Best Home Security Systems – When you think about it, a lot of what we do in our everyday lives is about “protection.” For example, when you put a cardboard sleeve on a paper coffee cup that contains your half-caf vanilla oat milk latte, you’re shielding your hand from the hot, sloshing liquid. You can keep would-be hackers out of your data by adding a password to your computer’s login screen. Additionally, by muting hashtags and terms like “targaryen” on Twitter, you may shield yourself from careless spoilers that might otherwise ruin your House of the Dragon watching experience.
The fact that relatively few of us have installed security measures in our own homes seems odd in light of this. Less than 17% of us have a home security system in place, according to the National Council for Home Safety and Security (NCHSS), a trade body for the sector. How come?
Perhaps it’s due to the horrible experience that is home security system buying. Keeping up with all of the quickly changing technology is a challenge in and of itself in a market that is packed with hundreds of competing enterprises and expanding tremendously. And all of that is on top of the convoluted industry lingo and sometimes unclear pricing, which is more than enough to frighten off the typical homeowner with minimal market understanding.
What is a home security system?
A home security system is a collection of gadgets that cooperate to safeguard your house. Typically, it combines visual surveillance, motion detection, sound alarms, and system notifications. The usual home security system consists of one or two cameras, a few motion sensors that can detect infrared radiation, a few sirens (either freestanding or integrated into the motion sensors and cameras), and a base hub that syncs all of the gear. The latter is controlled manually or via a complimentary smartphone app.
The majority of home security firms will then offer you the choice to expand your system with à la carte accessories for additional security. Frequently used add-ons are:
a glass break sensor that notifies the system when it picks up the vibrations or sound frequencies of broken glass. Environmental sensors that can detect smoke, carbon monoxide, and water leaks.
If you don’t have your smartphone with you, you may manually arm and disarm the system using a keypad or key fob. A panic button that prompts law enforcement to respond in an emergency
Yard signs and stickers that repel potential intruders visually (and affordably).
These days, the majority of home security firms are also involved in home automation, so you’ll be able to use smart assistants to manage your system and link it to other gadgets like smart locks, lightbulbs, and thermostats. (Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility are pretty standard nowadays, while Apple HomeKit options are fewer and far between.) If you want to get really fancy, several brands also offer support for “If This Then That,” or IFTTT, a free web-based service that lets you connect and build commands for internet-enabled devices and apps.
Is installing a home security system worthwhile?
Since it’s hard to quantify “could-have-beens,” there is conflicting evidence about how well home security systems truly discourage crime. The NCHSS brazenly asserts that residences without any kind of security are 300 percent more likely to be burglarized, despite one expert telling The New York Times that he hasn’t seen much proof of risk reduction with things like alarms and locks. For your information, burglary is defined as “the unauthorised entering of a building to conduct a criminal or theft.”
Even the perpetrators disagree on who is to blame. Some convicted thieves polled by an Oregon news station in 2017 said that security system signs and alarms, which could be turned off or ignored, didn’t deter them, but that the majority would avoid a property with a large, barking dog. However, a widely regarded University of North Carolina study conducted a few years ago found that 60% of burglars would choose a new target if they noticed an alarm present.
These results should also be taken into account alongside the fact that burglary rates have sharply decreased over the previous ten years; as of 2019, they accounted for just roughly 16 percent of all property crimes. (That also involves stealing cars and setting fires.)
Everyone seems to agree that most break-ins take place while a person isn’t home, which is when a home security system acting as your eyes and ears from a distance may provide priceless piece of mind.
In addition, setting up a home security system can make you eligible for a significant reduction on your homeowner’s insurance, which greatly helps. To find out more, get in touch with your insurance company.
Can you set up your own home security system?
You very certainly can. The majority of home security providers provide free DIY installation to their clients, which typically entails plugging in a device (or giving it batteries), connecting it to your house’s WiFi system, and pairing it with its hub and/or your smartphone. If it tells you anything about the degree of work required, SimpliSafe(opens in a new tab), which is our top choice, claims that 97 percent of its customers choose this course of action.
Professional installation normally costs approximately $100 for more sophisticated installations (and those of us who aren’t very tech-savvy).
Can you manage your own home security system?
You can, but we’d prefer to leave this to the experts (despite the additional expense) since you can’t remain on watch duty constantly. It’s simple to overlook an alert if you aren’t glued to your phone the whole day. Work occurs, sleep happens, binge watching Succession happens, and going to the dog park with your new puppy happens. If a professional isn’t handling it for you, it’s also up to you to determine whether or not to call police enforcement in event of an emergency, which is a fairly hefty ask.
In most circumstances, purchasing a monitoring package will also improve your experience using your system’s mobile app. We’ll take SimpliSafe as an example once more: Its service only offers the ability to adjust various device settings via the app, a live video stream of your cameras, and a system chronology. Behind its monitoring plans(opens in a new tab), which start at $18 per month, are additional capabilities like water leak warnings, unsafe temperature detection, and even push notifications. (For what it’s worth, the prices of most firms’ products vary from $20 to $30.)
Which home security system is the best?
You may read a summary of the six home security systems we advocate installing in 2022 based on consumer and expert evaluations below. One system, however, is one we highly discourage you from installing based on some of our own reporting.
The home security systems from SimpliSafe(opens in a new tab), which safeguard more than 4 million people nationwide, are renowned for their remarkable value and thorough security.
The most popular SimpliSafe configuration is their Essentials(opens in a new tab) package, which costs $275 but usually goes on sale for about $200. It contains one pre-programmed base station, a keypad, a motion sensor, and three entry sensors. You can customise it with add-on cameras, doorbells, and key fobs, but build-your-own kits are also available if you want to start from scratch. (Pro tip: Get this one over the entry-level Foundation(opens in a new tab) kit, which costs $30 less but contains just two sensors.)
