The Best Home Security Systems of 2024

  • ADT Overview

    Arming the ADT Home Security Control PanelArming the ADT Home Security Control Panel
    Arming the ADT System

    A lot of people see ADT as an old-school brand. The company even still requires professional installation and monitoring, which comes with a contract. A lot of brands are more flexible than ADT, but when it comes to technology, ADT is far from old-school. It uses modern innovations to protect homes. For example, ADT security cameras (made by Google Nest) offer person detection with AI facial recognition.

    Just to give you a picture of how those advanced features help: We hired our regular house sitter one weekend when we went out of state. We hid the keys in our typical hiding spot and pointed our Nest Cam (battery) from ADT directly at the area. When Ally (our sitter) arrived, we received a notification that the camera detected her along with a snapshot of her taking the keys. We didn’t need to play back the recording; we rested easy knowing the camera recognized that it was her.

    >> Related: Google Nest Cam (Battery) Review

    What We Like
    • Expert installation service
    • Offers equipment from Google Nest
    • Over 145 years of experience as a company
    • Reliable monitoring with multiple centers
    What We Don’t Like
    • Requires a contract
    • Customer service is hit-or-miss
    • Not the cheapest monitoring service
    • Limited security camera and doorbell options

    Equipment

    ADT equipment was among the best we tested. In addition to security cameras, Google Nest also provides video doorbells and smart home equipment for ADT.3 Our package included one each of the indoor and outdoor cameras, a smart video doorbell, and the Google Nest Hub Max — a smart display. You can read our independent Nest Hub Max review for more details, or you can check out our guide to the Google Nest Cam.

    Google Nest Cam on houseGoogle Nest Cam on house
    Google Nest Cam

    Smart equipment aside, ADT offers necessary security pieces. There are so many options. We got a couple of motion sensors, enough door and window sensors for our first-floor doors and windows, and a glass break sensor for the patio door. We also bought smoke alarms for good measure. Our total bill was around $800, but more on that later.

    Depending on your preference, you might or might not like that ADT requires professional installation. We’re divided. Some of us here like professional installation because it’s hassle-free. If you feel the same, ADT is a great choice. Others would rather pick free DIY installation. If that’s you, skip on over to our next pick, SimpliSafe, or check out our review of ADT Self Setup. ADT Self Setup is ADT’s DIY security system.

    >> Check Out: DIY vs. Professionally Installed Security Systems

    Monitoring

    Another aspect of ADT that some might view as a drawback is that all ADT systems require professional monitoring. If you’re looking to save by self-monitoring, this system isn’t for you. However, if you were on the fence about whether or not you should leave the monitoring up to the pros, then we’d recommend ADT. It has one of the largest monitoring networks in the U.S., with 12 state of the art centers all with redundancies built in. In comparison, Vivint (#3 on this list) has only two facilities,4 and Frontpoint (#6 on this list) outsources the job to Rapid Response.5

    With ADT monitoring, we got response times of between 30 to 45 seconds after an alarm is triggered. That’s pretty good. We would have preferred it a little bit faster (around 15 seconds), but that’s the industry average. At least we had peace of mind in knowing that ADT’s monitoring centers are always online thanks to their redundancy.

    >> Compare: Vivint vs. ADT Home Security Systems

    Cost

    ADT isn’t known for being the most affordable around, but ADT’s prices are reasonable. Our system that included sensors, a few smart home devices, and security cameras cost us about $800. That would have been a huge ding on our budget, but fortunately, ADT offers financing options. We applied for a 24-month plan and are paying about $35 every month.

    Aside from that, we’re also paying $34.99 for professional monitoring. We signed a three-year agreement. That $34.99 fee covers everything from monitoring of sensors to cloud storage for the cameras. It’s the higher of the two options from ADT. The other one (Essential plan) costs only $24.99 per month, but doesn’t include cloud video storage.

    Finally, we paid $100 for the professional installation service – again, it’s required for all ADT security systems.

    ADT isn’t the most affordable home security system. But if you’re looking for top-notch protection with quality equipment and reliable monitoring, our personal experience assures us that it’s a good choice.

    >> Discount Guide: ADT Deals and Discounts for 2024

    ADT User Experience

    We enjoyed several user-friendly features during our month-long test of ADT, but our favorite was the ADT Control app. To be honest, we used the app more than the touchscreen control panel because it offers more control options. It lets us manage our smart home devices (the smart bulbs, smart lock, and smart thermostat we paired to ADT), arm and disarm the system conveniently from anywhere, and monitor our security cameras. We also liked the SMART monitoring feature – basically a group chat for our family circle where we could collectively confirm or cancel an alarm. It’s a nice little feature that can speed up and make alarm responses more efficient.

  • 2. SimpliSafe – Best Video Security Monitoring

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Packages starting at $280
    Monitoring Options Professional and DIY
    Monthly Monitoring Costs $19.99 per month
    Contract Lengths Month-to-month
    Installation Options DIY or professional
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    SimpliSafe Overview

    SimpliSafe System's full device lineupSimpliSafe System's full device lineup
    SimpliSafe’s full device lineup

    SimpliSafe offers the versatility that ADT does not. Users can choose to install the system themselves or have a technician do it. And even if you choose the DIY route, SimpliSafe is easy to work with and scalable. It’s actually our favorite DIY security system right now.

