Best Home Security Systems of 2020

There are a lot of home security systems on the market and choosing the best security system for your home and family could seem daunting. Ready for some great news? We've done all of the leg work for you. Take a look at our list of the best home security systems in 2020.

By
&
Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Jul 23, 2020

Figuring out which home security system is right for you doesn’t have to be stressful. At Security.org, we’ve tested out all the top options with a wide variety of features: DIY home security, professionally installed home security, home security systems that work with Alexa and Google Assistant, and plain old local alarms for the more tech-averse people in our lives. No matter the size of your house, apartment, or business, there’s a ton of scalable options to choose from, and we’ve tested out all our security systems personally to make sure they’re reliable. From options with no monthly fees whatsoever to options with 24/7, live professional monitoring, home security can look many different ways in 2020, and we’ve tried out everything, so you don’t have to.

Our Top Picks

Best Home Security Overall

SimpliSafe

Editor's Rating
9.8
/10
SimpliSafe has earned this spot with easy DIY setup, fast response times, and an impressive lineup of home automation features. Get safe, smart, and simple with SimpliSafe — a trusted leader in home security.

Best Home Automation Security

Vivint

Editor's Rating
9.4
/10
Nobody does home automation quite like Vivint. These easy-to-use wireless security systems safeguard your home and put loads of smart commands at your fingertips. If streamlined home automation is your thing, Vivint delivers the goods.

After years of testing, we’ve selected the home security systems we prefer based on reliability, flexibility, smart home integrations, and of course, affordability. Our top picks include newer companies like SimpliSafe, abode and Nest Secure, Google Nest’s take on home security, as well as more traditional options like ADT, Protect America and Frontpoint. There are options for both homeowners and renters, as well as those in the Amazon or Google smart home ecosystems. With our expertise, finding a security system that’s right for you should be a piece of cake.

Here are the Best Home Security Systems of 2020

The Best Security Systems Compared

System
SimpliSafe
Vivint
ADT
Alder Security
Frontpoint
Brinks Home Security
Abode
Protect America
Nest Secure
Ring Alarm
Ranking2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10th
Ratings 9.4/10
Best Home Automation
9.3/10
Best Pro Install
9.0/10
Best Response Times
8.9/10
Best No Contract
8.6/10
Best for Renters
8.5/10
Best No Monthly Fee
8.2/10
Best Landline Security
8.1/10
Best for Google Home
7.7/10
Best for Alexa
Monthly Plan$29.99 and Up$28.95 and Up$40.00 and Up$34.99 and Up$29.00 and Up$8.00 and Up$19.99 and Up$24.99 and Up$3.00 and Up
Contract Length42-Months36-Months36-MonthsNone36-MonthsNone36-Months36-MonthsNone
Installation TypeProfessionalDIY/ProfessionalDIYDIYDIYDIYDIYDIYDIY
Package Cost$599 and Up$99 and Up$40 and Up$130 and Up$399 and Up$179 and UpNone$299 and Up$199 and Up
Read Review Vivint ReviewADT ReviewAlder Security ReviewFrontpoint ReviewBrinks Home Security ReviewAbode ReviewProtect America ReviewNest Secure ReviewRing Alarm Review

A Detailed List of the Best Home Alarm Systems

  • 1. SimpliSafe - Best Home Security System Overall

    A popular choice for no-contract, easy DIY setup, and refreshingly affordable home security.

    Editor's Rating
    9.8
    /10

    Why SimpliSafe Is Best for No-Contract Home Security

    SimpliSafe makes it easy and affordable to install a home alarm system yourself. You can set up security and environmental protection in an hour or less.

    The full price for the cheapest SimpliSafe system is $244. Professional monitoring is optional and starts at $14.99 per month. DIY monitoring is always available with the free SimpliSafe mobile app.

    Read on for reasons SimpliSafe is best for no-contract home security.

    What We Like
    • No long-term contracts to sign
    • Easiest installation of any system
    • Incredibly affordable monitoring plans
    • Award-winning professional monitoring
    What We Dont Like
    • Pricey up-front equipment costs
    • Limited home automation capabilities
    • No outdoor security camera options
    • May be too simple for some homes

    Low Prices for Equipment & Monitoring

    SimpliSafe is a favorite lower-budget home security solution. You pay for a system upfront but the expense is relatively low. A starter set costs $244 before discounts. This security company has frequent specials, plus they sell refurbished security equipment for less.

    Along with yard signs and stickers, a SimpliSafe starter set includes:

    • A base station
    • A wireless keypad
    • A keyring remote
    • One motion sensor
    • Two entry sensors

    The deal may also include a SimpliCam. This high-definition video security camera has a motion sensor and can send alerts.

    A free SimpliSafe mobile app can help you monitor the system. Professional monitoring costs $14.99 or $24.99 month-to-month. The $24.99 plan gives you mobile control of the system in addition to text alerts.

    Quality Equipment

    Although SimpliSafe security systems are inexpensive, they aren’t shoddy. The equipment is low-priced mainly because SimpliSafe manufactures it themselves. Meanwhile, their competitors include middlemen who pass along big markups.

    One example of SimpliSafe’s high quality is their SmashSafe backup against tampering: If someone tries to disable your system, the monitoring service will alert police. Another example is the Heartbeat feature, which continuously checks that the security system is working as intended.

