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Anxiety is one of the biggest contributors to insomnia. Anxiety and stress can stem from many areas in our lives, but if you don’t feel secure in your own home, you’re going to have trouble sleeping at night.
A home security system can do much to ease your fears, arming your home and deterring intruders. 60% of convicted burglars said the mere presence of an alarm system was enough to make them avoid a home. If an intrepid burglar still goes through with entering your home, having a home security system makes them much more likely to get caught. An alarm will sound, lights may flash, and they’ll be caught on tape. Most importantly, you will be alerted to the danger.
Today’s home security systems come with a variety of payment and equipment options. Some require long-term contracts with 24/7 professional monitoring, while others let you pay on a month-to-month basis and choose between professional or DIY monitoring. You can outfit your home with motion sensors, entry sensors, cameras, and more.
Depending on the provider you go with and the plan you choose, it can cost anywhere between $250 to $1,500 to get your home security system up and running. If you opt in to some form of monitoring, whether it’s 24/7 professional monitoring or simply remote access on your phone, there will be a $15 to $60 subscription fee on top of that. Fortunately, many of these costs are offset by the 10% to 20% discount you’ll receive on your home insurance premium for having a security system installed!
To help you find the best home security system, we’ve reviewed the top professional and DIY options out there. Check out our reviews and read our buyer’s guide to make the right decision for your home.
SimpliSafe is the best DIY security system around. The company offers flexible payment options, and there are no long-term contracts. Each plan includes the standard security equipment, and you can scale your system with additional upgrades, like sensors for smoke detection, carbon monoxide gas, and floods.
Our favorite is The Essentials kit. It’s their most popular, and for good reason: it’s a great starter kit for most homes. There are three entry sensors, for your front door, back door, and anywhere else. You can place the motion sensor in your most-trafficked hallway. SimpliSafe’s motion detection technology is fine-tuned to humans’ “unique heat signature,” so you don’t have to worry about your pets setting off a false alarm. Since the keypad is wireless, you can place it right near your front door without having to worry about finding an outlet. If someone breaks in, the Base Station sets off a 95 decibel alarm.
The Essentials does not include a security camera by default (although SimpliSafe often runs promotions where you can get one included for free). If there’s no promotion running, you can always add one onto your plan.
From the SimpliSafe mobile app, you can check the status of your system anytime and watch live footage if you set up a camera. Professional 24/7 monitoring is available for $14.99/month, with no long-term contracts. If someone breaks in, the monitoring center will be notified immediately to call the police. Even if you don’t opt for the professional monitoring, every plan includes a SimpliSafe yard sign that clearly designates your home as a secured one.
The SimpliSafe home security system features a stylish mod design, with small and inconspicuous motion sensors. Beyond its good looks, though, SimpliSafe has thought up multiple security measures to keep your home safe. It uses WiFi and cellular technology, so the system’s always on. Even if the keypad gets damaged, the motion or entry sensors will still alert you or any of their six monitoring centers. If the power ever goes out, a battery backup keeps your system running for 24 hours.
SimpliSafe was designed to be an easy DIY home security system you can install in minutes, although professional installation is available for $79. If you find you don’t like SimpliSafe, you can return it risk free under their 60-day guarantee.
Optional monthly fees for 24/7 professional monitoring and/or remote access
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
No long-term contracts
30-day return policy
If you want all-out security for your home, you won’t find a better security system than Vivint Smart Home. Their system includes motion sensors, security cameras, video doorbells, smart locks, smoke and fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, flood sensors, and more. Call Vivint and they’ll customize a security package for you.
Vivint Smart Home Security stands out for their integration with an impressive range of smart home devices, making it a good fit for smart home owners. The system comes with Kwikset smart locks included. The environmental sensors can connect to your Nest smart thermostat, and the system can integrate with your Philips Hue smart lights to flash on and off during an emergency. It’s also compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Home, so you can use your favorite voice assistant to arm and disarm your system.
