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Updated Sep 27, 2022 2:18 PM

A home security system gives more peace of mind compared to a simple bolted door. There is nothing better than feeling safe in your home and what you need to bolster your defenses is considerably simpler to set up now than just a few years ago, with easy-to-install DIY cameras, monitors, and other accessories. You can even customize them without ever hiring a professional installer. We took a look at some of the most popular home security cameras and systems available, for those in small spaces and palatial homes alike. Featuring simple, user-friendly setups and control interfaces, the best home security systems make it easier to relax knowing you’ve leveled-up your perimeter protections.

How we chose the best home security systems

Peace of mind is the biggest gift a home security system will bring you, and that comes in many forms. Here are some of the reasons to beef up your current home-protection system or install one for the very first time:

  • Burglary and trespass deterrence: The most obvious reason for investing in a home security system is to keep you and your family safe. Even if you don’t live in a high-crime area, a little extra protection goes a long way.
  • Savings: A solid security system may reduce the need to, say, keep lights on when you’re not home (not to mention deal with the potential costs of damaged property in the event of an intrusion), saving you money.
  • Reduced home-insurance premiums: Taking extra steps now to secure your home can have positive financial repercussions later.

Not all home security systems are created equal, and you might not necessarily need all the bells and whistles. However, the best home security systems can accomplish all of the above. We looked at critical reviews and real-world user recommendations, conducted personal testing, and performed heavy research to find the best home security systems. It also helps that one of us used to work at a security trade magazine, which allowed us to vet the contenders on a more thorough level.

What to consider when buying the best home security systems

Like many product categories, “home security system” can mean a lot of different things. From a networked series of sensors and lights to simple doorbell cameras, anything that adds that extra level of protection can qualify. Before you invest, however, it’s important to understand the types of home security systems at your disposal and what some of the technical names for each product subset actually refer to. That way, you don’t end up like Goldilocks: stuck with a surveillance system that’s inadequate or one that’s way too advanced. Here’s a quick look at some of the variations you may encounter in your search:

  • Monitored surveillance systems: Monitored surveillance systems refer to systems that are actively monitored by a professional home security company. When the system detects a break-in, fire, or another emergency, it notifies the security team and, in some cases, emergency responders. These systems provide around-the-clock coverage, but they often require a monthly fee to retain the service.
  • Unmonitored security systems: Unmonitored security systems refer to those which you can install yourself (or have professionally installed) and do not have an outside monitor. Though they vary, these systems can consist of a control panel, motion sensors, door and window sensors, glass-break sensors, smoke detectors, and sirens. They provide less security than monitored systems, but they are the generally cheaper option.
  • Wired home alarm systems: A wired home alarm system is one that is hardwired to a number of sensors throughout the home that are connected to a control panel via a network of wires that run inside the walls and under the floors. Wired alarm systems tend to be more reliable than wireless ones, but they are also more tedious to install and may not be able to reach every area you’d like.
  • Wireless security alarm systems: A wireless security alarm system also features a central control panel, but the sensors connect to and communicate with the control panel wirelessly via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Wireless systems are ideal for homes that don’t have a pre-installed system, or for rented apartments that don’t allow you to drill into the walls. But, just like a document might get lost when the connection to your laptop cuts out, wireless security systems that rely on internet connection may face interference from time to time. Check out some tips on learning to install a DIY home security system.

Investing in a technological upgrade should always start with a quick assessment of your own needs and environment. You may want, for example, a doorbell cam, but perhaps you live in an apartment building and the landlord forbids any door-lock replacements. On the other hand, a motion-sensitive camera or light system could get pretty annoying if you live in a rural area where critters run around outside. Get to know your space, what you’re looking to accomplish (extra lighting? Visual information? A way to store data?), then find the system that works for you. Here’s what else to consider when buying the best home security systems

Smart home automation

The way we control our appliances, lights, garage doors, and entertainment systems has changed with the advent of smart home technology, so it stands to reason that home security systems would, too. Finding a surveillance system that is compatible with your other smart devices can help you monitor and control from afar, for example setting timers, collecting data, and even customizing with systems that integrate with Amazon Echo or Google Home devices.

