Best Home Security Systems of 2021

Backed by retired burglary detective Travis Goodreau, our team has tallied over 5,000 hours of research and hands-on testing to help our readers choose the best home security products to safeguard their homes, assets, and families.

1100+research hours
1800+customers interviewed
33systems reviewed
12experts consulted
10systems recommended

Best DIY Pick

SecureScore™: 9.3/10

SimpliSafe is a low-cost home security system with DIY setup. Their systems can be installed in minutes with no tools or drilling. Also, SimpliSafe has flexible monitoring plans. Self-monitor or choose SimpliSafe’s award-winning 24/7 monitoring. SimpliSafe is a great pick for those who value ease and affordability.

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Smart Security Pick

SecureScore™: 9.2/10

Vivint is a high-end wireless system that offers same day professional installation. They have indoor, outdoor, and doorbell camera options and advanced smart home capabilities. Their highly-rated mobile app gives you ultimate control of your property. Vivint’s a great option if you want all the bells and whistles.

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Fastest Response Favorite

SecureScore™: 9.0/10

Cove offers one of the most user-friendly home security systems we’ve seen. Their wireless alarm kits start in the sub-$200 price range and include Alexa and Google Home compatibility. With smartphone controls, a touchscreen control panel, and ultra-affordable monitoring that you can rely on — Cove has earned this spot on our list of favorites.

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Best Home Security Systems

Comparison of the Top Home Security Systems

System SimpliSafe Home Security SimpliSafe Home Security Vivint Smart Home Vivint Smart Home Cove Security Cove Security ADT Security ADT Security Frontpoint Home Security Frontpoint Home Security Ring Alarm Ring Alarm Brinks Home Security Brinks Home Security abode abode Deep Sentinel Security Deep Sentinel Security Alder Home Security Alder Home Security
Ranking 1st SimpliSafe View Plans 2nd Vivint View Plans 3rd Cove Security View Plans 4th ADT 5th Frontpoint View Plans 6th Ring Alarm View Plans 7th Brinks View Plans 8th Abode View Plans 9th Deep Sentinel View Plans 10th Alder View Plans
SecureScore™ 9.3 9.2 9.0 8.7 8.4 8.2 8.1 8.0 7.9 7.7
Best For Best DIY Pick Smart Security Pick Fastest Response Favorite Most Trusted Name Custom Features Pick Budget Buyer’s Pick Google Home User Favorite Top Innovative IoT Hub Best Professional Monitoring Best Cellular Monitoring
Equipment Cost Starting at $199 Starting at $599 Starting at $130 Starting at $99 Starting at $99 Starting at $199 Starting at $399 Starting at $199 Starting at $499 Starting at $0
Activation Cost $0 $0 $0 $25 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Monthly Cost Starting at $14.99 Starting at $29.99 Starting at $14.99 Starting at $28.95 Starting at $44.99 Starting at $3.00 Starting at $29.00 Starting at $6.00 Starting at $49.99 Starting at $34.95
Contract Period No Contract 42 Months No Contract 36 Months Multiple Options No Contract 36 Months No Contract 12 Months 36 Months
Self Monitoring Option Yes No No No No Yes No Yes No No
Installation DIY Pro DIY Pro DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY DIY/Pro
Alexa Compatibility Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Google Home Compatibility Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Money-Back Guarantee 60 Days None 60 Days 6 Months 30 Days 30 Days 45 Days 30 Days 30 Days 30 Days
Warranty 3 Years 120 Days Lifetime Varies 3 Years 1 Year Lifetime 1 Year 2 Years Lifetime
Battery Backup Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Environmental Sensors Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Read Review SimpliSafe Review Vivint Review Cove Review ADT Review Frontpoint Review Ring Alarm Review Brinks Review Abode Review Deep Sentinel Review Alder Review

We research and test home security systems so that you don’t have to.

When it comes to securing your home, you deserve quality and reliability, without spending an arm and a leg. Thankfully, peace of mind comes a whole lot cheaper and easier today than it used to. Also, most companies have embraced the latest home automation tech and now offer helpful features that weren’t available just 5 years ago.
There are a lot of systems out there, so to make it easy for you, our team has researched and tested all of the top home security brands. We’ve compared their features, pricing, ease of use, customer service, user reviews, brand reputation, and much more to determine which systems represent the best value. So let’s dive into our top 10 list!

