Best Home Security Systems iMore 2020
Here are the best DIY home security systems to protect your home from intruders, keep curious kids inside and monitor disasters like floods in your home. Our top pick is the Ring Alarm security system. This system connects to the Ring Doorbell and together monitors your whole house and property with motion sensors, entry alarms and sensor extenders. You can add additional equipment including security cameras and flood lights, but the base system is a great place to start.
- Best Overall: Ring Alarm
- Best Value: ZeGoal Smart Security System
- Best for Beginners: Ring Doorbell
- Best Family System: Thustar Home Security System
- Best with Professional Monitoring: SimpliSafe System
- Best Indoor/Outdoor System: Blink XT2
- Best Camera System: HeimVision HM241
- Best Entry Sensors: GE Personal Security
- Best Flood Detection: Cove Wireless System
Best Overall: Ring Alarm
The Ring Alarm home security system covers more space than traditional systems. This is because on top of its included motion sensors, it also comes with a sensor extender. This helps detect movement yards before the main sensor picks it up and triggers alerts quicker. This five-piece system also has a keypad for setting up the system and ensuring it is integrated with your Ring Doorbell and with the mobile app. You can set emergency numbers to be contacted when alerted and set separate zones around your home, so the entire system isn't triggered because of something suspicious in one area. It also has a single-entry sensor that is placed on a door or window. If you need more, you can purchase the sensors separately or purchase the 10 or 14-piece systems that include more entry and motion sensors.
You do need to purchase a monitoring package for this alarm system to work. You can choose to have Ring's professional service keep an eye out for you, or you can pay for enhanced app features that send you notifications and allow you to capture, record and playback video and still images captured with the system. Even with these extra costs, Ring provides a comprehensive alarm systems at a price that is less than other companies. Plus, there are thousands of users that offer positive feedback of how well this system works for them, the peace of mind it brings and the amount of money it saves when an intruder is stopped.
- Motion sensor extender
- Works with Ring Doorbell
- Supports additional alarm equipment
- Monitoring service is required
- Ring Doorbell is not included
The best in home security
This home security system senses motion before other systems do and is compatible with Ring's doorbell, cameras and lights.
Best Value: ZeGoal Smart Security System
This security system comes with a motion sensor with a bright light and loud siren that sounds off when activated. It also includes four sensors for windows and doors that, when connected to the base, will alert you of intruders sneaking in or kids sneaking out. This system has two key fobs to allow remote control of the entire system, but you can also alarm, disarm and set time controls from your mobile device using the free app. The ZeGoal Smart Security System has voice control so you can tap into security settings using voice controls devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. There is also a panic button on both the base unit and on the key fobs that can be used to call for help without using your voice.
The ZeGoal security system doesn't require any wires to install, so it's an easy DIY project. Its base plugs into your power outlet but does have a backup battery that will give you eight hours of power in the case of a power outage. There are other sensors and devices that you can purchase separately and add to this system, including a garage door sensor, however, there isn't any way for this system to support security cameras. It also isn't the best choice if you want professional monitoring of your property.
- Doesn't cost a lot
- 120dB siren
- Includes two key fobs
- Doesn't connect to security cameras
- No professional monitoring available
Extra home protection at an affordable price
This home security system includes four door and window sensors, a motion detector, and two remote key fobs.
Best for Beginners: Ring Doorbell
If you're not too sure about a full home security system, try out the Ring Doorbell. This device monitors your front door and surrounding areas using high definition video. You can set this doorbell to record when the motion sensor is activated, or continuously. If someone comes close to your door, you will be notified through the Ring app on your mobile devices and shown exactly who is there and what they are doing. If you see someone trying to sneak in, deactivate your Ring or steal anything from your property, you can call out to them through the Ring Doorbell to alert them of what you are seeing while also contacting help at the same time.
There isn't a lot more that comes with the Ring Doorbell, but Ring does offer several security devices that integrate with it. In all cases you must have the Doorbell in order for the other devices to work. These include motion detectors, security cameras and floodlights. Also, you do need to purchase Ring's cloud storage service in order to see backed up images and video recordings. Without this service, you will need to manually turn on or off the video recording and watch the live stream without any way to rewind or rewatch what has happened.
