Best Home Security Systems of 2019

John Carlsen ·
Smart Home & HVAC Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

There are a lot of options to choose from if you want a professional home security system that also offer round-the-clock monitoring when an alarm is raised. These home security services often come with several costs, including installation of the equipment and a monthly contract fee for ongoing support and monitoring. That means the price can stack up, but that you're also getting a professional security monitoring and installation service.

If that all sounds like too much for your home security needs then have a look at our lists of the Best Wireless Security Cameras for indoor use or our Best DIY Home Security Systems if you want something that offers more than just video surveillance. 


We’ve spent more than 700 hours researching and reviewing 23 home security system and providers. Of those we selected eight that met our stringent requirements, particularly around the transparency of their terms and privacy policies. Each of these eight best home security system services come with their own strengths and weaknesses. We’ll highlight these so you can compare and make the right choice for your needs easily.

We evaluated these home security system providers by examining their costs, contract terms, equipment and customer service. We also looked at how well regarded a service is by its users and whether it has won any independent awards.

Best Self-Install
Frontpoint
Frontpoint's equipment bundles make it easy to cover the essentials of home security, and the customer support is great. Call 844-227-9574 to speak to a Frontpoint representative about options.
View on Frontpoint
Check Price@Frontpoint
Best Self-Install
Frontpoint
Best Smart Home Compatibility
Brinks Home Security
Brinks Home Security has more install options than other home security companies and is compatible with tons of smart home devices, though its starting costs are above average. Call (785) 290-1628 to speak to a Brinks representative about options.
View on Brinks
Best Return Policy
ADT
ADT's contract is relatively fair, particularly a six-month return policy that is the best in the industry. The company can help pick the best equipment for your home, though its pricing isn't very transparent. Call 855-255-3803 to speak to an ADT representative about options.
View on ADT
Best Self-Install
Frontpoint is a versatile and well-rounded home security system with excellent security monitoring. It also has an easy-to-install wireless system, multiple sensors to place throughout your home, and great customer support.
Standard contracts with this home security company run for three years and have a starting cost of $130.95. However, you can pay equipment costs upfront in exchange for a shorter contract. Regardless of the contract term you choose, the company charges $44.99 for monitoring on its Interactive plan, which is one of the highest monthly prices in our comparison. The basic Protection plan offers alerts for such things as intruders, fire, medical emergencies and environmental hazards like gas leaks. The Interactive plan has all of those plus email and text alerts, lighting control, and remote access via apps or the internet. The plan also offers a feature called Crash & Smash, which detects if someone tries to tamper with your home alarm system. The Ultimate plan is the most expensive, and it includes wireless video and advanced home automation features. You can contact Frontpoint’s customer support reps through social media, email and phone, though the company’s support hours aren't as long as those of the competition. We found company representatives to be knowledgeable, pleasant and able to answer questions quickly. You can also make use of the website's extensive FAQs section. The equipment warranty runs for three years, which is standard in this industry. Frontpoint doesn't offer support over live chat.
Pros
  • No need to schedule an installation appointment
  • The system is self installed
  • Great customer service
Cons
  • Most affordable starting cost requires three-year contract
  • Interactive plan is higher priced than most comparable competitor plans
  • No live chat
Check PriceFrontpoint
Read the full review
Best Smart Home Compatibility
Brinks Home Security is the result of a merger and rebranding of LiveWatch and MONI, which were our top-rated security systems in past comparisons.
Brinks has an excellent return policy that's second only to ADT among alarm systems. It also works with a wider variety of smart home devices than most other security systems. When you sign up for this company's 24/7 monitoring services, you get two options for installation: professional or self. If you choose to self-install your system, Brinks sends instructions and pre-programmed equipment to your home. Although professional installation costs extra, a technician does all the work for you and shows you how the system works. Professional installation includes a lifetime warranty, but self-installers can pay $49 for the same benefit. Uniquely, Brinks also sells optional monitoring services for Nest Secure, a DIY system, making it the only provider we reviewed with three system options: self, professional and DIY. As is typical of most security systems, the contract lasts three years. However, the early-termination policy is higher than average, requiring 80 percent payoff of your account balance. If you want to cancel without fees, you have 30 days after your contract begins to return equipment. The most basic of the company's two monitoring plans, Brinks Home Complete, costs $29 a month, which is lower than the industry average of $37. This plan’s basic equipment costs $399 upfront, which is more expensive than average. Brinks also offers GreenSky financing to spread equipment costs out across your contract.
Pros
  • Professional, self-install and DIY system options
  • Lifetime warranty available
  • 30-day return policy
Cons
  • Requires 3-year contract
  • Pay 80% balance when canceling early
  • Lifetime warranty costs extra
Check PriceBrinks
Read the full review
Best Return Policy
ADT's monitoring plans start at $28.99, but the company doesn't have the same price transparency as many of its competitors.
