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ByAnne Dennon Home Technology Writer

Anne has covered home security and home automation for Reviews.com for two years. She's interested in human-computer interaction and tech ethics.

The Best Cheap Home Security Systems

An effective home security system is first and foremost affordable. Alarms you couldn’t afford don’t make a sound. New competition has performed its usual good in the home security space, driving innovation up and prices down. While legacy companies still require professional installation and levy $40+ monthly monitoring fees, newcomers offer concise device kits that are plug-and-play. Pay a little for smartphone control and DIY monitoring. Pay a little more to have the monitoring center keep an eye out.

The 5 Best Cheap Home Security Companies

Compare The Best Cheap Home Security Systems

  abode Amazon Ring Cove Scout SimpliSafe
Best Cheap Home Security Cheapest Professional Monitoring Cheapest Custom Kits Affordable DIY and Pro Monitoring Cheap Equipment Bundle
Self-monitor price* Free $3 per month $15 per month $10 $25
Pro-monitor price* $20 $10 per month $25 per month $20 $25
Cost for entry level device kit $199 $239 $122 $229 $161
Installation options DIY/Professional DIY/Professional DIY DIY DIY/Professional
Compatibility Google, Amazon, IFTTT, Z-Wave, ZigBee Amazon, IFTTT, Z-Wave Google, Amazon Google, Amazon, IFTTT Google, Amazon
View plans View plans View plans View plans View plans

* Starting prices
Data as of November 22, 2019

abode

Best Cheap Home Security

abode Connected Home Security

abode
Affordable and powerful smart home security.
Pros
Super-low pricing tiers
Plan flexibility
Extensive compatibility
Cons
Traditional high rate for professional installation
Pushy online order experience

Why we chose it

Super low pricing tiers

Free DIY monitoring. Need we say more? Not charging you to watch over your own equipment seems like a no-brainer, but the vast majority of home security companies — even the ones known for game-changing low rates — follow the software-as-a-service model, charging monthly for app control and cloud storage. Only abode offers totally free DIY home security monitoring. Now, that free Basic plan comes with limited storage for video footage (3 days). Level up to 14 days of storage with the Connect plan for just $8 per month. Full professional monitoring with the Secure plan costs $20 per month. These month-to-month rates are extraordinary, but you can get them even lower if you pay for a year in advance: $80 for the Connect plan, $200 for the Secure plan.

Plan flexibility

Abode’s monitoring plans stand out in price and flexibility. At its standard monthly rates, it’s already the cheapest cellular alarm monitoring out there. But if you pay for a year at a time rather than month-to-month, you can save $16-$40 annually. You can also just pay for professional monitoring when you need it — while on vacation, for example. If you have a Basic or Connect plan with abode, you can add pro monitoring on-demand: $8 for three days, $15 for a week.

Extensive compatibility

Home automation is quickly becoming as important as home security to consumers. Whether or not you are eagerly building out a smart home, it’s nice to know that the security system you install will play nice with a wide array of assistants and devices. Abode bests the compatibility of all the other home security providers we considered. It works with the major platforms from Amazon and Google, and limitless other devices thanks to its Z-Wave and ZigBee integration.

Points to consider

Traditional high rate for professional installation

Abode has slashed prices for every home security category save one: installation. The system is designed for easy, DIY installation, but if you want to trust it to the professionals, you’ll pay $99 — around the cost of an ADT or SimpliSafe installation.

Pushy online order experience

For this review, we focused on streamlined device kits and affordable monitoring plans to keep costs down both up front and over time. Shopping on the abode website, we found it was curiously difficult to remove the extra devices added by default to our shopping cart. For a system so tuned in to value, abode’s on-site experience is weirdly geared toward up-selling. Double-check before you check out.

Amazon Ring

Cheapest Professional Monitoring

Ring Alarm

Amazon Ring
Great rates for feature-rich monitoring, but pricey devices.
Pros
Affordable monitoring options
Industry-leading devices
Good compatibility
Cons
Expensive equipment
Low ratings on app

Why we chose it

Affordable monitoring options

Amazon doesn’t match abode’s free basic service, but it out-competes when it comes to professional monitoring. Get dedicated, 24/7 eyes on your system alerts for $10 per month or $100 per year. At that rate, professional monitoring might finally fit into your budget. But if you are more interested in the automation side of things, or simply like being in control of your system, you can scale down to Basic for $3 per month. Just note that the $10 per month Plus plan includes recording for all your devices; the Basic plan covers a single device.

