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ByLidia Davis Home Security Writer

Lidia writes about home security, home automation, and online privacy for Reviews.com. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

The Best Home Security Systems

We evaluated the 10 best home security systems' intrusion sensors, surveillance videos, and safety monitoring capabilities. Frontpoint, Vivint, SimpliSafe, ADT, Ring, abode, Scout, and Nest all offer cutting-edge safety tech, user-friendly monitoring equipment, and helpful customer service.

The Fluidity of the Home Security Landscape
  • August 27, 2019 - The home security systems market is constantly evolving. We do our best to recognize each player that has risen to prominence, and stay abreast of acquisitions so you know who is actually providing your home security. At the moment, our Top Picks still hold, but rest assured we are constantly taking the pulse of the home security industry to help you make an informed decision.

The 11 Best Home Security Systems in 2019

The Best Home Security Systems: Summed Up

  Frontpoint SimpliSafe Vivint ADT Abode Nest Secure Ring Alarm Scout Brinks Protect America
Best for DIY security system Most Plan Flexibility Smart home automation Brand Recognition Best for Third-Party Device Integration Sleek product design Monitoring local crimes Basic System Another to consider Another to consider
Price starting at $35/mo. $15/mo. $40/mo. $29/mo. $20/mo. $30/mo. $10/mo. $20/mo. $30/mo. $20/mo.
Monitoring options Professional Professional, DIY Professional Professional DIY, Professional DIY, Professional DIY, Professional DIY, Professional DIY, Professional DIY, Professional consultation
Installation options DIY DIY, Professional Professional Professional DIY Professional, DIY DIY DIY Professional, DIY DIY
Voice assistant compatibility Amazon Alexa Amazon Alexa, Google Home Amazon Alexa, Google Home Amazon Alexa, Google Home Amazon Alexa, Google Home Google Home (built-in assistant) Amazon Alexa Amazon Alexa, Google Home Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri Amazon Alexa
Available warranty Limited Lifetime with 3-year contract 3-year 120 days 6-month (money-back guarantee) 1-year One-to-three year (depending on devices) 1-year 3-year 2-year Lifetime (with Standard Monitoring Agreement)
View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans View Plans

The Best Home Security Systems for your City/State

Frontpoint Security System - Best DIY Alarm System

Best
DIY Home Security

Frontpoint
Streamlined service from start to finish
Starting at $35/mo.
Pros
Customer service
Easy DIY installation
Upfront pricing and online ordering
Cons
Faulty equipment
Only one package comes with live streaming
Lengthy contract

Why we chose it

Customer service

Frontpoint’s commitment to customer satisfaction was clear at every stage, starting with our initial phone call. We were impressed with the sales rep’s attention to detail. She asked our tester to describe the layout of each room in her home, listened to her safety concerns, and answered questions about all kinds of package options. When our tester told her she needed more time to shop around, the rep was understanding and didn’t press the issue.

We’re not the only fans of Frontpoint’s service, either. The company currently boasts an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau, with three and a quarter out of five stars based on 175 customer reviews.

Easy DIY installation

Frontpoint’s DIY installation process was surprisingly user-friendly. Because it’s a wireless security system, there’s no drilling required to run a phone line, making the process less invasive. A personalized mobile website walks you through how to get the control panel connected and online, how and where to place your door sensors, and what to do if you get stuck.

If you stop halfway through installation and come back to it later, the site remembers where you left off. If you’re stalled at a particular stage for longer than you should be, a help window pops up on your device with a phone number to call. When you’re ready to activate the system, you call the customer service line, and a rep confirms that your system is online and fully functional. The entire process takes about 30 minutes.

Frontpoint box for Home Security

Upfront pricing and online ordering

The home security business is notorious for masking prices and pushing sales calls. Typically, you’ll have to call a sales agent for a quote, even if you’re just comparing systems and aren’t ready to purchase.

The Frontpoint website, in contrast, clearly lists its monitoring and equipment pricing, as well as add-on options and contract lengths. If those prices work for your budget, you can simply purchase your system online. While this method lacks the advantage of a knowledgeable expert to help build your system, those averse to sales calls can conveniently click their way to a security system.

Points to consider

Faulty equipment

A few minutes into the DIY installation, our tester got stuck getting her control panel up and online — it just wouldn’t connect. A help window popped up with a number to call, and a Frontpoint rep helped her troubleshoot the connection. After about 10 minutes, he could tell there was an issue with the circuit board. Certainly not ideal — but the rep apologized and shipped her replacement control panel overnight.

Because you won’t have an on-site professional to install the system, any faulty equipment could turn into a frustrating delay. We’re confident that Frontpoint will resolve any issues swiftly, but anyone who is particularly prone to technical difficulty may want to choose an alarm company with professional installation (like ADT or Vivint).

Home Security

Only one package comes with live video streaming

Frontpoint offers three monitoring plans: Protection, Interactive, and Ultimate. Our tester opted for the Interactive plan but ended up dissatisfied with its lack of live video surveillance. When she received an alarm notification while on vacation, she had no way of gauging whether her home had been broken into or if her cat had managed to trip the sensor. It turned out to be a false alarm — one she paid the local authorities $150 for.

