Design, Pricing, and Features
The LifeStation system uses a Climax Technology CTC-1052 console for a base unit and comes with a choice of a wristband or pendant help button. The landline system costs $29.95 per month if billed on a monthly basis, but that drops to $27.95 per month if billed quarterly, and $25.95 per month if billed annually. The cellular system goes for $36.95 per month if billed monthly, $34.95 per month quarterly, and $32.95 per month annually
The console is black and can be placed on a flat surface or hung on a wall. It measures 2.0 by 8.0 by 5.9 inches (HWD) and has a smallish (2.8-by-0.7-inch) red help button with Braille lettering. Above the button is a large speaker, and to the right are a reset button and a microphone. The reset button will stop the alarm, but the response center will still call you to confirm that everything is OK. Both the help button and the reset button have their own LED status indicators; the help button indicator glows red when pushed, as does the button itself, and the reset indicator glows green when the system is online and blinks green during the reset process.
The rear of the unit has a power jack, an SD Card slot for the cellular SIM card, GSM status lights, a GSM reset button, and an on/off switch. Inside is a rechargeable battery that provides up to 32 hours of power in the event of a power outage.
LifeStation does not offer the daily check-in calls or medicine reminders that you get with the LifeFone At Home system, but it does offer free monitoring for a spouse. However, you’ll have to pay an additional $3.99 per month for the secondary pendant, which is fairly expensive compared with the competition; LifeFone offers a free secondary pendant, and Bay Alarm Medical charges $1.99 per month. LifeStation’s fall-detection pendant will cost you an additional $7 per month, and its wireless wall buttons cost an extra $3.49 each per month for one, or $2.49 each per month for a bundle of six. A lockbox used to store your keys so that emergency responders don’t have to break down your door goes for $2.99 per month.
Installation and Performance
Installing the LifeStation is quick and easy. If using the cellular model, it is recommended that you position the base unit near a window for optimal reception. Simply plug the unit into an AC outlet, wait a few seconds for it to beep a couple of times, and you’re ready to go. It’s a good idea to test the system out right away to make sure it will connect and that the portable help button works throughout your home.
When you press the base unit or portable help button, an alarm will sound while waiting to connect to the response center. Once connected, you can use the hands-free two-way audio feature to tell the agent if you need help, if you’ve pressed the button accidentally, or if you’re testing the system. If you don’t or can’t answer when the agent comes online, they will attempt to reach somebody on your notification list before calling 911.
The system performed well in my tests. Its average response time of 42 seconds was a bit faster than what we saw with the LifeFone system (48 seconds), but not quite as fast as the Bay Alarm Medical system (35 seconds). The wristband help button worked perfectly throughout my single-story, three-bedroom house, backyard, and basement. It was able to trigger the alarm from outdoors at a distance of up to 150 feet, but couldn’t match the Bay Alarm Medical’s portable help button range of up to 400 feet. As with the LifeFone and Bay Alarm Medical systems, LifeStation response center agents were always courteous and professional, and two-way audio communications were loud and clear.
If you or a family member are in need of an in-home medical alert system, the LifeStation At Home is a good bet. Simply plug it in and you’ll have the ability to connect to a live response center agent to request help or perform a system test. If you are unable to answer using the hands-free two-way audio feature, the agent will call your contacts before dispatching an emergency responder. The system turned in solid response times in our testing and never failed to connect to an agent, but as with the LifeFone At Home system, its portable help button has limited outdoor range. If response time and pendant range are paramount, check out the Bay Alarm Medical In Home System. It’s our Editors’ Choice for in-home medical alert systems.