Nothing is more important than keeping your family safe at home. For many people, that means installing a high-tech home security system from a company such as Fortress Security Store. But you need to do your homework, and in this Fortress Security review, we’ll give you a rundown of what the company offers and how it compares to other systems on the market.
Home security represents a growing market. Markets and Markets, a research firm based in India, estimated last year that sales of home security systems across the globe would grow from about $41 billion in 2017 to $75 billion in 2023.
The analyst firm and other observers attribute the growth to rapid developments in technology, and particularly the push toward the Internet of Things capability. Growth rates are fastest in the Asia Pacific region.
Fortress Security was founded in 2005 and provides equipment for use by homeowners and businesses. The company’s systems provide security control using Wi-Fi as well as landlines.
By the time we’re done with this Fortress Security review, we believe you’ll know if these systems are for you.
Fortress Security Review
Fortress Security provides all-in-one security kits for home and business along with related accessories.
These accessories include system add-ons such as sirens, power supplies, motion detectors, and glass break alarms. Fortress also offers video surveillance as well as individual security products.
The Fortress site also offers a “build your own system” function, similar to configuring your own computer system through Dell.
But what are the basics? What does any home security system have to include to do the job? Before going further in our Fortress Security review, let’s establish the baseline.
Home security systems revolve around a control panel, which serves as the nerve center for what happens at your property.
Typically this control panel will have a keypad unit where you enter on and off codes coming in and going out of your home or business.
You’re also going to need sensors, typically for windows and doors, and motion detectors. Finally, you need a monitoring system -- a way to connect and communicate with all this technology when it sounds an alarm.
You can expand your system from there with cameras, glass-breaking detectors, and other add-ons.
Keep in mind that Fortress is a technology provider that sells do-it-yourself systems for security that are self-monitored. If you want professional monitoring, you will have to have a contract with a third party.
What To Know About Fortress
Now to the heart of our Fortress Security review. The company offers three system “kits:” the SO3 Wi-Fi Security System, the S1 Stealth Security System, and the S6 Titan 3G/4G Wi-Fi Security System.
Let’s look at the components available in the S1 Stealth. The other kits are configured similarly.
First, you have to start with the Stealth Main Panel, which comes with power supply included. Remember: The main panel alone will not secure you against intruders.
From there you choose the accessories that best fit your own personal security situation. Fortress individually programs each accessory to be compatible with your central unit out of the box.
The accessories available include:
As you can see, you can build out your system depending on what it is you wish to guard against.
Each of the Fortress systems is compatible with the company’s free Android/iOS app (which is where the monitoring takes place.) You get your alerts either on your mobile phone or tablet.
Fortress also offers a three-year hardware warranty and free service seven-days a week.
Read the Fortress web site carefully. Each individual product includes an information panel that provides additional information about the products.
For instance, the indoor/outdoor siren notes that the siren sounds at 130 decibels and can be placed as far as 150 feet away. That should be enough to chase away the most hard-core intruders.
An important part of our Fortress Security review included a careful examination of the company's accessories. First, it's essential to know that each of the Fortress systems supports 100 or more accessories.
A full range of accessories is available as part of the shopping experience on the Fortress Security Store. These include the predictable, such as additional sensors, sirens security cameras, panic buttons, and key fobs.
It also covers the practical -- replacement batteries and sticky tape, signs, stickers, and power supplies.
The key word in this part of our Fortress Security review: Modularity.
Depending on your budget and your situation, you can start with the basics and add on new components as you need them. Assuming you can make them all talk to each other!
Installing Fortress Security
Needless to say, configuring and purchasing a home security system is just the first step. Going the distance requires you to be comfortable with do-it-yourself installation.
Keep in mind, however, that all the components will have been pre-programmed for you. Your job will be to get the system “up and running very quickly,” the company says in one of its customer service videos.
In addition to video tutorials, Fortress provides extensive user manuals, written in everyday language, to help you jump start your system.
The essence of installing a Fortress System is captured in all of about six steps. You must make notes about your alarm zones, test the accessories, install the equipment, program the phone numbers, and then change your password.
Should anything go wrong, Fortress offers free support seven days a week for technical difficulties. The support lines at Fortress are open from Noon to 7:30 Eastern Time.
At least one security expert, writing for the Security Baron, a blog site devoted to home security technology, expressed some skepticism based on one experience with customer support at Fortress.
But what do other customers say?
Fortress Security kits and individual pieces of equipment are also available via Amazon. The most widely reviewed unit, the S03 Wi-Fi Classic kit, receives a ranking of 3.7 stars out of 5.0 based on more than 750 different reviews.
