Once upon a time, home security systems were rare but that’s no longer the case. As prices have become more affordable, notably because of Do-it-yourself (DIY) systems, they’ve become increasingly attractive to a rapidly growing audience.
What’s Trending in Home Security
These days the news in home security systems is all about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Smart Home technology. All of the home security providers have some degree of smart home compatibility, but some integrate better than others. This means that systems can function in conjunction with smart thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide monitors, video doorbells and much more. Using AI, systems are also getting better at minimizing false alarms.
DIY Home Security Systems
The main reason that DIY home security systems have eclipsed the traditionally favored professionally installed system is price. At their most basic level, DIY systems can be purchased for as little as $99.00. Don’t get too excited about that though because the capabilities and quantities of sensors are very limited. Fortunately, providers tend to offer all sorts of add-ons that allow consumers to create a system that is tailored to their exacting requirements.
DIY systems are also far easier to install than ever with many even offering voice prompts to guide you through setup. Since these systems are 100% wireless, there’s no behind-the-wall wiring that was once a hallmark of home security setups. For those who find even this level of installation intimidating, some manufactures offer professional installation, of course, at additional cost. The following are some of our favorite DIY systems. Rankings are based primarily on the extensive testing by our expert colleagues at Tom’s Guide and TechRadar.
The two behemoths in the DIY space are SimpliSafe and Ring. Both are excellent systems so it’s worth considering the offerings of each before making a purchase decision. This allows you to get the best system for your specific needs.
SimpliSafe edged out Ring by a small margin in testing. It offers a wide array of sensors that you can add individually as your situation requires. You must, however, start with one of several starter kits because that’s the only way that you can get the Base Station which is essential to system functionality. Package prices start at $244.96 for the most basic Essentials package and go up to $504.86 for the Haven package. You can opt for self-monitoring which has no associated cost or choose from three levels of monitored service which range in price from $9.99 to $27.99 monthly for the excellent Interactive Monitoring plan. SimpliSafe is compatible with your smart home set up via either Alexa or Google Assistant.
Ring checks in with two levels of security. Ring’s Alarm Security Kits start at $199.99 with the more comprehensive 14-piece kit selling for $329.99. The 14-piece Alarm Pro kit is available for $399.99 and includes the eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh router and a range extender. With this setup, Ring boasts that it can monitor up to a 3,000 square foot house. The Plus monitor service costs $10 monthly or $100 for a year. Pro monitoring is exactly double the price for both monthly and annual service. Smart home compatibility includes Smart Home Compatibility: Alexa, Ring, and Z-Wave.
Other top performers among DIY home security systems include Abode and Blue by ADT. Blues packages include a very basic Starter System for $219.99 up to the more extensive Premium System which runs $419.99. You can choose self-monitoring or opt for ADT’s 24/7 professional monitoring for $19.99 per month. Blue by ADT is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT. A key feature that sets Abode apart from most other systems is that it is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit so that’s important if you operate in the Apple ecosystem. Abode system prices range from $199 for the most basic kit to $700 for the most comprehensive package. Their 24/7 monitoring service is $20 per month or $200 annually.
Professionally Installed Home Security Systems
Two names top the list in professionally installed home security systems: ADT and Vivint Smart Home. Though there are other high-quality options, like systems from Frontpoint and Brinks, ADT and Vivint are the two that perennially duke it out for the top spot in reviews. Systems from both providers offer great hardware and effective professional monitoring. On the downside, they’re expensive. Further, they don’t make it easy to figure out how much they’ll actually cost because every little option is an additional charge. For anything more than an estimate, they make you contact their sales folks.
ADT has three service levels. Like Vivint, you pay for installation, hardware, and monitoring. In general, a 3-year monitoring contract is required but if you choose to finance it all, the contract is extended to five years. The very basic Secure Home package costs $599 for hardware or $9.98 monthly plus monitoring which starts at $45.99 per month. So, the total monthly payment is $55.97. The Smart Home package starts at $919 or $15.32 monthly plus $49.99 for monitoring. The top tier Video & Smart Home Package starts at $1,049 for hardware or $15.32 per month plus $57.99 per month for monitoring, a total of $73.31. ADT is compatible with Alexa plus some other individual device apps.
Vivint’s pricing plans are similar to those of ADT. A 36-month contract is the norm, but it can increase to 48 to 60 months depending on what you finance. As tight-lipped as ADT is about pricing, Vivint is even worse so talking to one of their sales folks is essential. They offer three monitoring packages with the Starter package cost starting at $599. The Premium and Premium Plus packages are more but totals depend on which hardware items you buy. Of note is the fact that components such as doorbells and cameras tend to cost more than with other providers. Monitoring starts at $39.99 monthly but goes up depending on the hardware you buy. Vivint is compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant and Z-Wave.