It always amazes us how far security systems have come in terms of technology in such a short time. Just a few decades ago, we were setting up wired security boxes in our basements to control very basic security systems. Now, those wired security systems are almost obsolete. There are still a few good wired security systems out there, but they’re quickly being replaced by wireless security systems.
With wirelessness comes smart features as well. Home automation, in particular, has taken the security industry by storm. Now, we have voice assistants we can talk to if we want something done, like turn on lights or adjust the thermostat. There are smart home devices that respond to what we do, like smart locks that lock automatically when we arm our security systems. There are even smart thermostats that can “learn” our routines and adjust the temps automatically.
Home automation – at least for many – has become a necessity rather than a simple luxury. That’s where this guide comes in. If you search the market for a smart security system, you’ll find lots of different options. We’ve actually tested many of these systems, so we can lead you to the best smart security systems. We’re not going to tell you which one is best for you – that’s for you to decide on – but we narrowed down your choices to these six smart security systems.
Security System-Compatible Smart Devices We Tested
Comparison of the Best Smart Home Security Systems
Ring Alarm Security Kit
Compatible voice assistants
Alexa, Google Assistant
Alexa, Google Assistant
Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri
Alexa, Google Assistant
Alexa, Google Assistant
Compatible third-party IoT devices
Philips Hue, Nest thermostat, etc.
Nest, Philips Hue lightbulbs, ecobee, LIFX, Yale, Kwikset, Z-wave, First Alert, IFTTT, etc.
ADT has a knack for taking the latest in technology and using it to deliver the best-possible user-experience. The ADT Control system is a prime example.
ADT Control checks all the right boxes when it comes to smart home technology. It integrates with hundreds (possibly thousands) of smart home devices via Z-Wave and Zigbee. It works with the two most popular voice assistants, Google Assistant and Alexa. It also has unique automation controls that you can access right on the included touchscreen control panel.
The state-of-the-art ADT Control app ties all those features together. There, you can create automated actions, control your smart home devices remotely, monitor statuses of your sensors and smart home devices, and manage your entire smart home security system. ADT is one of the best security systems with an app, and thanks to that very same app, ADT can make your home smarter and more secure.
Seamless integration of all home systems
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Pro monitoring to send police, firefighters, and paramedics
ADT Smart Home Equipment
Wireless ADT systems under the ADT Control brand use a touchscreen control panel. The slim, wall-mounted device uses Z-Wave to connect to sensors and smart home devices wirelessly, and then gives you complete control over everything connected to it.
Here’s a sample selection of ADT equipment we integrated into our ADT Control system:
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.
At the center of our ADT security system was the ADT Control app, an all-in-one app where we controlled, managed, and monitored everything connected to our ADT system. Beyond letting us arm and disarm ADT remotely, it let us automate and control the smart home devices we had connected to the system. Chilly nights? No problem; we just turned up the thermostat before heading home and we arrived in a perfectly warm living room.
Now, ADT is not a perfect smart security system. One of the possible downsides is the cost, but you’ll find this one true for any security system with smart home features. If you’re looking to create a smart system with ADT, you’ll have to shell out quite a bit of money. We spent more than $800 on ours, as we discussed in our ADT pricing assessment.
Of the three packages available online, only two offer smart home capabilities. They are the Smart Home package (starting at $849) and the Video and Smart Home package (starting at $1,387). However, you can offset the price with ADT’s frequent deals and promotions. Right now, ADT is offering up to 40-percent off if you spend at least $750 on equipment, but as long as you spend at least $250 you can score 15- to 20-percent off discounts.
ADT online packages
Build Your Own
Video and Smart Home
You’ll also have to pay a slightly higher monthly fee, especially if you’ll add security cameras, but we’re not talking about “out-of-reach” expensive here. At most, you’ll be paying about $15 per month more than the basic ADT package. That’s a good deal considering that that extra cost will go into smart home features and security camera monitoring.
In sum, the ADT Control systems are flexible. They can protect you from intruders, monitor your home for environmental hazards, control smart security equipment like smart locks and garage door controllers, and improve your quality of life by automating your home security.