    SimpliSafe also gives you the option to self-monitor or get a professional monitoring plan. We like SimpliSafe’s Fast Protect professional monitoring in particular. It’s one of the few services that offer live monitoring for security cameras, in addition to video verification. There are also no long-term contracts. You can upscale or downscale your monitoring service according to your budget and needs. We’ve had a SimpliSafe system for three years now, and whenever we need to test it, we just reactivate our monitoring plan and pay for one month at a time. We’re all about the flexibility.

    What We Like
    • No long-term contracts to sign
    • Easiest installation of any DIY system we tested (professional installation optional)
    • Competitive pricing for monitoring plans
    • Cellular and battery backup
    What We Don’t Like
    • Limited home automation capabilities
    • Professional installation (optional) starts at $125
    • Limited security camera options
    • Hasn’t had a new system since 2018 (but new products have been released since)

    Equipment

    SimpliSafe offers the necessary pieces of equipment for home security, but don’t expect much beyond that. It offers motion sensors, door sensors and glass break sensors for security; safety sensors like smoke and gas leak sensors; and a few indoor and outdoor cameras. All in all, you can have 100 devices connected to the base station.

    SimpliSafe Entry SensorSimpliSafe Entry Sensor
    SimpliSafe Entry Sensor

    However, SimpliSafe does not offer a lot of smart home equipment. Unlike ADT, there are no smart thermostats or smart lights in the SimpliSafe catalog. There once was a smart lock from the brand, but it’s been out of stock for at least a year.

    That being said, if you’re looking for no more than just basic home security, SimpliSafe can provide it. Our 14-sensor system was more than enough for our 1,800-square-foot house. SimpliSafe also offers adequate options for video monitoring.

    There’s a wired and a wireless indoor camera, a battery-powered outdoor camera, and a hardwired video doorbell, which was by far the most difficult piece of equipment we had to install. SimpliSafe offers enough equipment to secure your home indoors and outdoors.

    >> See It Here: SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro Review

    Monitoring

    We always recommend going with a SimpliSafe monitoring plan because it unlocks cellular backup. This technology enables the internet-reliant base station to send alerts even when your home Wi-Fi isn’t working. That, in addition to the base station’s 24-hour battery backup and battery-powered sensors, makes SimpliSafe one of the best cellular security systems. Just recently, it continued to work during a nasty snowstorm that cut the internet and power to our home.

    SimpliSafe’s most advanced monitoring option, called Fast Protect, also includes interesting features. First, it offers video verification for all SimpliSafe cameras. In an emergency, monitoring agents can access video footage in real-time to confirm alerts and help speed up police response. Secondly, it offers Live Guard Protection to homes with the Smart Alarm wireless indoor camera and SimpliSafe outdoor cameras. It’s a step up from video verification because agents can use the camera’s two-way talk feature to deter burglars. And since outdoor cameras now enjoy this feature, SimpliSafe could potentially deter intruders before they even enter your home.

    When we tested out their new Fast Protect monitoring, we were impressed with how quickly an agent activated the live feed. From the time we triggered the alarm to the camera snapping on, it was only about 20 seconds — that’s important in an emergency situation. We were able to speak with the agent, who came in loud and clear, and we were able to confirm the alarm was false. If we hadn’t been able to provide our safe word, the authorities would have been called.

    FYI: Although we recommend professional monitoring, SimpliSafe is also one of the best self-monitored security systems. It features loud sirens, has an app that sends alerts to the user remotely, and offers cameras that can livestream (but not record) without a cloud plan.

    Cost

    SimpliSafe is somewhere in the middle in terms of cost. It’s cheaper than traditional systems like ADT and Vivint, but it’s a little pricier than some DIY options like Cove.

    Fortunately, SimpliSafe deals abound all year round. It’s common to see SimpliSafe equipment packages go for 20 to 60 percent off. On a regular day, though, expect to pay at least $250 for a basic package (one hub, one keypad, one door/window sensor, one motion sensor). Our 14-piece kit with cameras and a video doorbell cost us just over $500, which we paid upfront. Much like ADT, though, you can finance your equipment but only for up to 24 months. There’s also a $150 minimum order required.

    Other than the equipment fee, there were no mandatory fees to use SimpliSafe. DIY installation cost us nil. Professional monitoring was also optional, but we highly recommend it. Here’s SimpliSafe’s pricing:

    • Standard plan: Offers just professional monitoring with cellular backup for $19.99 per month
    • Fast Protect plan: Includes Standard plan features, plus video storage for 10 cameras, Live Guard Protection for the Smart Alarm indoor camera, and video verification for $29.99 per month

    SimpliSafe User Experience

    SimpliSafe is built on simplicity, so before buying one, make sure it’s the type of system you want. You’re not going to get a touchscreen control panel and a bunch of home automation features from it. Instead, you’ll rely on a semi-digital keypad and an app to control your security system.

