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Best home security systems 2021: DIY, professional install

Vivint Indoor Camera Hero
Vivint Indoor Camera Hero (Image credit: Jared DiPane / Android Central)

Amongst all the best home security systems, DIY or professional, we strongly recommend the SimpliSafe Home Security package, thanks to its simple installation, no-contract monthly monitoring, a wide range of security add-ons, and cellular backup. However, our other top five options beat SimpliSafe in specific ways that could make you feel safer or work better for your home layout. So let's break down what you should be looking for in a home security system.

What are the best DIY or professional home security systems?

Home security systems used to rely solely on door/window sensors and a keypad. Nowadays, more systems depend entirely on security cameras and motion detection, while others combine these with door sensors or add smart home devices like sirens or lights that activate in response to intruders.

Most security companies have adapted to offer similar packages as their competitors; the main differences between them are (A) whether they're DIY or professionally installed, (B) the upfront cost for the security tech, (C) monthly costs for monitoring and AI detection, and (D) the quality of the security cameras. Below, we'll break down how our top security companies differ in these areas.

Our list is mainly comprised of DIY security systems. We think most readers don't want to have to haggle with a representative or installation team like you're at a car dealership; you can determine online exactly how much you'll pay for a system and even augment your system later with new cameras or sensors once you have the budget for them. Plus, many DIY systems have a professional installation option if you're not confident in your tech abilities. Still, we did include Vivint, the best pre-installed security option we've tested.

As you look through our picks, consider these questions: how much can you reasonably afford to pay monthly for protection? Will self-monitoring alerts make you feel empowered or paranoid? Do you really need outdoor cameras, or can you make do with sensors to focus on catching intruders in the act? Do you want to make your security system part of a "smart home," or do you want to keep things simple? The answers to these questions will help determine which system is best for your specific home.

Simplisafe lifestyle

Source: Simplisafe (Image credit: Source: Simplisafe)

SimpliSafe Home Security System

Best overall home security

SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security System

Reliable sensors and affordable monthly costs

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
Pricey, average indoor cam, no dedicated outdoor cam
Several features locked behind SimpliSafe subscription

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. However, home automation of smart home devices is limited. For example, 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: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
SimpliSafe ProtectBase station, keypad, 4 entry sensors, 1 motion sensor$200
SimpliSafe The HearthBase station, keypad, key fob, 3 entry sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 105db siren, 1 smoke detector, 1 indoor camera$300
SimpliSafe The HavenBase station, keypad, key fob, 4 entry sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 105db siren, 1 smoke detector, 1 temperature sensor, 1 water sensor, 1 panic button, 1 indoor camera$400

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. It relies on sensors for protection more than cameras. And their tech is very affordable, making the decision to go with them pretty simple, too.

Whether or not buyers mesh with SimpliSafe will depend on whether they miss the integration with other smart home devices or just want solid, affordable security. For example, 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 a 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 its 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. We'd argue that its weakness is in-camera coverage. It sells one indoor security camera, the wired HD SimpliCam, plus an FHD video doorbell. We like the SimpliCam for its complementary AI detection and privacy shutter, but its 720p resolution and lack of local storage are frustrating for a $99 device. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe also doesn't offer an outdoor cam. Instead, it sells a weather-resistant kit that wraps around the SimpliCam.

Despite that, home security doesn't require security cameras for many people. Instead, sensors to detect and warn intruders may be all you need for deterrence, so there is no need to overcomplicate things.

Abode Smart Security Kit Lifestyle

Source: Abode (Image credit: Source: Abode)

Abode Iota all-in-one Home Security Kit

Best home security for smart homes

Abode Iota all-in-one Home Security Kit

A smart, affordable system

No contract, cancel anytime
Devices ship already paired together
Cheap monthly monitoring fees
Works with Alexa, Google, and HomeKit
Great cameras
Starter bundles can be lacking
Keypad only included with pricier bundles
New app isn't well-liked by users

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. Still, the security system's appeal is that you can control third-party devices through HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and IFTTT. 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 ✔️ | Panic Button: ✔️ | Video Doorbell: Outdoor cam converts to 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: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
Abode iotaHub with built-in camera/ motion sensor/ siren, 1 door/window sensor$300
Abode Smart Security KitHub with siren, 1 door/window sensor, 1 key fob, 1 motion sensor, 2 Abode Cam 2s$300
Abode Smart Security Kit EliteHub with siren, keypad, 4 door/window sensors, 1 key fob, 2 motion sensors$450

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 specific triggers. For example, 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 helpful 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 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.

