Best Apartment Security Systems in 2020

Just because you live in an apartment doesn't mean there aren't great options for home security.

Aliza VigdermanGabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on May 8, 2020

Best Overall for Apartments

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Best DIY System for Apartments

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Best Alexa Compatibility

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What are the best apartment security systems? Apartment renters tend to have two special preferences for home security:

  • Compared with homeowners, we especially want to avoid drilling or screwing into walls. We could get charged for damages at move-out.
  • Renters usually want to avoid home security contracts. After all, we could move long before contracts are up! Commitments of at least 12 months are often required.

These preferences eliminate lots of companies. But here’s the good news: Renters have lots of great options, and an effective apartment security system can be cheap! You’ll probably need less equipment compared with guarding a stand-alone house.

Here we outline five best apartment security system recommendations. We start with SimpliSafe, the original renter-friendly home security company. Also featured are Abode, Ring, Scout Alarm, and Canary.

Best Apartment Security Systems

  • SimpliSafe – Best Apartment Home Security Overall
  • Abode – Best DIY Apartment Home Security
  • Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatible Apartment Security
  • Scout Alarm – Most Affordable Apartment Security System
  • Canary – Easiest to Install Apartment Security

SimpliSafe – Best Apartment Home Security Overall

The pioneer in renter-friendly home security with DIY or professional monitoring, contract-free

SimpliSafe is the original renter-friendly home security company. Years ago it helped redefine a very homeowner-focused industry by introducing affordable wireless and contract-free home security systems.

Many competitors have now emerged, but SimpliSafe remains popular. The company offers the best apartment security overall in terms of easy DIY installation, low equipment price, and reliability. Competition has inspired various upgrades too; thus new SimpliSafe systems support home automation and can communicate with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. For instance, arm your system by saying, “OK Google, arm SimpliSafe to AWAY.”

You can start for just $229. This covers the cost of a starter kit with base station, wireless keypad, entry sensor, and indoor motion sensor. Many additional devices can be included, as listed below.

Monitoring SimpliSafe Equipment

Without additional payment you can get alerts from the SimpliSafe Base Station siren and your wireless keypad(s). However, the best protection includes alerts when you’re away from the apartment:

  • Paying $14.99/month you can get text alerts about system activity.
  • For $24.99 you can get mobile control, home automation, and 24/7 expert monitoring.

Professional monitoring by SimpliSafe’s partner, C.O.P.S. Monitoring, is high quality. Their approach brings an above-average dispatch time for emergency responders.

Best Apartment Home Security by SimpliSafe

Each SimpliSafe system uses a SimpliSafe Base Station. This lightweight unit plugs into a wall, has battery backup, and tamper detection and can monitor up to 41 devices. A thumb drive shipped with the base unit makes it easy to connect sensors without downloading any files or apps. Sensors can protect your apartment against criminals, guard against environmental threats, automate your lights, and more.

With SimpliSafe you can custom build or choose from various starter packs, which combine the base station with other equipment. The cheapest set is officially $229 but often sells for less. It’s called The Foundation, and it guards one entryway and one indoor area. Some other sets are The Knox, which has enough motion sensors for large apartments, and The Haven, which adds water damage protection.

You can buy motion sensors and other items separately too. Most equipment monitored by a SimpliSafe Base Station is made by SimpliSafe. This helps keep systems affordable; as a manufacturer, SimpliSafe keeps prices low for pet-friendly motion sensors, glass break sensors, indoor security cameras, and other basic equipment. The list includes:

  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Doorbell cameras
  • Entry sensors (door/window)
  • Freeze sensors for pipes
  • Glass break sensors
  • Indoor cameras
  • Indoor motion sensors
  • Smoke detectors
  • Water leak sensors
  • Wireless keypads

Furthermore you can add select smart home equipment: Nest thermostats for energy savings, and August smart locks for convenience. Speakers by Amazon Echo and Google Home help integrate virtual personal assistants.

