The best home security systems

  • You no longer have to call a traditional security company to get a home security system in place.
  • As smart home gadgets become more affordable and easy to use, making your home secure is easier than ever before.
  • The best home security system you can set up by yourself is the Simplisafe home security system.
  • You can also check out our guide to the best home security cameras.

There was once a time when home security meant shelling out thousands of dollars for high-end cameras, motion sensors, and professional set up. These days, however, home security systems are both smarter, and more affordable, plus, you can set them up all by yourself – no expert installation needed.

Of course, there are quite a few home security systems on the market, and some are clearly better than others. A good security system features motion trackers, security cameras, and even smart home connectivity to give you alerts on your phone and the ability to track your home’s security on the go.

When choosing a home security system, you’ll want to think about the smart home standard you want to use. For example, you may want the system to integrate with Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, Wink, Nest, Amazon Alexa, or the Google Assistant. Some systems work with more smart home gadgets to give you a fuller picture of your home environment, including everything from open windows to leaky sinks.

You’ll also have to make sure that you’re comfortable setting up these new wirelessly connected home security systems by yourself. If not, you’ll have to go to a professional like ADT, which costs more. However, the systems we’ve included are easy to use and set up, so you shouldn’t have a problem with them. It’s also important to note that you need strong internet to support all of these smart home products.

Last but not least, you’ll need to think about any monthly fees. Often, you’ll have to pay monthly fees for things like cloud video storage and other security features. – Christian de Looper

Here are the best home security systems you can buy:

  • Best security system overall: Simplisafe
  • Best budget security system: Ring
  • Best smart home security system: Abode
  • Best professional security system: ADT Pulse

Updated on 10/28/2019 by Monica Chin: Added four new picks and what else we considered. Updated prices and links.


The best home security system overall

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Simplisafe

SimpliSafe is easy to use, affordable, and simple to install.

If you’re looking for a decent security system that you can install yourself, then SimpliSafe is the one for you. It even works with the Nest Learning Thermostat and the August smart lock.

Like other smart home security systems, SimpliSafe comes with a variety of different devices, including a motion sensor, four entry sensors, a keypad, a base station, and a 720p camera. Installation is generally quick and easy, and the app is easy to use, albeit a bit basic.

Another great thing about SimpliSafe is that the hardware is relatively inexpensive, and the $14.99 a month charge for live monitoring and LTE backup in the event of a power or Wi-Fi outage is fairly reasonable.

However, the subscription price does increase based on what features you want to use. If you want text and email notifications, you’ll have to pay $19.99 a month for that service. Those of you who are interested in controlling devices from an app on your phone will have to pay $24.99 a month.

We recommend that you go with the $24.99-a-month plan because it gives you app control, notifications, email alerts, and 30-day event-footage storage for unlimited cameras.

The only downside here is that the system only works with a few smart home devices. Still, if you want a simple, basic system, this is it. Other reviewers agree – The Wirecutter, CNET, and PCMag all highly recommend it. – Monica Chin

Pros: Easy to use, easy to set up, relatively inexpensive

Cons: App is a little basic, only works with Nest products


The best budget home security system

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Amazon

Ring Alarm is well-designed, easy to use, and super affordable.

Maybe you’re not interested in spending a lot of money on a home security system. if that’s you, then you may want to look into the Ring Alarm system. It’s only $149, and professional monitoring is available for an extra cost.

The kit includes a base station, a keypad to arm and disarm the system, a contact sensor that alerts you when doors and windows open, a motion detector, and a range extender. You can purchase additional flood and freeze sensors, as well as a panic button. Our reviewers found the setup process a bit complex, but it’s certainly possible to do on your own.

You can arm and disarm the system either from the keypad or the Ring mobile app. When you’re home, Ring will sound the alarm if the contact sensor senses that a door or window has opened. When you’re away, the alarm will also sound if the system detects motion.

For an extra $10 a month, you can add professional monitoring. Then, in addition to sounding the alarm, the system will alert a call center if it detects suspicious activity. When you sign up for monitoring, you’ll create a password, which you’ll give to the security center when they call you to disarm the system. If the password isn’t provided, they’ll contact the police. Ring claims the average call response time is 30 seconds.

We aren’t the only ones who like Ring Alarm. Wirecutter selected it as the best no-contract security system. – Monica Chin

Pros: Easy to use, affordable

Cons: Limited smart-home compatibility, professional monitoring costs extra


The best smart home security system

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Facebook / Abode

The Abode Essentials Starter Kit is an easy-to-install security kit that works Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.