Starting costs are advertised at $25, though this probably increases when you get certain equipment. All ADT equipment has a lifetime warranty. There are almost no references to prices on the ADT website, making it difficult to comparison shop. The company prefers that customers work with a salesperson, so we called for more information. The representative emphasized personalized quotes rather than discussing the base pricing for the three service plans listed online. Although pricing details are scarce, we found that ADT makes its full contract available online for anyone who wants to take a look. The contract lasts three years and subsequently renews on a month-to-month basis. If you want to cancel early, you have six months to return your equipment without any fees, the best return policy we've seen; any later and you must pay 75 percent of the balance remaining in your contract to cancel. This company requires professional installation for its security systems unless you buy the ADT Home Security Starter Kit, a DIY option sold by SmartThings. You can contact ADT 24/7 via social media, phone, email or live chat; only Brinks Home Security offers the same level of customer service excellence. ADT's Pulse system is compatible with a variety of third-party smart home devices.
Pros
  • 6-month return policy
  • Professional and DIY system options
  • Lifetime warranty available with professional install
Cons
  • Requires 3-year contract
  • Pay 75% balance when canceling early
  • Limited pricing transparency
Check PriceADT
Read the full review
No Contract Required
SimpliSafe doesn't require a contract or the early-termination fees that normally come with contracts. It also has some of the most affordable monitoring plans we've seen.
Because there's no contract, this is a great system for renters, whereas many traditional providers only offer service to homeowners. The system has two affordable plans that cost $14.99 and $24.99 a month respectively. The cheaper plan only offers monitoring while the other plan adds remote access via a mobile app and an online dashboard. SimpliSafe has higher starting costs than most home security providers because you pay for everything upfront instead of paying off equipment throughout a long contract. The starter kit we reviewed, The Essentials, costs about $260. Even with the higher starting costs, the affordable, no-contract monitoring helps even out the costs and makes this one of the least expensive systems available. If you pay for the required equipment, SimpliSafe is great for most basic home security functions, such as intruder detection through motion sensors, entry sensors, a security camera and other sensors. You can also get sensors that detect hazards such as flooding, smoke and carbon monoxide. You install the equipment yourself, which also cuts down on costs. The equipment has a three-year warranty. Unfortunately, SimpliSafe only supports a handful a smart home devices such as Amazon Echo, Nest Learning Thermostat and August Smart Lock. This limited level of smart home integration ultimately keeps SimpliSafe for claiming our pick for best value in a home security system.
Pros
  • No early-termination fees
Cons
  • Limited smart home compatibility
Check PriceSimpliSafe
Read the full review
Best Premium System
Vivint is the best premium system because it makes most of its equipment rather than relying on a third-party supplier like Alarm.com or Honeywell.
The Vivint SkyControl Panel has an attractive color touchscreen that you can use to view security camera footage in your home. The company also has its own smart doorbell, Vivint Doorbell Camera, which is one of the most attractive options on the market, even if you need a monitoring plan to have one. You can also connect your Vivint system to a variety of smart home devices such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, Nest Learning Thermostat and Philips Hue. Vivint equipment has a lifetime warranty, though you need to pay an additional fee if you don't want to pay for every service call. Vivint's basic plan costs $39.99 a month, with options to pay for equipment monthly or upfront. Either way, you'll pay the same price in the long run. In our comparison, we chose to spread the costs out, which means the monthly fee is around $49.14. The company requires professional installation, which starts at $198. You can expect your Vivint contract to last five years, longer than any other home security system we looked at. The termination fee is similarly steep, requiring 100 percent payoff of your account balance if you cancel early.
Pros
  • Designs its own equipment
Cons
  • Most expensive security system
Check PriceVivint
Read the full review
Best Value
Link Interactive has the best equipment selection among home security providers. Best of all, you can choose your equipment a la carte in an online shop without a sales call.
We were also impressed by the transparency of Link Interactive's equipment and monitoring prices. The monthly monitoring fees of $35.99 are lower than the industry average of $37, making Link Interactive an affordable security system. If you start a three-year contract with this company, you get a free basic control panel. You pay upfront for other equipment, which can make starting costs higher than those of competitors. Although Link Interactive offers shorter one- and two-year contracts, it defaults to three years unless you ask; three years is average for the home security industry. If you cancel before your contract ends, you must pay 75 percent of the remaining balance. This is the lowest early-cancellation fee in our comparison (apart from no fees). You have 30 days to return the equipment without paying early-cancellation fees. All equipment comes pre-programmed for self-installation, but if you need help you can look at tutorials on Link Interactive's website. Customer support is available through social media, email, phone and live chat, though the customer support hours are limited compared to 24/7 offerings from competitors like ADT. Link Interactive's three-year warranty pairs well with the contract length and is average for a home security system.
Pros
  • Largest equipment selection
  • Affordable monitoring
  • No starting costs
Cons
  • Charges for most equipment upfront
  • Limited customer support hours
  • Default contract length is three years
Check PriceLink Interactive
Read the full review

