People want to feel safe in their homes. Whether they live in cities, suburbs, or in the country, Americans are increasingly prioritizing home safety and security. The U.S. market for surveillance cameras and alarm systems is crowded with options and enjoying strong growth.
As a follow-up to our 2020 home security market report, we conducted a second sweeping study of the current home security landscape in the U.S. to discover what consumers want and how the market could shift over the next 12 months.
At least 39 million U.S. households are protected by alarm systems, and as many as 45 million households have video doorbell components.
Though self-installed and wireless systems are growing in popularity, 44% of consumers today prefer professionally installed security systems and 42% use hard-wired devices.
Among more traditional providers, ADT is most popular, with 20% of users owning an ADT system or device. Ring dominates the emerging video doorbell market, with more than one in three security system users relying on its popular yet controversial devices.
As many as 13 million households may install new alarm systems this year, and 10 million could install access control devices.
17% of users said they would be interested in home security components that leveraged machine learning or AI to predict crime incidents or perpetrators. Another 40% of users would like to add biometric tracking tools to their home security devices.
How Common Are Home Security Systems in the U.S.?
Today, home security systems are more accessible and simpler to use than ever, thanks to rapidly improving technology and integrations with mobile apps and other smart home devices. Because of this, 39 million American households today are protected by security alarm systems. Millions more households have added components to their security systems such as access control devices, cameras, and video doorbells.
As home security devices have evolved in recent years, so have our measurements. In 2020, we simply asked people if they owned a “home security system.” This year, we asked what specific devices they used to achieve home security. Our latest research found that 72 percent of home decision-makers owned a home security device. Video-enabled systems were the most popular among users today.
Types of security devices
Percent using devices
Video surveillance systems
Access control systems
Though home security devices were generally more popular among homeowners, many renters also rely on home security systems to protect their residences. Homeowners were likelier than renters to have video-enabled devices, which can be more challenging to install and operate in apartment complexes.
In multi-family homes and apartment buildings, privacy issues can arise with video-enabled devices, and renters are only sometimes authorized to install security systems in their units. Additionally, homeowners have made investments in their properties that renters have not. Because they own their properties, they may have more incentive to invest in systems to protect them.
Age plays a role in home security device usage. We found that younger adults were more likely than older adults to have security devices in their homes. More than 80 percent of adults under age 30 relied on some type of home security system.
This could be due to several factors, such as a high comfort level with technology. Young adults are also likelier to have young children in their homes, and security devices may help them keep their families safe.
Most Popular Security System Features
Today, most home security system providers offer mobile apps and a wide variety of smart home devices that integrate seamlessly into their systems. According to Zack Albrecht, a home security consultant, users seek systems that harness the latest technology while maximizing user-friendliness.
“The most common devices gaining traction right now are ones that improve convenience while also providing the most modern technology available on the market,” Albrecht said. “From our experience recommending products to clients the most popular requests are smart home systems, video doorbells, and smart locks.”
Security system components and features
Percentage of security system owners who use features
Motion sensor lights
Smart smoke detectors
Smart carbon monoxide detectors
Monitored fire alarm
Window open sensors
Glass breaking sensors
Home automation controls
Fire suppression system
In our study, smart lights and other smart home devices were popular add-ons to home security systems. Floodlights and motion sensor lights, each used by more than one in three system owners, can improve home security by eliminating dark hiding spots and illuminating entryways. They are often simple to install, which adds to their appeal. Roughly one-quarter of home security system users had motion sensors, cameras, and smart smoke detectors integrated into their systems.
Many other users also integrated their thermostats, locks, fire alarms, and flood detectors into their home security systems, which elevates home security tools into sophisticated smart home command centers. According to Tomasz Borys, vice president at Deep Sentinel, basic alarm systems don’t cut it for some modern consumers. Instead, many want systems with unique, specialized features that can respond to threats in real-time.
“Along with video surveillance, we can now equip client properties with smoke bombs, pepper sprays, and ear-piercing bullhorns to disorientate intruders in those cases,” Borys said.
