Best Home Security Systems of 2023
We've been testing and reviewing home security systems for nearly 10 years. Each year we select the top systems based on reliability, flexibility, smart home integrations, and of course, affordability. See our best picks of 2023.
- 145+ years of home security innovation
- 6-month money-back guarantee is best in the business
- Complete home security and smart home automation
- Reasonably priced hardwired and wireless systems
- Best-in-class customer service team
- Simple DIY setup only takes minutes
- Impressive home automation capabilities
- Surprisingly affordable home security system
- Sleek and modern equipment design
- Advanced but easy to use smart home features
- Free, professional installation
- Fast response rate
- Easy, DIY installation
- Free equipment
- Alexa and Google Assistant integrations available
- Professional monitoring and cellular backup included with every system
- Monthly costs range from $15 to $35
- Flexible monitoring options
- All-in-one CUE home automation
- Extensive equipment offerings
- Fast and easy DIY installation
- Smart home features and integrations
- Industry’s best customer service
- Predictive AI surveillance
- 24/7 human monitoring
- Fast response times
- Professional monitoring for $10/mo.
- No contract required
- Amazon-owned company
- Highly-rated iOS and Android apps
- Person, vehicle, and pet detection available with Home Security Plus
- Professional monitoring and cellular backup for $30 or $40 a month
Picking a security system is something you definitely want to get right. It’s an investment that you’ll live with for years to come, but more than that, your and your family’s safety literally depends on your home security system.
That being said, it’s not always easy to choose the right security system. There are so many options available, more than a handful of which we’ve tested ourselves. If you’re looking for guidance and help, we put together this list of the 10 best security systems of 2023.
To help you further, we also listed their greatest strengths and shortcomings, their costs, features, and other things we thought you’d like to know. You’ll find that our selection is diverse, with basic and advanced systems, affordable and pricier options, and DIY and professionally set up equipment. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it somewhere on this list. Before we give you the full scoop, though, here’s a quick look at our testing process.
|Number of systems tested||40+|
|Length of testing||6+ months|
|Systems with DIY installation||8/10|
|Systems with cellular backup||8/10|
Best Home Security Systems of 2023
- ADT - Most Trusted Home Security Brand
- SimpliSafe - Best No Contract System
- Vivint - Best Pro Installation
- Alder Security - Best for Response Times
- Cove - Best for Installation & Convenience
- Frontpoint - Best For Automation
- Brinks Home Security - Best DIY Home Security System
- abode - Best for No Monthly Fees
- Deep Sentinel - Best for Artificial Intelligence
- Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best for Alexa
The home security landscape has become more diverse than ever before. It’s teeming with a dizzying array of options — there are DIY security systems and professionally installed systems, self-monitored and professionally monitored systems, and there’s a wide selection of technologies from smart home automation to voice control available.
Additionally, security systems today can protect anything from studio-type apartments to mansions. You can add as many security system peripherals as needed, with some systems capable of handling hundreds of sensors. Not to mention, security systems today offer a wide variety of devices, from security sensors to smart home and IoT products.
As a team with decades of combined experience with security systems, we tested and compared home security systems first-hand, and we selected the 10 that ranked highest. We determined our favorites based on each system’s reliability, flexibility, smart home integrations, and affordability.
Our top picks consist of products from well-established alarm companies like ADT, Vivint, and Frontpoint, but we didn’t skip the young disruptors that have been making waves recently. If you’re into DIY systems and flexible contracts, SimpliSafe, Cove, and abode are just some of the options you’ll see on our list. Without further ado, we present you the best security systems of the year.
FYI: In case you’re wondering, we also came across security systems that are best to stay away from. Read here for the three worst security systems you don’t want protecting your home.
Comparison of the Best Home Security Systems
Brinks Home Security
Ring Alarm Security Kit
|Read Review||ADT Review||SimpliSafe Review||Vivint Review||Alder Security Review||Cove Review||Frontpoint Review||Brinks Home Security Review||abode Review||Deep Sentinel Review||Ring Alarm Security Kit Review|
The Best Security Systems In The News: The Latest Deals & Discounts
Before we begin with our detailed assessment of each system, take a look at this week’s news, deals, and discounts from these top home security systems.
- ADT: Enjoy 20-percent off on all online purchases if you enroll in professional monitoring with a 36-month contract.
- SimpliSafe: Get a massive 45-percent discount and receive a free SimpliCam indoor camera (a $99 value) if you add Interactive Monitoring ($27.99 with a 30-day free trial) at checkout. You can cancel anytime without fees.
- Cove: Cove is running one of its biggest promotions this year — enjoy up to 65-percent off on new equipment, plus get a free HD indoor camera if you shop on Cove’s website.
- Frontpoint: Frontpoint is having a 25-percent off sitewide sale, with its most affordable security system selling for as low as $129.
- abode: Enjoy up to 50-percent off on abode’s website, and get an additional 15-percent discount on accessories.
Our Research of the Best Home Security Systems of 2023
1. ADT - Most Trusted Home Security Brand
The biggest name in home security known for professional installation and monitoring you can trust.
Equipment Costs Starting at $109 Monitoring Options Professional only Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $49 Contract Lengths 36 months Installation Options Professional Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
ADT continues to revolutionize home security to this day, over a hundred years after it introduced telegraphed security alerts. Today, ADT security systems offer automation and hands-free control with the help of Alexa and Google Assistant.
Beyond voice control, ADT offers convenient home security in the form of an intuitive smartphone app (ADT Control) and its touchscreen control panel that comes with most ADT systems. Together, ADT equipment guards against burglaries, provides environmental alerts, and offers home automation features, all from the app and the control panel.
