Best Home Security Systems of 2021
Editor’s ChoiceRead full reviewProfessional installationOptional contract
Best ValueRead full reviewDIY installationNo contract
Most PopularRead full reviewDIY installationNo contract
Best Customer ServiceRead full reviewDIY installationNo contract
Best MonitoringRead full reviewDIY installation3-year contract
You have a lot of different home security systems to choose from, but our Editor’s Choice is the premium-grade, smart home-ready Vivint system. It’s pricey, but you get what you pay for. And you don’t have to install anything yourself.
For something cheaper and simpler, but still reliable, we recommend the DIY security system, SimpliSafe. It’s our choice for Best Value.
|Provider||Monitoring price||Base price||Installation type||Details|
|$36.99–$62.99/mo.||Equipment bundled with monitoring||Professional||View Plans|
|$3–$10/mo.||$199.99||DIY||View on Amazon|
|$30.99–$44.99/mo||Equipment is à la carte||DIY||View Plans|
Amazon.com List Prices (as of 6/10/21 9:54 PST) Full Disclaimer
Save some money on your new home security system with these deals
- SimpliSafe, our Best Value pick, is having a sale for 40% off with the purchase of any new system. Check out the sale.
- ADT SafeStreets is offering an ADT Monitored Smart Security System for as low as $1 per day, plus a $100 prepaid Visa gift card. This deal has multiple restrictions. Check out the details.
- Frontpoint is currently offering home security packages for as low as $10 per month, with 35% off additional products and a free doorbell camera. Check out the sale.
- Cove is having a sale for 50% off equipment plus a free indoor camera. Check out the sale.
- Abode is currently offering 10% off all accessories with a starter kit order. (Use code SUMMER10) Check out the sale.
Data effective as of 6/10/21. Offers subject to change
What to look for in a home security system
The best home security systems are easy to use, give you a range of smart home features and integrations, and don’t require a contract.
Features to look for in top-rated security system:
- A good balance of cost to features
- Professional monitoring option
- No contract required (or flexible contract timelines)
- The right installation for your needs (DIY or professional)
- Smart home integrations that work with your other devices
The most important question to ask with any home security system you’re considering is if it’s worth your money.
Some alarm companies require long contracts, have outdated equipment, and don’t work with smart home devices. You don’t have to settle for mediocrity when there are a zillion different systems on the market with better technology at a better price.
You get to choose the features that work for your home and family, like professional installation or DIY? Professional monitoring or self-monitoring? Multiple security cameras or none at all?
But no matter which features you go for, at the end of the day, you should feel like what you get out of the system is worth your hard-earned cash.
Want to read more?
Vivint: Editor’s choice
If you want a beautifully designed security system that works even better than it looks, then Vivint is for you. That is with the caveat that you’re also a homeowner, and you don’t mind paying for professional installation. Renters, look away, this one’s not your best option.
Why we chose Vivint
Everything Vivint does, it does well. Where other alarm companies offer a hodgepodge of third-party equipment, Vivint designs its own stuff. Where some options, like ADT, have good equipment but so-so cameras, Vivint’s cameras have some of the best features on the market, including video analytics and 4K image sensors (as well as more standard fare like motion detectors, two-way audio, and night vision).
Vivint also has professional installation, so you don’t have to break a sweat setting up your system. And it has full smart home support, so you can automate everything from your door locks to your bedside lamp.
If you want a security system that will protect your home and also make your neighbors say, “Wow, where’d you get that?” then Vivint’s got what you need.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Smart home support||Details|
|Smart Security||$29.99/mo.||No||View Plans|
|Smart Home||$39.99/mo.||Yes||View Plans|
|Smart Home Video||$44.99/mo.||Yes||View Plans|
SimpliSafe: Best value
SimpliSafe changed the way home security companies do things. It lets you order online instead of getting on the phone, it doesn’t do contracts, and it’s super affordable. We love that SimpliSafe makes it easy to set up a basic security system yourself without draining your savings in the process.
Why we chose SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe is perfect if you want a well-known brand that will protect your house but for way less money than you’d pay for the ADT’s of the world. Most people know the name “SimpliSafe” by now (potential burglars included), and it makes it cheap and easy to set up an alarm system in your house.
Plus, SimpliSafe is no slouch on the equipment front. You can find everything from window sensors to leak detectors to carbon monoxide sensors.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Mobile app control||Details|
ADT: Most popular
Everyone knows ADT. It’s been in business for over a century, and it’s available all across the US (and a few other countries as well. For any Canadians out there, it’s one of the most popular alarm systems in Canada.)
