Amongst all the best home security systems, DIY or professional, we strongly recommend the SimpliSafe Home Security package, thanks to its simple installation, reasonable monthly monitoring fee with no contract or cancellation fee, varied sensors for more than security protection, and cellular connectivity if wi-fi goes down. You can pay more for pro installation and better indoor/outdoor cameras plus video monitoring, but SimpliSafe offers an excellent DIY baseline that won't eat through your monthly budget. However, the other five security systems on our list connect with other useful perks like outdoor surveillance that may sway you in another direction.
What are the best DIY or professional home security systems?
Security systems of the past depended almost entirely on door / window sensors, well before wireless cameras were technically feasible or commercially affordable. Nowadays, you'll find some systems that depend entirely on security cameras and motion detection, while others combine them with sensors, or add smart home devices like sirens or lights that activate in response to intruders.
We will break down below which home security systems have the particular hardware or features that you need below. But most security companies have pretty similar offerings at this point. The main differences are (A) whether you install the system yourself or must have a professional do it for you, and (B) costs and price transparency. Many professional security companies will only give you a price quote after you call a representative, while most DIY companies set the prices clearly on their websites.
We think most shoppers today don't want to have to haggle with a representative or installation team like you're at a car dealership. DIY security companies dominate our "best home security systems" list because of this. Abode, Frontpoint, and Ring are great examples of companies that sell base packages that only give you the sensors and hub that you need, then let you add on surveillance cameras, smart locks, smoke detectors, and the rest at your own pace. Since you can install them and link them into the security system at any time, you won't feel pressured to spend thousands upfront.
That being said, these companies have significant differences in what they offer and how much they charge upfront or month-to-month. Do you want outdoor surveillance, or are you fine fortifying your doors, windows, and garage with sensors? Is keypad activation enough, or do you want options for voice commands through your smart home and remote app arming and disarming? Would you rather self-monitor security alerts, or are you willing to pay monthly to have paid security teams respond to threats?
The features you choose will determine which system is best for your specific home.
1. SimpliSafe Home Security System
Best Overall Home Security$211 at Amazon
Bottom line: This system offers a straightforward, comprehensive entry into home security. You get a reasonable starting fee and monthly fee, truly simple installation of battery-powered devices, and connectivity with Alexa and Google Home, though home automation of smart home devices is limited. You can add on any number of indoor cameras and specialized sensors a la carte, but no outdoor cameras beyond the doorbell.
DIY and/or professional installation: DIY, Pro ($79) | Contract / Cancellation Policy: Month-to-month, cancel anytime | Trial period: 60 days | Equipment warranty: 3 years | Upfront costs: Between $183–$391 | Monthly monitoring fees: $14.99 (Standard Plan), $24.99 (Interactive Plan) | Sensors: Entry, Motion, Glassbreak, Smoke, Carbon Monoxide, Temperature, Water Leak | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras 🚫 | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: ✔️ | Siren: ✔️ (Indoor & outdoor) | Smart Lock: ✔️ | Thermostat: Works with Nest thermostat | Key Fob: ✔️ | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: 🚫 | Z-Wave: 🚫 | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: 🚫 | Other connectivity: Apple Watch | Cellular monitoring backup: ✔️ | Video storage: ✔️, with Interactive subscription | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️, with Interactive subscription | Yard Sign: ✔️ | Duress PIN: ✔️ | 2FA: ✔️
|Complexity of Security System||Security Hardware||Vendor|
|Low-end||Base station, keypad, key fob, 1 motion sensor, 1 entry sensor||$199 at Amazon|
|Mid-range||Key fob, 2 motion sensors, 6 entry sensors, base station, keypad||$200 at Best Buy|
|High-end||Base station with built-in 95dB siren, keypad, 5 entry sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 keyfob, 1 panic button, 1 SimpliCam security camera||$400 at Amazon|
|Varies||Build your own system, or various packages||Check Simplisafe's site|
- No contract, cancel anytime
- Very straightforward to install, move
- Below-market upfront costs and monitoring fees
- Good variety of tiny sensors
- Connects with both cellular and wi-fi
- Three-year equipment warranty
- No Z-Wave, IFTTT, or HomeKit
- Indoor cams only 720p, no person recognition
- Several features locked behind SimpliSafe subscription
SimpliSafe lives up to its "simple" moniker for better or worse. You attach sensors to the walls using adhesives, making it easy to take them with you if you move or remove them if you cancel.
