Best Home Security Systems of 2020

Need a home security system, but not too sure where to start? We've reviewed all the major professional install and DIY security options to help you find the best home security system.

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

Best Overall Value

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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Best Home Automation

SecureScore™: 9.0/10

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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Most Chosen

SecureScore™: 8.7/10

ADT is a highly-customizable system that offers wireless and hardwired systems. They have indoor, outdoor and doorbell camera options with basic smart home capabilities. We consider them the pioneers of home security and the most popular provider amongst homeowners.

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Best Home Security Systems

Comparison of the Top Home Security Systems

SystemSimpliSafe Home Security SimpliSafe Home SecurityVivint Smart Home Vivint Smart HomeADT Security ADT SecurityFrontpoint Home Security Frontpoint Home SecurityRing Alarm Ring AlarmBrinks Home Security Brinks Home SecurityProtect America Protect AmericaDeep Sentinel Security Deep Sentinel SecurityNest Secure Nest SecureAlder Home Security Alder Home Security
Ranking1st SimpliSafe View Plans 2nd Vivint View Plans 3rd ADT View Plans 4th Frontpoint View Plans 5th Ring Alarm View Plans 6th Brinks View Plans 7th Protect America View Plans 8th Deep Sentinel View Plans 9th Nest Secure View Plans 10th Alder View Plans
SecureScore™9.39.08.78.48.28.18.07.97.87.7
Best ForBest Overall Security SystemHome Security and AutomationProfessional Home MonitoringGreat Customer ServiceAlexa Automation and SecurityNest Automation and SecurityLandline Home SecurityProactive Home MonitoringGoogle Automation and SecurityFast Response Times
Equipment CostStarting at $199Starting at $599Starting at $99Starting at $130Starting at $199Starting at $399Starting at $0Starting at $499Starting at $299Starting at $0
Activation Cost$0$0$25$0$0$0$0$0$0$0
Monthly CostStarting at $14.99Starting at $29.99Starting at $28.95Starting at $34.99Starting at $3.00Starting at $29.00Starting at $19.99Starting at $49.99Starting at $24.99Starting at $34.95
Contract PeriodNo Contract42 Months36 Months36 MonthsNo Contract36 Months36 Months12 Months36 Months36 Months
Self Monitoring OptionYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYesNo
InstallationDIYProProDIYDIYDIYDIYDIYDIYDIY/Pro
Alexa CompatibilityYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Google Home CompatibilityYesYesYesYesYesYesNoNoYesNo
Money-Back Guarantee60 DaysNone6 Months30 Days30 Days45 Days15 Days30 Days30 Days30 Days
Warranty3 Years120 DaysVaries3 Years1 YearLifetime2 Years2 Years2 YearsLifetime
Battery BackupYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Environmental SensorsYesYesYesYesYesYesYesNoYesYes
Read ReviewSimpliSafe ReviewVivint ReviewADT ReviewFrontpoint ReviewRing Alarm ReviewBrinks ReviewProtect America ReviewDeep Sentinel ReviewNest Secure ReviewAlder 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 2020

  • How We Review

    1. SimpliSafe - Best Security System

    SecureScore™9.3
    Customer Service
    9.2
    Value
    9.5
    Equipment
    9.2
    Features & Technology
    8.7
    Ease Of Use
    9.7
    SecureScore™
    9.3

    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.

    See SimpliSafe Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    2. Vivint Smart Home - Best Automation Security System

    SecureScore™9.0
    Customer Service
    7.8
    Value
    8.4
    Equipment
    9.6
    Features & Technology
    9.8
    Ease Of Use
    9.5
    SecureScore™
    9.0

    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.

    • Sleek & Modern Equipment
    • 100% Wireless Security
    • Cellular and Landline Connections
    • Remote Access via Mobile App
    • Advanced Home Automation
    • Indoor and Outdoor Security Cameras
    • Doorbell Camera with Two-Way Voice
    • Environmental Disaster Protection
    • Lifetime Warranty

    • Requires Professional Installation
    • Above Average Monthly Cost
    • Possible Long-Term Contract

    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.

