Best Home Security Systems of 2023

We’ve spent years installing, testing, and researching the top home security systems out there to help you find the right one for your family.

Editor's Choice
Vivint
Vivint Smart Home
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$29.99
/mo
  • pro
    Professional installation
  • pro
    Optional contract
  • bullet
    Free installation and activation deal
Best for Basics
Cove
Cove
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starting from
$17.99/mo
Best Value
SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
Starting from
$19.99
/mo
  • pro
    DIY installation
  • pro
    No contract
  • bullet
    45% off and free Indoor Camera
Most Popular
ADT Shield
ADT
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Starting from
28.99/mo
  • pro
    Longstanding reputation
  • pro
    Wide range of equipment
  • bullet
    Get a free Google Nest Doorbell
Maru Quevedo
Dec 11, 2023
bullet11 min read

We may earn money when you click our links.

You have a lot to choose from when it comes to home security systems in 2023. You can choose to tackle the installation yourself with a DIY setup, or if you don't want to handle it on your own, you can have your system professionally installed. After trying all the top security and alarm systems on the market, we identified our 10 favorites.

We recommend SimpliSafe’s DIY home security system. Its straightforward, reliable protection is our top choice in home alarm systems.

After that, we like the premium-grade, smart home-ready Vivint home security system. It’s pricier than some, but you get what you pay for. And you don’t have to install anything yourself.

This week's home security deals

SimpliSafe deal
SimpliSafe
pro Get 60% off any new system

Data effective as of 06/08/2023. Offers are subject to change.

Compare the best home security systems
Provider
Monitoring price
Base equipment price
Installation type
Details
SimpliSafe$19.99–$29.99/mo.

$159.22

DIY
Vivint$29.99–$44.99/mo.

$599.00

Professional
ADT Shield$28.99–$59.99/mo.Equipment bundled with monitoring Professional
Cove$17.99–$27.99/mo. $249.00 DIY
ADT Shield$24.99–$34.99/mo. $179.99 DIY
Ring$3.99–$20.00/mo. $199.99DIY
Frontpoint$24.99–$34.99/mo. $129.00 DIY
Scout$9.99–$19.99/mo. $229.00

DIY

link Interactive$30.99–$47.99/mo Equipment is à la carteDIY
Brinks$39.99–$49.99/mo. $199.00 Both

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 11/14/2023 2:00 MST) Full Disclaimer

What to look for in a home security system

Features to look for in top-rated home security system:

The best home security systems are easy to use, have fast response times, and give you a range of smart home features and integrations. It’s also important to research monthly fees and contract options.

  • A good balance of cost to features
  • Professional monitoring option
  • Mobile app features and cost
  • Contract terms that fit your lifestyle
  • The right installation for your needs (DIY or professional)
  • Smart home integration(s) that work with your other devices

The most important question to ask with any home alarm system you’re considering is how well it will protect your home, belongings, and loved ones. A close second is figuring out if it’s worth your money.

Things that can impact your overall cost:

  • Equipment costs: Most DIY home security systems require you to buy all of your equipment upfront, which can cost between $200 and $1,000 or more. The good news is you can choose the equipment that works best for you—multiple security cameras or none at all? Just the basics (base station, motion detector, window sensor) or the latest and greatest security and smart home innovations?
  • Fees: You may be charged fees for installation or activation. These fees can depend on the size of your system and whether or not you choose professional installation.
  • Long-term contracts: Some alarm companies require contracts that can last anywhere from 36 to 60 months. Most contracts come with steep termination fees (up to 100% of the remaining contract) if you cancel early. The plus is that contracts can mean no big upfront costs for equipment.
  • Professional monitoring: We recommend professional monitoring with every home security system. It’s a direct link to help when you need it, whether you’re home or on vacation. The average cost for pro monitoring, based on all the systems we’ve tested, is around $32 per month.
  • Mobile app features: Most home security and alarm systems have a mobile app that you can view a live stream, download recordings, and manage settings. Some home security companies require a subscription to use certain features so it's important to look at what you get with each plan, along with what the mobile app offers. 
  • Smart home control, mobile apps, and video monitoring: These features are usually upgrades that depend on the type of plan and equipment you want. The more perks you add to your system, the higher the monthly price may climb.

