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Published: Aug 30, 2023 18 min read

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Home security systems today offer a wide range of protection and coverage options. Modern systems can include features ranging from in-home motion and heat sensors to doorbell cameras, as well as apps and smart home integration that can monitor your home from any location.

If you’re in the market for a home security system, take a look at our list for the seven best home security systems, from automated and professionally installed to no-contract, self-monitoring options.

Our Top Picks for Best Home Security Systems

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Best Home Security System Reviews

Pros
  • 12 Monitoring centers available nationwide
  • Theft Protection and 6-month money-back guarantee
Cons
  • 36-month minimum contract, 24-month in California

With services available for homes and commercial or small business facilities, ADT’s home security has a high degree of customizability. Devices include:

  • door and window sensors
  • smoke detectors
  • night vision outdoor cameras
  • flood sensors
  • carbon monoxide detectors
  • full inside/outside video surveillance

You can also incorporate home automation functionality through ADT’s mobile app, which sends customizable alerts to your smartphone, giving control over your home’s locks, garage door, smart lights and thermostat. The app integrates with smart home devices such as smart doorbells and cameras using Alexa, Kwikset, Z-Wave and Google Assistant.

Monitoring packages cost between $28.99 to $52.99 per month and include equipment rental fees. Equipment installation fees range from $99.00 to $199.00, depending on the system.

Note: See terms and conditions for ADT's Money-Back Guarantee and Theft Protection Guarantee.

HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost
No upfront costs, but installation fees apply
Contract required:
Yes. (three-year contract, except California's two-year contract)
Type of installation:
DIY and professional installation
Compatible with:
Alexa, Google Assistant and Z-Wave
Monthly Fees:
Starting at $28.99 per month

Pros
  • Five home security packages available
  • HD video indoor cameras, Smart Lock and video doorbells and other smart home security add-ons
  • Option to discontinue monitoring for a specific period
Cons
  • Home automation requires a $24.99 plan upgrade
  • No facial recognition available with Simplicam

SimpliSafe is a no-contract DIY home security system that requires no drilling or tools and takes just minutes to install — with professional installation available for $124.99. ​​It’s available for a home trial period of 60 days, after which, if you’re not satisfied, you can return it for a full refund, with shipping costs covered by SimpliSafe.

SimpliSafe actively monitors systems, calls to verify alarms haven’t been set off by accident, and can request emergency help when needed. There’s no monitoring contract to worry about, and coverage costs just $19.99 a month. You can also choose to discontinue monitoring for a period of time — if you go on vacation, for example — and then reactivate it when you need it.

If automation is important to you, you can monitor any of the home security packages from your phone and the system can sync with Alexa and Google Assistant. However, to do so you will need to upgrade to SimpliSafe’s interactive monitoring plan ($29.99 monthly fee).

HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost:
Starts at $249 for the Foundation package
Contract required:
No
Type of installation:
DIY
Compatible with:
Alexa and Google Assistant
Monthly Fees:
$29.99 per month

Pros
  • Professional installation available
  • Equipment can be used with other security monitoring companies
  • Four home security packages to choose from
Cons
  • Professional monitoring can get expensive
  • Personal remote monitoring costs extra

Frontpoint offers DIY setup, with easy installation that doesn’t require tools or scheduling a visit from a professional. You also have the option of creating your own security system by purchasing individual items, or you can add devices to the existing packages.

Additional equipment options include:

  • doorbell security cameras
  • carbon monoxide sensors
  • flood sensors
  • outdoor cameras
  • keychain remotes
  • panic pendants

Customers can easily monitor their home security system from any computer or mobile phone using the Frontpoint app. However, remote monitoring requires a subscription to one of Frontpoint’s monitoring plans, which starts at $99.

The company offers three different monitoring plans and includes 24/7 professional monitoring and a price-lock guarantee. Frontpoint also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that includes return shipping, so you can try the system without commitment.

HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost:
Starts at $299
Contract required:
No
Type of installation:
DIY
Compatible with:
Google Assistant, Alexa and Z-Wave
Monthly Fees:
Starts at $49.99

Pros
  • Devices have simple interfaces and are easy to use
  • Cellular backup included in all plans
  • One year warranty
  • Monitor for fire or flood
Cons
  • Requires a three-year contract
  • Basic starter kit doesn't include a camera
  • Home security and automation requires an extra $39-$49.99 a month

Brinks home security systems feature 4G LTE cellular backup and battery-powered backup. This means that any information and notifications that you monitor with your phone are kept and protected through cloud storage, so you won’t have to worry about power outages. Home security and automation options aren’t automatically included with any package, so you’ll have to pay extra for them.

Customers can choose between three smart security solutions: Essential, Complete and Ultimate. All three tiers include devices that are easy to set up and use. For example, the Essential package includes a touch control panel with a simple touchscreen interface, a motion sensor, and two wireless door sensors.