    The SimpliSafe keypad.The SimpliSafe keypad.
    The SimpliSafe keypad

    But as far as the user experience goes, we loved our SimpliSafe system, especially its responsiveness. It arms and disarms quickly – almost instantaneously when using the keypad. It has a loud 105 dB siren. It also has backup power and cellular connectivity for when the power and internet goes out. SimpliSafe is simple and reliable.

  • 3. Vivint – Best Professional Installation

    Product Specs

    Equipment costs Starting at $449
    Monitoring options Professional
    Monthly monitoring costs $40 per month
    Contract lengths Starting at 42 months
    Installation options Professional
    Smart platform integration Alexa and Google Home

    Vivint Overview

    Vivint Base HubVivint Base Hub
    Vivint Base Hub

    Vivint is a lot like ADT in that it requires professional installation and monitoring, but it offers slightly more advanced equipment. We can best describe it as a smart home security system.

    Vivint’s smart home capability unlocks a lot of premium features and protection that more simplistic systems like SimpliSafe can’t. But at the same time, it makes setting up Vivint significantly harder. It’s a good thing Vivint is a pro-installed system. In fact, it’s one of the best professionally installed options.

    >> Compare: Vivint vs SimpliSafe

    We’ve had several Vivint systems installed over the years and it has been consistently good. The service consists of an expert consultation where the technician looks at the key areas of protection, followed by the installation. After that, the technician showed us a welcome video on his tablet and explained how the system works. That level of service added to Vivint’s premium feel.

    Speaking of ‘premium,’ another thing that stood out was Vivint’s selection of top-quality equipment, especially the security cameras. We’ll talk about them next, but just know that Vivint’s cameras are all top-of-the-line. We’re going to go out on a limb and say they are even better than ADT’s Google Nest Cams.

    >> Learn More: The Best Professionally Installed Security Systems

    What We Like
    • Integrates with plenty of smart home brands and products
    • Modern equipment (like the touch screen control panel)
    • Lifetime warranty on equipment
    • Standout professional installation service
    What We Don’t Like
    • Pricey equipment, particularly security cameras
    • Long-term contracts (up to five years)
    • Not as easy to move as DIY systems
    • Non-transparent pricing

    Equipment

    Vivint has sensors, some smart home devices like smart thermostats and smart locks, and smoke alarms for fire protection. It’s all pretty standard.; that is, until you get to the security cameras. In our opinion, Vivint cameras are the smartest in the industry.

    Vivint Outdoor Cam ProVivint Outdoor Cam Pro
    Vivint Outdoor Cam Pro

    We say that because of the Smart Deter feature. When we tested the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, we saw it use AI to detect people just like the Nest Cams do. On top of that, it uses rules and algorithms to detect suspicious behavior.

    For example, when a neighbor stopped in front of our yard to admire our Halloween decorations (we presume), Vivint warned us that there could be a lurker on our property. He had been standing there for a couple of minutes, which the camera thought suspicious.

    More than that, Vivint takes a proactive approach to deterring crime. We made a rule that anytime anyone stays on our property for more than two minutes, Vivint would sound an ear-piercing warning tone. Sure enough, it activated when it detected our neighbor and it drove him away. Don’t worry; we apologized afterwards and explained the situation.

    >> Also See: Vivint Doorbell Camera Review

    Monitoring

    Vivint requires professional monitoring and, unfortunately, a monitoring contract. This contract can be up to five years long, depending on your equipment payment plan. The only way to avoid signing a contract is to pay off the equipment upfront. And as you’ll see in a minute, that isn’t the most practical route to take.

    On top of that, Vivint doesn’t give customers much leeway before the contract takes full effect. Customers have only three days to cancel to avoid penalties, unlike SimpliSafe that has a 60-day money-back option. This isn’t a deal breaker for us, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    Was Vivint’s monitoring worth it, at least? Of course! It wouldn’t have made this list if it weren’t. In fact, it’s better than most systems because Vivint has two monitoring centers. There’s one in Utah and another in Minnesota. We know that’s not as many as ADT’s nine facilities nationwide, but Vivint’s monitoring centers have proven themselves fast, responding to our simulated break-ins within 30 to 60 seconds.

    >> Learn More: Vivint FAQ

    Cost

    So far, we’ve shown you that Vivint can go toe-to-toe with ADT, our #1 pick. It’s even better than ADT in terms of security camera technology and home automation (as you’ll see below). So why isn’t it our top pick? We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Vivint is a bit pricey. The outdoor camera from earlier cost us $399.99. The indoor camera and video doorbell, both of which have the same AI features, each cost $249.99. That’s nearly double the standard outdoor, indoor, and doorbell camera prices in the industry.