We recommend picking a system that offers professional monitoring, just in case you need it. While self-monitoring sounds doable in theory, most folks find they can’t be on alert 24/7 and would rather leave it to the professionals. So even if you plan to self-monitor, it’s good to choose a system with a professional option available.

We especially like home security companies that use enhanced resources and technology to deliver assistance as quickly as possible. Both Cove and SimpliSafe use RapidSOS, a data platform used by emergency response centers to help provide faster, more accurate help to people in need.

We also appreciate home alarm companies that let you opt in to short-term monitoring for vacations, like Abode.

If you prefer to save money by DIYing your home, look for security systems you can set up yourself. If the idea of figuring out installation makes you feel faint, look for systems with professional installation.

On top of pro installation by trained experts, full-service home security companies like ADT and Vivint include a complimentary security assessment of your home that includes identifying all security vulnerabilities and recommendations to maximize your home’s security.

If you’re all about that smart home life or think you might get into home automation in the future, know that not every system works with every piece of smart home equipment.

Some of the benefits of integrating your security system with smart home devices include:

  • Voice control of your system
  • Ability to check on and control locks, cameras, sensors, and more from anywhere
  • Energy efficiency and possible savings on utilities
  • Extra security to let in kids after school, dog walkers, house sitters, etc.

SimpliSafe: Best value

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
pro DIY installation
pro No contract
con Minimal home automation
Pro monitoring from
$19.99
/mo

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 without draining your savings. 

Copy of simplisafe-simplicam-side (1)

Source: Reviews.org

Why we chose SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe is perfect if you want a well-known brand that will protect your house for way less money than you’d pay for the ADTs of the world. (Learn more in SimpliSafe vs. ADT.)

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. A cheap security system doesn't have to mean cheap options. You can find everything from window sensors to leak detectors to carbon monoxide sensors.

To learn more, read How Much Does SimpliSafe Cost? and SimpliSafe Cameras Review.

SimpliSafe monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Professional monitoring
Details
Self-monitoring without camera recording
$0.00
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo
Self-monitoring with camera recording
$9.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo
Standard
$19.99
/mo
bulletNo
bulletYes
Interactive
$27.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Like a Vivint system, the SimpliSafe home security system comes with its own unique equipment. SimpliSafe is the OG DIY system, so everything is super easy to set up yourself. You'll find indoor and outdoor cams and a video doorbell.

While SimpliSafe isn’t great at home automation and smart home stuff, its cameras are effective and affordable, and it has a few special pieces, like its very own in-house smart lock. And if you're a fan of August smart locks, SimpliSafe systems are perfectly compatible. You'll be able to control your August smart lock from a SimpliSafe home security system keypad, mobile app, or key fob.

Vivint: Editor’s choice

Vivint has the best home security camera system
4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Professional installation
pro Optional contract
pro Featured-packed security cameras
con Limited third-party device integration
Pro monitoring from
$29.99
/mo

If you want a beautifully designed security system that works even better than it looks, then Vivint is for you. Vivint offers high-end smart home technology alongside some of the best cameras in the industry. 

Vivint sky control panel side view

Source: Reviews.org

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. If you want a security system that not only protects your home but also makes your neighbors go, "Wow, where did you get that?" then Vivint is the way to go.

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 home security 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.

To learn more, read How Much Does Vivint Cost?

Vivint monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Smart home support
Details
Smart Security
$29.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo
Smart Home
$39.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes
Smart Home Video
$44.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

The ol’ Vivint razzle-dazzle comes from the impressive equipment. Vivint not only makes most of its own stuff—it provides an advanced in-app smart home platform through Z-Wave technology. Everything connects to create an ultra-smart experience.

