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Most Trusted Name
ADT Home Security Systems
ADT is a highly-customizable system that offers wireless and hardwired systems. They have indoor, outdoor and doorbell camera options with smart home capabilities. We consider them the pioneers of home security, and right now ADT is offering free installation on their video doorbell cameras and $100 ADT Visa® Reward Card (terms apply).
Vivint is a high-end wireless system with indoor/outdoor cameras and advanced smart home capabilities. Their highly-rated mobile app gives you ultimate control of your property. Right now, Vivint is offering free professional installation, which is a $199 value.
Cove home security packs a punch with ultra-simple DIY installation, 24/7 professional monitoring with RapidSOS emergency dispatch, and a sleek touchscreen control panel. And their no-contract, month-to-month service makes Cove a top pick for home security.
Bottom Line: Frontpoint is a wireless security system that's easy to install with affordable 24/7 monitoring. Their customer satisfaction really stands out - 94% are willing to recommend them to friends or family.
ADT is all about high-quality equipment and reliable monitoring. In the first quarter of 2022, ADT notched record-high customer retention rates, showing that existing customers continue to trust the company. With 140+ years in business and a user-base of 7 million people, ADT is hands-down the biggest home security brand in the industry. And ADT is currently offering free installation on their doorbell camera and a $100 ADT Visa® Reward Card for new customers.
Intuitive, easy-to-use app
24/7 professional monitoring
145+ years of history in the security business
Partnership with Google Home
3-year minimum subscription
No DIY installation
No self-monitoring options
Maximum resolution options of 1080p HD
ADT is a household name, so we frequently try out their systems to ensure they’re still up-to-task. In our latest round of testing, we realized that ADT home security systems are so popular for a reason. We think their home protection + home automation + video packages are top-notch. That is, they made us feel secure in our home and kept us plenty busy with nifty smart home features. We especially liked the ADT Control App and how much more accessible it made our home security system.
Premium features often come with a premium price tag, though, and ADT is not an exception. We found it to be slightly more expensive than DIY systems. However, if your heart is set on the best security system there is, you won’t be disappointed with ADT. That being said, because ADT operates a franchise business, that can mean inconsistent customer support and professional installation depending on your location.
Even still, ADT once again makes our list of best home security companies.
Editor’s Note: ADT recently announced a partnership with Redfin for agent-free home tours. Using ADT’s automated equipment, homebuyers can now enter and leave a home at their leisure. We love to see innovative partnerships like this.
Vivint is loaded with advanced features and tech, yet somehow we still found it intuitive and easy to use. It’s not the cheapest home security system, but for total home protection and smart home automation, we think Vivint does it best. And don’t forget that Vivint is currently offering free professional installation, which saves new customers $199.
Wireless Smart Security System
Smart Home Automation
7” Touchscreen Smart Hub
Award-Winning Mobile App
Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
Customized to Your Home
100% Cellular Monitoring
Pricey Equipment Packages
Contracts May be Required
Installation Fees May Apply
Short 3-Day Cancellation Window
There’s a certain feeling that comes with using Vivint. We can’t put our finger on it, but this intelligent home security system did leave us feeling pretty secure, and even a little smarter! The home automation options were the most impressive we’ve seen from any company.
We found their cellular monitoring to be responsive and reliable, but it was nothing worth writing home about. However, we think you’ll like Vivint’s award-winning Vivint App, which made it ultra-easy to access and control our system remotely.
Keep in mind though, Vivint is not a DIY system — it does require professional installation (pro tip: it never hurts to ask your sales rep to waive the installation fee). Also, the equipment is a bit pricey, but you certainly get what you pay for; it’s the smartest security equipment we’ve ever tested. And even though the equipment prices are steep, Vivint’s monthly monitoring cost is on-par with other top brands
Overall, we think Vivint is a great fit for folks who want it all, but in one fully-integrated and streamlined system.
Cove secures your home with a no-contract DIY system and monitoring that truly works. And right now, Cove is running a pretty generous sale: Get 60-percent off equipment + a free indoor security camera. The deal ends soon.
