5 Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2021

Want to skip the installers and take a hands-on approach to home security? These are the best DIY systems.
  • Best Value
    4.5 out of 5 overall
    Starter kit costs $229
    Monitoring from $14.99/mo.
  • Editor’s Choice
    4.5 out of 5 overall
    Starter kit costs $229
    Monitoring from $20/mo.
  • Best Customer Service
    4 out of 5 overall
    Starter kit costs $319.95
    Monitoring from $44.99/mo.
  • Best for Basics
    3.5 out of 5 overall
    Starter kit costs $229
    Monitoring from $19.99/mo.

DIY home security systems are cheaper than professionally installed ones, and installing it yourself is pretty easy. Our favorite DIY system is SimpliSafe for its affordable pricing and well-known name. But if you want to self-monitor your system, or make it part of a full-fledged smart home, Abode might be a better choice for you.

Compare the best DIY home security systems
ProviderMonitoring priceSelf-monitoring optionSmart speaker integrationsDetails
SimpliSafe logo$14.99–$24.99/mo.NoAmazon Alexa and Google Assistant View Plans
Abode logo$0.00–$20.00/moYesAmazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Sonos, and Bose View Plans
Frontpoint logo$44.99–$49.99/mo.NoAmazon Alexa and Google Assistant View Plans
Cove logo$14.99–$24.99/mo.NoAmazon Alexa and Google Assistant View Plans
Scout logo$9.99–19.99/mo.YesAmazon Alexa and Google Assistant View Plans

What to look for in a DIY home security system

Look for a DIY home security system from an established company. These days every tech company in the world seems to be pumping out DIY security equipment, but that doesn’t mean it’s good or reliable. Newbie systems have a bad habit of being discontinued a year or two after you buy them.

If you know the brand name, that’s usually a good sign. You also want a system that’s not going to break the bank. There’s no need to spend an arm and a leg on a DIY alarm system when there are so many affordable options on the market.

As for the system itself, we’re big fans of professional monitoring, but there are systems that offer self-monitoring as well.

Features to look for in a DIY security system:

  • DIY installation (in case that wasn’t obvious)
  • Professional monitoring option (self-monitoring is a bonus)
  • Reputable brand name
  • Online ordering
  • Smart home integrations (Does it work with Alexa?)

Want to read more?

SimpliSafe: Best value

Small SimpliSafe logo
  • Well-known name
  • Customizable equipment packages
  • Limited camera selection
Monitoring from $14.99/mo.

If you’ve ever listened to a podcast or even just the radio, then you’ve probably heard ads for SimpliSafe. But the hype’s not for nothing—SimpliSafe is a solid little security system, and it really does come at a super affordable price.

SimpliSafe makes security super accessible for people who don’t want to pay a bunch of money to secure their stuff. Everything from window sensors to motion detectors are pretty affordable through SimpliSafe, and its monitoring prices won’t break the bank.

Installation-wise, SimpliSafe is simple (get it?) to set up. You just plug in the base station and use the keypad. All the sensors come with adhesive strips, so it just takes a second to put them up where you want them.

SimpliSafe monitoring plans
PlanMonitoring priceMobile app controlDetails
Standard$14.99/mo. NoView Plans
Interactive$24.99/mo.YesView Plans

Abode: Editor’s choice

Abode logo
  • More smart home integrations than anyone else
  • Self-monitoring is free
  • Mediocre camera models
Monitoring from $20.00/mo.

Abode is big on flexibility. It gives you a bunch of smart home integrations (including Apple HomeKit), multiple ways to monitor your system, and multiple ways to use professional monitoring if you want it.

Let’s say you self-monitor your own security system. You just keep an eye on your smartphone and if something happens, you take care of it yourself.

Well, that works great until you go out of town. Who’s watching your system while you’re sipping Mai Tais on a beach?

Abode is the only company we’ve seen that lets you get professional monitoring for just a few days at a time. Even if you want to self-monitor your system the rest of the time, Abode lets you get 3 or 7 days’ worth of monitoring for a pretty low price.

Abode monitoring plans
PlanMonitoring priceMonitoring typeDetails
Basic$0.00/mo.SelfView Plans
Standard$6.00/mo.SelfView Plans
Pro$20.00/mo.ProfessionalView Plans

Frontpoint: Best customer service

Frontpoint logo
  • Wide range of equipment
  • Touchscreen control panel
  • Pricey monitoring plans
Monitoring from $44.99/mo.

Frontpoint takes a hybrid approach to home security. It has an easy-to-use system you can install yourself, plus it offers tons of different sensor and security camera options and decent support for smart home devices. But on the flip side, its monitoring prices are the highest on this list.

Even so, if you want a reliable DIY security system backed up by great customer support, Frontpoint’s the way to go. Especially because it always comes out on top with great customer service scores1 and top-notch reviews from customers.2 And our experience with the Frontpoint team has been consistently positive.

