Home security systems today offer a wide range of protection and coverage options. Modern systems can include features ranging from in-home motion and heat sensors to doorbell cameras, as well as apps and smart home integration that can monitor your home from any location.
If you’re in the market for a home security system, take a look at our list for the seven best home security systems, from automated and professionally installed to no-contract, self-monitoring options.
Our Top Picks for Best Home Security Systems
ADT – Best for Versatility
SimpliSafe – Best No-contract Option
Frontpoint – Best DIY Home Security Setup
Brinks Home – Best for Phone Monitoring
Vivint – Best for Home and Vehicles
Ring – Best Budget Option
Abode – Best for Smart Homes
Best Home Security System Reviews
12 Monitoring centers available nationwide
Theft protection available -- up to $500
30-day trial period and six-month money-back guarantee
36-month minimum contract
No DIY installation available -- professional installation only
With services available for homes and commercial or small business facilities, ADT’s home security has a high degree of customizability. Devices include:
door and window sensors
night vision outdoor cameras
carbon monoxide detectors
full inside/outside video surveillance
You can also incorporate home automation functionality through ADT’s Control app, which sends customizable alerts to your smartphone, giving control over your home’s locks, garage door, smart lights and thermostat. The app integrates with smart home devices such as smart doorbells and cameras using Alexa, Kwikset, Z-Wave and Google Assistant.
Monitoring packages cost between $28.99 to $52.99 per month and include equipment rental fees. Equipment installation fees range between $99.00 to $199.00, depending on the system.
No upfront costs, but installation fees apply
Digital panel, door/window sensors, motion detector, backup battery, high decibel alarm, yard sign and window decal
$28.99 per month
Five home security packages available
HD video indoor cameras, Smart Lock and video doorbells and other smart home security add-ons
Option to discontinue monitoring for a specific period
Home automation requires a $24.99 plan upgrade
No facial recognition available with Simplicam
SimpliSafe is a no-contract DIY home security system that requires no drilling or tools and takes just minutes to install — with professional installation available for $79. It’s available for a home trial period of 60 days, after which, if you’re not satisfied, you can return it for a full refund, with shipping costs covered by SimpliSafe.
SimpliSafe actively monitors systems, calls to verify alarms haven’t been set off by accident, and can request emergency help when needed. There’s no monitoring contract to worry about, and coverage costs just $14.99 a month. You can also choose to discontinue monitoring for a period of time — if you go on vacation, for example — and then reactivate it when you need it.
If automation is important to you, you can monitor any of the home security packages from your phone and the system can sync with Alexa and Google Assistant. However, to do so you will need to upgrade to SimpliSafe’s interactive monitoring plan ($24.99 monthly fee).
Starts at $299
1 base station, 1 motion sensor, 3 entry sensors, 1 keypad
No contract needed
$28.99 per month
Professional installation available
Equipment can be used with other security monitoring companies
Four home security packages to choose from
Professional monitoring can get expensive
Personal remote monitoring costs extra
Frontpoint offers DIY setup, with easy installation that doesn’t require tools or scheduling a visit from a professional. You also have the option of creating your own security system by purchasing individual items, or you can add devices to the existing packages.
Additional equipment options include:
doorbell security cameras
carbon monoxide sensors
Customers can easily monitor their home security system from any computer or mobile phone using the Frontpoint app. However, remote monitoring requires a subscription to one of Frontpoint’s monitoring plans, which starts at $99.
The company offers three different monitoring plans and includes 24/7 professional monitoring and a price-lock guarantee. Frontpoint also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that includes return shipping, so you can try the system without commitment
Starts at $299
1 Frontpoint hub and keypad, 2 door/ window sensors, 1 doorbell camera, 1 home defense kit, 1 motion sensor
Starts at $14.99
Devices have simple interfaces and are easy to use
Cellular backup included in all plans
One year warranty
Monitor for fire or flood
Requires a three-year contract
Basic starter kit doesn't include a camera
Home security and automation requires an extra $39-$49.99 a month
Brinks home security systems feature 4G LTE cellular backup and battery-powered backup. This means that any information and notifications that you monitor with your phone are kept and protected through cloud storage, so you won’t have to worry about power outages. Home security and automation options aren’t automatically included with any package, so you’ll have to pay extra for them.
