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Best DIY Security Systems for 2019

Best Fully DIY
Ring Logo
  • Mobile access with all plans
  • Easy setup

Ring

4.17

Starting at $10.00/mo.

Best Value
  • Premium DIY installation
  • Excellent customer service

Frontpoint

4.5

Starting at $34.99/mo.

Most Flexible Contracts
  • Flexible DIY monitoring option
  • Easy DIY setup

SimpliSafe

4.25

Starting at $14.99/mo.

Best Luxury DIY
Google Nest Secure
  • Excellent smart home capabilities
  • High quality cameras

Google Nest Secure

3.5

Starting at $19.00/mo.*

Best Self-Monitored
Abode Logo
  • High compatibility
  • Self-monitoring

Abode

3.67

Starting at $20.00/mo.

Overview
Not ready for a full-fledged security system with long-term contracts? A DIY home security system is a lower-cost compromise that offers protection with more flexibility.

We’ve put together this list of our favorite security systems with DIY installation and different monitoring options to help you find the security you need. These companies make it easy to set up your security system yourself without having to schedule and pay for a professional installer to come to your home. If you choose to add new equipment or move to a new location, it’s easier to pack up your equipment and bring it with you.

Some of these companies also offer more flexible monitoring options, like the option to keep an eye on your home yourself or pay for monitoring on a month-to-month basis, eliminating big contracts from the equation.

If you don’t need professional monitoring, we’ll also cover some of our favorite self-monitored alternatives to traditional home security systems. Self-monitored systems come in different forms, like security camera systems that help you keep an eye on things back home when you’re away.

The best home security systems with DIY installation

  1. Ring Alarm | Best fully DIY
  2. Frontpoint | Best value
  3. SimpliSafe | Most flexible contracts
  4. Google Nest Secure| Best luxury DIY
  5. Abode | Best optional self-monitoring
  6. Cove | Great for affordable monitoring
  7. Samsung SmartThings with ADT | Great for smart home enthusiasts

The best self-monitored security systems

  1. iSmartAlarm
  2. Canary
  3. Arlo

Compare the best DIY installation security systems

Security brandRing LogoGoogle Nest SecureAbode Logo
Security systemRingFrontpointSimpliSafeNest SecureAbodeCove
Best forBest fully DIYBest valueMost flexible contractsBest luxury DIYBest optional self-monitoringGreat for affordable monitoring
Lowest monitoring price$10.00/mo.$34.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$19.00/mo.*$20.00/mo.$14.99/mo.
Free self-monitoring through mobile app
Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes
Video monitoring
No

With highest-tier plan only

Indoor camera
Doorbell camera

No**

No

Indoor camera
Starter kit price$199.00$528.93$229.00$399.00$199.00$176.40
Starter kit includes1 hub
1 door/window sensor
1 motion sensor
1 range extender
1 hub
3 door/window sensors
2 motion sensors
1 yard sign
5 window decals
1 door sticker
1 base station
1 keypad
1 motion sensor
1 entry sensor
1 Google Nest Guard base station
2 Google Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Google Nest Tags
1 hub
1 motion sensor
1 door/window sensor
1 remote key
1 hub
2 door sensors
2 window sensors
1 panic button
Learn moreView PlansView PlansView PlansView PlansView PlansView Plans
Security brand
Security system
Best for
Lowest monitoring price
Free self-monitoring through mobile app
Video monitoring
Starter kit price
Starter kit includes
Learn more
Ring Logo Google Nest Secure Abode Logo
Ring Frontpoint SimpliSafe Nest Secure Abode Cove
Best fully DIY Best value Most flexible contracts Best luxury DIY Best optional self-monitoring Great for affordable monitoring
$10.00/mo. $34.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $19.00/mo.* $20.00/mo. $14.99/mo.