The most economical choice on our list in that respect, professional monitoring subscriptions start at only $17.99 and include 24/7 emergency dispatch, environmental danger detection, push alerts, and more.
If you’re renting an apartment, use Frontpoint(opens in a new tab) instead of drilling or hammering into anything since you won’t be able to get your security deposit back if your apartment walls are covered in a constellation of nail holes. When the time comes to relocate, you may ask for (opens in a new tab) a free mover’s kit, which comes with fresh adhesives and some Frontpoint window decals. Once you’ve moved into your new home, they’ll reactivate your system there.
For renters on a tight budget, Frontpoint’s entry-level Starter Pack(opens in a new tab)is a fantastic value: for only $99, you get the Frontpoint Hub & Keypad, one door/window sensor, one motion sensor, some stickers, and yard signs. The only caveat is that you have to sign up for 24/7 expert monitoring, which will cost you $24.99 a month and need a three-year commitment. It was also providing 40% off any extra accessories at the time of writing, which is a terrific price – check its website often for promotions.
To be honest, it sort of stinks, but on the plus side, Frontpoint won’t charge you for relocating your system or make you purchase new equipment for a new house, so it’s not that bad as a long-term security solution. For the sake of comparison, Vivint costs $149 for expert equipment removal and an additional $149 for re-installation.
Vivint is the obvious option if you want your security system to be a part of an advanced, feature-rich smart home ecosystem (if you can afford it).
Instead of providing universal kits, the firm creates a package based on your unique requirements and available space. In addition to conventional home automation items like smart locks and thermostats, this may also incorporate cameras, sensors, and alarms. You can control your entire fleet via the Vivint app or your main Smart Hub because everything is connected to the company’s proprietary, cloud-based AI and machine learning platform. Your monitoring plan, which starts at $19.99 per month, also includes an in-home consultation, professional installation, 24/7 support, and service for broken devices.
We have to deduct a few points from Vivint since you can’t locate the price for its equipment on its website; you have to phone or fill out a form(opens in a new tab). Vivint’s staff responded to a request for clarification by stating that the basic price of a starting system that includes a base and a few window/door sensors is $599, while add-ons may range in price from $169.99 to $249.99 per. Thankfully, there are financing options available.
Google(opens in a new tab) currently sells a trio of security packages under its Nest (no “Secure”) smart home brand after discontinuing its well-liked Nest Secure systems in 2020. As its gadgets are designed to seamlessly integrate with other Nest products like the best-selling Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Audio smart speaker, it’s another excellent option for anybody interested in building up a smart home system. However, keep in mind that it has a somewhat small selection of equipment, much less so than Vivint. We’d primarily suggest it to people who want a system that consists mostly of cameras because… That’s basically all it sells, then.
Go for Nest’s Total Security Package(opens in a new tab), which costs $503.98 and includes a Nest Hub Max smart display, a wireless Nest Doorbell, and a wireless indoor/outdoor Nest Cam. Nest’s entry-level alternatives, which start at $234.98, are a touch too basic for our tastes. Add a wired Nest Cam, a Nest Cam with a built-in floodlight, a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm, or a smart lock starting at $99.99 (fun fact: the latter is Mashable’s absolute favourite security camera.) If you want to keep the video history from your cameras and get intelligent warnings, Nest Aware subscriptions start at only $6 per month.
As a side note, Nest products are among the most attractive of their class. When looking for home security equipment, “function above form” shouldn’t be your primary guiding principle, but at least these gadgets won’t stand out like a sore thumb.
Apple fans, rejoice: abode, a relatively young company, offers two systems that use HomeKit. We favour the all-in-one iota ($329 package) over its base Smart Security ($279 kit) due to the enhanced hub in the former that has a built-in motion detection, WiFi capability, and built-in streaming camera. Additionally included are a key fob and a tiny door/window sensor.
It is a really simple system, but you can improve it for not too much money with additional cameras, sensors, sirens, signs, and other add-ons (including some smart home devices). There are a tonne of options in the $30 to $80 price range.
Abode’s ability to provide what is essentially on-demand professional monitoring is another unique feature. Your plan(opens in a new tab) can be as brief as three or seven days, which is ideal for when you go on vacation. If you want to remain longer than expected, there are other options for monthly and yearly 24/7 monitoring services. (For your first year, you’ll pay $21.99 each month or $219.99 total.)
We’d like to suggest Ring to Amazon Alexa users (opens in a new tab). The firm has been acquired by Amazon since 2018, so its integration with the smart assistant is obvious (in fact, we did precisely that back when this piece was first published in 2019). Ring systems are often included in Amazon’s Prime Day and Black Friday specials, making it simple to get one for a reasonable price at various points during the year.
The issue is that Ring has a serious privacy issue. According to Mashable tech writer Alex Perry, the firm has long-standing video-sharing agreements with hundreds of police agencies, which may have contributed to the transformation of its video doorbells “into a countrywide, private monitoring system for policemen.” And while Amazon acknowledged in July 2022 that it continues to provide users’ recordings without their consent in order to comply with “emergency” requests, Ring changed its policy in mid-2021 to prohibit police from secretly requesting footage from owners of its doorbells.
In addition to the narcotics aspect, Ring has made news for developing a neighbourhood “watch list” based on facial recognition technology, covertly patching a “high-severity” security flaw in its Android app (which is allegedly loaded with third-party trackers), and acknowledging that some of its own employees have attempted to improperly access user videos in the past. Strong yikes! Remember Perry’s words and “seriously examine your comfort level with all of the above before acquiring a Ring device,” when it comes to purchasing a Ring device.