You can see some of Vivint’s best work in its cameras: the Vivint Indoor Camera, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, and the Vivint Doorbell Camera Pro. These cameras have some wicked smart theft-deterrent features, like anti-loitering and anti-package theft alarms. We talk more about them in our Vivint Cameras Review.

Cove: Best for basics

4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Affordable monitoring
pro Low equipment prices
pro Touchscreen control panel
con Limited equipment
Pro monitoring from
$17.99
/mo

Cove is like a slightly fancier version of SimpliSafe. Both systems cost 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 recommend SimpliSafe over Cove because it has a wider range of equipment. But Cove is a nice alternative for people who want something affordable yet sleek.

Why we chose Cove

If great customer service is a priority to you, Cove is notorious for customer care. The company includes some unique services like: 

  • Cove Equipment Rewards: Upgrade to the newest equipment for free
  • Rate-lock guarantee: If you are a Plus plan member, Cove locks in your monthly rate for life, so you will never have to worry about your rate increasing. 
  • Lifetime equipment warranty: You won't have to worry about your equipment going out on you with this warranty.
  • InstaText: Get notifications and respond to emergencies through text messages.

Cove also 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. If you do need additional assistance, the Cove touchscreen can walk you through installation with easy-to-follow steps and pictures.

Cove’s equipment doesn’t just look good. It's also super easy to set up and backed by good customer support.

Cove monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Smart home support
Details
Cove Basic
$17.99
/mo
bulletNo
bulletNo
Cove Plus
$27.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Right now, Cove offers about a dozen pieces of equipment, and four of them are cameras. While the equipment covers most home safety needs, like motion detection and water leak detection, the amount pales in comparison to most companies’ range.

The four cameras include an indoor camera, an outdoor camera, a Kami doorbell camera, and the good old Skybell doorbell.

If you would like to save video clips for an extended period of time, you should enroll in Cove Cloud+ at $2.99 a month.

ADT: Most popular

ADT Shield
ADT
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
pro Longstanding reputation
pro Wide range of equipment
pro Professional installation
Pro monitoring from
$28.99
/mo

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 used to be one of the most popular alarm systems in Canada. It's since become TELUS SmartHome Security.)

If you want 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 that ADT uses professional installation so you don’t have to do the work yourself.

ADT also offers a DIY system with lower costs, self-monitoring, and no contracts. Check out our ADT Self Setup review or read on to learn more. 

Back of ADT Pulse camera

Source: Reviews.org

Why we chose ADT

Aside from its famous name, ADT 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.

Check out How Much Is ADT? to learn more.

ADT monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Connection type
Details
Basic
$28.99
/mo
bulletNo
Landline
Secure
$45.99
/mo
bulletNo
Cellular
Smart
$49.99
/mo
bulletNo
Cellular
Video
$56.99
/mo
bulletYes
Cellular
Complete
$59.99
/mo
bulletYes
Cellular

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

ADT home security equipment isn’t the most original; it uses the same equipment as other big-name brands and small, local companies. When you pay for ADT, you’re really paying for the name value, not the latest and greatest pieces.

ADT doesn't have the best cameras for a massive, well-known home security company, but they get the job done. The main draw with ADT cameras is the 24/7 video recording that comes with all packages. ADT also allows its customers to customize any service plan with their desired equipment.

ADT Self Setup: Best for DIY

4 out of 5 stars
4
pro Reasonably priced
pro Great self-monitoring option
con Pricey cameras
Pro monitoring from
$24.99
/mo

ADT Self Setup - previously known as Blue by ADT - is a DIYer’s dream. It's definitely one to look at for users who like a cheap security system. It has a bunch of smart home integrations that let you add third-party devices. Plus, ADT Self Setup offers a free self-monitoring option and affordable professional monitoring if you don't want to monitor your system yourself.

Blue by ADT equipment

Source: Reviews.org

Why we chose ADT Self Setup

We like that ADT Self Setup doesn't have a contract, and you won't be hit with installation, moving, or cancellation fees. The system is simple and easy to install with the mobile app, and through the app, you can control your system remotely. If you still need additional support installing your system, the company has step-by-step instructions on its YouTube channel.