Simple DIY Installation
No Contracts, Month-to-Month Service
Touch-screen Control Panel
1080p HD Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
Alexa and Google Assistant Compatible
Lifetime Warranty Option
App Experience Could Be Improved
Limited Home Automation Features
No Self-Monitoring Option
Cove entered the market just when everyone was looking for affordable home security, simple setup, and monitoring they can rely on. And the company offers all of this and then some. After using the system for over 100 hours, we can say that Cove gives other similar DIY brands that have been around for longer like SimpliSafe and Frontpoint a run for their money.
First off, Cove’s pricing is downright affordable. We got a full system setup for around $200, making it one of the cheaper options we’ve seen. It only takes about 10-20 minutes to install the system in your home, and once you’re up-and-running, the sleek touchscreen panel becomes your one-stop control center for your entire security system. It’s not the smartest system we’ve used, but it does work with Alexa and Google Home, giving you hands-free voice control.
But what really stood out to us about Cove was their 24/7 monitoring. It really (really) works. Our alarm went off and the monitoring center was on the line within 30 seconds, and the police were at our door within 15-20 minutes. This is made possible because of Cove’s AT&T 4G LTE cellular monitoring. It’s a big improvement in terms of speed over the standard Wi-Fi connection we normally see in DIY systems. Plus, cellular signals are more reliable than our Wi-Fi, which goes out almost every other week. With Cove, our system was perpetually up and running, even during power outages. Did we mention that is has a battery backup, too?
We do think Cove’s smartphone app experience could be improved. Overall, though, we think Cove has a lot of staying power — especially with their generous 60-day money-back guarantee and month-to-month service starting at only $17.99.
Why Choose Cove
Simple DIY Installation
Touchscreen Control Panel
RapidSOS Emergency Dispatch
4. Frontpoint Home Security - Custom Features Pick
Frontpoint DIY home security systems offer a fairly robust app experience and innovative features like geofencing and custom “Scenes.” And Frontpoint is currently offering a free video doorbell with every new system purchase, plus a free subscription of their new identity monitoring service called Frontpoint ID Protect.
High-quality GE Equipment
Wireless Security Systems
Easy DIY Installation
LTE Cellular Monitoring
Indoor & Outdoor Cameras
Excellent App Experience
30-Day, Money-Back Guarantee
Somewhat Expensive Monitoring
Limited Service Hours
Touch-Screen Panel Sold Separately
Outsourced Monitoring Service
Limited Keypad Functionality
Compared to other top brands, we think Frontpoint offers the best all-around app experience and helpful customizations — it’s their competitive advantage. And as far as securing our home and adding a touch of convenience to our lives, well, Frontpoint had just enough features to keep us happy.
Thankfully, Frontpoint is a DIY system. We installed the system ourselves, and we’re pretty proud that we did it in about 25 minutes. Feature-wise, Frontpoint’s intrusion protection features are on-point. However, we weren’t satisfied with the smart home options that were available out of the box, but we have to remember it’s a sub-$500 system.
Another thing to note here is that Frontpoint is Z-Wave compatible, so we were able to link third-party Z-Wave devices we had at home. The best part is that we didn’t have to upgrade our plan. The $49.99 Ultimate plan from Frontpoint — which, by the way, is the only monitoring plan available — already includes home automation and video monitoring. That said, the only way to get the best out of your Ultimate plan monthly fee is to use as many features available. That, however, means buying more equipment like smart devices and cameras, which eventually leads to higher upfront fees.
What you see is what you get with Frontpoint. There are no hidden fees, and their GE devices are high-quality and reliable. But Frontpoint does lack some of the best features that companies like Vivint and ADT bring to the table. It’s not as streamlined on the home automation front as Vivint, for instance. All in all, we think Frontpoint is a great system for most families and lifestyles. For a more in-depth look at cost, see our Frontpoint pricing and plans page.
