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Last updated on Dec 23, 2019

The Best Wireless Home Security Systems

Security and automation, untethered and unleashed ​
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13 Providers considered

12 Criteria evaluated

4 Top picks

Anne Dennon

By Anne 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. She previously worked in education and information literacy.

The Best Wireless Home Security Systems

Today’s home security systems are wireless practically by default. Old-fashioned wired systems require costly professional installation and are vulnerable to being physically cut by intruders. What’s worse for today’s technological age: Wired systems are only good for professional monitoring. Wireless systems enable self-monitoring and provide a foundation to build your smart home. They are easy to set up (saving you a hundred bucks or more on installation) and keep an eye on from anywhere.

Compare The Best Wireless Home Security Systems

SimpliSafe abode Vivint Ring
Best Wireless Home Security Best for Self-monitoring Best for Professional Monitoring Best Wireless Security Camera
Contract Month-to-month Month-to-month 12 months Month-to-month 42 month 60 month Month-to-month
DIY monitoring
Professional monitoring
Cost for professional installation $79, or DIY for free $99, or DIY for free $49-$99 $99+, or DIY for free
Trial period 60 days 30 days 3 days 30 days
View plans View plans View plans View plans

SimpliSafe

Best Wireless Home Security
SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe

Pros

Great devices
Strong app
Affordable professional installation

Cons

Self-monitoring requires top tier monthly plan

Why we chose it

Great devices

It all starts with the base station. SimpliSafe’s visual signature is the shapely, vase-like base station that tracks other SimpliSafe devices, sounds an adjustable-volume alarm, and signals to the monitoring center. The base station and wireless keypad form the foundation of any SimpliSafe system. You can shop from their buffet of device packages (with such soothing and evocative names as The Haven and The Knox), go the custom route, or even shop from refurbished systems. (That last option is a money-saver not offered by many similar companies.)

All SimpliSafe devices are streamlined and powerful, but the SimpliCam steals the show. It offers the live streaming and on-demand recording we have come to expect from smart cams, but ups the ante with heat-based detection algorithms to cut down on false alerts and improved security features. Close the stainless steel privacy shutter when you don’t need the camera on. And rest easy knowing your stream is protected by bank-level encryption (256-bit).

Strong app

The SimpliSafe app receives the highest star ratings (from both iOS and Android users) of all the systems we looked at. Because security systems are most useful when they are easy to monitor and control, a well-functioning app is arguably the most important feature. Get instant notifications, keep an eye on video footage, and peruse a saved timeline of system events. But this convenience doesn’t come free — you have to get SimpliSafe’s top tier monthly monitoring plan to access app control.

Affordable professional installation

Like the vast majority of modern home security systems, SimpliSafe is designed for DIY installation. It’s plug and play. Still, it’s nice to know that you can get professional assistance if you want it — whether you don’t have the time, or you’re purchasing a system for a loved one who doesn’t live nearby. SimpliSafe offers professional installation for a flat $79. Much less than what other companies charge for large system installations (you could be looking at $150) and still competitive with fees for smaller installations ($50-$100).

Points to consider

Self-monitoring requires top tier monthly plan

SimpliSafe offers quality, affordable equipment and well-priced monitoring without contracts. So far, it’s three-for-three when it comes to eschewing old, stodgy home security norms in favor of user-friendly practices. But you have to pay for the Interactive monthly plan at $25 per month to unlock smartphone control. If you stick with the Standard plan at $15 per month, you get professional monitoring alone. This seemingly backward setup is a ding in SimpliSafe’s value proposition, but even at $25 per month, it’s still very competitive with the self-monitoring competition.

abode

Best for Self-Monitoring
abode

abode Connected Home Security

Pros

Free self-monitoring, cheap plan upgrades
Vast integrations
Lifetime warranty for professionally monitored systems

Cons

No smart doorbell

Why we chose it

Free self-monitoring, cheap plan upgrades

You can monitor your abode security system for free with the Basic plan. For free. The abode app provides three days of video storage without charge. If you are reliably on your phone and check notifications as they come in, you stand to benefit from the best self-monitoring deal known to the home security market. But even if you need to upgrade to greater storage, or want to outsource monitoring responsibility to the professionals, abode keeps costs way down. The Connect plan costs $8 per month and extends storage to 14 days. The Secure plan costs $20 per month and gets you three months’ worth of storage and the support of a monitoring center.