Customers can choose between three smart security solutions: Essential, Complete and Ultimate. All three tiers include devices that are easy to set up and use. For example, the Essential package includes a touch control panel with a simple touchscreen interface, a motion sensor, and two wireless door sensors.
Brinks also offers several add-ons for increased customizability, including:
outdoor security cameras
smart door locks
Starts at $199
1 Brinks home touch control panel, 1 motion sensor, 2 wireless door sensors, yard sign and window sticker
Starts at $19.99
Equipment integrates with third-party smart home devices
Control the system using mobile app, voice control recognition, or key fob
Professional monitoring includes carbon monoxide detection, live video monitoring, and medical alert monitoring
Requires a 60-month long-term contract if you don't pay upfront
No DIY option available
Short cancellation/refund policy of three days
Vivint doesn’t have pre-set equipment packages, opting instead to go with systems custom-built to your specifications and needs. To get a quote, you must call and speak with one of the company’s home security experts.
Vivint offers various smart home options, including smart locks, garage door control, thermostat, and lighting. All these devices can be connected to and monitored by Vivint’s Smart Hub. With this feature, you can control all these devices, and your home’s security systems, all through an integrated touchscreen.
Vivint Smart Home’s protection extends beyond your home — with Vivint Car Guard, you can protect your vehicle, too. You’ll be able to monitor your vehicle in the same home security app and receive alerts if your vehicle is being stolen, towed, or has been bumped.
Since Car Guard is on the same platform as your home security, you can configure your settings to turn on your outdoor lights when a car disturbance is detected while on your property.
No basic kit. Vivint offers build-your-own options.
Starts at $29.99
Premium monitoring and video plan only costs $10 a month
You can choose between professional or DIY installation
One year warranty
Contact sensors are bulky
Some users have claimed connectivity issues
Ring offers a complete DIY option free of contracts and fees. Their basic plan only costs ten dollars per month, or $100 per year. Every Ring Alarm comes with a free 30-day trial of the company’s professional monitoring service, so you’ll be able to test it before deciding whether you’d like to sign up for a contract.
Ring’s strongest asset is its camera variety. You’ll find four different varieties of security cameras, which include: indoor, stick up, spotlight, and floodlight cameras. These can address different needs, including outdoor video surveillance options and video/lighting combinations to monitor areas such as driveways and backyards.
Lighting options include flood and spotlights, wired cameras with automatic lighting systems, and even solar-powered camera and lighting options.
The 10-piece complete deluxe home security bundle includes five contact sensors — four more than the basic kit — an extra motion sensor you can place outside, and a video doorbell to monitor your front entrance.
With the Ring Alarm, you’ll receive mobile and/or email alerts when Ring detects a security threat. If you’d like the system to summon help, you can also sign up for Ring’s 24/7 professional monitoring.
Starts at $199.99
Base station, 1 contact sensor, 1 motion detector, 1 keypad, 1 range extender
Abode's Cue integration can connect most smart home devices
One year warranty
Professional monitoring available
Compatible with Apple smart devices
Company doesn't offer video doorbells or outdoor cameras
Base package doesn't include a keypad
Abode stands out thanks to its adaptable smart devices, which can connect to many voice-assistant programs, including Z-Wave, Zigbee, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and even Apple HomeKit. In fact, Abode is one of the only home security systems that’s compatible with Apple smart devices.
Additionally, the company offers home security kits from Iota and Gateway, and many smart gadget add-ons, including smart locks, speakers, lighting, and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.