You can try a SimpliSafe apartment security system for 60 days. If you decide to return the set, you can get a full refund and SimpliSafe will pay for shipping.

Abode – Best DIY Apartment Home Security

Z-Wave compatible home security hubs for do-it-yourself protection & home automation

Abode offers the best DIY apartment home security for renters interested in Z-Wave cameras and other Z-Wave gadgets for home automation. You can buy a basic Abode starter set (no cameras) for just $199, but with add-ons, you might spend lots more on equipment compared with SimpliSafe. One trade-off is that Abode, unlike SimpliSafe, allows DIY monitoring with a mobile app for free. Three days of free video storage are included for each clip too. You can extend storage for just $8/month contract-free.

As with SimpliSafe, with Abode home security you can integrate a virtual personal assistant; remotely control your cameras and other connected equipment via Alexa or Google Assistant.

Monitoring Abode Security Equipment

Free DIY monitoring with Abode equipment includes full access to the Abode mobile app. Free cloud storage of video is also provided; you get three days per clip, or you can pay $8/month to store video for longer.

Professional monitoring is available to supplement DIY options for $20/month total. This connects an Abode apartment security system to Central Monitoring Center, America’s largest provider of home security emergency dispatching services. Pro monitoring also expands the duration of cloud video storage.

Very short-term professional monitoring is available too: You can order service for three days, one week, and other durations with Abode’s mobile app. The cheapest rate comes with a year of prepaid service.

Best Apartment Home Security by Abode

For small apartments the best Abode security system might be the $229 iota tower. It can monitor up to 160 sensors, plus it’s also a sufficient all-in-one unit for studio apartments and other small living spaces. The tower has a motion-triggered 1080p camera and 93-decibel siren, and you’ll get free DIY monitoring with text alerts and cloud video storage. You can interact with iota using the included keyfob, your voice, or a mobile app. It has tamper detection and a six-hour backup battery.

Another option is the $199 Abode Gateway base station. This plug-in unit has tamper detection and a 10-hour backup battery. It lacks an integrated camera, but you can wirelessly connect a camera and up to 160 devices in total. Like the iota tower, this Abode hub works with voice control, a keyfob, or a mobile app.

Various add-ons are sold at the Abode home security website. Some devices with the Abode brand name are:

  • Occupancy sensors (Sense motion, light and temperature)
  • Smart home power switches
  • Smoke detectors
  • Motion-activated cameras 

Abode security hubs are also compatible with Z-Wave sensors by other brands. Some examples of renter-friendly Z-Wave equipment are: 

  • Amazon Echo speakers
  • Google Home speakers
  • Nest IQ security cameras (indoor and outdoor)
  • Smart color-changing LED bulbs by LIFX
  • Plug-in smart switches by Aeotec

You can try an Abode hub security system with money-back guarantee for 30 days.

Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatible Apartment Security

Renter-friendly home security systems with the best Amazon Alexa integration

Ring Alarm is a top choice for DIY or pro-monitored apartment security with video surveillance. Systems work beautifully with Amazon Alexa speakers, as Ring is developed by Amazon too.

The simplest Ring solution for small apartments is a wire-free doorbell camera. Ring doorbell cameras work hub-free; you can monitor all activity with a mobile app. A more robust option though is using a Ring Alarm hub to monitor a doorbell camera along with other devices such as Ring glass break sensors, window entry sensors, and advanced indoor/outdoor cameras that you can install wire-free. The hub can monitor up to 100 items. Opting for a doorbell camera, you can get started for just $99. Multi-part sets sell for $199 and up.

Z-Wave devices by third parties are compatible too. Combining Alexa and Z-Wave, you can have voice control over your doorbell camera, lights, electrical outlets and more. For instance, “Alexa, answer the front door” can initiate remote interaction with a visitor.

