Best Smart Home Security Systems of 2020
The best smart home security systems run smoothly over home Wi-Fi, can work with voice commands, and allow extensive remote control with your smartphone. Even when you’re away from home, these systems let you get security alerts, access camera footage, lock and unlock doors, adjust lights, and otherwise control home security. They can also let you know if a smoke alarm or other environmental sensor was triggered.
As a bonus, the best smart home security systems let you control “non-security” devices as well. For instance, all the systems below support smart plugs, which let you remotely control any household appliances. The systems also work with smart thermostats, which can help lower your energy bills automatically.
Read on to compare five best smart home security brands for 2020. Together they give a choice of professionally installed and self-installed smart home systems. Some systems require monthly payment in order to operate. Others allow do-it-yourself monitoring for free.
Best Smart Home Security Systems
- Vivint – Best Smart Home Security Overall
- ADT Pulse – Best Smart Home Security App
- Abode – Best DIY Smart Home Security
- Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatible Home Security
- Nest Secure – Best Google Home Compatible Security
Vivint – Best Smart Home Security Overall
High-end smart home systems with professional installation & professional monitoring Vivint is a longtime leader in smart home security. Their equipment can automate your home in many ways, and Vivint handles installation. A Vivint system can be your customized all-in-one solution to guard against crime, monitor for carbon monoxide, use electricity more efficiently, get voice control over your home, and more. Vivint can even guard your vehicles no matter where they’re parked! Professional monitoring is included with each smart home plan: A $39.99 monthly payment can help dispatch police, firefighters or paramedics even when you can’t personally call for help.
Along with pro monitoring, customers get system control with the Vivint mobile app. The app lets you remotely view old and new surveillance footage, close your garage door from across town, adjust Z-Wave lights and locks, arm/disarm, and otherwise control the system as if you were home.
Google Home works with Vivint for remote control too. This voice-responsive app gives you hands-free power over connected equipment: Just tell Google when you want to arm your system and adjust lights, thermostats, and appliances. You can also summon Google Assistant to play music, read weather forecasts, play games, and otherwise enhance your day in countless little ways.
- Pro installation
- Seamless integration of all home systems
- Works with Google Assistant
- Supports Z-Wave for endless home automation options
- Pro monitoring can send police, firefighters, and paramedics
Vivint Smart Home Control
A Vivint security home system lets you control equipment in three ways:
- Home control with the Vivint Smart Hub, a computer with 7” touchscreen. The Smart Hub plugs into a standard outlet and has a 24-hour backup battery. In case of security breaches it sounds a 100-decibel siren. The hub also has emergency call buttons and supports two-way talk for communicating with emergency operators.
- Voice control at home with a Google Home speaker
- Mobile control with the Vivint Smart Phone app for iOS and Android
Vivint Smart Home Equipment
Vivint Smart Hubs are Z-Wave compatible to give you endless add-on options. Listed here are some types of smart home devices that work with the Vivint hub. Some are made by Vivint, and others are third-party products.
- Doorbell Camera – This clever security device has a camera triggered by motion. The Vivint doorbell camera has night vision and lets you respond through intercom as if you’re at home.
- Ping Camera – This indoor security camera has a motion trigger and gives the option to record continuously. It also has a video talk button for connecting with your mobile phone.
- Smart Locks – Vivint smart locks feature keypads with PINs for keyless entry and remote control. PIN use is trackable with the Vivint app.
- Garage Door Controller – This gadget can remotely sense and adjust the open/closed status of your garage door.
- Element Thermostat – This smart thermostat can adjust temperature based on when you’re home and away. It’s programmable and responds to voice control.
In sum, Vivint is a top option for all-in-one smart home solutions. With one app you can monitor all home systems; there’s no need to use separate accounts for cameras, smart locks, lights, and so forth. Equipment is professionally installed too, which can save you lots of time if your home is large.
Any drawbacks? Vivint systems only work with monthly payment for professional monitoring. If you’d prefer a system that works without fees, jump ahead to Abode, Ring Alarm, or Nest Secure.
ADT – Best Smart Home Security Apps
America’s oldest home security company, always with cutting-edge technologies
When ADT first provided security, they sent alerts with the latest technology: the telegraph. More than a century later, ADT leads the home security industry with smart wireless systems. ADT Pulse security systems are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control, plus they have top-rated mobile apps for Apple and Android phones, tablets, and smartwatches. You can set up custom alerts in case sensors for intruders, smoke, or carbon monoxide are triggered. You can also remotely control your garage door, lights, locks, thermostats and more.