Abode also offers professional monitoring, with standard and pro tiers available at six dollars and $20, respectively.
Starts at $229
1 Gateway hub, 1 motion sensor, 1 mini door/window sensor, 1 key fob
Optional, starting at $6
Other Companies We Considered
30-day money-back guarantee
Variety of smart home integration options
System is compatible with third-party devices
Only 36-month contracts available
Monthly monitoring costs start at $30.99
Why it didn’t make the cut:
Cancellation fees can be steep. If you decide to cancel your contract with the company before it expires, you must pay the remainder upfront.
The devices are also more expensive than others on our list. Typically, a set of Link Interactive devices can cost from $500 to $700 — no add-ons included. Link Interactive does offer financing, but only if you choose a one-, two- or three-year plan with the company.
Offers lifetime equipment warranty
Has a $5 monthly equipment credit if you upgrade your devices
No smart home integration or self-monitoring options
You need a premium subscription for remote monitoring
Cameras only work with their plus plan
Why it didn’t make the cut:
Cove’s lack of smart home and self-monitoring choices limits its options as a home monitoring system. For our top choices, we focused on companies that gave you the option to personally monitor your system, and that offered ways to improve your smart home security system setup. Since Cove offers neither, we opted for other companies that had them readily available.
Home Security Systems Guide
Now that you know about home security companies and their features, it’s time to get into all the ins and outs of the industry itself. The following section discusses the pros and cons of each security system sold in the industry today — professionally installed systems and DIYs — and their average pricing, as well as the steps you should consider when buying a security system.
How do home security systems work?
Home security systems usually consist of a network of devices connected to each other through a base station or central hub with the purpose of protecting your home.The hub gathers the information that each device records or highlights and delivers it either to you via a phone app or computer program, or to a professional monitoring agency.
Individual home security devices are usually cameras or sensors (including glass-break sensors), and they’re commonly placed in vulnerable entry points to your home, such as windows, doors, and corners. A typical home security kit includes:
A central control panel or “hub”
Sensors for doors and/or windows
A siren or alarm
Security cameras (wired or wireless)
Interior and/or exterior motion sensors
Window stickers or yard signs
Home security systems come in two types: professionally installed home security and do-it-yourself (DIY) home security systems. Each has its own pros and cons, which we’ve broken down below.
Professionally installed home security
With a professionally installed home security system, there’s no need to have to choose where to place your hub, security cameras, and sensors, since the company sets them for you. The provider sends a professional to assess your home’s vulnerabilities, and they give you advice on how many devices you’ll need to protect your home, and where they should be placed. Some companies offer professional installation for free, while others charge an additional fee.
Having a professional install your home security system can provide great peace of mind, as the process ensures that each camera and sensor has been placed efficiently. Additionally, a professionally installed system usually comes with professional monitoring, which typically responds moments after the alarm is set off.
However, note that you can end up paying extra with these types of systems, for they can also include professional monitoring as part of its price. For this reason, you should plan your budget carefully before deciding.
Professionally installed systems pros and cons
No personal setup needed
Professional monitoring is very reliable
The system setup accounts for all your home's vulnerabilities
More suited for large homes rather than apartments and renters
Can be very expensive when compared to DIYs
There's a chance that you'll be pressured into buying more than you need
DIY home security
DIY security systems are generally more affordable, and are best suited for renters and/or small apartments. This is because they can be built out or upgraded at once or over time, and they are wireless, so they can be moved from one location to another. The name implies that they’re meant to be set up on your own, although some DIY companies offer professional assistance for free or at a cost.
Most DIY home security systems are easy to set up, and have no contract fees. They typically don’t include professional monitoring, though some companies offer this option.
DIY home security pros and cons
Can be bought and upgraded over time
More affordable than professionally installed home security systems
You can easily move them to different locations in your home, or to a different home altogether
You don't have to spend extra on professional monitoring
Best suited for small homes and/or apartments
You typically do all the setup and monitoring yourself
Some devices might not connect with each other
How Much Is a Home Security System?