    Of course, the Vivint cameras offer better features than most options out there, so if you can afford them, they are a solid pick. Vivint’s monitoring plan pricing is also affordable, or at least within industry norms. We paid $49.99 per month for monitoring with home automation and video security. That’s the same as we paid for our Frontpoint system, another solid option but whose cameras aren’t as good as Vivint’s. So overall, we got good bang for our buck.

    That said, watch out for the installation fee. It can cost up to $200 if you’re having security cameras installed. That’s $200 that you could better spend on additional equipment. But if you’re willing to wait, Vivint occasionally offers free installation deals. Check out our page on Vivint deals for more information on that, or stay tuned for our Vivint Black Friday 2024 updates. Last time we saw a free installation offer was last year’s Black Friday.

    Vivint User Experience

    Vivint may seem like a complex system at first, what with all that talk about the system’s advanced automation and smart features from the cameras. But in reality, it’s user-friendly. It’s the type of system you can set and forget. And because it’s installed by an expert, there’s not much setting up to do. We programmed our system to arm everyday at 11 p.m., making sure it’s armed before we sleep. We also have lights that turn on when our front door sensor is triggered. Its automation-rich app might make Vivint seem complicated to use, but in our opinion, those automations are exactly the reason that Vivint is user-friendly.

  • 4. Alder Security – Best Professional Monitoring Response

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Starting at $0
    Monitoring Options Professional only
    Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $35
    Contract Lengths 36 months
    Installation Options Professional or DIY
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Alder Overview

    Alder Security SystemAlder Security System
    Alder Security System

    Alder flies under the radar, but it’s a good option for those who want a professionally monitored system but are looking to save money with DIY installation. It’s because of that that we think it’s a good ADT alternative. Alder is more affordable than ADT, yet it offers one of the fastest monitoring response times in the industry. More on that later.

    As for the overall quality of the security system, Alder is a notch lower than our top three picks. It doesn’t make its own equipment like SimpliSafe does; it doesn’t offer as many equipment options as Vivint; and while it gets cameras from a third party like ADT does, Alder’s cameras are from eufy. eufy is a solid brand (we tested the eufy 2K camera), but it’s not on the same level as the Nest Cams ADT uses.

    What We Like
    • 30-day trial period
    • Faster-than-average monitoring response
    • Simple DIY installation
    • Low upfront cost
    What We Don’t Like
    • Three-year contracts
    • Lack of pricing transparency
    • Monthly fees for monitoring and equipment quickly add up
    • Lacks home automation

    Equipment

    We were satisfied with the options we got from Alder. When we called to get a quote, the sales rep offered us security sensors; safety sensors; some accessories, like panic buttons and remote key fobs; and indoor and outdoor cameras made by eufy. We agreed to get one of each, and two days later, they all arrived in a well-packaged box, ready for DIY installation.

    Alder's Motion SensorAlder's Motion Sensor
    Alder’s Motion Sensor

    Although it was a DIY system, Alder was nice enough to pair everything for us before sending us the package. All that’s left to do after unboxing was to turn on and mount the sensors. We did things methodically, starting with the touchscreen control panel and then pairing the sensors one by one. All in all, it took us less than 35 minutes. Alder’s DIY installation rivaled SimpliSafe (our #1 DIY pick).

    >> Related: Are Wireless Security Systems Reliable?

    Monitoring

    We were eager to test Alder’s professional monitoring service because in 2017, it reportedly had a response time almost 10 times faster (3.4 seconds) than the industry average (30 seconds).6 It wasn’t as fast as that in our actual testing, but it was indeed faster than most. In all three instances where we purposely triggered the alarm, we were on the phone with an agent in less than 20 seconds. That surpassed our results from ADT (30 to 45 seconds) and Vivint (30 to 60 seconds).

    It’s worth noting, however, that Alder’s monitoring plans don’t include smart home features. In fact, it doesn’t look like the Nintendo Switch-looking control panel supports home automation at all, so if smart home security is what you’re looking for, look elsewhere.

    >> See Here: The Best Smart Home Security Systems

    Cost

    You won’t find any pricing information on Alder online, so calling to get a quote is the only option. To our surprise, they charged us only $150 for the comprehensive system we got. According to the bill, they charged us only for the smoke alarm and the outdoor camera. The rest of the equipment – the motion sensor, door sensor, control panel, and key fob – was all free. Or was it?

    The catch was that we had to sign a three-year monitoring agreement, and for the features it offered, we believe the cost of those “free” pieces was rolled into the $55 monthly fee. Most companies that charge that much per month include smart home features. Vivint, Frontpoint, and ADT are some examples. Alder doesn’t offer any such features. By our estimate, about $10 to $15 of that monthly fee goes to the equipment cost. That’s about $350 to $450 in three years. Still a fair price.

    >> For Reference: How Much Is a Home Security System?

    Alder User Experience

    Alder’s unique-looking touchscreen control panel was the highlight of our user experience. It doesn’t take much to learn how to navigate it. That’s partly because it doesn’t offer many custom features, but also because it’s really intuitive. It combines physical buttons and touchscreen control. For example, that call button on the right of the screen is a quick-access panic button. We also like that it has voice prompts – it comes handy if you or someone you live with has vision impairment.