To unlock video surveillance and advanced smart tech features, you’ll need its $50-per-month Ultimate plan. That’s a high price for home automation when compared to competitors like Vivint, which lets you add those features at every tier (starting at $40 per month). If you opt for a package that doesn’t include live video surveillance, consider purchasing a standalone security camera. The best home security cameras on the market range in price, but average around $200.

SimpliSafe Home Security System - Most Plan Flexibility

Most
Plan Flexibility

SimpliSafe
Budget-friendly and easy to install
Starting at $15/month
Pros
Budget-friendly plan options
Easy install
Recently updated equipment
No contracts
Cons
Limited security camera options
Upfront cost for equipment
Limited third-party integrations

Why we chose it

Budget-friendly plan options

SimpliSafe features the lowest professional monitoring prices on our list. For $15 per month, SimpliSafe systems come with 24/7 live alarm and environmental monitoring. That’s half the price of other companies' monitoring fees.

What’s more, SimpliSafe recently released sleeker, more advanced equipment — and gives you the option to purchase its original monitoring system at a discount or a refurbished system for 25% to 30% less than the newer model. If you’re interested in DIY monitoring, SimpliSafe lets you do so for free; all you need to do is purchase the equipment.

Easy install

SimpliSafe’s wireless security system makes for a painless DIY installation. The keypad and sensors, for instance, are mounted with sticky pads, eliminating the need for drilling. Its step-by-step guide walks you through the entire process, making it relatively simple to follow along and get your system running in no time. And, if you get stuck during your installation, a customer service rep is only a phone call away.

Home Secruity

Recently updated equipment

SimpliSafe recently updated its equipment in 2018 to enhance its already reliable features and to offer a streamlined design on par with security companies like Frontpoint. The new system has twice the range of the original and is “five times faster” in communicating with other equipment. SimpliSafe also reinforced the system’s back-up cellular connection so that it’s even more secure. Though we haven’t tested the new SimpliSafe equipment just yet, the advancements are promising and innovate on a system that was solid to begin with.

SimpliSafe’s new equipment also pairs with select smart home devices like the Nest Thermostat and August Locks, as well as voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa (this means you can arm and disarm your system with just your voice). However, it doesn’t play as well with other devices and products, like those with Z-Wave and Zigbee compatibility, and you can’t automate certain commands through IFTTT (If This Then That) yet. Just as with the redesigned equipment, this home automation update puts it in league with competitors — particularly those with DIY installation.

No contracts

Like a few of our other DIY contenders in this lineup, SimpliSafe doesn’t require a lengthy contract. And with a 60-day free trial, you have ample time to decide whether you’re on board. After that, you can cancel at any time for free.

Points to consider

Limited third-party integrations

You can use a wireless connection to operate your SimpliSafe system, but it doesn’t support Z-Wave, Zigbee, or IFTTT, meaning you won’t be able to connect it directly to other third-party devices like smart locks or automate certain actions in the home. You can, however, use Alexa to arm or disarm the SimpliSafe system and connect it to your Nest Thermostat to save energy based on when you’re home or away. But these integrations aren’t quite as robust as the abode or Ring systems.

Limited security camera options

While most providers give you the option to add both indoor and outdoor cameras to your security package, SimpliSafe’s selection is limited to one indoor surveillance camera. The camera includes features like free streamable HD video and audio, 30-day storage, and night vision, but it doesn’t take snapshots of activity and can’t pan or move — basic features found on most surveillance cameras.

Upfront cost for equipment

Regardless of if you choose a month-to-month professional monitoring plan or opt to self-monitor your home, SimpliSafe requires you to purchase its equipment upfront. Though it’s less expensive than our other picks, packages start at a couple hundred dollars and go up from there. On the plus side, purchasing your equipment upfront does give you the flexibility to move or cancel your system at any time.

Vivint Home Security System Review - Best Smart Home Automation

Best Home Security for
Home Automation

Vivint
Best-in-class technology
Starting at $40/mo.
Pros
Advanced home automation features
Solar panel option
Full-featured mobile app
Cons
Upfront equipment costs for no-contract optionCustomer service
Short trial, long contract

Why we chose it

Advanced home automation features

Vivint has been around since 1999 and is known for its cutting-edge technology. We like the company’s automation features in particular. All of the systems we considered offer some basic features, but Vivint’s were the easiest to use. With the SkyControl panel, Glance display, or mobile app, you can change the temperature on your thermostat, turn your lights on or off, and even have two-way conversations through your security cameras.

Voice assistant compatibility is only becoming more standard in the smart home industry. Not only does Vivint offer Alexa compatibilities, it also partnered with Google to provide Google Assistant voice control. Every new smart home system includes two Google Home Minis. This means that customers can adjust the smart thermostat, lock doors, and arm the system via voice commands. Using a Google Home Mini as the smart hub in your home also ensures that even non-Vivint smart devices are manageable on a single platform.

Solar panel option

And for those committed to building the ultimate smart home or upping eco-friendliness — there’s Vivint Solar. If you’re building a full smart home, solar panels can help offset that energy usage in an eco-friendly way. Vivint will handle outfitting and installing your roof, and you can monitor the panels with the Vivint app.