- Easy to install
- Live video recording
- Two-way audio
- Cloud storage service required for optimal use
- No camera tilt
- Additional security devices cost extra
Best for Beginners
A good place to start
The Ring Doorbell is a good place to start securing your property. Motion sensors, cameras and security lights can be added.
Best Family System: Thustar Home Security System
The Thustar Home Security System comes with four remote key fobs so every member of your family can easily arm and disarm the alarm as they leave. You can program six different emergency numbers that the system will contact when needed, including neighbors and emergency personnel, and program it to monitor specific zones around your home. On top of the control panel and key fobs, this home security system has two motion sensors with bright lights that turn on when it picks up movement, and 10 sensors that can be placed on windows and doors to alert you when someone is sneaking in or out. There is also a 110dB alarm that will sound if your home is broken into. This is as loud as a sonic boom, so it will definitely deter intruders.
In order for this home security system to send alerts or messages, you will need to insert a SIM card. The Thustar home security system doesn't come with one, so you will need to purchase this separately. Also, unlike other top security systems, there isn't a mobile app to remotely set or control the system while away from home. The Thustar Home Security System has both wired and wireless components, so there is some minor installation required. The system does come with all the tools and instructions you need.
- Several remote fobs included
- 110dB alarm
- 10 window or door sensors
- Some wiring required
- Needs a SIM card
- No mobile app
Best Family System
Everyone can control this system
Everyone uses one of the four remote fobs to arm and disarm this system. You can program six emergency messages to be sent.
Best with Professional Monitoring: SimpliSafe System
If you'd like the extra peace of mind that comes with a professional security monitoring system, then the SimpliSafe system is a great choice. The eight-piece system includes a motion sensor, panic button and four sensors that can be mounted to either windows or doors. You can purchase a 12-piece package that includes a video camera, key fob and extra sensors. The system's base has an alarm to scare intruders away, and the control panel can be connected to voice activated devices, like Amazon Echo. When you purchase the SimpliSafe home security system, you get a month monitoring service for free to try it out. Even without it you can keep tabs of what's going on in your home through the mobile app.
The mobile app is the only way to view video or still shots taken with the SimpliSafe security camera. This means if you don't have a smart, mobile device, you won't get any feedback about what's being monitored. This is also the only way to use the two-way audio feature of this security system. There isn't any way to do it through the control panel.
- Several security pieces included
- Supports professional monitoring
- Voice activated
- Mobile device required
- Monitoring costs more
Best with Professional Monitoring
Let the professionals take it from here
The SimpliSafe home security system allows you to monitor your home through the mobile app or connect to a monitoring service.
Best Indoor/Outdoor System: Blink XT2
The Blink XT2 security system is simply a collection of security cameras that work both indoors and outdoors. These smart security cameras include two-way audio so you can tell the person you're watching to behave while also reaching out for help from neighbor or emergency personnel. Video is recorded in 1080 HD and automatically stored to the cloud for free. You have a year to go through images and recording before they are automatically deleted to free up space for more images. The Blink integrates with your Alexa-enable devices, plus there is a mobile app for remote access and settings.
This security system doesn't come with entry sensors or alarms, only security cameras. There aren't additional devices like these that work with Blink, so if you need a more comprehensive security system, this one isn't for you. But the great range of video and free playback and storage of all images does offer a good and easy way to keep an eye on your home, both inside and out. Also, because this system is completely wireless, you don't need to hire a professional to install it.
- HD video security cameras
- Free cloud storage of all images
- Wireless system
- No lights or alarms
- Doesn't include entry sensors
Best Indoor/Outdoor System
See something, say something
Blink security cameras use two-way audio features to help you monitor and keep control of situations in and out of your home.