The Fortress Security review on Amazon helpfully breaks down the feedback into different categories. Easy to install gets 4.0 stars out 5.0, while battery life and durability come in at about 3.5 stars out of 5.0.
One very pleased customer relates an experience with a recent break-in at his home. The customer notes that the Fortress system worked well, including capturing video of the intruders for law enforcement.
A separate customer initially gave the Fortress system excellent reviews, mainly based on ease of set-up. But the customer later amended the reviews.
The customer noted that the alarm tended to sound despite adjustments to the “delayed entry” sensor -- designed to allow homeowners time to turn off the alarm upon entry.
Though there are some negative reviews, the balance weighs towards four and five stars.
One thing we know you will like in this Fortress Security review is our discussion of pricing. One of the significant advantages of a self-monitored system is that you avoid the hassle of monthly service fees for professional monitoring. And as long as you’re even a little handy, you’ll avoid installation charges.
But really, we’re talking about equipment costs to acquire a Fortress security system.
Prices for other models of Fortress Security kits go for as low as $120 and as high as $270, based on a search of Google Shopping. Add-on accessories will add to your cost.
How We Reviewed The Market
Home security systems have become big business. As such, they collect plenty of attention from tech experts writing for tech journals, general interest publications, and newsletters. The industry itself also puts out large quantities of information about the market and its various players.
We started our Fortress Security review by seeking to understand the company itself, starting with a top-to-bottom read-through of the Fortress Security Store website.
Those publications also helped us pick out systems for comparison. For those, we kept our focus on systems that you can configure and install yourself and decide for yourself how you want them monitored.
Ring, ring, ring and away we go
You may know it best from its commercials for its video doorbell, but Ring offers a home security system that rivals Fortress. Ring's systems come in various configurations ranging from 5 to 15 pieces. That is a direct contrast with Fortress, which encourages you to build the system that best works for you.
The eight-piece kit, as an example, includes a base station, keypad, three contact sensors, two motion detectors, and a range extender.
One enticing feature: The Ring systems integrate with Amazon Alexa for voice commands. Ring also offers 24/7 professional monitoring as an add-on for $10 a month.
Similar to Fortress, the Ring systems have their own monitoring app. This enables you to keep watch over your property through your mobile phone or tablet.
Happy customers found the system easier to use and set up than expected. Another customer had a different experience, writing on Amazon that his property was robbed even after installation.
Singing like a bird
Home security systems exist to make noise when the bad guys come in. The systems by Canary Connect Inc. of New York are geared to do exactly that.
Canary’s all-in-one security view system provides a siren that sounds at 90 decibels or above when confronted with an intrusion. That’s plenty loud, but a little quieter than some of Fortress’s add-on accessories.
One prominent feature of the Canary system: It provides the capability to stream real-time video of your home to anywhere using the included 1080p HD camera. The camera has a wide-angle lens and night vision, allowing you to keep watch day and night over the included app.
Another Canary feature not found in other systems: Built-in climate monitors and air-quality alerts, covering things like temperature and humidity.
The system sells depending on whether you want to add on professional installation. The company also offers an optional premium membership service which includes features like two-way audio conversations and video history storage.
Canary systems are not widely reviewed, so the feedback from customers is mixed. One family noted their system, unfortunately, arrived broken but was quickly replaced. A less-enthused purchaser said that her wedding ring was stolen despite the presence of the system.
Shielding the home
ADT is a leading name in the security business. The company offers do-it-yourself home security via its LifeShield subsidiary.
Like Fortress, LifeShield offers make-your-own system capabilities in addition to pre-configured kits. One of its kits, a 12-piece system, offers excellent value along with optional add-on professional monitoring.
The 12-piece kit includes all the principal components, from the base station and keypad through sensor and siren. It also offers a layered approach to communication to make sure you get the alerts. The system will access broadband, cellular, and then landline until it receives a response.
You can integrate LifeShield into your home technology network, allowing you to control the system by voice through your personal assistant (Alexa, Siri, Google.) You’ll also get a fire safety sensor as well as special panic and distress modes.
LifeShield kits sell depending on how many pieces you wish to acquire when you first install your system.
Reviewers found the system exceptionally easy to install and praised the wireless connectivity.
Deciding on home security is a very personal matter. Without knowing your own individual situation, and your tolerance for risk, it's a little difficult for us to recommend one system as part of our Fortress security review.
But because that's our goal here, we really say you should stick with the Fortress Systems. Unlike other companies, Fortress truly puts its emphasis on modularity.
It recognizes that everyone has a different situation -- bigger houses, more windows, more doors. One-size-fits-all is yesterday’s idea. Today the consumer is in charge. Build your fortress.
Have you tried Fortress or another security system? Share your experiences in the comments.
Featured Image: Image via Amazon