FYI: ADT launched a DIY security system, called ADT Self Setup. This new system uses a different app that’s more focused on home automation and integrations with third-party products. Right from the start, it integrates well with Google Nest security cameras and smart thermostats. Learn more about it from our ADT Self Setup review.
2. Vivint - Best Smart Security with 24/7 Monitoring
Vivint is a longtime leader in smart home security. Everything about Vivint looks and feels smart. From the touchscreen control panel that controls every component to its AI-powered outdoor cameras, Vivint uses nothing but top-notch hardware.
Vivint is a sophisticated smart security system that requires professional installation, but once it’s set up, you can customize it to your heart’s content. You can pair smart home gadgets like smart thermostats and smart lights, create custom schedules and rules, and even automate certain functions of the system.
With Vivint, we were completely in the driver’s seat. While the initial installation was performed by a certified Vivint technician, we were able to easily customize our security system. We used both the Vivint Smart Hub and the Vivint smartphone app, which share similar user interfaces. We were also able to control Vivint using Alexa and Google Assistant and the key fobs included in our system.
Of course, as a security system, Vivint is fully-equipped to monitor for intrusions and other home hazards like fire and gas leaks. Vivint monitored our home for $39.99 per month. This service was required, but it gave us peace of mind knowing that even if we weren’t available to respond to alerts, Vivint is on the job. Plus, we think it’s really affordable given how smart the system is and what it could do to automate our home.
One downside, though, is the contract. Vivint equipment can be pretty expensive if you’re paying upfront, so most buyers opt for financing. If you do, you’ll be locked-in to a contract up to five years. You can cancel your home security contract, but it will cost you a pretty penny.
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 Nest or Alexa smart speaker or display. Not all controls are supported with this method, but you can at the very least arm your security system, turn connected smart devices on and off, and check the status of sensors.
Remote mobile control with the Vivint smartphone app, which comes in handy when you’re out and about. Through the app, you’ll receive system notifications and be able to control almost any aspect of the security system. Essentially, it offers the same controls as the Vivint Smart Hub.
Vivint Smart Home Equipment
The Vivint Smart Hub comes with a built-in Z-Wave chip to give you endless add-on options. Basically, if you have existing Z-Wave smart home products, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to pair, control, and even automate them with Vivint.
You’ll also be able to integrate any of Vivint’s security cameras into your security system, allowing for a more seamless monitoring experience. Vivint offers three camera options, detailed below along with a couple of popular Vivint smart home 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 the 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. Soon, it will be replaced by the Vivint Indoor Camera Pro, which offers a lot of the same features but with a sleeker look, better video quality, and a local video storage option.
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 the temperature based on when you’re home and away. It’s programmable and responds to voice control.
Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro – We saved the best for last. The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro is an AI-powered smart camera that can detect lurkers and intruders even before they get close to your house. It also acts as a deterrent with its red LED ring light and voice prompts.
In sum, Vivint is a top-of-the-line option for smart home security. The hardware and software both have a premium feel to them, and everything is tied seamlessly into the touchscreen control panel and Vivint app. Plus, with professional installation, you can rest easy knowing that everything is set up the way it should be.
Any drawbacks? Well, premium features come with a premium price tag. Besides higher than average equipment prices, you’ll need an on-going subscription to Vivint monitoring to use the Vivint system, and monitoring contracts can be as long as five years. Also, when the contract ends and you don’t renew, it will be hard to find another company that monitors Vivint equipment. Vivint makes its own equipment, so everything is proprietary.
3. SimpliSafe - Best Google Assistant Compatible Home Security
Advanced smart home features are not for everybody, so if you’re looking for a more straightforward option that still offers some level of home automation, then we recommend SimpliSafe.
SimpliSafe is a budget-friendly, entry-level smart home security system. Its security features are impressive, and its affordable pricing and flexible monitoring options are even more so. While it’s not as advanced as ADT or Vivint in terms of home automation, you still get access to voice controls thanks to SimpliSafe’s Google Assistant and Alexa integrations.