Best Camera System: HeimVision HM241
This plug-n-play wireless security system comes with four security cameras made to work well outdoors but can also be used indoors. The HeimVision HM241 cameras can be repositioned positioned if you're not getting the best view. All the cameras have motion sensors, record using night vision in low-light situations and are both dust tight and waterproof. Video footage is recorded and stored using the included NVR and can be played back at will through the mobile app or a connected viewing device. The NVR does support hard drive storage, however an HDD isn't included, so this will need to be purchased separately.
The HeimVision HM241 can be set up to monitor different zones around your home. This means only the cameras in that area will be triggered by motion and not each one connected to the NVR. When a motion detector is triggered, the cameras start rolling and you are sent an email alert along with some snapshots of what's going on. These security cameras are quite big, so they aren't easily set up to be discrete.
- Four adjustable security cameras
- Night vision recording
- NVR included
- Hard drive sold separately
- No professional monitoring available
Best Camera System
An eagle's eye view of your whole home
The security cameras are adjustable and can be set to monitor zones around your home. Video is recorded on the included NVR.
Best Entry Sensors: GE Personal Security
For a simple solution to deter intruders, or to keep tabs on curious kids that like the sneak out, the GE Personal Security system simply monitors the entry ways of your home. These sensors connect to windows and doors, and, using magnets, sets of a 120dB chime or alarm every time they are opened. That's louder than a rock concert, so it easily draws your attention to the point of entry to ensure no one is sneaking in or out. The GE Personal Security package comes with a total of four entry sensors.
The same sensors can be used for both window and doors, though many users have suggested using more than one sensor on double windows since a single sensor can't monitor both openings. Also, there is no delay on these alarms, so once it's set and you open the door to leave, the alarm will sound. It does go off on its own as soon as the door closes and the magnetic part of the sensor is back in place.
- Four entry sensors
- Loud alarm
- Chime setting
- Doesn't work well with double windows
- No alarm delay setting
Best Entry Sensors
Loud and clear alerts
The GE security entry sensors have a loud alarm that sounds when your window or doors opens. It comes with four sensors.
Best Flood Detection: Cove Wireless System
While intruder alert is the primary function of home security systems, the Cove system also detects disasters in your home, like floods. One of the sensors included with this system is placed near water heaters or under sinks and will alert you if there is excess water or if temperature drop to freezing, both are signs of possible flooding. This five-piece system comes with a pet-sensitive motion detector, which means it won't set off the alarm because your pet is roaming free. It also has an easy to install and set up control panel. None of the pieces of this Cove home security system requires you to wire anything or use any tools.
In order to use this system, you do need to pay a monthly subscription fee for monitoring services. However, this isn't for professional monitoring. Instead it is for updates and notices sent to your mobile device. Without this, you won't ever know when there is an intruder or flood in your home until it is too late. With either of Cove's notification plans, you do get a lifetime warranty on the equipment and a lifetime price lock on the monitoring package you choose.
- Flood sensors
- Pet-sensitive motion detector
- Wireless install
- Requires monthly monitoring plan to work
Best Flood Detection
Whole house protection
This security system keeps an eye out for intruders, but also alerts when there is a flood or freezing temperatures in your home.
Just about everyone already as a Ring Doorbell, so it makes sense to simply add on the Ring Alarm system. This home security system is easy to install, because it doesn't require any wiring. And because it integrates with the Ring Doorbell and app, you will receive alerts when anyone is sneaking around your home and not just on the front porch. The Ring Alarm system has a five-piece, 10-piece and 14-piece option. Each comes with a keypad, and a specific number of motion sensors and entry sensors that can be places around your home. Also included are sensor extenders. There are placed further out from your home to detect movement at the edge of your property rather than waiting until someone is closer to your home to notify you. There are other security products available from Ring including flood lights and security cameras. These are easily connected to the Ring security system for even more coverage and protection.
The Ring Alarm does require some sort of monitoring package for it to work, much like the app subscription used for the Ring Doorbell. You can choose to have Ring's professionals monitor everything for you. But you also have the option to monitor yourself. With the self-monitoring option any images, including video, captured by the system are saved to the cloud so you can view them later. Without this you will need to have a mobile device continually running to see live video because saving this is not an option.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
As a mom of 10 and grandma to five, