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Best home security system

Ring Security System
(Image credit: Ring)

The best home security systems are designed to give you peace of mind with secure and continuous monitoring. Our product reviews cover a wide range of systems, so you can find the best for you and your home. These include alarm monitoring, wireless cameras, and basic door and window sensors.

Best overall

Ring Alarm home security system

(Image credit: Ring)

Ring Alarm home security system (opens in new tab)

250-foot range motion detection

This Ring Alarm home security system is an eight-piece set that includes a base station, contact sensors, a motion detector, and a range extender. The system works to detect movement in more areas around your home and report suspicious activity. It can connect to the Ring Doorbell and use its video recording camera and features like the live video feed accessed through the Ring mobile app.

Pros:

  • No contracts
  • Affordable
  • Works with existing Ring products

Cons:

  • No Google Assistant support

This model works with professional monitoring if you don't want to be responsible for that on your own. Ring Alarm connects to and can be activated or disarmed from an Amazon Echo or used with Echo Show for video monitoring. There are optional flood, freeze and smoke sensors for environmental protection, and the system supports a limited number of smart devices, including Schlage and Yale smart locks and GE smart switches.

Best wireless system

SimpliSafe home security system

(Image credit: SimpliSafe)

SimpliSafe wireless home security system (opens in new tab)

Plug and play

SimpliSafe is designed to offer flexibility in how it’s used and installed. At its most basic, it’s a DIY system that you install and self-monitor with no contracts or monthly subscription fees. It is ready right out of the box and is simple to use once the base station is plugged in and the sensors are placed where you need them. There is no need to wire anything. 

Pros:

  • Wide range of sensors
  • Self-monitoring available

Cons:

  • Smart-home integration only available with a monitoring package

You can expand this home security system to include cameras, smoke detectors, glass break sensors, freeze and water sensors, and key fobs. You can also choose to use this option with professional monitoring. If you do opt for a monitoring package, you get smart-home integration. This isn't available without a monitoring option.

Best value

Arlo Essential Spotlight Camera

(Image credit: Amazon)

Arlo Essential Spotlight camera (opens in new tab)

Keep an eye on everything

The Arlo Essential Spotlight camera has everything you need built-in. This includes a direct wireless Wi-Fi connection, two-way audio communication, security light, video camera, and motion sensors. When something walks within range of the Arlo Essential, you'll receive a notice on your phone while the video camera starts recording in 1080p high definition. 

Pros:

  • All-in-one device
  • Two-way audio
  • Connect to smart-home devices

Cons:

  • Limited viewing area

It has color night vision, so you can clearly see what’s going on even when it is dark outside. You can program the spotlight to come on or a siren alarm to go off automatically with movement. They can even be turned on manually after you’ve received an app alert. The Arlo security system is a smart system that integrates with several smart-home devices including Amazon Echo, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, and Apple Homekit.

Best monitored system

Abode Smart Security

(Image credit: Amazon)

Abode Smart Security Kit wireless security system (opens in new tab)

Voice-controlled

Everything about the Abode home security systems is wireless, so you simply place the sensors and gateway where you need them, and they will, using your internet connection, sync with each other. The entire system is controlled and monitored through a smartphone app, but you can also use it with a professional 24/7 monitoring service. 

Pros:

  • On-demand monitoring packages
  • Vacation mode

Cons:

  • Limited support

This is a smart selection, which means Abode can connect to and be controlled from Amazon Echo or Google Home. It includes a key fob that you can use to arm and disarm the system as you leave and return home. Put your alarm into vacation mode and you can add professional monitoring for three or seven days. Customer support is quite limited, with only those on the paid-for plans getting telephone service. So while the system is easy to set up, it really is a system better for the tech-savvy.

Door and window sensor

GE Personal Security Sensors

(Image credit: GE)

GE personal security sensors (opens in new tab)

Adjustable settings

The GE personal security sensors are the most basic burglar alert system. They attach to your windows and exterior doors and will sound a chime or alarm when either is opened. The loud sounds alert you of something wrong and scare off intruders who don’t want to get caught.

Pros:

  • Descrete
  • Loud alarms

Cons:

  • No monitoring
  • No video

In addition to the chime and alarm alerts, this system also can be turned off. There is no additional hardware or wiring needed for the sensors to work, and installing them is easy even if you’re not very handy. While this system doesn't record video or need monitoring to work, it is still effective at deterning burglars from entering your home.

Self-monitored vs professional monitoring, which is best?

Home security systems have two monitoring options. Self-monitored is the more affordable form as it’s up to you to monitor your own alarm. At the most basic, an alarm will just trigger an internal siren at your home. If you’re in, you’re alerted to the problem and can deal with it; if you’re out, you’re reliant on a neighbor letting you know or calling the police.

The next stage of self-monitoring is to have an alert come through on your smartphone. Some companies provide this for free, but many have a small charge to enable the app. With an app, you get the benefit that alerts are sent to you wherever you are, so you can deal with them remotely. Combined with a security camera, you can then check what’s going on in your home and, if there’s a genuine threat, you can call the police.

The downside of self-monitoring is that you have to be available at the time the alert comes in. If your phone’s out of service or you’re away and sleeping, you may miss a break-in and be too late to deal with it.

Professional monitoring adds that extra layer of protection. By paying experts in a monitoring center, your alarm system is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Should there be a break-in, professional monitoring is the quickest way to dispatch police support. 

If you’re away from home a lot or you live in a high-risk area, professional monitoring is the best solution.

DIY, self-install, or professional install, which is best?

Depending on the alarm system provider that you choose, you’ll have a variety of installation options available to you. There’s no right answer as to which is best, but the key thing is to find the type that best suits you.

Professional security system installation

Professional installation will involve the security provider sending an installer to your home to consult on what you need. This expert opinion can mean that you get the best protection for your home, but be wary of them trying to sell you an additional kit you don't need: always get an explanation of the benefits before signing up for anything.

As well as the survey, professional installation means that you’ll end up with a system that will work properly; if it doesn’t, then you can get the company back out to fix the issues.

Professional installation is the most expensive type and there’s usually an associated fee.

Self-install security system installation

With a self-install system, you get sent out all of the kits that you need in a bundle. All you have to do is plug in any wired devices, and then place the sensors where you need them. These systems will be pre-paired, so the installation is straightforward. Typically, there’s no fee for this type of installation, although some companies do charge a small activation fee. Make sure that you specify enough sensors for your home at the time of purchase (see below).

The downside of this type of installation is that you have to make sure that your alarm system is working and any communications problems are yours to fix. Typically, telephone support is available for any issues.

DIY security system installation

DIY systems are often bought off-the-shelf from retail stores and don’t require a contract or installation fee. Sensors typically have to be manually paired to your alarm system, adding complexity. As with self-install, make sure that you’ve bought enough of the right type of sensors.

The downside of this installation is that it’s entirely up to you to get things working, although telephone support may be on hand. These systems are the best for tech-savvy people.

Why trust us

At Top Ten Reviews, we recommend the best products to enhance your life. As experts, we handpick products based on quality and usefulness to positively impact your life. We take our responsibility seriously — testing products, reading reviews, and sourcing knowledgeable outlets to ensure our selections are worthy of your time and money. Our detailed product overviews balance objective information with subjective opinions, so making the best choice for your home and lifestyle is easy.

David has been working in technology journalism since 1998 and has been editor of Computer Shopper and Expert Reviews in the past, before he started writing for the Top Ten Reviews brand. He is also an expert on home appliances, kitchen gadgets, home security and smart home products, which he reviews for Top Ten Reviews.