You can also monitor things remotely using the Vivint smartphone app. The app serves as command central for your home security system. In there, you’ll receive specific notifications for any aspect of your home that may be at risk, such as your kids arriving home from school, the dog-sitter approaching the video doorbell, or suspicious activity near your back window.
The Vivint Smart Home Security system is best for people who want top-of-the-line security, without any of the hassle. During a call with their security experts, they’ll interview you to understand your concerns and security needs, before arranging a plan for you. Then, their professional installation experts will set everything up for you and show you how to use the app. The system is powerful, but very easy to learn.
Pricing is not available online for Vivint, but it tends to run on the expensive end due to their extensive monitoring and equipment options. The payment options are somewhat restricted, too. You can opt to forego professional monitoring, but you’ll need to pay for the hardware upfront. You’ll also have to pay a monthly fee to enjoy 24/7 professional monitoring and access your system remotely through the app.
Vivint allows returns within 30 days from the date of purchase.
Required monthly fee for 24/7 professional monitoring
Compatible with Amazon Alexa
1- or 3-year contracts
30-day risk-free trial
Frontpoint has one of the best customer service reputations in the home security business. This is important, as you’ll need to call them to build your system and get a quote. They’re known for being responsive, helpful, and low-pressure. Plus, they offer a price-lock guarantee, a lifetime warranty, and a 30-day risk-free trial.
Like SimpliSafe, the Frontpoint base station uses both WiFi and cellular technology, and flips between the two if one goes down. The keypad uses AA batteries, allowing you to place it wherever you want without having to worry about wiring, and still submits a signal if it’s been smashed. This is a fully wireless system with a 24-hour battery backup, so it keeps working during power outages.
Frontpoint offers multiple motion sensors for windows, doors, glass breaks, and garage doors. You can select from indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras. You can add on environmental sensors for smoke, carbon monoxide, and flooding. You can also order a panic pendant for your system, which can take the place of a medical alert device for a senior loved one.
The Frontpoint system is also smart-home-friendly. You can customize your system to include smart locks, motion-triggered lights, and garage door controllers. You can set up routines and schedules using Amazon Alexa. The smartphone app uses artificial intelligence to learn your daily habits, suggesting schedules and reducing the instance of false alarms.
Frontpoint offers easy DIY installation with the coverage of 24/7 professional monitoring. There is no option for DIY monitoring. All of Frontpoint’s plans require you to pay for professional monitoring, which includes environmental and medical alert monitoring for free.
Frontpoint is best for those who want an all-inclusive home security system that comes with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and medical alert pendants, preventing them from having to purchase separate devices from another provider.
ADT is the most recognizable name in home security. The brand’s been around for over a century, and still remains the most popular security company due to its wealth of plan options, equipment choices, and technological improvement. The company operates multiple monitoring centers throughout the country, so you never have to worry about a slow response time.
Most modern security systems, including the ones on our list, are wireless out of the gate. ADT offers both wired and wireless systems, and cellular and landline connections. ADT is a great choice for homeowners who want to custom-select the look and functionality for each piece of their security equipment. There are multiple keypads, entry sensors, motion detectors, cameras, environmental sensors, and panic buttons to choose from. Although, the panic button is designed to let homeowners arm and disarm their system using a key fob, rather than to replace a true medical alert device.
With an ADT Pulse subscription, you can control everything remotely on your smartphone, including smart home devices like lights, locks, and garage doors. Integrations include Z-Wave powered devices, Amazon Alexa, Kwikset smart locks, and more. You can view live camera footage through the app and set up custom alerts for any of your devices. You can also upgrade to a video monitoring plan, allowing you to record and save footage without having to purchase standalone security cameras.
ADT is notable for its $500 theft protection. If your home is broken into while you have ADT installed, the company will pay you $500.
However, ADT does require you to sign a long-term contract for 3 years. There’s also no option to relocate your system, so this isn’t a good option for renters. As ADT operates local franchises throughout the country, your customer service can vary depending on where you live.