    And lastly, all the controls you’d ever need for your Alder system are packed into the touchscreen panel’s interface. You can arm and disarm the system, test your sensors individually, create zones, and more. It may not be as advanced as Vivint’s control panel (the gold standard in our opinion), but we found that Alder’s keypad is solid all around.

  • 5. Cove – Most Affordable DIY System

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Must customize package
    Monitoring Options Professional
    Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $17.99 per month
    Contract Lengths No contract required
    Installation Options DIY
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Cove Overview

    Cove's touchscreen panelCove's touchscreen panel
    Cove’s touchscreen panel

    A security system doesn’t have to be expensive to be good; we’ve seen that many times today, but none compares to Cove’s affordability. We’ll go more into the details of that later on. All we will say for now is that we got a comprehensive security system for less than $300. That’s hard to beat.

    Cove is a DIY system that requires professional monitoring. In that regard, it’s similar to Alder and — as you’ll see after this — Frontpoint. We think Cove is a better option for renters than homeowners, though, due to its limited equipment. Nonetheless, it’s the best option available if you want a reliable security system without breaking the bank.

    >> Other Options: Affordable Home Security Systems

    What We Like
    • Frequent deals and discounts (up to 60 percent off at times)
    • Easy DIY setup
    • Simple touch screen control panel
    • Industry-lowest monitoring rates
    What We Don’t Like
    • Limited equipment options
    • Professional monitoring is required (but no contract)
    • No home automation equipment available
    • New app; still has bugs to iron out

    Equipment

    Cove Window SensorsCove Window Sensors
    Cove Window Sensors

    We noticed that Cove’s equipment is exactly the same as Alder’s, from the control panel to the eufy cameras. In fact, we didn’t bother buying cameras from Cove because we already tested the same cameras from Alder. That’s kind of a normal thing in the industry though. Many brands offer equipment from the same suppliers. Very few actually do their own research and development, like SimpliSafe and Vivint. So Cove seemingly “copying” Alder’s equipment wasn’t a dealbreaker to us.

    What’s more important is that Cove can protect homes. It offers enough types of sensors to detect security and safety threats.

    Monitoring

    Cove requires a professional monitoring subscription, but the service is contract-free. What that means is you can cancel your monitoring anytime without penalties. Just bear in mind that Cove won’t work without service. It’s not a self-monitored security system, unlike SimpliSafe.

    Cove’s monitoring offers 24/7 live monitoring, cellular backup, and security camera access. We went for the cheaper option, Cove Basic, because we didn’t buy any cameras. But if your system comes with security cameras, be sure to buy Cove Plus. It costs $10 more per month than Cove Basic but includes video verification and cloud video storage.

    >> Learn More: The Best Contract-Free Home Security Systems and Services

    Cost

    Cove’s biggest selling point is the low cost of its equipment and monitoring. Basic costs $17.99 per month, while Plus costs $27.99. Cove’s pricing is $2 cheaper than the SimpliSafe plans and offers similar features.

    As for the equipment, while we had to pay for it upfront, we got a massive discount. Cove packages were at 60 percent off at the time of our purchase, so we got a security system that originally cost over $500 for only $260. We suggest timing your purchase to get a deal as good as ours. Cove runs monthly deals that range from 20 to 65 percent off.

    Even on a regular day, you won’t spend much on equipment. Door sensors cost $15 each, compared to ADT’s door sensors, which cost $50 each. Motion sensors cost $30 from Cove; ADT’s cost $100. Just from those examples, we can see that Cove is around three times more affordable than the competition, even without discounts.

    Cove User Experience

    Given they have the same equipment, Cove gave us the same level of usability as Alder. Alder’s app gave us slightly more customizability, but Cove stood out for its uniquely low monthly fees. Since we didn’t get any cameras from Cove, we paid only $17.99 per month for security and fire monitoring. No other top-tier security system we tested offers professional monitoring at that price point. The only one that comes close is SimpliSafe’s $19.99 Standard plan. Because it’s so cheap to use, we believe Cove is a top option for folks who want a monitored security system for a fraction of its usual cost.

  • 6. Frontpoint – Best Customer Service and Support

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Starting at $99
    Monitoring Options Professional only
    Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $49.99
    Contract Lengths 1-36 months
    Installation Options DIY
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Frontpoint Overview

    Security.org’s Frontpoint SystemSecurity.org’s Frontpoint System
    Frontpoint Security System

    Frontpoint is another DIY option with a non-negotiable professional monitoring service. The monitoring subscription is packaged with the system, and unlike Cove, there’s a three-year contract. That’s not ideal for some people, but if you’re looking for a monitored system anyway, you can add Frontpoint to the list of systems to consider.

    What stood out the most during our testing was Frontpoint’s customer service. Even in the early 2010s, Frontpoint was already known for its customer-friendly policies. It took things up a notch lately by adding live chat support and extending phone support hours to as late as 11 p.m. (EST). Those are vital for a DIY system. You’re doing all the work yourself, so you deserve to have easy access to support whenever you need it.

