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Whether you own or rent, a DIY home security system is a smart investment that protects your abode, belongings and family. But figuring out the perfect one for your needs and budget from the large sea of choices available can feel overwhelming.
01 of 09
Best Overall System: Fortress Security Store Wireless Security Alarm System
You shouldn’t have to drain your bank account to safeguard your home. Fortress Security Store has created several wireless and wallet-friendly DIY systems that make protecting your home a cinch. Our favorite is the Fortress S02 that uses a landline or VOIP connection (think Google Voice combined with an OBi box, Vonage or a voice service from a cable TV company) to dial up to six different phone numbers when the alarm is triggered. Since the company doesn’t offer 24/7 professional monitoring, there are no monthly fees or contracts.
The basic S02 kit comes with the following: The main control panel, five door and window sensors, two motion detectors, an 110-decibel alarm, two key fobs to activate and deactivate the system, one panic alarm, and four alarm company stickers that let potential intruders know a home security system protects your home.
Live in a huge house? You can purchase more sensors. The S02 system can support for up to 99 alarm sensors divvied up between 32 wireless zones.
02 of 09
Best Monitored System: SimpliSafe Shield Home Security System
When it comes to monitored security systems, many require expensive and inconvenient professional installation. SimpliSafe is different. This system is as customizable and DIY-friendly as the others on this list, plus, for a monthly fee, it offers 24/7 professional monitoring to give you extra peace of mind. The company’s no-contract monitoring system gets rave reviews from users who feel this is a cheaper and much more flexible alternative to typical security services. When you download the SimpliSafe app, you’ll have full control of your system and the amount of monitoring you receive — you can even customize how you get alerts and which alarm triggers get an emergency response or just a personal notification.
This particular Shield system comes with the SimpliSafe base station (which plugs into the wall), six entry sensors, two motion sensors, a keypad, and a key fob so you can easily arm the system when you leave. Like many other systems on this list, SimpliSafe doesn’t require any tools to install. Just stick the sensors to your windows and doors, pair them with the mobile app, and you’re ready to go. SimpliSafe sells additional sensors so you can expand your system as needed. It is compatible with Amazon Alexa.
03 of 09
Best System for Smart Home Integration: Netgear Arlo Pro 2
If you already have an integrated smart home setup (or want to create one), then it makes sense to choose a security system that you can control from the same device network as your lights, garage doors, or thermostat. That’s where the Netgear Arlo Pro 2 comes in. This is a versatile and customizable camera-based security system that’s compatible with Amazon Alexa (including the Echo Show and Fire TV), Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and more. Whichever system you have, you can integrate the Arlo Pro 2 and control it with the voice commands you use for your other devices.
This particular system comes with the Arlo Pro 2 hub (equipped with a Smart Siren) and two HD wireless security cameras. The cameras are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and have an automatic night vision mode, so you receive crisp video quality no matter the weather or time of day. Receive activity alerts, monitor the live stream, or view recordings from the last seven days using Netgear’s free Arlo Basic subscription plan on your mobile device. Other Arlo Pro 2 systems and accessories are available that include lights and camera mounts.
04 of 09
Best Basic Entry Alarm System: Doberman Security Window/Door Alarm Kit - 4 Pack
This affordable security system is ideal for smaller living spaces like dorms or apartments, or for securing individual doors or windows. If your home only has a few vulnerable points to cover, this Doberman Security kit allows you to effectively arm individual entry points without paying for superfluous hardware.
Like many other entry sensors in the kits on this list, these little devices are made up of two pieces connected by a magnet. Attach the alarm to your window or door (one piece on the door, one on the frame) and when an intruder opens it, the magnetic connection separates and triggers a 100dB alarm. Reviewers love this product for its easy installation and budget-friendly price tag.
It's important to note that you cannot use this device to arm a door behind you when you leave. They must be manually turned on and off using a switch on the device, so they are best for windows or rarely-used doors (like a back or basement door) that you can arm from the inside.Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09
Best Basic Camera System: Blink Home Security Camera System 3 Camera Kit
Blink is a wireless security camera system that requires AA batteries and a Wi-Fi connection to operate. The company’s three-camera package is one of our favorites because it can cover a lot of square footage (like the first floor of a house). Each device comes with easy-to-install wall-mounting hardware. Need an extra camera? You can amp up your security by purchasing add-ons for your system.