Vast integrations

Whether it’s based on concern for security or monopolization, lots of home security companies are stingy about what other devices their system can be paired with. Not abode. It plays nicely with Google, Amazon, and a whole host of gadgets that communicate via Z-Wave and ZigBee networks.

Lifetime warranty for professionally monitored systems

Wherever you land on the monitoring decision — do it yourself or hire the pros — is a good place to be with abode. DIY for free, or get professional monitoring and benefit from a lifetime device warranty. For as long as you’re a Secure plan customer, your abode devices can be replaced for free if they start to malfunction from a manufacturing defect.

Points to consider

No smart doorbell

Abode offers a powerful core device in the iota, a camera with two-way audio, a motion sensor, and an alarm, all in one. But the company has not yet come out with an equivalently capable smart doorbell. Thanks to abode’s broad compatibility, however, there’s no reason for you to feel this lack. You can go with Ring and seamlessly connect thanks to abode’s Amazon integration.

Vivint

Best for Professional Monitoring
Vivint

Vivint

Pros

Flexible contract options
In-house smart home tech
Compatibility and control

Cons

Long-term contracts
No DIY monitoring

Why we chose it

Flexible contract options

Equipment is the big, up-front cost of home security. If you can’t shell out the several hundred upfront, then the long-term contracts that have plagued home security customers can actually be a boon. They function as a payment plan, allowing you to space your payments out over time. Vivint, whose top-of-the-line smart security gadgets can run steep, allow for this option. Pay for your equipment now and you get the flexibility of month-to-month service, cancelable without penalty at any time. Or opt into a 42- or 60-month contract, paying for your devices in installments alongside monitoring costs for the next three to five years.

In-house smart home tech

If you are building out a smart home, you typically need to seek out devices from a range of providers. One brand for the thermostat, another for the garage door control, another for the smart lock on the front door. While researching compatibility helps you find gadgets that work together, whether you will have total functionality or a seamless setup experience can be up in the air until you start experimenting. Vivint offers all of these smart devices (and a ton more) in-house, meaning you can invest in a full kit of smart home tech without fear of compatibility glitches.

Compatibility and control

If you do want to bring in third-party devices, or control your security system via voice assistant, Vivint makes it easy with Google and Amazon compatibility as well as Z-Wave. You can tap into the control power of the leading assistants and integrate those smaller, cheaper devices that communicate on the Z-Wave network.

Points to consider

Long-term contracts

If you can’t afford Vivint’s upfront equipment costs, you’re looking at a three- to five-year contract — some of the longest contracts in the industry. This is a big problem if you aren’t sure you will want to pay for home security every month for the next half decade. If it’s a commitment you’re able to make, there is a plus side. Contracts lock in price. That silver lining, it must be said, is pretty thin. The downside of most traditional systems with long-term contracts is that their monthly rates are as much as four times the cost of contract-free, self-monitored plans.

No DIY Monitoring

One benefit of choosing professional monitoring: You are relieved of the responsibility of protecting your home. You also stand to save on your homeowners insurance, as many insurance providers offer discounts for having a professionally monitored home security system. With Vivint, you don’t have a choice. If you want professional monitoring, for the above reasons or other ones, it’s a robust system. But if you want to have the option to DIY, Vivint isn’t the right choice for you. Installation and monitoring both stay with the pros.

Ring

Best Wireless Security Camera
Ring

Ring Alarm

Pros

Complete system, or a single device solution
Affordable devices and plans
Neighbors app

Cons

Mediocre app

Why we chose it

Complete system, or a single device solution

Ring, the home security company best known for their game-changing video doorbell, is an Amazon company, with an Amazon approach to making customers happy. Giving them what they want usually does the trick. Whether you want a complete system — environmental, motion, and contact sensors, plus cameras, plus monitoring — or want to beef up your home’s safety with a single device, Ring can accommodate. We particularly recommend Ring if you fall into the second camp. They offer a gamut of cameras, from outdoor security cameras bedecked with LED floodlights to tiny, powerful indoor cameras, to both wired and wireless video doorbells. Just one can provide a serious uptick in the safety and convenience of your home, thanks to motion detection, live video feed, and two-way talk.