ADT control options Uses ADT Control app At home or on-the-go Alexa/Google Assistant Voice control at home Key fob Quick arm/disarm at home Panic button Emergency help at home
Although all those make ADT sound like an expensive security system, we can assure you that it’s not. In fact, ADT has special offers almost all year round. Right now, for example, a 20-percent discount is up for grabs for online shoppers. If you want the absolute best deals from ADT, though, check back around Black Friday or bookmark our ADT Black Friday deals page.
What We Like
- 145+ years of security innovation
- Professional installation
- High-quality equipment
- Reliable monitoring with multiple centers
What We Don’t 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 is part of ADT’s white-glove service — rather than have us do the work of setting up the system, they sent trained technicians to do it for us.
Sure, it cost us about $100 for the installation, but with pros on the job, we were certain it was done correctly. And keep in mind that our system was covered by ADT’s six-month money-back guarantee. During that period, if something were to break or malfunction and ADT couldn’t fix it, we’d be eligible to receive a full refund on installation and monitoring fees. All ADT systems are covered by this guarantee.
All in all, the ADT equipment we had installed was valued at around $850, but impressively, we didn’t have to pay anything upfront. Instead, charges for the equipment came with our monthly monitoring bills. That’s part of ADT’s flexible payment plans, which caters to everyone’s budget. We dive deeper into ADT’s pricing in our ADT cost guide.
Wireless security systems promise flexibility in the sense that you don’t need a landline connection or pre-existing home security wiring to set up a new security system. That said, a lot of new brands focus on wireless equipment that use internet and cellular signals, leaving behind homeowners who can’t keep up with rapidly evolving home security tech.
ADT is one of the very few alarm companies remaining that still offer wired/landline security systems. While these systems don’t offer as many features as wireless ones, they are best suited for homes where a reliable internet connection or cellular coverage is not available, such as in rural areas.
Of course, if your setup and budget permits, we highly recommend going with a wireless system. They are faster and they offer more features. The bottom line, though, is that ADT can be flexible in more ways than most wireless security system brands.
The home security market is always evolving, but ADT manages to keep up all the time. In fact, it’s leading the charge of innovation by continuously developing new security technologies, including a security robot for business establishments.
For homes, though, ADT’s latest innovations include smart home automations, a high-tech touch screen hub, and high-end security cameras. These things are included in ADT’s most advanced packages, and you’ll be able to reap their full benefits with an ADT professional monitoring plan.
2. SimpliSafe - Best Home Security and Automation
A popular choice for no-contract, easy DIY setup, and refreshingly affordable home security. (Right now you can get 20-percent off a new system plus a free indoor security camera.)
Equipment Costs Starting at $130 Monitoring Options Professional and DIY Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $18 Contract Lengths Single month only Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
SimpliSafe made home security easier. In general, the cost of SimpliSafe systems is lower than more traditional companies like ADT. The full cost of the cheapest SimpliSafe system is $250, not counting the discounts that you can get almost year-round. Sometimes, they sell for as low as just over $100.
Professional monitoring is also optional, so you can use SimpliSafe without ongoing fees. If you decide to get professional monitoring, it’ll cost you as low as $17.99 per month, which is an attractive price compared to more traditional systems.
But it’s not just the cost that’s made SimpliSafe so popular. It’s the overall user-friendliness, from the simple installation process that often takes less than an hour to the functional app and keypad that comes with the system, almost everything about SimpliSafe is simple. (Not perfect, but simple.)
Read on for our reasons why SimpliSafe was 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 Don’t 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 has always been one of the cheaper home security solutions. You can buy a starter kit for about $250, and once the system is in place, you won’t have to pay a monthly fee. That is, if you’re okay with monitoring the system yourself. Otherwise, professional monitoring will cost you $17.99 to $27.99 monthly, which is still well below the average cost of security monitoring.
Additionally, SimpliSafe offers discounts almost the entire year. It’s usually around 20- to 40-percent, but you can get higher than that during peak holiday seasons starting November (Black Friday) until January (New Year). SimpliSafe Black Friday deals last year dropped the price of its security systems by up to 60-percent.
You can time your purchase to enjoy the biggest savings, but even without these deals, SimpliSafe systems are among the most affordable ones around.
Although affordable, SimpliSafe’s equipment is far from cheap in terms of quality. SimpliSafe manufactures and develops its own equipment, and every piece goes through rigorous quality testing.
One example that shows SimpliSafe’s hardware quality is the SmashSafe feature, an anti-tampering feature built into the base station. If someone attempts to disable the base station by smashing or tampering with it, the SmashSafe feature kicks in to alert you or the monitoring center.
Similarly, there’s a feature called Heartbeat that checks that the security system is working properly continuously. Even if just one sensor gets disconnected, you’ll get an alert so you can sort it out.
SimpliSafe also offers a good variation of security cameras, consisting of the SimpliCam indoor camera, the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera Pro, and the SimpliSafe video doorbell. All of these devices work together to help ensure your home stays intruder-free. And like any SimpliSafe hardware, these security cameras aren’t expensive at all.
SimpliSafe camera options Price SimpliCam $99 SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera Pro $189.99 SimpliSafe Video Doorbell $169.99
FYI: Due to a global computer chip shortage, the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera is in limited supply. For now, you can buy it with a SimpliSafe system, but not individually.
Simple to Install and Move
One of SimpliSafe’s major selling points is its easy setup. The entire process took us just 20 minutes, although we estimate it would take someone inexperienced about 30-40 minutes to manage.
The equipment is either freestanding, as is the case with the base station, or wall-mounted using peel-and-stick adhesive, which is the case for the motion and entryway sensors.
SimpliSafe is just as easy to dismantle, which comes in handy if you ever have to move. Combined with no-contract professional monitoring, that makes SimpliSafe a favorite for both renters and homeowners.
