The 10 Best Home Security Systems of 2020

#1. Best Value
Frontpoint
4.5 out of 5 stars4.5
Starting at  
$44.99
/mo.
Pro Bullet No tools required to install
Pro Bullet Smart home integrations
#2. Most Flexible
SimpliSafe
4.3 out of 5 stars4.3
Starting at  
$14.99
/mo.
Pro Bullet Month-to-month, no-contract plans
Pro Bullet Inexpensive plans
#3. Best High-End System
Vivint
4.2 out of 5 stars4.2
Starting at  
$29.99
/mo.
Pro Bullet Innovative, proprietary equipment
Pro Bullet No-contract option
#4. Best DIY
Ring
4.2 out of 5 stars4.2
Starting at  
$10.00
/mo.
Pro Bullet Inexpensive pro monitoring
Pro Bullet Easy setup
#5. Most Experienced
ADT
3.7 out of 5 stars3.7
Starting at  
$27.99
/mo.
Pro Bullet 6-month money-back guarantee
Pro Bullet More monitoring centers than competition
Person Laptop
23

hours of research went into this review

Security System Products
13

home security companies were under consideration for the top ten

Checklist
11

experts weighed in on the rankings

Overview
A security system is an excellent investment. Burglary cost Americans about $3.4 billion in property loss in 2017 alone, so it never hurts to invest in home security.1 But in over a decade of researching and writing about home security systems, we’ve learned the perfect security system for one homeowner could be entirely wrong for someone else.

That’s why our home security reviews dig into what each company is best at. With our advice, you can find a system tailored to your needs. We can help whether you want a cheap security system, the latest home automation gear, or a system with no-contract monitored security.

Keep reading to find a home security system that’s right for you.

The best home security systems of December, summarized

ASecureLife Deal
20% OFF + 5 FREE door and window sensors with Frontpoint
Frontpoint is offering 20% off sitewise, plus 5 FREE door and window sensors for the holiday.*
40% OFF SimpliSafe + a FREE camera

For a limited time, SimpliSafe is offering 40% off any new system plus a free indoor camera - that's quite a deal! 

Home security system brand comparison

 Data effective 09/03/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

That’s a lot to take in, so if you need some help, jump down to our guidelines on comparing home security systems.

More options

Our best home security systems ranking is our definitive security brand list. But if you want to narrow down your search more specifically, we’ve also ranked systems by renter friendliness, price, and more.

Otherwise, read on to learn more about the best home security systems.


Best home security systems reviews

1. Frontpoint: Best value

Best Value
Frontpoint
Our rating:
4.5 out of 5.0
4.5 out of 5 stars4.5
Monitoring starts at 
$44.99
/mo.
  • Professional monitoring
  • 36-month contracts
  • DIY installation
  • Indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras
  • Works with third-party home automation devices
Why we recommend Frontpoint home security systems

We’ve been in the home security review space for years, and Frontpoint consistently impresses us by improving its equipment, experience, and smart home compatibility. The installation is slick and customer-friendly, and the brand really seems to care about its customers’ feedback. Sure, the price is a little higher than some other brands’, but you get an outstanding experience in return.

Frontpoint pros and cons
Pros
  • Pro BulletNo contracts required
  • Pro BulletHigh-quality equipment
  • Pro BulletSmart home integration
  • Pro BulletSuperb customer service reputation
  • Pro BulletNo activation fees after moving
Cons
  • Con BulletNo mobile access with base plan
  • Con BulletSlightly higher monthly cost
Pricing

A perk of choosing Frontpoint is the lower up-front costs. These equipment prices are right in line with the rest of the industry. Monthly monitoring is a bit more pricey but still affordable. It starts at $44.99.

Frontpoint provides a discount on equipment when you sign up. You can often get everything you need for a Frontpoint home security system at a lower price than you’d get with a comparable system from Vivint. Also, Frontpoint offers a financing option. 

Frontpoint moving
Take Note

Frontpoint doesn’t require contracts, and if you have to move, the brand will let you relocate your equipment.

Customer service

Customer service is Frontpoint’s forte. While the company doesn’t offer quite as many hours of customer support as other brands, it has a fantastic reputation with lots of vocal, happy customers.

Frontpoint also has remarkably easy DIY installation. Instead of blocking out a whole day to wait for a professional installer, you can set up your system on your own schedule.