Brinks also offers several add-ons for increased customizability, including:

  • outdoor security cameras
  • smoke detectors
  • smart door locks
  • thermostats
HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost:
Starts at $199
Contract required:
Yes
Type of installation:
DIY and Professional
Compatible with:
Google Assistant, Alexa, iOS and Z-Wave
Monthly Fees:
Starts at $29.99

Pros
  • Equipment integrates with third-party smart home devices
  • Control the system using mobile app, voice control recognition, or key fob
  • Professional monitoring includes carbon monoxide detection, live video monitoring, and medical alert monitoring
Cons
  • Requires a 60-month long-term contract if you don't pay upfront
  • No DIY option available
  • Short cancellation/refund policy of three days

Vivint doesn’t have pre-set equipment packages, opting instead to go with systems custom-built to your specifications and needs. To get a quote, you must call and speak with one of the company’s home security experts.

Vivint offers various smart home options, including smart locks, garage door control, thermostat, and lighting. All these devices can be connected to and monitored by Vivint’s Smart Hub. With this feature, you can control all these devices, and your home’s security systems, all through an integrated touchscreen.

Vivint Smart Home’s protection extends beyond your home — with Vivint Car Guard, you can protect your vehicle, too. You’ll be able to monitor your vehicle in the same home security app and receive alerts if your vehicle is being stolen, towed, or has been bumped.

Since Car Guard is on the same platform as your home security, you can configure your settings to turn on your outdoor lights when a car disturbance is detected while on your property.

Readers should be aware that last February, a North Carolina federal jury found Vivint at fault for using misleading practices to take customers away from a competitor, and as such, Vivint was required to pay a $189 million fine.

HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost:
$599
Contract required:
No
Type of installation:
Professional
Compatible with:
Google Assistant, Alexa and Z-Wave
Monthly Fees:
Starts at $29.99

Pros
  • Premium monitoring and video plan only costs $10 a month
  • You can choose between professional or DIY installation
  • One year warranty
Cons
  • Contact sensors are bulky
  • Some users have claimed connectivity issues

Ring offers a complete DIY option free of contracts and fees. Their basic plan only costs ten dollars per month, or $100 per year. Every Ring Alarm comes with a free 30-day trial of the company’s professional monitoring service, so you’ll be able to test it before deciding whether you’d like to sign up for a contract.

Ring’s strongest asset is its camera variety. You’ll find four different varieties of security cameras, which include: indoor, stick up, spotlight, and floodlight cameras. These can address different needs, including outdoor video surveillance options and video/lighting combinations to monitor areas such as driveways and backyards.

Lighting options include flood and spotlights, wired cameras with automatic lighting systems, and even solar-powered camera and lighting options.

The 10-piece complete deluxe home security bundle includes five contact sensors — four more than the basic kit — an extra motion sensor you can place outside, and a video doorbell to monitor your front entrance.

With the Ring Alarm, you’ll receive mobile and/or email alerts when Ring detects a security threat. If you’d like the system to summon help, you can also sign up for Ring’s 24/7 professional monitoring.

HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost:
Starts at $199.99
Contract required:
No
Type of installation:
DIY
Compatible with:
Google Assistant, Alexa, Z-Wave and iOS
Monthly Fees:
$3.00 a month for Basic

Pros
  • Abode's Cue integration can connect most smart home devices
  • One year warranty
  • Professional monitoring available
  • Compatible with Apple smart devices
Cons
  • Company doesn't offer video doorbells or outdoor cameras
  • Base package doesn't include a keypad

Abode stands out thanks to its adaptable smart devices, which can connect to many voice-assistant programs, including Z-Wave, Zigbee, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and even Apple HomeKit. In fact, Abode is one of the only home security systems that’s compatible with Apple smart devices.

Additionally, the company offers home security kits from Iota and Gateway, and many smart gadget add-ons, including smart locks, speakers, lighting, and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

Abode also offers professional monitoring, with standard and pro tiers available at six dollars and $20, respectively.

HIGHLIGHTS
Base cost:
Starts at $229
Contract required:
No
Type of installation:
DIY and Professional
Compatible with:
Google Assistant, Alexa, Z-Wave, iOS and Zigbee
Monthly Fees:
Optional, starting at $6

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Other Companies We Considered

Link Interactive

Pros
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Variety of smart home integration options
  • System is compatible with third-party devices
Cons
  • Only 36-month contracts available
  • Monthly monitoring costs start at $30.99

Why it didn’t make the cut: Cancellation fees can be steep. If you decide to cancel your contract with the company before it expires, you must pay the remainder upfront. The devices are also more expensive than others on our list. Typically, a set of Link interactive devices can cost from $500 to $700 — no add-ons included. Link Interactive does offer financing, but only if you choose a one-, two- or three-year plan with the company.