That said, if you prefer professional installation, that’s also an option. SimpliSafe partnered up with OnTech to provide installation services. The price starts at $79, and considering how easy it is to install a SimpliSafe system, that might be all you have to pay unless you purchase a really big system.
3. Vivint - Best Pro Installation
An intelligent approach to home security with an impressive lineup of home automation features.
Equipment Costs Starting at $600 Monitoring Options Professional only Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $40 Contract Lengths 42-60 months Installation Options Professional Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
Vivint is a far more advanced security system than the ones we usually test. It is stacked with home automation features, plus it offers video monitoring driven by artificial intelligence. Vivint is not something an average user can and would want to install themselves, but fortunately, it is a professionally installed system. And based on our experience, they have the best installation service around.
Better still, you can get professional installation for free (normally, it’s $199) if you find a Vivint special deal. That’s more than you can ask for from a smart security company with some of the best home automation features and security cameras on the market.
Although Vivint is a tad more expensive than DIY security options, it is without a doubt one of the best security systems. It’s not for everybody — in our research, we found that most Vivint customers are homeowners willing to sign a long-term security contract — but if you want premium quality and cost is not an issue, then Vivint is a top choice.
What We Like
- Best smart home automation features available
- Well-designed, modern equipment
- Lifetime warranty on equipment/devices
- Free professional installation
What We Don’t 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
Vivint combines the latest in smart home technology to deliver one of the most convenient to use home security systems in the market. Voice control is a pretty big selling point for Vivint, enabled through its Alexa and Google Assistant integration.
Through either of the two voice assistants, you can command Vivint to arm your security system, control smart home devices (“dim the lights,” “close the garage door,” etc.) and report sensor status.
Of course, more traditional control options are also available. There’s an app that compiles all the controls you’ll ever need to manage your home, as well as a touchscreen control panel. Control key fobs and panic buttons are also available.
Home Security with AI
Vivint systems are built around a control panel, called the Vivint Smart Hub, and boy is it really smart. Automations make life easier for Vivint users, as the hub can perform certain actions based on a number of inputs. For example, it can arm on its own at night, making sure you don’t leave your home unattended when you go to dreamland.
Other examples of automations we had set up were:
- If our security system detected that nobody was home, it could set our thermostat to conserve energy.
- If it learned that we usually returned home at a certain time, it would reset the temperature in time for our arrival.
Vivint reported that intelligent energy management saved customers about 10 to 15% on home heating and cooling.
We could control Vivint Sky’s adaptation. Under our direction, our security system gradually transitioned along a three-point continuum:
- Only taking orders
- Making suggestions based on our previous interactions
- Taking actions on its own
Vivint made cutting-edge security cameras for our indoor and outdoor use. We could record video anytime with cloud storage and remotely adjust each camera’s settings.
We were most impressed by the newest Vivint security camera, the Outdoor Camera Pro with night vision. It provided 24/7 “lurker detection,” thanks to artificial intelligence.
Vivint’s security lineup also includes the Ping indoor camera and the Doorbell Camera Pro which features a 180-degree by 180-degree field of view.
4. Alder Security - Best Security System for Response Times
With response times 10 times faster than the rest, the professional monitoring from Alder was top-notch.
Equipment Costs Starting at $0 Monitoring Options Professional only Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $35 Contract Lengths 36 months Installation Options Professional or DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
Every second counts during a security breach, and with Alder, we had peace of mind that help would come ASAP if we were ever in a dire situation. Alder boasts a response time that is 10 times faster than the average alarm company, and we saw what it can do during our numerous test alarm calls to the company.
Alder’s reputation for being one of the companies with the fastest response times started in 2017 when the company notched a 3.7-second average response time. Since then, Alder never looked back and kept up its excellent alarm response performance.
Read on for more Alder features that made us consider it an elite security system.
What We Like
- Quick installation
- 30-day trial period
- User-friendly mobile app
- Free equipment
What We Don’t Like
- Three-year contracts
- Not many equipment options
- Pricing isn’t listed on website
- Expensive monthly fees
The first thing you should know about Alder is that it requires a three-year agreement. That’s an awfully long time, especially for renters such as ourselves. It’s also a huge risk even for homeowners to sign a contract without knowing if the system works for their needs.
There is a silver lining, though. Alder comes with a 30-day money-back trial period. The contract doesn’t fully kick in until the 30th day, giving you enough time to try Alder first-hand and see if it works for you. If you cancel within the trial period, you’ll get a full refund less the shipping cost, which is a pretty fair deal.
We were 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 didn’t work with smart thermostats that connected over Z-Wave, unlike the older systems with GC2 panels.
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. Alder also offered us professional installation on the house!
5. Cove - Best for Installation and Convenience
Cove is a newer security company that's disrupting the market by providing self-installed home security with professional monitoring and equipment. If you want a quick and easy setup, it's one of the best security systems around.
Equipment Costs Starting at $87 Monitoring Options Professional and DIY Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $50 Contract Lengths Single month only Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
Cove is another DIY option that rivals SimpliSafe in terms of simplicity and budget-friendliness. Cove’s monitoring plans start at $17.99 per month, and you can get started on a system for under $200.
Our favorite thing about Cove is the installation process. When we ordered a system, Cove sent us pre-programmed equipment that was ready to work out of the box. We simply plugged in the control panel and pulled out the battery tabs out of the sensors and they paired right away. To activate the system, we just called Cove’s customer support. All in all, including the customer support call, we spent less than 30 minutes installing Cove.
