Buying a home security system used to involve a salesperson visiting your home, followed by a professional installer coming out and setting up the system. Today’s home security systems don’t necessarily require the assistance of outside professionals during the sales or installation process, as you can purchase a starter pack online and have it delivered to your door. The price of home security has also become more affordable, as new competitors continue to enter the market and more advanced technologies become available at cheaper costs.
Many home security setups allow for do-it-yourself installation, and even for those that still require professional installation, you often end up with a security system that’s more feature rich, user-friendly, and easily upgradable. Those using home security systems with cameras can monitor and navigate their systems from a central mobile application, and they can even use their voices to control most home security products given many of them offer compatibility with smart assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.
When most people buy a home security system today, they expect it to have an array of optional equipment like doorbell cameras, indoor and outdoor security cameras, motion sensors, smart detectors, and smart alarms. Even given these technological and cost expectations, not all home security companies are created equal. Some brands offer better-quality products, better applications, better security features, and better monitoring services. We looked at a number of home security companies to find the best options available.
- BEST OVERALL: Vivint
- FULL-SERVICE MONITORING: ADT
- BEST DIY SYSTEM: SimpliSafe
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ring
- ALSO CONSIDER: Frontpoint
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Home Security System for Your Needs
When shopping for a security system for home use, it’s wise to look at the cost of the home security system, the installation process, the equipment you’re getting for the price, the cost of monitoring or any subscription fees, and any additional factors like warranties and trial pricing. We examine each of these below.
Pricing and Fees
Most home security systems include a base cost for your equipment (and possibly a fee for professional installation), as well as a monthly cost for your monitoring fees or subscription fees. Evaluate exactly what equipment you’re getting for this base cost, and see if you’re getting everything you need.
The same applies to the cost of monitoring and subscription services. Look at what each company offers for its monthly cost, and make sure you’re getting what you expect. Consider factors like smart-home integration, video recording, monitoring, and product support. Carefully examine the details to see exactly what you’re getting for your money.
Installation and Equipment
Are you comfortable performing a DIY install, or would you prefer a professional installation? Companies like SimpliSafe and Frontpoint are ideal for those who want to install their own equipment, while brands like ADT and Vivint are a good choice for someone who wants professional installation.
Additionally, it’s unwise to eliminate options with higher up-front costs in an effort to save because you might end up skimping on your system in the process. For instance, if you end up paying the minimum for your base equipment costs, it might appear that you’re getting a great deal at the time, but you might only get a few products for that minimum cost. Make sure you’re getting enough window and door sensors, cameras, and smoke/CO detectors. If you have a large two-story home, you’ll likely need more equipment than someone with a small rancher. Lastly, make sure you’re getting the type of cameras you want (wired vs. wireless) and that your equipment is compatible with your preferred voice assistant (be it Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri).
Systems with professional monitoring typically have monthly fees, whereas those that are self-monitored don’t have fees. However, professional monitoring also comes with certain benefits you don’t get with a self-monitored system.
With professional monitoring, you have a team of professionals available all day, every day to assist in the event of an emergency. With self-monitoring, you take action (calling 911, etc.) in the event of an emergency. Professional monitoring is typically much more expensive, and you still can’t guarantee the monitoring service will contact the authorities in as timely a manner as you’d like. But generally speaking, professional monitoring promotes added safety and a sense of security.
If you live in a relatively safe area, your home doesn’t have a lot of access points, and you feel comfortable with self-monitoring, you can save quite a bit of cash by skipping out on professional monitoring. Plus, with more and more user services hitting the scene like Alexa Guard Plus, some people might not feel they need professional monitoring anyway. For a cost of $5 per month, Alexa Guard Plus gives you access to an emergency helpline while also sending you alerts in response to broken glass sounds, smoke or CO detector sounds, or other dangerous activity sounds. It can also help deter intruders by making siren or barking dog noises, as well as turning smart lights on and off to make it look like someone is home. Keep in mind, Alexa Guard Plus is not a pro monitoring service, but rather only a helpline and a few additional Alexa features that help promote added security.
Some companies offer their monthly subscription or monitoring services for free for a limited amount of time—you might see a free trial for the first 3 days, 7 days, 30 days, or even 90 days or longer. But then, after that time frame, you’ll have to pay for that service or lose it, and you might not be happy with your home security system without the extra benefits that come along with the monthly subscription or monitoring service. If you’re financing the equipment, the monthly charge might not even be optional.