    What We Like
    • Full home security and automation features
    • Easy DIY installation
    • High-quality equipment
    • Accessible customer support
    What We Don’t Like
    • Requires a three-year contract
    • Can be prone to false alarms
    • Requires a credit check
    • Universal monitoring plan and pricing for all customers

    Equipment

    Frontpoint Indoor CameraFrontpoint Indoor Camera
    Frontpoint Indoor Camera

    Frontpoint doesn’t make its own equipment, but instead gets it from reputable suppliers like Alarm.com, GE, and Honeywell. It also offers smart home equipment and security cameras from various brands, such as Yale, Kwikset, and SkyBell. The SkyBell Video Doorbell we reviewed is the same one Frontpoint offers.

    The best Frontpoint component we tested by far was the hub itself. It was roughly the size of the PlayStation 1 we had growing up, but it was packed with features. It had a 24-hour battery backup, built-in cellular chip, and wireless modules for Zigbee and Z-Wave, both used for smart home connectivity. You can connect Zigbee and Z-Wave smart home devices to the hub even if they didn’t come from Frontpoint.

    FYI: While you can add third-party smart home equipment to your Frontpoint system, you might not be able to access all features from the Frontpoint app. The hub and the app have pre-set controls for certain types of smart devices only (e.g. temperature adjustment for smart thermostats).

    Monitoring

    One thing we really didn’t like about Frontpoint was the universal pricing of its monitoring plan. All customers have to pay a $49.99 monthly monitoring fee, regardless of the types of equipment you have. In contrast, ADT, SimpliSafe, Vivint, Alder, and Cove all have at least two monitoring options. Frontpoint offers only one.

    That option, which used to be called the Ultimate Plan, offers everything from monitoring and smartphone access to home automation and cloud video storage. It bode well for us because we had cameras, a smart thermostat, and a smart lock from Frontpoint installed. Our monitoring subscription gave us access to home automation and video security, in addition to professional monitoring. But just know, if you’re looking to get a more basic system – no automation and cameras – you might not get your money’s worth.

    >> Compare: ADT vs. Frontpoint

    Cost

    Frontpoint’s fixed monitoring rate is $49.99 per month. That’s a good price if you’re able to utilize all its features. You’ll want to buy security cameras and smart home devices to do that.

    That said, if you’re buying only sensors and some basic equipment (smoke alarms, water leak detector, etc.), it’s not worth it. Professional monitoring without smart home and video features typically costs $30 per month or less. ADT’s Essential plan costs $24.99 per month, for example. That means if you buy a basic Frontpoint system, you’ll pay nearly twice the industry average for monitoring.

    As for equipment, we think Frontpoint’s pricing is competitive. We started with a basic system for $129 — a hub, a keypad, and a couple of door sensors — and added sensors for $35 to $75 each depending on the type. Frontpoint’s cameras are all over $100 ($119 to $299), so the cost can quickly stack up. In total, our Frontpoint system cost us more than $600.

    Frontpoint User Experience

    There are two sides to our Frontpoint user experience. On one hand, it was easy to arm and disarm the system using either the app or the keypad. On the other hand, the keypad’s lack of a screen means it can’t do much else besides that. That’s why we had to rely heavily on the Frontpoint app, which was fortunately very intuitive. It was through the app that we accessed our cameras and controlled our smart home equipment. Additionally, it was the only home security app we tested with built-in geofencing. It arms the system when you leave a geofenced radius and disarms it when you get back inside. Not even our top smart home security pick, Vivint, offers that feature.

  • 7. Brinks Home Security – Best Smart Home Integrations

    Product Specs

    Equipment costs Starting at $360
    Monitoring options Professional
    Monthly monitoring costs Starting at $39.99 per month
    Contract lengths 36 months
    Installation options DIY or professional
    Smart platform integration Alexa and Google Home

    Brinks Overview

    The Brinks home security panelThe Brinks home security panel
    The Brinks home security panel

    Brinks was a big name in home security back in the 1990s, and after a couple decades of silence, it has been making a resurgence lately. Now, it offers wireless security systems with a strong focus on smart home integrations.

    We’re big fans of Alexa and Google Assistant. You can see as much if you read our Echo Show 8 review and Nest Hub review. With the security system we got from Brinks, we were able to control and monitor our home security using both smart displays. That, plus Brinks’ integration with third-party smart home brands like Kwikset (smart locks), myQ (garage door controller), and Alarm.com, makes it the best option for smart home enthusiasts.

    What We Like
    • Integrations with Alexa, Google, and other smart home brands
    • Simple wireless system
    • Built-in glass break sensor in hub
    • Affordable monitoring rates
    What We Don’t Like
    • Requires professional setup
    • Lack of pricing transparency
    • Must sign a contract (three years)
    • History of poor customer service

    Equipment

    Brinks Indoor Camera CloseupBrinks Indoor Camera Closeup
    Brinks Indoor Camera closeup

    Brinks offers the whole shebang in terms of equipment — from sensors to smart home products. It actually provides more smart home automation options than any other system we tested, given that it has smart garage door controllers in its lineup.