Other Home Security Systems We Evaluated

  • Protect America: This is a great choice because its equipment prices are competitive with other systems and the hardware comes with a lifetime warranty. However, the company's cellular monitoring is just a bit more expensive than the competition.

    Read the full review: Protect America
  • Xfinity Home Secure: Its lifetime warranty, reasonable contract terms and good customer service make it a worthwhile option for a home security system. Additionally, Xfinity Home supports third-party smart home devices from the likes of Nest, August and Lutron.

    Read the full review: Xfinity Home Secure
  • LifeShield: A solid option for budget-conscious homeowners looking for simple, effective home security with cheap monitoring. Unfortunately, it only offers a limited 12-month equipment warranty, which is shorter than that of most competitors.

    Read the full review: LifeShield
  • AT&T Digital Life Smart Security: AT&T Digital Life sells a useful basic package designed to thwart intruders, and you can customize it with add-on equipment. Their equipment has a lifetime warranty, but because there is no DIY option, you must pay for professional equipment installation.

    Read the full review: AT&T Digital Life Smart Security

Latest News, Updates & Deals (March 2019)

  • We updated our review of LifeShield to reflect its new ownership by ADT. We also updated the monthly monitoring fees, contract information and starting costs to reflect the most recent information from LifeShield’s website.
  • On March 20, 2019, Vivint launched Vivint Car Guard, which tracks a car’s current conditions such as engine diagnostic codes, fuel and battery levels, and trip statistics. The device also has tamper alerts, location tracking and integration with Vivint security systems to most modern cars using the OBD II port. This device can also be used independent of a Vivint security system and costs $199 upfront with monthly fees of $9.99. The company also provides discounts if you choose to monitor multiple vehicles. ADT offers a similar service called ADT Go, though that service doesn’t integrate directly with vehicles using an OBD II adapter.
  • On February 4, 2019, Nest announced that it’s bringing Google Assistant voice controls to Nest Secure via a software update to the Nest Guard base station. Nest Secure is compatible with optional Brinks monitoring. Since the announcement, Google has been criticized for not disclosing the Nest Secure’s built-in microphone when the device was first released. Google has apologized for this by indicating it was unintentionally left off the unit’s specifications and has corrected the issue on its product page for the Nest Secure. For more coverage, check out this article by our colleagues at TechRadar.
  • In June 2018, LiveWatch and MONI Smart Security merged and rebranded under the name Brinks Home Security.

We haven’t added newer providers to our comparison in a while. Consequently, we are currently researching the following security providers, each with a creative pricing strategy, to see if they are viable candidates.