Whether or not buyers mesh with SimpliSafe will depend on whether they miss the integration with other smart home devices, or if they just want solid, affordable security. It doesn't support if-then actions like turning lights on in response to motion and only connects with a few third-party devices like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Watch if you subscribe to a monitoring plan.
However, if you're in the latter camp, you can buy a preselected bundle with a smart hub with siren, panic buttons, multiple door / window sensors, a keypad, and a key fob. Then, check out the SimpliSafe store for add-ons. Protect against more than burglars with sensors for broken glass, smoke, CO, leaking pipes, or freezing temperatures. Guard your front door with a doorbell cam, smart lock, and outdoor siren, or install indoor cams that can go outside with a SimpliSafe outdoor weather sleeve.
By making its own first-party devices, SimpliSafe offers reliable products that sync easily with its app once installed and often cost less than other brands' tech, but wouldn't sync with other systems if you ever decided to switch. To get the most out of them, you'll need the Interactive plan that enables remote video monitoring, phone alerts, remote app (dis)arming, secret alerts that don't trigger an alarm, video storage, and smart home commands. Thankfully the plan isn't exorbitant, but it is disappointing app features that should be complementary are behind a paywall.
The company's strength is in its reliable, minute sensors that blend into the wall. In terms of its indoor security cameras, it is more middle of the road compared to other companies. They bring all the standard features, from two-way audio to infrared night vision to a respectable 120-degree field of view. On the other hand, they lack person detection, which can lead to false alarms with large pets but especially if you place them outside or near a window.
2. Abode Iota All-in-one Home Security Kit
Best Value Home Security$260 at Amazon
Bottom line: Abode is all about playing nice with other devices and smart home ecosystems. The company itself makes some excellent sensors built to slide into any crevice, but the security system's appeal is that you can control third-party devices through HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and IFTTT, including Nest cameras. Abode's Kit installs easily and can be self-monitored.
DIY and/or professional installation: DIY, Pro ($99) | Contract / Cancellation Policy: Month-to-month, cancel anytime | Trial period: 30 days | Equipment Warranty: One year | Upfront costs: $199–$389 | Monthly monitoring fees: $6.67 (Connect Plan), $16.66 (Secure Plan) | Sensors: (Mini / Recessed / Slim Strip) Door / Window; Vibration / Acoustic Glass Break; Motion; Multi (Motion, Light, Temperature and Humidity in one); Water Leak; Smoke Alarm | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras 🚫, can connect with Nest Cams | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: 🚫 | Siren: ✔️ (Indoor/outdoor) | Smart Lock: Works with Kwikset and Schlage | Thermostat: Works with Ecobee and Nest | Key Fob: ✔️ | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: ✔️ | Z-Wave: ✔️ | Zigbee: ✔️ | IFTTT: ✔️ | Other connectivity: Bose Speakers, Philips Hue, power switch | Cellular monitoring backup: ✔️ (with Connect Plan) | Video storage: ✔️ (with Connect Plan) | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ | Yard Sign: ✔️ | Duress PIN: ✔️ | 2FA: ✔️
|Complexity of Security System||Security Hardware||Vendor|
|Low-end||Key fob, mini door/window sensor, motion sensor, Abode gateway||$209 at Amazon|
|Mid-range||Iota base with 1080p cam, siren and motion sensor; plus key fob and mini door/window sensor||$260 at Amazon|
|High-end||Iota base with 1080p cam, siren and motion sensor; plus 4 Mini Door/Window Sensors, 1 Keypad 2.0, 1 Key Fob, and 1 Motion Sensor||$452 at Abode|
- No contract, cancel anytime
- Devices ship already paired together
- Cheap monthly monitoring fees
- Easy-to-overlook, versatile sensors
- Long list of "Works with Abode" devices
- CUE automations
- No native outdoor cams or video doorbell
- Keypad only included with pricier bundles
- New app isn't well-liked by users
While SimpliSafe clients receive painless, uncomplicated security, Abode buyers will likely be more interested in smart homes and self-monitoring. The Abode app can sync a ton of smart home devices to your security ecosystem, including Amazon Echo, Google Home, Philips Hue bulbs, Schlage Encode, Bose home speakers, ecobee thermostats, and more.