Abode's indoor cameras are both reliable and impressively affordable. It sells $35 indoor/outdoor wired cams with 1080p recordings, full-color low-light vision, and IP65 protection, though no local storage. The company finally released an outdoor camera with 152-degree vision that can double as a video doorbell, setting off a chime when someone approaches the door.

Abode isn't without its flaws. Its iOS and Android apps have been poorly received by users, suggesting some people find them unintuitive or buggy. And its lower-end bundles arguably don't offer enough value, with most of your money going toward a single hub-siren-camera hybrid. You need to pay a decent amount to get enough sensors and cameras to cover your home properly.

Frontpoint Security Lifestyle

Source: Frontpoint (Image credit: Source: Frontpoint)

Frontpoint DIY Home Security System

Best DIY home security

Frontpoint DIY Home Security System

Affordable products, costly subscription

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

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 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: $35–$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: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
The SafehouseHub, keypad, 2 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 doorbell camera$250
The BunkerHub, keypad, 3 door/window sensors, 1 motion sensor, 1 indoor camera, 1 smoke and heat sensor, 1 doorbell camera$410
The FortressHub, keypad, 6 door/window sensors, 2 motion sensors, 1 indoor camera, 1 smoke and heat sensor, 1 doorbell camera$520

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 essential 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 playing music and fitting the decor. On the other hand, the doorbell cam only hits 720p and 8 feet of night vision, which isn't great compared to the best smart video doorbells.

Vivint Outdoor Camera Review Hero

Source: Jared DiPane / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jared DiPane / Android Central)

Vivint Home Security System

Best professionally installed home security

Vivint Home Security System

Premium quality and price

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 a quote to know the (expensive) price
No object detection
Short trial period

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. Also, 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: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
Vivint Home SecurityWide range of sensors, accessories, and camerasVaries from house to house

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 homeowners, 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 is that you cannot cancel your Vivint plan (or switch to month-to-month) until you pay off your loan balance.

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 automation work with Vivint products and 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. However, 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.

Ring Alarm Keypad 2nd Gen

Source: Ring (Image credit: Source: Ring)

Ring Alarm Security Kit

Best home security with outdoor cameras

Ring Alarm Security Kit

Keep a close watch

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

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 much else. It holds its own against other kits as an entry-level security system, 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 | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras 🚫 | Panic Button: 🚫 | Video Doorbell: 🚫 | Siren: ✔️(Indoor only) | Smart Lock: 🚫 | Thermostat: ✔️ | Key Fob: 🚫 | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: ✔️ | Z-Wave: Yes | Zigbee: ✔️ | IFTTT: ✔️ | Other connectivity: "Works with SmartThings" Samsung SmartThings | Cellular monitoring backup: 🚫 | Video storage: ✔️ | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ | Yard Sign: 🚫 | Duress PIN: ✔️ | 2FA: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
5-piece systemBase station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, range extender$200
8-piece systemBase station, keypad, 4 contact sensors, motion detector, range extender$250
14-piece systemBase station, 2 keypads, 8 contact sensors, 2 motion detector, range extender$330

Ring Alarm has the sensors, smart hub, keypad, 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 Ring has partnered with X Line to install your cameras professionally, they charge a large, per-device fee for each installation, which goes against the point of DIY cost-saving.

Finally, we also must point out that there have been Ring security flaws in the past. We aren't suggesting that these issues have persisted, but we still want you to be aware of them before choosing Ring for long-term protection.

ecobee Smart Security Whole Home

Source: ecobee (Image credit: Source: ecobee)

ecobee Smart Security

Best security system for sustainability

ecobee Smart Security

Very smart

Easily expandable
Two months free of pro monitoring
Multi-functional sensors
Quick DIY installation
Integrates with multiple smart home platforms
No cellular backup
Compatible cameras are pricey
Lacks outdoor camera and video doorbell options

Bottom line: ecobee is well-known for its smart thermostats, but it is making some noise in the home security area thanks to its partnership with RapidSOS. The ecobee smart sensors, along with its camera, work in tandem with the thermostat that can help you keep your heating and cooling costs down while helping to keep your home safe. All of the devices are backed by a 3-year warranty to help cut down on the e-waste in our landfills.