The Blink cameras are equipped with built-in sensors that are triggered by motion. When they detect an intruder's movement, the alarm goes off, an alert is sent to your smartphone, and a short video clip of the alarm event uploads to Blink’s cloud storage so you can see what set it off. The best part: You get all this security goodness for no monthly fee.
But wait, there’s more. You can fully integrate your Blink security cameras with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices. Once your cameras are enabled using the Alexa app you’ll be able to control your Blink system using your voice.
06 of 09
Best Camera: Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera
It takes less than a minute to set up the Nest Cam, a Wi-Fi security camera by the same company that created the first smart thermostat (also called Nest). If you want to monitor a specific area in your home — or if you live in an apartment with limited square footage to cover — then the Nest Cam is a great way to keep an eye on things.
To get started, just plug the camera into an electrical outlet and download the Nest app. After it connects to your Wi-Fi, you’ll have free access to crystal clear HD video 24/7. You'll also be able to listen to what’s going on in your abode and talk to anyone within the camera’s range. Want to control your camera using your voice? The NEST cam works with Amazon Alexa.
To start streaming video automatically when you leave, set the camera on Home/Away Assist. Once you're out the door, the NEST Cam will send an alert to your smart device when motion or sound is detected. The message will include a photo of what triggered the event. You’ll be able to see event pictures for up to 3 hours.
For “smart” alerts you’ll need a NEST Aware subscription. The basic plan, which is the most popular option, costs around $10 per month. It comes with an advanced algorithm that fine-tunes the camera’s detection skills for identifying faces, voices and dog barking. Subscribers will also be able to save up to 240 hours of video for ten days. Need more than one surveillance camera? Consider Nest Cam’s three-camera kit.
Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best security cameras.
07 of 09
Best Budget Camera: EZVIZ Mini O 720p Indoor Mini Wi-Fi Camera
Thanks to advances in wireless connectivity and camera sensors, interior security cameras are more and more affordable for those with a small budget. Better still, many budget cameras have a small form factor to keep them out of the way from prying, unwanted eyes that may enter into your home. The EZVIZ Mini O combines a quality 720p with two-way talk feature all for a very low price.
The camera is a standalone unit with a wide base that you can place on any flat surface around the home. For the best results, use this camera in high areas in the living or family room to keep an eye on the home’s common spaces. Using the downloadable app, you can control the camera’s settings from anywhere with a wifi connection. The camera is also IFTTT-compatible, meaning you can use it with other smart devices or program your own commands for advanced automatic functionality.
08 of 09
Best Doorbell Camera: Ring Video Doorbell
Keeping tabs on who is at the door, whether you're home or not, is key to your safety. The latest version of this model lets you see who is ringing your bell from your PC, tablet, or phone with its automatic doorbell alerts and motion sensor capabilities that come with a small monthly cost. The camera has a quick release rechargeable battery so no need for electrical installation.
Reviewers love the ease of installation and think the monitoring price is reasonable. This can also be used with Alexa devices making this a great buy for anyone who has a smart-enabled home.Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09
Best All-in-One: Canary All-in-One Home Security Device
If you’re looking for something that’s insanely easy to set up and doesn’t charge a monthly fee for alarm alerts, you can't beat the Canary All-in-One Home Security Device. It’s the only system on our list designed to protect your home as well as your health for no monthly fee.
To keep an eye and ear on things just set up the single device in your main living area. After plugging it into an electrical outlet, you’ll need to connect Canary to your Wi-Fi.
How does it work? Via your home's internet connection Canary will send you a push notification when motion or sound triggers its HD camera. After viewing the live video of your home from an app on your smart device, you can determine whether to summon the police and to sound the device's 90-decibel siren.
If you’re worried about your home’s air quality, Canary’s built-in HomeHealth Technology will monitor it. While the device isn't a replacement for a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, it will tip you off to airborne stuff polluting your indoor air like cooking odors or cigarette smoke.