SimpliSafe is a no-contract alarm system that simplifies home security. They offer basic DIY protection at refreshingly affordable prices. And remember, SimpliSafe is now offering 50-percent off all new systems plus a free indoor security camera.
Affordable equipment and monitoring
No long-term contracts
Easy DIY wireless installation
60-day money-back guarantee
Three-year equipment warranty
Indoor and outdoor cameras
Video doorbell options
Environmental disaster sensors
Integrations With Alexa, Google Assistant, August Locks, and Apple Watch
Up-front equipment expenses
Control panel is push-button, not touch screen
Smartphone controls require a monthly fee
Sensors are slightly larger than average
Only one outdoor camera option
We must admit: When we first saw SimpliSafe about a decade ago, we were skeptical. We were used to seeing companies like ADT and Vivint, so how can a system that you install yourself, doesn’t require professional monitoring, and doesn’t have as many components even protect you? Well, SimpliSafe is actually a simple yet functional system. The DIY installation that we doubted initially, actually turned out to be a great experience, taking only 20 minutes to install.
And the features weren’t too basic, either. With their recent release of a dedicated outdoor security camera, SimpliSafe has made the statement that they mean business with whole-home protection. Sure, we would like to see the company offer additional camera options (right now you’re looking at one indoor camera, one outdoor camera, and one doorbell camera, and none of the three have smart features like person detection). But if easy DIY installation, no-contracts, and low-cost monitoring is your thing, we think you’ll love SimpliSafe.
We think it’s also a great option for people who rent. You can take the equipment with you, and you don’t have to worry about penalties or installation fees at your new place. So if you want home security — without the steep prices or long-term contracts — we highly recommend looking into this provider. Read more about Simplisafe’s pricing and plans.
FYI: All told, we’ve spent over 1,000 hours actively testing SimpliSafe security systems.
Why Choose SimpliSafe
Easiest DIY Installation
Generous 60-Day Free Trial
6. Brinks Home Security - Google Home User Favorite
Brinks offers low-cost home security with a decent lineup of features. We don’t love their long-term contracts, but we still think Brinks is a top contender.
Reliable 24/7 Monitoring
Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
30-Day Return Policy
Home Automation Features
Most Plans Require a Contract
Pricey Monthly Monitoring
Professional Installation Only Included in Top-Tier Plan
By combining LiveWatch DIY security systems with Moni’s professional monitoring, we can see Brinks Home Security competing with other big names in the industry. During our hands-on testing of Brinks, we found the systems to be somewhat easy to set up and use — but not quite as simple as brands like SimpliSafe or Ring Alarm.
That said, we really liked Brinks’ straightforward package options. You’ll have three options to choose from, which range from basic intrusion protection to full-on intrusion protection + home automation + video surveillance. We really enjoyed using Brinks’ video features, and we like how their top-tier package comes with an HD video doorbell for good measure.
Overall, we have to tip our hats to Brinks for making a comeback after falling off the map for a while. Based on our experience, we think their affordable DIY security systems will find a nice home in the market. But time will tell if they can compete with other low-cost providers out there.
Ring offers extremely affordable DIY security for all types of homes, including apartments and condos. And the Amazon company is now running a promo for certified refurbished Ring devices starting at just $69.99.
Competitive Equipment Costs
No Long-Term Contracts
Fast and Easy DIY Wireless Installation
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
One-Year Equipment Warranty
Free Theft Replacement
Environmental Disaster Sensors
Very Low Monthly Fee for Video Recording and Rich Notifications
Intuitive Mobile App
Integrates With Amazon Alexa, Smart Locks, and Z-Wave Compatible Devices
No Video Recording Without Monthly Fee
Motion Sensors Are Not the Most Sensitive
Response Times Could Be Improved
No Silent Arm/Disarm Feature
Ring might not be the most advanced system on our list (Vivint takes that prize), but it sure has gained quite the fanfare over the years. We’ve been testing Ring Alarm quite a bit lately, and we actually like the system for what it is. So what is it? Well, it’s a prepackaged security kit that offers basic intrusion protection with super-low monthly monitoring fees. Or… no monitoring fees at all if you choose the free “self-monitor” option.
So we mounted the sensors and set up a few security cameras, along with a video doorbell camera to see how well it secured our home. The results weren’t exactly glowing, but we thought the monitoring center was responsive, the cameras offered crisp video, and the home automation was decent. Remember, Ring is owned by Amazon, so it does work with Alexa (and now with Google Home, too). And you can integrate some third-party devices into the system. But don’t expect a fully outfitted smart home.
Did You Know: The Ring Always Home drone camera is now available for pre-order, although by invitation only through Amazon. If you want cutting-edge flying surveillance, you’ll want to take a look at these all-new drone cameras.
If you’re looking for a deal, note that Ring is offering the Video Doorbell Pro for $99 for a limited time (normally $139.99). Ring also offers the innovative outdoor contact sensor (new!) for only $49.99. These sensors protect outside gates, sheds, and guest homes.
Editor’s Note: Ring recently announced the Ring Alarm Pro and Ring Protect Pro plans. They’ve teamed up with the connectivity wizards over at eero to bring the best in cellular connection, with Pro kit bundles starting at $249. The monitoring fee for the new Protect Pro plan has bumped to $20 per month, but you’ll enjoy 24/7 backup internet, 3 GB of cellular data per month if your Wi-Fi goes down (if you have the new Ring Alarm Pro system), and loads of other features. Be sure to see our Ring Alarm plans and pricing page to learn all about it.
Abode is a feature-packed home security system with a built-in camera and impressive CUE home automation platform.
Competitive Equipment Costs
No Long-Term Contracts
Fast DIY Wireless Installation
30-Day Equipment Trial Period
1-Year Equipment Warranty
Hub With Built-In HD Camera
CUE Home Automation Platform
Environmental Disaster Sensors
No Monthly-Fee Option
Low Monthly Monitoring Rates
Integrates With Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Z-Wave Compatible Devices
Setup Could Be More Intuitive
Limited Equipment in Starter Kits
No Touch-Screen Panels
Customer Service Could Be Improved
It’s small, it’s smart, it’s functional. Abode has two types of security systems. The Classic abode Kit includes a hub and a bunch of sensors, while the upgraded iota Kit uses a hub with a built-in HD camera. We think it’s the best option, considering the very small price difference (around $30). Whichever you choose, though, installation is simple enough, and you can’t go wrong with the black and white equipment design that really adds a modern touch anywhere you place them.
If you’re interested in smart home features, we think this system brings a lot to the table. We were able to create custom automations that controlled everything from our smart lights, to our smart garage controller. We think you’ll like abode’s integration potential, too. It works with a handful of third-party platforms to add a dash of convenience to your life.
FYI: Right now, don’t miss abode’s exclusive site-wide sale, with discounts up to 50-percent off. Most sensors are on sale, so it’s a good time to build a custom abode system. The sale ends soon, though, so be quick!
And don’t forget that it secures your home! All things considered, it’s not a flawless system, but we think abode works great for home protection and automation. Read more about their offerings in our abode cost and monitoring options page.
Deep Sentinel’s camera-based systems use artificial intelligence and real human guards to proactively fight crime. But starting at $100 per month for monitoring, it’s certainly not cheap.
Real-Time Security Monitoring
Easy DIY Installation
Ultra-Fast Response (20 Seconds)
1080p HD Video
On-Site AI Analysis
Hub Has Built-In Battery Charger
Top-Notch Customer Service
Equipment Can Be Expensive
Wi-Fi Connection (Not Cellular)
No Smart Home Integrations
Relatively Pricey Monitoring
From what we’ve seen, Deep Sentinel is a clear winner when it comes to proactive home security and putting a stop to crime before it happens. They secured our home by using a high-tech combination of live surveillance and AI technology. With flashing lights, two-way talk, and a blaring-loud siren, Deep Sentinel’s human guards proactively monitored the perimeter of our property.
