The backbone of a home security system is the base station. This unit communicates with all the security sensors and smart-home components in your house. Many connect to a home router, but if your base station comes with Wi-Fi or cellular support, placement is more flexible. Contact sensors are the first thing you should buy alongside the base station; these attach to doors and windows and alert you when they open. Other home security components include motion sensors, keypads, key fobs, cameras, glass-break sensors, and panic buttons.
Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and, as much as possible, investigates how the companies whose products we recommend deal with customer data. As part of our vetting process for home security systems, we looked at the security and data-privacy practices behind our picks.
The Frontpoint Security system, along with its Interactive Monitoring plan, was our favorite home security system from 2013 to early 2016. Since then, the company has dropped the need for a contract, but the monthly fee is more expensive than that of any of our top picks.
The cost of a home security system varies depending on the number of devices and accessories included. A good starter system can be had for around $200 and should include a base station, a keypad, at least one door/contact sensor, and a motion sensor. Look for a system that allows you to start small and add on other devices and features as your needs change; contact sensors go for as little as $15, cameras can cost anywhere from $30 to $250, and so on.
Obviously, cost -- both upfront for equipment and potential ongoing subscription fees for monitoring or storage -- is one of the main factors when choosing a home security setup. Some systems, like the Wyze Home Monitoring System featured above, are available for less than $100. Others can set you back $200 to $300 or more, and the price could inflate even higher with each sensor, camera or alarm you add. Adding another layer of complication to the equation: Many of these systems see significant discounts throughout the year.
Higher-priced DIY security systems are likely to come with more devices, plus lots of useful features and compatibility with other smart home devices, which is something else you'll want to consider when choosing a DIY home security system. The Ring Alarm Pro, our top pick for DIY security systems, features cellular-powered backup, local processing and storage for Ring devices along with easy integration with Alexa Guard Plus service.
Finally, you'll want to consider local-versus-subscription storage and monitoring options. A DIY Ring system, for example, could offer a number of monitoring and data storage options for an added monthly cost that are not available with other devices. On the other hand, if you'd rather monitor your home security system and handle data storage yourself, many devices allow you to do so at no extra cost.
A DIY home security system certainly has its advantages, like lower pricing and simple self-installation, but professional security has its perks. While DIY systems are typically easy to install and set up, you won't have to worry about any of that when a professional system is installed by an experienced technician.
A DIY security system can cost $60 to $400 or more depending on the brand and model you buy and where you purchase it. The Wyze home monitoring system is a great value at $80, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, SimpliSafe's 10-piece DIY home security system that lists for $479 on their website -- and those prices can go much higher if you opt for all the bells and whistles the service offers.
Like with any addition or upgrade to your home, you'll want to evaluate the costs, and what you get for the money, when choosing a DIY security system for your home. It's easy for the cost of a DIY system to add up, but keep in mind that choosing a cheaper system that doesn't meet your needs may not be worth your while either.
The Ring Alarm Pro system has shaken the DIY home security market, wrapping a Wi-Fi 6 Eero router into its base device. That means you get all the basic security you'd expect from, say, SimpliSafe or Abode, but you'll also get access to all sorts of extra features, including cellular-powered backup Wi-Fi in case of power outages, network security monitoring, local processing and storage for all of your Ring devices and integration with Alexa's Guard Plus service (provided you have an Echo speaker or display).
Ring still has a troubling history when it comes to its privacy practices and policies, but the Ring Alarm Pro is undeniably one of the smartest DIY home security systems I've ever tested, and it's surprisingly well priced in a crowded market. The base system with four entry sensors, one motion detector, one Z-Wave extender, a keypad and a base station costs $300, and you can add other devices a la carte for reasonable prices.
SimpliSafe was one of the first DIY home security system options to hit the market and is a reasonable alternative to ADT and other professional alarm company firms. That's due in large part to this home security system's affordable cost and wide variety of accessories. SimpliSafe makes a variety of different starter kits that usually start at around $250, and you can often get them for less through discounts.
SimpliSafe's impressive array of accessories such as indoor and outdoor security cameras, key fob, additional motion sensors, smoke detector, glass break sensor, siren and solid performance for the price make it our favorite DIY home security system -- if basic security is all you're after.
Wyze Home Monitoring is a standout due to its affordable cost. You'll need a $30 Wyze Sense Hub to start, or you can pay $100 for a year of professional monitoring and get it for free. Or you can pay $10 each month, but you don't get the Hub for free. From there, you can add keypads, entry sensors, motion detectors and more to build the system that works best for your home. The only real drawback: Wyze doesn't have cellular backup in case of power or internet outages.
While most home security sensors serve a single purpose such as motion or sound detection, the Arlo All-in-One sensors are capable of eight different detection functions. The sensors can detect motion and sounds such as smoke or CO alarms, plus changes in ambient light or temperature.
Starting at $199 for a keypad sensor hub and two sensors, Arlo's starter bundle isn't the cheapest you'll find, but its sensors are the most versatile. Other Arlo home security bundles range from $300 for the keypad, five sensors and a yard sign to $830 for a system that includes your keypad, two sensors, an indoor and outdoor camera and a video doorbell. You can also start with the $199 bundle and customize your system by adding individual cameras, sensors and a doorbell to your network.
Hands-on testing is core to our evaluations of any home security products. In short, when it comes to home security systems, we pay special attention to the user experience, the promised features, reliability and overall value -- along with a few other elements. We do the testing in a real home environment over the course of at least a full week. If you want to read more about our review process, check out our in-depth article on how we test home security systems and services.
Buying a home security system can be confusing, but we're here to help. We've researched the Best Home Security Systems of 2023 to help you choose a system that provides the protection you and your family need while fitting within your budget. The Best Home Security Systems of 2023 include: 781b155fdc