Your equipment comes preprogrammed, and you install most of it by peeling and sticking. You’ll spend only about 20 minutes setting it up. And if you run into any questions, customer support is always ready to take your call and walk you through any issues. Nice and easy.

Frontpoint Equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Equipment and features

Frontpoint’s equipment comes from Alarm.com, a reputable brand. But Frontpoint’s control panel is totally its own. Frontpoint also recently added a sleek security hub that learns your day-to-day patterns and adjusts accordingly. Most other security systems come with hubs, but a learning security hub is unique. That kind of tech is usually in smart speakers, not security hubs.

Since your equipment comes preprogrammed, you can pair it with the hub and control it through one app. It’s also easy to add third-party smart home devices. Most of those can still be controlled through your Frontpoint app. That way, you don’t have to open five or six different apps to use your cool smart home tech with your security system.

ASecureLife’s recommendation: We’d recommend a Frontpoint system to almost anyone. Generally, we suggest going with the Interactive plan.

>>Learn more: Read our full Frontpoint review

>>Ready to buy? View Frontpoint plans.


2. SimpliSafe: Most flexible

Most Flexible
Simplisafe
Our rating:
4.3 out of 5.0
4.3 out of 5 stars4.3
Monitoring starts at 
$14.99
/mo.
  • DIY or professional monitoring
  • No contract required
  • DIY installation
  • Indoor camera and doorbell camera
  • Limited home automation support
Why we recommend SimpliSafe home security systems

You can get a SimpliSafe home security system without a contract. That makes SimpliSafe the best option if you need the flexibility to pause your monitoring for a month here and there.

SimpliSafe is also a sensible choice if you’re on a tight budget. You get lower-cost monitoring and less-expensive equipment than you would from most competitors.

A few other companies (like Ring, Abode, and Nest) have no-contract systems. But SimpliSafe has lower prices and more industry experience, so it’s still our favorite contract-free home security system.

SimpliSafe pros and cons
Pros
  • Pro BulletNo contracts required
  • Pro BulletLow monitoring fees
Cons
  • Con BulletLimited home automation support
  • Con BulletNo self-monitoring without higher-tier plan
Pricing

You’ll have to buy your equipment up front. But SimpliSafe’s highest-tier monitoring plan is cheaper than the lowest-tier plans from all the companies listed above, making it one of the most affordable security options out there.

Customer service

SimpliSafe’s customer service hours are a bit limited compared to competitors, but SimpliSafe makes up for it with a bunch of other benefits.

For example, as a SimpliSafe customer, you get contract-free security systems with no cancellation fees. Plus, you can turn monitoring off and on from one month to the next, which is helpful if you’re on a budget or heading out of town.

SimpliSafe customers get contract-free security systems with no cancellation fees.
SimpliSafe Equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Equipment and features

Equipment is where SimpliSafe falls short of the competition. SimpliSafe’s gear looks decent, works fine, and is easy to install, but it’s behind when it comes to home automation. Other systems work with Z-Wave devices or Zigbee, but SimpliSafe systems work only with Alexa, the August door lock, and the Nest thermostat.

New SimpliSafe Smart Lock
Protip

SimpliSafe is releasing its very own smart lock in mid-September 2019.

If you want cameras to complement your system, SimpliSafe has one video doorbell and an indoor camera. For outdoor cameras, you’ll have to find something that works with Alexa.

ASecureLife’s recommendation: SimpliSafe is a great pick when you’re looking for affordable equipment and the ability to opt out of a contract. When buying, it’s best to get mobile access with the Interactive plan. It’s still cheaper than similar plans on the market, and it makes your SimpliSafe system compatible with more smart home devices.

>>Learn more: Read our full SimpliSafe review

>>Ready to buy? View SimpliSafe plans.


3. Vivint: Best high-end system

Best High-End System
Vivint
Our rating:
4.2 out of 5.0
4.2 out of 5 stars4.2
Monitoring starts at 
$29.99
/mo.
  • Professional monitoring
  • Contract-free option available, 42- or 60-month contracts
  • Professional installation
  • Indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras
  • Cutting-edge equipment and compatibility
Why we recommend Vivint home security systems

Vivint’s not for everyone. If you’re frugal, this’ll be a no for you, but if you want the best alarm system money can buy, Vivint might just be it. You get easy home automation integration, unique high-end equipment, and flexible payment options.

We’re also fans of Vivint’s efforts to adapt and improve. Vivint stays up to date with smart home tech. The brand’s added lower-priced, pared-down plans for customers who need fewer features and introduced contract-free options for customers who buy equipment up front. The customer service has also improved by leaps and bounds over the years.

Vivint pros and cons
Pros
  • Pro BulletIndustry-leading home automation equipment
  • Pro BulletNo-contract option available
  • Pro BulletMobile access with all plans
  • Pro BulletInexpensive base plan
  • Pro BulletMedical pendant support
Cons
  • Con BulletConsiderable up-front cost with contract-free option
  • Con BulletLonger contracts than competitors
Pricing

Vivint isn’t known for low prices—the equipment is some of the most expensive on our list—but the brand recently added a base plan that’s cheaper than those of most competitors. In fact, at $29.99 a month, Vivint’s base plan is a competitive way to get monitored security with mobile access.

If you’re contract-averse and can afford to spend more initially, no problem. Vivint lets you purchase all your equipment first thing and get monitoring without signing a long-term contract. That means you’ll be able to cancel your monitoring without paying big cancellation fees—something we wish more brands would do.

Customer service

Vivint’s customer service team is available 24/7, and you can contact them over the phone or through online chat.

We’ve noticed that current Vivint customers are leaving more positive reviews than they have in the past. While Vivint’s customer service hasn’t always been stellar, it seems like the company has made strides to improve its reputation and your experience.

Contract renewal with Vivint
Take Note

Contract renewal is a major thing that Vivint’s getting dinged on in its reviews. Vivint often renews contracts in a verbal process that customers find confusing. The rep starts by asking the customer if their service is satisfactory and then offers extended service at a reduced rate. Although the customer service rep reads the customer a disclaimer that states accepting the reduced rate extends the service, customers say it’s unclear.2

Vivint Equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Equipment and features

When it comes to equipment, Vivint is ahead of everyone else. Some security companies use third-party equipment, but Vivint designs and manufactures some of its own equipment. If you have a problem with the equipment, you can go directly to Vivint customer service, not to a third-party manufacturer. This makes for a more unified customer experience.

Depending on your plan, you can get a unique Vivint doorbell camera, a smart thermostat, a data storage drive, or security cameras. Vivint even offers recessed door sensors that work where typical door sensors wouldn’t. Plus, if you sign up for premium service, you get a lifetime equipment warranty on all that cool gear.

Just how smart is Vivint Smart Home?
Protip

With Vivint’s equipment, you can keep your house cool while you’re gone, let friends into your home while you’re out of town, or check from the office that you closed your garage door. And the geofencing feature makes it so you don’t even have to think about arming and disarming the system. You can set it to arm automatically when you leave.

We like that Vivint prioritizes home automation. Security is crucial in a crisis, but smart home equipment comes in handy every single day. Vivint’s midlevel plan supports smart home devices like thermostats, garage door controllers, and automatic door locks. And if you need medical alert devices, you can even get one through Vivint.

Security is crucial in a crisis, but smart home equipment comes in handy every single day.

ASecureLife’s recommendation: If you want the best of everything, you’ll want Vivint. And if you’re paying for a Vivint security system, it makes sense to get the smart home tech. Spring for the midlevel plan and get the automated door lock and smart thermostat for the price of equipment and $10 extra a month. If you can’t afford the extra equipment, we still like Vivint’s basic package. It includes mobile access to your system (something some companies make you pay extra for).

>>Learn more: Read our full Vivint review

>>Ready to buy? View Vivint plans.


4. Ring: Best DIY

Best DIY
Ring
Our rating:
4.2 out of 5.0
4.2 out of 5 stars4.2
Monitoring starts at 
$10.00
/mo.
  • Inexpensive professional monitoring
  • DIY installation
  • Indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras
Why we recommend Ring home security systems

Ring embodies the ease of the DIY home security movement. A Ring alarm system is easy to buy, easy to set up, and easy to monitor. And as one of the cheapest systems on the market, it's comparatively easy to afford.

Ring pros and cons
Pros
  • Pro BulletLowest industry monitoring price
  • Pro BulletNo contracts required
  • Pro BulletMobile access with all plans
  • Pro BulletCompetitive camera options
Cons
  • Con BulletLimited home automation support
Pricing

Ring’s basic equipment package comes at a below-average price. While introductory security packages on our list cost an average of $237, Ring’s runs about $199. Its next-level package (the one we recommend for the average home) comes in at $239.

Ring also offers a variety of cameras you can buy separately. They cost between $99 and $499. That’s an unusually large range for brand camera prices, but it speaks to the many different cameras Ring sells.

Ring can be either professionally or self-monitored, which we love. Ring’s professional monitoring is $10 a month or $100 for a year. We suggest that you go with professional monitoring since no one’s available to watch a security system 100% of the time. And Ring’s price is a bargain

Ring camera recordings
Remember

If you get a Ring camera to go with your alarm system, you’ll have to pay $3 each month or $30 a year for video recording. That’s a terrific deal. So is the plan for recordings from multiple cameras: $10 a month or $100 a year.

Customer service

Ring’s non-camera security equipment is still pretty new on the scene, so we were cautious in evaluating the brand’s reviews. It’s still a bit early to definitively say how the brand handles its full security systems, one way or another.

We can say, though, that the brand is responsive to online reviews, most of which complain of equipment blips. For instance, many customers say the keypads sometimes freeze up. Ring recommends unplugging the keypad from time to time to prevent this issue, which is annoying, but a more permanent solution hasn’t yet been found.

Ring five-piece security system

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Equipment and features

When we tested the Ring alarm equipment, it worked well. The door sensors are a bit large, which can be inconvenient for doors with small or molded frames. (To counteract this issue, Ring’s released a slim magnet, which can be bought separately.) And the $199 five-piece kit doesn’t have enough equipment to guard most homes completely. Overall, though, everything did what it was supposed to do.

Ring’s security cameras are competitive in price, quality, and selection. The brand offers five different door cameras, including a battery-powered peephole camera for renters. Ring also sells stick-up, spotlight, and floodlight cams for both indoor and outdoor use. Any of these would complement a security system and let you watch out for suspicious activity.

We’re also a big fan of Ring’s Neighbors app. This app lets you, your neighbors, and police send alerts if there’s trouble in the neighborhood. You can use it even without a Ring alarm system, and if you have a Ring camera, you can upload and share clips of suspicious activity or lost pets.

Your police department and Ring
Our Experience

Ring’s been working with some police departments to give away cameras. Some consumers worry that these partnerships create a conflict of interest between their local police and Amazon or give the police access to resident security systems. It’s too early to speak to conflicts of interest, but our research shows that law enforcement can’t view your camera footage without your permission. But they can request it (or get a warrant).3

ASecureLife’s recommendation: Go to Ring for a well-priced DIY system that you can self-monitor or get professionally monitored for a small fee. We recommend the eight-piece kit because it comes with multiple door and window sensors for full coverage. We also recommend adding a doorbell video camera at some point.

>>Learn more: Read our full Ring security review. Or check out our Ring video doorbell review.

>>Ready to buy? View Ring plans.


5. ADT: Most experienced

Most Experienced
ADT
Our rating:
3.7 out of 5.0
3.7 out of 5 stars3.7
Monitoring starts at 
$27.99
/mo.
  • Professional monitoring
  • 36-month contracts
  • Professional installation
  • Indoor camera
  • Words with third-party home automation devices
Why we recommend ADT home security systems

ADT has high-quality equipment, dependable monitoring, accessible customer service, and almost 15 decades of industry experience.

So why don’t we rank ADT higher? In some ways, ADT frustrates us. We see so many growing companies branching out and trying new things in the home security space. But ADT isn’t keeping up. It costs a lot, its pricing isn’t always transparent, and it still has long contracts. Not to mention that the customer service experience varies widely depending on the dealer you go with.

But folks still want ADT. For one thing, it’s got major brand recognition: ADT may be the most well-known security company in the industry, and that has its advantages. Since ADT is so widely recognized and respected, an octagonal ADT system sign immediately draws the attention of a would-be intruder.

ADT history
Case Study

While Marie Van Brittan Brown and Albert Brown officially patented home security systems in 1969, ADT started doing telegraph-based home security alerts in 1874.4, 5

ADT pros and cons
Pros
  • Pro BulletSame-day/next-day installation in most areas
  • Pro BulletCustomized security recommendations during installation
  • Pro BulletMore history and experience in the security industry than competitors
  • Pro BulletMore lenient cancellation policy than Vivint
  • Pro BulletMedical pendant support
  • Pro BulletHome automation integration through one app
  • Pro BulletSix monitoring centers—more than competitors
Cons
  • Con BulletMore expensive cellular monitoring than competitors
  • Con BulletFewer camera options than competitors
  • Con BulletNon-transparent equipment prices
Pricing

Steep prices are an enormous ADT drawback. While an ADT system is $0 up front with contracts, overall, it’s going to cost you more than most DIY home security systems.

Looking for features like mobile access, smart home integration, and video monitoring? You’ll pay more for them each month with ADT than you would with Vivint.

One crucial exception: ADT has a landline monitoring plan that’s only $27.99 per month, which could be an affordable option for customers in rural areas. We recommend cellular systems because they’re much more secure than landline systems, but there are some places where cellular monitoring isn’t available. If you live somewhere without access to cellular monitoring, a landline system is still much better than no security at all.

ADT has a landline monitoring plan that’s only $27.99 per month.
Customer service

ADT has backup monitoring stations and a 24/7 customer service team you can contact through email, chat, or phone. That’s more support than you get from most other security companies.

But for everyone who loves ADT, it seems like there’s someone who’s had a terrible experience. Part of that is because ADT has more customers than most brands—which means it has more chances to run into problems. But part of it is the way ADT sells its equipment. When a company works with multiple dealers and providers, its customers are going to get a broad range of experiences. Some will be good, and some will be bad.

Still, ADT has a few perks that seem small until you need them. It’s got a more lenient cancellation policy than Vivint or Frontpoint—a six-month money-back guarantee. Basically, if you live with the system for a few months and decide it’s not for you, ADT refunds what you paid for installation and monitoring.‡

ADT also covers $500 of your insurance deductible if someone breaks into your home while you have an ADT system.

ADT equipment

Photo source: ASecureLife team

Equipment and features

ADT uses regional installers to provide hands-on support throughout the country. We recommend Protect Your Home, an installer that can often provide same-day or next-day equipment installation. During the installation, you’ll get customized security recommendations so you can be sure you get exactly what you need for your home.

It’s also one of the only companies we recommend that offers cellular and landline monitoring. If you live in a spot with lousy cell service, a landline-connected system means you won’t have to worry about losing your connection in a crisis.

ADT equipment
Remember

ADT equipment availability varies from one installer to the next, so the plans offered by Protect Your Home might be slightly different than national plans.

Lastly, the ADT Pulse + Smart Home Connect package let you control all your smart home equipment through a single app. That’s a convenient way to integrate a smart home system.

ASecureLife’s recommendation: ADT is right for you if you’re looking for tried and true. Go with the basic landline package if your area doesn’t have reliable cell coverage. You’ll save some money and be happier with the reliability of your system. Otherwise, opt for the ADT Pulse + Video to get mobile access, live video view, and an equipment warranty.

>>Learn more: Read our full ADT review

>>Ready to buy? View ADT plans


More home security systems to consider

6. Abode | Best self-monitored option

Abode Logo

Our favorite thing about Abode is that you can self-monitor your system for free from a mobile device. Some companies make you pay for a monthly plan before giving you remote access to your system, so it’s refreshing to not jump through that hoop.

Even better—if you get sick of self-monitoring or won’t be in cell service for a while, you can do a month of no-contract professional monitoring with Abode.

Abode makes its own equipment and works with a decent number of hubs and other smart devices so you can create an Abode-centered smart home. You’ll have to fork over a little extra cash though. Abode’s starter kits don’t include some of its best equipment.

Abode’s basic kits are the Gateway kit and the Iota kit. The Iota kit comes with a fun three-in-one Iota hub: security hub, motion detector, and camera, all rolled into a single device.

Visit our Abode review to learn more about what you can get in an Abode kit.

>>View Abode plans

Link Interactive Logo
Like the other companies on our list, Link Interactive gives you reliable equipment and 24/7 professional monitoring. In fact, Link Interactive alarm systems use some of the same equipment as Frontpoint. And its monitoring prices ($30.99 minimum) are higher than average but not outrageous.
A few things stand out about Link Interactive compared to other companies—particularly the shorter contracts. Most alarm companies make you sign a three-year contract, but Link offers contracts as short as one year. Or, if mobile control or video monitoring are your priorities, Link is one of the cheapest options.
Link Interactive also lets you build your own equipment packages. You get exactly what you need without paying for gear you won’t use.

You might wonder why Link Interactive isn’t higher on our list. Customer service is one of the main reasons—Link has a solid reputation, but it has less customer service availability than other brands. Its brand recognition isn’t quite there yet either. Link Interactive has great reviews, but people just aren’t raving about it like they are about Frontpoint or SimpliSafe. You’ll learn more in our full Link Interative review.

>>View Link Interactive plans

8. Brinks | Competitive pricing

Brinks logo
Brinks plans aren’t the cheapest, but the base plan is loaded with features like mobile access and home automation support. Other companies usually reserve those features for higher-tier packages.

When it comes to professional monitoring, Brinks has tons of experience. Besides monitoring its own packages, Brinks also contracts with other security companies to provide monitoring. If you’re looking at a local security company, there’s a good chance it outsources monitoring to Brinks. Even some big companies like Nest use it.

Brinks also directly sells Nest Secure equipment and monitors it for you. If you love the look of Nest or already have Nest equipment you want monitored, Brinks has options.

Though it’s well-known and widely used, Brinks has surprisingly so-so customer reviews. Find out more about Brinks security plans in our full review.

>>View Brinks plans

9. Google Nest Secure: Best luxury DIY

Nest Secure
Nest Secure is a perfect home security system if you want a fully DIY security and smart home system. That’s especially true if you’ve already sunk money into other Nest gear like the thermostat or cameras. Instead of getting a separate security system, you can get one that syncs with your current equipment and uses the same app you’re already used to.
Nest thoughtfully designs its equipment and packages too; it includes two key fobs with every security equipment package—that’s normally an add-on.
Nest thoughtfully designs its equipment and packages.

We side-eye Nest’s prices pretty hard though. The Google-owned company has some of the priciest equipment on the DIY market. You’ll lay down at least $399 for basic security. Plus, Nest hasn’t yet fixed issues that customers routinely complain about, like faulty thermostats. To learn more, read our Nest Secure review.

>>View Nest Secure plans

10. Protect America: Best landline option

Protect America Logo
Cellular monitoring is the most reliable form of monitoring, but it isn’t always an option in rural areas. Protect America offers cellular monitoring, but it also provides landline and broadband monitoring. So even if you can’t get a cellular system, you can still protect your home (and, by extension, America).

Protect America structures package prices by the equipment you choose and the kind of monitoring you select. This allows for precise customization. The brand has a standard equipment selection, including door and window, carbon monoxide, and flood sensors; motion detectors; and cameras. All are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Z-Wave devices, which allows for decent connectivity.

On the other hand, Protect America doesn’t have the best customer service reputation, even though a lot of its online reviews are positive. This might be at least partly due to its limited customer service hours. You can learn more about Protect America’s home security system in our full review.

>>View Protect America plans


Ready to choose a home security system?

Now that you’ve explored your options, it’s time to pick your home security system. Here’s a quick recap of what stands out about each of our top five security companies.

How to compare top home security systems

That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break down comparison points.

Alarm monitoring costs

Not all monitored security is equal. We like companies to have multiple monitoring centers or keep monitoring in-house. Our top five recommendations have multiple monitoring centers, so if one goes out of commission when you need help, another will be there. 

We generally recommend going with professional monitoring, but self-monitoring is a good option for saving money if you have a budget squeeze. And you can save money if you choose a system with optional professional monitoring like Ring, Abode, or Nest. When you need to tighten your budget, you can cancel your professional monitoring penalty free. Just remember, though monitored security tends to run more expensive than a self-monitored system, the extra cash puts a trained set of eyes on your home 24/7.

All our top recommendations offer cellular monitoring, which we recommend over landline. But if you live in a place with spotty cell reception—maybe in a mountainous area or a rural spot by the ocean—you may need landline monitoring. In that case, ADT or Protect America has a basic package for you.

Some monitoring costs in our table don’t include things like mobile access, home automation, or camera monitoring. You may have to pay more for those features. Vivint, Ring, Abode, Brinks, and Nest stand out here—they give you mobile monitoring with any plan. With other companies, we think mobile access is worth the extra cost so you can check in at any time and control your system from anywhere.

