Note: Nest has discontinued Nest Secure.
After hours upon hours of research and hands-on evaluation, we selected these outstanding candidates as 2020’s five best DIY home security companies! Each company sells systems with do-it-yourself installation, and some allow 100 percent DIY monitoring. Others make professional monitoring part of the deal and require that a signed contract for at least 12 months of service.
Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2020
- SimpliSafe – Best DIY Home Security
- Frontpoint – Best Customer Service
- Abode – Best No Contract DIY System
- Deep Sentinel – Best Monitoring
- Brinks – Easiest Installation
SimpliSafe – Best DIY Home Security
A long-time leader in DIY home security, SimpliSafe is popular with renters and homeowners. The company was formed specifically to serve traditional college students and other renters during a time when portable security was rare.
SimpliSafe found success as a result of their system’s easy installation and low prices. For a while, the company sold rather simple technology. Today, SimpliSafe supports more advanced features.
SimpliSafe manufactures home security hubs and other equipment to help keep the sale price of its systems low. A SimpliSafe home security starter set is approximately $200, but packages with more pieces sell for up to nearly $500. We found the system hub and keypad easy to set up, as they were pre-programmed and equipped with peel-and-stick wall mounting material.
Below are the SimpliSafe features that stood out to us most:
- DIY installation
- Mobile app
- Environmental monitoring
- Indoor video cameras
- Home automation with Google Assistant
- Pro monitoring not required
- Low prices
- Easy to install and use
- Portable (Renter-friendly)
SimpliSafe uses a small tower as their system hub. Ours plugged into any standard outlet and included a battery backup. This hub communicated with wireless sensors we placed around our home, and its soft glowing light let us know when it was on guard. If someone tripped one of the sensors, the hub’s siren sounded.
Part of the Interactive plan, secret alerts made it so that we received a text if somebody opened our mailbox, peeked into our medicine cabinet, or entered our backyard shed. However, the person doing the actions had no idea we knew they were there. We grew quite fond of these silent alerts.
Video surveillance was available with the SimpliCam, an indoor-only camera that offered night vision and motion detection. The camera recorded continuously which was useful for our noise-only recordings or when actions that happened very fast. To limit the footage that we had to go through, we decided to set our camera to only record when triggered.
New SimpliSafe hubs are compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, August Locks, Apple Watch and Apple Home Kit, but integration is only available through SimpliSafe’s Interactive monitoring plan. When we integrated our system with the voice assistants, they let us use voice commands to control the alarm system, locks, lights, and thermostats. However, SimpliSafe is still relatively limited in terms of which smart home devices connect.
For the longest time, SimpliSafe promised customers a 60-day money-back guarantee. Today, the promise has been updated to 100 days, which is almost unheard of in the security industry.
About SimpliSafe Plans
Pro monitoring is optional with SimpliSafe. We could easily add to or cancel our service one month at a time. The best deal SimpliSafe offered at the time of our research was for a percentage off the cost if we signed an annual service agreement. Plan options SimpliSafe offers are as follows:
- Standard Plan: The standard plan is priced at $14.99 per month. It provides text alerts along with 24/7 professional monitoring.
- Interactive Plan: This top-tier SimpliSafe plan provides pro monitoring plus Google Assistant for home automation at $24.99 per month. We liked that this plan let us control our security system via a mobile app. With the cheaper Standard Plan, we still got alerts but not remote control.
Many of our readers have asked us if SimpliSafe can be used without a paid plan. We double-checked the company’s policies and determined using SimpliSafe without a paid plan is allowed. However, without a plan, users must rely on their siren and local keypad for alerts. More so, free SimpliSafe service does not include a mobile app for alerts or video.
Frontpoint – Best Customer Service
Frontpoint is known for providing the best customer service with self-installed security systems. We set up our Frontpoint system in only 30 minutes, and there were no tools involved. Still, we appreciated that when we had a question, we could receive live installation help, a perk not all DIY companies offer. We also liked how Frontpoint’s sales agents were low-pressure; they focused mainly on helping us figure out the best home security solution for us.