Professional monitoring

While some surveillance equipment systems are meant to put the control entirely in your hands, others offer connections to outside professional monitoring services. These can alert you if there is a potential break-in or another incident, and in some cases can even contact local emergency services. The one caveat here is that these systems will likely require additional fees for their services.

Mobile app

Most smart home-enabled security systems have some kind of app functionality, which allows you to remotely control your cameras, lights, and sensors through your smartphone. It’s not only convenient, but the instant connection can also make signing up for an outside monitoring service (which carries monthly or yearly subscription fees) unnecessary. So it can be a cost-saving measure as well.

Expandability

Many home security systems bill themselves as “starter kits,” which usually implies that they can be added to or expanded depending on your needs. This is important if you are dipping your toes into home security for the first time: You simply may not know fully what you need at first. Setting up a base unit and test-driving it for a bit—with the understanding that you can add elements later—is an efficient way to approach the initial install. Then, you should be able to move on and add security cameras for video monitoring.

Design

Security is the main concern here, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to settle for clunky, intimidating, or intrusive devices. As the category grows, more and more companies are investing in sleek, modern styling. Brands like SimpliSafe, Cove, and eufy feature devices meant to blend in and accent your home decor.

Budget

Depending on how large of a package you’re buying—on top of the monthly subscription for professional monitoring—buying the best home security system can get a little pricey. However, that price is worth peace of mind. With this said, look at your home security needs, and go from there. It’s better to get one that fits your needs than one with extra parts that don’t get used.

The best home security systems: Reviews & Recommendations

Taking into consideration all of the above, we’ve spotlighted some of the best home security systems and devices that provide the best services, easiest installations, and most customizable features. Get to know some of the leading brands in this product category, and some possibly lesser-known companies that provide unique new options in the space. Regardless, you are bound to find a system here that will make you feel a lot better about your personal security.

Best overall: SimpliSafe 9 Piece Wireless Home Security System

Amazon

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Why it made the cut: A well-priced package that includes professional monitoring and lots of customization options.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Professional monitoring: Yes
  • Video capture resolution: 1080p
  • What’s included: Base station, keypad, 4 entry sensors, 2 motion sensors, camera

Pros

  • Can add additional sensors
  • Wide coverage area
  • Motion sensors included

Cons

  • 1080p not as detailed as 4K

Best for homes with multiple floors, the SimpliSafe 9 Piece Wireless Home Security System is one of the best mixtures of great design, simple integration, and efficient performance. Featuring a base station (which can scream out a 95 dB siren), a password keypad, four entry sensors, two motion sensors, and a camera, the SimpliSafe is powered by an app, and has Smart Motion Detection, so you can get alerts instantly. Additional sensors can be added for a more customized security system. And, SimpliSafe offers two levels of optional professional monitoring sans contracts: A $17.99/month standard monitoring package that offers 24/7 protection from intruders, fires, and medical emergencies with limited app control and no video recording, or a $27.99/month package that adds unlimited video recording and full app controls on top of 24/7 monitoring.

Best smart home system: Cove 8 Piece Wireless Home Security System

Amazon

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Why it made the cut: A great combination of security devices with app connectivity and trustworthy professional monitoring.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Professional monitoring: Yes
  • Video capture resolution: N/A
  • What’s included: 1 Cove touch screen panel, 3 door/window sensors, 1 pet-friendly motion detector, 1 flood/freeze Sensor, 2 key remotes, and 1 Cove yard sign

Pros

  • Included natural disaster options
  • Competitive professional monitoring prices
  • RapidSOS integration

Cons

  • Camera does not with this particular package

One of the best out-of-the-box choices thanks to its easy DIY installation (no tools are required, and its proprietary install wizard makes Wi-Fi configuration simple), the Cove security system syncs well with smart homes. Allowing for voice control through Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, it is user-friendly and easily integrates into a larger home-control system. A flood/freeze sensor detects flooding and low household temperatures, which is important if you live in an area with frequent hurricanes or power outages. The included pet-friendly motion detector differentiates Fido from the bad guys. And, multiple reviews note helpful customer service and quick response times with professional monitoring professionals. RapidSOS integration helps connect to 911 four minutes faster than other providers. Although this package doesn’t come with a camera, there is a 15-piece kit that does. Outdoor and indoor cameras can be purchased separately and monitored via the Cove app.

