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Best DIY Security Systems for 2019

Best DIY Installation
  • Premium DIY installation
  • Excellent customer service

Frontpoint

4.00

Starting at $34.99/mo.

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

SimpliSafe

3.67

Starting at $14.99/mo.

Best DIY Smart Security
  • Excellent smart home capabilities
  • High quality cameras

Nest Secure

3.5

Starting at $19.00/mo.*

Great for Renters
  • Straightforward DIY install
  • Affordable monitoring

Cove

3.67

Starting at $14.99/mo.

Best Aesthetics
  • Modern, attractive equipment
  • Easy self-monitoring

Scout

3.5

Starting at $19.99/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. Frontpoint | Best DIY installation
  2. SimpliSafe | Most flexible contracts
  3. Nest Secure | Best DIY smart security
  4. Cove | Great for renters
  5. Scout Alarm | Best aesthetics
  6. Abode | Best self-monitored
  7. Samsung SmartThings with ADT | Great for smart home enthusiasts
  8. Ring Alarm | Great for affordable monitoring

The best self-monitored security systems

  1. iSmartAlarm
  2. Canary
  3. Arlo

Compare the best DIY installation security systems

Abode Logo
Security systemFrontpointSimpliSafeNest SecureCoveScoutAbode
Best forBest DIY installationMost flexible contractsBest DIY smart securityGreat for rentersBest aestheticsBest self-monitored option
Lowest monitoring price$34.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$19.00/mo.*$14.99/mo.$19.99/mo.$8/3 days
Free self-monitoring through mobile app
No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No
Video monitoringWith highest-tier plan onlyIndoor camera
Doorbell camera
No**Indoor camera
Outdoor camera
Indoor camera
No
Starter kit price$528.93$229.00$399.00$176.40$229.00$279.00
Starter kit includes1 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 Nest Guard base station
2 Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Nest Tags
1 hub
2 door sensors
2 window sensors
1 panic button
1 hub
1 door panel
1 motion sensor
2 entry sensors
2 key fobs
1 yard sign
1 hub
1 motion sensor
1 door/window sensor
1 remote key
Learn moreView PlansView PlansView SystemView PlansView PlansView Plans
Security system
Best for
Lowest monitoring price
Free self-monitoring through mobile app
Video monitoring
Starter kit price
Starter kit includes
Learn more
Abode Logo
FrontpointSimpliSafeNest SecureCoveScoutAbode
Best DIY installationMost flexible contractsBest DIY smart securityGreat for rentersBest aestheticsBest self-monitored option
$34.99/mo.$14.99/mo.$19.00/mo.*$14.99/mo.$19.99/mo.$8/3 days

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

No
With highest-tier plan onlyIndoor camera
Doorbell camera
No**Indoor camera
Outdoor camera
Indoor camera
No
$528.93$229.00$399.00$176.40$229.00$279.00
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 Nest Guard base station
2 Nest Detect entry sensors
2 Nest Tags
1 hub
2 door sensors
2 window sensors
1 panic button
1 hub
1 door panel
1 motion sensor
2 entry sensors
2 key fobs
1 yard sign
1 hub
1 motion sensor
1 door/window sensor
1 remote key
View PlansView PlansView SystemView PlansView PlansView Plans

Data effective 7/2/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
*Price with 3-year contract. No-contract price is $29/mo.
**System is compatible with Nest cameras, but pro monitoring isn’t available for video

Frontpoint | Best DIY system

Best DIY System

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 SimpliSafe and Scout—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 and Scout
  • 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 DIY smart security

Best DIY smart security

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 or Scout

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

Nest Secure’s biggest perk is free self-monitoring through the mobile app. Competitors like SimpliSafe and Scout 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 Home hub. And beyond home security equipment, Nest also offers cutting-edge smart home devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat and the 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, 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

Cove | Great for renters

Great for renters

Cove pros and cons

Pros

  • Quick and easy DIY installation
  • Affordable equipment
  • No-contract monitoring
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Limited smart home equipment
  • No in-app smart home integration
Cove Equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Why we like Cove

Cove is 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.

Cove cons

Much like SimpliSafe, Cove doesn’t offer any smart home equipment and lacks third-party compatibility with Zigbee and Z-Wave smart equipment. But like we mentioned, you can get around that by connecting your system to an Alexa or Google Assistant device to control your gear like smart locks and thermostats remotely. But we’d love to see the ability to connect more smart home equipment within the Cove app.

>> Learn more: Our full Cove review
>> Shop now: Shop Cove Plans

Scout Alarm | Best aesthetics

Best Aesthetics

Scout pros and cons

Pros

  • More equipment with starter kit than competitors
  • Attractive equipment design
  • Broad integration with third-party smart home equipment

Cons

  • Fewer equipment options than SimpliSafe
  • Monthly fee required, even without monitoring

Why we like Scout Alarm

Scout Alarm’s modern, minimalist equipment makes other security equipment look drab and outdated. And while aesthetics aren’t the most important part of security, we admire a company for putting extra thought in the appearance of equipment that will be placed all over your home.

Scout also packs more equipment into its starter kit than a lot of its competitors, so you won’t have to spend as much money on add-on equipment later.

We’re also fans of Scout’s smart home support. While Scout doesn’t offer much itself, the system is compatible with tons of third-party gear including Nest, LIFX and Philips Hue smart bulbs, IFTTT, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home.

Scout cons

Scout’s minimalist equipment approach might border on too minimal for most people’s needs. Especially considering you have to pay a monthly fee even if you just want to self-monitor your system.

>>Learn more: Our full Scout Alarm review
>>Shop now: Get Scout Alarm

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.

Abode | Best self-monitored option

Best Self-Monitored Option

Abode came close to beating out the systems listed above because it lets you monitor through the app for free or pay for a few days of professional monitoring at a time. However, it didn’t quite make the cut because it has less security experience and customer support than the companies we recommend. If you’d like to learn more about Abode systems, check out our full Abode security review.

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).

Ring Alarm | Great for affordable monitoring

Great for Affordable Monitoring

At $10 a month, Ring’s pro monitoring is dramatically cheaper than most competitors. Ring has less security experience and offers fewer security features than larger companies like SimpliSafe, but if you need basics on a budget, it’s a great choice. Ring also makes impressive cameras (including the popular doorbell cameras). And although Ring doesn’t provide monitoring for the cameras, you can still check the camera feed in the same app you use to control your security system. We prefer Nest’s equipment and service, but Ring is a great affordable alternative for anyone on a budget.

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.

Compare self-monitored security systems

iSmart Alarm LogoCanary LogoArlo Logo Small
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 on AmazonView 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
iSmart Alarm LogoCanary LogoArlo Logo Small
iSmartAlarmCanaryArlo

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 on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

Data current as of 07/02/2019. 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 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.

>>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.

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