Frontpoint received an Angie’s List Super Service Award and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Their system’s effectiveness even inspired home insurance companies to offer 15 to 20 percent insurance discounts to specifically to Frontpoint subscribers.
We considered these Frontpoint’s key features:
- Best customer service (English & Spanish)
- Competitive prices
- DIY installation
- Mobile app
- Professional monitoring for 12+ months
- Environmental monitoring
- Indoor & outdoor security cameras
- Home automation
- Panic pendant
Frontpoint Security Equipment
We built a custom system, but Frontpoint offers numerous pre-packaged bundles as well. The cheapest Frontpoint kit costs about $100 and comes with a color touchscreen. Basically, the system guards against intrusion with entryway sensors, an indoor motion detector, and a siren.
More advanced Frontpoint security systems have devices such as:
- Glass break sensors
- Smoke detectors and other environmental sensors
- Indoor and outdoor security cameras
- Smart lights, thermostats and door locks
About Frontpoint Plans
Frontpoint security equipment is wire-free, which made our DIY installation very quick. After placing sensors around our home, we activated our system with a monitoring plan.
In contrast to SimpliSafe, Frontpoint does not offer any self-monitoring options. Professional monitoring is required, but its first 30 days are risk-free.
We had our choice of Frontpoint’s three pro monitoring plans. The lowest-priced plan comes with a three-year agreement, but a 12-month contract is also an option.
- Protection Plan: This is Frontpoint’s home security starter set, priced at $34.99 per month. It protects against intruders and environmental threats. The equipment costs about $100 total, and the set features a full-color touchscreen control panel.
- Interactive Plan: This mid-level plan charges $44.99 per month and has a one-time equipment cost of $149. It builds on the starter set with a camera, glass break sensor, and basic home automation. For example, this enabled our security system to control our home’s lighting.
- Ultimate Plan: Frontpoint’s top-tier plan is $49 per month and $449 for equipment. It supported the most home automation. Additionally, this plan provides an extra level of surveillance with night-vision security cameras. When we tested the Ultimate Plane, we connected centrally-controlled lights, thermostats, door locks, and more.
All Frontpoint home security plans also support in-home medical alert monitoring. This service simply requires the addition of a $40 Frontpoint panic pendant. During our evaluation of this product, the wearable alert system worked within 100 feet of our security system hub.
In summary, Frontpoint was among the best home security companies with DIY setup and required pro monitoring. On top of that, we liked that we could choose to keep things basic or include additional services such as video surveillance, environmental monitoring, and home automation. The company’s prices were fairly competitive, the equipment was well-liked, and the Frontpoint team provided excellent customer service.
abode – Best No Contract DIY System
Abode sells some of the best rated DIY home security systems with no contract required. As we went through our evaluation, the company seemed quite similar to SimpliSafe, but they supported more features. Thus, we concluded abode was a top choice for people seeking protection with the option of advanced home automation.
Abode actually offers more smart home integrations than most other security systems. With abode’s monitoring, text alerts are completely free. Remote control of the system via smartphone is also free. For us, the abode mobile app made it easy to add on-demand professional monitoring. We also enjoyed having the option to add paid monitoring for as few as three days.
Features we liked about abode home security included:
- DIY setup
- Professional or DIY monitoring
- Environmental monitoring
- Indoor and outdoor cameras
- Home automation with voice commands
- Portable (no charge to move)
abode Security Equipment
We had the choice to install an all-in-one home security tower or build a customized set with various wireless devices. Abode add-ons support environmental monitoring and home automation with Google Assistant.
The most simple abode security systems cost about $200. One option is the plug-and-play iota tower, with its main features, the motion sensor, camera, and siren. Another $200 option is called the “Basic” kit. Only basic security sensors are included for the price, but the system is compatible with countless 4G and Z-Wave devices. DIY installation takes about 30 minutes, and all Abode equipment is sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The abode website made it very easy for us to see compatible devices and put together the perfect set for our living space.
About abode Monitoring Plans
Free text alerts are part of each abode security system and professional monitoring is optional. We appreciated that we could update our service anytime through the system’s free mobile app.
- On-Demand Monitoring: Short-term options include service for three days ($8), one week ($15) or one month ($20).