If you already have a smart home set up, the Abode Essentials Starter Kit will fit right in. It’s easy to set up, and even easier to use from Abode’s app and website. You can integrate it into smart home routines and create custom actions using Alexa, Google Assistant, or IFTTT.

The kit comes with a hub (called a gateway) that connects to your router or modem, a door or window sensor, a motion detector, and a key fob to arm or disarm the system. You can purchase additional sensors to cover a wider area. Our reviewer was able to set up the system in just 15 minutes with no difficulty.

Using the app, you can set the system to three modes: “Standby” (disarmed), “Home,” which arms the door and window sensors but disables the motion detector, and “Away,” which arms everything. You can use Alexa and Google to arm and disarm the system with your voice as well.

If the system detects motion, it sounds a loud siren through the gateways speaker and pushes an alert to your phone from which you can call the police. There are some advanced automation features as well. You can set the system to arm and disarm based on your location (if you grant the app location permissions), as well as the time, and other conditions.

The system is also compatible with a number of popular smart home products, including many from brands such as Nest, Philips Hue, Lifx, and Ecobee. Compatible devices can connect to your gateway as a hub, and you can control them in the Abode app as well.

Many reviewers recommend the Abode Essentials Starter Kit. Tom’s Guide named it the best overall DIY home security system. – Monica Chin

Pros: Easy to install and use, home automation features, smart home compatibility

Cons: Professional monitoring costs extra


The best professional home security system

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ADT

ADT Command is built by a home security company that knows what it’s doing.

ADT is a long-time player in the home security game. If you’re looking for high-end security with professional monitoring, ADT Command offers everything you might need.

Note: This system requires professional installation, and it’s not cheap. The price will vary depending on your home and needs. Command’s predecessor, ADT Pulse, started at $52,99 per month.

The basic “Traditional” package comes with 24/7 alarm monitoring; fire, flood, and carbom-monoxide detectors, and professional installation. Depending on the tier you select, you can get any number of security devices, smart-home controls and remote capabilities, email and text alerts, and the ability to record and save video clips.

You can also use Alexa to arm and disarm your system through ADT’s skill.

ADT can also install a number of smart home devices, including a range of security cameras, control panels, video doorbells, thermostats, and more from ADT as well as third-party companies like Nest and Ring. – Monica Chin

Pros: Respected brand, 24/7 professional monitoring and customer service, multiple pricing tiers, advanced automation options available, third-party smart-home integration

Cons: Very expensive, requires professional installation, requires 3-year contract

Prices vary


What else we considered

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Nest
  • Vivint Smart Home (starts at $599+$29.99 per month): Vivint is a subscription-based monitoring system that requires professional installation. It provides 24/7 security monitoring and a number of cameras, sensors, and other smart-home hardware. However, it’s quite expensive, and doesn’t provide as many third-party integration options as ADT.
  • Honeywell Smart Home Security Starter Kit($173.95): Honeywell’s DIY system is easy to install and includes a 1080p camera with free cloud storage. It’s also compatible with Alexa, IFTTT, and some third-party smart-home devices. But it doesn’t offer professional monitoring, and its home-automation options are limited compared to other systems.
  • Wink Lookout ($199): Wink Lookout is a good option for folks who already use Wink’s smart-home system. It works with the Wink Hub, as well as a variety of other smart-home devices with both the Z-Wave and Zigbee standard. However, we don’t recommend it over other DIY systems because it lacks a professional-monitoring option, and it doesn’t have a backup battery.
  • Nest Secure ($399.99): Nest Secure is well designed and easy to set up, and it works with other Nest products, including the Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Cam IQ. However, it’s much more expensive than DIY systems such as Abode and Simplisafe, which offer most of the same features.
  • LifeShield Smart Home Security Kit ($229.99): ADT’s LifeShield DIY system offers both self- and professional monitoring options, and works with Alexa and IFTTT. There are several kits you can get, including a keypad, a fob, any number of sensors and an indoor security camera. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer as many add-on components as systems like Simplisafe, and reviews found the camera’s nighttime footage to be grainy.
  • Ooma Security Starter Kit ($126.58): Ooma’s affordable DIY starter kit includes smoke detectors, motion sensors, a camera, and a siren. But it’s a very basic system that doesn’t offer professional monitoring, third-party integrations, or many advanced automation features.