A security system can make renters feel much safer when living in an apartment building, especially a nonsecure one. Security products like alarms, keypads, indoor cameras, video doorbells, and sensors make it possible for renters to know what’s happening in or around their home at all times. But shopping for a home security system for an apartment is slightly different than shopping for a single-family home security system.
While single-family home dwellers often look for products that cover their exterior property and the perimeter of their home, apartment dwellers typically look for products that emphasize front door security and indoor security. Additionally, apartment renters may want to look for products that will cause minimal damage when applying them to walls and/or ceilings. We’ve scoured the market to find the best apartment security systems and outlined all of the major points for renters to consider.
Editor’s Note: Prices listed in this article are accurate as of the last update, but may vary. For the most up-to-date costs, please see each home security company’s website.
- BEST OVERALL: Abode
- RUNNER-UP: SimpliSafe
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ring
- BEST PRO MONITORING: Cove
- ALSO CONSIDER: Frontpoint
What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Apartment Security Systems
Enhancing apartment security is not always as straightforward as protecting a single-family home, but apartment home security systems can provide renters with extra protection and peace of mind. When choosing the right home security system for an apartment, shoppers will want to look for a system that provides the protection they need without breaking the bank or requiring complicated installation. There are several additional factors for apartment dwellers to consider when shopping for a security system.
Pricing and Fees
There are two main costs for renters to consider when purchasing a home security system for an apartment: the up-front cost of the equipment and the monthly fee for any professional monitoring or subscription-based services.
Shoppers will want to keep in mind that some security system companies require customers to sign a contract. These contracts often come with perks such as extended warranties, but they also mean that customers are on the hook for their monthly payment for an extended period of time. This may not be a concern if the customer is happy with their choice of system, but if they don’t like the system they may be stuck with it for the duration of the contract or be required to pay a hefty cancellation fee.
On the other hand, there are plenty of companies that do not require a contract and allow customers to cancel their service at any time. Shoppers will want to weigh the pros and cons of a contract before choosing their home security system.
Packages and Plans
When choosing home security equipment, customers typically have two options: They can choose from a variety of kits offered by the company, or they can build their own system. Most companies offer both of these options, as well as the ability to purchase individual pieces of equipment later if a customer decides they need additional protection.
The price of the equipment is usually accompanied by a monthly monitoring fee, though some companies offer a free self-monitoring option. One provider may appear to be the most affordable choice based on its low equipment costs, but customers will want to make sure that they fully understand all the costs before committing to a system.
For example, when comparing Frontpoint vs. SimpliSafe, customers will find that both companies have comparable up-front costs, but Frontpoint charges a significantly higher monthly monitoring fee which might make it out of reach for some customers.
Installation and Equipment
When it comes to equipment installation for an apartment, there are a few factors for customers to consider. For one, customers will need to decide between professional and DIY installation. Professional installation tends to be more common for houses where indoor and outdoor cameras are being put in or the equipment is wired.
Since apartments are often smaller and thus require fewer sensors and cameras, many renters feel comfortable with performing the installation themselves. However, renters with physical limitations or who opt for a more complex system may find it beneficial to leave the job to a professional. Some systems are DIY only, but a Ring security system for apartments, for example, offers both DIY and professional installation options, allowing customers to choose the option that works for them.
Most security systems offer a wide range of equipment that extends far beyond cameras. Often, kits will come with a hub or control panel as well as add-ons that can include doorbell cameras; glass-break and door sensors; environmental detectors for smoke, carbon monoxide and floods; and more. Usually, a base package with minimal equipment is the best security system for renters because it allows them to only pay for the features they need—although first-floor apartment safety might call for a few more sensors or cameras because the unit is accessible from outside.
It’s also important for customers to consider the amount of damage that equipment may do to their apartment. These days, many DIY security systems are attached with peel-and-stick adhesive rather than being drilled into the wall, making them ideal for renters who want to preserve their security deposit. Wireless and battery-operated products also tend to create less damage than wired products. And as a bonus, intruders can’t cut the power to a wireless camera, which lessens the odds that the equipment will be tampered with or rendered inoperable.