  • GetSafe – This home security provider’s three monitoring plans all cost $35 a month but allow you to choose different starting costs and the length of the contract. The no-contract plan requires payment of $249 for the starter equipment, the one-year plan includes starter equipment for free and the three-year plan includes an additional $250 worth of free equipment beyond the starter kit.
  • Cove – This contract-free home security provider offers two monitoring plans. The cheaper Basic plan costs $24.99 a month while the more expensive plan, Value, costs $34.99 a month. If you stay with the company for three years, your equipment is free, or you can pay for equipment upfront, which reduces your monthly monitoring fee by $10.

Why Trust Us

Top Ten Reviews has reviewed home security systems since 2011. Over the last three years, we logged more than 650 hours researching for the various updates of this comparison. We checked with sales and customer support representatives to verify each company's contract terms.

Before choosing monitoring plans and equipment packages to evaluate, we disqualified companies that don't reveal any prices without a sales call. We also rejected companies that don't share key contract terms and conditions online in some form before you sign. This narrowed our initial 23 companies to 10 that fit these requirements. You deserve access to vital contract terms before calling a salesperson. Lastly, we eliminated smaller regional companies that only offer service in a few states or cities.

Here are a few security providers that ultimately didn't meet our selection requirements: Guardian Protection Services and Northstar Alarm Services both have almost no pricing and contract terms available online without a sales call, while Bay Alarm only offers service in California, Washington and Arizona. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of security providers in the U.S., so vetting and rejecting potential candidates for review is an ongoing process each time we update our comparison.

While researching this topic, we requested information from two associations in the security industry. First, we contacted the Security Industry Association (SIA), which connected us with a board member, Kirk MacDowell, president of MacGuard Security Advisors Inc. He suggests getting a security system sooner rather than later, "Sadly, many consumers wait until a burglary occurs before they invest in a system. And burglars don’t discriminate."

We also got information from Jamie Vos, vice president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), who told us, "You need to go into the decision-making process with your eyes wide open. Select the provider that understands your security needs, can act as your advocate and point out security needs you may not have considered or explain why a certain technology you want may not be the best option for you."

How We Tested Home Security Systems

We define the best home security systems as those with good prices and fair contracts. We examined company websites and sought clarification from the services if we couldn't find something.

To evaluate pricing, we looked at the base rate, with smartphone controls, for comparable monitoring plans from each security company. Pricing breaks down into two categories: monitoring fees and starting costs. Monitoring fees are what you pay each month your contract is active, while you pay starting costs one time at the beginning of your contract.


As we examined contracts, we focused on the fairness of consumer-facing policies such as length of contract, early cancellation, equipment return and auto-renewal. A strong understanding of contract terms lets you grasp the relationship between a security company and its subscribers. Contracts help businesses offset operating and equipment costs, but they should also be transparent and equitable for customers.

While every security company offers 24/7 monitoring services, these are for emergencies, and customer service often has limited hours. We also assessed which customer support channels a company offers and whether its support hours extend beyond the business day, letting you get assistance on your time.

How Much Does a Home Security System Cost?

Monthly monitoring fees for a home security system range from $21 to $50, with contracts lasting three years on average. You can expect to spend an average of $120 in starting costs, which covers equipment, installation and activation fees. Unless your home matches a company's starter packages, you will pay more than this.

With few exceptions, this is a quote-based industry, which means equipment prices vary from home to home. Large homes with more points of entry need more equipment than small homes.

Each monthly monitoring fee in our comparison is the base rate for cellular monitoring and mobile app controls. Other taxes and fees also affect your home security system costs each month. If the company spreads equipment costs throughout your contract, the monthly fee might be higher as well.

Homeowners Insurance Discounts
There's a silver lining to paying for an alarm system: It can lower your home insurance costs. For example, most insurers offer a discount of at least 5 percent for having a security system in your home. Insurance companies know that the majority of burglars aren’t willing to risk targeting a home with a security system, making it less likely they’ll have to pay out on insurance claims.

If you meet certain requirements, such as having security cameras or smoke detectors, you can get a bigger discount, up to 20 percent, from some insurers. Although insurance discounts don’t entirely offset the costs of equipment and monitoring fees, they can make security systems more affordable for people with a limited budget. Check with your homeowners insurance provider to see what kinds of discounts you can get for having a security system.

