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Best Home Security Systems of 2023

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      To find the best home alarm/security companies, our research team compared costs, verified customer reviews, features, equipment and other factors for 26 popular home alarm/security providers.

      Read our full methodology for more details on how we chose our top picks. Our picks may be Authorized Partners who compensate us — this does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which companies appear.

      Our editor's top picks

      The ConsumerAffairs research team compared 26 home security companies on available features and technology, customer reviews and costs. Some companies may be Authorized Partners that compensate us — this does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may impact the order in which companies appear. Read our full methodology for more details on how we selected our top five picks.

      • Our pick for traditional systems: ADT
      • Our pick for custom installation: Vivint
      • Our pick for tech support: Frontpoint
      • Our pick for self-monitoring: SimpliSafe
      • Our pick for value: Ring
      Why trust ConsumerAffairs?
      • Our recommendations are based on what reviewers say.
      • 4,338,283 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
      • We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
      • We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
      • Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.

      Compare our top 5 home security system picks


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      All information accurate as of time of publication.

      More details about our top 5 home security companies

      Traditional systems


      Monthly fee
      $45.99 to $61.99
      Equipment costs
      $155.98 to $1,109.60 (financing available)
      Compatible with
      Alexa, Google Home and Samsung devices
      Our favorite system
      Video & Smart Home

      ADT is our pick for a traditional, professionally installed home security system with professional monitoring. The company has a track record in the security industry that’s over 145 years old, and it offers all the features and equipment we expect from a modern home security company.

      The Video & Smart Home package is our favorite. The system comes with a digital touchscreen panel, three door/window sensors, a motion detector, a smart lock, a Nest camera and a Nest doorbell. It costs $1,387 if you pay upfront, or you can finance it over 24, 36 or 60 months ($18.49 to $46.23 per month).

      Packages include a six-month money-back guarantee. Plus, if a burglary occurs while the system is armed, ADT will pay $500 off your insurance deductible (terms and conditions apply).

      • DIY or pro installation
      • 24/7 professional monitoring
      • Variety of equipment options
      • Six-month money-back guarantee
      • Reliable service
      • Customizable systems

      “It's easy to use and their customer service is outstanding,” a ConsumerAffairs reviewer in Alabama said about their ADT alarm system.

      Others agree — multiple reviewers told us the company is very reliable, the response time is incredible and the cost is reasonable.

      "Compared to a lot of companies that I've had to deal with, ADT has been really nice and on top of things,” a reviewer in Alabama told us, highlighting the customer service and installation.

      Pam in Indiana pointed out that ADT feels more secure than some of the DIY options: “ADT is not that expensive and the monitoring is excellent. They do a great job and I would choose them over Ring. A lot of those systems can be hacked and from what I've been told, it's very hard to hack the actual ADT system.”

      Dennis in Michigan put it more simply: “The system works and that's all I care about.”

      ADT isn’t the cheapest, you have to sign a 36-month contract, and the surveillance cameras are really only worth it if you have a reliable internet connection.

      Some reviewers told us about technical difficulties. “Sometimes the cameras go offline and I don't get the video,” according to Deena in Washington, even though “the system works well most of the time.”

      • Costs: ADT’s professionally installed packages cost more than some DIY options, but you might feel more confident having your system installed by a knowledgeable technician. Be aware that there’s a $59 fee if they have to come to your house and fix something, though.
      • Monitoring contract: With professional systems, you have to sign a three-year contract for monitoring services. If you cancel early, ADT can charge you 75% of the monthly service fees due for the balance of your term.
      • Internet requirements: You need a working internet modem and Wi-Fi in your house for the Video & Smart Home system. It has to be good enough to accommodate upload speeds of 2.5 Mbps for each doorbell and 2.0 Mbps for each camera.

      With ADT, you can shop for packages or build your own system. All professionally installed systems come with a command panel, entry sensors, motion detectors, a security key fob, yard signs, window decals and 24/7 professional monitoring.