With professional monitoring, a team of professionals is on standby 24/7 if an alarm goes off and a renter needs the authorities to come to their apartment. According to Mike Silva, owner and principal consultant at Silva Consultants, “DIY monitoring assumes that the homeowner will always have their smartphone with them, that they are paying attention to their phone, and can make a quick decision of what should be done when the alarm goes off.”
There’s almost always an associated monthly cost with professional monitoring, and renters will need to decide whether the benefits outweigh that monthly cost. They will also want to look into any additional advantages, as some companies offer equipment discounts or extended warranties as a bonus for choosing professional monitoring.
With one of the best DIY security systems, the renter listens for the alarm and calls the authorities if needed. Even with self-monitoring, a renter might incur a small monthly subscription fee that unlocks more product features such as video recording and storage. Without paying the fee, renters may not be able to access past video recordings. On the plus side, most self-monitoring subscription fees are relatively affordable, typically starting at around only $3 per month. Some companies even offer free self-monitoring, although opting for free services sometimes limits how the equipment can be used.
Trial Period and Warranty
Most home security systems offer a trial period, which lets a user try out the system for a certain period without committing. If a renter is uncertain whether or not they’ll be happy with the system long-term, they might want to look for a company that offers a longer trial period. Not only will this give customers plenty of time to decide whether they like the system, but a generous trial period indicates that the company has a history of customer satisfaction and is confident in its product quality.
Warranty length is another important consideration, as it can be an indicator of how confident a brand is in its products and their longevity. According to Silva, “All systems usually include at least a 1-year warranty. Most equipment manufactured these days is quite reliable, and if it survives the warranty period, will probably last for many years thereafter.” Additionally, brands that offer lengthy warranty time frames display confidence in the quality of their products.
Home Automation and Device Compatibility
Renters that use a specific smart-home assistant, like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit will want to make sure that the security system they buy is compatible with their existing devices and voice assistants. One of the big benefits of a home security system is integrating it with the home’s smart ecosystem so users can more easily monitor their home’s security or control the system with their voices. If customers forget to arm their system, lock the door, or turn off the lights when they leave, many systems will allow them to do so remotely.
Most of these features can be accessed via smartphone through the security system’s app, so it’s important for renters to consider app functionality. In an emergency, time is of the essence; so if the system’s app is unintuitive or slow, this can be a major frustration, not to mention a security risk. Renters will want to be sure to check the app’s ratings and take customer reviews into account.
Reputation and Customer Reviews
Renters and homeowners rely on home security systems to protect their families and belongings, so a security company’s reviews and reputation should not be taken lightly. Getting firsthand accounts of a company’s commitment to customer service, the quality of its equipment, the reliability of its monitoring services, and other factors can make it simpler to choose which one is the best fit.
Websites like Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau can be a useful starting point, but renters will want to take reviews with a grain of salt as even the best home security systems are bound to receive a few harsh reviews (and customers are generally more likely to write a review if they are dissatisfied). Renters can look for reviews written by reputable sources that weigh the pros and cons of a system honestly. They may also consider reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors with questions about their systems.
Our Top Picks
We looked at dozens of home security brands on the market and found the best options for those who live in an apartment.
Why It Made the Cut: With reasonable pricing, no-contract options, and broad compatibility with smart-home devices and voice assistants, Abode offers a great deal of flexibility for security-conscious renters.
Abode offers prepackaged home security kits, but it also lets customers build a custom system that works for their specific needs. Most systems cost under $300, and Abode has products like indoor and outdoor cameras, video doorbells, door sensors, light bulbs, and a keypad in addition to its wireless gateway and key fob. A standout feature is that no screws or hardware are needed to mount the equipment, so renters won’t need to worry about losing their security deposits. Abode is compatible with more than 160 smart-home devices and Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. However, voice assistant compatibility is only available with a paid plan, which may be a limitation for some customers.
Users can opt for self-monitoring or professional monitoring. Self-monitoring has two options: free or $0.20 per day for features like video storage and notifications. With professional monitoring, which starts at $0.66 a day, users get a rapid emergency response if the alarm system sounds and cellular backup in case the system’s Wi-Fi goes down. With professional monitoring, users could also benefit from discounts on their renters insurance. Abode offers a 30-day trial period and a 1-year warranty, which can give customers additional peace of mind when purchasing a security system for their apartment.