If what you want is the system with the most clout, then ADT delivers. Potential burglars will see the yard sign and skip your house faster than you can say, “break-in.” Not to mention, ADT uses professional installation so you don’t have to do the work yourself.
Why we chose ADT
Aside from its famous name, ADT also has a wide range of security equipment to protect your home. And the system requires professional installation, so you don’t have to worry about sticking sensors on your doors backward or something.
ADT also works with Z-Wave and supports a bunch of different smart home devices as well as some indoor and outdoor cameras. But you have to subscribe to the right monitoring plan to get support for stuff like that.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Connection type||Details|
|Complete Monitoring Bundle||$36.99/mo.||Landline||View Plans|
|Premium Bundle II + Cellguard||$44.99/mo.||Cellular||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier I Remote Access||$52.99/mo.||Cellular||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier II Video Security||$58.99/mo.||Cellular||View Plans|
|ADT Command Tier III Video Security + Home Automation||$62.99/mo.||Cellular||View Plans|
Frontpoint: Best customer service
Packages as low as $10 per month + a free doorbell camera with order
Frontpoint is currently offering packages as low as $10 per month, plus a free doorbell camera with your order, and 35% off additional products.
Sounds too good to resist? View the offer details now.
Frontpoint’s system works for just about everyone: big house or small house, renter or homeowner, technophile or aspiring Luddite. We like Frontpoint’s simple, secure equipment and its smart home features (especially the Yale smart door lock). Just expect to pay a bit more for the monitoring service.
Why we chose Frontpoint
Frontpoint is friendly. Its customers routinely leave glowing reviews,2,3 and our own experience with Frontpoint’s reps has always been that they’re helpful and easy to talk to.
If you’ve ever tried to call in to something like your internet service provider and had a horrible customer experience (*cough* Comcast *cough*), then you know how important it is to have good support when something goes awry. And Frontpoint is like the Tom Hanks of home security companies—just so nice, you know?
If you’re having trouble installing your doorbell camera or telling your door sensor from your flood sensor, Frontpoint has a bunch of support resources on its website. And you can even contact its reps through social media platforms like Twitter if that’s your jam.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Smart home support||Security camera support||Details|
Brinks (previously LiveWatch and MONI): Best monitoring
Brinks smart home security equipment comes with some pretty neat monitoring alerts.
Why we chose Brinks
False alarms can be a huge pain in the you-know-what. If you have enough false alarms that make their way to police dispatch, you might even have to pay a fine. That’s why most monitoring centers will try to call you before they get the cops involved when your alarm system goes off.
Brinks takes that a step farther, though, and can contact you through text message, phone, or email, depending on which one you prefer. If, like us, you avoid answering your phone as much as possible, then text messages might be a better way to reach you. Brinks can also notify other people on your contact list in case you don’t pick up.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Smart home support||Details|
|Smart Security||$39.00/mo.||Yes||View Plans|
Cove: Best for basics
Cove is like a slightly fancier version of SimpliSafe. Both systems cost exactly the same, but if you like the look of a touchscreen control panel, then Cove will give your style a bit of a boost.
We still recommend SimpliSafe overall because it has a wider range of equipment, and offers a doorbell camera. But Cove is a nice alternative for people who want something affordable yet sleek.
Why we chose Cove
Cove’s equipment doesn’t just look good, it’s also super easy to set up, and it’s backed by good customer support.
Cove has a full range of support articles and videos in case you get stuck while you’re setting things up, but we doubt you’ll need them.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Mobile app control||Details|
|Cove Basic||$14.99/mo.||No||View Plans|
|Cove Plus||$24.99/mo.||Yes||View Plans|
Abode: Best for smart homes
Abode is a DIYer’s dream. It has a bunch of smart home integrations that let you add in third-party devices, and it doesn’t charge you extra to self-monitor the system. Plus, Abode lets you do temporary professional monitoring for those times you’re out of town and can’t keep an eye on your system yourself.
Why we chose Abode
Abode is all about smart home stuff. At least, it’s all about third-party smart home stuff. Abode doesn’t make many of its own smart home devices. It would rather let you add your own.
That’s not to say Abode doesn’t make some unique things. For example, we love the Abode Iota, which combines your alarm system’s hub with a night vision indoor security camera. But as far as smart home stuff goes, Abode is a choose your own adventure game.