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

With highest-tier plan only

Indoor camera
Doorbell camera

No**

No

Indoor camera
$199.00 $528.93 $229.00 $399.00 $199.00 $176.40
1 hub
1 door/window sensor
1 motion sensor
1 range extender
1 hub
3 door/window sensors
2 motion sensors
1 yard sign
5 window decals
1 door sticker
1 base station
1 keypad
1 motion sensor
1 entry sensor
1 Google Nest Guard base station
2 Google Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Google Nest Tags
1 hub
1 motion sensor
1 door/window sensor
1 remote key
1 hub
2 door sensors
2 window sensors
1 panic button
View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans

Data effective 09/05/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
*Price with 3-year contract. No-contract price is $29/mo.
**System is compatible with Google Nest cameras, but pro monitoring isn’t available for video

Ring Alarm | Best fully DIY

Best Fully DIY

Ring pros and cons

Pros

  • Lowest industry monitoring price
  • No contracts required
  • Mobile access with all plans
  • Competitive camera options
  • Easy setup

Cons

  • Limited home automation support
  • No professional camera monitoring

Why we like Ring Alarm

There’s a ton to love about Ring. Its unbeatable prices and easy setup make it our most highly recommended DIY system. Once you’ve set it up, you can choose to self-monitor or pay as little as $100 a year for professional monitoring.

To help you self-monitor, Ring’s app has a feature called Neighbors. This feature allows you to coordinate with other neighbors to protect the neighborhood. You can even upload clips from your Ring cameras to the app.

Sadly, Ring’s inexpensive base package doesn’t include anything from its popular camera selection. And if you do get cameras, you’ll have to monitor them on your own. But a DIY enthusiast may not mind and might even prefer that.

Ring cons

Ring’s still newer in the home alarm space, so the future of the system and its longevity are unknown. Based on online reviews, it seems that the brand’s still working out kinks in providing the best home security service possible. But even with these bumps, Ring’s outstripping lots of competitors in price and ease of use.

Finally, Ring’s home automation is just average, especially when compared to other DIY brands like Frontpoint.

>> Learn more: Our full Ring review
>> Shop now: Shop Ring

Frontpoint | Best value

Best Value

Frontpoint pros and cons

Pros

  • Premium DIY unboxing and setup
  • High-quality customer service
  • Cellular 4G monitoring
  • Z-Wave compatibility
  • Crash & Smash protection

Cons

  • No self-monitoring
  • Expensive monitoring plans
  • No mobile access with cheapest plan
Frontpoint Equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Why we like Frontpoint

Frontpoint has pretty much perfected the simple DIY installation process. When you buy a Frontpoint system or add new equipment to your existing system, it comes nicely packaged, preprogrammed, and ready to self-install without any complicated tools and hardware. Once installed, your hub protects your entire system from tampering with Crash & Smash protection.

Its systems are also flexible—equipment is compatible with Z-Wave products so you can add third-party smart equipment like smart locks and thermostats to your system.

Frontpoint systems don’t have the same flexible monitoring as companies like Ring and SimpliSafe—you’ll have to sign a three-year contract. But they come with high-quality professional monitoring and some of the best customer service in the industry. Those are some of the reasons most Frontpoint customers tend to stick around for longer than their initial contract.

Frontpoint cons

Frontpoint doesn’t give you the option to self-monitor your security system, so you’ll have to pay for into its fairly expensive monitoring plans. We also don’t recommend going with Frontpoint’s cheapest plan as you won’t have mobile access to control your security system.

>>Learn more: Read our full Frontpoint review
>>Shop now: Get Frontpoint

SimpliSafe | Most flexible contracts

Most Flexible Contracts

SimpliSafe pros and cons

Pros

  • Affordable starter kit
  • Larger selection of equipment than Nest
  • Lower monitoring cost than competitors
  • Better video monitoring options than competitors

Cons

  • Minimal smart home integration
  • No free self-monitoring through mobile app
SimpliSafe Equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Why we like SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe is one of our favorite self-install security systems because it offers lots of flexibility, a wide selection of inexpensive equipment, and lower-cost monitoring than competitors.

You can always get pro monitoring if you need it, but it’s not mandatory. That lets you pay for a month of monitoring if you’re going on vacation and switch back to using the equipment without monitoring if your budget gets tight.