What We Like
- Integrations with Google Assistant and Alexa
- No long-term contracts
- Can choose to pay nothing upfront
- Battery backup
What We Don’t Like
- Professional monitoring required
- Monthly fees required
- Relatively new company
- Doesn’t sell home automation equipment
24/7 Professional Monitoring
Being a newer company, we were surprised that all of Cove’s systems require 24/7 professional monitoring for either $17.99 or $27.99 a month, but since we prefer professional monitoring over self-monitoring anyway, it wasn’t a big deal. That extra $10 a month got us remote control, Alexa and Google Assistant integrations, a lifetime lock on our monthly rate, plus a $5 monthly credit if we wanted to buy extra equipment. We think that’s worth it for the remote control and smart home integrations alone!
Text Communications with Cove Plus
It might seem counterintuitive, but we found Cove’s text communications to be quite useful. Whenever the system gets tripped, Cove sends a link to a text-based communication system, where everyone in your family circle can communicate. Unlike traditional alarm systems that only call one member of the family to verify alerts, Cove’s InstaText system allows for a more efficient and faster emergency response. That’s one of the reasons that Cove’s response rate is three to four times faster than its competitors.
The InstaText system also reduces false alarms, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars in false alarm fees. If the alert turns out to be a false alarm, you and your family circle can easily waive it off through InstaText. In a traditional system, if you miss the call, the cops might be called to respond, which could lead to false alarm fees from your city or local police department. In a way, Cove is also helping the government reduce unnecessary spending due to false alarms.
6. Frontpoint - Best No Contract Home Security System
DIY home security systems offering cutting-edge technology, outstanding service, and total home automation.
Equipment Costs Starting at $99 Monitoring Options Professional only Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $18 Contract Lengths 1-36 months Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
Frontpoint offers home security systems with DIY setup and professional monitoring that we found impressive. We liked the DIY approach, and also the fact that each system supports burglary prevention, environmental protection, and home automation.
Another great thing about Frontpoint is that you can order a system hassle-free online or by phone, and Frontpoint’s sales agents were refreshingly low pressure in our experience. The cheapest package costs $129, and they even pointed us in the direction of the online deals they were running at the time.
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 Don’t Like
- Requires a long-contract
- Can be prone to false alarms
- Requires a credit check if you finance your system
- No other monitoring option besides the $49.99 a month plan
Rapid Response Emergency Monitoring
Frontpoint is a DIY system, so we installed the equipment ourselves. However, we did leave the monitoring of the system to the pros by enrolling in a professional emergency monitoring service. With this service, we can rest assured that someone will be there to help us or call for help on our behalf during alarm incidents.
Additionally, for the $49.99 monthly fee, we’d get professional monitoring, access to the app, home automation, and video monitoring — basically every feature in Frontpoint’s arsenal. It’s the only subscription plan they offer, so we’re glad it has everything.
A Frontpoint rep explained that Frontpoint won’t be monitoring our system themselves, but rather a third-party partner takes care of 24/7 monitoring. The company is called Rapid Response Monitoring Services.
We checked out the company and found pretty interesting things about them. They have a great reputation and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. What impressed us the most, however, was the robust backup measures they have in place in case of power outages and national crises.
The company has two monitoring facilities, each at different locations. The two are redundant, which means they have exactly the same resources and setup. If one goes down, the other can easily take over. This ensures that the monitoring centers never go offline. That’s a setup we’d gladly put our trust in, and we did.
Rich In Features
Frontpoint is one of the leading security systems thanks in part to its feature-rich security systems. As stated, the Ultimate plan includes everything from home security to home automation and video monitoring. To complement it, Frontpoint offers basic and advanced systems that are not only scalable, but also offer a wide range of features.
Just look at the mid-range equipment package from Frontpoint and what it includes. It has the usual home security components such as motion sensors and entry sensors, but you can also get an indoor security camera and a video doorbell for monitoring your entryway. Mid-range packages also include a heat and smoke sensor to protect your home from fire.
Even if you buy a pre-set bundle, you can still add components to your system. Your options include glass break sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, garage door sensors, CO and flood sensors, and a whole lot of home automation devices. And remember, you can use all of these devices without having to pay any more than the $49.99 monthly fee.
7. Brinks Home Security - Best DIY Home Security System
Easy to install home security system that works with Google Assistant and Alexa.
Equipment Costs Starting at $199 Monitoring Options Professional only Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $29 Contract Lengths 36 months Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
Not only do we love DIY installation because it’s free, but with Brinks, we got help over the phone anyway, without having to pay. Plus, if we had signed up for the Smart Security Ultimate Package, we could’ve gotten professional installation for free! But we digress.
When we set up our Brinks security system, we talked on the phone with an installation expert who helped us every step of the way. After we set the system up, we did a test medical alarm call (with the guidance of the support agent we were on the phone with) and talked more about how the system worked. The entire process took us 35 minutes and was actually, dare we say, pleasant, as far as home security installation goes.
What We Like
- DIY installation with free phone support
- Google Assistant and Alexa integrations
- Affordable professional monitoring
- Easy-to-use Alarm.com app
What We Don’t Like
- No proprietary Google Assistant action
- Three-year contracts
- Pricey professional monitoring
- No proprietary app
Smart Home Integrations
We controlled our Brinks system using Alexa and Google Assistant, because who doesn’t love a good voice command? After figuring out that Brinks only works with the Alarm.com Google Assistant action, we used Google to:
- Arm our system
- Control IoT devices
- Ask if our system was armed
Alexa had one more capability, disarming the system as well. We had fun telling our voice assistants to play our live footage on the big screen, as Brinks works well with Echo Shows, Fire TV Sticks, Nest Hubs, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc. In fact, Brinks systems can act as a hub for up to 119 smart home devices.