Installation fees

Vivint and ADT both send professionals to install your system. On one hand, this lets you know your system is installed correctly and gives you the chance to ask questions about your system. On the other hand, you have to pay for it. ADT’s installation fee starts at $99 and increases depending on the plan you choose.

That’s one significant benefit of DIY. DIY-installed systems like Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, and Ring send you the equipment to set up, saving you some money.

Contract length

Standard contracts in the home security industry run 36 months. That’s a long time, especially if you change careers, get married, have kids, or do anything else that might prompt you to move during your contract.

Standard contracts in the home security industry run 36 months.

If those scenarios sound like your life, Vivint and Link Interactive offer some flexibility on monitoring contract length if you buy equipment up front. Of our top five, SimpliSafe is the most flexible for the contract-averse. Some brands, like Frontpoint, even let you move your equipment to a new home for free.

Mobile app access and control

We suggest choosing a package that lets you access your system on your phone or mobile device. That way, you can check on your home when you’re at work or out of town. Some systems, like Vivint, let you use the app and control panel for two-way communication, turning it into an intercom system. You can use it to check in with the house sitter while you’re on vacation or remind the kids to walk the dog when you’re stuck at the office.

Home automation

You don’t need Marvel-level tech to get useful home automation. Just invest in a few select devices that can do lots of things for you and keep your family safe.

With standard smart home devices like automatic door locks, you can stay in bed and check that you locked your doors. And a video doorbell lets you watch out for would-be package thieves or talk to visitors who stop by.

Vivint, Frontpoint, ADT, Link, and Brinks all offer smart locks, video doorbells, thermostats, and other home automation devices that you can control from your smartphone. Other brands, like Ring and Nest Secure, offer a handful of cool smart devices. And some brands don’t sell smart equipment of their own but do integrate with common smart home systems.

On the simpler side, with SimpliSafe, you trade the bells and whistles of smart home equipment for flexibility and low prices. SimpliSafe does have a video doorbell, but you can’t add a ton of other smart home tech to the system. It won’t work with loads of smart home equipment from other companies.

Basically, if home automation is important to you, look for a system that has lots of options to build out your safe, smart, and secure home. Vivint and Link Interactive are our top choices for unique smart home equipment.


How we choose the best home security systems

There’s a lot to consider when evaluating home security systems, but it boils down to price, customer service, and equipment/features. We compared every aspect of price, customer service, years in business, equipment, and features in our research. To get information for each of these areas, we tested several of these systems. Our tests included setup, installation, arming and disarming, and remote access.

We also mystery shopped and grilled company reps for detailed information. We combined all of that knowledge to determine our rankings.


Home security systems FAQ

How much do home security systems cost?

Costs vary depending on what you want from your home security system. If you’re looking for a camera that you can watch on your own, you could spend less than $150 for a cheap camera and call it good. Or you could monitor your security equipment and be on your way for less than $500 (more on that below).

For the pros to install and monitor your alarm system, you’ll spend significantly more up front, and you’ll have monthly costs to consider. Some systems let you control your security equipment and smart devices from your phone. But you might spend as much as $40 and $60 a month for monitoring and about $1,000* (or more, if your house is larger) for equipment. That can still be significantly less than a break-in, which can cost thousands of dollars in property damage.

*Cost calculated based on Vivint pricing of control panel, two key fobs, three entry sensors, and one motion detector, plus the cost of professional installation. Data effective 09/03/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.

What kinds of home security systems are there?

In our reviews, we break security systems down into three main categories:

  • DIY installation with self-monitoring
  • DIY installation with professional monitoring
  • Professional installation with professional monitoring

DIY installation with self-monitoring: Some brands we recommend, like Ring, Abode, and Nest, offer both professional and self-monitoring. They let you monitor your equipment on your own after you install it if you don’t want to pay the pros.

DIY installation with professional monitoring: Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, Link Interactive, Brinks, and Protect America all monitor your systems, but you install the equipment on your own.

Professional installation with professional monitoring: Brands like Vivint and ADT professionally install and monitor your system—you don’t have to lift a finger or babysit alerts.

How much are home security systems without monitoring?

You can save significant dough if you monitor your system yourself and cut out the monthly monitoring costs. If you’re strapped for cash, fully DIY systems like Ring and Abode let you monitor your system for free. You just buy the equipment—both base packages start at $199—and you’re off. From there, you can add cameras for another $110–$300 to see what’s happening at home before calling the police or fire responders.