Full-featured mobile app

Vivint’s mobile app allows you to arm and disarm your system, view and record camera footage, and everything in between. Our tester praised Vivint’s mobile alerts, noting that they come in handy for anyone prone to absent-mindedness: “The notifications for the door sensors are nice in case I open my basement sliding door and leave it open. It continues to check in and provide a notification that the 'sliding door is still open.’”

When pairing your security system with smart features, the app enables a whole host of home control. You can alter home temperatures when the smart thermostat is too many stairs away or if you’re on vacation and want to monitor energy consumption. With smart locks, you can automate your doors to lock on a schedule and sync your alarm with your door’s entry pad (so when you enter the unlock pin, your alarm system will disarm, too).

Vivint Screenshots for Home Security

Points to consider

Customer service

While Vivint outranked every other home security system and earned five Power Circles in J.D. Power’s 2017 customer satisfaction evaluation, recent news paints a slightly different picture. Most recent BBB customer complaints against Vivint detail difficulty cancelling the service, and a handful of others complain about hidden fees. In February 2019, Vivint had to settle a $1.4 million lawsuit with the state of California regarding deceptive sales tactics.

Vivint still holds 4/5 Power Circles, and when we became Vivint customers ourselves our experience was positive: Our tester felt like the installation technician was a guest in his home — he even came prepared with protective shoe covers and asked to borrow the vacuum to clean up the drill debris. The Vivint tech was also upfront after he noticed that our tester had ordered more equipment than he needed. As our tester explained, “I originally asked for an outdoor surveillance camera, but after reviewing the house, the tech felt the doorbell camera was sufficient. Turns out, he was right.” That ended up lowering our tester’s expected price. We now we know that working with Vivint doesn't always go this smoothly across the board.

Upfront equipment costs for no-contract option

Vivint offers a month-to-month contract, but you’ll need to purchase all of your equipment upfront to open up that option. Like most home security companies, Vivint’s equipment can be costly, and paying at least $600 at the time of purchase might not fit into your budget. If you can swing it, however, month-to-month service is more flexible than a long-term contract — and helps you avoid potential termination fees.

Home Secruity

Short trial, long contract

If you don’t buy the equipment outright, Vivint requires either a four- or five-year contract — a long time to commit, especially given that you only have three days from the date of install to cancel. Afterwards, you’ll have to pay out the remainder of your contract. If you may be moving in the near future, it’ll cost you $99 to take the system with you. You could alternatively renew your contract, but then you’d be locked in for even longer. Vivint will waive any cancellation fees for extenuating circumstances like death, military circumstances, bankruptcy, or a move to assisted living. Still, it’s best to be intentional if you decide on Vivint.

ADT Home Security System Review - Best Brand Recognition

Best
Brand Recognition

ADT
The face of home security
Starting at $29/mo.
Pros
Trusted by millions
Range of equipment options
Customizable home automation packages
Cons
Customer service
Unexpected fees

Why we chose it

Trusted by millions

Founded in 1874, ADT has been around for decades longer than any other security company. It has over six million subscribers and is synonymous with home security — even its logo is a clear warning to would-be burglars.

When it comes to deterring potential break-ins, brand recognition has significant value. In fact, a study from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Criminal Justice & Criminology found that a security sign was more of a deterrent to burglars than outdoor lighting and a neighborhood watch. An ADT sign in your front yard is a good bet if you want to know you’re protected (and want other people to know it, too).

Range of equipment options

We were impressed by ADT’s range of equipment options. For your system’s hub, you can choose a tablet-like touchscreen control panel or a classic keypad command center. ADT also offers sophisticated video tech, from cameras that begin recording as soon as a door is opened to live feeds that can be viewed remotely from your phone at any time.

If your alarm goes off, these features can help you can assess the situation remotely before deciding whether or not to cancel the alarm. When we checked back in with our testers, most of them stressed the importance of this feature.

Home Security

With its considerable brand recognition, even ADT's iconic sign might be an effective theft deterrent.

Customizable home automation packages

Many of ADT’s higher-end home automation offerings are customizable (although this will affect your final price). There’s a vacation mode that arms the system, keeps a steady temperature, and turns lights on and off to suggest that someone’s home. You can also set up situational operations. For example, if the sensor detects a fire, you can automate doors to unlock and the air conditioner to shut off, slowing the circulation of smoke.

ADT is currently phasing out its ADT Pulse system to provide greater integrations to its new Command and Control system. This new Command system works with over 250 devices, offers robust encryption to reduce hacking, geofencing, and more.

Home Secruity

Points to consider

Customer service

ADT doesn’t have the strongest customer service reputation among the companies we considered, racking up more than 3,000 complaints on its Better Business Bureau page. While we chalked most of this up to the fact that ADT has several million more customers than its competitors, our tester began his call with low expectations. He was pleasantly surprised, saying, “My needs drove the conversation. And once I finally had the quote, he explained the purpose behind each device I was receiving and what the installation might entail. He took extra time to help me weigh whether I needed home automation or not — and I’m almost positive it wasn’t scripted.”

That said, it's hard to ignore the sheer number of user complaints and ADT's low score of one out of five stars. While our tester had a positive experience, the service you experience may be hit or miss.

Unexpected fees

Our experience with professional installation was mixed. Our tester said the technician provided solid customer service: “He dropped a few unnecessary window sensors from my bill after deciding that the motion detector was sufficient for the entire front half of my home.” However, there were some issues with connecting the command hub to our tester’s network.

The technician explained that ADT’s broadband systems have trouble connecting to Suddenlink routers, which our tester had, so he tried a different kind of command hub. After he left, our tester noticed he was charged $190 more than his original quote. The new equipment was significantly more expensive because it worked on cellular signals instead of WiFi. We wish we had known about that extra charge upfront.

abode Home Security System - Best Third-Party Integrations

Best For
Third-Party Integrations

Abode Connected Home Security
If you know you want to expand your ecosystem in the future, Abode is a solid foundation.
Pros
Good for home automation
Best no-cost plan
Smart design
Cons
Limited amount of products for the price
No video doorbell

Why we chose it

Good for home automation

abode provides one of the most robust displays of third-party integrations in this lineup. The company offers a decent amount of its own proprietary devices, but you’re certainly not limited to abode-specific products alone. An abode system can communicate with a slew of Z-Wave- and Zigbee-compatible smart lights and locks, light switches and dimmers, Nest products, IFTTT commands, and, of course, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Put simply: If you want the freedom to lock/unlock your door or turn on/off the lights all in one place from the abode app, this system is definitely worth a look.

Best no-cost plan

Another impressive feature about abode is that its free plan includes more flexibility and user autonomy than some other companies. You get unlimited access to the app, including notifications, phone, and email support, as well as three-day media storage. Other contenders, like Frontpoint, Ring, and Nest, among others, require a payment for security camera video storage. So, you’ll at least have a three-day window to recoup any video of suspicious activity for evidence.

Smart design

abode eliminates two of the bulkiest (and sometimes most useless) features of a home security system: the keypad and hub. Instead, you have to control the entire system with your phone. Nest and Ring, for example, let you control the device from your phone but still include a base station/hub. The lack of a hub might actually make things easier for you, especially if you’re glued to your phone. The key fob also comes with three buttons you can use to adjust the security settings in your home, and if something trips the motion sensor, it’ll take a photo of the event.

Overall, the abode system offers a great deal of convenience without sacrificing security.

Points to consider

Limited amount of products for the entry-level price

We did find one of abode’s starter packages (the iota) to be expensive for the amount of equipment it offers. You’ll receive a hub (the iota) that comes with an HD camera, motion detection, and two-way talk, a key fob to arm/disarm your system, and one door/window sensor. Granted, the price isn’t that surprising, as iota itself is smarter than, say, the Ring Alarm base station. But you’re getting a broader scope of protection with the Ring, as it comes with a motion detector, contact sensor, and siren.

No Video Doorbell

abode is the only one of our picks that does not offer a video doorbell option, somewhat limiting added security. However, you are certainly able to integrate a third party video doorbell so long as it obeys one of abode’s compatible protocols, like IFTTT (If This Then That) which allows you to establish rules between devices that don’t directly integrate so they can work in tandem.

Emerging Home Alarm System Contenders

As previously stated, we haven’t put these into our top picks yet, as we’re currently overhauling the page and broadening our scope of the home security industry. Here are just a few of the DIY companies we’ve analyzed that are disrupting the market and changing perceptions about home security. Depending on your needs, these are worth a look in your search for the best home security system for your life.

Why opt for DIY home security systems?

DIY monitoring or self-monitoring means that when a sensor is tripped, it’s your responsibility to gauge the alert’s importance and contact the authorities. This could be potentially dangerous if you sleep through an alert that turns out to be a serious threat, but it’s generally less expensive than professional monitoring. Some home security companies like SimpliSafe offer both professional and DIY monitoring plans. If you’re interested in DIY home security, check out our favorite DIY home security systems.

Ring Alarm Home Security System - Best for Local Crime Monitoring

Best For
Local Crime Monitoring

Ring Alarm
A simple, straightforward home security system that keeps you connected to issues in your area.
Pros
Easy setup
Affordable
Neighbors feature provides updates on local crime
Considerate of local law enforcement
Cons
Clunky design
Not as compatible with other third-party devices

Why we chose it

Easy setup

Installing the Ring Alarm took less than twenty minutes and was a complete breeze. We didn’t encounter any issues with device connectivity or placement, because, frankly, Ring tells you exactly where to install everything and how to do it on the app. You’ll start by connecting your WiFi to the base station via the Ring app — from there, Ring instructs you to pull the plastic tabs off the backs of the contact sensors and motion detectors, which automatically activates the products for use. You can customize your settings for each device within the app, including how sensitive you want your motion detector to be and how often you want to receive alerts for every time someone opens or closes the door.

Affordable

At $199 for the basic five-piece package, the Ring Alarm is one of the most affordable security systems on the market. Although there’s no option for professional installation, not only does Ring make things as easy as possible, this is just another cost you don’t have to worry about. Of course, you might want to think about purchasing a security camera or two to accompany your system, but going with the five-piece Ring Alarm set plus a Video Doorbell 2 is still less expensive than paying for Frontpoint’s most basic package (that doesn’t include a camera) without a three-year contract.

Ring’s professional monitoring plan is also one of the best deals out there. For a $10 minimum (or $100 for the whole year), you can receive custom motion alerts, live views from your Ring camera, video recording for up to 60 days, and professional monitoring.

Neighbors feature and local crime

In our time testing the Ring Alarm and Ring Stick Up Cam Wired, Ring asked us to enter our location. This helps the app tailor local crime alerts specific to your area and feed into a feature called Neighbors. You can check to see who’s dealt with package thieves and any other suspicious activity and post about your own experiences, too. While the feature builds a level of community support, if receiving constant crime alerts would spike your cortisol levels, be sure to adjust the amount of notifications you want to receive from Neighbors.

While this feature sounds helpful, it might come with some privacy risks. Ring has reportedly allowed certain employees to annotate video clips from its security cameras. In an effort to keep unwanted eyes from peering into your personal life, be sure you’re intentional about what you share on the Neighbors feature and are implementing mindful security habits when it comes to these devices.

Considerate of local law enforcement

If you’re not already aware by now, your jurisdiction may require you to obtain a permit in order to operate a professionally-monitored alarm system. Before we could even find the right spot to place the base station, Ring notified us that our area (Charlotte-Mecklenburg) required a permit for use. Ring gives you a seven day grace period to decide what type of monitoring you want and to receive a permit number. In some cases, police won’t respond to a call from a monitoring center without a permit number. Fines for false alarms could also be pretty hefty (they reach up to $500 in Charlotte, for example).

Check your area’s alarm system requirements to make sure you’ll receive the assistance you need and help cut back on drained resources from false alarms. Read all the details on our full review.

Points to consider

Clunky design

The plastic itself feels cheaper than its Nest competitor, but Ring claims the base station is “smash proof” (it’ll still call authorities in a beaten state). You can also receive alerts for any tampering to the contact or motion sensors. It can also feel a tad disjointed compared to the Google Nest Secure, considering the keypad and the base station are two separate units, and the Nest Guard seamlessly combines the two (and includes Google Assistant). If not placed somewhere discreet, the motion detectors are obtrusive and look like a child’s night light. The contact sensors also only detect for opening and closing doors and windows, whereas the Nest Detects detect for door and window openings but also include motion sensors.

Not as compatible with other third-party devices

It took a few months after Amazon acquired Ring for Ring to include Alexa capabilities into its Ring Alarm. So if you’re a Google Home user, you might want to rethink this system. Unlike abode, the Ring Alarm doesn’t support IFTTT commands, either (although its video doorbell does).

Scout Alarm Home Security System - Best Basic Alarm System

Best
Basic Alarm System

Scout Alarm
Looking for a cost-effective way to easily integrate? Scout is for you.
Pros
Wide range of third-party integrations
Affordable monitoring
Cons
Self-monitoring isn’t free
Underwhelming amount of products

Why we chose it

Wide range of third-party integrations

Similar to abode, Scout plays well with many other products fit for seamless home automation. With Scout, you can do things like program your Philips Hue lights to blink if a motion detector senses motion and even tell Scout to call your personal phone if an alarm goes off in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping.

Affordable monitoring

Scout Alarm ties with Ring for the most cost-effective monitoring plan starting at $10. You can get all the basics like email, push, and SMS alerts, as well as 4G LTE cellular backup and battery for Scout’s cheapest, “Always On” plan. However, you will have to pay for additional $2.99 cloud camera storage (per camera) per month, and this doesn’t come with professional monitoring. This extra cost isn’t ideal, but when compared to the Frontpoint and Vivint $35-and $45- respective minimum prices per month for monitoring, Scout Alarm is a steal.

Points to consider

Self-monitoring isn’t free

Although its self-monitoring plan is pretty cheap, Scout Alarm is one of the only DIY companies that actually charges you to self-monitor (SimpliSafe requires professional monitoring). Nest, Ring, and abode won’t charge you a thing for leaving monitoring in the hands of their call centers.

Underwhelming amount of products

We mean this in the nicest way possible. Scout’s proprietary offerings don’t overwhelm — whereas some DIY companies several different gadgets that leave you wondering what you really need. You can choose a package or build your system with the “Core” sensors, one indoor camera, smoke/CO detector, water sensor, and a Scout door lock. While the lack of variety certainly isn’t ideal, you can focus on what Scout considers to be necessary and spend time researching what third-party devices can integrate with your system.

For example, Scout only offers one security camera (and it’s for indoor use only). If you want a few more sets of eyes on your property, though, Scout Alarm integrates with Nest Cams, which can send motion notifications to your Scout app.