Brinks doesn’t allow customers to self-monitor, but that’s not a turn-off considering Brinks’ relatively affordable pricing. We say “relatively” because it’s more expensive than monitoring from the likes of Cove and SimpliSafe, but Brinks is on the cheaper end compared to brands like Vivint and Frontpoint. And unlike Frontpoint, Brinks lets its customers decide the level of protection and amount of features they want with its three-tiered monitoring plan pricing.
Package name Cost per month Description Smart Security Essential $39.99 Basic home security with smartphone access Smart Security Complete $44.99 Home security plus home automation features Smart Security Ultimate $49.99 Home security, home automation, and video monitoring
While these aren’t the lowest prices for monitoring we’ve ever seen, they’re also not the most expensive, and for 24/7 protection, we felt that the monitoring plans are worthwhile. Plus, the plans include cellular backup, which kept us connected to the monitoring center even during a neighborhood blackout.
8. abode - Best No Monthly Fee Home Security System
Get home security and smart home automation without all the contracts and monthly fees.
Equipment Costs Starting at $199 Monitoring Options Professional and DIY Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $20 Contract Lengths Single month only Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit
Abode was one of the best security companies that allowed us to monitor activity for free; we loved that we could access all features of their mobile app without paid service. We had the options for long-term and very short-term contracts, too. If we were away for a long weekend, for example, we could order three days of professional monitoring.
Pro Tip: It’s always rewarding to shop abode systems around special days, like Black Friday, Christmas, and New Years. Abode offers huge discounts around the holidays, sometimes up to 50-percent.
We bought our equipment through the Abode website, the only place it was available. We built a high-quality Abode system for security alerts, environmental monitoring, and home automation. Additionally, we used the option for voice commands with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. Read on for details about why Abode security was one of our favorites.
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 Don’t 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 our Abode security system connected to a mobile app. Without paid service, we could arm our system, watch live video surveillance, adjust lighting and temperature, and use all other app features.
For three days, the Abode app stored our system activity for free. Longer storage was available to us with paid contracts.
We could select professional monitoring by Abode, which added emergency dispatch service and kept a 90-day log of our system’s activity.
We could easily switch from one monitoring plan to another within the billing section of our app. The best Abode monitoring deal we found required one year of prepaid service.
Abode’s high-quality sensors detected movement and environmental threats in and around our home. For the ultimate simplicity, we could have chosen an all-in-one security tower with a video camera. We chose the following components as part of our Abode set:
- Motion sensors that take pictures
- Glass vibration sensors
- Acoustic glass break sensors
- Wide-angle video cameras
In addition, we were able to add an Abode Cam 2 indoor/outdoor camera for just $27.00. We splurged and bought a couple of the company’s smart light bulbs as well.
One of our favorite aspects about Abode, was the Abode home security app also integrated automation devices from third parties. Hue lights, Kwikset locks, and Nest thermostats were some of the options we had.
We could use voice control integrations with both Amazon and Google through Abode. These let us get hands-free help around the home. All we had to do to adjust our home’s lighting, blinds, temperature, and more, was talk.
9. Deep Sentinel - Best Security System for Artificial Intelligence
Deep Sentinel’s cameras can distinguish suspicious behaviors from non-suspicious behaviors, the only AI of this type in the home security industry.
Equipment Costs Starting at $399 Monitoring Options Professional and DIY Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $60 Contract Lengths 1-12 months Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration None
While other security cameras can simply distinguish people, pets, vehicles and packages from other moving objects, Deep Sentinel is designed to detect suspicious behaviors. That includes attempted robberies, vandalism, car theft and burglary, making your notifications matter more.
What We Like
- Advanced AI
- 24/7 professional monitoring
- DIY installation
- Month-to-month contracts
What We Don’t Like
- Pricey systems
- Expensive professional monitoring
- No self-monitoring only option
- No smart platform integrations
After we watched the instructional video, setting up our Deep Sentinel system took about half an hour. All we had to do was plug the cameras in and sync them with our mobile app and the hub. Of course, we had to mount the cameras as well, but we loved the fact that Deep Sentinel gave us a screwdriver plus step-by-step instructions in the app.
Fast Response Times
In 30 seconds, we would have gotten alerted of any robbery attempts, break-ins involving our doors or windows, violent behavior, package theft attempts and more. Within 60 seconds, we would’ve gotten confirmations of packages deliveries, notifications that someone was standing at our front door or that police were on our property. Leveraging advanced AI capabilities with 24/7 professional monitoring, Deep Sentinel has some of the fastest response times in the business, next to Alder of course.
Deep Sentinel offers some of the best equipment in the business, packed with all sorts of AI technology. The system hub can process more than fifty images a second and label each one with a security classification. In addition, Deep Sentinel offers both wireless and PoE options. With Power over Ethernet, you don’t have to connect your cameras to an outlet. Just plug in the ethernet cord, and you’re all set.
10. Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best Alexa Home Security System
The Amazon-owned Ring Alarm plays well with Alexa and offers 24/7 monitoring for just $10/mo.
Equipment Costs Starting at $199 Monitoring Options Professional and DIY Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $20 Contract Lengths 1-12 months Installation Options DIY Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home
We were obsessed with our Alexa, so we were thrilled to test out Ring, which is owned by Amazon and was compatible with Alexa. When we did our shopping, we found out Ring also sold high-decibel alarm systems compatible with video cameras, environmental monitoring, home automation, and voice control.
This system allowed us to self-monitor or pay for an affordable month-to-month monitoring service. Note that Ring now has the Ring Alarm Pro system available, which is a security system with a built-in router with extra features built for digital safety.