We actually liked having human guards always on watch. But as you might imagine, this comes at a steep price. You also have to keep in mind that Deep Sentinel is a camera-only system. That is, there are no door/window sensors to alert you of an actual break-in. So if a bad guy somehow bypasses the cameras, you’re pretty much out of luck. We didn’t exactly love that.
Still, Deep Sentinel is quite effective, and we’ve found it to be a whole lot cheaper than setting up private home surveillance and monitoring. So if you don’t mind paying high monthly monitoring fees, or signing a 1-year contract, we recommend what Deep Sentinel has to offer.
Alder offers a “Total Life Safety System” with environmental monitoring, emergency alerts for seniors, and easy DIY home protection. And last we checked, Alder was offering up to $850 of free equipment (with three-year professional monitoring agreement), as well as 50-percent off an outdoor camera with the purchase of a new system.
7-Inch Touch-Screen Control Panel
Easy DIY Setup
4G LTE Cellular Monitoring
Silent Exit Feature
Key Fob Controls
Alexa and Z-Wave Compatibility
Slightly Expensive Monitoring
Somewhat Limited Security Camera Integrations
Somewhat Limited Home Automation
Must Call to Purchase System
Mobile App Is a Bit Buggy
We liked Alder security systems for their fast response times and overall versatility. And controlling our system with their touchscreen panel was effortless and pretty darn sleek. Otherwise, this company offers a similar feature-set as brands like Frontpoint and Brinks.
Where Alder really impressed us was with their sub 5-second response times. Compared to the industry average, that’s lightning fast! They use 4G LTE cellular monitoring, which is the gold standard for monitoring these days.
That said, we didn’t love the high prices, lack of camera options, and the required professional installation. (Note: Professional installation is free with Alder, but for DIYers like us, we hope there’s an option to self-install the system.) But overall, we think this up-and-coming security brand is a safe bet.
Why Choose Alder
4G LTE Cellular Monitoring
Alexa & Z-Wave Compatible
7” Touchscreen Control Panel
About Our Rankings
Curious about how we ranked our top 10 list? Well, we personally unbox the security systems and try them out to see how they measure up against the competition. With thousands of hours of hands-on testing under our belts, we have a proven process of getting to the “who’s who” in home security. Have a look for yourself!
About Our SecureScore™
Our ranking system, SecureScore™.
We use a proprietary ranking system to give every home security system a numbered score, from 1 to 10. We call it the SafeHome.org SecureScore™, and it takes into account all of our research, testing, and a handful of other important factors. We think you’ll find our SecureScore™ to be a simple way to compare your options. It also helps you to see our research at-a-glance.
So why does Vivint get a 9.0, but Ring only gets a 7.8? And why don’t any of the systems get a perfect 10 SecureScore™? Keep reading to find out!
Pro Tip: We don’t recommend trusting any “expert” industry site that doesn’t readily share their editorial guidelines or ranking methodology. Remember, not all advice is created equal.
Our Approach & Methodology
Keep in mind that a whole range of factors goes into narrowing down and ranking the best home security systems out there. Our SecureScore™ ranking factors include:
Key features and tech
Ease of use
Current sales and discounts
Insider buying tips
Available packages and plans
And of course, pricing!
Our Home Security Experts
Travis Goodreau, Safety and Security Expert
Our team of security experts has over 75 years of combined experience and 10,000+ hours of research under their belts. We’re in the industry trenches every day, learning about new security products and other ways to protect your home and family.
Home Security System Buyers Guide
We’ll be honest, choosing a home security system is a big deal. There are lots of options out there, and each company promises to turn your house into the safest home in the neighborhood. So if you’re not sure where to start in your search, we recommend digging into our buyer’s guide below. We’re going to outline exactly what to consider when looking for a home security system.
Here are the basics that you’ll want to consider:
Smart Home Features
Homeowner vs Renter
If you’re a homeowner and have a decent budget to work with, we usually recommend going with a comprehensive home security system. This will give you burglary detection + home automation + video surveillance. Premium packages will set you back $400-$800 for the equipment, and around $40-$60 per month for 24/7 monitoring.