Cove

Pros
  • Lifetime equipment warranty
  • $5 monthly equipment credit if you upgrade your devices
  • No contract
Cons
  • No smart home integration or self-monitoring options
  • You need a premium subscription for remote monitoring
  • Cameras only work with their plus plan

Why it didn’t make the cut: Cove’s lack of smart home and self-monitoring choices limits its options as a home monitoring system. For our top choices, we focused on companies that gave you the option to personally monitor your system, and that offered ways to improve your smart home security system setup. Since Cove offers neither, we opted for other companies that had them readily available.

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Never leave your home unprotected.
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Home Security Systems Guide

Now that you know about home security companies and their features, it’s time to get into all the ins and outs of the industry itself. The following section discusses the pros and cons of each security system sold in the industry today — professionally installed systems and DIYs — and their average pricing, as well as the steps you should consider when buying a security system.

How do home security systems work?

Home security systems usually consist of a network of devices connected to each other through a base station or central hub with the purpose of protecting your home. The hub gathers the information that each device records or highlights and delivers it either to you via a phone app or computer program, or to a professional monitoring agency.

Individual home security devices are usually cameras or sensors (including glass-break sensors), and they’re commonly placed in vulnerable entry points to your home, such as windows, doors, and corners. A typical home security kit includes:

  • A central control panel or “hub”
  • Sensors for doors and/or windows
  • A siren or alarm
  • Security cameras (wired or wireless)
  • Interior and/or exterior motion sensors
  • Window stickers or yard signs
  • Home security systems come in two types: professionally installed home security and do-it-yourself (DIY) home security systems. Each has its own pros and cons, which we’ve broken down below.

How Much Is a Home Security System?

The overall cost of home security systems varies greatly for professionally installed systems and DIYs, and from company to company. However, there are three basic costs related to purchasing a home security system:

  • security equipment - prices average around $200-$400
  • installation/activation - costs range from free to $199
  • monitoring fees - usually around $25-$50 per month

With professionally installed systems, you must generally pay all three fees.

While owning a home security system has its costs, it may result in discounts to your homeowner’s insurance policy, both if it’s professionally installed or DIY. This is because you’re reassuring insurance providers that you’re less risky to insure, as you’ve taken extra steps to protect your home.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of homeowner’s insurance, you can check our articles on how to buy homeowners insurance, and the best homeowners insurance on the market today.

Pros and cons of home security systems

Pros
  • Home security systems can act as a deterrent for potential burglars or intruders given the cameras and alarms will signal that your home is protected.
  • Remote monitoring through phone apps lets owners keep an eye on their home in real-time and get notifications of any suspicious activity.
  • These systems offer emergency response that automatically notifies authorities of any fire, break-ins or medical emergency, which can help minimize damage or harm.
Cons
  • Setup costs of home security systems often have significant upfront costs (for the equipment and installation) as well as monthly monitoring service fees.
  • Home security systems sometimes trigger false alarms due to faulty equipment, glitches or dead batteries, among other causes. False alarms may lead to complacency on your part or a reduced response from authorities.
  • These systems can also raise privacy concerns as they can record the owner's daily movements or capture footage of public spaces or a neighbor's property.

How to Choose a Security System for Your Home

Learning about the different kinds of home security systems is only one part of the process. It’s also important you know how to choose the right system for your home. The following section highlights five important steps you should take before committing to any home security system.

Step 1: Do your research

The first step in selecting the right security system for your home is to do some research. Specifically:

  • Focus on the most vulnerable areas of your home
  • Analyze what major risk factors you need to assess
  • Consider the type of home protection that’s most important to you
  • Ask your neighbor, insurance agent or realtor to get advice that’s not from a salesperson

Step 2: Decide how much you can afford

Research and consider both the upfront costs for equipment and installation as well as ongoing monitoring fees. Once you have this information, you can check it against your budget to find an option that aligns with your financial situation.

You can also look for any discounts or package deals that might reduce the total price.

Step 3: Choose between a professional or a DIY alarm system

Evaluate how comfortable you feel about the installation and the ongoing maintenance of the system. Do you want to do it yourself, or do you prefer to have someone else (like a professional) handle it?

Consider the convenience of professional response in emergencies. Also, find out if there are any home insurance discounts available for monitored systems. If there are, you may offset the cost of the system with the savings on your home insurance.

Step 4: Get professional estimates

Make sure to get at least three companies to provide written cost estimates, and make sure they detail the equipment they recommend and why they are recommending it.

Even if you decide to do it yourself and purchase a system online, you can still work with an expert to get different quotes. Online home security system vendors like SimpliSafe and Ring have security professionals available to talk you through the process, help you determine the equipment you need, and give you a free quote.