DIY and/or professional installation: DIY, Pro | Contract / Cancellation Policy: None | Trial period: 60 days | Upfront costs: $88 | Monthly monitoring fees: $5/month | Sensors: Entry, motion | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras 🚫 | Panic Button: App only | Video Doorbell: 🚫 | Siren: 🚫 | Smart Lock: 🚫 | Thermostat: ✔️ | Key Fob: 🚫 | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ | Google Home: ✔️ | Apple HomeKit: ✔️ | Z-Wave: 🚫 | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: ✔️ | Cellular monitoring backup: 🚫 | Video storage: 🚫 | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ | Yard Sign: 🚫 | Duress PIN: 🚫 | 2FA: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
Whole-Home SolutionSmartThermostat with voice control, 1 SmartSensor, 2 SmartSensor for doors and windows, 1 SmartCamera$370
Efficiency and Security SolutionSmartThermostat with voice control, 1 SmartSensor, 2 SmartSensor for doors and windows$280
Sweet Dreams Baby KitSmartThermostat with voice control, 1 SmartSensor, 1 SmartCamera$300
Home Security Solution2 SmartSensor, 4 SmartSensor for doors and windows, 1 SmartCamera$250
Motion & Occupancy Solution2 SmartSensor, 2 SmartSensor for doors and windows$130

If you have looked for smart thermostats in the last few years, you've likely come across the name ecobee. This brand separates itself from the rest of the pack with some helpful features like having Alexa built into the thermostat to act as a smart speaker and is one of the best smart thermostats for multiple zones. Recently the company has released smart sensors and cameras to expand its home monitoring portfolio, and announced in November 2021 a partnership with RapidSOS to offer 24/7 professional monitoring.

After a two-month trial, the no-contract security plans (opens in new tab) start at $5/month for the Standard service and $10/month for the Complete. Both options offer a host of great monitoring features. Still, the Complete is where you get the 24/7 professional monitoring, critical data routing to emergency services, video storage for unlimited cameras, and more.

When it comes to sensors, ecobee's SmartSensor for doors and windows do more than just help to keep track they are left open or closed. The sensors work in tandem with your ecobee thermostat to help save you energy by turning off your HVAC if an exterior window has been left open. Some SmartSensors act as motion detection and temperature monitors. These can work with the SmartCamera and other ecobee devices to help monitor your home.

All of ecobee's devices come with an industry-leading 3-year warranty. This means that your devices last you longer and save the earth from additional e-waste. You can use ecobee products with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings. The downside is that there is only one ecobee camera option, and it can't be used outdoor. Nor is there a video doorbell option. However, if you are only in the market to monitor the inside of your home, ecobee is a solid option.

Wyze Cam Outdoor 3

Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Jeramy Johnson / Android Central)

Wyze Home Monitoring

Best value home security system

Wyze Home Monitoring

Amazingly cheap

Incredibly affordable
Free security kit with a year of pro monitoring
Cameras work well, are also cheap
Quick DIY installation
Wide range of Wyze smart home accessories
No cellular backup
Limited Alexa/ Google Assistant commands
AI detection requires a per-camera subscription

Bottom line: Wyze offers the cheapest professional monitoring available alongside the most affordable starting security package we've seen. Add in its reliable, affordable cameras like the Wyze Cam v3, and Wyze Home Monitoring is undoubtedly the cheapest way to secure your home safely. Its main downside is a lack of cellular backup, meaning the system will go down if your internet dies.

DIY and/or professional installation: DIY | Contract / Cancellation Policy: None | Trial period: 30 days | Upfront costs: $85–$100 | Monthly monitoring fees: $5/month | Sensors: Entry, motion | Indoor Cameras: ✔️ | Outdoor Cameras ✔️ | Panic Button: App only | Video Doorbell: ✔️ | Siren: ✔️(Indoor hub only) | Smart Lock: ✔️ | Thermostat: ✔️ | Key Fob: 🚫 | Amazon Alexa: ✔️ (partial support) | Google Home: ✔️ (partial support) | Apple HomeKit: 🚫 | Z-Wave: 🚫 | Zigbee: 🚫 | IFTTT: ✔️ | Other connectivity: Lights, vacuums, plugs, smart switches | Cellular monitoring backup: 🚫 | Video storage: Local MicroSD storage or $15/year per camera for cloud | Remote arming/disarming: ✔️ | Yard Sign: Decals | Duress PIN: 🚫 | 2FA: ✔️