Plus, if you do choose professional monitoring, SimpliSafe has more experience and better video monitoring support than other companies listed here. For one thing, SimpliSafe is the only company on this list that offers monitoring for a doorbell camera.

SimpliSafe cons

If home automation is your jam, SimpliSafe won’t be the best option for you. Its home automation equipment options are minimal—it doesn’t integrate with many,third-party smart home brands.

>>Learn more: Read our full SimpliSafe review
>>Shop now: Get SimpliSafe

Nest Secure | Best luxury DIY

Best Luxury DIY

Nest Secure pros and cons

Pros

  • Easy control through Nest app
  • Modern equipment design
  • Free self-monitoring through mobile app
  • More smart home syncing options than SimpliSafe

Cons

  • More expensive starter kit
  • Fewer equipment options than SimpliSafe
  • No pro monitoring for cameras or Nest Protect
  • Extra cost for monitoring without a contract

Why we like Nest Secure

Google Nest Secure’s† biggest perk is free self-monitoring through the mobile app. Competitors like SimpliSafe make you pay for a monthly plan before you can monitor equipment with your smartphone. If you want to monitor your own equipment with your phone, Nest Secure is the most affordable way to do that.

If you already have Nest equipment, Nest Secure lets you control and monitor your equipment through the same Nest app you use for other Nest devices like the carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, or cameras. So you won’t have to frantically open a bunch of apps to find which one is sending you alerts.

Nest systems are compatible with Google Assistant (Nest and Google recently joined forces to become the brand Google Nest), so you can control your entire Nest system from a Google Nest hub. And beyond home security equipment, Nest also offers cutting-edge smart home devices like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat and the Google Nest Hello Video Doorbell.

And while Nest’s equipment is pricey, the design is attractive and modern, so it blends in nicely when you set it up in your home.

Nest Secure cons

Nest Secure’s starter package might be too expensive for those on a budget. Like a lot of systems, it also charges more for contract-free monitoring without a contract, so factor that into your budget as well. Its high-quality security systems will work better for those willing to spend a little more. We’d also like to see more transparency around the fact that Nest‘s professional monitoring service doesn’t include video monitoring.

>>Learn more: Read the full Nest Secure review
>>Shop now: Get Nest Secure

Abode | Best optional self-monitoring

Best Optional Self-Monitoring

Abode pros and cons

Pros

  • No contracts
  • Free self-monitoring with app
  • Zigbee, Z-Wave, and Philips Hue compatibility
  • Large equipment selection

Cons

  • No phone support with free plan
  • Shorter equipment warranty than competitors
  • Limited equipment in starter kit

Why we like Abode

Abode stands out because it lets you monitor through the app for free or cycle back and forth between self-monitoring and professional monitoring at will. That’s quite the DIY feature.

Abode also sells a ton of proprietary equipment. Sirens, smoke alarms, all kinds of things. And if you want to add something to your system that Abode doesn’t sell, the alarm system has excellent compatibility. You can connect an Abode system to just about anything but a smart speaker.

Abode cons

Abode has less security experience and customer support than some other companies we recommend. But the big things that make us scratch our head are the limited phone support and the equipment included in the starter kits.

For some reason, if you choose to self-monitor, you can’t call in and get help from Abode. That’s kind of weird when you consider that DIYers might need more help, not less. And we’re always disappointed that Abode’s cool equipment has to be bought separately. Your starter kit won’t come with much.

>>Learn more: Our full Abode review
>>Shop now: Get Abode

More DIY installation security systems to consider

If the companies listed above don’t look like the right fit for your home, consider these other DIY home security options. We don’t rate them as highly as the systems above, but they’re still solid home security options. Some of these systems, like Samsung SmartThings with ADT, fill a very specific niche for those who want home security along with access to a ton of Zigbee and Z-Wave smart home equipment.

Cove | Great for affordable monitoring

Great Affordable Monitoring

Cove’s on par with Frontpoint in terms of ultra-simple DIY installation, and its affordable prices are competitive with SimpliSafe. You also don’t have to sign a contract if you pay for your equipment up front. We recommend Cove to anyone seeking a security system with somewhat simple equipment offerings and reasonable monitoring costs.