There’s just one downside: Smart home integrations are only possible if you sign up for a monitoring subscription, and not just any subscription, but SimpliSafe’s most expensive plan. It’s called the Fast Protect plan and it costs $29.99 per month. Fast Protect is expensive by SimpliSafe standards, whose professional monitoring starts at $19.99 per month. However, by industry standards, $29.99 is not a bad price. In fact, Vivint’s most basic monitoring option without home automation and video monitoring features costs the same. So paying SimpliSafe the same amount and receiving both automation and video monitoring is actually practical if you’re on a budget.
Here’s a short comparison between that SimpliSafe Fast Protect plan and the smart home security subscriptions we typically see.
SimpliSafe Fast Protect plan
Typical smart home subscriptions
Basic home automation
Advanced home automation
Third-party integrations with select brands
Z-Wave or Zigbee integration
Cloud storage for 10 cameras
Cloud storage for cameras (typically less than 5)
Aside from working with Google Assistant, SimpliSafe also works with Nest thermostats, another smart product from Google. We paired our Nest Learning Thermostat with the system, and we were able to control it using the SimpliSafe app.
Either DIY or professional installation for $125
Works with Google Assistant, Alexa, August smart locks, and Nest thermostats
24/7 professional monitoring starting at $19.99 a month
Notifications and smart home integrations for $29.99 a month
SimpliSafe Smart Home Control
Full disclosure: SimpliSafe’s smart home features aren’t the most advanced. For example, you can’t pair smart lights or smart locks directly with the SimpliSafe base station. You can’t create automations through the SimpliSafe app either.
That being said, SimpliSafe is the most affordable option if you want a smart home system built around a voice assistant. And there’s an advantage to that. A home security contract typically lasts for three to five years, after which, there’s likely going to be a better option. Chances are, you’re going to want to upgrade to the latest and most advanced home security system, and if your smart home is built around your security system, you’d have to upgrade your smart home gadgets as well.
With SimpliSafe and either Alexa or Google Assistant, you can upgrade your home security system and smart home system independently, saving you big bucks in the long run. For example, if a new SimpliSafe system comes out in the future, you can upgrade to it while keeping your smart home gadgets.
SimpliSafe’s integration with voice assistants allow you to control your security system with your voice. With either Alexa or Google Assistant, you can arm and disarm your system or check the status of your sensors. You can also control SimpliSafe alongside other smart home products using routines, schedules, or automation rules. You’ll access those features through your voice assistant app, however, rather than the SimpliSafe app.
Much like SimpliSafe, abode is a DIY security system with optional and contract-free monitoring options. Unlike SimpliSafe, abode’s smart home features don’t require a monitoring plan. They just work out of the box.
Moreover, abode’s third-party integration is impressive, and that’s why it’s the best DIY smart home security system. In addition to working with Z-Wave products, Alexa, and Google Assistant, abode works with Zigbee smart home products too. And with more smart home options, abode lets you create a more personalized smart home security system for your home.
As an Abode security system owner, you’ll set up the equipment yourself without the 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.
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.
The first option and the one we recommend is the iota security tower. This hub comes equipped with a 1080p HD security camera, a wide-angle motion sensor, a siren, and two-way audio. It offers all that while also functioning as a smart home security hub that connects and controls abode security systems.
The second option, which came out before the iota tower, is the Gateway. It functions as a hub, but it doesn’t offer all those extra features that the iota does. That said, it can monitor and control up to 151 abode and compatible devices from third parties.
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.
5. Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best Alexa Compatible Home Security
Ring is best known for its top-notch video doorbells, but it also sells smart security systems in the form of the Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro. Both are Z-Wave systems with cutting-edge features and technology.
One of Ring Alarm’s biggest draw is its unique partnership with Alexa, perhaps the most popular smart home voice assistant rivaled only by Google Assistant. Amazon owns both Alexa and Ring, and as such, the Ring Alarm is positioned as the best smart home security system compatible with Alexa.
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 $3 and up per month lets you save footage from Ring doorbells and other security cameras.
For $20 per month you can save video and get professional 24/7 monitoring of alerts as well.
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 a straightforward DIY setup and easy control with Alexa. Paid video storage is affordable at just $3 per month for one camera, and for $200 per year (or $20 per month) you can get pro monitoring for the Ring Alarm and cloud storage for all your Ring cameras.