      Check out ADT Self Setup, the new DIY option, for reliable alarm monitoring without paying for professional installation. It’s one of our favorite wireless systems.

      • Smart Home package: Includes a touchscreen panel, three door/window sensors, a motion detector and a smart lock. It costs $679.20 when you pay upfront, or you can finance starting at $11.32 per month over 60 months. Ongoing monitoring services cost $49.99 per month.
      • Video & Smart Home package includes a digital touchscreen panel, four sensors, smart door lock, Nest Doorbell and Nest Cam. It costs $1,109.60 when you pay upfront, or you can finance starting at $18.49 per month over 60 months. Ongoing monitoring services cost $61.99 per month.
      Custom installations


      Monthly fee
      $29.99 and up
      Equipment costs
      Compatible with
      Google Home, Amazon Echo and Nest
      Our favorite system
      Premium Plus Package
      Special Offer

      Free Doorbell Camera Pro + $50

      Free Doorbell Camera Pro + $50 Gift Card

      Vivint is exceptional if you want comprehensive home automation along with your security system. It offers a broad range of home automation and smart-home technologies, including smart hubs, smart locks, garage door controllers, smart thermostats, smart lighting and car security devices.

      The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro (Gen 2) has Smart Deter technology and a computer vision chip. If it detects a person for too long, it shines a light and plays a loud noise (85 decibels) to deter potential intruders. As of publishing, it costs $399.99.

      Vivint is one of our top picks for smart security systems and outdoor security cameras. With the app, unlock the doors, turn on lights, control the temperature and keep an eye on your front porch.

      • Customizable systems
      • Home safety features
      • Contract-free option
      • 60-month interest-free financing
      • Frequent sales and discounts
      • Great customer reviews

      Robyn in Arizona appreciated that their installation tech “was extremely kind and patient with me throughout the purchase and install process. He was very knowledgeable and efficient. He had to do extra work in order to install my outdoor cameras but he did it so quick and it looks perfect.”

      Other happy customers frequently told us about the knowledgeable staff, easy installation process and high-quality equipment.

      Glenn in Utah highlighted that the cameras are “amazing with great clarity and zoom. I felt the price for the service was fair and we feel secure now.”

      “I didn’t in any way feel oversold. I got as comprehensive a package as I wanted and felt the pricing to be fair and reasonable,” Omar in Texas said.

      Compared with some of our other top picks, Vivint can get expensive — especially when you customize your system with lots of extra cameras. It does offer good financing deals if you don’t mind signing a five-year contract.

      • Contracts: A month-to-month service agreement is only available if you purchase all your equipment upfront ($599.99 minimum). If you choose to finance, you have to commit to a 60-month monitoring agreement. Vivint charges cancellation fees of up to $300 if you change your mind.
      • Additional costs: Installation is anywhere from $49 to $199, and you have to pay extra to warranty the equipment. There are also some smaller fees, like a monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance charge. Talk to a Vivint specialist about any ongoing promotions that may include free installation.
      • No trial period: Unlike our other top picks, Vivint doesn’t offer a free trial period or a money-back guarantee.

      Every system includes 24/7 professional monitoring services.

      • The Vivint Starter Kit includes a hub control panel, flood/water damage sensor and four break-in security sensors. Equipment costs $599.99 upfront, or you can finance for $10 per month over 60 months. Ongoing monitoring fee is $41.47 per month.
      • The Premium Package includes everything in the Starter Kit plus a doorbell camera, outdoor camera, smart lock and Vivint key fob. Equipment costs $1,479.96 upfront, or you can finance for $24.67 per month over 60 months. Monthly monitoring fee: $51.47.
      • The Premium Plus Package includes everything in the Premium package plus an indoor camera, smart thermostat and smart garage door controller. Equipment costs $2,429.92 upfront, or you can finance for $40.50 per month over 60 months. Monthly monitoring fee: $61.47.
      Tech support


      Monthly fee
      Equipment costs
      $402.96 to $790.91 (financing available)
      Compatible with
      Amazon Alexa, Google, Siri, Z-Wave
      Our favorite system
      The Family Lookout

      Frontpoint stands out for its simple DIY installation process. Its wireless systems are good for both homeowners and renters, and they make it easy to take your security system with you if you move.

      The Home Shield package makes a good starting point for most equipment needs, and you can add gear as necessary. The high-resolution wireless doorbell camera is included with The Family Lookout package ($349) and can be added to any package for $187.48.

      Frontpoint is one of our picks for the best DIY home security systems overall. It offers reasonably priced equipment with awesome features. Systems are designed to be simple to set up by yourself, but tech support is available if you need help.

      • Easy installation
      • 30-day money-back guarantee
      • 3-year limited equipment warranty
      • App for remote monitoring
      • Video analytics for smarter monitoring
      • 24-hour battery backup

      Several people we talked to appreciate Frontpoint’s clear installation instructions and effective problem resolution.

      It’s also nice that you can expand your system over time. Robert in Alabama told us that setup “took 30 minutes, and the quality of the equipment is great. … It's been there for 15 years. Over the time, I would have thought a lot more sensors would have gone bad, but everything in the house is perfectly covered and there are no issues.”

      Amanda in Florida likes “the fact that they let you purchase your equipment so that you own it outright. Their system is able to run on cellular backup if you don't have Wi-Fi.”

      Frontpoint’s monitoring is a little more expensive than some of its competitors' services, and you have to sign up for a three-year commitment for some packages.

      We also noticed a trend of dissatisfied customers complaining about the cancellation policy. “They make it impossible to reach anyone by phone. There also is not an online option to cancel services,” according to Larissa in Louisiana.

      • Cancellation policy: Early termination of the 36-month contract may result in Frontpoint charging a fee of 80% of the monthly charges for the remainder of the contract term.
      • Internet connection: Like with ADT, you also need a Wi-Fi network that supports a bandwidth of at least 2 Mbps upload speed per camera.
      • Might not be ideal for older houses: A reviewer in Washington told us that the motion sensors don’t work as well if you have thick crown molding around your doors or windows, which is common in some older/Victorian homes.

      All packages come with access to the Frontpoint app and a home defense kit (yard sign, door stickers and window decal). Professional monitoring is regularly priced at $49.99 per month and requires a month-to-month or 36-month contract.

      • The Starter Pack: For $129, you get the Frontpoint hub and keypad, a door/window sensor and a motion sensor.
      • The Home Shield: For $269, you get the hub and keypad, three door/window sensors, a motion sensor, smoke and flood sensors and an indoor camera.
      • The Family Lookout: For $349, you get the hub and keypad, three door/window sensors, a motion sensor, an indoor camera, a doorbell camera and a keychain remote.
      Monthly fee
      $9.99 to $29.99
      Equipment costs
      $134.73 to $384.94
      Compatible with
      Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August Locks
      Our favorite system
      The Lighthouse

      SimpliSafe is a low-cost, low-commitment option — great if you want a security system but don’t have the budget to pay $50 or $60 for monitoring each month. You can self-monitor for around $10 per month. Even with professional monitoring, it only costs around $30 per month.

      SimpliSafe is more customizable than a lot of other security companies. The outdoor security camera can be added to any system for $189.99 each. Professional monitoring is optional, and if you do eventually want it, you can sign up without a long-term contract.

      We appreciate the versatility of the system and the ability to customize systems to different specific needs. SimpliSafe is also one of our picks for the best self-monitored security systems, and it has great camera options.

      • 60-day money-back guarantee
      • No contract required
      • Customizable systems
      • Optional alarm monitoring
      • Easy to install
      • Low monthly monitoring fees

      People generally like that systems are customizable, easy to set up and reasonably priced.

      “The alarm system is very user-friendly. The monitoring is very effective, staff is very professional and responsive. Overall, using the in-home equipment is quite easy and verbal notifications are flawless,” according to Dale in Tennessee.