    See Vivint Smart Home Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    3. ADT Home Security Systems - Best Brand

    SecureScore™8.7
    Customer Service
    8.1
    Value
    8.4
    Equipment
    8.7
    Features & Technology
    9.1
    Ease Of Use
    9.2
    SecureScore™
    8.7

    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.

    See ADT Home Security Systems Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    4. Frontpoint Home Security - Best Customer Service

    SecureScore™8.4
    Customer Service
    9.6
    Value
    8.2
    Equipment
    8.0
    Features & Technology
    7.8
    Ease Of Use
    8.3
    SecureScore™
    8.4

    Frontpoint DIY home security systems offer a fairly robust feature-set and a commitment to customer satisfaction that truly impressed us.

    • High-quality GE equipment
    • Wireless security systems
    • No Contracts
    • Easy DIY Installation
    • LTE Cellular Monitoring
    • Home Automation
    • Indoor & Outdoor Cameras
    • Excellent App Experience
    • 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee

    • Somewhat Expensive Monitoring
    • Limited Service Hours
    • Touchscreen Panel Sold Separately
    • Outsourced Monitoring Service
    • Limited Keypad Functionality

    From our very first encounter with Frontpoint, their customer service stood out as concierge-level (it was that good). Compared to other top brands, we think Frontpoint offers the best all-around service and support — it’s their competitive advantage. And as far as securing our home and adding a touch of convenience to our lives, well, Frontpoint did that too.

    Thankfully, their systems are DIY; we had our sensors and cameras installed in about 25 minutes (not great, but not terrible). 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 the devices are high-quality and reliable. But then again, Frontpoint does lack some of the best features that companies like Vivint or ADT bring to the table. All in all, Frontpoint is a great system for most individuals, families, and lifestyles. For a more in-depth look, see our full Frontpoint review here.

    See Frontpoint Home Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    5. Ring Alarm - Best Alexa Home Automation

    SecureScore™8.2
    Customer Service
    8.0
    Value
    8.3
    Equipment
    8.4
    Features & Technology
    8.2
    Ease Of Use
    7.9
    SecureScore™
    8.2

    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.

    See Ring Alarm Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    6. Brinks Home Security - Best Google Nest Integration

    SecureScore™8.1
    Customer Service
    6.2
    Value
    8.3
    Equipment
    8.7
    Features & Technology
    8.3
    Ease Of Use
    8.9
    SecureScore™
    8.1

    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.

    See Brinks Home Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    7. Protect America Home Security - Best Landline Security System

    SecureScore™8.0
    Customer Service
    8.1
    Value
    8.2
    Equipment
    7.8
    Features & Technology
    7.5
    Ease Of Use
    8.2
    SecureScore™
    8.0

    Protect America offers low-cost home security with flexible monitoring options. But we’re most impressed with their lifetime rate-lock and lifetime equipment warranty.

    • Low Price Guarantee
    • Wireless Equipment
    • DIY Installation
    • Cellular Monitoring Option
    • Indoor Video Cameras
    • Environmental Monitoring
    • Home Automation
    • Smartphone Controls

    • Three-Year Contracts
    • Cellular Monitoring Costs More
    • Not Transparent With Pricing
    • 15-Day Trial Not Competitive
    • Lease Equipment Only

    In a recent round of testing, Protect America stood out to us as a practical option for middle-of-the-road home security. We didn’t exactly get cutting-edge features with Protect America. But then again, some people don’t care about fancy features.

    One thing we really liked was the customer-friendly policies — like the lifetime warranty on products and the rate-lock guarantee for life. This shows us that the company really cares about its users. Other than maybe Frontpoint or ADT, we typically don’t see this with most companies.

    Another thing to note is that Protect America offers basic landline monitoring, which is great for folks who live in rural areas and can’t seem to tap into a cellular signal. So it’s an affordable option for rural living. Overall, Protect America provides a decent home security system that gets the job done. Just don’t expect too much from it. See our full review of Protect America here.

    See Protect America Home Security Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    8. Deep Sentinel - Most Proactive Security Monitoring

    SecureScore™7.9
    Customer Service
    8.1
    Value
    7.2
    Equipment
    8.9
    Features & Technology
    7.4
    Ease Of Use
    7.9
    SecureScore™
    7.9

    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.

    • 24-7 Human Surveillance
    • 1080p HD Cameras
    • Night Vision
    • Two-Way Talk
    • Proactively Deters Criminals
    • Zero False Alarms
    • Privacy Controls
    • Localized Artificial Intelligence

    • Pricey Monitoring Plans
    • Lacking Smart Home Integrations
    • Missing Door and Window Sensors
    • Limited Package Options
    • High-Speed Internet Required

    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.

    See Deep Sentinel Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    9. Nest Secure - Best Google Automation

    SecureScore™7.8
    Customer Service
    7.0
    Value
    8.3
    Equipment
    7.9
    Features & Technology
    7.4
    Ease Of Use
    8.3
    SecureScore™
    7.8

    Nest Secure seamlessly integrates into Nest smart home ecosystems. With a mile-long list of device options, we think Nest Secure is one of the best smart home security systems around.

    • Extensive Equipment Selection
    • Integration with Third-Party Devices
    • Smart Technology (Facial Recognition)
    • No Contracts Required
    • Easy Do-It-Yourself Installation
    • Professional Installation Service Available
    • Centralized App Control

    • High Upfront Equipment Fees
    • Limited Base Kit Package
    • Nest Aware Priced on a Per-Camera Basis
    • Imprecise New Technology
    • Staggering Product Selection

    Nest Secure offers loads of smart gadgetry — so much so that you might get overwhelmed by all of the options. But hey, Nest is owned by Google, so we’d expect nothing less! We really enjoyed using Nest Secure for home protection and automation, but keep in mind that it can get expensive if you don’t already have a Nest smart home ecosystem installed. If you’re starting from scratch, we’d probably recommend a company like Vivint, ADT, or Frontpoint.

    One thing that stood out to us with Nest Secure was their flexible monitoring options. They allowed us to self-monitor our own system, but there was also a professional monitoring subscription on the menu. Also, their devices were pretty sleek and higher-quality than we anticipated them being. We especially liked the Nest Detect stick, which is a door/window sensor and motion sensor combo. Finally, controlling everything from the mobile app was a cinch — but we’ve come to expect this with every home security system these days.

    Now, it’s worth mentioning that Nest isn’t perfect. To access certain features like video monitoring, we had to sign up with a Nest Aware subscription, which adds up over time. Also, purchasing smart devices to customize your system is going to cost you. So if you’re not already a Nest user, you might want to look elsewhere. Read our entire Nest Secure review here.

    See Nest Secure Packages & Offers
  • How We Review

    10. Alder Security - Best Response Times

    SecureScore™7.7
    Customer Service
    7.1
    Value
    8.3
    Equipment
    7.4
    Features & Technology
    7.2
    Ease Of Use
    8.5
    SecureScore™
    7.7

    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.

    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 SafeHome 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.

Installation

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.

Connectivity

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.

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Citations
SafeHome 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. JSU.edu. (2013). Secure Alert. http://www.jsu.edu/police/docs/Schoolsafety.pdf

  2. Law.Jrank.org. (Retrieved July 7, 2020). Urban Crime. Are Crime Rates Higher in Urban Areas? https://law.jrank.org/pages/2222/Urban-Crime-Are-crime-rates-higher-in-urban-areas.html

  3. Okcfox.com. Eubank, M. (2019, June 28). Rural areas can be a “burglary buffet” according to law enforcement. https://okcfox.com/news/local/rural-areas-can-be-a-burglary-buffet-according-to-law-enforcement

  4. Power over Ethernet (PoE). Wikipedia. Accessed July 7, 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_over_Ethernet

  5. Nest.com. (Retrieved July 7, 2019). Nest Thermostat: Saving Energy Starts with Your Thermostat. https://nest.com/thermostats/real-savings/

Reviewed By
Travis Goodreau
Safety and Security 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
Andrew Garcia
Lead Security Editor
As Lead Security Editor, Andrew strategically guides SafeHome and the resources we publish. He holds a BA in business, and has 10+ years of experience in content development. Today, Andrew edits and publishes articles, guides, and other resources to meet our rigorous standards. Learn more about Andrew here

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