What to Expect From a Security System

Contracts Explain Fees & Cancellation Policies
Contract length ultimately affects your total costs and cancellation fees. Most security alarm systems have one- to three-year contracts, though five-year contracts also exist. The best contracts don't have a minimum term, instead offering month-to-month services. Auto-renewals are standard, and monthly renewals are better than yearly ones.

Early-cancellation policies often require you to pay some or all of the balance remaining on your account. However, some of these policies are fairer than others. An ideal cancellation policy has no fees, but one that requires you to pay 80 percent or less of what you owe is better than one that requires 100 percent payoff.

Equipment return policies let you return your system and avoid most cancellation fees. Some contracts only give three days after installation for this. Most allow two to four weeks, and a few have longer return policies.

Customer Service
Customer service is similar to cell phone signal strength, where more bars means a better signal. In customer service, more support channels and useful operating hours lead to a better customer experience.

We favor companies that provide support over social media. This is a reliable channel, since a public post or private message on a company’s Facebook or Twitter page often gets a quick response. Other effective channels include live chat and phone support, though phone support is less ideal. Email is the slowest support channel. We also favor companies with 24/7 customer support over those with limited business hours.

Psychological Barriers, Not Physical Ones
Unfortunately, once someone decides to break into your home, a burglar alarm can't physically stop them. However, it's a strong psychological deterrent that relies on the intruder's fear of getting caught.

As a result, a security system's yard signs and window decals can make would-be burglars reconsider targeting your home, and the blaring alarm could scare them away before they cause more trouble.

24/7 Home Security Monitoring
Alarm systems use certified monitoring stations to watch your home 24/7. When an alarm goes off, the monitoring station contacts you to see if everything's OK and sends help if needed or if there's no reply.

Security Devices Included
Three devices are the basis of every security system: a control panel, entry sensors for doors and windows, and motion detectors. Some companies include other equipment as an incentive, but it's not always free.

Wireless Equipment
Modern systems use battery-operated sensors that wirelessly connect to a control panel. The control panel requires a power cable most of the time but usually has a battery backup.

Cellular Monitoring Connection
Most systems have a cellular link to the monitoring station, which we consider the best option for 24/7 security, even during power outages. Some providers can also use internet or landline connections.

Smartphone Apps
You can arm, disarm and control modern security systems with a smartphone, though some basic plans don't support it. More expensive plans usually offer features like smart home control and security camera viewing.

Installation
Depending on the security company you choose, you will have at least one of three installation options: professional, self-installed and DIY.

  • Professional – The security provider sends an installer to your home to consult with you on what equipment you need. They may try to sell you additional equipment on site, but you don’t have to commit to equipment you don’t want. This is especially true if you signed a contract and paid for specific equipment before your appointment. Professional installation often has an associated fee. You can expect professional installation from small, local companies as well as Brinks Home Security, ADT, Vivint, Xfinity, AT&T Digital Life and Cox Homelife.
  • Self-Installed – The company ships a package to your home with the equipment you selected. The only thing you need to do is connect power sources and place the devices where they're needed since the company programs the system before shipping. Self-installed systems usually have no fees or a small activation fee. You can expect self-installation options from security providers that sell systems online such as SimpliSafe, Frontpoint, Link Interactive, Protect America, LifeShield and Brinks.
  • DIY – These systems are common in retail stores and do not require a contract or installation fees. The system comes with tutorials that show you how to program and install each device. Only two of the traditional providers we looked at support a DIY option: Brinks and ADT. The equipment is made by a third party in both cases: Nest Secure (Brinks) and Samsung SmartThings (ADT).

Warranty
The lifetime warranties some companies offer actually refer to an extended warranty that requires a monthly fee in addition to monitoring. This is used to pay for shipping and service calls. Some providers charge a flat fee for each service call instead of requiring a monthly fee.

Most warranties require you put the system into test mode on a monthly basis to look for faulty sensors or dead batteries. Warranties don't cover dead batteries, so expect to change them every few years. Faulty devices under warranty are usually replaced for free.

Alarm Permits
A permit means you agree to pay for excessive false alarms that divert limited police resources and require your system to meet certain local standards. Vos said, "Different jurisdictions have their own unique permitting requirements. You should check with your local law enforcement to determine if a permit is needed and what the requirements are for that permit."