Industry-leading devices

While not part of the entry-level kit we vetted for the purposes of comparison, Amazon Ring includes the Ring doorbell in its device lineup. An all-in-one security device, the Ring doorbell begins recording when it senses movement, and allows you to communicate with visitors and warn off intruders thanks to two-way audio. If you choose to integrate the Ring doorbell into your Amazon Ring home security system, you’ll also get access to Ring’s Neighbor app, which lets you field nearby alerts, view crime reports, and even lend your footage to the cops.

Good compatibility

While its compatibility with other Big Tech contenders like Google and Samsung is partial, Amazon Ring does offer IFTTT and Z-Wave functionality, meaning you can incorporate just about any third-party smart device you can find into a functional smart home system.

Points to consider

Expensive equipment

The monthly price is right. The upfront costs might make you wince. The basic package we considered, the Ring Alarm 5-Piece Kit, will set you back $239. Still less than a comparable, entry-level kit from Google Nest, which runs $399, but as much as $100 more than similar kits from Cove and SimpliSafe.

Low ratings on app

Few home security systems are truly acing the app experience. It’s a weak point that all providers will have to remedy as more people build out self-monitored smart home security systems. And while Amazon Ring’s app isn’t yet in woeful two-star territory, iOS and Android reviews give it around three.

Cove

Cheapest Custom Kits

Cove

Cove
Get a basic home security setup, controllable by Amazon or Google voice assistants, for a little over $100 up front
Pros
Low-cost equipment
Pay over time with contract
Long trial period, lifetime warranty
Cons
Limited integrations
No professional installation

Why we chose it

Low-cost equipment

There aren’t any pre-set device kits from Cove Smart — you build your own, based on the size of your house and how thorough you want your system to be. We pieced together a basic kit approximating the entry-level offerings from other providers: a Cove Touch Alarm Panel, one motion sensor, two door sensors, and, of course, a yard sign and stickers. The total rang up a cool hundred bucks below the competition — about $120 compared to an average of $220.

Pay over time with contract

With such an impressively low upfront cost for equipment, you might be able to pay in full and opt for footloose month-to-month monitoring. But if you decide to build out a larger system with Cove, the company offers a contract option to spread equipment costs out over time. The Economy Plan is a 36-month contract that lets you pay for the devices a little at a time while you pay your monthly monitoring bill.

Long trial period, lifetime warranty

We’ve seen paltry three-day trial periods, and one-year warranties are an industry norm. Cove sits on the other end of the spectrum, offering generous timelines to test out new equipment and to get replacements for manufacturing defects. You have 60 days to try your Cove system at home risk-free. All Cove equipment carries a lifetime warranty.

Points to consider

Limited integrations

For those more interested in security than smarts, Cove’s limited integration options won’t be a dealbreaker. But if you want to use your home security system as one part of a larger home automation setup, you could hit a wall with Cove. As of now, the system can be controlled via Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant — but that’s about it.

No professional installation

Like most modern home security systems, Cove is designed for easy do-it-yourself installation that shouldn’t cause you any trouble. However, if you’re looking for a company that can do the labor for you, Cove isn’t it. There’s no professional installation available.

Scout

Affordable DIY and Pro Monitoring

Scout Alarm

Scout
Not a frontrunner in price or compatibility, but another solid option for either monitoring route.
Pros
Low- to mid-range pricing
Solid guarantees, sans contract
Cons
Self-monitoring charges
No professional installation

Why we chose it

Low- to mid-range pricing

With a starter bundle for less than $250 and professional monitoring for $20 per month, Scout’s pricing is highly competitive with legacy home security companies. ADT and its ilk double the dollar amounts for both upfront and continuing costs. Compared to the under-$200 kits and free or single-digit monthly charges of other home security disruptors, however, the dollar amounts don’t wow.

Solid guarantees, sans contract

Scout doesn’t require you to sign a contract for monitoring — just pay month-to-month and cancel when you want without penalty. While Scout doesn’t hold you to any promises, they still offer a couple valuable promises of their own. When you first get a Scout system, you have 60 days to try it and return it for a full refund. And if any of the parts malfunction due to manufacturer error, you can get free replacements during the first three years.

Points to consider

Self-monitoring charges

Like SimpliSafe, Scout makes you pay to self-monitor. Paying $10 per month for self-monitoring capabilities is a better deal than the $25 you’d have to pay to SimpliSafe for the same control, but it’s still more than free — which is the only reasonable rate for doing something yourself.

No professional installation

We’re guessing that the lack of a professional installation option isn’t going to be a dealbreaker for the majority of modern households. We’re a DIY generation. Still, it’s worth noting that unlike other, similarly easy-to-install, wireless systems, Scout doesn’t offer pro installation even if you want it. If the home security system you purchase is intended for, say, an aging relative who doesn’t live nearby, you won’t be able to shell out a little extra for Scout to take care of the setup.

SimpliSafe

Cheap Equipment Bundle

SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe
Sleek equipment and a streamlined app, for great but not groundbreaking rates.
Pros
Low-priced basic package
Strong app
Cons
DIY system-control comes at full price

Why we chose it

Low-priced basic package

SimpliSafe’s sleek equipment comes in a huge variety of beautifully named kits — The Haven, The Knox, The Hearth. The kits range in size from three to 12 devices, covering small homes and apartments on up to multi-floor, multi-entry dwellings. We looked at The Foundation, a modest, four-piece package that includes SimpliSafe’s signature base station and enough sensors to protect a first floor, for a little over $150.

Strong app

With an average 4.7-star rating from Android and iOS users, the SimpliSafe app bests the competition. It’s sleek, fast, and functional, and allows you to arm and disarm your system, plus watch live video from any integrated smart camera (the $99 SimpliCam, for example), all from your phone.

Points to consider

DIY system control comes at full price

SimpliSafe is a great home security system for a great price. But no matter how you want to interact with your system, that great price will never be free. Sure, you can just buy the equipment and skip the “choose your monitoring” step at check-out. But then all you’ll have is an expensive siren. You have to opt for professional monitoring in order to get the notifications and smartphone control that allows you to DIY monitor. A confusing state of affairs for a company whose ethos and name rest on simplicity.

Guide to Cheap Home Security Monitoring

How to choose an affordable home security service

Decide between DIY and professional monitoring

At first blush, DIY home security monitoring would seem like the obviously cheaper option. But the same industry disruptors who have made DIY home security a thing have also made affordable professional monitoring a thing. For some providers, like SimpliSafe, you get self-monitoring capabilities when you sign up for professional monitoring.

If you feel comfortable taking total responsibility for your system, consider free or cheap self-monitoring options from abode or Amazon Ring.

Want some dedicated eyes on your home? Abode, Cove, Scout, and SimpliSafe all offer professional monitoring for half the price of ADT. Amazon Ring offers it for a quarter of the price.

Shop for compatibility

Third-party devices don’t just allow you to enhance your smart home experience with cool new capabilities; they also offer valuable cost-saving opportunities. While a name-brand smart security camera can cost more than $300, you can find affordable alternatives for less than $100. Shop for a system that can communicate with the Z-Wave and/or ZigBee network to expand your shopping options.

Keep up on new brands and new offers

The companies offering the best deals on equipment and monitoring today may not always claim the top spot. One of the benefits of the no-contract model that more and more home security providers are adopting is that you can change providers if someone else ups the ante. Best case scenario: The new pick will allow you to incorporate your old devices.

One development to watch for: Starting in early 2020, Google will offer Nest Aware — three affordable subscription tiers for video footage. You pay for the number of days of video storage you want. Five days of storage costs $5. Ten days, $10. Thirty days, $30.

Cheap Home Security FAQ

What is the best cheap home security camera?

The cost of a home security camera can be twofold: The ticket price and the monthly fee for cloud storage. Popular smart home security cameras that are both affordable and give you some amount of cloud storage for free include Reolink, Blink, Arlo, and Lorex.

Can Alexa protect your home?

In the first half of 2019, Amazon rolled out Alexa Guard — a new capability for all of Amazon’s smart home Echo devices. Just say, “Alexa, I’m leaving” on your way out the door. The always-listening microphone will deploy its eavesdropping might to listen for telltale sounds of trouble: breaking glass, or smoke or carbon monoxide alarms going off. If you have your Amazon device set up for Smart Alerts, you’ll get a notification plus an audio recording. Still, the utility of Alexa Guard rests on the same variable as all DIY home security — will you get to the notification in time to do something?

How do you make your own security system?

A security system can be as concise as a single item — a video doorbell, a high-decibel alarm, a sturdy deadlock. The equipment you select depends on your definition of security and your budget. Start with the basics — make sure that you can securely lock all doors and windows, and that your smoke and carbon monoxide are working. Then select a simple array of devices from a single security provider or compile a mishmash of third-party devices that all communicate on the same network — Z-Wave is the biggie. If you are looking to self-monitor, treat your smartphone as the control center that it is — phone charged, power on, volume up.

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