    A possible downside of SimpliSafe is the simplicity of its video cameras. They aren’t weatherproof, and you might want indoor or outdoor cameras with more advanced functions.

    Simple to Install and Move

    Setting up SimpliSafe is easy. Most customers set up the equipment on their own, and about three percent order help. Generally, you can install a system in about 30 minutes. All equipment is freestanding or can be attached to surfaces with removable adhesive.

    A SimpliSafe security system can easily be moved to a different home. The portability combined with no contracts helps make SimpliSafe a favorite for renters as well as homeowners.

  • 2. Vivint - Best Home Security and Automation

    An intelligent approach to home security with an impressive lineup of home automation features.

    Editor's Rating
    9.4
    /10

    How Vivint is Best for Home Security with Automation

    Vivint installs and monitors wire-free home security systems. You can choose Vivint for basic security and environmental protection, but home automation with voice commands makes this company stand out.

    Vivint works with some of the major smart home assistants such as Google Home and Alexa to give you a fully autonomous home. Create simple or complex tasks to ensure complete safety of your loved ones. Most Vivint customers are homeowners with long-term security contracts, and they tend to give Vivint excellent reviews. Read on for three reasons Vivint is a favorite.

    What We Like
    • Best smart home automation features available
    • Well-designed, modern equipment
    • Lifetime warranty on equipment/devices
    • Same-day professional installation
    What We Dont Like
    • Long-term contract is required
    • Equipment and service is more expensive than most
    • Costly to move equipment to a different home
    • Equipment pricing can be confusing

    Voice Commands

    Vivint partners with Amazon Echo to offer voice control of home systems. Some of the possible commands are:

    • Arm my security system “away”
    • Close my garage door
    • Dim my lights
    • Turn on my lights
    • Turn the heat up three degrees

    When you’re feeling old-fashioned, you can control Vivint security with a keychain remote, a mobile app, or the main control panel.

    Home Security with AI

    The Vivint security control panel, Vivint Sky, has artificial intelligence. With your permission, it can adapt automatically to your routine.

    The benefits of AI are cost savings and convenience. One example is smart energy management:

    • If your security system detects that nobody is home, it can set your thermostat to conserve energy.
    • If it learns that you tend to return home at a certain time, it can reset the temperature in time for your arrival.

    Vivint reports that intelligent energy management saves customers about 10 to 15 percent on home heating and cooling.

    You can control Vivint Sky’s adaptation. Under your direction, your security system can gradually transition along a three-point continuum:

    1. Only taking orders
    2. Making suggestions based on your previous interactions
    3. Taking actions on its own

    High-Quality Cameras

    Vivint makes cutting-edge security cameras for indoor and outdoor use. You can access video anytime with cloud storage, and you can remotely adjust each camera’s settings.

    We’re most impressed by the newest Vivint security camera, the Outdoor Camera Pro with night vision. It provides 24/7 “lurker detection” thanks to artificial technology.

    A doorbell camera, the Vivint Pan-and-Tilt camera, and an indoor ping camera are also in the Vivint home security lineup.

  • 3. ADT - Best Home Security System with Pro Installation

    The biggest name in home security known for professional installation and monitoring you can trust.

    Editor's Rating
    9.3
    /10

    How ADT is Best for Pro-Installed Home Security

    ADT is a solid company dating back to the days of telegraphed security alerts. Today they guard more than six million homes and businesses with hardwired and wire-free alarm systems, all professionally installed.

    Their home automation platform is called ADT Pulse. ADT Pulse enabled security systems let you use voice commands with Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

    ADT uses high-end control panels that can be managed from the ADT Pulse app. Systems can guard against burglaries, give environmental alerts, and automate your home. Additionally, ADT can monitor medical alert devices. Read on for details about why ADT is popular.

    What We Like
    • 145+ years of security innovation
    • Professional installation
    • High-quality equipment
    • Reliable monitoring with multiple centers
    What We Dont Like
    • Professional monitoring is more expensive than others
    • Customer service is hit-or-miss
    • Requires long-term contracts
    • Installation Technician must visit your home

    Professional Installation

    Many new security companies are designed for DIY installation only. ADT stays old-fashioned by setting up each security system themselves. One advantage of pro set up is getting the peace of mind that all access points are guarded. Professional installation can also be especially helpful if your home is large, if you get stressed by DIY projects, and for countless other reasons.

    ADT or ADT Pulse installation may effectively be free. It costs from $99 to $199 depending on your home’s layout, and ADT gives you a $100 VISA Reward Card as a rebate.

    An installed system is valued at $850 or more retail, but customers don’t buy equipment upfront; charges come with monthly monitoring bills. Same-day ADT installation is often available when people order by early afternoon.

    Hardwired, Wireless & Hybrid Security

    Nowadays many of the best home security companies focus exclusively on wireless communication among components. ADT is an exception. For decades they’ve installed and monitored hardwired security systems, and these are still available. You can also have some or all components be wire-free.

    ADT is also among the minority of modern security companies that support landlines. This makes them a popular choice in remote regions that lack cellular coverage.