Abode is the only system on our list that works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and even Sonos. Plus, it supports both Z-Wave and Zigbee, as well as IFTTT. That’s what we call smart home centric.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Professional monitoring||Details|
Ring Alarm: Best budget buy
The Ring Alarm security system came out just two years ago, and it’s been making waves ever since for its radically affordable pricing plus smart home support. If you want the ultimate-affordable alarm system, then you’ll pay less for a Ring starter kit than you did for those new AirPod Pros you just lost.
Why we chose Ring Alarm
Equipment’s not the only thing that Ring Alarm sells on the cheap; it’s also professional monitoring. Normally, we’d expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $60+ per month for professional monitoring. Ring Alarm gives it to you for a cool $10 per month. That’s pretty much the lowest price possible.
We also love that Ring still has decent smart home support. Some other cheap security systems, like SimpliSafe and Cove, don’t work so well with smart home devices like lights and locks. Ring Alarm supports Z-Wave, so you can integrate your smart outlets with your overall security system.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Professional monitoring||Details|
|Basic||$3/mo.||No||View on Amazon|
|Plus||$10/mo.||Yes||View on Amazon|
Amazon.com List Prices (as of 2/26/21 13:21 PST)
Scout Alarm: Best RFID option
Scout has something we haven’t seen from any other security company: an RFID door panel. Never heard of RFID? You’re not alone.
It stands for Radio Frequency Identification, and, for this purpose, it basically means you can use little stickers or tags (with RFID functionality) to arm and disarm your security system instead of the traditional keypad.
If you hate digging for your phone or punching in a code every time you walk in or out the door, then Scout might be a good fit for you.
Why we chose Scout
Scout’s door panel is a unique feature, but that’s not all Scout has going for it. Scout also has good support for that smart home you’re working on. It’s one of only two systems on our list that supports both Z-Wave and Zigbee smart home protocols. (The other one is Abode.)
You’ll also save some money with Scout. Its equipment is super affordable, including its cameras. Scout’s doorbell camera costs only $99, which is cheap for a doorbell cam that still records in crisp 1080p HD.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Professional monitoring||Details|
|Always On||$9.99/mo.||No||View Plans|
|Always On+||$19.99/mo.||Yes||View Plans|
Link Interactive: Most flexible
Link Interactive is the king of choices. You can choose a contract or no contract, and if you do opt for a contract, then you can choose the length. Link Interactive also has more diverse equipment options than any other company we’ve seen, and it’s pretty affordable to boot.
If you need some super-specific sensor you can’t find anywhere else, then Link probably has it.
Why we chose Link Interactive
Link Interactive has flexible contract and equipment options, reasonable pricing, and super friendly customer service. It gives you a ton of different ways to protect your home, plus a bunch of smart home integrations so you can smartify your family’s lives.
If you need specific devices, like an outdoor sensor for a pool cover or a stovetop sensor so you can stop wondering if you’ve left the burner on, then Link Interactive has what you need. And if you buy some random Z-Wave smart home device on Amazon, Link’s customer service reps will even tell you how to install it.
|Plan||Monitoring price||Security camera support||Details|
Recap: What are the best home security systems?
- Vivint is like the BMW of home security systems. It’s professionally installed, it will look good in your house, and it supports a ton of smart home devices.
- SimpliSafe is the poster child for easy-to-order, super affordable security systems. Plus, installation is a cinch.
- ADT is super expensive for what you get, especially if you go for ADT Command. But, like Vivint, ADT comes professionally installed and its monitoring centers are super reliable.
- Frontpoint gets an A+ for its excellent customer experience. Its system is pretty good too—but with pricey monitoring plans.
- Brinks uses multiple channels to contact you in the event of an alarm, so you won’t miss the memo.
- Cove is a lot like SimpliSafe as far as pricing goes, but its equipment is a little fancier overall. But Cove’s camera options aren’t the best.
- Abode gives you unique equipment features plus flexible professional monitoring. Quite the powerhouse combo.
- Ring Alarm has the most affordable equipment and monitoring around. If you want a security system that will be easy on your wallet, this is the one for you.
- Scout Alarm is the only option on our list that offers RFID tags for arming and disarming your system. If you prefer to go the keypad-less route, Scout’s a good pick.
- Link Interactive has a huge array of devices available. (And we mean huge.) If you want a super customizable system, this one’s for you.
Want to compare security systems you can install yourself? Check out our Best DIY Security Systems review. And let us know about your alarm system of choice in the comments.
We research, test, and compare home security systems based on these five categories:
- Smart home integrations
- Security cameras
- Customer experience
To decide which home security system is the best, we looked for innovative technology, a wide range of smart home integrations, reliable security sensors, and professional monitoring. We looked for more than just basic contact sensors and a control panel; we wanted the full smart home plus security experience, with cost being a secondary factor to value.