Google Nest Secure Home Security System - Sleekest Design

Sleekest
Alarm System Design

Google Nest Secure
A smart way to do home security, with little to no strings attached.
Pros
Sleek, low-maintenance design
Solid Nest integrations
Trusted professional monitoring
Cons
Hefty upfront equipment cost
Video storage

Why we chose it

Sleek, low-maintenance design

The basic Google Nest Secure package comes with a hub — the Guard — two key fobs (Nest Tags) that allow you to check in and out of your system, and two sets of motion-detecting sensors you can attach to doors or windows (Nest Detects). At 3.7 inches in diameter and 2.1 inches high with a matte-white finish, the hub makes an unobtrusive addition to any side table, while the Detects are discreet and responsive for up to 15 ft. The Guard also comes with a Google Assistant built-in, so you can use voice commands to arm the system (but not disarm), play music, or even request a temperature change, if you have a Nest thermostat.

It’s also important to note that Nest isn’t quite up to speed with glass-break sensors. However, the company claims to be “working on bringing glass break detection to the Nest Guard.”

Solid Nest integrations

If you’re interested in the Google Nest Secure, you’ll have the most success in the way of a neatly-integrated home security ecosystem by sticking with Nest products. Some of Google Nest’s cameras do offer facial recognition, but they can’t trip alarms (based on whether they recognize someone or otherwise). You can, however, place the Detects on a window or door near one of your cameras — if an intruder enters and trips one of the sensors, your cameras will automatically turn on and snag footage of the incident (even if they’re off at the time).

Read more about Nest communication with Nest and other products in our review.

Trusted professional monitoring

Nest partners with Brinks Home Security, a system ranked number one in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power. The partnership also allows you to choose whether you want the added security of professional monitoring (for up to $29.99), but there’s no monthly cost for not having the feature. If you feel comfortable doing so, you can be the sole gatekeeper of your home’s security.

Points to consider

Pricey equipment

The basic package — which comes with an underwhelming amount of equipment — starts at $399. In order to outfit your home with a stronger lineup of security products, you might or might not feel the need to add cameras. Home security is notoriously expensive, and some companies even require you to pay for installation (like ADT). While you do have the option to consult a pro installer to ensure you’re putting everything in the right place, Nest affords you the option to install products on your own.

Video storage

You’ll have to purchase a Nest Aware subscription in order to save video footage. You can choose between rolling five, ten, and 30-day storage options, but you can’t select one rate to cover all cameras. Nest Aware subscriptions are priced per camera, and if you want to opt out of paying for storage altogether, Nest only gives you up to three hours worth of recordings.

Others Alarm Systems to Consider

A few contenders we haven’t tested but might be worth a look.

Brinks Home Security System - Great Customer Service

Great
Customer Service

Brinks Home Security

Why we chose it

Customer satisfaction

Brinks is a trusted name in the home security industry and is ranked number one in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power, a clear sign that the majority of Brinks users are pleased with the service, as the study homes in on a holistic view of factors like billing and payment, customer service, and overall usage.

Good for home automation

Though we haven’t tested Brinks’ equipment ourselves, its sleek touchscreen control panels, wireless sensors, and streamlined app seem promising. Brinks also offers home automation, which allows you to use your system as a hub for other smart devices, like automated locks and voice assistants. Brinks offers a variety of third-party integrations to use with your home security system including Nest.

Relatively affordable

Compared to other professionally-monitored and installed home security systems, Brinks is a pretty affordable, with plans starting at $29 per month.

Points to consider

Unclear installation costs

Upfront costs for equipment can run high, and its website isn’t clear about additional fees if you choose to have a professional install your security system. But with both professional and DIY installation available, and a sky-high customer satisfaction rating, Brinks is certainly worth considering.

Contract cancellation fee

You can either pay on a month-to-month basis with Brinks or a tad less per month for a three-year contract. This isn’t the most limiting we’ve seen in a home security contract, but it certainly doesn’t give you as many options. Plus, if you want to opt out of the contract, you’ll have to pay 70% of the remaining months of the contract term.

Voluntary Bankruptcy

On July 1, 2019, Monitronics International – the company that provides financial backing for Brinks Home Security – filed for voluntary bankruptcy. Under the terms of the new plan, Brinks expects to continue to operate normally, providing top-notch security services without any interruption to their customers, employees, and partners.


Protect America Home Security System - Free Equipment

One of the most cost-effective security companies in the industry, Protect America makes fitting home security into your monthly budget straightforward. Equipment is included with any monitoring plan, meaning you don’t have to pay an upfront cost — usually a few hundred dollars — to start protecting your home. Plus, because it’s a DIY installation, you won’t have to worry about any additional fees to get your system up and running.

That said, if you choose to cancel after its 15-day trial period you will have to pay 100% of your three-year contract. But if you like Protect America’s service, this won’t affect you. While we haven’t had an opportunity to test Protect America’s equipment for ourselves yet, we’re impressed with its DIY installation, variety of affordable plans, and free equipment.

Xfinity Home Security System - Best Alarm System for Comcast Customers

Best Alarm System for
Comcast Customers

Xfinity Home Security

If there’s one company challenging ADT’s lawn sign monopoly, it’s Xfinity Home Security. The multi-platform company first delved into home security in 2011, and it’s signature red lawn sign is nearly as ubiquitous as ADT’s classic blue. The best reason to go with Xfinity may be that you’re already a Comcast customer. Bundling opens the door for deals, and makes your monthly bill paying that much easier. But there are other good reasons to go with the company that also account for Xfinity’s rapid, coast-to-coast growth.