A List of the Best Home Security Systems of 2021

  • How We Review

    1. SimpliSafe - Best DIY Pick

    SecureScore™ 9.3
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    SimpliSafe is a no-contract alarm system that simplifies home security. They offer basic DIY protection at refreshingly affordable prices.

    • Attractive Equipment Design
    • Quick and Easy DIY Installation
    • No Long-Term Contracts
    • Wireless Equipment
    • Smartphone Controls
    • Cellular Alerts (Wi-Fi Not Required)
    • Affordable Monitoring
    • 60-Day Trial for Equipment
    • Award-Winning Company

    • Upfront Equipment Expenses
    • Proprietary Equipment
    • Limited Smart Home Integration
    • No Outdoor Cameras

    We were pretty skeptical of SimpliSafe at first. But they actually delivered on their promises of affordable and simple home security, right out-of-the-box. Installing the system only took us 10 minutes. And it was a breeze to control using the mobile app. In fact, we don’t think any company beats SimpliSafe for basic intrusion protection.

    With that said, we wouldn’t recommend this system to tech-lovers, as we think the features are a little too basic. For instance, we would have liked to see an outdoor camera and more smart home features. 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 our experience with Simplisafe here.

    Why Choose SimpliSafe

    • Easiest DIY Installation
    • Low-Cost Monitoring
    • Generous 60-Day Free Trial
    See SimpliSafe Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    2. Vivint Smart Home - Smart Security Pick

    SecureScore™ 9.2
    View Packages
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    Vivint is loaded with advanced features and tech, yet somehow we still found it intuitive and easy to use. For total home protection and smart home automation, we think Vivint does it best.

    • Wireless Smart Security System
    • Smart Home Automation
    • 7” Touchscreen Smart Hub
    • Award-Winning Mobile App
    • Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
    • Professional Installation
    • Customized to Your Home
    • 100% Cellular Monitoring
    • Lifetime Warranty

    • Expensive Equipment
    • Contracts May be Required
    • Installation Fees May Apply
    • 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 Sky 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. Also, the equipment is a bit pricey, but you certainly get what you pay for. Thankfully, their 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. See our in-depth Vivint review here.

    Why Choose Vivint

    • Best-in-class Smart Features
    • Award-winning Mobile App
    • Professional Installation
    See Vivint Smart Home Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    3. Cove Security - Fastest Response Favorite

    SecureScore™ 9.0
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    Cove secures your home with a no-contract DIY system and monitoring that truly works.

    • Simple DIY Installation
    • No Contracts, Month-to-Month Service
    • Smartphone Controls
    • Touchscreen Control Panel
    • 1080p HD Yi Camera
    • Alexa & Google Home Compatible
    • Low-Cost Monitoring
    • Lifetime Warranty Option

    • App Experience Could be Improved
    • Limited Home Automation Features
    • No Outdoor Camera Available
    • 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 top brands like SimpliSafe and Frontpoint a run for their money.

    First off, Cove 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 makes a great addition to any home. 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 over the standard Wi-Fi connection we normally see in DIY systems.

    We do think Cove’s app experience could be improved, and we’d like to see them add an outdoor camera to their product lineup. 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 $14.99. See our hands-on review of Cove here.

    Why Choose Cove

    • Simple DIY Installation
    • Touchscreen Control Panel
    • RapidSOS Emergency Dispatch
    See Cove Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    4. ADT Home Security Systems - Most Trusted Name

    SecureScore™ 8.7
    ADT System and Accessories
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    ADT is all about high-quality equipment and reliable monitoring. 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.

    • Competitive Monthly Rate
    • Wireless or Hardwired
    • Cellular and Landline Connections
    • Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
    • Remote Access and Control
    • Home Automation Equipment
    • ADT 6 Month Money-Back Guarantee

    • Long-Term Contract
    • Professional Installation Required
    • Customer Service Varies

    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 is the most popular provider for a reason. We think their home protection + home automation + video packages are nipping at the heels of Vivint. 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 Pulse App and controls.

    We find ADT to be slightly more expensive than other elite systems. But if you don’t mind paying a premium price for a premium product, ADT might be the way to go. That said, just remember that the franchise nature of the company can mean inconsistent customer support depending on your location.

    Even still, ADT once again makes our list of best home security companies. To learn more about ADT and to see if it’s right for you, read our full ADT review here.

    Why Choose ADT

    • 100+ Years in the Industry
    • Fast Response Times
    • 6-Month Guarantee
    See ADT Home Security Systems Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    5. Frontpoint Home Security - Custom Features Pick

    SecureScore™ 8.4
    View Packages
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    Frontpoint DIY home security systems offer a fairly robust app experience and innovative features like geofencing and custom “Scenes.”

    • High-quality GE equipment
    • Wireless security systems
    • Easy DIY Installation
    • LTE Cellular Monitoring
    • Home Automation
    • Indoor & Outdoor Cameras
    • Excellent App Experience
    • 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
    • Geofencing Feature

    • Somewhat Expensive Monitoring
    • Limited Service Hours
    • Touchscreen 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, their systems are DIY; we had our sensors and cameras installed in about 25 minutes. The home intrusion features were on-point, but we would like to see more smart-home options available out-of-the-box. Note that Frontpoint systems are Z-Wave compatible, so we were able to link third-party devices for some nifty home automation features.

    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. All in all, we think Frontpoint is a great system for most families and lifestyles. For a more in-depth look, see our full Frontpoint review here.

    Why Choose Frontpoint

    • High-quality Security Equipment
    • Custom Features & Tech
    • Excellent App Experience
    See Frontpoint Home Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    6. Ring Alarm - Budget Buyer’s Pick

    SecureScore™ 8.2
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    Ring offers extremely affordable DIY security for all types of homes, including apartments and condos.

    • Easy DIY Installation
    • Smartphone Controls
    • Low-cost Home Security Kits
    • Very Affordable Monitoring
    • Clean, Modern Design
    • Easy to Use
    • Works with Alexa

    • No Glass Break Sensors
    • Motion Sensors not Very Sensitive
    • No Silent Entry/Exit Feature
    • Response Times could be Improved
    • Limited Home Automation Features

    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 — well, there really wasn’t much in the automation department. Of course, Ring is owned by Amazon, so it does work with Alexa. And you can integrate some third-party devices into the system. But don’t expect a fully outfitted smart home.

    The real value we see in Ring is that it’s quick to set up, it’s quite flexible and customizable, and it’s one of the cheapest systems available. Ring also offers the popular “Neighbors” App, which gave us a helpful neighborhood watch portal to keep tabs on any crime in the area. So if you’re looking for a basic but nimble solution for home protection, we’d recommend reading our full Ring Alarm review here.

    Why Choose Ring Alarm

    • Affordable Equipment & Monitoring
    • Extensive Product Lineup
    • Modern Design & Aesthetic
    See Ring Alarm Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    7. Brinks Home Security - Google Home User Favorite

    SecureScore™ 8.1
    Brinks Home Complete with Video Package View Packages
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    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.

    • Rate-Locked Contracts
    • Affordable Packages
    • Reliable 24-7 Monitoring
    • Smartphone Control of the System
    • 30-Day Return Policy
    • Home Automation Features
    • Two-Year Warranty

    • Most Plans Require a Contract
    • Expensive Monthly Monitoring
    • Professional Installation Costs Extra

    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. To learn more about the company and the value they offer, see our in-depth review of Brinks here.

    Why Choose Brinks

    • Reliable 24/7 Monitoring
    • Works with Google Home
    • 2-year Equipment Warranty
    See Brinks Home Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    8. abode Home Security - Top Innovative IoT Hub

    SecureScore™ 8.0
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    abode is a feature-packed home security system with a built-in camera and impressive CUE home automation platform.

    • Sleek and Modern Equipment
    • iota Gateway has Built-in HD Camera
    • CUE Home Automation Platform
    • Smartphone Controls
    • Custom Alerts & Notifications
    • No Long-Term Contracts
    • Easy DIY Installation
    • Cellular Monitoring Option

    • Limited Equipment in Starter Kit
    • No Touchscreen Panels
    • Setup Isn’t Very Intuitive
    • Customer Service Could be Improved

    It’s small and it’s smart. Abode offers two types of DIY home security systems starting at only $199. The iota Kit is their best setup, as it comes with the CUE home automation platform and an HD camera built right into the hub. In our experience, the do-it-yourself installation was simple enough, and the black and white equipment design really added a modern touch to our home.

    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.

    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 full review of abode here.