- Annual Plan: Pricing starts at $80 per year, which was under $7 per month.
We saved money by paying for 12 months all at once. In sum, abode was a top choice for DIY home security systems with no contract and the brand offered lots of smart home possibilities.
Deep Sentinel – Best Monitoring
Deep Sentinel offers a rare combination of artificial intelligence and remote camera surveillance to guard our home. To help maintain privacy, they don’t place cameras inside homes. Instead, they set our cameras to cover property perimeters.
Deep Sentinel was designed to prevent trouble, and its high-end service was incredibly proactive. When a prowler lurked at the foot of our driveway, for instance, a surveillance agent spoke through a camera to scare them away. Deep Sentinel agents also contacted the police on our behalf. We found this comforting, as the company maintains a typical turn-around time of just 30 seconds. When we were home but our nieces and nephews were over playing in our yard, we often took advantage of the Privacy Mode in our mobile app. This unique tool allowed us to watch our live feed but kept it hidden from the company’s professional monitors.
In our opinion, these were the main benefits of Deep Sentinel:
- Easy to use
- Focused on crime prevention
- Artificial intelligence helps predict trouble
- 24/7 human surveillance of cameras
- Cameras had two-way audio
- Cameras had sirens
Deep Sentinel Security Equipment
Deep Sentinel cameras are motion-activated, and they detect motion up to 35 feet away. The resolution is 1080 pixels, and night vision is included. Each camera records audio and allows for two-way voice communication with agents.
We were given the choice of including as many as four cameras in a kit, each with a 30-day money-back return policy. In the end, we selected the company’s starter kit.
The Deep Sentinel starter set retails for $399. It includes a hub and three weatherproof security cameras with wall-mount hardware. Yard signs and door/window decals are also included.
For our privacy, all our footage was saved locally (at our home) instead of to the cloud. We found the installation of the system simple as well, as the cameras were battery-powered rather than hardwired.
Deep Sentinel cameras run on rechargeable lithium batteries, which are included in the purchase and typically work for nine months before they need to be recharged. We, however, bought a solar charger and extreme temperature kit for an extra $88, which made it so we didn’t have to charge our battery quite as often.
About Deep Sentinel Monitoring
Deep Sentinel has one professional monitoring plan, Live Sentinel. The rate for Live Sentinel is $49.99 per month, with a one-year commitment.
To review, Deep Sentinel was among the most unique home security companies in the industry. They only sell outdoor security cameras that cover the perimeter of properties. By balancing artificial intelligence with human intervention, clearly, Deep Sentinel created a security system that worked.
Deep Sentinel security cameras were triggered by motion. With a one-year service agreement, Deep Sentinel had agents monitor triggered cameras. These agents had permission to speak through our cameras.
Brinks – Easiest Installation
Brinks, once known for hardwired security, became a leader in wireless home protection. Their systems were among the easiest to install on our own. Plus, they work with Z-Wave devices and Google Assistant to enhance security, automate home theater, reduce energy consumption, and more.
A free and well-designed Brinks mobile app made it easy to expand our system. As customers, we could opt for month-to-month professional monitoring plans, yearly service, or just DIY monitoring. Brinks professional alert monitoring and customer service were frequently discussed with high regard. In fact, the company holds two recent JD Powers awards, ranking number one in both best customer satisfaction and professional monitoring.
We considered these Brinks features most important:
- Easy DIY security installation
- Pro or DIY monitoring
- Environmental sensors
- Indoor/outdoor video security
- Advanced home automation with voice
- Great online support
Brinks Security Equipment
With Brinks, two main kinds of security systems are available: Google Nest Secure and Brinks Home Complete. Google Nest Secure is equipped with Google Assistant and Brinks Home Complete is compatible with Google Assistant to help manage basic security and cameras, heating, lights, and other home functions:
- With Google Nest Secure, we paid for the equipment up-front. Then we paired it with DIY monitoring or month-to-month pro monitoring from Brinks.
- With Brinks Home Complete, we also paid for equipment up-front. We were also provided with a touchscreen control panel and extra sensors as part of a 36-month monitoring contract.