What We Like
- Highly-affordable professional monitoring at $20 per month
- Advanced home automation features and Alexa integrations
- No contract required on Ring Alarm systems
- Simple DIY setup takes only minutes to install
What We Don’t 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
Our most affordable option was Ring’s simplest home security package, which cost $199.99 retail. Optional monitoring started at just $20, and we could cancel anytime without penalty. Another option is to self-monitor for free, but if you have Ring cameras as well, we recommend paying for cloud storage, at least, which starts at $3 a month for one camera or $10 for unlimited cameras. Exclusive Ring security discounts were available to teachers, military members, and first responders.
We were able to self-monitor our home with Ring’s free mobile app. Ring also developed a free Crimewatch app, Neighbors App that we could choose to join or not join. In our area, it added community power to home security with safety alerts from neighbors, police, and Ring.
Video Security with Low Bandwidth Demand
Our Ring video security cameras were high definition, but they were set to record only when motion was detected. This put less demand on our home Wi-Fi service compared with popular competitors systems which recorded constantly. This would have mattered a lot to us if we didn’t have an unlimited Wi-Fi data plan or were concerned our home security would slow down our other online activity.
Ring was so easy for us to use because its security hub was compatible with devices from so many brands. Some examples included:
- First Alert smoke/carbon monoxide detector
- GE light dimmers
- Schlage smart deadbolts
- Chamberlain garage door openers
- Honeywell thermostats
However, not all our third-party gadgets could be monitored by emergency dispatchers. To save us time, we found a list of certified products that were available on the Ring security website.
How We Determined Which Security System is The Best
Buying a home security system required us to consider a ton of factors, from the costs of equipment to the quality of the devices. How did we decide which security system was right for our home? Below, we included info about how to choose a fitting security system and a methodology section, where we detailed how we tested and reviewed our systems.
Why Buy a Home Security System?
The first question we asked ourselves was whether or not we actually needed a home security system at all.
We wanted to know exactly how common home burglaries were and if home security systems could really decrease the likelihood that we’d 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
- A news station asked 86 convicted burglars (inmates at a prison in Oregon) exactly how they committed robberies1. They determined that the majority of burglars entered homes through unlocked doors or windows. Most of the intruders said that if an alarm went off, they would have left immediately.
- In the same study, most of the inmates said they would first knock on the door of a home before invading it. If someone answered, they would leave. Some inmates said even just having visible cameras would deter them from choosing that home as a target.
Knowing that most security systems offered contact sensors for doors and windows as well as motion and glass break sensors, we thought having these simple sensors may have stopped these convict’s robberies before they started. Video doorbells, a part of some smart security systems, allowed homeowners and renters to see and speak to whoever was at their front door from a mobile application. We realized if the victims had these, they would have always been able to respond to the door, whether or not they were at home. We liked the idea that at our home we could seem like we were there when we were away.
- Another report from Arizona State University’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing2 found that burglary was the second most common crime in the United States and was responsible for up 18% of all serious crimes. Unfortunately, a whopping 65% of burglaries had no evidence or useful information for the police to investigate.
We believed security cameras could have made a big difference in the amount of evidence available from these robberies. Besides material losses, burglaries caused psychological harm to victims. In sum, we concluded that every family, including our own, could benefit from a home security system’s ability to help prevent crime or stop one midway.
Top Three Advantages of Home Security Systems
After testing out dozens of systems, we firmly understood and agreed with their advantages:
- Increased safety: It was no secret that simply having a security system could reduce our chances of being burgled, from visible cameras to video doorbells that let us answer our door wherever. Even if a burglar managed to enter our home through a door or window, we’d be notified immediately via our phones. Plus, video evidence made catching and convicting anyone who entered our home much more likely.
- Protection from material and emotional damages: Having a security system prevented the loss of our physical items as well as the negative feelings that follow a home burglary. According to Colonial Behavioral Health in Williamsburg, Virginia3, property crime had a huge effect on victims. They felt violated and unsafe. We imagined we would likely have felt the same way. Having a security system in place gave our family the peace of mind that we probably would never have to go through that kind of trauma.
- Home insurance discounts: Our homeowner’s insurance policy, and many others we looked at, gave us a discount of up to about 15% for installing a security system in our home.
Tip: To save up to 15% on your homeowner’s insurance, get a security system to protect your home from burglaries.
Home Security System Buyer’s Guide
We recommended considering the following factors before buying a security system:
- Homeowner vs. renter: We felt all right about drilling or hardwiring a security system into our home because we owned it. However, we wouldn’t have had the same perspective if we were renters with a security deposit in jeopardy. For renters, we recommended looking for a wireless home security system, as most components were peel and stick and did not require any holes. Our other recommendation for renters was to look for systems with monthly contracting and easy portability, which was the case for most DIY systems.
- Apartment vs. house: Since we lived in a single-family home, we also invested in an outdoor system to protect our front and backyard. We recommended that our friends who lived in an apartment choose a video doorbell that fit their peephole, like the Ring Peephole Cam.
- Size of home: Of course, the size of our home determined what equipment we selected. We knew that the larger a home or family, the more sensors, cameras, and video doorbells we might need. However, we also considered that many families 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. Learn more about the best security systems for large homes.
- City, suburbs, or rural areas: For surveillance of outdoor spaces, we remembered that different areas have different laws on recording footage, so we recommended anyone who planned to set up outdoor recording check out local regulations first, especially if it covered property other than their own. Another area-related consideration we mentioned was traffic, both foot and car-related. For example, because we were in the city, we wanted cameras that ignored motion from cars and only alerted 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 lived on busy streets, like us, we stressed person detection and activity zones were a must. However, we recognized that someone in rural areas may not have shared our need for any AI features, as motion events might be more rare, resulting in fewer notifications.