- Base cost: $139.99
- Monthly cost: Free or $0.20 per day for self-monitoring; $0.66 per day for professional monitoring
- Trial period: 30 days
- Warranty: 1 year
- Monitoring: Professional and self-monitoring
- Screws or hardware not necessary for mounting
- Flexible free and paid monitoring options
- Systems are compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant
- System is compatible with 160 other smart-home devices
- Voice assistant compatibility is only available with a paid plan
Why It Made the Cut: SimpliSafe offers a variety of products with long-lasting battery life, easy installation, and no-contract options.
SimpliSafe is a respected home security name with moderately priced equipment and reasonable monitoring prices. SimpliSafe has two choices when it comes to professional monitoring services: standard monitoring (which includes 24/7 emergency dispatch) costs around $20 per month, and Fast Protect Professional Monitoring (which adds monitoring for flooding and extreme temperatures and intruder deterrence with two-way agent audio) costs around $30 per month. Self-monitoring comes with unlimited camera recording and costs around $10 per month. The company doesn’t provide an option for free self-monitoring, and the self-monitoring option is somewhat limited.
Preselected or custom equipment packages are available, and the base cost is $249.96 for the equipment (ranging up to $709.90 for the top-tier package). SimpliSafe has a variety of components, including entry, motion, and glass-break sensors; panic buttons; and indoor and outdoor cameras. The batteries in all the wireless equipment last for up to a decade, and the equipment is easy to install and creates minimal damage. SimpliSafe has a 60-day trial period and a 1-year warranty; customers can extend the warranty for a total of 3 years with self-monitoring or standard monitoring plans, or for the lifetime of the subscription with the Fast Protect professional monitoring plan.
- Base cost: $249.96
- Monthly cost: $10 for self-monitoring; $20 to 30 for professional
- Trial period: 60 days
- Warranty: 1 year
- Monitoring: Professional and self-monitoring
- Easy-to-install wireless cameras
- Batteries last for up to a decade
- Add-ons include entry, motion, and glass-break sensors; panic buttons; and indoor and outdoor cameras
- No option for free self-monitoring
Why It Made the Cut: Ring is known for its doorbell cameras, and its equipment and monitoring prices make it an affordable yet reliable pick.
How does Ring work? Ring provides options for just about everyone. Self-monitoring comes at two price points: $3.99, or $10 per month, and the full professional monitoring service is $20 per month. These pricing tiers mean there’s a security option for every budget. The free option allows customers to view real-time video for their Ring doorbells and security cameras, as well as answer doorbell notifications. The $3.99 Basic plan adds video recording of one doorbell or camera. The $10 Plus plan provides video recording for all devices. The $20 Pro plan offers video recording and professional monitoring for Ring Alarm. Users who subscribe to the Pro plan may also qualify for a discount on their renters insurance.
Ring is probably best known for its doorbell cameras. The company has a selection of security cameras; however, its equipment suite is somewhat limited compared with other brands on the market. Renters can choose from product bundles or build their own system. Ring products are often on sale on the company’s own site or Amazon, so it’s easy for shoppers to save even more money. Users can also access the Neighbors app, which delivers crime and safety alerts in the area directly to a user’s smartphone. Ring has a 30-day trial period and a 1-year warranty.
- Base cost: $199.99
- Monthly cost: $3.99, or $10 for self-monitoring; $20 for professional
- Trial period: 30 days
- Warranty: 1 year
- Monitoring: Professional and self-monitoring
- Relatively affordable monthly cost
- Flexible monitoring options
- Local crime and security updates provided via the Neighbors app
- Limited number of equipment pieces available
Why It Made the Cut: Cove’s innovative RapidSOS system ensures help gets to a home fast. Plus, with a lifetime warranty and a 60-day trial period, it’s clear Cove has confidence in its home security products.
Cove’s base package costs $250, and it comes with an interactive monitoring center. The sleek hub lets users arm the system and monitor any alerts from one convenient location. The monitor also has two-way audio built in. Cove’s standout security feature is RapidSOS, which directly sends data to the 911 dispatch center in an emergency. This streamlines the process and ensures emergency services reach the customer’s home as quickly as possible.
