don’t want. Its equipment selection covers it all—home security, safety, and automation—and the company partners with Alarm.com to add smartphone accessibility on a reliable platform.
Custom monitoring from Protect America
While Link Interactive is structured around flexible equipment selection, Protect America is built around customizable monitoring options, though it maintains some equipment flexibility. Because of its superior security and reliability, we always recommend cellular monitoring, but Protect America offers landline and broadband monitoring options as well. Once you’ve selected your monitoring style, you can decide whether or not to add fire and smoke monitoring or video monitoring. Each plan comes with a base quantity of sensors, and you can add equipment à la carte if you choose.
What Link Interactive and Protect America have in common
Because they rely on DIY installation, both Link Interactive and Protect America provide extensive installation support on their websites and by phone, and neither company charges activation fees. Both companies also offer Crash and Smash Protection on all plans, meaning that even if an intruder attempts to destroy your security system, it will still send a signal to the monitoring center and notify the authorities.
I personally made calls to Link Interactive and Protect America with questions about their products and services. I had virtually no wait time with either company, and both sales representatives were courteous and helpful. The person I spoke to at Protect America gave me a bit of a sales runaround, but otherwise made sure my questions were answered. When I spoke with an agent at Link Interactive, he was respectful of my time, answering my questions without a sales pitch.
Link Interactive receives points for its upfront contract transparency as well as its service and support throughout the contract. Some customers remarked that the setup instructions were confusing at points, but they received the support they needed when they called customer service.
Protect America’s customer service has received a bit more criticism, but it still manages to keep in contact with customers having problems. Criticisms tend to be based on long wait times when calling customer support along with apparent inflexibility in contracts. If you’re calling as a potential customer, however, you’ll be put in touch with a sales rep pretty quickly—which is a plus because finding information on its website can be frustrating at times. To give the company credit, it’s quite active in forums around the web, responding to customer complaints and working to make improvements both in its product offering and its customer service.
Link Interactive and Protect America have similar contract agreements, with locked-in monthly rates that won’t go up for the duration of your agreement. If you happen to move in the middle of your contract, both companies allow you to transfer your service to your new home. Link Interactive offers a 30-day trial, and after that, one-, two-, and three-year contracts are available. This 30-day window is common with home security companies, so it’s disappointing that Protect America gives you only 14 days to return your equipment and charges a $79 restocking fee. Contracts with Protect America are three years, with the option to switch to a month-to-month contract after those three years. Typical of the security industry, both companies require you to pay out 100% of your remaining balance if you cancel before your contract is up.
Despite its frustratingly short return window, Protect America has a rare and exceptional warranty policy, in which it offers free equipment replacement as long as you are a customer. By comparison, Link Interactive’s equipment warranty is two years. In the event that your equipment lasts longer than two years, Link Interactive offers an extended warranty maintenance plan for $5 a month, where any piece of your system will be replaced if it fails after the warranty expires.
Both Link Interactive’s and Protect America’s equipment requires DIY installation, saving you the often hefty installation fees that a lot of home security companies charge.
Link Interactive’s installation is easy, according to most of its customers. Many reviewers said that if they did run into installation issues, they received great on-the-phone support from Link Interactive’s customer service line. Before you call, check out Link’s PDF installation guides and YouTube channel with installation videos.
Like Link, nearly all of Protect America’s devices are wireless, so you won’t have to worry about drilling holes to run wires. The company provides an installation support page that includes manuals and videos for installing its most popular products. If you have any problems, you can also call or chat online with their install team.
Link Interactive’s equipment is entirely à la carte, which means you may have higher upfront costs than with Protect America, but your package will be customized to your individual needs. Both companies offer products for home security (cameras, sensors, etc.), life safety (smoke/CO detectors, flood detection, etc.), and home automation (thermostats, door locks, etc.). In most product categories, Link Interactive carries multiple styles and brands, so you have a wider variety of options, whereas Protect America’s more one-size-fits-all approach is generally less customizable.