While Cove doesn’t sell its own home automation equipment or support smart home products from its app, you can pair your system with an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant device to manage your home security and smart home from one hub. Check out our Cove review to learn more.

Samsung SmartThings with ADT | Great for smart home enthusiasts

Great for Smart Home Enthusiasts

The coolest thing about this security kit is that the main security hub doubles as a smart home hub. That means you can use it with tons of other SmartThings products. The system has a lot in common with Nest Secure, but Samsung loses points because it has a shorter warranty, more expensive starter kit, and higher-priced monitoring. Visit our full review to learn more about security through Samsung SmartThings and ADT.

*Note: There is also a home and life safety monitoring plan for $14.99/mo. But it doesn’t include security monitoring (ex. motion detection or door/window sensors).

The best self-monitored security DIY security systems

#1
iSmartAlarm Review

iSmartAlarm

Cheapest system: $79.99

#2
canary logo

Canary

Cheapest system: $99.00

#3
Arlo Logo

Arlo

Cheapest system: $249.99

If you don’t need flexible monitoring, or if monitoring just isn’t in your budget, you can save a lot of money opting for a totally self-monitored security system. These systems allow you to keep an eye on your home remotely without having to worry about contracts or steep monthly monitoring fees. Although professional monitoring is ideal, you should still be able to have some kind of security system set up at home.

We think Abode is the best overall self-monitored system, but if you’re looking for something else, we’ve created a list of our other favorites.

Compare self-monitored security systems

SystemiSmartAlarmCanaryArlo
Door/window sensors
Yes

No

No
Smart switch
Yes

No

No
Indoor cameras
Yes

Yes

Yes
Outdoor cameras
No

Yes

Yes
Doorbell camera
No

No

Yes
Plan required for add-on features
No

Yes

Yes
Price for add-on plan
No
$9.99/mo.$9.99 to $14.99/mo.
View systemView SystemView on AmazonView on Amazon
System
Door/window sensors
Smart switch
Indoor cameras
Outdoor cameras
Doorbell camera
Plan required for add-on features
Price for add-on plan
View system
iSmartAlarm Canary Arlo

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No
$9.99/mo. $9.99 to $14.99/mo.
View System View on Amazon View on Amazon

Data current as of 09/05/2019. Pricing and packages are subject to change.

iSmartAlarm review

#1

iSmartAlarm pros and cons

Pros

  • Large equipment selection
  • Inexpensive equipment
  • No monthly fee for add-on features

Cons

  • No outdoor camera
  • Less attractive design than competitors
  • Hub required

Why we like iSmartAlarm

We like iSmartAlarm because you can get lots of inexpensive security equipment and self-monitor all of it remotely from your phone. iSmartAlarm offers more equipment than the other companies on this list, including door and window sensors, cameras, and smart switches. That said, the equipment is a bit clunky looking, so if aesthetics are important to you, you might want a different system.

iSmartAlarm is also a nice option if you don’t want to pay monthly fees for extra features like storage or two-way audio—Canary and Arlo charge extra for features you might want.

iSmartAlarm cons

iSmartAlarm offers one indoor camera, and it’s not as high quality as the Canary or Arlo cameras below. A security camera is one of the most important elements to a home security system, and we find iSmartAlarm lacks in that department.

>>Want a highly affordable security system? Buy iSmartAlarm.
>>Read our iSmartAlarm review

Canary review

#2

Canary pros and cons

Pros

  • Modern equipment design
  • Easy setup with multiple mounting options
  • Single camera that can also monitor air quality and temperature
  • No required hub

Cons

  • No entry sensors
  • Some features reserved for paid plans

Why we like Canary

Canary doesn’t offer nearly as much equipment as iSmartAlarm, but the equipment you can get is attractive, effective, and easy to set up. Canary offers feature-packed indoor and outdoor cameras that include two-way audio and work without a hub. The indoor camera can even monitor air quality and temperature.
Canary cons
Canary cameras aren’t a true replacement to home security systems. Its cameras are a great way to keep eyes on your home, but Canary doesn’t offer any essential security equipment like intrusion sensors or motion detectors, but it’s an affordable way to keep an eye on any pets or kids you leave behind when you go out.