    Why Choose abode

    • Hub has Built-in HD Camera
    • Mini Door/Window Sensors
    • CUE Home Automation Platform
    See abode Home Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    9. Deep Sentinel - Best Professional Monitoring

    SecureScore™ 7.9
    View Packages
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    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 Resolution
    • On-site AI Analysis
    • Hub has Built-In Battery Charger
    • Privacy Features
    • Transparent Pricing
    • Top-Notch Customer Service

    • Equipment Can Be Expensive
    • Wi-Fi Connection (Not Cellular)
    • No Smart Home Integrations
    • Year-Long Contracts
    • 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 reading our full Deep Sentinel review here.

    Why Choose Deep Sentinel

    • 24/7 Surveillance by Live Guards
    • Fastest Response Times
    • Snapdragon AI Processing
    See Deep Sentinel Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    10. Alder Security - Best Cellular Monitoring

    SecureScore™ 7.7
    Alder Home Security View Packages
    Customer Service
    Features & Technology
    Ease Of Use

    Alder offers a “Total Life Safety System” with environmental monitoring, emergency alerts for seniors, and easy DIY home protection.

    • Affordable Systems
    • 7” Touchscreen Control Panel
    • Easy DIY Setup
    • 4G LTE Cellular Monitoring
    • Smartphone controls
    • Silent Exit Feature
    • Key Fob Controls
    • Alexa & Z-Wave Compatible
    • Environmental Sensors

    • Slightly Expensive Monitoring
    • Limited Security Camera Integrations
    • Somewhat Limited Home Automation
    • Must Call to Purchase System
    • No Prices Listed Online
    • Mobile App is Buggy

    We liked Alder 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. But overall, we think this up-and-coming security brand is a safe bet. Our team tested their products and services, and we unpack everything you need to know right here in our full Alder review.

    Why Choose Alder

    • 4G LTE Cellular Monitoring
    • Alexa & Z-Wave Compatible
    • 7” Touchscreen Control Panel
    See Alder Security Packages & Offers

About Our Rankings

Curious about how we ranked our top 10 list? Well, we never shoot from the hip. Everything we do is a labor of love — with thousands of hours of research and hands-on testing to back it up.

We personally unbox the security systems and try them out first-hand to see how they measure up against the competition. And 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 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
  • Installation type
  • Equipment options
  • Contract length
  • Customer service
  • Overall value
  • 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 includes retired Burglary Detectives, Private Investigators, Security Directors, expert researchers, data analysts, and other home security pros. They have over 260 years of combined experience and 10,000+ hours of research under their belts. Our team is in the industry trenches every day, learning about new security products and other ways to protect your home and family.

Did You Know: Our experts have worked on 20,000+ cases of burglary and theft! Their real-world experience helps to inform their research, testing, and reviews.

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:

  • Equipment Cost
  • Monitoring Fees
  • Contracts
  • Installation
  • Connectivity Options
  • Smart Home Features
  • Money-Back Guarantee

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

Blue by ADT doorbell installed

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).

Garage Security

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.

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. We always enjoy setting up smart gizmos and gadgets. 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

Travis Goodreau Reviewing Ring

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 at how downright affordable some systems are. 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
  • Motion sensor
  • Keypad control panel
  • Range extender

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.

Citations 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.
  1. (2013). Secure Alert.

  2. (Retrieved July 7, 2020). Urban Crime. Are Crime Rates Higher in Urban Areas?

  3. Eubank, M. (2019, June 28). Rural areas can be a “burglary buffet” according to law enforcement.

  4. Power over Ethernet (PoE). Wikipedia. Accessed July 7, 2020.

  5. (Retrieved July 7, 2019). Nest Thermostat: Saving Energy Starts with Your Thermostat.

Reviewed By
Travis Goodreau
Expert Advisor
Travis is a retired Burglary Detective, having tallied 5,000+ burglary and theft cases throughout his career. He also served as an Arson Investigator, where he cracked the case of a serial arsonist, and made the arrest and prosecuted the would-be bomber of ABC-7 Studio in LA. We couldn’t be happier to have him as a Safety and Security Advisor. Learn more about Travis here
Written By
Rob Gabriele
Managing Editor, Home Security
Rob is a professional writer and editor with an expertise in all things home security and home automation. Rob currently resides in the Reno/Tahoe area, however, he has spent thousands of hours researching and testing home security systems in a variety of environments and geographies, giving him the unique perspective that there is no “one size fits all” solution in technology. Rob holds a Master’s of Science and is a former Producer in the USAToday network in NY. When he’s not demystifying the latest home security and smart home tech, you’ll find Rob playing chess or hanging with his family. Learn more about Rob here

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