Using Abode's CUE automations and its app, you can set automatic actions based on certain triggers. You can turn on outdoor lights at a certain time, send an alert if a door is left open for five minutes, or lock the door if GPS shows no user phones at home. With these tools, you can decide exactly how your security system should behave if an intruder is spotted, which is useful if you choose not to pay for professional video monitoring.
While these tricks are useful, that doesn't mean you should only buy Abode if you own all the smart home essentials. Most companies sell sensors that come in one shape, but Abode built alternate sensors that slide into small gaps, or a door or window recess to specifically register when they open or close. The cheap Standard plan enables most of what Abode's systems can do, so you only need to upgrade to Pro if you want pro monitoring. In fact, Abode's monitoring is among the most affordable of any security company, and you can choose to monitor for specific periods (such as while you're on vacation) rather than pay monthly.
If Abode has a weakness, it's the lack of an outdoor camera (it's "coming soon") or video doorbell. You can pair the system with a Nest Cam Outdoor, but it can only provide a live feed and snapshots, not clips. Abode's indoor cameras, however, are reliable thanks to 1080p resolution and built-in microSD storage to save video clips. We've also seen that the recently rebuilt Abode app received an influx of negative reviews due to bugs, though Abode is working to rectify the problem.
3. Frontpoint DIY Home Security System
Best DIY Home Security$99 at Frontpoint (Safe Home Starter)
Bottom line: The only DIY system with no pro install option, Frontpoint trusts you to set up the system entirely on your own. It offers a full range of indoor/outdoor cameras and stores full-length clips of events and alarms. It can also control Alarm.com and some Z-Wave devices. The main negative is that its monthly plans are both vital and quite pricey.
DIY and/or professional installation: DIY | Contract / Cancellation Policy: Month-to-month, cancel anytime | Trial period: 30 days | Equipment Warranty: 3 years | Upfront costs: $99*–$600+ | Monthly monitoring fees: $45–$50 | Sensors: Door/Window, Motion, Glass, Garage Tilt, Smoke/Heat, Carbon Monoxide, Flood | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras ✔️ | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: ✔️ | Siren: ✔️ (indoor only) | Smart Lock: ✔️ | Thermostat: 3rd-party only | Key Fob: ✔️ | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: 🚫 | Z-Wave: ✔️ | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: 🚫 | Other connectivity: Wireless light control | Cellular monitoring backup: ✔️ | Video storage: ✔️ (with Ultimate Plan) | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ (with Basic Plan) | Yard Sign: ✔️ | Duress PIN: ✔️ | 2FA: ✔️
|Complexity of Security System||Security Hardware||Vendor|
|Low-end||Hub, keypad, 2 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor||$99 at Frontpoint|
|Mid-range||Hub, keypad, 3 door/window sensors, 2 motion sensors||$296 at Frontpoint|
|High-end||Hub, keypad, 5 door/window sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 glass break sensor, 1 smoke and heat sensor, 1 indoor camera||$480 at Frontpoint|
|Varies||Build your own package||See at Frontpoint|
- No contract, cancel anytime
- Discounted starter bundle
- Three-year equipment warranty
- Pan-and-tilt camera + Bluetooth speaker
- Smart video clips and storage
- Good price for extra accessories
- Expensive monthly plans
- No HomeKit, IFTTT support
- Plan required for vital security functions
- Doorbell Cam could be better
Frontpoint offers perhaps the widest array of reliable products of all the DIY security companies, working with some 3rd-party tech through Z-Wave but not relying on them for important functions like outdoor cameras, doorbell cameras, and smart locks. Even better, Frontpoint tends to sell its starter kits and accessories at a discount on its store page, so you can start for cheap with the door and motion controls, then add on other products down the line.