Affordable devices and plans

You can get a powerful, all-in-one security device like a video doorbell for under a hundred bucks. A complete security system from Ring costs as little as $200 — compared to $400 from Google Nest and as much as $1,500 from Brinks. The ongoing cost of a Ring system is low, too. It’s $3 per month to self-monitor a single recording device. It’s just $10 to spread that functionality across all your devices and get professional monitoring to boot. Pay for a year in advance and get two months free — $100 for 12 months.

Neighbors app

Depending on your stance, Ring’s Neighbors app could be a pro or a con. We say it’s both. Questions of algorithmic bias and privacy aside, being able to see and share video streams from Ring devices in your neighborhood could be hugely helpful. Ward off porch pirates and provide police with faces thanks to the concerted power of the Ring device network. The app also includes crime reports to keep you aware of larger safety concerns in your area.

Points to consider

Mediocre app function

Improving the connection speed and organization of the Ring app should be a top priority for the company, particularly given their status as an industry forerunner. Users complain of difficulty connecting to the live feed, communicating with whoever’s at the door, and clumsy user experience, scrolling through endless notifications. Improvements are on the horizon, however. Ring regularly releases updates to resolve bugs and boost performance.

How we chose the best wireless home security systems

No contracts

Three-year contracts belong to hardwired systems. You’re setting up a wireless system — designed with flexible monitoring options, intended to integrate with third-party devices — not signing a marriage certificate. The DIY ethos of wireless merits contract-free service.

Of the baker’s dozen home security systems we looked at, eight offer month-to-month agreements. Some companies, like Cove and Xfinity, offer either monthly or long-term contracts, in order to accommodate customers who don’t want to pay for equipment upfront. A 36-month contract allows you to break up equipment costs, paying a little with every monitoring bill.

Strong compatibility, well-rated app

Wireless security systems are smart homes with a job. Once you are able to arm and disarm your security system by app, you may want to do the same to turn on lights, lock the door, and control the thermostat. Some of the most useful devices already perform double duty, providing security and convenience in one place. See, for example, video doorbell, which you can use to head off trespassers and give directions to the delivery person. We looked for wireless systems with robust compatibility and app ratings to support a diverse and powerful smart home.

Top-of-the-line devices

If you center your security system on a powerful surveillance device, the total number of devices you purchase and install can be very few. A smart security camera or video doorbell establishes your constant presence at home. Pair with a couple window/door or motion sensors, and you have thorough security in a concise package. We vetted the equipment offered by the remaining companies and made sure they offer in-house smart surveillance cameras and video doorbells.

Guide to Smart Home Security

Make wireless home security the foundation of your smart home

Go with a provider that keeps your options open

Today’s compatibility issues will hopefully be resolved by Z-Wave and ZigBee networks. If all developers work off the same communication protocols, then all smart home gadgets, regardless of brand, should work together seamlessly. Until then, stick with a home security provider that lists plenty of integrations: Google, Amazon, Z-Wave, and Zigbee are the big ones.

Strike a balance between security and convenience

A great wireless security system does more than protect. It adds ease to your everyday life. Center your security system on smart home devices that do it all, like smart cameras and video doorbells. Visual and audio recordings are invaluable when it comes to nabbing crooks, but they also transform your front door into a hybrid secretary and voicemail box.

Secure your security

Devices that communicate wirelessly are vulnerable to hacking. The same promise of open sourcing includes higher privacy standards to keep our connected lives secure, but the current smart home landscape is a bit like the Wild West. Step up your privacy efforts by changing the default passwords on your router and all devices. Use a password manager to store those long, complex, unique passwords (Rover16 isn’t going to cut it). Finally, opt in to two-factor authentication whenever available.

Wireless Home Security FAQ