ADT smart home customers start with professional monitoring. When your contract is up, you can choose another monitoring company without investing in a new system; ADT installs universal equipment.
- Pro installation, same-day
- Seamless integration of all home systems
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Supports Z-Wave
- Pro monitoring to send police, firefighters, and paramedics
ADT Smart Home Equipment
New wireless ADT systems use the Pulse iHub. This slim black box by Netgear looks similar to an Internet router, and it uses Z-Wave to connect smart home devices. Here’s a sampling of compatible equipment.
- Garage Door Controller – ADT’s mobile apps let you remotely check and adjust the open/closed status of your garage door.
- Smart Lights – ADT smart lights and bulbs let you control lights from anywhere you have mobile access. ADT Pulse can also change standard lamps into remote-controlled dimmers.
- Smart Locks – Use your smartphone as a house key. Smart locks in ADT security systems let you remotely lock and unlock your doors.
- Smart Plugs – ADT smart plugs give you the convenience of controlling appliances remotely.
- Smart Thermostat – Smart thermostats can help you stay comfortable and use home energy wisely. You can set up schedules, temperature alerts, and more.
- Doorbell Camera – The ADT Video Doorbell lets you talk with visitors even when you’re away, and you’ll be alerted to their presence even if they don’t ring the bell.
In sum, ADT Pulse can be your all-in-one solution for monitoring against crime, getting environmental alerts, and automating your home for energy savings and convenience. In many ways Vivint and ADT Pulse have similar benefits and policies. It may come down to just making a price comparison. ADT Pulse prices are variable, as systems are customized for each home.
Abode – Best DIY Smart Home Security
Do-it-yourself smart home security with optional pro monitoring Abode is a leading smart home company with contract-free options. Even without paid monitoring, your Abode siren and other security equipment will work! That’s not the case with systems by ADT Pulse and Vivint (above). Abode lets you enjoy the same sorts of features for safety and home automation as companies that require contracts – and they even go beyond ADT and Vivint by supporting Zigbee in addition to Z-Wave, Alexa and Google Assistant.
As an Abode security system owner, you’ll set up equipment yourself without need for special skills. The simplest option is an all-in-one plug-in system with optional add-ons. Thus if your home is small, you could accomplish setup within 30 minutes. However, you can add up to 160 sensors to a hub.
The free Abode mobile app lets you remotely control the system, plus it saves security footage short-term. You can add longer-term video storage ($8/month) or pro monitoring with video storage ($20/month) anytime.
- DIY installation
- Optional pro monitoring
- Supports Z-Wave and Zigbee
- Alexa and Google personal assistants
Abode Smart Home Equipment
Abode gives two choices for smart home hubs. Whichever you choose, it will work with Z-Wave and Zigbee. First, the iota security tower ($229) can be an all-in-one security solution: It has a wide-angle motion sensor, a high-def video camera with privacy shutter, a siren, two-way audio with VOIP, and other integrated features. It can also monitor up to 160 external sensors. Another option is the Gateway ($199), which has a siren and can monitor the same types of smart home equipment as iota. It can monitor up to 151 devices.
Here are examples of smart home sensors compatible with the base stations:
- Smart Speaker – Adding an Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker gives you voice control over the smart home system.
- Abode Cam – This indoor security camera can be set on a tabletop or attached to a wall with removable adhesive. Highlights are night vision, a motion sensor, two-way voice, and pre-alarm recording. If any part of your security system is tripped, the Cam will be activated.
- Smart Home Power Switch – Smart power switches let you remotely control the connected appliances such as lamps, fans, and toaster ovens.
- Smart Locks – Abode can support smart locks by Kwikset, Yale, and leading other brands. Enjoy keyless entry and control your locks from anywhere you have mobile access.
- Smart Thermostats – Add a Nest thermostat to your Abode system for convenient temperature control and energy savings.
That’s just a small sampling. The Abode security hub can also monitor video doorbells, outdoor security cameras, electronic window blinds, video screens and other devices.
Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatible Home Security
Smart home systems with DIY installation and optional professional monitoring Ring first earned fame with smart video doorbells, and today they offer complete smart home systems. With Ring Alarm you can own a system with cutting-edge features for security, home automation, and environmental monitoring. Bundles are sold, plus you can build your own kit. Choose from an ever-growing list of Z-Wave devices by Ring, Nest, and other brands.
As an Amazon-owned brand, Ring has been developed to work seamlessly with Amazon Alexa. The voice commands feel natural, and you can ask Alexa to control a wide range of smart system functions. Examples are “Alexa, turn on the family room lights” and “Alexa, show the latest activity from the patio.” Additionally with Ring you can use Google Home speakers and ask Siri for help.