Unfortunately, these products' bargain price is a way for Frontpoint to lure you into paying for its expensive monthly plan. Like SimpliSafe, Frontpoint locks more than just video monitoring behind the top-tier plan paywall. It also locks motion-triggered alerts, live video feeds, night vision for its cameras, smart lock control, video storage, smart home compatibility, guest codes, and so on. Frontpoint's plan costs double that of SimpliSafe, though it's comparable to what you'd pay with Vivint or ADT.
Where Frontpoint justifies its higher monthly cost is with its video and cameras. Its outdoor cam stands up against the best outdoor security cameras thanks to its 1080p resolution, 40 feet of night vision, and how it records full clips in response to motion, system alerts, or alarms. Up to 1,000 clips can be stored per month, so you won't need to worry about something important getting deleted.
Its standard indoor camera also hits 1080p, while the premium indoor cam has a 180-degree field of view with digital pan and tilt, bundled with a Bluetooth speaker for calls. It's a great living room centerpiece that will guard your home while also playing music and fitting the decor. The doorbell cam, on the other hand, only hits 720p and 8 feet of night vision, which isn't great compared to the best smart video doorbells on the market.
4. Vivint Home Security System
Best Professionally Installed Home SecurityGet a price quote at Vivint
Bottom line: You have two options with Vivint: buy equipment upfront and pay month-to-month, or finance the equipment with a five-year zero-interest loan. Regardless, you'll need to contact Vivint to get an equipment / installation quote, as pricing isn't visible on their site. Price aside, Vivint has good cameras and home automation. If you move, you can remove your Vivint system yourself but must pay for a new installation appointment at your new home.
DIY and/or professional installation: Professional ($49+) | Contract / Cancellation Policy: 42–60 month, must pay remainder; or, month-to-month if equipment bought upfront | Trial period: 3 days | Equipment Warranty: Indefinite while under contract | Upfront costs: $599+ | Monthly monitoring fees: $40–$50, + $5/camera | Sensors: Motion, Door / Window, Glass, Smoke, Carbon Monoxide, Water Leak | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras ✔️ | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: ✔️ | Siren: ✔️(Inside) | Smart Lock: ✔️ | Thermostat: ✔️ | Key Fob: ✔️ | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: 🚫 | Z-Wave: ✔️ | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: 🚫 | Other connectivity: Garage Door Control, Philips Hue, Nest Thermostat | Cellular monitoring backup: ✔️ | Video storage: ✔️ (extra cost) | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ (with Smart Home Plan) | Yard Sign: ✔️ | Duress PIN: ✔️ | 2FA: ✔️
|Complexity of Security System||Security Hardware||Vendor|
|Varies||Wide range of sensors, accessories and cameras||Get a price quote at Vivint|
- Equipment installed for you
- Extensive smart home integration
- Can connect third-party devices after installation
- DVR for video storage
- Fast, all-in-one app with automations
- Garage door control
- Must get quote to know the (expensive) price
- No object detection
- Short trial period
Not everyone wants to "do it yourself", and Vivint Home Security is our choice for a company you can rely on to take care of things for you. This option is mainly for home-owners, as Vivint's installation team will need to rewire your home for parts of the system. Not only will renters' security deposits be destroyed, but if you ever move you'll have to pay for Vivint to come, uninstall the system, then reinstall it in your next apartment.
As mentioned previously, you can pay upfront for your equipment, but it's fair to say that any professionally-installed system will set you back thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if you finance the equipment, you can spread the cost of your system across five years with no interest. The negative of this is you cannot cancel your Vivint plan (or switch to month-to-month) until you pay off the balance of your loan.
Our reviewer was impressed by Vivint's system once it was installed. He said that Vivint's app became an all-in-one hub through which he controlled all his lights, thermostats, locks, and smart plugs. The app's automations work with Vivint products, but also other devices like Nest thermostat, so if you choose not to buy a particular Vivint device upfront you can supplement it with a third-party device down the line.
Vivint offers quality indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras, though in general, they are far more expensive than is typical for DIY systems, ranging from $199 to $399. They generally capture crisp 1080p audio with good FOV, then send data to either a smart drive or an optional DVR. As our reviewer found, you can only connect a limited number of devices to send recording data, which differs from other systems that can often support up to 10 cameras.