How much does a home security system cost?
There are two parts to your home security system costs: equipment and monitoring.
Equipment includes things like your door and window sensors, motion sensors, control panel, etc. The cost totally depends on which provider you choose, but expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a basic package—$200 would be considered cheap for a starter pack of home security equipment. That said, it can run cheaper if you go with a company that runs a lot of deals on equipment (like Frontpoint).
If you can’t afford to pay for all of your equipment up front, that’s okay. Most alarm companies offer some kind of financing option where you can pay for your equipment over the course of your contract. Contract-free systems like Scout and Abode don’t always offer financing, but it’s becoming more common.
Should I choose a DIY or professionally installed security system?
There are benefits to both!
Choose DIY when you don’t want to pay an installation fee (which usually runs around $100, sometimes more). Also, consider DIY when you want to spend less money on equipment. DIY systems tend to cost less than professionally installed ones.
Choose professionally installed when you want to know for sure everything will be done right the first time around. If technology isn’t your favorite thing, it might be easier for you to just let the professionals handle it.
Professional installations also come with an in-home consultation where the technician will help you assess which parts of your home could be potential targets.
Should I choose a self-monitored or professionally monitored security system?
The best home security systems have professional monitoring. We know it’s an extra expense every month, but we almost always recommend it.
Who knows when your alarm system will go off and you won’t be paying attention to your phone. These things happen fast, so it’s better and easier to have someone watching your system 24/7—whether for a real burglar or just false alarms.
That said, some people just don’t want that monthly professional monitoring bill. If you really want to self-monitor, great. But if you’re just worried about the cost, we recommend looking into low-cost professional monitoring plans like SimpliSafe’s or Scout Alarm’s.
How much equipment do I need?
This totally depends on your house. If you have 15 doors and a million windows, then you’ll need more sensors and equipment than someone who lives in a studio apartment.
It also depends on how secure you want your house to be. You don’t have to cover every conceivable entrance to still be protected. And sometimes, motion sensors can do the job of several entry sensors.
When you think about how much equipment you’ll need, you should also think about which home automation devices you want and which disaster-prevention devices you’ll need (like smoke alarms, CO sensors, and flood sensors).
The best home security systems let you order your equipment à la carte, so you can choose exactly what you need and skip what you don’t.
What are disaster home security devices?
Disaster security devices include things like smoke alarms, carbon monoxide (CO) sensors, and flood sensors. Basically, anything that warns you if your house is in danger of an environmental issue, like fire or water damage.
Most security companies sell disaster home security devices, and smart versions of these devices can alert you on your phone when there’s something going on.
How to set up a home security system
If you choose a professionally installed system, then just sit back and let the experts get to work. If you choose a DIY system, then your equipment will arrive in a box along with instructions on how to set everything up.
DIY systems are usually easy to install. If you run into any questions, security companies offer support over the phone. Their representatives can help you put the system together.
How do I use a video doorbell?
Video doorbells are awesome! With doorbell cameras, like Ring video doorbells, you can see and talk to whoever’s on your porch without opening the door. Heck, you can do it even when you’re not home. Video doorbells help deter package thieves and let you see who’s coming and going.
As for how to use one, they work the same as most other security cameras and hook into your existing doorbell setup. Sometimes you don’t even have to hardwire them, depending on which model you choose.
Once it’s installed, you’ll get alerts whenever the camera’s motion sensors goes off, and you can see who’s at your door and talk to them through the camera mic.
Check out our Smart Video Doorbell Buyers Guide for more info.
Should I get a security camera package?
A security camera can be a nice extra burglar deterrent, but most people don’t really need them if they already have a security system.
If you don’t want to spring for an entire security camera package, then consider just getting a doorbell camera. Indoor cameras can also come in handy for keeping an eye on your kids and pets.
How do I build a smart home?
Smart homes are totally customizable, and you can build one however you want. But the standard feature is some kind of hub that all your other devices connect to. (With home security systems, it’s usually the control panel.)
Once you have your hub, you can add whatever you want, including smart locks, smart lights, smart wall outlets, and smart garage door openers. Most hubs also link with voice control units, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, then that’s even better.
Just make sure whatever devices you want to add on to your system will integrate with the stuff you already have. For example, if your hub supports only Z-Wave, then you’ll have to stick to Z-Wave devices. (And even then, it’s a good idea to check that they’re compatible.)
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