As far as home automation goes, ADT Self Setup is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Z-Wave Plus. Some other ADT Self Setup equipment is also compatible with HomeKit so you can connect a ADT Self Setup security system to almost anything.

ADT Self Setup monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Professional monitoring
Details
Self-monitoring Free
bulletYes
bulletNo

Standard

$24.99/mo.
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

ADT Self Setup offers proprietary equipment, and the pricing is pretty competitive. There are three different cameras to choose from. A wireless outdoor camera, an indoor camera, and a video doorbell. The company also offers door, window, flood, and motion sensors. 

As we mentioned, all ADT Self Setup equipment is DIY and pretty simple to install, making it a great choice if you're interested in saving some money on installation fees, but still getting the reputable ADT name.

Ring Alarm: Best budget buy

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
pro Super affordable pricing
pro Good smart home support
pro Cheap professional monitoring
con Privacy concerns
Pro monitoring from
$20.00
/mo

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.

Various Ring doorbell covers and doorbell

Source: Reviews.org

Why we chose Ring Alarm

Equipment’s not the only thing that Ring Alarm sells on the cheap; just look at the 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 with Ring Protect Plus. That’s pretty much the lowest price possible.

You can also self-monitor your system for free (although you won’t get all the features you’d get with a paid plan).

We also love that Ring still has decent smart home support. Some other cheap security and alarm 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.

The only thing we don’t like about Ring is the privacy concerns that have caused some users to turn to other systems.

Ring Alarm monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Professional monitoring
Details
Basic
$3.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo
Plus
$10.00
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo
Pro
$20.00
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 11/14/2023 2:00 MST)

Ring is one of the most popular DIY systems, and it’s super easy to install. And everything it sells is made by Ring, so you’ll never have a problem with integration.

Ring has a decent home security selection, but its true power is in the cameras you can add to your Ring Alarm security kit. Seriously—there are so. Many. Cameras. Whether you’re looking for a doorbell camera, floodlight camera, or something else, Ring’s got you covered.

Frontpoint: Best customer service

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
pro No contract
pro Responsive customer service
pro 25% off
con Expensive monitoring
Pro monitoring from
$24.99
/mo

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.

Side of Frontpoint indoor camera

Source: Reviews.org

Why we chose Frontpoint

Frontpoint is friendly. Its customers routinely leave glowing reviews, 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.

Frontpoint also has flexible monitoring options for your convenience and offers both a monthly and upfront plan.

Frontpoint monitoring plan
Plan
Monitoring price
Smart home support
Security camera support
Details
Lower Monthly
$24.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes
Lower Upfront
$34.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023 Offers subject to change.

Frontpoint home security equipment is an eclectic mix of unique and generic pieces. You can get some neat stuff you can’t find anywhere else, but you also might find yourself with the same items you get with an ADT home security system or another big brand. Just something to keep in mind before you pay big bucks for things you can get anywhere.

Frontpoint has several different cameras (we count four). Two of them, the premium indoor and outdoor cameras, are suspiciously similar to Vivint cameras. But hey, Vivint cameras are some of the best around, so we’ll take that as a good sign for Frontpoint’s camera vision.

Scout Alarm: Most convenient

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
pro RFID system control
pro Top-notch smart home support
pro Affordable cameras
con No outdoor camera
Pro monitoring from
$19.99
/mo

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.

 Scout has something we haven’t seen from any other security company: an RFID door panel. Never heard of RFID? You’re not alone. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, a technology that enables wireless data transmission through radio waves.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. 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.

Why we chose Scout Alarm

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.

Scout has something we haven’t seen from any other security company: an RFID door panel. Never heard of RFID? You’re not alone.

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. 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.

Scout Alarm monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Professional monitoring
Details
Always On
$9.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo
Always On+
$19.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Scout is no ADT Self Setup, but it’s the next best thing—it works with every major smart home player except Apple HomeKit. So if you dig the smart home scene, Scout’s a good friend to have.