Free remote access, with professional monitoring available
Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
No long-term contracts
14-day return policy
The Abode Smart Security Kit may be our budget pick, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on security. The Abode Smart Security Kit includes a base station, motion sensor, mini door and window sensor, and key fob. If you’d like to expand your system, you can purchase any of Abode’s home security accessories, including different entry sensors, cameras, sirens, environmental sensors, and more.
It’s one of the more affordable options, because Abode is unique for offering remote self-monitoring completely for free. That means you can pay the one-time cost for the equipment, and monitor your home security using the iOS, Android, or web app on your own moving forward. You can also purchase 3- or 7-day plans for a very affordable $8 or $15, perfect for wherever you go on vacation.
The free plan works with IFTTT and up to 155 smart home devices. It also includes up to 3 days of activity and media storage. The Abode security system supports a large number of smart home brands, including Philips Hue and Lifx smart lights, Yale and Kwikset smart locks, Zigbee and Z-Wave technologies, and Nest.
For 24/7 professional monitoring and longer storage limits, you can upgrade to the Secure plan for $30 monthly. Or, you can save over 30% with an annual subscription.
The Abode motion sensors are bulkier and larger than most brands, which can be an issue for more aesthetically-minded homeowners. The battery backup for the base station only lasts for 12 hours, which is shorter than the other systems on our list. There’s also currently no professional installation option available, although the company plans to offer one soon.
Abode offers free shipping and a 14-day return policy.
Before you start evaluating the features of a home security system, you have a few choices to make about the type of system you want. You’ll need to decide what kind of installation and system you want, how much monitoring you need, and whether you want your system to work with other smart home devices.
DIY vs. Professional Installation
When it comes to installing your home security system, you have two options. Brands may require you to pay for one of their professionals to install it, or you can do it yourself.
The benefit of paying for professional installation is the home security expert will chat with you about your needs, and then optimize your installation to address those specific concerns. They’ll also walk you through using the system. Professional installation also saves you the hassle of figuring out how to do it yourself. However, you’ll also have to schedule an appointment and be present while they do it, while a DIY installation allows you to install the system at your convenience.
DIY home security systems are usually designed to be intuitive, requiring few tools. However, professional systems that offer DIY as an option may be more difficult, as they weren’t originally designed to be installed by the average homeowner. These may require you to adjust your existing wiring or use special tools, and unless you’re very confident of your handiness, you’re likely better off letting the professional do it for you.
DIY systems are better for renters, as landlords may prohibit drilling holes into your ceilings or walls or messing with the writing. DIY systems are also usually easy enough to uninstall and take with you to a new location.
Wired vs. Wireless Home Security Systems
The wired (or not) status of a home security system refers to how the system connects with your company’s monitoring operators. A wired system uses your landline, which makes it easier for burglars to cut the line or unplug it, preventing the monitoring station from alerting authorities on your behalf.
Wireless systems use cellular and WiFi technology, and are considered safer because they can’t be cut in this way. All of the options in our list include wireless systems.
Professional vs. Self Monitoring Services
Home security systems typically have one of two monitoring options, and sometimes both: self or professional.
Self monitoring means that when an alarm goes off, it’s up to you to suss out the danger and contact the authorities if appropriate. Because they don’t include professional monitoring, DIY systems are usually cheaper. They can be a good option if you’d like to reduce the instance of false alarms, which are extremely common.
Some self-monitoring providers allow you to turn professional monitoring on for just a temporary basis, such as when you go on vacation.
However, if you’re installing a home security system to enjoy peace of mind, professional home monitoring is the way to go. You’ll never have to worry about sleeping through an alarm, or being too paralyzed with fear to call 911 if the alarm goes off.
Professional monitoring alerts a 24/7 monitoring station within seconds of your alarm sounding. They’ll call you immediately, at which point you can let them know if it’s a false alarm or if they should send the police. If you don’t answer, they’ll call your backup contact, and if they don’t pick up, they will call the police.
Smart Home Integration
Home security systems may be configured to work with a variety of smart home devices. This allows you to synchronize your smart lights (flashing them off and on) whenever there is a breakin, or to open your smart lock remotely using your phone. You’ll be able to disarm or arm the system using your favorite voice assistant.