      Keith in Tennessee said it’s “very reliable even in rural areas. Battery backup, internet out, no problem, you're still connected by your cell network. Easy to manage as well.”

      “I built my system to include a base station, several door sensors, motion sensors and outdoor cameras,”  Barbara in Pennsylvania said. “When the components arrived, they were extremely easy to set up and test. I did run into a couple minor equipment glitches, which Simplisafe was quick to replace, no questions asked. I love that I can remotely access my system and adjust settings all from my phone.”

      Not all of SimpliSafe’s features and services are available if you self-monitor your system. That means things like smart home integration won’t work if you don’t pay a monthly fee, even if your equipment is technically capable of doing so.

      • Equipment costs: While SimpliSafe offers several equipment packages, they don’t provide any savings over building your own system, so it’s probably a better idea to buy your equipment a la carte and avoid paying for things you don’t need.
      • Monitoring options: You don’t have to sign up for monitoring services when you buy your system, so it’s a good option if you’re looking to avoid ongoing costs. However, not having monitoring means you need to be comfortable with notifying the authorities yourself when your alarm goes off.
      • Not good for landlords: You have to be physically present to update the system or reinstall the keypad, according to a customer in Florida.

      The Foundation is the most basic package — for $134.73, you get the base station and keypad, one entry sensor and one motion detector. This kit was designed for small homes and apartments. We like The Lighthouse, priced at $255.71, because it’s the cheapest package that comes with an outdoor camera.

      Once you pick your equipment, then you can decide which monitoring plan you want:

      • Fast Protect Monitoring: For $29.99 per month, you get 24/7 professional monitoring with high-priority dispatch and unlimited camera recordings.
      • Standard Monitoring: For $19.99 per month, you get professional monitoring services but without camera recordings.
      • Self Monitoring with Camera Recordings: For $9.99 per month, you get unlimited camera recordings and alerts, but no emergency dispatch.
      Monthly fee
      $3.99 to $10
      Equipment costs
      $155.98 to $1,109.60 (financing available)
      Compatible with
      Honeywell and Alexa-enabled devices
      Our favorite system
      Alarm Pro Security Kit

      Ring offers some unique equipment and service options (like online security tools) that make it a good option if you’re looking for an affordable security system. Like SimpliSafe, you can install the system on your own, and there’s no long-term monitoring contract.

      Ring offers two kinds of alarm systems, but we like its Alarm Pro kits because it has extra network security. The 8-piece Alarm Pro Security Kit costs $299.99 and comes with a built-in eero Wi-Fi 6 router, which delivers fast, reliable internet and supports speeds up to 500 Mbps.

      Ring really stands out for offering a cheap DIY monitoring option. We like that systems are expandable, so you can easily add more cameras and security lights if you ever want to. Ring is also one of our top picks for DIY home security cameras.

      • 30-day trial period
      • No long-term contracts
      • User-friendly mobile app
      • Lots of camera options
      • Video surveillance capabilities
      • DIY installation

      “The overall security system is great because it allows you the ability to connect between different devices,” according to a Cameron in California.

      Many customers appreciate the user-friendly app, which lets you view and manage devices from anywhere. Erin in Ohio particularly likes to customize the notification settings “so that I'm not alerted every time I receive an Amazon package.”

      Jessica in North Carolina likes that the “price is very affordable” and the “video and sound quality are great.” Others agree — Ring is inexpensive, easy to use and has great video and sound quality.

      Not everyone is satisfied with the recorded video feed.

      “It's ok for cameras but does not record quick enough motion or detects people far away sometimes,” Erika in Texas said. “It would be excellent if the camera does that. I like the cheap monthly payments and affordable cameras but need some work.”

      Overall, Ring’s base alarm kit packages are relatively inexpensive and often a good value, but some of the add-on accessories can get pricey. If your budget is tight, we recommend pricing out your system on Ring’s website and comparing it against your other options.

      Starting costs for home alarm systems range from $199.99 to $379.99. All come with a base station, keypad, door/window contact sensor and motion detector, and you can customize by adding extra cameras, glass break sensors, smart doorbells, lights and more.