Step 5: Have the system professionally installed

With some systems, you won’t have a choice. They’ll need to be professionally installed because the system components need to be wired to phone lines and a power source.

However, you might consider professional installation even with some do-it-yourself systems, especially if you’ll be using wireless home security systems.

Home security cameras come with default passwords and passcodes that can make them vulnerable to being hacked. A professional installer will be able to change those defaults, making the whole system more secure. If you purchased your security system online and the company doesn’t offer installation, you can find an ESA-certified professional through alarm.org

Professionally installed home security vs. DIY home security

When it comes to choosing between DIY or a professionally installed system there are several factors you should consider to ensure you select the right option for you and your home.

Professionally installed DIY
Best suited for large houses or homes Best suited for renters and/or small apartments
The company chooses where to place your hub, security cameras and sensors They tend to be wireless, so you can move them from one location to another
A professional assesses your home’s vulnerabilities and gives advice on what you need These systems can be built out or upgraded at once or over time
Provides peace of mind, as the installer ensures that each camera and sensor has been placed correctly Most DIY home security systems are easy to set up, and have no contract fees
Includes professional monitoring, which typically responds moments after the alarm is set off They typically don’t include professional monitoring, though some companies offer this option
Can be very expensive when compared to DIYs Are generally more affordable than professional systems
There’s a chance that you’ll be pressured into buying more than you need Some devices might not connect with each other or may not be compatible with your smart assistant such as Alexa or Google

Wired vs. wireless home security system

Wired Wireless
Installation May require professional installation Setup is usually easy
Reliability Wired systems are highly reliable and less susceptible to dropped signals or interference Subject to wireless signal and more susceptible to lost or dropped signals
Maintenance Generally low once installed May require maintenance such as replacing the battery
Scalability May be difficult or costly to upgrade given you’ll have to contact the provider Easy to upgrade and to add devices as needed
Security Harder to disable or tamper with Potentially vulnerable to signal interference

Home Security Systems FAQ

What is the best home security system?

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This will depend on what you're looking for and what type of security you want. The best home security system is one that includes a network of devices connected by a base station or central hub. This hub helps you gather the information and recordings of all devices and allows you to access the data using your phone app or computer.

While some security systems are DIY where you monitor the system yourself, there are options where a professional monitoring agency monitors your system, alerts you and can even call 911 in case of a break-in or emergency.

How do home security systems work?

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Home security systems use entry sensors and cameras placed strategically around your home, and they communicate what they pick up to a central hub via radio frequencies and/or wires. The hub then directs this information to either a professional monitoring staff, or to your computer and/or cell phone via an app. If you have professional monitoring on your side, they will assess the situation and contact you if necessary.

If you have a DIY system, you'll have to keep a close eye to any notification that the hub sends your way.

How much does a home security system cost?

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The cost of a home security system varies depending on the company, the type of system and if it's DIY or professionally installed. There are also general costs associated, such as the equipment, installation or activation and ongoing monitoring fees.

The average equipment costs around $200 to $400. Customers can expect to pay up to $200 for installation and activation, although some companies offer this for free. As for monitoring, these fees are usually between $25 and $50 per month.

What causes false alarms on home security systems?

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The best home security system for an apartment is one that monitors the entryway and interior of the apartment. Often a DIY option is better for apartments, especially for renters, given that professional systems are more permanent additions. To these ends, apartment owners should look for systems with minimal equipment and portable security cameras.

If you're a renter, the best system for you may be one that is contract-free or offers short contracts that you can tailor your rent or lease agreement.

What is the best security system for an apartment?

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chevron-up

The best home security system for an apartment is one that monitors the entryway and interior of the apartment. Often a DIY option is better for apartments, especially for renters, given that professional systems are more permanent additions. To these ends, apartment owners should look for systems with minimal equipment and portable security cameras.

If you're a renter, the best system for you may be one that is contract-free or offers short contracts that you can tailor your rent or lease agreement.

How We Chose the Best Home Security Systems

We evaluated the best home security systems of 2023 using four factors:

  • Security features - We chose companies that offer a wide variety of security options from door sensors to video cameras and more. We also made sure to include a selection of professionally monitored and installed options, as well as systems that embrace a DIY approach.
  • Contracts and payment options - While most security companies require contracts, we looked for some no-contract options as well. Most of the companies that do require contracts offer at least a 30-day trial before commitment.
  • 24/7 Monitoring and assistance availability - With 24/7 monitoring, a security company can request help for you when you can’t. The companies included in this ranking all offer 24/7 monitoring and emergency assistance.
  • Company reputation - We weighed factors like the company’s user reviews, satisfaction ratings and the company’s reputation for providing responsive customer support.

Summary of Money’s Best Home Security Systems of 2023