Smart home-enabled systems can also save the battery life for individual pieces of equipment. For instance, the system will only turn your indoor cameras on if one of the motion sensors is triggered.
If this feature is important to you, check to see that the security system is compatible with the smart home brands you already own, as well as the wireless protocols for those brands (WiFi, Zigbee, or Z-Wave).
In addition to working with your other smart home devices, these security systems connect to your home WiFi network, so you can view a constant feed and status for your security system from your smartphone, even when you’re not at home.
Equipment and Features
Below are the common features and equipment you’ll find in a home security system.
Home security systems include entry sensors that detect whenever someone has entered, smashed, or otherwise broken into your door or windows. Considering a third of burglars enter through the front door, and another third enter through a window, these sensors are a powerful first defense for the security of your home.
Security systems will also include a motion sensor, to be placed in the most-trafficked hallway or area of your home. These sensors can also be helpful for monitoring elderly loved ones with dementia who are prone to wandering. You’d want to be able to stop them before they leave the house and trigger the door sensor.
However, if you have pets, you may be better off only installing the entry sensors, which are triggered whenever these are opened (or shattered). Otherwise your system may be triggered whenever your pets movie about the house.
Home security systems with environmental sensors help protect you from environmental threats. If water rises to an unsafe level in your home, or the system detects smoke or carbon monoxide, you will be alerted with a loud alarm. Home security systems that include carbon monoxide and smoke detection can save you the cost of purchasing a separate device.
Home security systems include cameras, as part of the default package or as an add-on. That’s how they capture the footage for you to provide to authorities. Cameras are also helpful for confirming false alarms when you’re not at home, as you’ll be able to see the live footage through the mobile app.
Security cameras may be static or mobile, allowing you to zoom manually or digitally using an app. Ensure you understand which cameras are designated for outdoor vs. indoor use, as indoor cameras are not designed to be weatherproof.
The keypad is where you’ll enter your code to disable the alarms. You’ll also enable the alarm here, and view other vitals about the status of your system. The keypad may be digital or a full touch screen.
Most home security systems have a battery backup so they keep working even during a power outage. Note the battery life of the various components in the system so you know how often you’ll have to replace the battery for them.
Home security systems with two-way communication allow you to capture audio on the camera recordings, and speak back through your phone or the keypad inside the house.
Home security systems with medical monitoring can integrated with medical alert devices to help you keep an eye on the safety of your senior loved ones. If this feature is important to you, look for one with a panic button, allowing your loved one to call for help if they were to fall or need assistance. These security systems usually include the same features of a medical alert device, including a pendant, 24/7 monitoring, and two-way talk.
Video doorbells provide footage of your front door whenever someone approaches. They often include two-way talk so you can speak to the person. Video doorbells are helpful for making sure packages arrive safely, allowing service professionals or other approved guests inside, or having additional surveillance of your front door.
The majority of modern home security systems include a free mobile app. In this app, you’ll be able to arm or disarm the system remotely, check the battery status of your cameras and other devices, create schedules for your system, and more. When an alert occurs, you’ll be notified in the app as well as by text or phone, depending on your settings. You’ll also be able to turn off false alarms.
If your security system includes smart home integration, you’ll be able to set up triggers for your other smart home devices in this app, such as coordinating your smart lights to turn on if a motion sensor is triggered.
Some home security systems include geotracking, which means they use your smartphone’s location to identify whether you are close to home. With geotracking, you can tell the system to disarm when you approach the front door, preventing you from having to rush in and disarm the system annually. You could also tell it to close your garage door automatically if you forgot, based on how far your phone is away from home.
The customer service of a home security system is very important. You want to know you can call these folks any time you have a question. You also want to feel confident that they will call the right authorities if an emergency does occur. All of the brands we’ve recommended on our list have outstanding reputations for customer service.
As you shop for your device, look to see if the company has won any awards for their customer service, and read reviews to see what other homeowners think.