    Medical Alerts

    ADT can monitor medical alerts. They sell a variety of bracelets and neck pendants that can send emergency signals. Three plans are available:

    • $29.99/month – Medical alerts can be sent from the home premises
    • $34.99/month – Medical alerts can be sent from home, plus the devices detect falling
    • $39.99/month – Fall detection is included, plus the wearables have GPS tracking for emergency medical support at home or away

    Pricing for ADT medical alerts is clear. Overall with ADT home security though, prices vary from home to home.

  • 4. Alder - Best Security System for Response Times

    With response times 10 times faster than the rest, the professional monitoring from Alder was top-notch.

    Editor's Rating
    9.0
    /10

    Why Alder Is The Best Security System for Response Time

    Every Alder system, including ours, comes with 24/7 professional monitoring, but Alder did things a little differently than some other systems we’ve tested. Their response times were up to ten times faster than competitors, with an average of 3.4 seconds in 2017. When it comes to home invasions or even hostage situations, every second counts, so we felt super safe knowing that help was only a few seconds away.

    What We Like
    • Quick installation
    • 30-day trial period
    • User-friendly mobile app
    • Free equipment
    What We Dont Like
    • Three-year contracts
    • Not many equipment options
    • Pricing isn’t listed on website
    • Expensive monthly fees

    Trial Period

    When we signed up for Alder, we were shocked to find out that our only option was to sign up for three years. Since we’re single and living in New York City, three years can feel like a lifetime; who knows what city we’ll be living in by then? Fortunately, our Alder salesperson told us that we could try our system out for 30 days. Of course, we only return our systems once we’re done testing them thoroughly over about a year, so we couldn’t make this 30 day time period. However, if we did return our system within 30 days of purchasing it, we would’ve gotten a complete refund, save for return shipping, which seems pretty fair. For anyone unsure about Alder, their money-back guarantee could be just the thing you need to take the plunge.

    Alexa Integration

    We’re deep into the Amazon smart home ecosystem, so we had fun controlling our Alder system with Alexa, arming it, checking its status, and with the GC2 touchscreen control panel, controlling our smart thermostats.

    Note: Alder’s newer control panel won’t work with smart thermostats that connect over Z-Wave, unlike the older systems with GC2 panels.

    DIY Installation

    It literally took us less than 15 minutes to install our Alder security system. All we had to do was plug in the control panel and set it up on the screen, stick the sensors on our walls, doors, and windows, and download the Alder Security app to our iPhones and Androids. But if that sounds like too much for you, Alder also offers professional installation— on the house!

  • 5. Frontpoint - Best DIY Home Security System

    DIY home security systems offering cutting-edge technology, outstanding service, and total home automation.

    Editor's Rating
    8.9
    /10

    Why Frontpoint is the Best DIY Security Company

    Frontpoint sells home security systems with do-it-yourself setup and professional monitoring. Each system can support burglary prevention, environmental protection, and/or home automation.

    You can buy a system online or by phone, and Frontpoint sales agents are refreshingly low-pressure.

    The cheapest security system costs just $99. All equipment is wire-free and portable for renters’ convenience. Read on for three great reasons to choose Frontpoint.

    What We Like
    • Full home security and automation solution
    • Easy DIY installation takes only minutes
    • Impressive smart home features and capabilities
    • High-quality equipment
    What We Dont Like
    • Requires a long-contract
    • Can be prone to false alarms
    • Requires a credit check
    • Relatively new to security industry

    Rapid Response Emergency Monitoring

    If an alarm rings but nobody hears it, do you really have security? Frontpoint customers install the equipment themselves, but they also enroll in pro monitoring plans.

    Frontpoint partners with Rapid Response Monitoring Service to dispatch emergency personnel. This is a top-notch service with robust backup plans in case of power blackouts and national crises. They’ve helped Frontpoint maintain a great reputation among customers and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

    Frontpoint alarm monitoring plans are for one year or three years. The best prices ($34.99 and up) come with three-year contracts.

    Many Features Available

    Frontpoint sells basic and advanced systems, plus you can choose custom combinations of equipment.

    The cheapest bundle combines burglary protection with environmental protection. It includes:

    • A touchpad control panel
    • Remote control keyfob
    • Three entry sensors
    • A motion sensor
    • Detectors for fire, smoke, water leaks, and carbon monoxide

    You can add features such as:

    • Glass break sensors
    • A doorbell camera
    • Wireless indoor cameras
    • Automated door locks
    • Remote-control thermostat

    The newest Frontpoint control panel has an easy-to-use color touchscreen. The unit has Crash & Smash protection, which means Frontpoint will notify police if someone tampers with the device. A built-in camera can snap a picture of intruders too.

  • 6. Brinks Home Security - Best Home Security System for Renters

    Renters love Brinks wireless security systems now with a range of home automation features.

    Editor's Rating
    8.6
    /10

    How Brinks is Favorite Wireless Home Security for Renters

    Brinks security serves more than a million households in the US and Canada. They used to specialize in hardwired alarm systems but now focus on wire-free security. Brinks has been rated the #1 home security company for customer satisfaction by J.D. Powers.

    Wireless systems by Brinks are high quality. They’re compatible with Z-wave devices such as Nest thermostats, plus Brinks gives you the convenience of voice commands: Control home functions such as heating, cooling, and lighting through Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa.

    You can set up a Brinks security system yourself or pay for installation. Read on for three ways Brinks security is great for renters and homeowners alike.