    At the center of our Brinks system was the touch screen control panel, which functioned as a hub and then some. For example, it doubled as a glass break sensor, alerting our phones when we accidentally dropped and broke a salad bowl. It also had a built-in camera designed to capture snapshots whenever someone enters the wrong disarm PIN. If someone’s secretly trying to guess your PIN, you’d know. It’s those little thoughtful features that made Brinks a sensible choice.

    Monitoring

    Thankfully, unlike Frontpoint, Brinks offers multiple levels of monitoring subscriptions. The cheapest option provides just smartphone access and professional monitoring. The mid-level option provides the same, plus smart home features (e.g., the ability to control Brinks using Alexa). The most expensive one, which is what we went for, adds access to cameras and video recording.

    Brink’s monitoring was decently quick. It beat the 30-second industry average one time, but we clocked a 45- to 60-second response time from all the other tests. We’d say it’s about as fast as Vivint, but not as fast as ADT and certainly not Alder.

    >> Compare: Brinks vs. ADT

    Cost

    Brinks’ pricing isn’t available on its website, and that lack of transparency might give some a pause, but in our experience, Brinks is an affordable option. We’d say its equipment costs about the same as Frontpoint’s, give or take $5 to $10. For example, Brinks quoted us $40 for a door sensor, which costs $35 from Frontpoint. The Brinks glass break sensor costs $80; it’s $75 from Frontpoint.

    As for the monitoring rates, Brinks offers three levels. Based on the quote we got, the cheapest one is $39.99 per month, followed by $45.99, and $49.99 for the complete package.

    Brinks User Experience

    We wouldn’t call it the most user-friendly security system, but Brinks is up there with the best of them in terms of usability. It has an easy-to-use touchscreen control panel that reminds us of the ADT control panel in design and size. It’s a low-profile, seven-inch touchscreen tablet. Brinks also offers its own app now, which it didn’t when we previously tested it. It used to offer the Alarm.com app. Now with the Brinks Home app, users can customize their systems, create basic automations using compatible smart home products, and customize the arming modes (i.e. set which sensors are active in home and away modes).

  • 8. abode – Best No-Contract Monitoring

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Packages starting at $140
    Monitoring Options Professional and DIY
    Monthly Monitoring Costs $24.99 per month
    Contract Lengths Month-to-month or yearly
    Installation Options DIY or professional
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit

    abode Overview

    The Abode Iota security system.The Abode Iota security system.
    The Abode Iota security system

    abode is SimpliSafe’s closest competition on this list. It’s a DIY system with professional and self-monitoring monitoring options, but unlike our No. 2 pick, abode offers multiple systems focused heavily on home automation.

    Besides the diversity of abode’s offerings, we liked that it has flexible monitoring plans. Basic self-monitoring is always free, but there’s also a premium self-monitoring option and an affordable professional monitoring plan. Best of all, all those subscriptions are contract-free. We’ve been able to switch between professional and self-monitoring as needed without any penalties or hidden fees.

    >> Compare: SimpliSafe vs. abode

    What We Like
    • Smart home-friendly hubs
    • Easy DIY installation (less than 45 minutes)
    • Flexible monitoring options starting at $6.99 per month
    • Affordable security cameras
    What We Don’t Like
    • Limited security camera options
    • Premium features can be intimidating for those new in home automation
    • Basic self-monitoring doesn’t offer many features
    • Different hubs can be confusing

    Equipment

    abode Cameraabode Camera
    abode Camera

    For any abode system, choosing a hub is always the first step. This part confused us at first, but we went with the most practical (but also most expensive) one: the Iota All-in-One hub. We call it practical because for just a few bucks more than the other hubs, we got one with a built-in camera and motion sensor. That’s good use of money and space.

    After that, we built a system of sensors and cameras. Take note that abode offers only one choice for security cameras and another one for video doorbells. The camera works inside and outside the house, but we still think abode should have a dedicated outdoor camera.

    >> Other Options: The Best Outdoor Security Cameras

    Monitoring

    Once we set up the DIY abode system, we were given the option to self-monitor for free, upgrade to a paid self-monitored plan, or buy a professional monitoring subscription. We recommend trying out each option since abode is one of the few companies that will let you do that, due to its being contract-free.

    We started with free self-monitoring, which didn’t suit us because of its lack of access to home automation (one of the main selling points of abode). Next, we upgraded to the paid self-monitoring plan, which worked great at first. It gave us video recording options for our cameras plus automation through the CUE feature. However, it remained internet-reliant, so when our Wi-Fi cut out, our home was left unprotected for hours. That’s when we upgraded to the professional monitoring plan, which gave us cellular backup, 24/7 live monitoring, and priority customer support.