Frontpoint monitoring plans
PlanMonitoring priceSecurity camera supportDetails
Interactive$44.99/mo.NoView Plans
Ultimate$49.99/mo.YesView Plans

Cove: Best for basics

Cove logo
  • Prices comparable to SimpliSafe
  • Touchscreen control panel
  • No smart home devices
Monitoring from $14.99

Cove gives you top-notch security sensors and equipment for impressively low prices. It’s like a comfy middle ground between a fancy, big-name company like Vivint and a super affordable DIY company like Ring.

We also really like Cove’s equipment. Your system comes pre-configured, so everything is already partially set up for you when you get the box, and installation goes quickly.

All you have to do is connect your system to the monitoring station (which is super quick and easy to do through the control panel) and place your sensors where you want them.

Light Bulb icon
No phone calls required
We like that Cove doesn’t make you call anyone during the installation process. Its monitoring center can confirm your system is good to go through the control panel itself. Cove will even email you a customized certificate for your home insurance company that you can just forward on and rake in any available discounts.
Cove monitoring plans
PlanMonitoring priceMobile app controlDetails
Cove Basic$14.99/mo.NoView Plans
Cove Plus$24.99/mo. YesView Plans

Scout: Best RFID option

Scout logo
  • Uses RFID tags instead of a keypad
  • Self-monitoring option
  • Works w/ Z-Wave and Zigbee
Monitoring from $14.99

Scout is a home automation rock star. It gives you both Z-Wave and Zigbee support, so you can add on a Z-Wave smart lock, a Zigbee smart outlet, and whatever else you need to smartify your house.

As for how you control your system, it’s only recently that Scout added an actual keypad to its line-up. For the most part, you use little RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags to turn your system on and off without having to fish your phone out of your pocket.

Scout also offers RFID stickers you can put on just about anything and use it to control your alarm system.

Scout monitoring plans
PlanMonitoring priceMonitoring typeDetails
Always On$9.99/mo.SelfView Plans
Always On+$19.99/mo.ProfessionalView Plans

Recap: Best security systems for apartments and renters

SimpliSafe has affordable equipment, affordable monitoring, and super easy setup. Just know that you can’t get smartphone control without paying for SimpliSafe’s higher-priced plan.

Abode is all about options. It supports multiple smart home protocols, it lets you choose between self-monitoring and professional monitoring, and it lets you opt for temporary professional monitoring if you just need it for a few days while you’re out of town. Not a bad deal.

Frontpoint has solid, affordable equipment and even better customer service. Its DIY system is easy to install and you get lots of home automation options. Just know that you’ll pay more for monitoring than you would with some other companies.

Cove has a touchscreen panel and a simple setup process. Just know that you won’t have many smart home device options.

Scout is the other security system that uses both Z-Wave and Zigbee smart home protocols. Plus, its RFID tags give you more ways to control your security system.

Want to see other options for DIY or professionally installed security systems? Read our Best Home Security Systems review.

Methodology

We compare all of the home security systems we test and rank on five different factors:

  1. Price
  2. Equipment
  3. Smart home integrations
  4. Security cameras
  5. Customer experience

To find the best DIY home security systems, we tested the top options on the market and discussed system features, details, and inner workings with the security companies directly.

FAQ

How much does a DIY security system cost?

DIY home security systems can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand, depending on which company you go with and how much equipment you need. Plus, you might have an extra monthly cost for professional monitoring—anywhere from $10 per month to $50 per month.

But even if you let the professionals do the monitoring, DIY home security is almost always cheaper than the professionally installed kind. Plus you get to skip the installation fees, and you almost never have to sign a contract.

How do I install a DIY home security system?

Every security system works a little differently, but installation always has the same basic steps.

First, you set up the control panel (or central hub) and connect it to your Wi-Fi network and the company’s monitoring station. After that, you test each sensor and make sure it’s connected to the hub (usually by pressing a little button on the side).

Once you have everything connected, you can put your sensors and devices wherever you need them. Things like door and window sensors and motion detectors come with adhesive strips, so you can stick them just about anywhere.

Most DIY security systems also offer a mobile app that you can use to control your system and change the settings.

Which is better, professionally installed or DIY security systems?

DIY and professionally installed security systems are both great and perfectly capable of protecting your home. The main differences are cost and expertise.

Professionally installed systems, like Vivint and ADT, are more expensive than DIY systems, and you have to pay an extra installation fee to get everything set up. You also usually have to sign a 3- or 5-year contract, and you’ll pay a penalty fee if you break it.

That said, professionally installed systems do all the work for you, so you don’t have to figure out which sensors to put where or how to set everything up. Professional installation technicians are also trained to assess your home’s security vulnerabilities, so they can recommend which areas are most important to protect.

Keep in mind though that installation technicians are rewarded for upselling you on extra equipment, so you might end up with more than you need (and have to pay a higher price for it).

Sources

1. Better Business Bureau, “Frontpoint Security Solutions, LLC” Accessed December 23, 2020.

2. Trustpilot, “Frontpoint” Accessed December 23, 2020.