Google Nest Secure features relatively new technology: the Nest Secure home base. Called Nest Guard, it was easy to use without buttons; we just waved our security key to disarm it. Some other Nest Guard features include a high-decibel siren, a motion sensor, tamper protection, and Google Assistant compatibility.
With voice commands, we requested to see security video on a specific screen in our homes such as our laptop or Chromecast TV, and it worked! The larger screens helped us see details a bit better.
Brinks Home Complete features a color touchscreen control panel and monitors up to 119 cameras and other sensors. Similar to the Nest Guard, equipment options included a high-resolution camera, door sensors, window sensors, and motion sensors. When we connected video cameras to the system, we could monitor footage on the touchscreen as well as remotely via the app.
About Brinks Monitoring Plans
As mentioned above, Brinks is award-winning for its efficient emergency dispatching. We chose from three professional monitoring plans. Our choice depended partly on whether video cameras were part of our system and how we wanted to pay for equipment.
Brinks offers two monitoring plans that require equipment to be purchased upfront. Both cost $39 per month and include a three-year commitment.
- Smart Security Essential: This plan includes 24/7 alert monitoring and smartphone control of our system (excluding cameras). Equipment costs for this plan start at $199.
- Smart Security Complete: With this plan, users get the above services plus alert monitoring for indoor and outdoor cameras. Equipment for this plan costs $499 and up.
Brinks has another plan, Smart Security Ultimate, which costs $39 per month for monitoring and $31 per month for equipment. While equipment in this plan is more costly, it isn’t paid for upfront and additional devices are added, such as a video doorbell and outdoor cameras.
With Brinks for Google Nest Guard, there are two monitoring options. Both include a 30-day risk-free trial:
- $19 per month with a three-year commitment,
- $29 per month, with no contract requirement.
In summary, Brinks strived to meet a wide range of preferences in DIY home security. With Nest Guard, we could choose DIY monitoring, month-to-month service, or a long-term contract. Brinks was among the best DIY home security companies for easy installation, high customer satisfaction, and fast response time with optional professional monitoring.
Having a security system dramatically improves the safety of a home. In fact, adding something as small as a security yard sign can scare criminals away. Of course, professionally installed and monitored security can get pretty pricey. One smart way we like to save money is to choose systems we can install ourselves, also known as a DIY system.
Even when we plan on installing a system on our own, we want to make sure we’re getting a comprehensive home security system. As a result, we look for DIY companies that offer the following devices and services at a minimum :
- A tamper-proof hub or control panel
- Entry sensors for doors & windows
- Indoor motion detection
- A loud siren
- A mobile app to let you monitor alerts
- Optional 24/7 professional monitoring
For another layer of protection, security cameras are frequently included in starter sets too. A Frontpoint security control panel, for instance, snaps pictures if tampering is detected.
But saving a few dollars upfront is not the only incentive for choosing a DIY security system.
Here we’ll discuss the benefits of going DIY.
- No Contracts: The majority of DIY home security providers don’t require us to sign lengthy contracts, saving us from monthly professional monitoring fees.
- Lower monitoring rates: Professional monitoring rates for DIY systems are typically lower than those of systems that require professional installation.
- Add devices as needed: It’s easier to integrate new pieces into a DIY security system than with a professionally-run system.
- Easier to move: DIY systems are usually less challenging to move to a new location, making them ideal for when we used to rent and move around more.
We know from experience that DIY installation has the potential to be time-consuming and frustrating with more complex systems, such as those that require drilling or wirework. A few brands provide DIY installation aid over the phone or via the Internet, so we recommend anyone without a handy work background may want to choose a company that offers this type of support. However, in the worst-case scenario, it helps to remember that if we’re entirely at a loss for our next step and can’t find any online help forums, live chats, or customer service numbers. We can always call an expert from a third-party service, such as TaskRabbit or HomeAdvisor, to install it for us or at least to help get us back on track.
To best avoid needing any outside help, we recommend selecting a wireless system with a long-lasting battery, peel-and-stick sensors, and cameras with drill-free mounting. Happy DIY-ing!