If you're unsure what you can do regarding your permit, ask if the security company provides assistance with permits or if you must do this on your own.

Credit Checks
It’s common practice for security companies to check your credit score before allowing you to sign a long-term contract. As with any other company that’s looking at your credit, this is to see if you’re able to make the required monthly payments for monitoring and any financed equipment. Security providers focus on your credit score, rather than your credit history, and usually request the score from only one credit bureau. This type of credit check is known as a soft inquiry and shouldn’t affect your score. You should qualify if your credit score is above 600, which most lenders consider good credit.

If you have poor credit, you may still qualify for a security system. No-contract options are another way to get security without good credit. Systems such as Nest Secure, SimpliSafe and Scout Alarm fall under this category, though you will have to pay for all of your equipment upfront. You’ll still pay for monthly monitoring, but you won’t have a long-term contract or its accompanying credit check.

Security Systems: Getting the Basics

Contacting the sales team or buying equipment should be one of the last steps in getting a home security system. It's a good idea to develop an outline to help you explain your needs to the salesperson. This also makes it easier to turn down upgrades you don't want or can't afford.

Begin by making a list of exterior doors and windows you want to protect with entry sensors. Any door or window is susceptible, especially ones that aren't as visible from the street or nearby homes. Entry sensors are your first line of defense; your budget should allow for as many as needed.


Next, list the largest rooms and upper levels in your home. These are the first places you should put motion detectors, which act as a backup in case an intruder bypasses your entry sensors.

Although each alarm system in our comparison comes with a control panel, larger homes may need secondary panels or keypads near the exterior doors you often use.

Security Systems: Upgrading Beyond the Basics

Monitoring should be the main reason you have a system, but some upgrades can improve or go beyond simply spotting intruders. They often increase fees and startup costs but aren't strictly necessary for basic security.

"Many times homeowners are not told about additional options," MacDowell told us. "A professional alarm company will suggest smoke and/or heat detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and water leak detectors can be added to just about any alarm system, to name a few."

Specialized Sensors
Depending on your home's security needs, there are a variety of specialized sensors you can add to your system.

  • Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors – Normal smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are sufficient for most homes. However, you should consider adding these devices to your security system if you have limited mobility or a sleep condition that prevents you from waking up when an alarm sounds. Some security providers sell a single device that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide, while others sell the two types of detectors separately.
  • Pet-immune motion sensors – If you have pets that roam your home while you’re away, they might set off the motion detectors, triggering an alarm. Pet-immune motion sensors address this problem by ignoring animals under a certain size. Most motion sensors have some sort of pet immunity, but it’s good to check with the security company to find out if its motion sensors have this feature.
  • Glass-break sensors – Some thieves may break a window and enter your home without setting off the entry sensor. You can use this sensor to supplement entry sensors and motion detectors. It’s also an alternative to pet-immune motion sensors.
  • Flood sensors – Flood sensors can detect water leaks in your home and trigger an alarm so you can take action to prevent water damage. Flood sensors work best when placed in rooms that are the most vulnerable to water leaks, such as basements, bathrooms, utility rooms and kitchens.
  • Key fobs – This keychain remote control allows you to arm and disarm the system without using a keypad or control panel. This is a good alternative to mobile app controls.
  • Panic buttons – When you press this button, it instantly sends an alarm signal to the monitoring station. This device allows you to request assistance in an emergency and can be especially helpful if you live alone.
Smart Home Devices
Home security alarm system providers usually sell a variety of smart home devices designed to work with the system such as thermostats, garage door openers, smart locks, lighting controls and video doorbells. Most systems also allow you to use smart devices you may already have in your home such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, August Smart Lock, Ring Video Doorbell 2 and others.

You can also link your system to popular smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home Mini to add voice controls. Depending on the provider, you can use these voice controls to arm the system, control lights, unlock doors and adjust the thermostat. This functionality is available through Vivint, ADT, SimpliSafe, Frontpoint and systems with Alarm.com equipment, such as Brinks and Link Interactive.

Security Cameras
Nothing beats security cameras as useful tools for identifying burglars and accounting for stolen property. Security cameras can even give you a way to check on your family and home while you’re away.