    What We Like
    • Well-established with 150+ years in business
    • Offers DIY setup or professional installation
    • Access to advanced home automation features
    • Wireless systems are easy to configure
    What We Dont Like
    • Long-term contract required
    • Professional installation is pricey
    • 2-year equipment warranty
    • Customer service could use improvement

    Wireless Security Systems

    Brinks wireless security systems can move with you. In contrast, hardwired systems essentially become a permanent part of the home.

    These systems are easy to set up, as all components are freestanding or installed with peel-and-stick adhesive strips. You can include entry sensors, a carbon monoxide detector, time-controlled outdoor lights, a voice-controlled thermostat, and more. Unlike some of their competitors, Brinks does not charge an extra fee if you change residences. Activation just takes a phone call.

    Fastest Alarm Response

    In case of emergency, every second counts! With Brinks, your home can have the fastest backup against intruders, fire, and other threats. The Brinks Alarm Center has an average 30-second response time… and the industry average is about five minutes longer! Their technology was formerly known as ASAPer.

    If an alarm is triggered, your Brinks system can also send text notifications automatically. For example, you can have emergency texts sent to each occupant, your neighbor, and a close friend.

    Competitive Pricing

    Brinks basic security systems cost just $199, and monitoring starts at $29/month. For $39/month you can include video monitoring with storage for up to 1000 files.

    Monitoring contracts are for 36 months after a free 30-day trial.

  • 7. Abode - Best No Monthly Fee Home Security System

    Get home security and smart home automation without all the contracts and monthly fees.

    Editor's Rating
    8.5
    /10

    How Abode is Best for No-Monthly-Fee Home Security

    Abode is one of the best security companies that lets you monitor activity for free: All features of their mobile app are available without paid service. Long-term and very short-term contracts are available too. If you’ll be away for a long weekend, for example, you can order three days of pro monitoring.

    Equipment is sold online. You can build a high-quality Abode system for security alerts, environmental monitoring, and home automation. You can also use voice commands with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Read on for details about why Abode security is a favorite.

    What We Like
    • No contracts, with flexible monitoring options
    • All-in-one CUE smart home automation platform
    • Compatible with both Zigbee and Z-Wave
    • Extensive equipment and device offerings
    What We Dont Like
    • Requires up-front equipment purchase
    • Add-ons and equipment upgrades get pricey
    • No outdoor security camera options
    • Limited support with base security plan

    DIY Monitoring and Control

    For DIY monitoring your Abode security system can connect to a mobile app. Without paid service, you can arm your system, watch live video surveillance, adjust lighting and temperature, and use all other app features.

    The free Abode app stores system activity for three days. Longer storage is available with paid contracts.

    Short-Term Pro Monitoring

    Professional monitoring by Abode adds emergency dispatch service and keeps a 90-day log of system activity.

    You can easily switch from one monitoring plan to another within the billing section of their app. Short-term choices for pro monitoring are:

    • Three days, $8
    • One week, $15
    • One month, $20

    The best Abode monitoring deal comes with one year of prepaid service.

    Advanced Equipment

    Abode makes high-quality sensors to detect movement and environmental threats. For the ultimate in simplicity, you can choose an all-in-one security tower with video camera. You can also build a set with components such as:

    • Motion sensors that take pictures
    • Glass vibration sensors
    • Acoustic glass break sensors
    • Wide-angle video cameras

    The Abode home security app can also integrate automation devices from third parties. Hue lights, Kwikset locks, and Nest thermostats are some options.

    Voice control for Abode is available with Amazon and Google integrations. These let you get hands-free help around the home. Just talk to adjust your home’s lighting, blinds, temperature, and more.

  • 8. Protect America - Most Affordable Home Security with Landline

    Protect America is a go-to choice for low-cost, DIY, landline-based home security.

    Editor's Rating
    8.2
    /10

    How Protect America is Best for Landline Home Security

    Protect America provides basic security systems with pro monitoring at a low monthly price. If you spend more, they can also guard against environmental threats (smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, and water leaks) and support home automation. Home automation equipment can be controlled with voice commands, the Protect America control panel, or a mobile app.

    How it works: You can order online or by phone. Protect America will ship the equipment, and you can install a Protect America security system with about an hour of work. After that, Protect America will monitor the system for emergencies. You can personally check surveillance video and other system activity with a mobile app.

    The lowest price for pro monitoring by Protect America comes with landline service, and the agreement is for 36 months. Cellular and broadband monitoring cost about twice as much.

    In sum, this security company is best for people who don’t mind long-term contracts, and it’s most affordable for those with landlines. Read on for three reasons Protect America is the best home security choice for many shoppers.

    What We Like
    • No upfront equipment costs
    • Simple do-it-yourself installation
    • App-controlled home automation
    • Affordable monthly monitoring plans
    What We Dont Like
    • Long-term contract required
    • Strict cancellation terms
    • High pressure sales tactics
    • Customer service needs improvement

    Free Security Equipment

    If you choose Protect America’s simplest security system, you won’t be charged for the equipment. The only charge will be monitoring at $19.99/month with landline signaling. Main components are:

    • A General Electric color touchscreen
    • Three entry sensors
    • A doorbell camera with two-way voice

    For a charge, you can add additional security equipment and environmental monitors… and most exciting, you can add home automation with voice control. Protect America control panels are compatible with ZigBee and Z-Wave devices, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and other home automation technologies.