Monthly payment isn’t required to keep a Ring Alarm system running. For instance, for free you can get text alerts and remotely view live camera footage. However, payment of $2.99 and up per month lets you save footage from Ring doorbells and other security cameras.
For under $10/month you can save video and get professional 24/7 monitoring of alerts as well.
- DIY installation
- No contract required for monitoring
- Supports Z-Wave
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri
Ring Alarm Smart Home Equipment
The Ring base station can monitor up to 100 devices. You can choose the elements individually or get a Ring Alarm starter set ($199 and up). Here are some popular add-ons:
- Stick Up Cam – This weatherproof camera is easily set up anywhere on your property to guard the vicinity and allow two-way talk. It’s handy for everyday communication with family members as well as communicating with Ring Alarm operators.
- Garage Door Tilt Sensor – The EcoLink garage door sensor can indicate whether your garage door is shut. The Ring mobile app lets you remotely open and close the door.
- Smart Locks – Schlage smart locks work with Ring to allow keyless entry. You can set PINs and track their use with a mobile app.
- Smart Outlets – The Ring app can connect with General Electric smart plugs to automate your household appliances.
- Smart Thermostats – Ring works with Nest thermostats for smart energy management and the convenience of setting the temperature by voice.
All in all, Ring is a flexible smart home solution with straightforward DIY setup and easy control with Alexa. Paid video storage is affordable at just $2.99/month for one camera, and for $100/year you can get pro monitoring for all Ring equipment.
Nest Secure – Best Google Home Compatible Security
DIY or pro setup of smart home systems with a free app; pro monitoring optional Nest launched their first product, a smart thermostat, about a decade ago. Today they offer complete smart home security systems called Nest Secure that can work with Google Assistant to monitor your home. DIY installation of Nest Secure motion sensors, security cameras and other equipment is simple. Pro installation is available too.
You can self-monitor most parts of a Nest Secure system for free. Mobile apps are in the App Store and at Google Play, plus you can control a system via desktop. To see and save camera footage though, you’ll need to sign up for professional monitoring.
Saved video and pro monitoring are offered month-by-month and with annual subscriptions. No contract or credit check is needed. Emergency monitoring is provided by Brinks, an award-winning dispatch service known for its fast response times. Nest cameras help speed up dispatch time, as police may respond more quickly with video verification of trouble.
- DIY or pro setup
- Paid or free monitoring
- Supports Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri
Nest Secure Equipment
The base station for a Nest Secure system is called Nest Guard. It has a 12-button keypad, a motion sensor, a siren, speakers, and other built-in features. You can arm/disarm Nest Guard with its keypad, your voice, or the Nest app. The hub itself has a USB cord and battery backup.
A starter set ($399 MSRP) includes motion sensors and other basics. Here’s a sampling of compatible add-ons by Nest and other brands:
- Nest Cam Outdoor – The Nest Cam Outdoor is a wide-angle surveillance camera with weatherproof housing. It can capture crisp footage by night or day, and with motion detection it will send you alerts. Get an alert if a stranger hops your fence, for instance, or see that packages are delivered.
- Chromecast – TVs and other screens with the Chromecast app can stream footage from Nest Secure cameras. Chromecast also lets you use voice to access Netflix, Pandora and other media services.
- Nest Learning Thermostat – This smart home device allows voice control and can adapt to your schedule. Some examples of commands are “Hey Google, what is the thermostat temperature?” and “OK Google, set thermostat to eco mode.”
- Yale Locks – “OK Google, lock the front door!” The Nest x Yale Lock is a tamper-proof, battery-powered lock that lets you use your phone, a PIN pad, or voice to control access to your home. You can remotely lock and unlock your doors, schedule guest access, and see an activity log.
- Smoke/CO Alarm – Nest Protect is a smart smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector. It can tell the difference between serious trouble and less serious troubles such as burnt toast. You can get emergency alerts and non-emergency notifications at home and away with the Nest app.
- Nest Hello Video Doorbell – Nest Hello with two-way voice can be installed over the wiring used for standard doorbells. It has night vision and can stream video anytime. Motion detection triggers a doorbell light and the camera, and you receive a text alert when someone approaches.
A wide range of other gadgets can connect with Nest Guard: electronic pet feeders, temperature-controlled mattresses, smart outlets, and much more. Getting started isn’t cheap at $399, but you’ll have the freedom to proceed without paid monitoring.
Basic paid monitoring for Nest Secure costs $29 month-to-month or $39 if you include security cameras.