Security cameras are best used to monitor the entrances to your home and property, both indoors and outdoors. You can also place cameras in rooms with valuable items, though you should avoid placing them in bedrooms and bathrooms. In most cases, a security provider does not have access to your camera’s video feed.

Because of the demand for security cameras, most providers require you to pay for their most expensive monitoring plan to add one to your system. This often means an increase of $5 to $10 a month over cheaper plans, so you should only get security cameras for your system if it fits your budget. While part of the higher price covers cloud video storage and server costs, it also provides a healthy profit to providers.

Of course, you could always forego a security system and professional monitoring in favor of a stand-alone security camera or video doorbell, if that better suits your needs.

Medical Alerts
Although a few home security providers offer them, we’ve found through our own testing and comparison of medical alert systems that medical alert companies offer better service and features. We recommend taking a look at our comparison to learn more about the capabilities of various systems on the market today.

In that comparison, we selected GreatCall as the best medical alert system overall because it balances excellent performance with affordable prices. To speak to a GreatCall representative for more details, call 1-855-385-3686.

Our medical alert systems comparison also examines the pricing, response times, performance and unique services of each of the 10 systems we tested. Even if you decide to get medical alerts through your security provider, it’s a useful tool to find out what you might need from a medical alert device.

Finding a Local Security System Provider

The market for home security systems is far larger than the few companies in our comparison. You may want to choose a local company to meet your needs. If so, you can still apply the advice from our guide, but make sure to do the following:

  • Check the company’s reputation. Take time to research customer reviews of the company you’re considering. If friends or relatives have the same system, ask them about their experience with it.
  • Check the company’s license. Most states require alarm companies to have a license in order to install security systems. You can find the licensing information on a company’s website or advertising materials.
  • Get a copy of the monitoring contract. We’ve mentioned the importance of home security contracts many times, but it bears repeating. This is the best way to learn what’s expected from you as a subscriber, particularly in terms of monitoring fees and early-termination policies.
Does an Alarm System add Value to a Home?

In addition to lowering home insurance costs, a security system can also add value to your home, should you choose to sell it. Some buyers may find a security system attractive, since they don’t have to go through the process of contacting a security company for installation. If you have home automation devices as part of your security system, this makes your home seem more convenient, especially if the buyer wants a smart home.

That said, if you’re using your security system to help sell your home, you can’t take it with you when you move. Leaving these types of systems in your old home means buying new equipment for your new home. Check with your realtor or appraiser to see how much value the security system adds to your home and if that’s enough to finance a new system after you move.

One thing to think about, though, is that many professionally-installed systems, like ADT, offer a moving benefit that installs a new system in your new home for a discount or sometimes for free. You may need to meet specific requirements to qualify for a moving benefit, and using a moving benefit almost always results in a full renewal of your long-term contract. The buyer of your old home probably won’t be able to take over your original monitoring contract either and will likely need to sign one of their own, though they can usually get lower monitoring fees since there’s no installation or equipment to pay for.

What Are the Best DIY Home Security Systems?

Our current top picks for DIY security systems are Scout Alarm, abode and Nest Secure. Unlike the traditional security systems, we were actually able to test the DIY systems in-house. We found that most offered similar equipment and features as systems from professional security companies.

We specifically chose systems that let you monitor your house from a mobile app. That said, we ultimately ranked DIY systems based on how they were to use and if they had access to optional professional monitoring without a contract. This is the best way for a DIY system to be a viable alternative to a traditional security system. If you prefer to have a professional install your security system, it’s probably a good idea to stick with a traditional security company like Vivint.

If you want to learn more about how we tested and ranked DIY systems, check out our DIY security systems buying guide.

Are Drones the Future of Security Systems?

Drones may not represent mainstream security systems just yet, but the idea raises a valid question: How will security systems evolve? We bring this up because some companies are working to evolve home security in unique ways.

For example, the Sunflower system, which is currently in development at Sunflower Labs, has three parts, each with a clever name: sunflowers (solar lights with built-in sensors), a bee (an autonomous drone) and a hive (a weather-proof charging station for the drone). The system launches into action by dispatching the drone whenever a sensor detects people, animals or cars approaching your property; this method is a lot more realistic than having a drone over your home 24/7. If this product ever makes its way to homes, it will be more expensive than a traditional security system, but it will change the way we think about home security.