5. Ring Alarm Security Kit
Best Home Security with Outdoor Cameras$265 at Amazon
Bottom line: Ring cameras are among the best in the industry, and the cost for video monitoring is among the cheapest, too. Ring Alarm clicks with Alexa and "Works with Ring" devices but not with much else. As an entry-level security system, it actually holds its own against other kits, though it lacks the IFTTT automation you get with other Ring products.
DIY and/or professional installation: DIY, Pro ($64–$99 per device) | Contract / Cancellation Policy: Month-to-month or annual, cancel anytime | Trial period: 30 days | Equipment Warranty: 1 year, extended with Protect Plus | Upfront costs: $160–$260 | Monthly monitoring fees: $30/year (Basic), $100/year (Plus) | Sensors: Entry, motion, smoke, carbon monoxide, flood and freeze; compatible with Alexa Guard for glassbreak | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras ✔️ | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: ✔️ | Siren: ✔️(Indoor only) | Smart Lock: Works with Kwikset, Schlage, etc. | Thermostat: 🚫 | Key Fob: 🚫 | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: 🚫 | Apple HomeKit: 🚫 | Z-Wave: Yes, but not Ring-supported | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: 🚫 | Other connectivity: "Works with Ring" devices | Cellular monitoring backup: ✔️ (with Protect Plus Plan) | Video storage: ✔️ (with Protect Plus Plan) | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ | Yard Sign: ✔️ | Duress PIN: ✔️ | 2FA: ✔️
|Complexity of Security System||Security Hardware||Vendor|
|Low-end||Base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, range extender||$160 at Amazon|
|Mid-range||Base station, keypad, 4 contact sensors, motion detector, range extender||$200 at Amazon|
|Mid-range||Base station, keypad, 4 contact sensors, motion detector, range extender and Ring Indoor Cam||$260 at Best Buy|
|High-end||Base station, 2 keypads, 8 contact sensors, 2 motion detectors, range extender||$265 at Amazon|
- Wired, battery, PoE, or solar power for cameras
- Best indoor cameras
- Great price for pro video monitoring
- Neighbors app
- "Works with Ring" devices
- 10% discount on Ring.com
- Limited home automation features
- Pro installation affiliate charges per device fee
- Lingering security concerns
Ring Alarm has the sensors, smart hub, and panic button you get with any standard security kit, but the main appeal for many buyers will be to pair Alarm with Ring cameras, which have a strong reputation. The Ring Stick Up Cam is our pick for best indoor camera; the Ring Floodlight Cam is our staff pick for best outdoor security camera; and half of our favorite video doorbells are Ring-made.
After purchasing your cameras, you can choose Ring's Basic plan to unlock cloud video storage for 60 days, or Plus to enable professional 24/7 monitoring. Both plans are extremely fair in price, with a year of Plus costing the same as two months of Frontpoint or Vivint. Of course, those systems justify higher prices thanks to their automated control of lights, locks, temperature, and so on; but those are secondary concerns for security systems. Even without automated controls, you can manually control Works with Ring smart home tech through the Ring app. And you'll find that most Ring devices are both Alexa-compatible and Google Assistant-compatible.
One actual drawback with Ring Alert is sound detection. Its cameras only catch visual anomalies, so you'll want to invest in an Amazon Echo device that's compatible with Alexa Guard to send you alerts about any audible anomalies. Also, while this DIY system has a professional installation option via OnTech, we advise against it, as the company charges a fee per device that matches what other companies charge for installing a full alarm system, making it extremely expensive. Finally, we also must point out that there have been Ring security flaws in the past.
6. Eufy Wireless Protection System
Best Home Security Without Professional Monitoring$280 at Amazon
Bottom line: Eufy cameras rely entirely on the user to set them up, then to monitor any potential threats. If you don't want a company watching your home 24/7, but do want to protect your home and have visual evidence of any crimes, Eufy could be your best option. Eufy doesn't lock any features behind a monthly subscription except for cloud storage, and you can store video footage locally instead.
