According to the FBI, there’s a burglary about once every 30 seconds somewhere in the United States, which is no doubt why so many people equip their homes with a security system. In the past, getting a security system was an elaborate process that often involved an in-home consultation from a security company like ADT or Brinks, followed by a visit from professional installers. These days, the best home security systems — often called DIY home security systems because you can install them yourself — are inexpensive and easy to set up.
While the most popular security systems are of the DIY variety these days, that doesn’t mean that your actual home monitoring needs to be DIY. Yes, you can self-monitor many modern security kits for free — you are alerted to break-ins via notifications on your phone, and you get to decide how to respond. But most of these systems also give you the option of subscribing to a monitored security service, allowing you to choose the kind of security you want, when you want it. You might, for example, self-monitor most of the year but subscribe to a monitored service if you’re going on an extended trip.
No matter what kind of monitoring you plan to use, you’ll need to select your security hardware. Most security systems rely on a central hub that you position somewhere in your home, probably near your Wi-Fi router, which serves as the brain for whatever door sensors, motion sensors, and broken glass sensors you might install. These kinds of systems often also work with accessories like fire, carbon monoxide, and even flood sensors.
If your needs are more modest, though, you might want to try an all-in-one security system. There are a few all-in-devices that combine a camera and other sensors in a single gadget that you can position centrally in a smaller home or apartment.
To help you choose the right option, here are seven of the best DIY security system kits you can install and configure on your own, no professional installer required.
Best Home Security System Overall
SimpliSafe 8 Piece Wireless Home Security System
Like most of the DIY home security systems you can buy today, SimpliSafe comes in a number of configurations, so you can shop for the one that comes closest to what you need for your home and buy additional sensors, if needed, to round out your system. You get a base station with numeric keypad and a very loud siren; in addition, this version of the package has four door sensors and a motion sensor.
Want to expand the system? SimpliSafe has one of the largest ecosystem of add-ons around. You can add cameras, a smart video doorbell, a smoke and CO detector, a water sensor, and even a temperature sensor (which can alert you if there’s a problem before your pipes freeze next winter). You can also add extra keypads, key fob controllers, a second siren, and more.
You can switch between self-monitoring and professional monitoring at any time; the professional service is $15 per month, and if you want the ability to record video from your security cameras and play it back later, you’ll need to step up to the $25 per month subscription plan, which includes a slew of other features as well. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe requires you to pay for the more costly plan to get access to a number of features you might expect to get for free, like compatibility with Google Assistant and Alexa.
Best Google-Centric Security System
Google Nest Secure
Google has an excellent home security system, and unfortunately, it’s priced accordingly — the Nest Secure will probably cost you more than similar systems with the same number of sensors and components, and the professional monitoring, if you want it, is more expensive as well (but we’ll get to that later).
This Starter Pack is equipped with the Nest Guard base station (with keypad and siren), two Nest Detect door/window sensors and a pair of Nest Tags. If you love Google smart home products, the Nest Secure is a smart move, since it elegantly syncs with other nest gadgets, like cameras, thermostat, smart doorbell, and more.
The tags are the highlight of the Nest Protect system — they’re small fobs you can attach to your key rings and disarm the system simply by tapping one on the home base — no need to enter a code or open an app. Even cooler, you can use a tag to temporarily disarm a single sensor without changing the state of the overall system. If your alarm is set to Home, for example, you can “tag out” the front door to go get the mail without disarming the house overall.
You can self-monitor, but Google has also partnered with Brinks Home Security. You can subscribe for $29 per month with no obligation, or $19 per month with a three-year contract.
Best DIY Home Security System with a Retrofit Option
Ring got its start with one of the first and most full-featured smart doorbells, so it was natural when the company expanded its offerings to include an alarm system as well. While far from the cheapest way to get a home security system, Ring is a very good value. This eight-piece kit includes the base station, siren, range extender, motion sensor, and four door sensors, and you can expands it with anything else in the Ring family (cameras, doorbells, smart lights, and so on) as well as a number of third party products.
The monitoring service is an especially good price — just $10 per month without any contract, and of course you can DIY, too, monitoring the system via the mobile app.