Users can choose between two professional monitoring options. The Basic monitoring plan costs around $18 per month, and it includes 24/7 live monitoring, battery backup, and several other perks like an hourly automated system check. Plus protection costs around $27.90 per month, and it adds on camera integration, smartphone control, and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, Cove doesn’t integrate with other smart-home devices as well as other brands, and there’s no option for self-monitoring.
Cove offers customers a generous 60-day trial period and a lifetime warranty on its products. Customers can feel confident that they’re receiving quality products and services.
- Base cost: $250
- Monthly cost: $18 or $27.90
- Trial period: 60 days
- Warranty: 1 year to lifetime
- Monitoring: Professional monitoring
- Generous 60-day trial period and lifetime warranty
- RapidSOS system sends data directly to 911 dispatch center
- Interactive monitoring center with 2-way audio included in base package
- No self-monitoring option
- Limited smart-home integration
Why It Made the Cut: Frontpoint offers industry-leading professional monitoring as well as DIY installation, making it a great choice for an apartment dweller looking for easy installation and reliable home security.
Frontpoint is a solid choice for the renter looking for professional monitoring; the company doesn’t offer any self-monitoring options. Customers can build their own equipment packages or opt for one of three preselected ones. Frontpoint not only provides home security from intruders or burglars, but it also works to protect a renter’s identity and sensitive information from online threats. One downside of Frontpoint is that it’s not the most budget-friendly option, costing a minimum of $34.99 per month for monitoring.
Frontpoint’s equipment is compatible with components from other brands. If a renter already has a doorbell camera from another brand, they don’t need to throw it out and replace it. The system also automatically runs hourly checks to ensure it’s always functioning. Frontpoint offers a 30-day trial period and a 3-year warranty.
- Base cost: $541.91
- Monthly cost: $34.99
- Trial period: 30 days
- Warranty: 3 years
- Monitoring: Professional monitoring
- Compatible with security devices from other companies
- Wide selection of preselected packages or build-your-own options
- Hourly automatic system checks
- Relatively high monthly cost
- No self-monitoring option
Abode is our top choice because of its moderate cost, flexible self-monitoring and professional options, and smart-home device and assistant compatibility. The components do not need to be screwed in, which is a great feature for renters who can’t or don’t want to make holes in their walls.
SimpliSafe is the runner-up choice because of its wide array of devices and moderate monthly cost, but there’s no option for free self-monitoring, meaning that users have to pay at least $9.99 a month to use the system. However, professional monitoring is more affordable than other options on the list.
How We Chose the Best Apartment Security Systems
When evaluating the best apartment security systems, we looked at dozens of different brands to determine which ones offered the best value for their package and plan offerings. We also considered factors like ease of installation, how much damage each individual home security product would cause during installation, the company’s reputation and customer reviews, and how easy each system was to transfer to another residence if a renter moves to a new home.
We considered up-front versus monthly costs, what each brand offered for its monthly pricing and fees, whether a trial period or warranty was offered, and factors like privacy and security. We looked to find which brands offered the best balance between affordability, monitoring quality, privacy, ease of installation and transfer, smart-home and automation compatibility, and longevity.
Before You Install One of the Best Apartment Security Systems
A security system for apartment renters will need to follow different guidelines than one for a single-family home. For starters, a renter must follow any rules and regulations set forth by a building manager or landlord. If a renter isn’t sure whether they are permitted to install one of the best DIY home security systems, they will want to check with the property owner or manager. Although many options on this list offer drill-free installation options, renters can check their leases to determine whether installing any permanent fixtures like a keypad on the wall is allowed.
Apartments also tend to be smaller spaces and have fewer access points than a house, so renters may only need to focus on apartment door security. In general, apartment buildings will already be fitted with fire and carbon monoxide detectors, so renters will need to consider exactly what types of protection are needed in the space to avoid paying for unnecessary equipment.
Hacking is a growing concern with home security systems. While wireless security systems are more popular for renters, they’re also more prone to getting hacked. System owners will want to take precautions like using secure passwords, enabling encryption, updating firmware, and disabling any features that aren’t in use. Signs of hacking include noises coming from camera speakers or cameras moving unexpectedly. A user may also get an alert that their account was accessed from an unknown device or their password stops working when they haven’t changed it.