The overall cost of home security systems varies greatly for professionally installed systems and DIYs, and from company to company. However, there are three basic costs related to purchasing a home security system:
Security equipment – prices average around $200-$400
Installation/activation – costs range from free to $199
Monitoring fees – usually around $25-$50 per month
With professionally installed systems, you must generally pay all three fees.
While owning a home security system has its costs, it may result in discounts to your homeowner’s insurance policy, both if it’s professionally installed or DIY. This is because you’re reassuring insurance providers that you’re less risky to insure, as you’ve taken extra steps to protect your home.
If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of homeowner’s insurance, you can check our articles on how to buy homeowners insurance, and the best homeowners insurance on the market today.
There are three main costs related to home security systems
Equipment costs average at around $200-$400
Installation/activation costs average at $199
Monitoring costs average at between $25-$50
Having a home security system can provide homeowner’s insurance discounts
How to Choose a Security System for Your Home
Learning about the different kinds of home security systems is only one part of the process. It’s also important you know how to choose the right system for your home. The following section highlights five important steps you should take before committing to any home security system.
Step 1: Do your research
The first step in selecting the right security system for your home is to do some research. Go online and read about home security options. Consider the type of protection that’s most important to you, the most vulnerable areas of your home, and any major risk factors you need to address.
Check with your neighbors to see if they have any experience with home security companies and their products. It’s a great way of getting feedback on a system from someone who has used it and not from a salesperson. You can also ask your insurance agent or your realtor for referrals for local home security companies they may have experience with.
Consider the type of home protection that’s most important to you
Focus on the most vulnerable areas of your home
Analyze what major risk factors you need to assess
Check with your neighbor, insurance agent, or realtor for advice
Step 2: Know the different ways home alarm systems communicate
Modern home monitoring systems typically rely on cellular radio and/or Wi-Fi to connect and communicate, but there are other methods as well. The following is a full list of the different communication forms available today.
Traditional phone lines pros and cons
Most reliable means of communication
Still work during power outages
Wires are susceptible to natural and/or deliberate damage
They use dial-up, which is slower than other connections
Cellular radio pros and cons
Carries more data at higher speeds
Wireless connection is tamper-proof
In a power outage, relies on back-up batteries with a limited amount of power
Internet pros and cons
Offers the most features, and can be connected via DSL, cable or wireless
Can access home security cameras, thermostats, lighting, entry systems
Alarms connected via ISP are always on and connected to a monitoring station
Relies on power to operate
Requires specific hardware to enable connection, so it may require hardware upgrades
Many ISPs use throttling during peak hours to ensure adequate usage for all customers
Can cause unpredictable problems with alarm signals
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) pros and cons
Transforms analog audio signals into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet.
Most traditional alarm control panels can connect to VoIP without upgrading hardware
VoIP is more affordable and feature-rich than other services
Some providers use voice compression to reduce bandwidth use, which can create signal distortion, rendering the system useless
Relies on power to operate
Step 3: Get professional estimates
Make sure to get at least three companies to provide written cost estimates, and make sure they detail the equipment they recommend and why they are recommending it.
Even if you decide to do it yourself and purchase a system online, you can still work with an expert to get different quotes. Online home security system vendors like SimpliSafe and Ring have security professionals available to talk you through the process, help you determine the equipment you need, and give you a free quote.
Get a professional to guide you through the process
Get estimates from at least three companies
You can still work with an expert, even if you get a DIY kit
Step 4: Have the system professionally installed
With some systems, you won’t have a choice. They’ll need to be professionally installed because the system components need to be wired to phone lines and a power source.
However, you might consider professional installation even with some do-it-yourself systems, especially if you’ll be using wireless home security systems.