    Low-Cost Landline Monitoring

    After a 14-day trial period, your Protect America security contract begins. The duration is 36 months, and the lowest price ($19.99 per month) is for landline monitoring. In other words, if a sensor is triggered, it alerts Protect America operators via phone cables.

    Protect America also monitors broadband and cellular emergency signals for $41.99/month. Cellular backup gives extra protection in case criminals or Mother Nature knocks out a landline connection.

    Next-Day DIY Installation

    If you choose Protect America today, you can set up your system tomorrow! Call the company for next-day delivery service. Installation typically takes an hour or less, and no tools are needed.

  • 9. Nest Secure - Best Google Home Security System

    Google-owned, innovative to the core, and pairs perfectly with the Google Home ecosystem.

    Editor's Rating
    8.1
    /10

    How Nest Secure is the Best Google Home Security System

    Nest got its start making smart home devices such as remote-controlled thermostats. Their new division, Nest Secure, makes it easy to combine smart home functions with home security. A favorite option is using Google Assistant voice commands to make life simpler while protecting your home. Examples are listed below.

    With Nest Secure you buy equipment upfront. It’s all wire-free for easy DIY installation, and Nest security runs on home Wi-Fi for no charge. This means that once you buy a system, no other expense is required unless you’d like professional monitoring.

    Pro monitoring by Nest Secure uses a cellular chip to send emergency signals, so you’re covered even if Wi-Fi is lost. Nest security partners with Brinks, an award-winning alarm service, to provide professional emergency monitoring. Read on for three reasons people choose Nest Secure as their Google-compatible home security solution.

    What We Like
    • Simple DIY installation takes only minutes
    • Optional 24/7 professional monitoring
    • Extensive Google Home automation capabilities
    • Owned by Google, a leader in tech innovation
    What We Dont Like
    • High up-front equipment cost
    • Product lineup makes it hard to choose
    • Nest Secure does not support IFTTT
    • Add-ons and upgrades get pricey

    Basic and Expanded Setups

    The basic Nest Secure system is called the Starter Pack. It includes:

    • The Guard hub
    • Two sensors
    • Two keyring fobs for remotely arming/disarming the home.

    You can also arm the home by voice with Google Assistant.

    Nest Secure sensors, called Detect, can detect motion in entryways or in a whole room, depending on placement. They can also illuminate at night and are pet-friendly for furry friends up to 40 pounds.

    You can expand a Nest Secure system with additional motion/entry sensors ($49 each), smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and smart home gadgets such as:

    • Automated door locks
    • Motorized blinds
    • Pet feeders with cameras
    • Smart lights
    • Smart thermostats
    • Sprinkler controllers

    Nest Secure components are sold directly by Nest and by third parties such as Best Buy and Macy’s.

    Great Cameras

    Indoor and outdoor Nest security cameras sell for $199 and up. The most advanced Nest Secure camera is called Nest Cam IQ Outdoor ($349). The “IQ” refers to its artificial intelligence. Some of its features:

    • Night vision
    • Detect motion up to 50 feet away
    • Automatically zoom in on action
    • Take high-definition snapshots
    • Allow two-way audio communication

    Facial recognition is a feature too. With this technology, familiar faces won’t trigger alerts.

    Free DIY Monitoring, or Paid Pro Monitoring

    Equipped with a Nest Secure Starter Pack, you can self-monitor your home for free. This requires home Wi-Fi and the free Nest app for iOS and Android devices.

    A free Nest app lets you remotely arm your security system. It also sends mobile security alerts, and it works as a control panel for connected smart home devices.

    For professional monitoring, you can use Nest’s partnership with Brinks, the home security company known for the fastest average response time. Nest Secure customers can choose month-to-month service or (for the lowest price per day) a three-year contract. At last check, a free 30-day trial was included.

  • 10. Ring Alarm - Best Alexa Home Security System

    The Amazon-owned Ring Alarm plays well with Alexa and offers 24/7 monitoring for just $10/mo.

    Editor's Rating
    7.7
    /10

    Why Ring is the Best Alexa Security System

    Ring is owned by Amazon. They sell high-decibel alarm systems that are compatible with video cameras, environmental monitoring, home automation, and voice control.

    You can self-monitor a Ring security system or pay for an affordable month-to-month monitoring service.

    What We Like
    • Highly-affordable professional monitoring at $10/mo.
    • Advanced home automation features and Alexa integrations
    • No contract required on Ring Alarm systems
    • Simple DIY setup takes only minutes to install
    What We Dont Like
    • Requires up-front equipment purchase
    • Premium cameras are expensive
    • Ring Alarm is a relatively new product offering
    • System is not as comprehensive as professional offerings

    Low-Cost & Free Features

    The simplest Ring home security package costs $179 retail. Optional monitoring starts at just $10, and you may cancel anytime without penalty. Exclusive Ring security discounts are available to teachers, military members, and first responders.

    You can self-monitor your home with Ring’s free mobile app. Also, Ring has developed a free Crimewatch app, Neighbors App. It adds community power to home security with safety alerts from neighbors, police, and Ring. Stay a step ahead of criminals!