- Outdoor space: We learned that securing outdoor space was more challenging than indoor space. For example, power was a huge factor; we didn’t have any well-placed outdoor outlets, so we had to look for outdoor, wireless cameras. There was also the issue of connectivity; we were solid with cellular backup or Wi-Fi but recommended that those who weren’t found a camera that didn’t require Wi-Fi like the Reolink GO.
- Garage: We faced similar issues with our garage and our outdoor spaces. For this issue, we looked into companies that sold entry sensors for garage doors specifically, like Vivint.
- Small businesses: We suggested our neighbor’s, who owned a nearby small business, invest in security cameras with 24/7 continuous recording, like the Nest Cams under the Nest Aware subscription. We thought these cameras might both deter criminals and come in handy for more everyday tasks, like keeping an eye on employees or customers in the store.
- Vacation homes: Our family’s vacation home was unoccupied most of the year, so, naturally, we wanted a way to monitor it. Ultimately, we decided to invest in a plug-in system or one with long battery life, like the Blink cameras. We also recommended that others looking for a vacation home system consider 24/7 professional monitoring, which really took the work out of monitoring our second home.
20 Specific Security System Buying Guides
- Best Affordable Home Security Systems
- Best Alexa Home Security Systems
- Best Apartment Security Systems
- Best Apple Home Security Systems
- Best Business Security Systems
- Best Cellular Security Systems
- Best DIY Home Security Systems
- Best Home Security Systems for Seniors
- Best Google Home Security Systems
- Best No-Contract Home Security Systems
- Best No Credit Check Security Systems
- Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems
- Best Outdoor Security Systems
- Best Home Security Systems for Pet-Owners
- Best Home Security Systems for Renters
- Best Smart Home Security Systems
- Best Unmonitored Home Security Systems
- Best Rural Home Security Systems
- Best Vacation Home Security Systems
- Best Wireless Home Security Systems
How To Buy
Taking these five steps before we decided on a security system made an enormous difference for us, and we recommended others do the same.
Before we selected our system, we:
- Assessed our security needs: Every home has different security needs, so the crucial first step before buying a security system is assessing what you need. To help you do that, we developed a Security Score tool that can tell you how secure you are based on a number of factors, and then recommend steps on how you can improve your security score. We suggest using the tool to determine which areas you’ll need to improve security-wise.
- Checked for homeowner’s insurance discount: We were awarded a 15-percent discount on our homeowner’s insurance because we used one of their choice security systems. We even learned some other homeowner’s insurance companies offered savings of up to $156 for adding a security system.
- Made a list of the equipment we wanted: We went in knowing exactly what components we wanted, and it saved us from being swayed by aggressive salespeople or sleek websites pushing more and more add-ons for products we didn’t really need.
- Set a pre-determined budget: Finally, we laid down a budget for everything, from equipment to any additional costs, like activation fees, installation fees, monitoring fees, and storage fees. Then we agreed to stick to that budget as we shopped for a system.
- Take advantage of deals: From Ring Alarm Prime Day deals to Alexa Prime Day deals, and SimpliSafe Prime Day deals, wait for sales holidays to make your purchase.
Methodology: How We Ranked Security Systems
There were dozens of factors we considered when reviewing home security systems, from how well they worked in our testing to costs. While this list was by no means comprehensive, it provided us with a general overview of what to consider when deciding which home security system was right for us.
First, we looked at the equipment that was available on a company’s website, which usually included some combination of the items on this list:
- Security cameras
- Video doorbells
- Smart locks
- Motion sensors
- Entry sensors
- Glass break sensors
- Garage door sensors
- Base station
- Panic button
- Key fob remote
We preferred companies that offered a wide range of devices, so we could create a kit customized to our home. Of course, we also cared a lot about the quality and features of the devices, such as:
- Wired vs. wireless: With wireless components, we cared about battery life. We also appreciated solar-powered devices, like the Ring Stick Up Solar. Ideally, if cameras were wireless, their batteries were rechargeable with an easy-to-change magnetic charger.
- Camera features: We discussed camera features much more in-depth in our security camera necessary features guide. For cameras, in particular, we looked for features like 1080p HD video, infrared night vision, two-way audio, cloud, and local storage, smart platform integrations, and person detection.
- Durability: We only chose outdoor components that had large temperature ranges and IP ratings of 65 and up, meaning they were dust-tight and protected from water jets.
We also liked companies that offered packages, discounts, and scalability, meaning we could add more components as we went along. Flexibility was key.
Both DIY and professionally-installed security systems had their advantages and disadvantages. Overall, we recommended DIY installation for those that wanted to save some money and didn’t mind spending a bit of time setting up a system. For those willing to spend a buck for convenience, we recommended professional installation.
What We Like
- Typically didn’t require any drilling or special tools
- Easily moved during a change of residence
What We Don’t Like
- Sometimes time-consuming
- Some systems were easier to install than others
- Less reliable than professionally installed systems
What We Like
- No work from the user required
- More trustworthy
What We Don’t Like
- Costs ran as high as up $150, although some companies offer free professional installation
- Sometimes needed to schedule the installation way in advance, which delayed home security
Most systems had 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, we also had a team of people available at all hours to respond to any alarm going off. If we weren’t able to respond for whatever reason, be it work or a vacation, the monitoring team was able to verify the emergency and call the police for us, if needed. We always recommended getting professional monitoring, although it usually required a monthly fee.
We also preferred companies that offered month-to-month contracting as opposed to long-term contracting. While long-term contracts often meant a locked-in rate, we were more worried about avoiding cancellation fees. Fortunately, we witnessed monthly contracting become more of a norm with smart security systems.
Smart Home Integrations
Whether it was our Alexa and Google voice assistants or other IoT devices like smart lights, smart locks, or smart thermostats, we liked security systems that allowed for voice commands and home automation.