A few caveats. First, as we’ve said, we recommend professional monitoring. You can’t always be on the job when you’ve got other things to attend to, like sleep or a real job. Self-monitoring is better than nothing, but be realistic about the amount of attention you can give it.

Second, you’ll need a way to verify that something is happening at your house. You’re liable in some states if you call 911 with false alarms. That’s why we recommend a camera of some kind with your DIY security system.

You’re liable in some states if you call 911 with false alarms.

Third, watch out for added fees like video cloud storage. Cost of storage varies by brand, so make sure to look into that before purchasing.

If you’d like a more detailed look at specific systems’ costs, check out our cost comparison article.

What are monitored and unmonitored security systems?

Monitored systems rely on professionals to watch for triggered alarms, contact system owners, and dispatch emergency services. Unmonitored security systems aren’t connected to a monitoring center. Instead, they usually connect with an app that the system owner watches for suspicious activity.

We almost always recommend you bring in the pros to monitor your system because you can’t always watch it yourself. They’re professionally trained to dispatch emergency services and work with people during moments of crisis.

Learn more in our article about the differences between monitored and unmonitored security systems.

What should I look for in a home security system if I’m a renter?

There are lots of good home security system options out there for renters. You’ll want equipment that you can install without drilling holes through the walls. Wireless systems are ideal for renters because you don’t have to run phone lines to them. Plus you can put the control panel wherever is most convenient for your space.

You’ll also want a system that you can take with you whenever you move. If you’re renting because you move often, you can bring your system wherever you land next without having to start your contract over.

We like Frontpoint for renters, but if you want more options, check out our best home security systems for renters article.

What is the best home security camera system?

With Frontpoint, Vivint, and Ring, you can get indoor, outdoor, and video doorbell security cameras. Other companies, like SimpliSafe and ADT, also offer some type of camera. We like that several of these brands will professionally monitor your cameras for you. You don’t have to be glued to your phone, looking at the live feed whenever your camera detects motion at home. Instead, the pros will keep an eye out and let you know if there’s a problem.

Camera benefits
Our Experience

When you add a security camera to your home security system, it gives you a peek into what’s going on at home. If something triggers your alarm, you can check your cameras to see what set it off. Day to day, cameras let you pop in to say hi to the kids after school or check that your packages are still on the porch.

If you want a video surveillance system without a home security system, we’ve got lots of recommendations in our best home security camera systems post.

What do I do if my house is broken into?

Security systems deter break-ins, but they don’t always prevent them. If you’ve experienced a break-in, you should file a police report, create records of what was damaged or lost, contact your insurance, and fix the damage. Find out more in our article about what to do if your house is broken into.


The state of property crime in the US

We recommend home security because it can prevent or limit the financial impact of property crimes. To better illustrate property crime impact, we’ve created a map using FBI data for property crime per 100,000 individuals in each state. The darker the state, the bigger the financial loss.

Property crime map

As the map shows, property crime hits some states harder than others. For example, DC experiences a property crime drop of almost 10% year over year, yet it’s still number one for property crime instances. Another interesting fact: New Jersey is the only state in the bottom ten to experience an increase in property crime each year. Even New York’s property crime rate is dropping.6

More to know about property crime in the US

Here are some other US property crime stats:

  • As we mentioned earlier, burglary cost Americans about $3.4 billion in property loss in 2017 alone.7
  • Aside from vehicles, currency is the highest-value item stolen in 31 states.8
  • Close to 64% of burglaries happen during the day when people are more likely to be away from home.9
  • Burglaries and robberies are much more common in December than any other month of the year.10

Property crime map methodology

ASecureLife analyzed data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program spanning from 2011 to 2017 (the most current data available) to determine trends in burglary and robbery over time.


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*Offer requires signing Frontpoint Terms and Conditions; taxes and fees may apply; valid for new customers only; cannot be combined with any other offer; offer void where prohibited and valid as long as supplies last; includes free standard shipping; camera valued at up to $167.50 and excludes the Premium Indoor Camera; must be added to cart at checkout; one free camera per customer; requires Ultimate Monitoring Plan at $49.99/month; offer valid through 12/01/19 at 11:59AM EST. Risk Free Trial requires a subscriber to activate or initiate a hardware return within 30 days from receipt (“Trial Period”). Complete details available at Frontpoint.com.