    Video Security with Low Bandwidth Demand

    Ring video security cameras are high definition, but they are set to record only when motion is detected. This puts less demand on your home Wi-Fi service compared with popular competitors like Nest Secure that record constantly.

    You might care about this feature if you don’t have an unlimited Wi-Fi data plan, or if you’re concerned that home security could slow down your other online activity.

    Third-Party Integration

    Ring’s security hub is compatible with devices from many brands. Some examples:

    • First Alert smoke/carbon monoxide detector
    • GE light dimmers
    • Schlage smart deadbolts

    However, not all third-party gadgets can be monitored by emergency dispatchers. You can see a list of certified products at the Ring security website.

Our Video Review

We tested out each and every security system on this list, and we have a video to prove it. Watch it below to see our systems, cameras, and sensors in action!

Security System Buying Guide: How We Determine What’s Best

When it comes to actually buying your own home security system, there are a ton of factors to consider, from the costs of equipment to the quality of the devices. Just how do you shop for a home security system, and how did we create this best list? In this section, we’ll give you some information on how to pick a home security system that’s right for your home and family, along with a methodology section on how we test and review our systems.

Do I Need A Home Security System?

SimpliSafe Base Station
SimpliSafe Base Station

The first question you’ll probably ask yourself is whether or not you actually need a home security system in the first place. Just how common are home burglaries and can home security systems really decrease the likelihood that you’ll be robbed? To answer these questions, we turned to the hard statistics on burglaries in the United States; here’s what we found.

Burglary Facts and Figures

To find out how burglaries really go down, a news station asked 86 convicted burglars, inmates at a prison in Oregon, exactly how they committed robberies1. What they found is that the majority of burglars had entered the homes they invaded through unlocked doors or windows. Given that most security systems offer contact sensors for doors and windows as well as motion and glass break sensors, these simple sensors could mean the difference between sleeping through a burglary or getting alerted about it immediately via a mobile application. Most of the intruders said that if an alarm went off, they would leave immediately.

Another interesting finding was that all of the inmates said they would first knock on the door of a home before invading it. If someone answered, they would leave. Video doorbells, a part of some smart security systems, allow homeowners and renters to see and speak to whoever is at their front door from the mobile application, so it’s easy to seem like you’re home when you’re not. In other words, just one doorbell camera could mean the difference between a knock on your door and a home invasion. Some inmates even responded that visible cameras would be a deterrent to choosing a home, as well.

Another report from Arizona State University’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing2 found that burglary is the second most common crime in the U.S, making up 18% of all serious crimes. However, only 14% of burglary cases are cleared, meaning that law enforcement was able to find and convict the burglars. In contrast, a whopping 65% of burglaries have no evidence or useful information for the police, which security camera footage can definitely help with. In addition to material losses, burglaries can cause psychological harm to victims, as well. In sum, every home can benefit from a home security system, which can both prevent crime and stop it mid-way.

Top Three Advantages of Home Security Systems

Still not sure if you need a security system for your home? After testing out dozens of systems, we can firmly state the advantages:

  • Increased safety: It’s no secret that even having a security system can reduce your chances of being burgled, from visible cameras to video doorbells that let you answer your door wherever. Even if the burglar manages to enter your home through a door or window, you’ll be notified immediately to your phone. Plus, video evidence makes catching and convicting burglars much more likely.
  • Avoiding material and emotional damages: Aside from physically protecting your home and family, having a security system can prevent the sorts of bad feelings that follow a home burglary. According to Colonial Behavioral Health in Williamsburg, Virginia3, property crime can have a huge effect on victims, leaving people feeling violated and unsafe. Even if you don’t end up having a home invasion, having a system in place will give you and your family peace of mind.
  • Home insurance discounts: Many homeowner’s insurance policies give people discounts of up to about 15% if they install security systems in their homes; be sure to check with your insurance company to get a portion of your system paid for.

Tip: To save up to 15% on your homeowner’s insurance, get a security system to protect your home from burglaries.

Home Security System Buyers Guide

Before you buy your home security system, there are a few factors to consider depending on your type of home or business:

  • Homeowner vs. renter: While homeowners won’t hesitate to drill or hardwire security systems into the homes, renters may not want to cause any damages that’ll affect their security deposits. For renters, we recommend looking for a wireless home security system, as the majority of components will be peel and stick, not requiring any holes. Renters may also want to look for systems with monthly contracting, as they may not know how long they’ll stay in their current homes. In addition, renters may want a system that’s easily portable, which is the case for the majority of DIY systems.
  • Apartment vs. house: People that live in single-family homes may want to invest in outdoor systems to protect their front and back yards, while people that live in apartments may want a video doorbell that fits their peephole, like the Ring Peephole Cam.
  • Size of home: Of course, the size of your home will determine what equipment you get; generally, the larger the home or family, the more sensors, cameras, and video doorbells you may need. Those that live in smaller homes like us may be able to get away with just a few sensors, like the motion and contact sensor from the $20 Wyze Sense Starter Kit.
  • City, suburbs, or rural areas: Especially for surveillance of outdoor spaces, there may be different laws on recording footage depending on where you live; be sure to check out your area’s regulations before setting up any outdoor recording, especially if it covers property other than your own. Another thing to consider is traffic, both foot and car-related. For someone in a city like us, for example, we wanted cameras that would ignore motion from cars, only alerting us if people were on our property. We also looked for cameras with activity or motion zones, meaning we could tell them what areas to focus on and what areas to ignore, like the street and sidewalk in front of our brownstone. For those who live on busy streets, person detection and activity zones are a must. However, someone in rural areas may not need any AI features, as motion events might be more rare, resulting in fewer notifications.
  • Outdoor space: If you have outdoor space, securing it is a bit more challenging than indoor space. For example, power is a huge factor; if you don’t have any well-placed outdoor outlets, look for outdoor, wireless cameras. There’s also the issue of connectivity; if you lack cellular backup or Wi-Fi, you may want to get a camera that doesn’t require Wi-Fi like the Reolink GO.
  • Garage: Securing a garage can raise similar issues; look for companies that sell entry sensors for garage doors specifically, like Vivint.
  • Small businesses: Small businesses may want to invest in security cameras with 24/7 continuous recording, like the Nest Cams under the Nest Aware subscription. This could come in handy not just in the event of a burglary, but also to keep track of employees and their doings throughout the day.
  • Vacation homes: Those who want to monitor their vacation homes should invest in a system that’s either plug-in or a system that has a long battery life like the Blink cameras. We also recommend looking for a system with 24/7 professional monitoring, which takes the work out of monitoring a second or third home.

How To Buy

When it comes to actually buying your system, we recommend doing these three things first before putting down that debit card:

  • Check for homeowner’s insurance discount: Before you do anything else, check to see which security systems your insurance company will discount. Depending on the company, you could see savings of up to $156.
  • Make a list of the equipment you want: It’s important to go in knowing exactly what components you want; that way, you won’t be swayed by aggressive salespeople or sleek websites pushing more and more add-ons on you that you don’t really need.
  • Choose a budget: Finally, lay down a budget not only for equipment, but also for any additional costs, like activation fees, installation fees, monitoring fees, and storage fees, if necessary.

Okay, now that you’ve got a great idea of what you’re looking for and how much it’ll cost, let’s go into what makes a security system worthwhile in the first place.

Methodology: How We Rank Security Systems

There are dozens of factors we consider when reviewing home security systems, from how well they actually worked in our testing to their costs. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it should give you a general overview of what to consider when deciding which home security system is right for you.

Equipment

SimpliSafe Security System
SimpliSafe Security System

First, we look at the equipment that’s available on a company’s website, which may include:

  • Security cameras
  • Video doorbells
  • Smart locks
  • Motion sensors
  • Entry sensors
  • Glass break sensors
  • Garage door sensors
  • Base station
  • Panic button
  • Keypad
  • Key fob remote.

We prefer companies that offer a wide range of devices so we can create kits customized to our homes. Of course, we also care a lot about the quality and features of the devices, such as:

  • Wired vs. wireless: With wireless components, we care about battery life. We also appreciate devices that can be powered by solar power, like the Ring Stick Up Solar. Ideally, if cameras are wireless, their batteries are rechargeable with an easy to change magnetic charger.
  • Camera features: You can read more about this in our security camera necessary features guide, but with cameras, in particular, we’re looking for things like 1080p HD video, infrared night vision, two-way audio, cloud, and local storage, smart platform integrations, and person detection.
  • Durability: Any outdoor components should have large temperature ranges and IP ratings of 65 and up, meaning they’re dust-tight and protected from water jets.

We also like companies that offer packages, discounts, and scalability, meaning we could add more components as we go along. When it comes to home security, flexibility is key.

Installation

ADT Blue Install
Installing door sensors.

DIY vs. professionally-installed security systems have their advantages and disadvantages, but overall, we recommend DIY installation for those that want to save some money and don’t mind spending a bit of time setting up a system, and professional installation for those that are willing to spend a buck for convenience.

DIY Installation

What We Like
  • Free
  • Typically doesn’t require any drilling or special tools
  • Easy to move system if you change residences
What We Don’t Like
  • Could be time-consuming
  • Some systems are easier to install than others
  • Not as reliable as professionally installed systems

Professional Installation

What We Like
  • No work from the user required
  • More trustworthy
What We Don’t Like
  • Can cost up to $150, although some companies offer free professional installation
  • May need to schedule the installation way in advance, which could delay your home security

Monitoring

Most systems have two options for monitoring: self-monitoring, meaning we looked after our own system via live streaming, notifications, and remote control, or 24/7 professional monitoring. With the latter, not only did we have access to our system, but also a team of people was available at all hours to respond to any alarm going off. If we weren’t available to respond for whatever reason, be it work or a vacation, the monitoring team could verify the emergency and call the police for us, if needed. We always recommend getting professional monitoring if it’s available, although it usually costs a monthly fee.

We also prefer companies that offer month-to-month contracting as opposed to long-term contracting. While long-term contracts can mean a locked-in rate, we’d rather avoid cancellation fees if possible. Fortunately, monthly contracting is becoming more and more common with smart security systems.

Smart Home Integrations

Our Ring Indoor Cam streaming to the Echo Show

Whether it’s our voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant or other IoT devices like smart lights, smart locks, or smart thermostats, we like security systems that allow for voice commands and home automation.

Costs

If you’re still reading, it’s probably because you’ve decided that you want a home security system; great! But what’s it going to cost you? Let’s break it down.

