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The Insider Pick:
You no longer have to call a traditional security company to get a home security system in place. As smart home gadgets become more affordable and easy to use, making your home secure is easier than ever before. The best home security system you can set up by yourself is the Nest Secure System.
There was once a time when home security meant shelling out thousands of dollars for high-end cameras, motion sensors, and professional set up. These days, however, home security systems are both smarter, and more affordable, plus, you can set them up all by yourself — no expert installation needed.
Of course, there are quite a few home security systems on the market, and some are clearly better than others. A good security system features motion trackers, security cameras, and even smart home connectivity to give you alerts on your phone and the ability to track your home’s security on the go.
When choosing a home security system, you’ll want to think about the smart home standard you want to use. For example, you may want the system to integrate with Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, Wink, Nest, Amazon Alexa, or the Google Assistant. Some systems work with more smart home gadgets to give you a fuller picture of your home environment, including everything from open windows to leaky sinks.
You'll also have to make sure that you're comfortable setting up these new wirelessly connected home security systems by yourself. If not, you'll have to go to a professional like ADT, which costs more. However, the systems we've included are easy to use and set up, so you shouldn't have a problem with them. It's also important to note that you need strong internet to support all of these smart home products.
Last but not least, you’ll need to think about any monthly fees. Often, you’ll have to pay monthly fees for things like cloud video storage and other security features.
Read on in the slides below to learn why the Nest Secure is our top pick and why you might prefer the Simplisafe Protect Home Security System, the Samsung SmartThings ADT Starter Kit, the Wink Lookout, or the Nest Cam IQ.
The best home security system
Why you'll love it: Nest Secure is well-designed, easy to use, and works with other Nest smart home gadgets like the excellent Nest IQ security camera.
Nest is a growing force in the smart home business. Gone are the days when the company simply sold smart thermostats. Now, Nest boasts a large portfolio of smart home products, including a top-tier smart home security system.
Nest Secure includes a few different products, including a home base with a number pad, key fobs for authentication, and door and window sensors to track when and where people enter and exit the house. The system is well-designed and easy to use. Plus, it’s easy to set up, which is arguably the most important concern for people who want to install their own home security systems.
Nest partnered with a professional security company called MONI. If your alarm is triggered, MONI is contacted and reaches out to you and emergency contacts to confirm that the situation is real and not accidental. Once the event is verified, the police will be called.
You do have to pay a service fee of $19 a month with a three-year contract or $29 a month without a contract to access MONI's security response team. The Nest app is super easy to use, and you'll get alerts whenever something strange is detected.
The system also works with Nest security cameras, Nest thermostats, and the products that work with Nest. If you already have a Nest thermostat, security camera, or the smoke detector, this system will work effortlessly with those devices. All of the devices look nice, sleek, unobtrusive, and modern.
Of course, there are downsides to the system. It’s a little more expensive than most other smart home security systems. If you really want to get the most out of the system, you'll want to buy a Nest security camera, like the Nest Cam IQ, which will record audio whenever the Nest Secure alarm is tripped. It adds up fast.
Pros: Well-designed, easy to use, easy to set up
Cons: Doesn’t support a digital assistant yet, a bit pricey
The best self-installable home security system
Why you'll love it: SimpliSafe is easy to use, affordable, and it doesn’t require a professional to install it.
If you’re looking for a decent security system that you can install yourself, then SimpliSafe is the one for you. It even works with the Nest thermostat and August smart lock.
Like other smart home security systems, SimpliSafe comes with a variety of different devices, including a motion sensor, four entry sensors, a keypad, a base station, and a 720p camera. Installation is generally quick and easy, and the app is easy to use, albeit a bit basic.
Another great thing about SimpliSafe is that the hardware is relatively inexpensive, and the $14.99 a month charge for live monitoring and LTE backup in the event of a power or Wi-Fi outage is fairly reasonable.
However, the subscription price does increase based on what features you want to use. If you want text and email notifications, you'll have to pay $19.99 a month for that service. Those of you who are interested in controlling devices from an app on your phone will have to pay $24.99 a month.
We recommend that you go with the $24.99-a-month plan because it gives you app control, notifications, email alerts, and 30-day event-footage storage for unlimited cameras.
The only downside here is that the system only works with a few smart home devices. Still, if you want a simple, basic system, this is it. Expert reviewers agree — The Wirecutter, CNET, and PCMag all highly recommend it.