      Ring offers three monitoring options:

      • Basic: For $3.99 per month, you get video recording for one Ring doorbell or camera and access to the app for arming and disarming the system.
      • Plus: For $10 per month, you get video recording for multiple Ring devices at one location, plus extra digital features through the app.
      • Pro: Starting at $20 per month, this plan provides 24/7 professional alarm monitoring.

      Read home security company reviews

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        Home Security System Buyers Guide

        When I was a kid in the 1990s, my family was targeted by burglars. Like most home invasions, it was a crime of opportunity: My mom left our truck unlocked in the driveway, allowing easy access to the garage door opener, and the door leading from the garage into our laundry room was also unlocked. The next morning, we woke up to find our kitchen and living room had been ransacked. My parents, brother and I slept through the whole thing.

        It didn’t take long for my dad to get a professional home alarm system after that. We went with ADT, probably the most reliable system you could get back then. It’s still a great company for professional monitoring, but you have a lot more options these days.

        Now, as someone who rents an apartment, I’m more interested in SimpliSafe and Ring. Both are easy to install and have awesome remote monitoring features. Our other top picks — Vivint and Frontpoint — are great for my friends who want smart home integrations.

        How to choose a home security system

        With so many options and new technologies available, choosing a security system can feel daunting. If you don’t know where to start, follow these steps to find the right security system for you.

        Decide if you want professional monitoring
        Whether or not you want monitoring will affect most of your other choices when picking a home security system, so it’s good to decide what you want early on.

        Professionally monitored home security systems connect to response centers that dispatch emergency responders when an alarm is triggered. Depending on your subscription terms, operators can contact the police, fire department or medical services to ensure the appropriate response.

        With an unmonitored system (sometimes called a “ self-monitored” system ), there's no monitoring center watching for an alert from your security system. Your alarm can still make noise when triggered and send alerts to your phone when the sensors detect something, but it’s up to you to contact first responders. The upside to self-monitoring is that it can help you avoid monthly fees.

        Here are some tips on who each type of system is best for:

        • Unmonitored alarm systems are better for people on a budget, and they might work well enough if someone in your household can consistently monitor the system and respond to alerts in an emergency. They’re not as useful if you panic in high-stress situations or don’t consistently check your phone, though.
        • Monitored alarm systems provide an extra layer of security when you’re away from home or asleep, so they’re a better option for people who feel safer with a professional watching for alerts 24/7. You’ll likely need to pay a monthly fee for this service, though, and your contract may require a multiyear commitment.
        Evaluate your connection options
        There are two main ways home alarm systems communicate with the outside world:
        • Nationwide cellular networks: Cellular security systems may require professional installation, but they need little upkeep. With a battery backup, the system can even work during power outages. However, the cellular signal might not be strong enough to be effective, depending on where you live.
        • Home Wi-Fi networks: These systems are easier to install and easier to take with you if you move. However, they might not work during power failures. In larger homes, the signal also might not cover all rooms.

        Many top home security cameras are wireless and run on a cellular network connection, making them ideal for remote locations without Wi-Fi access. Hard-wired cameras are another option — though they require cables for power and video transmission, they provide reliable high-definition video that’s less susceptible to interference.

        If you have a large house, make sure your Wi-Fi is strong enough to reach devices in every room. If it’s not, consider getting a wired system (or installing some boosters to strengthen your Wi-Fi signal).

        Residential security cameras typically use 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption, which is versatile and easy to work with but can still be hacked. The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services recommends choosing an alarm company that provides “firmware, an encrypted network, or a strong firewall to prevent hackers from obtaining access to your video feed.” Otherwise, you risk cyber intrusions.

        Consider how it will be installed
        Home security systems have two common installation options: professional or do-it-yourself (DIY). If you purchase a wireless home security system, you usually have the option to set it up yourself. Most hard-wired systems require professional installation.