DIY and/or professional installation: DIY | Contract / Cancellation Policy: None | Trial period: 30 days | Equipment Warranty: Varies by device | Upfront costs: $250–$600+ | Monthly monitoring fees: N/A | Sensors: Entry, motion | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras ✔️ | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: ✔️ | Siren: ✔️(Indoor only) | Smart Lock: ✔️ | Thermostat: ecobee3 through HomeKit | Key Fob: 🚫 | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: ✔️ | Z-Wave: 🚫 | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: 🚫 | Other connectivity: HomeKit lights, sprinklers, smartplugs, etc. | Cellular monitoring backup: 🚫 | Video storage: Local MicroSD storage or $10/month plan | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ | Yard Sign: 🚫 | Duress PIN: 🚫 | 2FA: Varies by country
|Complexity of Security System||Security Hardware||Vendor|
|Low-end||2 EufyCam E cameras, HomeBase station, 16GB microSD card||$280 at Amazon|
|Mid-range||4 EufyCam 2C cameras, 1 video doorbell, 2 entry sensors, HomeBase station||$590 at Eufy|
|High-end||4 EufyCam 2 Cameras, video doorbell, floodlight camera, 2 entry sensors, HomeBase station||$900 at Eufy|
- No monthly fees required
- Simple DIY installation
- 24/7 recording option with local storage
- 2K camera resolution
- Human / object / pet recognition
- Pan and tilt indoor cam
- No professional monitoring
- No home automation
Eufy is well-known for its security cameras, but less so for its overall security system — most likely because it doesn't offer professional monitoring. Yet the company has a wide selection of sensors, baby monitors, smart locks, alarms, and doorbells that accompany these cameras, all of which could make up a complete security suite. You just need to be comfortable monitoring it yourself.
Eufy Cams top two of our lists for devices that store video footage locally: Best Smart Video Doorbells and Best Security Cameras. Most security companies store your data in the cloud, which can leave it vulnerable to data breaches. Eufy's standard microSD slots in its cameras bypass this common issue.
Most security companies either require a monitoring plan or incentivize it by making it affordable. Ring and Abode can be self-monitored if you so choose, whereas Eufy doesn't appear to have any plans to add monitoring. Many buyers will want to have a choice, making Eufy more of a niche pick for general home security.
Despite this, Eufy's Wireless Protection System is worth considering for its superior camera performance. In head-to-head performance, we judged the Eufy Indoor Cam 2K to beat out the Ring Indoor Cam, Nest Cam Indoor and Wyze Cam Pan. One reason is that Eufy Cams come with crisp 2K HD resolution instead of the industry-standard 1080p, and the upgraded model can pan and tilt to cover more ground. Another reason is that they can differentiate between people, pets, and objects without a subscription, limiting false positives so every alert is worth checking.
How to pick the best home security system
While the SimpliSafe Home Security System may be our top choice, it shouldn't necessarily be yours by default. Each system has its trade-offs, and in this case, SimpliSafe's easy installation, low costs, and reliable sensors are offset by a lack of third-party support or outdoor cameras.
For other systems, the trade-offs are less about features and more about the cost. The higher the monthly fee, the more features you typically unlock. On the other hand, some features only matter if you want a smart home security system with automation and if this, then that applets. You may just want a reliable app with live camera feeds, alert notifications, and remote access. Each of the six-picks offers these but at very different price points.
Each reader will be approaching this decision with different circumstances and expectations, so we've broken down some important considerations you should make before deciding which of our top security systems is best for you.
1. Install it yourself, or pay a little for the pros
Most DIY security companies suggest how easy and short the installation process will be. Sometimes, this ends up being true, though certain types of devices like video doorbells may actually require you to do some wiring. In practice, however, the difficulty is less about mounting or adhering devices, and more about knowing how many to buy and where to place them.
When speaking to a representative, they may try to upsell you on products, but they also can estimate how many sensors and cameras you'll need based on your home's square footage. They also will know how to place sensors so they remain out of sight, or out of the reach of your pets; plus, if a device doesn't turn on, they're more likely to know what went wrong.
Most DIY companies offer professional installation at a reasonable price. The exceptions are Frontpoint, which is completely DIY, and Ring, which charges an excessive flat rate per device that'll quickly add up for a full system.