Name of packageSecurity HardwareTypical price (estimate)
Wyze Home MonitoringWyze Sense Hub, Keypad, 2 entry sensors, 1 motion sensor, leak sensor, monitoring and cloud storage/ AI$100, then $60/year

Most DIY security systems will have starter packs for a few hundred dollars but end up costing much more once you start adding in extra sensors and cameras to cover your entire home. That's not the case with Wyze, at least while its fledgling Home Monitoring system is still new and attracting customers. You can get a hub, keypad, and a decent number of sensors for free along with a year of pro monitoring. Its cameras like the Wyze Cam v3 and Wyze Cam Outdoor are also highly affordable for the specs they offer. So you can easily build up a whole surveillance network around your home for the exact cost as just one outdoor camera from a competitor.

Security equipment aside, Wyze Home Monitoring costs $5 a month, which gets you 24/7 monitoring from security company Noonlight. When an alert triggers, you'll get a text, and if you don't respond within 30 seconds, you'll get a phone call. Most other companies charge much more per month for the same 24/7 surveillance. We have to assume this price will go up at some point, but even if it doubles, it'll still match the next-closest competitor (Ring).

In terms of smarts, you can't arm or disarm Wyze's security system with Alexa or Google Assistant. However, you can call up video feeds on smart displays with voice commands, at least. And while Wyze doesn't support Z-Wave or Zigbee devices, you can set up IFTTT commands to activate smart lights or sirens if you're willing to really dive into DIY security. The more serious issue is that Wyze hasn't added cellular backup to its system so that an internet outage can disable the system. It's the only one of our top picks with that problem, and we're hoping Wyze will resolve it.

Ring Video Doorbell 3 Pressing Button

Source: Ring (Image credit: Source: Ring)

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. For example, 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 require you to do some wiring. In practice, however, the difficulty is less about mounting or adhering to devices than 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, completely DIY, and Ring, which charges an excessive flat rate per device that'll quickly add up for a complete 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:

  • Smoke
  • 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. So 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 quickly set off the alarm. 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. Of course, 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 automation, and check live streams. Unfortunately, not all apps are created equal, between companies or between iOS and Android.

For the best app experience on any phone, choose SimpliSafe or Vivint. The SimpliSafe iOS (opens in new tab) and Android apps (opens in new tab) have rave reviews, as do Vivint's popular apps for iOS (opens in new tab) and Android (opens in new tab).

Abode recently updated its app, which may have been a mistake: both the Android (opens in new tab) and iOS (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) is considered very reliable, while the Android app (opens in new tab) appears to have major unresolved issues. Similarly, Ring's well-rated iOS (opens in new tab) app outshines the less-popular Android (opens in new tab) app. On the flipside, the Wyze app is decently rated on Android (opens in new tab) but has middling reviews for iOS (opens in new tab).

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.

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 and Wyze 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. Unfortunately, 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 to ensure that even if hackers somehow get your username and password, they still need your phone to get into your account.

Even with 2FA, you'll want to use strong passwords to secure your privacy, as your network may not support that. Several reliable and secure password managers for Android will create codes that hackers wouldn't guess from publicly available data. Also, 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

  1. 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.
  2. Wyze — Renters don't have tons of money lying around, so going with the most affordable option makes sense. You could always invest in a more expensive, comprehensive system once you become a homeowner.
  3. 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

  1. 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. However, you will likely pay thousands upfront if you get a full selection of cameras and speakers for a house. 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.
  2. 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 video monitoring (about $50) are standard for comparable systems. Still, the $480 Complete Home System is more comparable with DIY sets in the initial pricing. You get a touchscreen hub, five-door/window sensors, a motion sensor, an indoor/outdoor camera, and a sign. We didn't include it in our list because it is a regional service and cannot be installed in many areas due to COVID-19.
  3. Eufy Professional Monitoring — We previously included Eufy as one of our top picks, specifically for self-monitored security. Then two things happened: Eufy accidentally showed private camera feeds of its customers to other customers. Then it launched its own professional monitoring service with Basic ($50/year) and Plus ($100/year) plans. The first incident made us wary of Eufy's security issues; the second news provided a cheap monitoring option on the same level as Wyze and Ring. In fact, this system uses the same monitoring company (Noonlight) as Wyze. So we're intrigued, but need to do more research before adding Eufy back to our list.

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

Author: Michael Hicks Headshot

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, and fitness watches.