Ring Security Equipment for Apartments

The best apartment security systems are wire-free and easy to install/uninstall without drilling into walls. Some Ring equipment needs hardwiring but you have lots of wireless options: doorbell cameras, outdoor cameras, indoor cameras, and more. Special features on the cameras – such as floodlights, sirens, and two-way speakers – help make Ring a top choice.

Ring’s door camera line includes three models that can be installed wire-free. These are called Video Doorbell, Video Doorbell 2, and the Door View Cam. While the Video Doorbell and Video Doorbell 2 are meant to be affixed outside, the Door View Cam gets installed indoors over your apartment door’s peephole.

As mentioned above, you can monitor a Ring door cam with a mobile app and/or with a Ring base station. The hub can wirelessly monitor up to 100 cameras and other sensors for apartment security, environmental safety, and convenience. Here’s a sampling of Ring brand smart home sensors:

  • Floodlight Cam with bright lights, a loud siren, and two-way voice
  • Stick Up Cam with two-way voice for crime prevention and everyday communication; has a button for calling your mobile phone
  • Motion Sensor for indoor or outdoor use
  • Pathlight that illuminates when motion is detected

Most Ring gadgets fall into the categories of cameras, motion sensors, and security lights. You can make an apartment security system even more powerful by adding smart home sensors from third parties. Here are a few examples of third-party Z-Wave equipment that you can install without damaging apartment walls:

  • First Alert Z-Wave Smoke/CO Detector
  • General Electric Plug-In Switch Two Outlets
  • Leviton Decora Smart Plug-In Dimmer

You can try a Ring Alarm system for 30 days with a money-back guarantee.

Monitoring a Ring Alarm System

Without monthly payment you can monitor Ring equipment yourself with a mobile app and/or a desktop app. Free service includes alerts, live video, and two-way voice.

Saving Ring security video for up to 60 days requires a contract-free paid plan. You have two main choices: DIY monitoring, or pro monitoring along with DIY options:

  • Protect Basic adds 60 days of video storage to DIY monitoring. For $3 per month, one camera is covered. You can save a bit by paying $30 up-front for 12 months per camera instead.
  • Protect Plus provides 60 days of video storage plus 24/7 professional monitoring. All Ring cameras and other Ring devices (such as smoke monitors) are covered for just $10/month or $100/year with no contract required.

Ring’s mobile and desktop apps make it easy to add paid service anytime.

Scout Alarm – Most Affordable Apartment Security System

Low-priced apartment security systems with Z-Wave radio, virtual assistants, and optional pro monitoring  

Scout Alarm began as a crowdfunded company focused on affordable security systems with do-it-yourself installation. Their all-wireless systems can guard apartments of all sizes with DIY or pro monitoring. Like SimpliSafe, Scout partners with C.O.P.S. Monitoring for professional management of alerts. For streamlining everyday life you can integrate Alexa or Google Assistant; use voice to arm the system, control apartment lights, and more.

Each Scout Alarm system is centered around a wireless Scout hub. It has an integrated 105db siren and is equipped to monitor a wide range of Scout sensors and/or Z-Wave devices by other brands.

You can get started for just $229. As with SimpliSafe, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee for the siren(s) to sound.

Scout Apartment Security Equipment

Scout is most popular among people seeking affordable DIY security systems. Although you can add expensive third-party gadgets, you can also install ample equipment for a small apartment for just $229. For any sized apartment you can help keep costs low by using cheap RFID stickers to arm/disarm instead of purchasing pricier remote controls (keypads or keypads). You can buy a bundle or build a customized set.

The Scout hub is a small plug-in box with a 12-hour backup battery. It has a PIN pad, a 105db alarm, and system status light among other features. Here’s a sampling of Scout brand equipment that it can monitor:

  • Scout Indoor Camera with noise detection for off-screen activity
  • Video Doorbell with familiar face recognition
  • Door Panel (Detects entry and has a siren)
  • Access Sensor for doors, furniture drawers, medicine cabinets, etc.
  • RFID sticker (Attach to your wallet, etc. and wave to arm/disarm)
  • Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Glass Break Sensor
  • Water Leak Sensor

Scout Alarm equipment has a generous 60-day money-back guarantee.