For one, the ability to integrate home security, home automation, and entertainment. All of the above are controllable via the Xfinity Home app, or through your television using your Xfinity remote. This all-in-one system has a trade-off — you’ll have to be all-in too. There’s just a single home security starter kit, it has to be professionally installed and professionally monitored, and there’s a two-year commitment. If you’re attracted to a more flexible, DIY conception of home security, you may be better off with options like SimpliSafe.

Guide to Getting the Best Home Security

How to find the best home security for you

Research plans before you call

We recommend you get a good idea of what features and packages you want before calling to purchase, but be open to the advice from the sales rep. Our Frontpoint tester called on two separate occasions. The first time, she had a good idea of what she wanted system-wise but said she was still shopping around for a provider. The second time, she pretended to be an easy sell who just wanted a system but hadn’t done any research.

Her initial call was much more informative and detailed. The sales rep walked her through each room in her house, asking her to describe where the windows and doors were in each room, recommending the right pieces of equipment for each space — likely because they knew she had done her research and was hungry for details.

Explore DIY vs. professional installation

A few of our favorite providers allow you to DIY your alarm system installation, while others send a professional to do the task. Professional installation allows for a home security expert to evaluate your home’s security needs and educate you on how to best utilize your system. The drawback is that professional installation often involves an additional fee. When you opt to DIY, the process is typically quicker and you can avoid any appointment-scheduling acrobatics.

Understand your home automation needs

Home automation may not be something you’ve considered, but many home security providers offer it with higher-tier packages. Not everyone needs complete control over their lights, locks, and robovac, but home automation comes in handy if you travel frequently or desire complete convenience. Before choosing a home security package, think about your smart home needs and if this technology may be something you’ll want in the future.

Look at home automation protocols

If you decide that home automation is an important part of your home security, it’s a good idea to research home automation protocols to learn which one will work best for you. As we touched on above, a protocol is the language smart devices use to communicate with each other, and it serves as the foundation on which a home automation system is built. Not all protocols are the same, with some supporting more devices or using less power. Before committing to any home automation devices, look into which protocol works best for your home and if it supports the devices you wish to incorporate into your home automation system.

Consider home security cameras

The best home security cameras offer features like night vision and a large field of view. The right location for your cameras depends on the exact layout of your home. We spoke with four industry professionals — a former FBI agent with experience testing home security systems, a criminal defense attorney, an ADT spokesman, and the president of a home security company — about video camera placement, and they offered a few general tips:

First priority: Entryways
Our experts all agreed that having cameras record the space in front of your house or leading to your door is a smart option. Joe Liu, president of Home8alarm, advised having a camera that can cover the entire approach to your home and told us that “you want two cameras to cover a long driveway.”

Back doors are another common target. After all, the less attention an intruder draws, the better. Having a camera film any back entrances (or side doors and windows if you lack a back door) will help to verify whether someone has broken in. As for placement, somewhere up high where wires can’t be clipped — or by the doorbell, where burglars won’t want to do anything suspicious — is our experts’ advice.

Second priority: Master bedroom
Glenn Kurtzrock, a criminal defense attorney and former homicide prosecutor, told us that based on his experience, most burglars “go for the master bedroom and won’t waste time in rooms like a kid’s room.” He explained that “burglars don’t like to spend a lot of time in a house regardless of whether there’s a security system” so will prioritize the rooms most likely to have cash, jewelry, or small electronics. Having a video camera that films the entrance to your master bedroom can help provide video evidence for the police should a crime occur.

Third priority: Other high-traffic areas
After that, the best areas for placement are any high-traffic rooms, such as a living area or main hallway, that a burglar is likely to pass through multiple times on their way in or out. This helps you track where the intruder has been and increases your likelihood of capturing images that can be used as evidence for the authorities.

Home Security Systems FAQ

How can I find the best home security of 2019?

Each year, it seems that home security providers are upping the ante with new, cutting-edge equipment and home automation features. We’ve done our best in this review to zero in on the features that remain important no matter the year while offering some helpful things to look out for on the current market.

More than anything, we recommend that you research as many different providers (and plans) as possible. Think of it like buying a car and how you would shop around for that before making a decision. You should also consider the top picks we’ve covered in this review:

  1. Best Home Security for Home Automation:Vivint
  2. Best DIY Home Security: Frontpoint
  3. Best Basic Home Security: SimpliSafe
  4. Most Popular Home Security: ADT
  5. During your research, you may find other providers not featured in our list that work for you. That’s fine, too! We encourage you to get out there and do your homework since finding the best home security system for you will largely reflect on your own living situation, as well as other factors like your willingness to DIY the project versus having an installer set it all up for you, and whether your focus is more heavily on home automation vs. home monitoring and security.

What is home automation?

Home automation allows you manage features of your home — such as lights and door locks — with a mobile app or via voice commands. This means you can perform tasks like closing your garage door, adjusting your thermostat, or turning on lights even if you’re not at home. Most home security providers offer home automation and include a variety of smart home devices. If you already have a smart home and use an Amazon or Google smart hub, you can integrate your security system and manage it on the same app as your other devices. That said, it’s important to make sure your security system pairs with your smart hub before purchasing so as to avoid any issues when syncing the two.