Video surveillance is one area in particular where Link Interactive shows up Protect America. Link has indoor cameras, outdoor cameras, cameras with pan/tilt capabilities, and video doorbells, while Protect America has only one camera option that is for only indoor use.
Link Interactive uses only cellular monitoring. This means the system uses a cellular signal as opposed to a landline or the internet, to communicate to you, the authorities, or the central monitoring station. Cellular monitoring is more reliable because it will still send signals even when the power, landlines, or internet goes out. Don’t confuse this with 100% smartphone monitoring, though. Self-monitoring via smartphone apps only comes with the Gold and Elite plans, not the first-tier Standard plan. Monitoring with the Standard plan works like a traditional home security system, where alerts show up on your on-location control panel and the central monitoring station calls you if an alarm sounds while you’re away.
Protect America’s monitoring is uniquely flexible for any generation and every location, with three different options: landline, broadband, or cellular. Landline monitoring is good for the person who already uses a landline phone and doesn’t have a reliable cell signal. Broadband and cellular monitoring both operate via the SMART Connect app, don’t require a landline, and offer a more modern home security experience. Broadband monitoring, which operates through your modem or router, is good for a home with strong internet connectivity.
Unreliable and poorly designed home security apps can weaken an otherwise strong system. It’s notable, then, that Link Interactive partners with the Alarm.com app, which is exceptional in the world of home security apps—it’s highly rated in both the iTunes and Google Play stores (4 stars and 4.4 stars, respectively) and is regularly improved and updated.
Protect America would do well to follow suit and work with a third party for its mobile monitoring. Its SMART Connect app, it turns out, isn’t so smart, with only 2.5 stars in the iTunes store and 3.1 stars in the GooglePlay store. Reviewers for both versions complain of delayed alerts, slow load times, and getting locked out of the app with every update. Those who reached out to Protect America, however, reported quick and useful support to get their app talking to their system.
Packages and pricing
Link Interactive’s monitoring packages are based on levels of service. For example, with its lowest-priced Standard plan, you get only basic home security, but if you want its smartphone-monitored security and automation, you need to upgrade to the highest-tier Elite plan.
Protect America’s packages, on the other hand, are based on quantity of devices. The lowest-tier Copper plan comes with three door/window sensors, whereas the highest-tier Platinum package comes with 14 door/window sensors. You get the equipment included in the package for free when you sign a contract, but you have to pay for additional devices. Each package comes with a Simon XT control panel, a motion detector, three window decals, and a yard security sign, so the real difference between packages is in the number of door/window sensors. The base rate covers landline monitoring, but additional monitoring can be added to any of Protect America’s five packages.
- Broadband/cellular monitoring for an additional monthly fee, depending on the package
- Fire and smoke monitoring (for up to two smoke detectors) for an additional $10 per month
- Video monitoring, including live streaming, for one camera, for an additional $10 per month
Go with Link Interactive
Even though it may potentially cost more upfront, Link Interactive’s monthly fees will be lower than Protect America’s, in most cases. For example, a plan that includes cellular monitoring, app capabilities, video monitoring, and home automation would be covered under Link Interactive’s $40 Elite plan. A package with the same features would cost a minimum of $62 with Protect America ($20 Copper plan + $22 broadband upgrade + $10 fire and smoke monitoring +$10 video monitoring). That’s a difference of $264 per year.
Link Interactive has a few differences that gives it an advantage over Protect America in our ranking system. Because I’m such a skeptical consumer, Link Interactive’s transparency and customer service alone could convince me to become a customer. Its pricing is laid out clearly on its website, and when I called, my questions were answered without a spiel or sales pitch. To me, this shows respect for my time and intelligence. Its à la carte style package building allows me to pay for only what I want.
That being said, Protect America is a good low-cost option if you just need a simple, straightforward, traditional landline system that will sound an alarm when unauthorized individuals enter your home. If you don’t want or need smartphone connectivity, the $20 Copper plan with no add-ons could save you a lot.
Both companies are excellent options for affordable home security, but overall, you’ll find the better value, customer service, equipment, and app with Link Interactive.
Do you have experience with Link Interactive or Protect America? Let us know what you think in the comments.