This is where it’s important to carefully read the contract, paying attention to any asterisk marks or fine print, and consider what you’re paying over the short term versus the long term. Consider the costs you may incur after the trial period, and decide if that cost is something you can afford long term.
No tech product lasts forever, but as there are more and more new home security products hitting the market, it’s natural to want to know how long that specific product might last in comparison to other competing models.
When a brand includes a lengthy warranty, this is a good sign that the company is confident in what it’s selling. With security systems for home use, we see a wide range in the warranty time period. Some brands offer 90 days, while others offer 3 years or longer.
The details of a warranty matter, too. Is the warranty only on manufacturer defects pertaining to equipment, or does the warranty cover all the equipment and the installation, too? These details are just as important as the warranty time frame, so ask the company for more details about its warranty if the info isn’t clearly advertised.
Packages and Plans
Most home security brands offer a variety of solutions at different price tiers. This way, they can offer options for customers who have an 800-square-foot loft as well as customers who have a 4,000-square-foot home.
Several brands also offer products on an a la carte basis, so you can buy a base package and then add on a few sensors or cameras without having to move up to the next package tier. This allows you to customize your system exactly the way you like it.
Our Top Picks
We scoured the market to look at all the different home security systems available, and our top pick is Vivint because of its equipment selection and the technology incorporated within its products. We also appreciate what ADT, Ring, SimpliSafe, and Frontpoint have to offer, but for different reasons. Check out our top picks in more detail.
Why It Made the Cut: A flexible system with a built-in Z-Wave receiver, easy smart-home integration, and professional monitoring, Vivint is ideal for those who want smart-home features and advanced home security but also prefer professional installation over DIY installation.
Vivint’s starter kit costs roughly $600, and it includes a hub panel, two door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a flood sensor. Depending on the current promos available, you might be able to get additional sensors included in that price as well. If you want a home security system with cameras or other add-on products though, the cost can quickly add up, so the pricing can be a downside to Vivint.
Your equipment bill can easily get up into the $2,000 or more range if you opt for additional products like cameras (roughly $400 per outdoor camera and $200 per indoor camera), smart locks (about $180 for a Kwikset smart lock), or thermostats (approximately $170 for a Vivint smart thermostat). But in spite of its high cost, this is one of the better-quality systems available today, and the company offers financing options for those who don’t want to pay for the equipment up front.
If you choose to go with Vivint, you have a monitoring team on standby waiting to assist you. The main panel serves as a hub, making sure your devices work together and notifying monitoring services when someone or something triggers an alarm.
We like Vivint because it’s a seamless, whole-home solution that’s easy to use, and the technology does a lot of the work for you. The 4K Outdoor Camera Pro uses Smart Deter technology, which keeps a lookout on certain areas you decide are important, and then sounds an alarm and illuminates the LED ring if someone hangs around that designated area for too long.
- Base cost: $599
- Minimum monthly cost: $29.99
- Installation: Professional
- Trial period: 3 days
- Warranty: Duration of the service agreement
- Smart Deter technology uses light and sound to keep potential threats away
- Wide array of components including thermostat, garage door opener, and smart locks
- Equipment is sleek and high-end
- Base price is relatively high
Why It Made the Cut: Known in the business for years as one of the bigger names in home security, ADT continues to hold its own by keeping up with the latest smart-home tech and continuing to release new home security product offerings.
ADT started in 1874, and the brand has continued to keep its finger on the pulse of the latest technologies ever since. With some of the best tech and monitoring in the industry, ADT earns a spot as one of the best home security systems currently available. With a wide variety of security packages available, there’s a package for almost anyone.
When you get an ADT security system, you also sign a monitoring contract for 36 months. If you finance your system, your contract is even longer (60 months). On top of that, if you back out, you could end up paying as much as 75 percent of your regular monthly fees for early cancellation.
If you choose to go with a regular ADT system, you’ll likely end up paying a monthly cost of between $28.99 and $63, along with a possible installation cost and the cost of your equipment. You can opt for panic buttons, flood sensors, CO detectors, and cameras in addition to your traditional motion sensors and keypads. You can absolutely get a comprehensive home security solution from ADT regardless of your needs. And if you’re not satisfied with the service, you can change your mind within the first 6 months and get your money back.
- Base cost: Installation fees vary
- Minimum monthly cost: $28.99
- Installation: Professional
- Trial period: 6 months
- Warranty: 90 days
- Established name in home security with a large monitoring network
- 6-month trial period with money-back guarantee if homeowner is not satisfied
- Wide variety of security packages available
Why It Made the Cut: An affordable option with various service levels to fit different household needs, SimpliSafe is the best DIY home security solution currently available.