What are the benefits of home automation?

Making your home smarter can help you save money. For example, a home with smart light bulbs can reduce your utility costs by using less energy over time. The same goes for smart thermostats, which can learn from how you use them, determine the optimal temperature for your home, and adjust accordingly.

Home automation can also help you know what’s happening in your home while you’re away. On vacation and and a package is left on your doorstep? See it on a security camera and phone a neighbor to pick it up for you. Leave the heat on when you left town? With a smart thermostat you can remotely lower the temperature from your phone and avoid heating an empty house. By that same token, you can also tell the home to start heating things up so that, after a cold winter drive, you can return to a warm home.

What's the difference between wired and wireless security systems?

If you have a wired home security system, your control panel is hardwired into your home and connected to a landline. If a burglar cuts the telephone line, your system may not be able to connect to the monitoring station. A wireless security system is generally considered safer, since they can’t be physically cut by potential burglars. Wireless connections aren’t always foolproof, but many systems have algorithms built in to alert you and the monitoring center of any wireless signal interference.

Will a home security system protect against fires?

Yes, there are some home security systems that help protect the home against things like carbon monoxide leaks and fires. Take GetSafe as an example. The company’s smoke detector comes as an optional add-on to the Starter Kit and provides real-time alerts whenever smoke or fire is detected. If you aren’t home, GetSafe’s monitoring center will contact the firefighters on your behalf. Frontpoint’s Protection Plan also comes with a similar Environmental and Fire Protection feature.

How long does it take for a security system to notify police?

There are two elements at play in an alarm response: the monitoring center’s response time and your local police department’s. The monitoring center associated with your home security system should be notified within seconds of an alarm (and contact you soon after to verify the cause).

Before they contact the authorities, the monitoring company has to make contact with you. If you don’t answer, they call a backup contact first and will contact the authorities if that person doesn’t answer. If you do answer, it’ll be up to you to determine if you want the police sent to your home. Police response time may vary depending on how busy the police department is.

How do I prevent false alarms?

Estimates for home security false alarm rates range from 94-98%. Liu suggests adding video cameras to your system if you’re serious about preventing false alarms: “With [cameras], you can verify every alarm and reduce false alarm rates to zero. You also get more priority with first responders if you have video evidence.”

What is professional home security monitoring?

With professional monitoring, a monitoring service keeps an eye on the status of your alarm system and will contact you within minutes of an alarm to confirm if it’s a true emergency. If so, they’ll dispatch the police or other services for you. If you don’t pick up, most companies will call whomever you’ve designated as your emergency contact. If there’s still no response, they’ll typically dispatch the police.

How much does it cost to turn your house into a smart house?

The cost of increasing your home’s IQ varies depending on how you do it. For example, home security systems like Vivint and ADT include services and features that fall within the realm of home automation — surveillance cameras, two-way voice, compatibility and integration with smart thermostats, smart door locks you can remotely unlock, etc. In situations like these, you’re paying for the service and not the equipment, so you’re looking at anywhere from $29-$50 a month.

You can also buy individual equipment piecemeal if you’d rather monitor your own home security system, or test out the concept before committing to full automation. In that case, the cost of buying each piece — cameras, thermostat, hub, door locks — will start to add up, with a few hundred dollars here and there, but you won’t have to keep up monthly monitoring costs.

Can I add a separate security camera to my system?

Some of the best home security cameras are ones you can buy in addition to your larger system. Brands like Nest and Arlo offer high resolution cameras equipped with night vision and two-way communication. Most are affordable and easy to integrate with your system. Nest cameras, for example, are compatible with ADT and Vivint. Before purchasing a separate camera, make sure it pairs with your home security system.

Can I build a smart home with a home security system?

Yes. As home automation becomes a bigger part of many people’s lives, home security providers are updating their equipment to fulfill the demand. The Nest Secure and Vivint’s Smart Hub, for example, not only function as the brains of your security system, but also as hubs for home automation. Most home security companies also offer smart devices — like locks, garage doors, and doorbell cameras — that pair with their systems and can be managed through their apps. And if your security system doesn’t operate as a smart hub, you may sync with third-party smart hubs that let you manage both security- and non-security-related devices on a single platform.

Can a wireless home security system be hacked?

Yes, it’s possible for hackers to compromise a wireless home security system if steps aren’t taken to protect your network. The good news, however, is that the safeguards necessary to prevent this aren’t too different from safe computer use.

When it comes to securing your network, opt for passwords with a combination of symbols, letters and numbers. And remember that companies that provide you with wireless home security will never ask you for your password over email. Additional ways to prevent your system from being hacked include:

  • Not using public WiFi (which could compromise the mobile device you use with your system)
  • Changing your password regularly
  • Checking for system updates
  • Antivirus software

Do home security systems help me save on homeowner's insurance?

Yes, home security systems may help you save money on your home insurance premium, but be aware that not all providers offer this incentive. In 2017 the U.S. had a property crime burglary occur once every 23 seconds, and many home insurance providers recognize that home security systems on the premises mean an decreased likelihood of break-ins (and thus decreased likelihood they’d have to pay out a claim).

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