Scout is also one of the few security companies with beautiful equipment. Whether you go with black-on-white or white-on-black, your security system will be downright stunning. If you have a signature aesthetic of elegance, you’ll want Scout equipment.

How about them cameras? Scout hasn’t broken in to the outdoor camera world yet, but it offers perfectly functional indoor and doorbell cameras.

Link Interactive: Most flexible

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
pro Excellent customer service
pro Wide range of equipment
pro Multiple contract options
con Expensive monitoring
Pro monitoring from
$30.99
/mo

Link Interactive is the king of choices. You can choose a contract or no contract—and if you 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 with 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.

Link Interactive monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Security camera support
Details
Standard
$30.99
/mo
bulletNo
bulletNo
Gold
$39.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletNo

Elite

$47.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Link Interactive doesn’t offer equipment packages, so you can pick and choose what you need. It offers some cool options we don’t see often, like garage tilt sensors or outdoor door and window sensors.

You can also get a whopping six different cameras with Link Interactive. Two of them are identical to Frontpoint cameras, and none are Link Interactive-specific—which means that if you love these cameras, you might be able to move them to another system later down the road.

Brinks Home: Best monitoring

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
pro DIY installation
pro Smart monitoring alerts
pro 30-day return window
con 3-year contract
Pro monitoring from
$39.00
/mo

Why we chose Brinks Home

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 when your alarm system goes off, most monitoring centers will try to call you before they get the cops involved. 

Brinks Home security takes that a step further, though. Its reps can contact you through text message, phone, or email, depending on which 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 Home can also notify other people on your contact list in case you don’t pick up.

Brinks Home monitoring plans
Plan
Monitoring price
Mobile app control
Smart home support
Details
Smart Security Essential
$39.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes
Smart Security Complete
$44.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes
Smart Security Ultimate
$49.99
/mo
bulletYes
bulletYes

Data effective as of 11/14/2023. Offers subject to change.

Brinks Home isn’t known for its innovative equipment, and it’s not the smartest system out there, but it allows you to connect up to 119 smart devices to your system. That’s way more than most homes ever need.

The Brinks Home alarm system also offers both DIY and professional installation. You get to choose what works for you.

And while its cameras don’t make us jump for joy, Brinks Home has three okay-ish options. The best one is a SkyBell doorbell camera that Frontpoint also sells.

Recap: What are the best home security systems?

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.

  • SimpliSafe is the poster child for easy-to-order, super affordable security systems. Plus, installation is a cinch.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ADT Self Setup gives you unique equipment features plus affordable professional monitoring. Quite the powerhouse combo.
  • Ring Alarm has the most affordable equipment and monitoring around. This is the one for you if you want a security system that will be easy on your wallet.
  • Frontpoint gets an A+ for its excellent customer experience. Its system is pretty good too—but with pricey monitoring plans.
  • Scout Alarm is the only option on our list that offers RFID tags for arming and disarming your system. If you prefer 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.
  • Brinks Home uses multiple channels to contact you in the event of an alarm so you won’t miss the memo.

Methodology

How we chose the best home security systems

We research, test, and compare home security systems based on these six categories:

  1. Price: Cost is a big deal when it comes to choosing a home security system, so we analyze price and value. That means looking at the quality of equipment, the cool features they offer, and the services that come with each system. Our goal is to help you find systems that strike that sweet spot between being affordable and super effective.
  2. Equipment: We look closely at the quality, reliability, and functionality of home security provider equipment. We assess a wide range of components, including control panels, sensors, detectors, alarms, keypads, and more. 
  3. Mobile app: In today's connected world, a user-friendly and feature-rich mobile app is crucial for seamless home security management. We assess security apps through factors such as ease of use, intuitiveness, available features, and compatibility with multiple platforms.
  4. Smart home integrations: Smart home capabilities become more important all the time, so we look at each service's smart home capabilities. We check if the home security systems work well with popular smart home devices like voice assistants, smart locks, thermostats, and lighting systems. We want to help you create a smart home where everything fits together smoothly.
  5. Security cameras: Security cameras play a critical role in deterring and capturing potential threats to your home. We evaluate security cameras by different systems, looking at things like video quality, how much the camera can see (its field of view), whether it can see well in the dark (night vision), how well it detects movement, if it offers cloud storage for your videos, and if it works smoothly with mobile apps.
  6. Customer experience: We look at  how helpful the customer support is, how easy the system is to set up, and how generous the contract terms are. Our goal is to help you find a system that not only keeps you safe but also gives you a smooth and satisfying experience. 