Home security cameras come with default passwords and passcodes that can make them vulnerable to being hacked. A professional installer will be able to change those defaults, making the whole system more secure. If you purchased your security system online and the company doesn’t offer installation, you can find an ESA-certified professional through alarm.org
Consider professional assistance, even with DIY
Some devices come with default passwords and passcodes. A professional can help you set your own passwords
If the company you choose doesn’t offer professional installation, you can search for an ESA-certified professional at alarm.org
Step 5: Consider subscribing to a monitoring service
The whole point of an alarm system is to alert you when you’ve had a break-in, or some other problem arises that needs your immediate attention. While the idea of being able to monitor your security system on your own is appealing (as are the savings from not paying a monthly monitoring fee), you may receive better protection if you subscribe to a monitoring service. To help you decide, we’ve broken down a professional monitoring plan’s pros and cons.
Monitoring pros and cons
Monitoring systems provide 24/7 response to any alarm
Response times don't depend on you calling the relevant authorities
Typically, you won't have to check your phone or computer for alerts
They can assist during a medical emergency
You need to pay extra every month for the service
You may have to sign a contract to activate it
You might get charged fees if there's a false alarm and authorities find no sign of a break-in
Home Security Systems FAQs
How is having a security system for your home a risk management strategy?
Having a security system is important for risk management, since the system can deter criminals from entering your home, and it can also alert authorities if there is ever a break-in. In other words, if criminal activity threatens you and your home's security, then a security system can help address them. Additionally, home security systems can be used to monitor and document floods, fire, and any other environmental disaster.
What to look for when buying a home security camera system
When buying a home security camera system, ask yourself if you're planning to install it inside your home, outside, or both. Once you have that decided, evaluate how many cameras you'll need to cover the areas you want to monitor, such as your backyard, your living room, or even your garage. If you're unsure how many cameras you'll need, or what areas of your home you should focus on, you can contact a home security company of your choosing and ask for a professional to evaluate your home.
How do home security systems work?
Home security systems use entry sensors and cameras placed strategically around your home, and they communicate what they pick up to a central hub via radio frequencies and/or wires. The hub then directs this information to either a professional monitoring staff, or to your computer and/or cell phone via an app. If you have professional monitoring on your side, they will assess the situation and contact you if necessary.
If you have a DIY system, you'll have to keep a close eye to any notification that the hub sends your way.
How much do home security systems cost?
There are three costs related to purchasing a home security system: security equipment, installation/activation, and monitoring costs. Security equipment is always the biggest investment, since, on average, they cost around $200 to $400. Installation/activation costs range from zero to $199, and monitoring services can cost from $25 to $50 per month.
What causes false alarms on home security systems?
There are many things that can cause a false alarm, but the most common is human error. You can accidentally trigger your home's alarm system by inputting the incorrect password, by not changing the batteries, or by leaving doors or windows opened. An alarm can also go off if your pet, a stray animal, or even a passerby accidentally activates your motion detector.
How We Chose the Best Home Security Systems
We evaluated the best home security systems of 2020 using four factors:
We chose companies that offer a wide variety of security options from door sensors to video cameras and more. We also made sure to include a selection of professionally monitored and installed options, as well as systems that embrace a DIY approach.
Contracts and payment options
While most security companies require contracts, we looked for some no-contract options as well. Most of the companies that do require contracts offer at least a 30-day trial before commitment.
24/7 Monitoring and assistance availability
With 24/7 monitoring, a security company can request help for you when you can’t. The companies included in this ranking all offer 24/7 monitoring and emergency assistance.
We weighed factors like the company’s user reviews, satisfaction ratings and the company’s reputation for providing responsive customer support.
Summary of Money’s Best Home Security Systems of 2021
ADT: Best for Versatility
SimpliSafe: Best No-Contract Option
Frontpoint: Best DIY
Brinks Home: Best for Phone Monitoring
Vivint: Best for Home and Vehicles
Ring: Best Budget Option
Abode: Best for Smart Homes
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