        Which type of installation is best? It depends on the following:

        • How handy are you? Installing a wired security system requires some drilling and home modifications, and even wireless systems can require a little elbow grease. Those who are allergic to ladders and screwdrivers might be better off with a professionally installed system.
        • What’s your schedule like? It's not difficult to set up your own system, but it can be time-consuming. If you value your personal time, it might be worth paying a professional to install your system in a few hours while you work on things you’d rather be doing.
        • How big is your house? Larger homes are often good candidates for professional installation. (Running around installing sensors in a dozen rooms may not be a good use of your time.) On the other hand, an apartment should be an easy DIY job.

        As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of installation. A DIY home security system is a great choice for renters because it’s portable. Plus, you can often get one with a short-term contract or no obligation. The best DIY home alarms are also generally less expensive than those that require a professional technician to install, but many homeowners feel safer with a wired system.

        Some also consider hard-wired security systems more reliable since their peripheral devices don’t require batteries to operate. However, they can still be disabled during a power outage or by a thief with scissors.

        For more, compare costs and monitoring options for DIY vs. professional systems .

        Prioritize what equipment and features you want most
        Some home security companies only sell equipment piece by piece, while others offer bundled packages. Most companies offer a little bit of both, but the right combination of equipment for you depends on your personal security goals.

        Someone in a 12th-floor studio apartment will likely have very different equipment needs than someone in a large home out in the country. Think about your home and what it will take to protect it from intruders as you shop.

        Most packages come with at least a base station, entryway sensors and motion detectors, plus some yard signs and stickers. Of course, the more devices and features you want — like surveillance cameras, video doorbells, smart locks, motion sensors, glass-break sensors and other equipment — the more the system usually costs.

        For example, high-tech extras like touch screens and vanishing sensors cost extra — sometimes up to $300 or more. A package with video monitoring will likely cost more because you’ll need the features to stream and store footage.

        If you’re not sure exactly what you need, look for a system that’s expandable so you can add to it in the future.

        Compare home security company reviews
        Reading alarm system reviews is the best way to find out what to expect from a company before you sign up for service. Home security customers are usually vocal about unfair fees and durability issues in reviews.

        By reading home security service reviews, you can also learn more about a company’s monitoring operators, installation technicians and customer service representatives.

        Read the fine print
        It’s important to make sure you understand all the terms before you sign anything. Even some of the top-rated home security companies get negative customer feedback regarding their cancellation policies, so look for companies that offer a free trial period or money-back guarantee.

        For more on finding the best home security system for your situation, here are important questions to ask when you talk to a representative.

        video demonstrating how to choose a home security system

        Home security system costs

        Home security costs often include upfront equipment and setup charges plus monthly fees if you want monitoring services. However, some companies offer free or discounted equipment as long as you commit to paying monitoring fees for a long term.

        Simple security systems usually cost $300 to $600 to set up, and monthly charges seldom exceed $60. However, some of the cheapest home security systems can get you started for under $100 (or $0 if you finance your equipment costs), with monthly fees of around $10.

        Factors that impact the cost of your home security system

        When comparing home security system price factors, consider the cost of equipment, monitoring, installation, activation, cancellation and local alarm permit fees.

        • Equipment costs: Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a basic system and $1,000 or more for top-of-the-line systems with a multitude of devices. Many security companies provide financing or rental options to help make these costs more affordable.
        • Monitoring fees: Rates range between $10 and $65 per month. Fees can also vary based on the type of system you have — for example, monitoring for a system with smart video capabilities costs more than monitoring for one without a camera.
        • Installation costs: A wireless system should be simple to install, and often you can do it yourself for free. Professional installation costs start at around $100, and installation costs for extensive residential camera systems are generally higher — up to around $500.

          Some companies that require professional installation waive these fees, though, and free installation is often included in temporary sales or promotions.