Top Home Security Brands
Among security system users in our research, Ring was the most popular brand, followed by ADT and Nest. Ring doorbells have disrupted the home security market with their small, easy-to-install devices that connect seamlessly with a mobile app. Amazon bought Ring in 2018 for over $1 billion.
Today, one in three home security system users rely on Ring doorbell cameras. The devices have been the subject of more than one controversy: the footage from these devices is shared directly with law enforcement departments in many cities. It has even been used to create a reality television show called Ring Nation.
Which brands are you using for the security devices in your home?
Percent of users
AT&T Digital Life
Among the more traditional providers, ADT has a large market share. One in five users has an ADT home security system. Though ADT launched in 1874, the company has kept up with the times and today’s technologically savvy users. Now, ADT offers a smart home app, voice control settings, and traditional professional monitoring. ADT has partnered with Google and Google’s Nest, which integrates Nest smart home products with ADT security.
While many plan to upgrade or enhance their current security systems, only three percent of users say they’ll switch to new providers or brands in the next 12 months. This signifies a great deal of customer loyalty in the home security market.
DIY vs. Professional Installation
Many of today’s home security system users enjoy the simplicity of self-installed devices. More than half of users rely on self-installed systems, and these easy-to-use systems will likely continue to grow in popularity.
However, professional installation is highly convenient for those who want multiple cameras and sensors placed in the most optimal locations. Professional installation can reduce guesswork, save time, and increase peace of mind.
People are significantly more likely to have their alarm, access, and fire systems professionally installed. Simpler devices with fewer components, such as video surveillance cameras and doorbells, are far more likely to be self-installed.
Wireless systems are also extremely popular, with 58 percent of users relying on them. Many choose wireless systems since installation can be less expensive without compromising functionality. The downside of some wireless devices is that they will need regular charging or battery replacement. A battery failure can leave your home temporarily unprotected. This may be a key reason why many users still opt for hard-wired security systems.
How Consumers Choose Home Security Devices
There are several key reasons why people protect their homes with security systems. For nearly three in four users in our study, the primary reason for their home security systems was to improve their overall sense of safety. We found that users’ sense of safety increased with the number of components that people used. Video doorbells, video surveillance, and alarm systems all created an equal sense of increased security among users.
While a “sense” of safety is necessary, the actual effectiveness of a security system is also essential, which is the point of installing them. Studies show they can be effective deterrents for criminals, and burglars often avoid homes if they know alarms are present.
Why did you decide to use a security system in your home?
Percent of users
To improve my overall sense of safety
Protect my children
I frequently spend time away from home
I own lots of valuable items
I’ve had break-ins or crime experiences in the past
It was already installed when I moved in
I live alone
There are older adults in the home
I live in a crime area
I live in an area prone to fires or disasters
Other popular reasons for installing security systems were to protect children and monitor the home while away. Overall, home security considerations appear more motivated by the possibility of becoming a crime victim than actual experience. Just 17 percent of consumers surveyed reported being victims of break-ins and other crimes. Their primary consideration in installing home security systems was reducing the chance they would ever have to go through such an ordeal again.
Only 10 percent of users turned to home security systems because they lived in high-crime areas. This may indicate that people who live in areas with lower crime rates still have concerns and want to increase their sense of security.
Top purchase decision factors
When it came to actually choosing a system, user-friendliness and price were the most influential factors. System prices can range significantly depending on their complexity and the number of components. Still, for the users in our study, the median initial cost for security equipment and setup was $300, and the median monthly fee for monitoring or memberships was $10.
Mobile app integration was nearly as important as price when choosing a home security system. According to Chris Carney, CEO and founder of home security provider Abode, this factor should be at the top of consumers’ minds when choosing security solutions.
“Customers are looking for solutions that help unify multiple aspects of their lives to help make life easier and more secure,” Carney said. “For that reason, a security system that heavily emphasizes connectivity and interoperability is the type of system growing the fastest.”