If a customer notices any of these signs of hacking, they are advised to unplug their cameras, change all of the passwords associated with their account, and get in touch with their security provider as soon as possible to alert them to the issue.
Cost of Using One of the Best Apartment Security Systems
While investing in a security system isn’t exactly cheap, there are a wide variety of systems at multiple price points so that most renters can find a solution that is affordable and meets their security needs. In many cases, even a basic system can make a home feel safer. According to Silva, “If the homeowner faces a relatively low level of security risk and intends to use the system primarily when they are away, they can usually get away with a much simpler system.”
When renters are choosing the best security system for an apartment, there are two cost factors: the up-front cost and the monthly recurring costs. The up-front cost is the amount a customer will need to pay to buy the equipment. These costs can be under $100 for a doorbell camera or a few indoor cameras, but many apartment security systems have a base cost of $200 to $300.
Some security companies offer financing plans to mitigate the up-front equipment costs. Recurring costs are any ongoing, usually monthly, fees to operate the security system. Self-monitoring is less expensive than professional monitoring, and some companies offer free self-monitoring. Paid self-monitoring options are generally $10 a month or less. Professional monitoring usually costs about $20 per month, but some companies charge up to $40 or more a month. Before choosing a monitoring option, customers will want to compare what each option offers to ensure they’re getting what they need.
The Advantages of Using One of the Best Apartment Security Systems
If a renter opts for one of the best apartment security systems, they get to feel that sense of safety, knowing an alarm will sound if an intruder enters the dwelling. If a renter has professional monitoring, they have the extra security of knowing the authorities will come to their home if the alarm sounds. Additional benefits of apartment home alarm systems include:
- Primary focus on the indoors rather than the outdoors, saving money on the equipment’s cost;
- The ability for renters to take the system components with them when they move; and
- Minimal or no damage to the apartment with equipment installation, which means the renter won’t need to sacrifice their security deposit.
The following questions are things that people commonly ask about apartment home security systems. Renters can check out the most common questions and answers about apartment security systems to help aid them in their decision.
Q. Do I need to sign a contract for an apartment security system?
It depends. Some companies require a contract, while others don’t need a long-term agreement. If not having a long-term agreement is important, renters will want to check out the contract requirements before choosing between home security companies.
Q. What’s the difference between an apartment security system and a security system for a house?
Apartment home security systems are designed to monitor an interior space, while security systems for homes often monitor indoor and outdoor space. Additionally, apartment home security systems are typically protecting a smaller space, and most apartment renters look to find the best wireless home security systems they can install without leaving any damage behind. Renters are also more likely to opt for a system that can be easily uninstalled and reinstalled to make it easier to move to their next home.
Q. Can I install a security system in a rental?
Yes, as long as the system doesn’t require any drilling and the renter has obtained permission from the building owner or landlord for any products that require drilling or modifications to the property.
Q. How much do security systems for renters cost?
Home security systems for renters cost the same price as the best home security systems for homeowners. However, the system may be cheaper if a renter opts for less equipment or a stand-alone camera in place of a full home security system with cameras.
Q. Does an apartment security system record movement all day and night?
If the system features motion detection, it can track movement all day and night. Most apartment security camera systems have adjustable settings, however, making it so the cameras only track movement during certain times.
Q. Can my apartment security system be hacked?
Any home security system can be hacked if the user doesn’t take proper security measures such as setting a secure password, turning on two-factor authentication, and securing the Wi-Fi network properly.
Q. What do I get with an apartment security system?
Most brands offer starter kits, which include the most basic equipment for a low price. Starter kits usually include a hub, keypad, and sensors. Renters can also build their own system to choose which components they want.
Q. Will an apartment security system notify me about any movement?
Yes, if a renter has motion detection sensors or a security system with cameras that have motion detection, they will be notified when these sensors detect movement from within or outside their apartment.
Q. Can I turn off an apartment security system manually?
Just as with any other home security system, the alarm can be turned off manually. However, if a renter has professional monitoring, they may receive a call from the company, and they will typically need to recite a predetermined code word or phrase to indicate they’re not in distress.