2. Customize your sensors and alarms
Without a doubt, you need entryway sensors, door / window sensors for the rest of the home, and motion sensors. The question is, do you need the other sensors and devices that these companies sell as accessories:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Water Leaks
- Glass breaking
- Outdoor siren
- Smart lock
You hopefully already own fire and CO alarms, but who among us hasn't heard random beeping and spent too long figuring out where it was coming from, then what it meant? With smart connectivity, you'd know what the beeping means, when to replace the batteries, and if an alarm goes off while you're away from home. In our minds, these are worth getting, along with the water leak sensor if you own a house.
Glass break sensors are meant to be a backup for window sensors: if a window is opened the sensor will feel the movement and respond, but if the glass is broken the burglar could theoretically climb through without setting it off. Motion detectors inside the home would catch them, but theoretically, the glass break trigger would set off the alarm more quickly. Depending on how many windows your home has, investing in more motion detectors instead could work.
If you choose a system that supports outdoor cameras, it makes sense to buy an outdoor siren if it's available. With systems that only set off alarms in the indoor hub, users often complain that the noise isn't loud enough to scare burglars until they've already broken into the house. As of now, SimpliSafe and Abode sell outdoor sirens, and Frontpoint works with Alarm.com sirens; our other picks don't work with outdoor models at present.
Smart locks are primarily for smarter systems where you can use conditional coding to take advantage of them. For example, some systems use geolocation to determine that all user phones are away from home, then lock the door by default. You can buy the company-made locks if this appeals to you, but some of the best smart locks can connect to certain systems via Z-Wave or HomeKit.
3. Explore your app options
Even if you pay for monitoring, you'll be expected to use your app frequently. It's your best tool to stay apprised of emergencies, code automations, and check live-streams. Unfortunately, not all apps are created equal, between companies or between iOS and Android.
Abode recently updated its app, which may have been a mistake: both the Android and iOS apps currently have mediocre ratings, thanks to reports that some beta automations are buggy and certain features can only be used in a web browser.
Though it's unclear why, Frontpoint's iOS app is considered very reliable, while the Android app appears to have major unresolved issues. Similarly, Ring's well-rated iOS app outshines the less-popular Android app. As for Eufy, its iOS app also rates higher, but the Android app has a solid 4-star rating.
How much will monitoring plans cost over time?
Security companies love to point out that their monitoring will only cost a dollar or two a day, which seems like such a reasonable number to keep you and your family safe! Even so, that number blows up when you consider long-term costs, especially when you combine it with upfront equipment and installation fees.
|1-year cost for video monitoring||5-year cost for video monitoring|
|SimpliSafe||$180 (Standard), $300 (Interactive)||$900 (Standard), $1500 (Interactive)|
|Abode||$80 (Connect), $200 (Secure)||$400 (Connect), $1000 (Secure)|
|Frontpoint||$540 (Interactive), $600 (Ultimate)||$2700 (Interactive), $3000 (Ultimate)|
|Vivint||$480 (Smart Home), $600 (Smart Home + Video)||$2400 (Smart Home), $3000 (Smart Home + Video)|
|Ring Alarm||$30 (Basic), $100 (Plus)||$150 (Basic), $500 (Plus)|
The forecasted costs for Frontpoint and Vivint may seem particularly egregious next to the rest, but they're on par with other major security companies like ADT. The next tier would be Abode and SimpliSafe, and while we chose SimpliSafe as our top pick, it's undoubtedly true that Abode unlocks more smart features to rationalize the cost. Finally, companies like Ring, Eufy, and Nest do far less harm to your bank accounts.
How do I secure my security system?
It's no secret that security companies like Ring have had notorious issues in the past with user privacy. It's also true that hackers could try to access your cloud data to check your video feeds and see when you're not home. So you'll want to take some precautions.
First, follow this guide for protecting your Wi-Fi network. Most security systems use some combination of cellular and wi-fi data, so make sure that your router and network can't be easily accessed by anyone outside your household. This may start with replacing your router with a Wi-Fi 6 router or mesh Wi-Fi router.
Next, make sure you have two-factor authentication enabled. It's a simple step for making sure that even if hackers somehow get your username and password, they still would need your phone to get into your account. Our first five picks make this simple, but Eufy is trickier: they've slowly rolled out 2FA to a few countries, but not most of them. Allegedly they finally made it an option in the United States last August, but we haven't confirmed that.
