are not like that and of the world. Rather than signing up for a multi-year contract with a broad coverage-based subscription fee, most DIY security systems give you the flexibility to decide how and when to monitor your home.
That usually means that you can optionally sign up for a professional surveillance service and cancel at any time – with no early termination fees or other hidden fees. Factors we considered included the quality of the surveillance cameras (do they have motion detection and night vision?), Is there a surveillance plan, can window sensors and door sensors be integrated, whether the system has a mobile app, can it work with yours? Door locks and can be integrated into an existing smart home setup, also with voice commands via Amazon Alexa.
Scroll through the options below to learn more about the best home improvement security systems available today.
The best home improvement security systems
Best DIY safety overall
SimpliSafe Home Security
Chris Monroe / CNET
SimpliSafe was one of the first home improvement security systems to go on sale and is a reasonable alternative to ADT and other professional companies. This is in large part due to the wide range of accessories available. The starter kit is only $ 230 and recently underwent a hardware update that looks a lot better than before.
You still have to pay a minimum of $ 15 monthly fee to access remote security features (something usually offered for free with other systems), but SimpliSafe's impressive range of accessories and solid performance make it ours first choice.
Read our test report on the SimpliSafe Home Security System (2018).
Chris Monroe / CNET
Abode has all the standard sensors and devices for a simple entry-level security system. It integrates with Amazon Alexa, IFTTT and Nest for voice-controlled activation and deactivation as well as other advanced automation. You can add accessories to the system à la carte. Professional surveillance is available for $ 30 per month and includes cell phone backup.
It also supports ZigBee and Z-Wave, which means you can connect the system to a wide variety of third-party devices so you can control everything from the Abode app.
I wish you didn't have to use Abode's web app to create custom rules and automations, but this scalable self-installation system offers reliable performance at a good price.
Read the Abode review.
Tyler Lizenby / CNET
The $ 499 Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack includes a guard hub, two tag key fobs, and two door / window / motion sensors for detection. You can activate and deactivate the system by entering a PIN code on the Guard's built-in keypad, tapping a paired tag above the Guard hub, or changing the mode in the dedicated Nest app for Android and iPhone.
The detection sensors are my favorite part of Nest's secure system because you can temporarily turn off a single detection while you continue to monitor the rest of your home. This way you can open a window, get the paper from your front yard – and much more – without having to deactivate your Nest Secure system.
Read our Nest Secure review.
Julie Snyder / CNET
If you want a simple home security system at an incredible price, consider the second generation Ring Alarm Security Kit. Version 2.0 was introduced this year and is very similar to the original – and that's a good thing.
The eight-piece kit I tested, including a base station, keyboard, range extender, motion detector, and four door / window sensors, costs $ 250. In addition to its affordable price, the Ring Alarm Security Kit has a simple app, is easy to install, and the entire system works perfectly.
You can scale it with additional Ring devices, including ring security cameras and doorbells, and even add select third-party smart locks and other products. The kit works with Alexa, so you can activate / deactivate the system with voice commands – and Ring offers optional professional monitoring for $ 10 per month or $ 100 per year (also great value for money).
Definitely consider this system if you want a basic entry point into home security that can also be expanded over time if needed.
If you have any concerns about Ring's privacy and security policies, read this comment.
Read the CNET test.
Look at that:
Nest's alarm system is expensive but safe
Other DIY security options
The list above includes our favorite self-installing home security systems, but there are other options as well. Here's an overview of what's still available today.
Chris Monroe / CNET
Honeywell's Smart Home Security System is a DIY kit. The main hub of the system is called the Camera Base Station. It comes with high definition 1080p live streaming, a 145-degree viewing angle, and free 24-hour cloud storage (this will change to three days in a future update). You can also expand the system with a selection of optional accessories. Professional monitoring is not available on this system.
Here is the list of included kits and standalone devices with prices:
- Starter Kit (Camera Base Station, 2 Access Sensors, Keychain) – $ 500
- Camera Base Station – $ 400
- Door and window access sensors – $ 40
- Keychain – $ 30
- Motion sensor – $ 50
- Indoor MotionViewer – $ 99
- Outdoor MotionViewer – $ 199
Read our Honeywell Smart Home Security Starter Kit Review.
Tyler Lizenby / CNET
The Scout Alarm Security System includes a hub for $ 129, a door / window sensor for $ 29, a motion sensor for $ 49, and a water sensor for $ 40 – that's a total of $ 247. Pay $ 10 a month for professional monitoring, cellular and battery backup, and a host of other features. (Read more about Scout's monitoring services.) Scout works with Amazon Alexa to activate and deactivate, but there aren't many accessories to choose from.
Read our review of the Scout Home Security System.
Juan Garzón / CNET
The $ 550 SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit includes a 7-inch SmartThings panel, two door / window sensors, and a motion detector. The optional $ 200 upgrade kit includes a smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, and water leak sensor. Unlike the other DIY systems on this list, the SmartThings system has contract-free professional monitoring by ADT. It starts at $ 15 a month and goes up to $ 35 a month for full life safety and home safety product monitoring.
Read the article on the SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit.
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