Here, we broke down the costs we suggested anyone buying a security system consider:
- Activation cost: In our research, we determined most companies don’t make customers pay any activation fees to get started; this was more common in the early 2000s and was largely phased out. However, we also found that some companies still required activation fees.
- Equipment costs: Depending on the home size of our amount of security requested, we discovered we could expect to pay anywhere from $20 to more than $900 on our home security system. The good thing was that most companies offered scalable systems. Typically, users, like us, chose a package but also had the opportunity to add on more components down the line, if needed. Many companies also said we could customize our systems, which made it easier to keep our budget in check.
- Installation cost: Most companies we researched did not charge a required installation fee. In fact, the majority of systems offered DIY installation that didn’t require drilling or hardwiring. However, some companies like Vivint and ADT required professional installation, which ranged from around $80 all the way up to $150. Our recommendation was that those on a budget opt for a DIY system with self-installation.
- Monthly costs: While some systems didn’t come attached to any monthly fees whatsoever, other companies we spoke to offered or required paid subscriptions for 24/7 professional monitoring, cellular backup, and/or storage. Typically, we found monthly or yearly contracts included monthly fees that ranged anywhere from $10 with Ring Alarm all the way up to $60 with more traditional companies like ADT. We liked that storage was often included in that fee and were usually less impressed when it was separate. We suggested anyone not looking to pay any costs aside from equipment either self-monitor their system through its mobile application or use a local alarm system only, like with SimpliSafe. Different companies we researched allowed different actions, like livestreaming footage and receiving motion-activated notifications, based on whether we paid a monthly fee or not. That’s definitely something we encouraged potential buyers to keep in mind.
- Alternatives to home security systems: If we felt the costs of a home security system were just too high, we identified a few alternatives that still allowed us to feel protected in our home. We used a simple indoor security camera, outdoor security camera, and video doorbell to notify us when it detected either movement or people, depending on its artificial intelligence capabilities. While we thought additional sensors and panic buttons certainly had their value in home security, we were grateful for other options those of us on a budget could turn to. We even learned that something as low-maintenance as a security sign could help!
During our testing, smart security required a connection between all of the system’s components, its base station or hub, and its mobile application. Typically, this came in the form of Wi-Fi, but some companies we explored also offered cellular or landline backup in case our power went out. Also some devices we tried needed to connect over ZigBee or Z-Wave protocols, which sometimes required an additional hub. We looked for systems with cellular backup, ideally included for free, although it was usually part of the monitoring cost.
We asked that question everyone wanted to: Could our home security system be hacked? Unfortunately, the answer was yes. All smart security systems could potentially be hacked. But the truth, which we thought was quite eye-opening, was that anything that used the Internet was potentially hackable. As a result of this information, we committed to adhering to the best digital security practices. That was why we looked for companies that offered two and multi-factor authentication for us to sign in to our security accounts. We also investigated each company’s history of security breaches, as we wanted to keep our private footage private.
When it came to a security system’s mobile application, we wanted something that let us easily livestream footage, control our system remotely, and get notified whenever alarms went off. One step we took to find this was we made sure the app had a high rating on either the Apple or Google Play store.
We also looked for companies with free trial periods, flexible cancellation policies, flexible return policies, and extended warranties.
Company Background and Customer Reviews
Finally, we took into consideration how long the business had been around and what other customers thought of their systems on Amazon and Google. However, our reviews were completely our own and based on our own testing experiences.
Our Security Experts
Security.org’s Chief Editor Gabe Turner and Senior Staff Writer Aliza Vigderman did 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 is a home security and digital security expert based in Brooklyn, New York. A former attorney, Gabe 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 with 30,000 subscribers.
Aliza Vigderman is a technology journalist also based in Brooklyn. Previously, she wrote 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 wrote about home security, digital security, and smart home technology exclusively for about two years.
FAQs About Home Security Systems
What was the best and most affordable security system?
The title of the best and most affordable security system goes to SimpliSafe. We were able to build a home security system for under $200 (after factoring in the discounts), and monitoring cost us $17.99 to $27.99. Even though it’s affordable, SimpliSafe offers solid home security coverage with professional monitoring, security cameras, and smart home integrations.
What was the best smart home security system?
The best smart home security system was Vivint. Vivint worked with Alexa and Google Assistant as well as IoT devices from other companies researched. That included everything from Kwikset smart locks and Nest thermostats to smart lamps and bulbs from Philips Hue. We created automated triggers and controlled everything from the Vivint Smart Home app.
Are security cameras and video doorbells necessary?
These devices aren’t necessary, per se. But installing outdoor security cameras and a doorbell camera can help you to monitor the exterior of your home and ward off package thieves. So in some ways, they are necessary, especially if you’re looking for complete home protection.
Does Alexa really work with home security systems?
Almost all of our top pick security systems really work with Alexa. As smart home enthusiasts, Alexa (and Google Assistant) integrations is important to us, which is why we picked the best systems that work with smart home platforms.
What is the average monthly cost of a home security system?
If you sign up for professional monitoring, you can expect to pay between $30 to $40 per month on average. That said, some companies offer monitoring for $10-$20 per month, and others range upwards of $50-$60 for monthly monitoring. But if you choose a self-monitored security system, you won’t pay a dime for professional monitoring.
KTVB. (2019). We asked 86 burglars how they broke into homes.
ASU Center for Problem-Oriented Policing. (2002). The Problem of Burglary of Single-Family Houses. popcenter.asu.edu/content/burglary-single-family-houses-0
Colonial Behavioral Health. (2012). The Cognitive and Emotional Impact of Crime, Parts 1 and 2.