Because they provide monitoring services, many home security systems have you sign a contract. The average is a 36-month contract. Others may charge you a monthly subscription fee, and others may allow you to purchase the equipment without any monitoring.
When considering a home security system, identify whether there is a contract and read through the terms to make sure you fully understand the cost of owning the system. Also check the cancellation terms. If you install the system and find it doesn’t serve your needs, you want to be able to return it quickly at little to no cost.
Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Home Security System
Purchasing a home security system involves knowing your budget, your security needs, and which features are most important to you. Review the FAQ below to learn more so you can make the best decision for your home.
Do I really need a home security system?
At the very least, home security systems provide you with peace of mind. You know your home is secured and you and your loved ones are safe.
Home security systems are especially helpful in a variety of situations. If you live in an unsafe neighborhood, are suffering from PTSD, or have fears of stalking, a home security system can make you feel more secure. Home security systems can also help you confirm the professionals you’ve hired, such as dog- and baby-sitters, are doing their job. You can use home security systems to confirm your kids got home from school safely, or to just check in on what your pet has been up to during the day. Finally, home security systems help you keep an eye on elderly loved ones, enabling them to safely age-in-place for longer.
Regardless of your situation, if your home has more than one entry point, a home security system is the best solution. If you live in an apartment that only has one entry way, such as the front door, a smart security camera or smart lock will probably suffice.
How can a home security system help me sleep better?
Anxiety, worries, and fearful thoughts are one of the biggest barriers to sleep. If you’re nervous about the safety of your own home, a home security system can do much to ease your fears and help you get better sleep.
Besides providing peace of mind for anxious sleepers, home security systems can also help individuals with PTSD. If you’ve experienced a break-in before, or if you have PTSD from an experience like stalking, you may suffer from nightmares. These disrupt your sleep and may make you fearful of going to sleep in the first place. Installing a home security system can be an important first step towards managing your symptoms and helping you sleep better.
Finally, caregivers for senior parents with Alzheimer’s may have trouble sleeping at night, worrying about the security of their loved one. Adults with dementia may be prone to wandering at night, or if they’re living with a physical condition, they may fall and hurt themselves. A home security system will notify you if they try to leave the house late at night or if they fall and hit the panic pendant, enabling you to sleep better while letting your loved one age-in-place safely.
Where should I place my home security cameras?
Home security experts recommend placing security cameras in each entryway (such as your front door or back porch), outside your master bedroom, and in any other high-traffic area (such as a downstairs hallway between your main living area and the front door).
The entryway is the main area where the intruder will try to enter, and a well-placed camera may prevent them from going through with it. Once inside, the master bedroom is the most common area burglars to target because they tend to house valuables like jewelry or cash. Finally, the high-traffic areas can capture the burglar as they go back and forth in and out of the house or throughout it, providing more footage for you to share with police.
You’ll want to place the camera high enough so it’s difficult for the intruder to clip the wires or cover up the camera. The precise placement of your security cameras within each area will depend on the layout of your home and the angle and field of view of the camera.
How much does a home security system cost?
Home security systems aren’t cheap. There’s the upfront cost of the equipment. If you choose to opt in to professional monitoring, you’ll expect to pay a monthly subscription on top of that. All in, a home security system may cost $250 to $1,500 in equipment and activation fees, with a $15 to $60 monthly monitoring fee.
However, they do save you on your homeowners’ insurance. Many insurance providers may give you as much as 10% to 20% back for having a security system installed. In the long run, that can do much to offset the total cost of your system.
Plus, having a home security system reduces or eliminates the potential property loss you would incur if your home were to get burglarized. While burglary is on the decline, over one and half million home burglaries take place each year. In 2014, the FBI reported that the average property loss by homeowner was over $2,200.
To reduce the cost of your home security system, you can wait to purchase until the company offers a sale. Many companies provide regular sales throughout the year and during promotional events like Black Friday. Alternately, you can save year-round by purchasing through one of the links we’ve included above. Tuck negotiates the best pricing for our readers for all of the safety products we recommend.