With all of the options and features available on the market today, choosing the right home security solutions can be overwhelming for some shoppers. However, Carney had some advice to help shoppers narrow down their options.
“One of the best places to start when shopping for a home security system is to identify a problem or need you’d like solved, and shape your system around that. If knowing when your kids arrive home from school is most important, consider a system that supports a video doorbell, smart lock, and door/window sensors to inform you when they’re home,” Carney explained.
“Off-label” uses for home security systems
Besides preventing break-ins or thefts, people use their security systems for many other purposes. Video-enabled devices allow people to check in on activities occurring in and around the home from remote locations. Over two in three users said they’d screened visitors at the door using their devices, and 65 percent have checked to see if packages are delivered. This is a good idea since package theft is a growing issue in the U.S. today.
For which of these activities have you ever used your home security system?
Percent of users
Check home when you are away
See who is at the door before answering it
See if a package was delivered
See if family members arrived or left home
Check on your car
Check for food deliveries
Check on kids
Check on babysitter
Thirty-seven percent of users have checked their home security cameras to monitor the coming and going of their family members, and many others have checked cameras to see if their food deliveries had arrived. These show that home security devices aren’t just for emergencies but can make everyday living easier.
Market Outlook for 2023
We asked respondents about their plans to purchase or upgrade different security system devices in the next year. Overall, as many as 22.8 million adults may be planning to buy their first-ever security device in the next 12 months.
Of the decision makers who don’t currently have a video doorbell, 37 percent plan to purchase one. This represents the largest growth area among non-users and an excellent opportunity for providers to capture more market share.
About two in three current system users are planning to upgrade or purchase specific new components for home security systems in the next 12 months. Smart locks, motion sensors, and smart thermostats are the hottest items.
Top 10 Home Security Devices People Plan to Buy or Upgrade
Which of these components do you plan to purchase or upgrade in the next 12 months?
Percent planning upgrades or additions
Motion sensor lights
Smart smoke detectors
Smart carbon monoxide detectors
Solar powered cameras
Window open sensors
Home security technology has improved rapidly since its creation, especially since the dawn of wireless internet. As technology develops, many owners would be interested in systems with even better video quality and features allowing them to access their homes with biometric data like fingerprints or face recognition.
Though controversial, 17 percent of users said they would be interested in systems that used machine learning or AI to predict crime incidents or perpetrators. Predictive technology is only offered by a handful of providers today, such as Deep Sentinel. However, our research indicates it may grow in popularity, especially if the technology becomes more accurate and reliable.
When thinking of your security alarm system, which of these features would you be interested in for a future purchase?
Among the holdouts who are not interested in security systems, the main reason is due to cost. The second most common reason is that people feel safe enough without a security system. Another 15 percent don’t trust the companies that provide home security systems, which makes sense given the level of access and personal information home security cameras and other devices offer.
According to David Wolters, founder of One Smart Home, these concerns about data privacy are likely to grow. “People are tiring of their data being monetized or used for reasons other than securing their home,” Wolters explained. He added that this could lead to a shift away from home security devices affiliated with tech giants like Amazon or Google.
Current customers and prospective buyers alike are looking for home security systems with the latest smart technology and easy-to-use app integrations. Consumers are prioritizing both simplicity and functionality thanks to advancing technology.
They use these systems to thwart crime and monitor people and pets on their properties. The marriage of home automation and home security is likely here to stay, and companies must adapt to retain and attract customers.
The influx of renters and younger buyers will likely continue to drive sales of fast, easy, and affordable DIY systems. More traditional providers can maintain their market share by offering comprehensive, wired systems with professional surveillance in addition to simpler, sleeker app-enabled video security devices.
We surveyed 1,502 American adults whose genders, ages, and ethnicities represented the U.S. population. Of these, 1,015 participants considered themselves decision-makers regarding their home security systems. We invited 505 of them who owned security systems to answer more detailed questions about their home security devices. To calculate the number of households using security devices, we relied on population estimates from the 2021 American Community Survey. Charts and tables will not always sum to 100% since multiple selections are often allowed.