>>Want to keep eyes on your home while you’re not around? Buy Canary.
>>Read our Canary review.

Arlo review

#3

Arlo pros and cons

Pros

  • Seven days of camera-feed storage without plan
  • Indoor/outdoor camera options
  • Doorbell cameras available

Cons

  • No entry sensors
  • Some features reserved for paid plans
  • Base stations required for some cameras

Why we like Arlo

Arlo’s system is mostly camera based, but it offers some of our favorite security cameras on the market. If you opt for Arlo you’ll have a wide selection of indoor and outdoor cameras at a variety of price points to match your budget. If you’re feeling spendy, the Arlo Ultra HD is one of the most cutting-edge cameras on the market with crisp 4K video footage. But Arlo’s more basic cameras still offer a nice baseline 1080p resolution and a clean design that won’t draw much attention in or outside your home.

While Arlo is mostly focused on cameras, you can also get a security light or baby monitor for extra protection if you need it.
Arlo cons
Arlo is a great way to get eyes on your home, but its systems aren’t a complete solution to home security without intrusion sensors, motion sensors, and an in-house alarm. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense if you want only one camera, as there will be better options that don’t require a base station or a monthly fee to access higher-tier features.

>>>Want to buy some of our favorite security cameras on the market? Buy Arlo.

What is DIY home security?

DIY security can mean two different things. First, there’s DIY installation. DIY security systems come with preprogrammed equipment that’s easy to self-install with little to no drilling, sawing, carving, soldering, rewiring, or tampering with flux capacitors. Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, and Cove place a ton of emphasis on their DIY installation service and making the setup process painless for new customers.

There’s also DIY monitoring, which gives you the ability to keep an eye on your own security system instead of paying monthly to have a third-party monitoring center watch over your home for you. That’s not to say professional monitoring is a bad thing. Pro monitoring comes in handy when you’re, say, off paragliding in the Alps, or even toiling away at your 9 to 5, and can’t find the time to watch over the home yourself.

The biggest benefit to DIY monitoring is that you’ll save a lot of money month to month. And DIY monitoring usually means you won’t be locked into a long contract if you want to pause or cancel your security system service.

DIY installation

We’ve set up Ring, Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, and Cove security systems in-house, and they can all be set up in under an hour with little to no technical know-how. Most of these modern DIY systems use your home Wi-Fi network (usually with cellular backup) as a bridge to connect the rest of your system to the hub or control panel.

Window and door sensors come with 3M tape for easy application around the house. And any wired hardware like indoor security cameras just need to be plugged in to sync with your system.

What is DIY monitoring?

Security systems that offer professional monitoring charge a monthly fee to have a professional monitoring center keep an eye on your system. But DIY monitoring has made home security a lot more accessible to people that don’t want to sign onto traditional three-year (or longer) professional monitoring contracts. Systems like iSmartAlarm are completely self-monitored, which is a solid option for anyone on a budget because you only have to cover the up-front equipment costs.

Then you have systems like SimpliSafe that give you the option to monitor yourself or pay for professional monitoring on a month-to-month basis. You still don’t have to deal with any long contracts, and you can outsource your monitoring during times when you can’t keep an eye on your home yourself. Go on, you deserve to enjoy a carefree vacation every now and then.

Our recommendation

DIY home security offers a lot of benefits to customers. Whether that’s through streamlined self-installation or self-monitored alternatives or traditional contract-based security systems, doing it yourself can help save you a lot of money without sacrificing for quality equipment or functionality.

>>Into the idea of self-monitoring with optional professional monitoring? Check out Ring Alarm.

>>If you want a DIY home security system with top-notch professional monitoring, we recommend Frontpoint.

>>Want a totally self-monitored home security system? We like iSmartAlarm.

†Google, Google Nest Secure, Google Nest Protect, Google Nest Learning Thermostat and other related marks are trademarks of Google LLC.

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