If you own your home and don’t plan on moving soon, you might want to buy hardwired equipment and go for professional installation. We’ve found that companies like ADT and Vivint are a great choice for homeowners. In our experience, professional installation takes the fuss out of getting up-and-running.
If you rent, we’ve also found some quick, nimble, and affordable security systems for renters. These DIY products tend to be simple to set up and take down yourself. We recommend going with a wireless system, as you won’t have to drill any obnoxious holes in your walls. Instead, the sensors go up using removable adhesives. As a bonus, this will keep you in good graces with your landlord. Check out SimpliSafe and Frontpoint, two options we’ve used that work great for renters.
FYI: Some home security brands offer “move for free” deals, where they will reinstall your system in your new place free of charge. This is great for renters and homeowners alike.
Consider Your Home Size
You’ll definitely want to consider the number of rooms and square footage of your house when looking for a security system. Let’s say you live in a large home with 15 windows and 6 doors. If that’s you, you’ll need to purchase additional door and window sensors with your package. And trust us, this can rack up quite the tab.
Now, if you live in a smaller apartment, you can just go with a base package for about $200-$250 and upgrade from there (no need to complicate things). Most security companies sell 5-piece, 10-piece, or 14-16 piece kits. Of course, the larger the system, the more it’ll cost you.
Securing Your Front Yard & Backyard
Securing your front door is essential.
To secure your front yard or backyard, you’ll want to install a doorbell camera and outdoor security cameras. This might seem expensive and complicated, but you’ll be surprised at how easy and affordable it is to put an extra layer of security around your home.
The typical doorbell camera costs between $100-$160 and only takes 5-10 minutes to install yourself. While Ring is the most popular choice for doorbell cameras, we think there are plenty of other top contenders — like Nest Hello and the Arlo Video Doorbell. Look for features like 1080p HD resolution, night vision, a wide-angle lens (for the nooks and crannies!), and a cloud storage plan to save video.
Then you’ve got home security cameras, which run between $80-$300 depending on features. For instance, the Lorex 1080p Outdoor Cam is priced at $89.99 and offers wire-free home surveillance. But if you want a high-tech camera with facial recognition and other AI technology, expect to pay $300+ for a camera like the Nest Cam IQ Outdoor. Both options will secure your perimeter, but the more you spend, the more control you’ll have over your home security.
Pro Tip: When buying a home security camera, look for standard features like HD video quality, night vision, two-way talk, live-streaming, and app-based controls (that’s right, you can view live stream video footage from pretty much anywhere using your smartphone).
Keeping your garage light on helps to deter criminals, but you need more than that1. The best security systems can secure your garage, too. After all, many folks store expensive tools and other valuables in their garages. So the unprotected garage beckons thieves and burglars to help themselves. Thankfully, security systems like Frontpoint, Vivint, and ADT offer garage door sensors to help keep tabs on your car cave.
Maybe you just got to work and have that feeling in your gut that you forgot to close the garage door. Well, with many alarm systems, you can open and close your garage door remotely using your smartphone. You can also set up notifications to receive an alert when you accidentally leave your garage door open (hey, it happens). We recommend you take just as much care securing your garage as you do your front door.
Rural or City Living
Another thing to consider is your location. Perhaps you live out in the country where Wi-Fi signals are weak or nonexistent. Or maybe you live in the heart of the city, with ultra-fast Wi-Fi and cellular connections. Either way, you’ll want to find the service that’s right for your living situation. And remember, connection matters, especially if you want 24/7 professional monitoring. Not to worry, we’ve found a handful of home security systems that work great for both city and rural living.
Did You Know: Studies show that property crime occurs 3-5x more frequently in cities than in sparsely populated areas2. But that doesn’t mean crime doesn’t reach rural America. It does! In some states, rural areas can become a “burglary buffet” according to law enforcement3.