  • Activation cost: Now, typically most companies don’t make customers pay any activation fees to get started; this was more common a few years ago and has been largely phased out. However, some companies do require activation fees; abode, for example, charges $25 to get their systems started. Rats!
  • Equipment costs: Depending on the size of your home and how much security you want, you can spend anywhere from $20 to more than $900 on your home security system. The good thing is that these days, most companies offer scalable systems. Typically, users choose a package, but they can also add on more components down the line if needed. Many companies also let customers customize their systems, which makes it easier to keep budgets in check.
  • Installation cost: Most of the time, you won’t have to pay anything to install your home security system. Rather, most systems offer DIY installation, with systems that don’t require drilling or hardwiring. However, some companies like Vivint and ADT require professional installation, which can range from around $80 all the way up to $150. For those on a budget, opt for a DIY system you can easily install yourself.
  • Monthly costs: While some systems don’t come attached with any monthly fees whatsoever, some companies offer or require paid subscriptions for 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup and/or storage. Typically in monthly or yearly contracts, monthly fees can range anywhere from $10 with Ring Alarm all the way up to $60 with more traditional companies like ADT. Storage may be included in that fee, but in some cases, it could be separate. Again, if you’re not looking to pay any costs aside from equipment, that’s possible; you’ll either self-monitor your system through its mobile application or it’ll be a local alarm system only, like with SimpliSafe. Different companies allow different actions, like livestreaming footage and receiving motion-activated notifications, based on whether the user pays a monthly fee or not, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind.
  • Alternatives to home security systems: If the costs of a home security system are just too high, there are other alternatives that could still provide protection for your home. A simple indoor security camera, outdoor security camera, or video doorbell can notify users when they detect either movement or people, depending on its artificial intelligence capabilities. While additional sensors and panic buttons are certainly helpful for home security, there are other options for those on a budget. Even something as low-maintenance as a security sign can help!

Connectivity

Blue by ADT Base Install
Connecting our Blue by ADT system to the internet.

Smart security requires a connection between all of the system’s components, its base station or hub, and its mobile application. Typically, this comes in the form of Wi-Fi, but some companies also offer cellular or landline backup in case the power goes out. Also, for connected devices, some connect over ZigBee or Z-Wave protocols, which may or may not require an additional hub. We look for systems with cellular backup, ideally included for free although it’s usually part of the monitoring cost.

Digital Security

If you’re asking the question “can home security systems be hacked?” the answer is yes, it’s possible for all smart security systems to be hacked. But the truth is that anything that uses the Internet is hackable, which is why it’s best to adhere to digital security practices. That’s why we look for companies that offer two and multi-factor authentication for us to sign in to our security accounts. We also look into a company’s history of security breaches, because we want to keep our private footage private.

Mobile Application

When it comes to a security system’s mobile application, we want something that lets us easily livestream footage, control our system remotely, and get notified whenever alarms go off. Make sure the app has a high rating on either the Apple or Google Play store, depending on the make of your device.

Company Policies

We also look for companies with free trial periods, flexible cancellation policies, flexible return policies, and extended warranties.

Company Background and Customer Reviews

Finally, we do take into consideration how long the business has been around and what other customers thought of their systems on Amazon and Google. However, our reviews are completely our own and based on our testing experiences, although it is interesting to see what the general consensus is on a system or common problems that people encountered.

Our Security Experts

Security.org’s Chief Editor Gabe Turner and Senior Staff Writer Aliza Vigderman do all of the research and testing necessary to make the most comprehensive security reviews online. Here’s a little bit of background information on each of them.

Gabe Turner

Gabe Turner is a home security and digital security expert based in Brooklyn, New York. A former attorney, Gabe has spent years testing out everything from home security systems and cameras to digital security products like VPNs and identity monitoring services. Watch him test products on Security.org’s Youtube channel, which has over 30,000 subscribers.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman is a technology journalist also based in Brooklyn. Previously, she’s written for outlets like the Huffington Post, Degreed.com, and SquareFoot. She was also a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism in Waltham, Massachusetts. At Security.org and its predecessor Security Baron, Aliza has been writing about home security, digital security, and smart home technology exclusively for about two years.

FAQs About Home Security Systems

  • What is the best and most affordable security system?

    The best and most affordable security system is Ring Alarm. With many security cameras, video doorbells, and sensors to choose from, we loved that Ring let us livestream footage, receive notifications, and control our system remotely for free. Beyond that, upgrading to 24/7 professional monitoring and cellular backup only cost us $10 a month or $100 a year, which is the lowest price we’ve seen so far.

  • What is the best smart home security system?

    The best smart home security system is Vivint. Vivint works not only with Alexa and Google Assistant, but also with IoT devices from other companies. That includes everything from Kwikset smart locks and Nest thermostats to smart lamps and bulbs from Philips Hue. We could create automated triggers and control everything from the Vivint Smart Home app, which made controlling our devices remotely super easy.

  • What are the best home security systems?

    The best home security systems are SimpliSafe, Vivint, ADT, Frontpoint, Brinks, abode, Protect America, Nest Secure, Ring Alarm, Arlo, and Alder Security.

  • Can I use Alexa with my home security system?

    Some but not all of smart security systems work with Alexa; some top options include Nest, Ring Alarm, and Vivint.