Best basic: Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight Camera

Arlo

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Why it made the cut: Plays nice with others and records clear outdoor footage, with competitive monitoring packages.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Professional monitoring: Yes
  • Video capture resolution: 1080p and 4K
  • What’s included: 2 outdoor cameras, Arlo base station

Pros

  • Night vision
  • Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and SmartThings devices
  • Integrated spotlight to ward off unwanted nighttime visitors

Cons

  • Expensive

If you’re looking to keep an eye on your packages and protect your home, look no further than the Arlo Ultra 1 Spotlight system. Free local access gives you peace of mind that your footage stays in your home, and easy installation means no more fiddling with wires. The 4K camera can automatically zoom and track moving objects, and the 180-degree viewing angle lens includes auto vision correction to remove fisheye distortion. The Arlo Ultra 2 Spotlight cameras are compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and SmartThings devices to turn your house into a smart home. Although the kit is expensive, it’s balanced out by professional monitoring that starts at $2.99 per camera.

Best DIY: Ring Alarm 8-piece kit

Ring

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Why it made the cut: A DIY home surveillance system with plenty of options to grow and customize your system with added cameras and video doorbells.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Professional monitoring: Yes
  • Video capture resolution: N/A
  • What’s included: Base station, keypad, 4 contact sensors, motion detector, range extender.

Pros

  • Included app and mobile alerts
  • Easy to set-up
  • Inconspicuous tech blends into your home.

Cons

  • Reviews note that app sends lots of notifications

Easier to install than a speaker system, the Ring Alarm 8-piece Kit provides a small, designed-to-be-inconspicuous control hub that acts as a modem for four door or window sensors and a motion sensor. Place them wherever you want, and connect them to the hub via Wi-Fi. That’s it. You can easily move them around or add modules to the system as you see fit. This particular system is best for 1-2 bedroom homes, but you can buy packages that include a combination of video doorbells, indoor cameras, an Echo Dot, or an Echo Show. You can also purchase them separately to expand your system as you move from starter home to a forever one. You are in complete control.

Best budget: Blink Video Doorbell

Blink

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Why it made the cut: Dip your toe into the wireless security world with this price-friendly video doorbell.

Specs

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi
  • Professional monitoring: No
  • Video capture resolution: 1080p
  • What’s included: Video doorbell, 2 AA 1.5V lithium batteries, 4 screws, case opening tool

Pros

  • Wired option
  • Option to upgrade to a full system
  • Local storage available

Cons

  • Professional monitoring only available with a larger system

A simple replacement for your standard doorbell, the Blink doorbell camera is battery-powered and delivers full 1080p HD video. It’s controlled via an app (where you can store videos for $3/month per device), has a 135-degree visual range, and can even be wired to your existing in-home chime. It also provides a 2-way intercom with the Sync Module 2. The WiFi camera can last for up to two years using default settings, and the front door camera offers both cloud and local storage with the Blink subscription plan.

FAQs

Q: How much does the best home security system cost?

Depending on the size of your system and the subscription rates with professional monitoring, the best home security systems can start at $50 and go into the $500 range.

Q: How does my home security system work during outages?

To determine this, check all of the ways your security system connects to its main monitoring center. If it can connect over standard phone lines or via cellular connection, it will likely be OK during an outage. If it’s solely Wi-Fi connected, it won’t work during an outage.

Q: Does a home security system increase property value?

The short answer is yes. A home security system can make your home more desirable, especially among millennials, 47% of whom own some sort of smart-home product.

Q: Who invented the first home security system?

In 1966, a nurse from Queens, NY, named Maria Van Brittan Brown invented a closed-circuit security system that could monitor people approaching her door and transmit the images back to a small television.

Final thoughts on the best home security systems

When looking to install or upgrade the best home security system, it’s important to have a clear idea of what, exactly, you need. An interconnected series of cameras may be overkill if you live in a small space, while a simple doorbell camera might not cover enough ground for you if your property is somewhat larger. Either way, knowing the limitations of your space, your personal expertise, and how much customization or personalization you require will help narrow down your options. Also, bracing for eventualities—for example, do you live someplace where power outages are frequent?—will also help you find a system that keeps you secure no matter what.

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