Pros: Easy to use, easy to set up, relatively inexpensive
Cons: App is a little basic, only works with Nest products
The best home security system made with ADT
Why you'll love it: The Samsung SmartThings ADT Home security kit system is well-built, easy to use, and it's built by a home security company that knows what it’s doing.
ADT is a long-time player in the home security game, and it’s now bringing that experience into the 21st century. The Samsung SmartThings ADT Starter Kit covers all the bases in home security with a 7-inch touchscreen control panel, two ADT Door and Window Detectors, and an ADT Motion Detector.
Of course, to get the 24/7 support and other security features, you have to pay a subscription to ADT. Luckily, you no longer have to sign up for a contract with ADT to access its security personnel. For $14.99 a month, you’ll get smoke and fire monitoring, and for $24.99 or $29.99 a month, you will get professional monitoring from ADT to guard against home intruders and more.
The panel is powered by an outlet and it has 7-day battery backup and LTE backup from Verizon wireless, so if your Wi-Fi goes down or the power goes out, you can still contact ADT for help.
You can also add a range of other products to the starter kit if you want to, including a water sensor, motion sensor, smoke detector, carbon monoxide alarm, and more. You can see what's going on with all your devices in the easy to use mobile app and desktop interface.
Because the security system is made with Samsung's SmartThings technology, it doubles as a smart home hub. It can connect to hundreds of other smart home devices, including more sensors, security cameras, smart light bulbs, and more.
If you want to make your home smart and secure at the same time, this starter kit is a good option because it gives you the basic building blocks to use in making your smart home.
Reviews have been mixed, largely due to the high price tag and some missing tech features like voice control. Digital Trends gave it 3 stars, as did A Secure Life. The Wirecutter had some issues with ADT's services when it reviewed the device, but software fixes may have improved the situation.
Pros: Easy to use, respected brand, excellent support from ADT
Cons: A little expensive
The best home security system for Wink
Why you'll love it: Wink’s Lookout system is well-built, very easy to use, and it works with other smart home devices.
If you’re using Wink as your smart home standard, then there’s a home security system built specifically for you. It’s called Wink Lookout, and it can track motion, doors and windows opening and closing, and record video of whatever’s happening in your home. It can even sound off a siren when it detects something out of the ordinary.
One of the best things about the Wink Lookout system is how easy it is to install. If you’ve been using the Wink smart home system for a while, you’ll find it super easy to install the different components with the very well-designed Wink app. The system works extremely well with other smart home devices that are compatible with Wink.
Another great thing about the system is the app. Through it, you’ll be able to track your smart home, set up automation, view video from cameras, and so on. It’s a well-designed app, and in general, we found it very easy to use.
There are some downsides to using Wink Lookout. For starters, the system doesn’t have a backup battery, so if the power is cut, your house immediately loses its security. On top of that, there’s no professional monitoring setup. However, it's a good basic smart home security system.
Pros: Easy to use, great app, easy to install, works with third-party devices
Cons: No backup battery, no professional monitoring
The best basic home security system
Why you'll love it: The Nest Cam IQ is a super smart camera that uses facial recognition and smart motion detection to alert you when it tracks something strange and records it.
Maybe you’re not interested in spending much money on a home security system. If that’s you, then perhaps a really smart security camera is the best option for you. The Nest Cam IQ is smart enough to alert you of strange activity, identify people's faces, and distinguish between pets running around and a burglar breaking into your home.
The Cam IQ is a good choice for a number of reasons, but simplicity may be the number one reason. It does away with the strenuous setup in favor of a simple Google Assistant-compatible camera that can recognize faces, turn on and off based on your phone’s location, and so on. It’s really smart.
In case you’re worried about things your pet accidentally triggering the alarm, then fear not — the Nest Cam IQ allows users to set zones where movement won’t trigger a notification. That means you can set the floor area, where your pet moves around, to be irrelevant when the Cam IQ is detecting motion.
The only downsides are that it’s a little pricey, and if you really want to get the most out of it, then you need a Nest Aware subscription. The monthly fees range from $5 a month to $30 a month, depending on the features you want to have.
Pros: Easy to use, easy to set up, very smart, great video quality
Cons: A bit expensive for a single camera, the subscription is pricey