We think a professionally installed system is ideal if you don’t like fussing with new technology. But keep in mind, a one-time installation fee of $100 is typically required for turnkey installation. Also, you’ll have to allow a technician into your home, which isn’t always a pleasant experience. The good thing about professional install is that you won’t break a sweat, and you’re sure to have your system installed correctly.
On the other hand, DIY home security systems are exploding in popularity. We recommend these systems if you don’t mind rolling up your sleeves and doing some troubleshooting if needed. In our experience, DIY installation is normally fast, easy, and even kind of fun. Honestly, it only takes about 10-20 minutes to install and set up most do-it-yourself systems.
So should you go with professional install or DIY home security? Well, we think it really depends on the type of person you are.
Understanding how your device connects to power, the internet, and emergency response are important.
This can be a tricky topic, so we’ll keep things simple. Connectivity is what keeps your alarm sensors and other devices communicating with your base station. And if you sign up for 24/7 professional monitoring, it’s also what keeps your system connected to the monitoring center for fast response.
We usually recommend going with a cellular home security system — as we’ve found cellular signals to be more reliable than Wi-Fi and landline connectivity. With that said, most DIY systems these days run off of Wi-Fi with a cellular backup, which tends to work great. If your Wi-Fi ever goes down (or moves like molasses), you’ll be glad to have the cellular backup.
You can also go with a wired system. A hardwired security system offers a constant power source by connecting to your home’s wiring. And if you spring for Power over Ethernet (PoE), you’ll enjoy a super-fast and reliable connection. PoE simultaneously powers your equipment and transmits data4. If you can swing it, a PoE connection is great. But otherwise, we think a wireless battery-powered security system will do the trick.
FYI: If you or a loved one is hearing impaired, head over to our helpful resource on the best security systems for the deaf. With these systems, you’ll enjoy helpful features that make it possible for a hearing-impaired person to know that their alarm is sounding, even if they can’t hear it.
Smart Home Automation
Alexa, lock my front door! We believe that smart home automation is the 21st century way to do, well, everything. If you like fancy tech, we recommend choosing a security system with smart home automation. It should only set you back an extra $10-$20 per month (plus the cost of smart devices).
You’ll be able to control your smart lights, garage door, smart locks, and more — all from your smartphone. And note that it’s surprisingly simple to integrate third-party smart products into the best security systems out there. Here’s a sample of what you can expect in the smart category:
Smart Locks – August, Yale, and Schlage are three big names in smart locks. You’ll pay between $150-$250 for a quality lock (they aren’t cheap), but you can expect fast and easy install, smartphone controls, remote locking and unlocking, text alerts, and more. We really like how top smart locks can be controlled using Alexa or Google Assistant.
Smart Doorbells – Ring popularized the smart doorbell, but many security brands now offer them. You’ll pay about $150+ for a video doorbell, and you’ll enjoy features like night vision, text alerts, live-video streaming on your smartphone, and more. One of our favorite features is two-way talk, allowing us to hold a conversation with visitors and even tell porch pirates to scram (whether we’re in our room or on vacation).
Pro Tip: Integrate your smart lock into your doorbell camera so that whenever the camera senses motion, it will automatically lock your front door. Smart home automations are impressively customizable these days.
Smart Assistants – Smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit offer hands-free voice control. Thankfully, the best home alarm systems have this capability built right into them. That’s why it’s important to find a system that works with smart assistants like Alexa (not all companies offer this!).
Smart Lighting – Another neat home automation is smart lighting. Brands like Philips Hue let you control the mood straight from their app. You can also set custom rules and schedules so that, for instance, your living room lights dim at 8pm every night. All you have to do is pop the popcorn (although you can automate that, too, using a smart plug).
Smart Thermostats – One of our favorite smart devices is the ever-popular smart thermostat, and specifically the Google Nest Learning Thermostat. This device and others like it allow you to control your indoor temps even when you’re not home. It’ll help to lower your energy bill, and it’s great for the environment, too5. We’ve found that the best home security systems play well with smart thermostats.