Even with 2FA, you'll want to use strong passwords to secure your privacy, as your network may not support that. There are several reliable and secure password managers for Android that will create codes that hackers wouldn't guess from publicly available data. Check haveibeenpwned.com to make sure nothing you use hasn't already been compromised from a data breach.
Finally, you could invest in a VPN service, so that your Wi-Fi activity isn't publicly viewable to hackers. That will disincentivize them from trying to hack you in the first place.
What are the best home security systems for renters?
Maybe you're renting a large house, and want a system that you can bring with you when you go. Or perhaps you're in a condo or apartment, but still want a security hub because you live in a bad area.
Whatever your situation, renters should choose DIY systems, as it is an expensive hassle to get pro installers to reinstall your system somewhere else. To narrow it down further, focus your shopping on these specific companies:
3 best DIY home security systems for renters
- SimpliSafe —Its devices are easy to remove. Apartment-owners are less likely to need outdoor cams or have installed smart home tech, so it doesn't matter that SimpliSafe doesn't work with either.
- Eufy — Apartment owners mainly need to guard the front door, which means a reliable camera since you won't want to wire a doorbell in a rental. Eufy can alert you immediately during a break-in, without paying for monitoring.
- Ring — If you want to monitor, Ring charges a flat $10/month for all its cameras, letting you cover an entire rented home with Indoor or Stick Up Cams. They're painless to mount and unmount, so bringing them to your next rental home will be simple.
What other home security systems could you consider?
We recognized that certain shoppers are looking for very particular things with home security systems. That's why we wrote up guides on the best professionally-installed home security systems, the best budget home security systems, and the best home security systems with cameras.
Out of all our picks across these articles, some systems nearly made our top picks list but had some drawbacks that kept them off. Some were too expensive, some too regional, and some had nothing to differentiate themselves from the pack.
Here are a few systems that aren't the "best" by our standards, but may fit your needs:
Other home security systems to keep in mind
- ADT — The behemoth security company needs little introduction from us. ADT is contract-only, so you must commit to a few years. The company works through local authorized dealers, so your experience and pricing will vary based on your region. Because of this, we couldn't nail down price estimates for upfront costs or installation costs. If you get a full selection of cameras and speakers for a house, you will likely pay thousands upfront. It has the largest monitoring center, so in theory, any alerts would get more personalized attention; monthly monitoring fees vary but are likely comparable to Vivint's. The 1 TB recorder lets you capture 24/7 video from up to 8 cams, which is awesome for larger homes. ADT also does an excellent job with automation and connects over Z-Wave. ADT partnered with Google recently, which could mean an ADT-Nest partnership in the future.
- Xfinity Home — Xfinity offers a professionally installed system that won't cost you thousands out of the gate, and can be bundled with Xfinity Internet or Cable packages. The installation fee (around $100) and monthly fee for video monitoring (about $50) are standard for comparable systems, but its $480 Complete Home System is more comparable with DIY sets in initial pricing. You get a touchscreen hub, five door / window sensors, a motion sensor, an indoor/outdoor camera, and a sign. The main reason we didn't include it in our list is that it is a regional service, and cannot be installed in many areas right now due to COVID-19.
- Wyze Home Monitoring — In April 2021, a new Wyze professional monitoring package will launch, and you can pre-order it now. For just 60 bucks, you'll get a year of pro monitoring along with a keypad, hub, two entry sensors, and a motion sensor, then pay $5/month after the first year. You can also buy Wyze's insanely cheap-yet-reliable security cameras and have their feeds monitored for $1.25/month per camera. Once it's available, it may take the crown for best budget home security option with professional monitoring. Until then, you can technically build your own home security system with as many Wyze Cams and door/window sensors as you want, plus smart switches and light bulbs for IFTTT applets. It's a close rival to Eufy for self-monitored DIY security.
You should have all the knowledge you need to pick a security system that you want, not what some rep or online ranking says you should want. Pick the system that will make you feel safe, without regretting how much you're paying for it.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Michael Hicks got his tech start in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars before expanding to all things tech. When he's not gaming or reading SFF novels, he writes for Android Central on everything from laptops to soundbars, home security to fitness watches.
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