SimpliSafe hit the scene back in 2009, and it has since become one of the most well-known names in DIY home security solutions. It made our list of the best wireless home security systems because we appreciate the wireless products the company offers like cameras and sensors, but we also like SimpliSafe’s lengthy warranties and affordable base packages.
While some of SimpliSafe’s starter packages don’t provide much in the way of equipment variety (the most basic four-piece DIY kit retails for around $230, and it includes a base station, keypad, entry sensor, and motion sensor), more comprehensive systems are available. You can choose between other kits that include extra home security products like water sensors, smoke detectors, and panic buttons. You can also add on other products like cameras, video doorbells, and smart locks.
One of the best aspects about SimpliSafe is that it does offer the best of both worlds—you can do a DIY install, but you can also take advantage of pro monitoring services. SimpliSafe’s standard monitoring service costs only $14.99 per month, and it includes 24/7 monitoring and police dispatch, fire monitoring and fire dispatch, and medical response dispatch, so you can get the authorities to your home quickly in the event of an emergency. The $15-per-month service charge also includes water leak detection, dangerous temperature detection, and a number of other perks for that price. If you go up to the $24.99 interactive monitoring service, you get even more features like text and email notifications and arming reminders.
- Base cost: $229
- Minimum monthly cost: $14.99
- Installation: DIY
- Trial period: 60 days
- Warranty: 3 years
- Wireless cameras are easy to install
- Batteries last for up to a decade
- Add-ons include entry, motion, and glass-break sensors; panic button; and indoor and outdoor cameras
- Starter pack is limited and customers may feel compelled to buy add-on components
Why It Made the Cut: With cutting-edge technologies and consistent new product releases, Ring has positioned itself as one of the best home security companies.
Ring gives you quite a bit for your monthly service fee. As one of the best self-monitored home security systems, the cheapest monthly subscription option is only $3 per month. This tier of subscription does not include professional monitoring, as it’s more appropriate for someone with a stand-alone Ring camera or video doorbell.
The Ring Protect Pro service is $20 per month, and it’s the better option for anyone with a Ring alarm system. This option includes professional monitoring and Alexa Guard Plus in addition to features like 60-day video history and person alerts. All in, you’ll end up paying less than you’d pay with many other home security systems, but you can still save video recordings for your camera as well as get alerts to possible emergencies and deter intruders via the included Alexa Guard Plus service.
How does Ring work? With Ring, you can pick and choose which products you want and don’t want. You can opt for a cheap starter kit for as little as $200, plus you can add on additional products like doorbells, cameras, floodlights, and smoke/CO detectors (though the selection is comparatively limited).
You can control your Ring devices through the Ring app, which even has a neighbors feature that allows you to see any suspicious activity your neighbors have reported in your neighborhood.
- Base cost: $199.99
- Minimum monthly cost: $3
- Installation: DIY
- Trial period: 30 days
- Warranty: 1 year
- Monthly cost is relatively affordable
- Neighbors app provides local crime and security updates
- Select cameras are equipped with motion sensing and night vision
- Limited number of devices available
Why It Made the Cut: Frontpoint offers a system you can DIY install along with professional monitoring from a team of reliable professionals.
Frontpoint isn’t as well known as some of the other names on this list like ADT or Ring, but the brand has set itself up to be a major competitor in the home security space. Frontpoint doesn’t require a long-term contract, but it only offers professional monitoring as a full-service home security solution (no self-monitoring). Frontpoint charges a rather steep $50 per month for its monitoring service, which includes 24/7 support, fast response times, an emphasis on privacy and security, and a number of other perks like alerts, sensor history, and video history.
While Frontpoint has a limited wireless equipment selection (most of the equipment pieces are wired, so there’s more setup work involved) it does offer a variety of different equipment solutions for different levels of security needs—and customers have the option of building their own packages if the preselected ones don’t suit their needs. Frontpoint is also compatible with security devices from other companies, so users with their own security equipment can still opt for Frontpoint’s services. Finally, Frontpoint performs hourly automatic system checks, which ensures that your devices don’t die or get disconnected for extended periods.
- Base cost: $326.96
- Minimum monthly cost: $49.99
- Installation: DIY
- Trial period: 30 days
- Warranty: 3 years
- Compatible with security devices from other companies
- Wide selection of preselected packages or build-your-own options
- Hourly automatic system checks
- Monthly cost is typically higher than other DIY options
- Limited wireless equipment selection
Vivint offers an array of alarm, camera, and sensor products to protect your home as well as 24/7 home monitoring to assist in the event of an emergency. ADT is also a household name that’s a great option for those who want full-service monitoring. For a more affordable option, look at Ring. You can DIY install, as well as take advantage of services like Alexa Guard Plus and professional monitoring when you go with the Pro Plan (which is still cheaper than many other home security monthly plans).
How We Chose the Best Home Security Systems
When determining the best home security systems, we looked at several factors, but we placed the most weight on each potential candidate’s product releases and the brand’s ability to keep on pace with recent technology. We also looked at the variety of available products, the setup and monthly costs, the value a customer gets for their money, the ease of sign-up and installation, the warranty, the contract options available to customers, and the brand’s security features.
Choosing the best home security systems requires a balance—finding which system offers the best performance for your individual situation without that system being overpriced or lacking in other key areas like security, installation options, or customer service.
What to Know Before You Buy the Best Home Security System for You
A home security system serves as you and your loved ones’ protection from intruders, so it’s essential you get everything you want and need in a home security system. Sure, you can purchase stand-alone products like video doorbells or outdoor cameras, but those products better serve to help you catch the perpetrator after the fact rather than to prevent the intrusion from happening in the first place.
A good home security system serves as a deterrent, with yard signs that serve as a warning, sensors that alert you to motion and breaking glass, and monitoring services that can help get the police or fire department to your home as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.
Cost of Using the One of the Best Home Security Systems
While some will prefer the ease of use associated with a system like Vivint, others will prefer the added flexibility, DIY installation, and affordability they can get with a brand like Ring or SimpliSafe. Weighing these benefits and costs is the key to finding the best home security system for you. On average, a home security system costs around $600 per year, but that is heavily dependent on a number of factors such as monitoring, installation fees, number of equipment pieces, and others.
The Advantages of Using One of the Best Home Security Systems
Home security systems are both a preventive mechanism and an investigative tool. Yard signs let intruders know you have a security system, home alarms may also help deter a possible intruder, and smoke and CO detectors can help prevent devastating events resulting from fires or carbon monoxide.
In the event that an intruder enters your home, your cameras can catch them on video, your alarms will sound and help get attention to the scene, and you might have a panic button handy to get emergency services to your home. As more and more homes and businesses have video surveillance cameras, it becomes harder for people to get away with committing crimes.
Choosing one of the best home security systems is an investment in your home, your peace of mind, your mental health, and your physical safety. When you have an alarm system, especially a reliable system, it provides a sense of comfort and makes you feel safer overall.
- Home security systems can deter home intruders.
- Home security systems can make you feel safer and your home more secure.
- The cost of a home security system has decreased, while the available features and technology has increased.
If you’re still going back and forth between two or more options, fear not, as many people see benefits in more than one home security company. In most cases, if you go with a trusted brand, you’ll be OK. You might not get the perfect system that fits all of your specific needs, but most people will be happy provided they go with a reputable company.
Before you choose the right home security system for you, consider the following frequently asked questions below.
Q. What equipment typically comes with a home security system?
Most home security starter systems come with at least a keypad, motion sensors, and a hub. Some systems may also include additional products like key fobs, panic buttons, indoor and outdoor cameras, video doorbells, smoke detectors, CO detectors, or broken glass sensors.
Q. How do I protect my home while on vacation?
Do not post your absence on social media, as this lets potential intruders know your house will be empty. Also, program your smart lights to periodically turn on and off while you’re gone, so it looks like someone is home. Lastly, set your alarm system, and place cameras at entrance points to catch any potential intruders.
Q. How do I protect my home security system from hacking?
Taking advantage of security features like two-factor authentication can make a big difference. Additionally, it’s wise to make sure you’re changing your password regularly, using strong passwords, using guest networks (instead of allowing guests on your regular network), and taking advantage of a password vault application.
Q. What is the difference between professional monitoring and self-monitoring?
With self-monitoring, you contact the authorities if you see something suspicious or dangerous happening. If you have professional monitoring, your provider will contact the authorities if your alarm goes off (and it’s not a false alarm).
Q. Does a home security system lead to a discount on homeowners insurance?
Yes. You can potentially get a discount on your homeowners insurance of as much as 20 percent with a home security system. However, homeowners rarely receive that large of a discount, and the typical discount is usually in the range of 2 percent to 15 percent.