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The best home security systems, from DIY to pro installation

The best home security systems offer security cameras, emergency response, motion sensors, smart home integration, and easy installation.

You don't need to spend a fortune to secure your home, and thanks to mobile technology, your options now extend far beyond locking the front door.

Smart video doorbells record video and audio feeds in real time when you have visitors. Motion and sound sensors can be used inside and outside, along with smart locks and night-vision cameras.  

However, not all innovative home security products are created equally, and some are more costly to set up than others. A professionally installed system may get you more features, like professional monitoring and the ability to contact emergency services on your behalf, but could cost more if the provider requires a contract, installation fees, and a service subscription. If you want to go the DIY route, a few select devices can be enough to protect your home (and office) against intruders by alerting you when suspicious activity is detected, giving you peace of mind when you're away.

Also: What are the best security cameras for protecting your home?

We've rounded up the best home security devices suitable for different budgets and homes. Our top home security system is the Ring Alarm Pro Security Kit, a robust all-in-one solution perfect for protecting your home and all of its entry points, complete with 14 components and easy, DIY installation. 

Check out our other top picks for the best home security systems below to find the best protection for you and your property. 

The best home security systems of 2023

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Ability to add or remove modules
  • Easy installation
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Subscription required to unlock all features
More Details

Ring Alarm Pro Security Kit, 14-piece features: 14 accessories for home security | Eero Wi-Fi 6 router | 24/7 professional monitoring available | coverage up to 1,500 sq. ft

You should consider the 14-piece Ring Alarm Pro security kit if your home has multiple bedrooms. This pack contains a base station, two keypads, eight contact sensors, two motion detectors, and an alarm range extender for blanket home coverage of up to 1,500 sq. ft.

As a bonus, the kit has a built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router that provides Wi-Fi coverage. You can pick up an Eero Wi-Fi extender if you need even more coverage.

Also: This Ring camera hack helps me keep a close eye on my most dangerous tech 

Ring products tend to be user-friendly, and this kit is no exception. You can install the security network yourself, and you don't need to drill anything.

According to Ring, this bundle can protect up to eight windows or doors with added protection from motion sensors in vulnerable hallways. 

A 30-day free trial of Ring's monitoring plan, Ring Protect Pro, is included. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Subscription not required
  • Wireless and versatile
  • Extendable
  • 24/7 monitoring available
Cons
  • Expensive to set up outside of sales events
More Details

SimpliSafe Haven Home Security System features: Base station and a backup battery | Keypad | Entry and motion sensors | Panic button | Sirens | No drilling required

My top pick is the SimpliSafe Haven home security system bundle. It can help protect your home from intruders and detect threats including leaks and fires. You can't beat the 14-piece kit, especially as the pack is currently on sale with a 45% discount at $286. 

The kit includes a base station, keypad, panic button, wireless siren, smoke detector, water damage detector, temperature sensor, key fob, four entry sensors, and two motion sensors. Currently, the company will also throw in a free indoor camera and one month of 24/7 monitoring at no cost.

You can also choose to add extra devices like glass break detectors, indoor or outdoor cameras, and yard signs. 

Alternatively, Amazon is offering an eight-piece system for $192.

Review: SimpliSafe Home Security

Luckily, no drilling is required, so this system works well for homeowners and renters alike. The base station comes with a backup battery to ensure your home remains protected, even if you're dealing with a power cut.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent value
  • Compatible with home ecosystems
  • Tool-free
Cons
  • Expansion could become expensive
More Details

Abode Iota All-In-One Security Kit features: HD camera | Motion detection | Backup battery | 93dB siren | Cellular backup | Compatible with HomeKit, Alexa, Google Home

The Abode Iota All-In-One Security Kit is another ZDNET top home and office security pick. The bundle includes an HD camera, motion sensor, 93db siren, and two-way voice channel. You can place the camera in a hallway, living room, or perhaps with your main window in view. 

Currently, the all-in-one kit is on sale with a 15% discount, bringing the total cost to $280.

Also: Amazon's Ring Spotlight Cam Pro uses radar for motion tracking

The camera is compatible with Wi-Fi and 4G cellular networks, so the device can automatically switch to 4G if your Wi-Fi connection fails. Plus, the security bundle is compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. 

According to Abode, your overall network can support connections from up to 160 devices -- although this would be overkill for most homes. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Wireless
  • Professional monitoring
Cons
  • Limited without additional accessories
More Details

Arlo home security system features: All-in-one sensors| Eight detection functions | Emergency response | Free subscription trial 

Arlo is a vendor worth exploring if you want to improve your home security without breaking the bank. And with a build-your-own bundle option, you can choose the right equipment to meet your needs and budget. 

The Arlo home security system is an entry-level package with a keypad hub and two all-in-one sensors. Sure, it's a basic system, but you don't have to do anything more than plug in the hub and mount the sensors wherever you want them. And, for only $170, its one of the cheapest complete home security systems while on sale.

Like other options on this list, no drilling is required.

As an entry-level kit to introduce you to the capabilities of intelligent home security, Arlo's new offering is at a great price point. Best of all, there are no service contracts, so that you can cancel anytime after your free professional home monitoring trial. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Focus on user-friendliness
  • Extensive range of security products
Cons
  • Large systems will be expensive outside of sales events
More Details

Cove features: 2-way cellular monitoring | 24/7 customer support | professional monitoring | sensors, cameras, and more

Cove's home security systems are highly customizable and flexible, including touchscreen panels, door and window sensors, motion detectors, smart doorbells, indoor and outdoor cameras, and environmental devices.

Cove boasts of a short installation time, and you can sign up for a professional monitoring service, which is considered good value for money. The Cove team will provide a two-way communication platform, text message updates, and phone calls -- and will also contact emergency services on your behalf if you cannot be reached when an incident occurs. 

At the time of writing, Cove has a promotion. You can enjoy up to 65% off equipment, and an HD camera will be thrown into your bundle, for free -- but you will need to provide your email address. 

What are the best security systems of 2023?

Our top home security system is the Ring Alarm Pro Security Kit, a robust all-in-one solution perfect for protecting your home and all of its entry points, complete with 14 components and easy, DIY installation. 

Security systems that you can set up and monitor yourself tend to be the most popular. However, some systems offer subscriptions for people in higher-risk areas, providing professional monitoring or the ability to store and record footage. The best security systems on the market balance security, usability, and connectivity. 

Home security system

DIY installation

Professional monitoring?

Price

SimpliSafe Haven Home Security System

Yes

Subscription

$286

Ring Alarm Pro security kit, 14-piece

Yes

Subscription

$380

Abode All-In-One Security Kit

Yes

Subscription

$280

Arlo Home Security System

Yes

Subscription

$170

Cove

Yes, or professional

Subscription

Varies

Which security system is right for you?

Today's smart home security products can offer you peace of mind both in and outside of your house. Unlike businesses, homeowners usually don't need to invest in heavy-duty solutions. Instead, a few carefully selected devices placed around your front porch, garden, and ground floor windows can be more than enough to protect your home.

We recommend at least one camera, a video doorbell, a smart lock, and window sensors if you're building your home security system for the first time. Large properties can also benefit from additional security devices. 

Choose this home security system…

If you need…

SimpliSafe Haven home security system

A robust home security system. This all-in-one solution is perfect for protecting your home and all of its entry points. 

Ring Alarm Pro security kit, 14-piece

A robust DIY security system. You can install the kit yourself and protect every entryway and potentially vulnerable area with abundant accessories.

Abode All-In-One security bundle

A smart ecosystem-compatible option. Abode is compatible with HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Home.

Arlo home security system

A budget-friendly option. You can't go wrong with the price point for this entry-level security system, and you can always add more accessories as time goes on.

Cove

Professional monitoring. If a hands-off approach to home security is important to you, Cove has you covered.

How did we choose these security systems?

ZDNET experts have tested countless security systems over the years. We have surveyed the best security systems on the market to provide in-depth advice on how to protect yourself at home, at work, and online.

We have researched the best security systems on the market, weighed their pros and cons, and judged them based on price, ease of installation (for DIY systems), whether they offered professional monitoring services, smart features, and customer reviews. The main factors we considered when we decided on our top recommendations include the following:

  • Modern features: While selecting our recommendations, we ensured that each option has features you expect from modern home security systems, including high-resolution recording, mobile alerts, night vision, and sirens. 
  • DIY/professional: We wanted to include two main types of home security systems: ones that you can install and monitor yourself, and set-and-forget options you can leave in the hands of professionals. 
  • Versatility: You don't always need a home security system with piles of sensors, door locks, and cameras. Sometimes, just one or two well-placed security devices that you can select are enough. 
  • Budget: We know that setting up full systems, all at once, can be expensive. With this in mind, we selected options suitable for a variety of budgets. 

Why are sensors important in a DIY home security system?

Sensors are the key to effective, discreet home security. There are many different kinds of sensors, including infrared, magnetic, audio, and motion sensors. Their application depends on the type of security product involved.

Also: The best driveway alarms

For example, motion sensors are used for video doorbells and cameras, while other door and window products may combine motion and magnetic sensors to detect unauthorized entry.

Do you need an internet connection?

For smart home security systems, the answer is usually yes. Compared to business security systems that are often monitored remotely, home systems offer you power and visibility -- and this generally requires internet connectivity and a mobile device. 

Also: The best internet providers

Some products include both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity, so your device can use a mobile network if your home hub fails.

Do you need a subscription?

Subscriptions aren't always required, but you may prefer one. Without a subscription, a basic security system may notify you when a sensor detects activity without providing access to video feeds or recordings. 

If you want access to your camera's feed history, it's worth signing up for a subscription. Plus, subscription services will usually sweeten the pot with additional security layers like professional monitoring, automatic emergency calls, or multiple device monitoring.

Are there alternative home security systems worth considering?

While our top picks for the best security system can suit a variety of functions and uses, maybe all you need is a standalone camera or two. You don't always need to invest in a full system to improve your home's security, so the below products are also worth considering:

vivint-smart-home-security-system

Best alternative for professional monitoring

Vivint Smart Home Security System

Homeowners who need a professional security service should check out Vivint, a trusted brand that provides 24/7 monitoring. 

View at Vivint
comcast-xfinity-home

Best alternative for cheap professional monitoring

Comcast Xfinity Home

This system offers professional home monitoring for $10 per month, customized to your wishes. Cameras and alarms are part of the package. 

View at Xfinity
wyze-home-monitoring

Best alternative for modular home security

Wyze Home Monitoring

Wyze offers an affordable, customizable home security system with discounts available when you sign up for a monitoring subscription.

View at Wyze
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