We’ll be frank here: Cove isn’t on the same level as ADT and Vivint when it comes to smart home equipment. In fact, it’s the only security system on this list that doesn’t offer smart locks, smart lights, smart thermostats, and other home automation products. So what is it doing here?
Well, Cove has a pretty solid app that offers smart home security through Routines. We’ll get to that in a minute, but for now, it’s worth noting that Cove is a reliable home alarm system with all the security and safety equipment you’ll need to safeguard your home. Cove packages include entry sensors, motion sensors, glass break sensors, smoke and CO alarms, panic buttons, and cameras.
What We Like
24/7 monitoring and cellular backup
RapidSOS monitoring technology
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
What We Don’t Like
No self-monitoring option
Limited equipment options
Mobile smartphone controls cost $24.99 per month
Cove’s smart home security system hinges on the Cove app, available for Android and iOS devices. Recently, the app added a new feature called Routines, which, if you’re familiar with Frontpoint’s scenes that we discussed in our Frontpoint review, allows users to create tasks that trigger automatically.
For now, Cove’s Routines can only incorporate triggers from sensors. For instance, the app can trigger a certain action when a door or window is opened, as indicated by your entry sensors. It can also use schedules as triggers; for example, you can set your system to arm automatically at 8 o’clock everyday. Soon, though, Cove will add smart home devices to its equipment, and that will open up the possibilities for Routines. By then, you’ll be able to have your lights turn on automatically when a door opens, or your door to lock automatically when you arm your system.
So why did we add Cove here now? Because investing in a Cove system right now will unlock big savings in the future. You see, the Cove Plus plan, which is what we recommend best to Cove buyers, includes a $5 monthly equipment credit. You can save up those credits and use them to purchase additional pieces of equipment in the future. Not to mention, if you start now, you’ll familiarize yourself with the Cove system, and it’ll be easier for you to add smart home devices.
Cove Smart Home Control
For now, though, we’re content with what Cove offers in the smart home department. It has an Alexa and Google Assistant integration that works, allowing for hands-free voice control of the system. Plus, Routines make for a great new addition.
We also like that Cove now has security cameras fully integrated with the system. The indoor camera provides indoor video monitoring, while the battery-operated outdoor camera provides unrestricted outdoor surveillance. There are also two video doorbell options, one that is hardwired and another that is battery-powered. These cameras, which can stream and record directly through the Cove app, make it easier to achieve a smarter, more secure home.
The Questions We Get The Most
Since smart home security is such a new and exciting topic, people have a lot of questions, which means that we have a lot of answering to do.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to home security. The best home security system depends on what you’re looking for. That being said, we’ve found the features of ADT, Cove, Vivint, SimpliSafe, and Frontpoint to be among the best in the industry, so check out those brands if you’re looking for the best security systems.
No, Nest is not better than ADT; rather, ADT is better than Nest, albeit more expensive month-to-month. While Nest has had multiple security and surveillance issues, ADT has been in businesses for over 140 years without incident. ADT also offers professional installation, while Nest is all DIY. However, those that don’t want to commit to a long-term contract should choose a monthly plan from Nest, as all ADT plans require a three-year commitment.
The best home security system with the best value is SimpliSafe. You can avoid paying any monthly fee whatsoever with SimpliSafe, if you’re okay with having a local alarm system only. However, if you want professional monitoring, cellular backup, remote control, notifications and smart platform integrations, the price is only $27.99 a month with no long-term commitment.
We prefer SimpliSafe over Ring Alarm, although both systems are two of the best. Although Ring Alarm is cheaper with a wider selection of cameras and video doorbells, SimpliSafe offers a professional installation option for $79, plus integrations with Nest thermostats and August smart locks. Ring works with the less popular Dome, Ecolink, GE, Leviton and First Alert IoT devices. SimpliSafe also has better iOS and Android apps and a three-year warranty as opposed to one-year with Ring. Similarly, SimpliSafe offers a 60-day money back guarantee with shipping covered, while Ring has a 30-day return policy which does not reimburse for the cost of shipping.