Home security systems can be expensive. You have to purchase or rent the equipment, you have to pay to get it installed, and then… the biggest bill of all… you have to pay for monthly monitoring. Luckily, there are a number of new security systems that you can install and monitor yourself, giving you all the safety but without the monthly fees and long-term contracts.
Best DIY Install Home Security System
Our Pick: SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe was made for DIYers. We really loved two key things about each of their devices:
It is all wireless. You don’t need to rip open drywall or hire an electrician to set up your home. All you will need is a wifi network in place and the SimpliSafe keypad. As you install items, you will pair them with the base station. It is that simple.
All devices have both sticky adhesive, for temporary installation, and screws for more permanent installation. This means that you don’t even need to own a screwdriver to install Simplisafe. It also means that if you are a renter, you can still use the system to protect your family and belongings.
Installation doesn’t get easier or faster than SimpliSafe. The devices are also relatively cheap to purchase and you don’t have to use their professional monitoring.
So, what’s the catch?
Depending on the quality of your wifi network, some devices might have a harder time consistently reporting to the base station. In one of your tests, we noticed that the smartlock would have a hard time reporting, causing it to not automatically lock or be difficult to unlock even with a key. Another issue is that the quality of the devices wasn’t as strong as some of the competitors; specifically using their security cameras as external cameras. The cameras rely on wired power sources, meaning you would need to still drill a hole to power the cable… and the cable can be unplugged pretty easily. Which feels like that could be a vulnerability.
Best No Contract Home Security System
Our Pick: Abode
Abode is an amazing choice for any smart home enthusiast who wants all their things to integrate with one another. Their basic package comes with a nice set of options (siren, keyfob, door and window sensors), but they offer plenty of add-ons.
If you are going the self-monitor route, then you want to be able to easily see what is going on at home and receive proactive alerts should something go wrong. The Adobe app is great, plus the system integrates well with other smart home systems, like HUE, Yale, and hundreds of others.
They offer two plans, a free self-monitoring plan, or a stand plan for $6. With this standard plan, you get access to more advanced home automation features.
One thing we didn’t like was that you needed to upgrade to the premium plan in order to get cellular and power backups. This means that if you are self-monitoring and your network or power goes down, your house is exposed.
Best Self Monitoring Home Security System
Our Pick: Vivint
We looked at the most popular home security options these days, comparing the quality of their devices, how easy they are to install, and how well they maintain their connectivity to a wifi or cellular network. We also wanted to see how nicely the system would play with our smart home and work with other, third-party, devices.
Our winner was Vivint. We picked them because they offered a wide range of equipment, like entry sensors, doorbell cameras, motion sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors… basically anything you need. Their devices don’t stop at security. Vivint offers other smart home automation devices, like smart thermostats and base stations. You can control all of this through their app, or through a voice assistant like Google or Alexa.
Vivint includes installation of these devices with their purchase. That does mean that the initial cost can be high, but the quality is unmatched.
Best Self Monitoring Security Camera System
Our Pick: Canary
Canary is an all-in-one smart security camera. It is a single device that will watch your home and send alerts to your phone if it detects motion.
We loved how easy it was to set up (literally just plug it in and connect to the network) and the quality of the camera is great, especially the night vision. If you purchase multiple cameras, you can monitor them all from the app. If the camera does detect something, you receive a push notification and then can view your room live. From there, you can talk through the camera, sound the built in alarm, or call emergency services. This convenience makes self-monitoring super easy.
The camera will also detect things like air quality, humidity, and temperature -- which is a lot for such a small and affordable device. This is a great option for anyone who is a renter.
What didn’t we like? For as much as this little device does, it is just one device. There are some things it cannot monitor, like entryways, so if you want to cover your entire house, you will need one device per room or area you wish to monitor.