Third-party devices are compatible with the Scout Hub as well. You can integrate Nest Cams, for instance, and centrally control your lamps and other electrical appliances.

Monitoring a Scout Apartment Alarm System

New Scout alarms only sound if you have paid service, which is contract-free. DIY monitoring with a Scout mobile app runs $9.99 per month. Professional monitoring of possible breaches costs $19.99 per month without a contract. (Cheaper rates are available too with 12 months of prepaid service.) Pro monitoring is provided by C.O.P.S. Monitoring, America’s largest UL-certified emergency dispatch center.

  • DIY monitoring: Scout’s Always On plan allows self-monitoring of your security system with text alerts and push notifications. Service costs $9.99 month-to-month and includes streaming video (that is, live video only). You can add cloud storage for $2.99 per camera each month. At $107/year with a bulk discount, plus any video storage cost, Scout monitoring is especially affordable.
  • Pro monitoring: Always On+ is a professional monitoring plan that also allows DIY monitoring with mobile/SMS and email alerts. It’s relatively affordable at $19.99 month-to-month or $215 when you prepay 12 months. This plan includes cloud storage is included for one surveillance camera, and you can add more cameras at $2.99 each per month.

Canary – Easiest to Install Apartment Security

All-in-one or multi-part security systems with DIY or pro monitoring

Canary offers the easiest to install apartment security systems, especially if you have a small living space. Their All-In-One Security Tower with built-in HD surveillance camera, motion detector, and allergen sensor can work by itself; it’s ready to go after you plug it in and connect a mobile app. The Canary tower can also guard your home by monitoring separate Canary surveillance cameras. Optionally you might be happy with a Canary tower two-pack.

A convenient perk of Canary security towers is automatic detection of your arrival/departure; this lets you skip using a PIN to arm your system. A possible downside of Canary at last check, however, is the lack of Z-Wave compatibility.

The plug-and-play Canary tower sells for just $169, and no monthly monitoring fee is required for its 90db siren to work. An optional pro monitoring plan connects you with the emergency services dispatching service Noonlight, which can summon police and firefighters. The Noonlight app can also be your backup buddy on-the-go, as it uses your cellphone signal to determine your location. Tapping a button in the mobile app calls for help.

Canary Apartment Security Equipment

Canary’s All-In-One Security Tower ($169) is meant for placement in the direct line of your apartment’s main entry. It features a wide-angle video camera with night vision, a 90-decibel siren, and an air quality sensor to supplement your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

An occasional free promotion adds a freestanding wireless security camera with facial recognition and an integrated panic button. This Canary Flex security camera also sells separately for $199. It’s weatherproof and can be battery-powered or use a standard apartment power outlet.

Why is it called Flex? A clever accessory called Twist Mount makes it easy to add a Canary Flex camera anywhere. For example, you could twist the camera mount around a baby’s crib railing, a storage rack, or the branch of a plant. 

Monitoring a Canary Security System

Like SimpliSafe, without paid service, a Canary apartment security system can sound a siren. Unlike SimpliSafe, Canary will also send alerts to your mobile device for free. With optional paid service you’ll get desktop video monitoring and professional monitoring as well.

Paid pro monitoring is offered at a major discount when you buy Canary security systems online. For example, a Canary Pro tower might sell for $169 on its own… but with a special promotion, you might pay just $178 for the tower and a year of pro monitoring. Optionally you can add paid monitoring month-to-month for $9.99 anytime.

Summoning emergency help requires tapping a button on the Noonlight mobile app. Noonlight can be more effective than calling 911 because the platform uses the GPS signals of your mobile phone to help pinpoint your location.