Professional Monitoring vs Self-Monitoring
One is free. The other costs you month after month. If you like the idea of a monitoring center keeping a close eye on your home — ready to dispatch police, fire, or EMS — then we recommend a system with 24/7 professional monitoring. Sure, it comes at a cost, but it also comes with peace of mind. Your other option is to self-monitor with a DIY system.
Both options have their merits. We like self-monitoring because it saves us another monthly bill (it’s free!). And it’s pretty easy to self-monitor with a user-friendly mobile app, which most companies offer these days. On the other hand, if we happen to miss the in-app alert if someone breaks into our home when we’re not there, the bad guys will have a field day. So that’s why 24/7 professional monitoring is the safest way to go.
FYI: Professional 24/7 monitoring will cost you between $10 per month and $65 per month, but the industry standard is about $40 per month for around-the-clock protection.
The Cost of Home Security
Consider the costs of all the equipment you will need for your home.
Now, if you think home security is too expensive, we think you’ll be surprised by the affordable home security systems that are available.. We’ve seen packages that cost as low as $200, with no monthly fees or contracts. Our top 10 list above will give you plenty of great options to choose from. But expect to pay about $300-$500 for a basic- to mid-range setup. The equipment might include:
Central hub or base station
3-5 door/window sensors
Keypad control panel
A system that requires a contract might be a smart choice if you’re cash-strapped. Why? Because contract-based security systems generally don’t require upfront equipment fees. Rather, the costs are spread over the length of the contract. We’ve seen 1-year, all the way up to 5-year contracts! But we recommend contract-free systems if you don’t want to sign on the dotted line and be locked into a long-term agreement (and who does?).
You’ll also want to think about monitoring costs. We touched on this above, but you should budget for about $40 per month if you want your system monitored by the professionals. Of course, $40 is the average, but you can spend as little as $10 per month with Ring, or as much as $60+ per month with the premium provider ADT. Remember, we do recommend professional monitoring if you can afford it. The extra protection is well worth the price.
Other costs to consider are installation fees and activation fees. While we seldom see activation fees these days, they can range between $35 and $65. On the other hand, installation fees are a necessary evil to get set up with top brands like ADT and Vivint. That said, it’s not uncommon for these brands to waive installation fees, so it never hurts to ask.
Pro Tip: Some homeowner insurance providers will give you a discount on your insurance if you can prove that you have a home security system installed. With this in mind, companies like Alder offer a printable certificate that you can show your provider to get a deal on your homeowner’s insurance. It’s worth looking into!
Home Security FAQs
Wireless vs wired security systems: which is better?
It really depends. Wireless home security systems are nice because they are simple to set up and there are no wires for criminals to cut. On the other hand, hardwired security systems don’t rely on batteries, so you’ll have a more stable power source.
Can I afford a home security system?
We think many Americans can afford a home security system. They start at only $150-$200 for a basic system, and you can even self-monitor for free (no monthly payments). It used to be that home security systems cost $500-$1,000 or more — but these days companies are offering affordable DIY systems to stay competitive in the market.
Do I have to sign a long-term contract?
Not at all! While some brands require a 1-5 year contract for monthly monitoring, others let you pay month-to-month. SimpliSafe and Ring are two such companies that don’t require a contract. But keep in mind, a contract can actually be a great tool to help lower costs. For instance, if you want Vivint’s equipment but don’t have the cash, you can finance it over time (contract) and pay as little as $10-$20 per month for equipment.
Are they difficult to install?
Do-it-yourself (DIY) systems are very simple to install and set up. They typically take about 10-30 minutes to get going, and most companies offer an app that guides you through the step-by-step process.
Should I go with professional installation?
Some people get overwhelmed with new technology. If that’s you, no problem, we recommend checking out ADT, Vivint, or Xfinity — all of which offer a professional installation service.
Do I need 24/7 professional monitoring?
While we recommend signing up with professional monitoring, it’s not always necessary. Note that most security brands make it ultra-easy to self-monitor using their mobile app. But if your home is targeted by porch pirates or burglars, just know that it’s up to you to call the police.
SafeHome.org only uses high-quality sources to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.