        • Activation fees: Some companies charge a one-time activation fee of up to around $100 to get the system working. Others include the activation fee in the price of installation.
        • Municipal fees for alarm permits: Some cities charge a yearly permit fee, usually $30 to $100, for local police to respond to emergency calls triggered by monitored home security systems.
        • Termination fees: Costly termination fees could apply if you break your home security contract. Depending on the company, you might be on the hook for the balance of your equipment costs, even if the equipment was advertised as free.

        Are home security systems worth it?

        As you shop, it’s not uncommon to find yourself wondering if buying, installing and using a security system is worth the effort. However, our research has found that they're often great additions to a home for multiple reasons — and experts agree.

        "I think security systems are worth it, but the sad truth is most people don't realize that until after something bad has happened," Rebecca Edwards, lead safety expert of SafeWise.com, said. "It's a little bit like preventive health care — we all know we should do it, but if we feel fine it can be easy to put off."

        First, and maybe most obvious, security systems are a great way to deter potential burglars. The study from UNC Charlotte cited earlier found that 83% of the burglars surveyed would try to see if a home had an alarm system before attempting to break in, and 60% of burglars surveyed said they would find another home to burglarize if a security system was present. That deterrence can add up to savings.

        The average loss per burglary is $2,661, according to the FBI.

        "When you look at the cost of not having a home security system, it's definitely worth it," said Edwards. "The average loss from a burglary in the US is around $2,600, and that's just the monetary cost. That doesn't even touch the emotional cost and losing your sense of safety in your home, which should be your sanctuary."

        Second, even if a security system doesn't deter a burglar, the alarm can alert neighbors to trouble, and the monitoring center can call for the authorities. This is particularly useful if you're not at home or you can't get to your phone to call for help.

        Third, security systems can provide more than just burglar detection. The constant smart camera monitoring and home automation services can offer comfort and a little peace of mind.

        Many security system providers have smartphone apps that let you see through your security cameras no matter where you are. That means you can watch your kids or pets play outside while you cook dinner or check in with the nanny while you're at work. You can even watch for that pesky neighbor that likes to let their dog relieve itself in your yard.

        Home security FAQ

        What equipment typically comes with a home security system?

        Basic home security equipment generally includes window and door sensors, door locks, and a central panel and base station that arms and disarms the alarm system.

        Optional devices frequently include video doorbells, indoor and outdoor cameras, glass-break sensors and home automation features, which are available at an additional cost. Home alarm companies typically include a set of yard signs and window stickers for free — research shows these are effective in deterring potential intruders.

        Many burglar alarm companies’ monitoring packages also come with a mobile app that integrates smart-home automation features. You can use the app to self-monitor for emergencies and control household items like smart lights and smart locks.

        What are the different types of home security systems?

        There are many types of home security systems, but the main splits in the industry are between wired and wireless systems, DIY and professionally installed systems, and monitored and unmonitored alarms.

        Wireless systems use Wi-Fi to send signals between their control panels and the various cameras, sensors and other accessories around your home. A wired security system connects through wires within the walls. Sometimes, a system can be a hybrid of wired and wireless technology. For example, the control panel and cameras may be wired, but the sensors and motion detectors may be wireless.

        Most wireless systems are easy to install. However, wired systems almost always require professional installation. Even if a system is considered a DIY installation, many security companies offer professional help if you don't have the skills or the time to do it yourself.

        The home security market also lets you choose between monitored and unmonitored systems. When the alarm is triggered on a monitored system, it connects to emergency operators who can dispatch local police, firefighters or medical services.

        When an unmonitored system is triggered, it makes noise and sends alerts to an app on your phone (like a monitored system), but no one outside your household is notified. That means emergency services probably won't get called if you can't check your phone or hear the alarm when something happens.

        Generally, you can save money with a self-installed, unmonitored system since there are no monthly fees or upfront installation costs. However, you'd lose the added security that comes from 24/7 monitoring. For more, compare our top self-monitored home security systems.

        How much does a home security system save on insurance?

        Many home insurance providers offer discounts (sometimes up to 20%) if you get a monitored alarm system. For example, if you pay $1,000 for your homeowners insurance annually and get a 10% discount, you’ll save $100 each year on insurance simply by having a monitored security system. For more, learn about other ways you can save money on homeowners insurance.

        Can you change alarm monitoring companies?

        You can change alarm monitoring companies either by breaking your contract or choosing not to renew it. You may incur fees for early termination, though, so make sure you’re familiar with the cancellation terms of your current contract.

        Depending on your previous provider, you might be able to keep using your existing security equipment. If you’re happy with your current equipment, look for a new monitoring provider that will work with those devices.

        Can I install a home security system if I rent?

        Installing a wireless system in your rented home is a good idea —as long as your landlord permits it. To keep your security deposit, try to install the system without screws or damaging your walls. For example, you can attach sensors to windows and door frames using double-sided tape.

        Is there a security camera that works without Wi-Fi?

        Yes, some security cameras work without Wi-Fi. Cellular surveillance cameras work with a cellular network connection, making them ideal for remote locations without Wi-Fi access.

        Hard-wired cameras are another option. They require cables for power and video transmission, but they provide reliable, high-definition video that’s less susceptible to interference.

        frequently asked questions about home security systems


        ConsumerAffairs carefully collects in-depth, verified reviews to tell each customer’s experience with a company. We believe customer experiences are a crucial indicator when evaluating companies, so these reviews are a significant factor when selecting our top picks.

        To choose the top home security providers, we started with the 26 companies listed in this guide and analyzed more than 81,000 of their reviews on our site.

        To narrow our list down, we first eliminated those with overall satisfaction ratings below 3 stars (as of June 2023). To ensure we considered experiences from a diverse range of customers, we also eliminated any company with fewer than 30 ratings in the past year.

        We then compared the nine remaining companies on multiple factors, including:

        • Availability: We made sure our top picks operate in most U.S. states and are accessible without an undue burden for new customers. (That means we didn’t think you should have to sign up for another service just to purchase your security system.)
        • Unique offerings: We prioritized companies that aren’t primarily dealers for other brands on our list.
        • Costs: We gave preference to companies that priced their equipment and services to provide better value.
        • Installation methods: Both professionally installed and user-installed systems have their place in the industry, but we used this as a benchmark for identifying a company’s ideal customer.
        • Mandatory commitments: We researched each company’s contract terms to identify how long consumers were locked into monitoring agreements.
        • Features and technology: We evaluated each company’s products and services to make sure they meet industry standards.

        We used these factors to identify whether these companies met our standards and how these companies could serve different consumers’ needs. That analysis informed the highlighted headline for each of our top picks and our write-ups.


        The information in our write-ups is based on the following editorial guidelines:

        • We don’t consider video doorbells or stand-alone camera systems to be true “home security systems.” If a company offered those products, we did not include that information in our price ranges or service details unless otherwise noted.
        • The prices we publish are accurate as of publishing but do not include sales, discounts or other possible savings unless otherwise noted. Temporary promotions are often available from home security companies, so it’s worth checking current prices whenever you’re ready to buy.
        • The equipment costs presented for our top picks are generally based on each company’s pre-configured equipment packages. Many home security companies allow you to “build your own” system or customize pre-configured packages, so your costs may vary.
        • Equipment costs are based on the price of new equipment. (Some home security companies offer used or refurbished equipment at discounted prices.)
        • Monitoring costs are how much you can expect to pay when subscribing to monitoring services in the shortest term possible. Some home security companies offer discounts when you pay for several months upfront.

        Alina Bradford contributed to this article.

        Guide sources
        ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
        2. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “ Crime Data Explorer .” Accessed Feb. 1, 2023.
        3. Pew Research Center, “ What the data says (and doesn’t say) about crime in the United States .” Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.
        4. California Bureau of Security & Investigative Services (BSIS), “ Consumer Guide to Alarm Companies .” Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.
        5. Connectivity Standards Alliance, “ Building the Foundation and Future of IoT .” Accessed Aug. 17, 2021.
        6. FBI, “ Robbery .” Accessed Aug. 24, 2021.

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