To pick the best home security systems for homes and apartments, 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 value trumping cost.

We’ve performed hands-on testing with several home security companies (Vivint, SimpliSafe, ADT, ADT Self Setup, and Ring), and we’re testing new systems all the time to gain new insights.

Home security systems FAQ

An alarm system typically costs at least a few hundred dollars, and monitoring can cost anywhere from a few dollars a month to close to a hundred.

There are two parts to how much your home security system will cost: equipment and monitoring. With both parts, a home security system can average anywhere between $50–$1600.

Equipment includes things like your door and window sensors, motion sensors, control panel, etc. How much it will cost 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 throughout your contract. Contract-free systems like Scout and ADT Self Setup don’t always offer financing, but it’s becoming more common.

For more in-depth information about the functions and how much you'll pay for different home security equipment, check out our motion sensor guide, motion sensor light guide, and video doorbell guide.

Also, here's our guide to picking a cheap security system.

Every home security company offers a wide variety of equipment with unique features. Here are a few of the most popular features to look for when considering a home security system: 

  • Home automation: If you want to build a smart home or customize your home security system, home automation options can help you integrate other smart home devices such as a smart thermostat, plugs, and smart lights. 
  • Mobile App: Some systems come with a panel or a main hub that you can adjust your security system settings from. Other systems offer a convenient mobile app so you can control your home security system directly from your phone.
  • Power outage backup: If there is a power outage, you want to make sure that your home security system can still function normally. Cellular and battery backup is good to keep in mind in case of an outage.
  • Video storage: Video storage and the cost to store your video will depend on the company you use and how much storage you want. There are two main storage options to consider: Cloud storage and local storage. 
  • Professional monitoring or self-monitoring: You might want to hand off the stress off monitoring your home with professional monitoring. Professional monitoring  can also notify the police or dispatch emergency services when needed. But these services cost extra. If you don't want to pay for monitoring, you can choose to self-monitor your system.
  • Voice assistant integration: If you want to say, "Hey Alexa, lock the front door," or control your room temperature, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa integrations are important to consider when selecting a home security system.

In 1874, American District Telegraph created a telegraph-based home alert system, which became the basis for the long-running ADT home security.

In 1966, Marie Van Brittan Brown and her husband Albert created the precursor to the modern home security system.

You can pick either. 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. DIY installation requires you to do everything yourself, and not everyone’s okay with that. 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.

We suggest professional monitoring if you can afford it.

The best home security systems have professional monitoring. We know it’s an extra monthly expense, 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.

Also, if you self-monitor, ensure your system has battery and cellular backup. You don’t want it to lose power or communication while you’re sleeping or have your phone off. With only your eyes on the system, you’ll be vulnerable.

A wired security camera requires a wired connection to your internet network and a power source, while a wireless home security system connects wirelessly to your internet network but still requires a power cord. A wire-free camera runs off a battery and doesn't use any wires at all.

Wired and wireless home security systems each serve different needs, but either can be a good choice depending on what you're looking for.

Yes, you can! DIY systems offer customization and affordability, which is great for renters. Our top recommendation for renters is SimpliSafe. You won't have to sign a contract, installation is easy, and you can pick and choose which devices work for you without having to commit to an expensive alarm package.

Maru Quevedo
Written by
Maru Quevedo

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