What’s especially intriguing, though, is Ring’s retrofit kit. If your home already has a wired alarm system, you can add Ring’s $150 Retrofit Alarm Kit so Ring can make use of the legacy system you already have, adding the wired sensors to the Ring’s security network.
Best DIY Home Security System That’s Also a Smart Speaker
Honeywell Smart Home Security System
If your needs are more modest, the Honeywell Smart Home Security System might be the best choice for you. The Honeywell’s base station is a small Coke-can-sized cylinder that houses a camera with night vision capabilities and microphone. Together, these sensors can alert you about motion and sound.
Moreover, the camera is equipped with facial recognition so it, in theory, the siren won’t alarm when it recognizes someone who is supposed to be at home. The base also has a speaker — for remote two-way communication with whoever trips the alarm when you’re not home — and an Alexa as well. That means it does double duty as a smart speaker.
Honeywell is not a self-contained all-in-one unit though; this kit comes with a pair of door/window sensors, so it doesn’t rely entirely on watching for motion around the camera base station, and it’s also expandable with a wide variety of third party smart home devices.
If you want the option for professional monitoring, though, look elsewhere. The Honeywell Smart Home Security System doesn’t offer anything on that front, so you’ll need to rely on yourself to keep an eye on security notifications on your phone and react to them in real time.
Best No-Contract ADT Security System
Samsung SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit
Samsung’s SmartThings Home Security Starter Kit looks a little dated thanks to the base station’s enormous, 1990s-style bezel around the 7-inch touchscreen controller. But if you can look past the aesthetics, you’ll find this comes with a pair of door/window sensors, a motion detector, and a built in siren.
Moreover, this one has broad compatibility with all sorts of smart home technologies. It works with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and IP protocol devices, so you can connect a wide assortment of SmartThings and third party smart home gadgets. It also works with both Google Assistant and Alexa for voice commands.
Samsung has partnered with ADT to include contract-free professional monitoring, which costs about $15 per month.
Best Home Security For A Smart Home
Abode iota All-in-One Home Security Kit
All-in-one systems often aren’t as capable as traditional security systems, but Abode’s iota challenges that reputation. Not unlike the Honeywell, the iota’s base unit is a camera, microphone, speaker, and siren that sits out on a shelf in a central part of your home so it can monitor comings and goings. It also includes a single door/window sensor and a key fob for turning the whole system on and off.
But perhaps more than any other home security system, iota seems poised for smart home operations. It works with Google Assistant, Alexa, and can be programmed with the popular IFTTT service. It’s also compatible with Apple HomeKit (for what it’s worth, virtually no one else is) and a massive number of third-party smart home devices from companies like Yale, Philips Hue, Z Wave and many others (over 160 devices and counting, according to Abode).
You have your choice of monitoring plans. You can opt for the Basic plan, which is essentially no plan at all — you self-monitor using the mobile app. There’s a professional monitoring plan designed specifically for short out-of-town trips — $8 for three days or $15 for a week of 24/7 pro monitoring. You can also subscribe to an ongoing service plan for $30 per month.
Best Basic DIY Security System
Wyze Sense Starter Kit
Wyze has a reputation for selling smart home gadgets at almost impossibly good prices. The Wyze Cam is an excellent night vision HD camera that costs just $20, for example. So when you read that the Wyze Sense Starter Kit costs about $50, don’t assume it can’t possibly work well for so little money.
This bundle doesn’t include everything you need to get started, though: For some reason, Wyze doesn’t include a $20 Wyze Cam, and you need it (or the slightly more expensive Wyze Cam Pan camera) to make the whole system work. You get a “bridge” that plugs into the back of the Wyze Cam along with two door/window sensors and a motion sensor.
The system is a true DIY system in every sense; there’s no professional monitoring option. But you can keep tabs on your home via the Wyze mobile app, and expand the system as you see fit with additional sensors, cameras, third party smart home products, and even compatibility with IFTTT. At the end of the day, you’ve got a very affordable security system that’s not as capable or full featured as many of the other kits on this list. But it is certainly affordable and easy to set up.