    >> Check It Out: The Best Security Systems Without Monthly Fees

    Cost

    abode’s price is another strong selling point for the brand. The system is designed for scalability, since the hubs can handle up to 160 individual devices (60 more than the SimpliSafe base station). The compatible devices range from simple sensors to smart devices like smart lights. You can also pair your existing smart home equipment if it’s compatible with Zigbee or Z-Wave.

    To encourage users to build out their systems, abode kept its pricing low — as low as $39.99 for the weatherproof Abode Cam 2 security camera. That’s almost on par with the Wyze Cam v3 we reviewed, one of the most affordable security cameras there is.

    For monitoring, the premium self-monitoring plan costs $6.99 per month, but once you’re sure about it, we suggest going with a one-year subscription for $69.99 to save $14. The professional monitoring plan, on the other hand, costs $22.99 monthly, or $219.99 for one year (save over $50).

    abode User Experience

    Abode’s lack of a touchscreen panel could pose a problem for homeowners who prefer a physical keypad over an app to control their systems. But we must say, abode’s app is a game-changer. We liked the CUE feature in particular – abode’s built-in automation engine. It rivaled Vivint’s custom home automation rules. In fact, you could say it’s slightly better because it supports more integrations. It can control Z-Wave and Zigbee devices that are compatible with the abode Iota hub, while the Vivint hub supports only Z-Wave. You’d need a Zigbee bridge to pair Zigbee devices to Vivint, and even then, only smart lights will work.

  • 9. Ring Alarm – Best Security Cameras and Video Doorbells

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Starting at $199
    Monitoring Options Professional and DIY
    Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $20
    Contract Lengths 1-12 months
    Installation Options DIY or professional
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Ring Alarm Overview

    Ring Alarm SystemRing Alarm System
    Ring Alarm System

    Our last entry on this list is Ring Alarm, and the reason it’s here isn’t just the security system itself, but the Ring brand as a whole. Ring is best known for its video doorbells and security cameras. We tested a number of its cameras ourselves, including the Ring Spotlight Cam Battery and the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. We can say that Ring’s security cameras are some of the best in the market.

    Now, here’s where Ring Alarm comes in. In addition to working with the Ring cameras and video doorbells via the same app, the Ring Alarm covers areas the cameras don’t. More specifically, it focuses its protection indoors, while the cameras focus outdoors. They complement each other, which is why they are the best choice if you want extensive video security with a conventional home security system.

    What We Like
    • Offers a wide selection of security cameras and doorbells
    • Affordable monitoring and cloud recording plans
    • User-friendly and refined smartphone app
    • Easy DIY installation
    What We Don’t Like
    • Requires upfront equipment purchase
    • Screenless hub and keypad
    • Cameras are too internet-reliant
    • Works as a local alarm if self-monitored

    Equipment

    Ring Doorbell button pressRing Doorbell button press
    Ring Doorbell

    Ring Alarm equipment is pretty standard. There are security sensors and smoke alarms, but no smart home devices at all. Ring makes up for that with a bunch of security cameras and video doorbells, though.

    For security cameras, Ring offers an indoor camera, a semi-outdoor camera called the Stick Up Cam (weather-resistant but not weatherproof), a spotlight-equipped camera, and a floodlight-equipped camera. For the outdoor models, including Stick Up Cam, you can choose from different power options (battery, plug-in, solar, or wired). You can access our review of the complete Ring lineup for more details.

    For video doorbells, Ring offers eight models, from simple and affordable, like the Ring Video Doorbell Wired, to smart but slightly more expensive, like the Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2. There’s a selection of wired and battery-powered options, all of which we covered in our Ring Video Doorbell review.

    Monitoring

    Monitoring was completely optional, but we highly suggest getting a Ring Protect Pro subscription, especially if you’re buying security cameras. Protect Pro includes 24/7 monitoring. Ring monitored our security system (but not the cameras like Deep Sentinel did), but on top of that, it also provided cloud video storage for our Ring cameras. It doesn’t matter how many cameras you have, they will all have cloud storage.

    Cost

    We recommend the Protect Pro plan because of the cost. We paid only $20 per month, and there were no contracts to sign. That’s a good deal, considering that the cloud video storage alone costs $10 per month if bought separately. That means we were essentially paying just $10 per month for professional monitoring. That’s hard to beat.

    As for the equipment, however, prepare to spend at least a few hundred bucks. The smallest kit costs $200, which is good for small homes or apartments only. It includes only one motion sensor and one door sensor, plus the hub, keypad, and a wireless range extender.

    If you want to save, we suggest getting bundles. The bundles typically include a Ring Alarm starter kit (five to 14 pieces), a security camera, and a video doorbell. The price range is from $300 to $700.

    >> Learn More: Ring’s Pricing, Monitoring Plans, and Packages

    Ring Alarm User Experience

    The Ring App puts camera feeds front and center, making it easy to visually monitor your surroundings. Ring made sure not to push aside the Ring Alarm, though. You can choose an arming mode (Disarm, Home, Away) at the top part of the app’s interface. Better yet, you can make the Ring cameras arm the same time you arm your Ring Alarm. That ties them all together as one comprehensive system rather than just individual devices from the same brand.

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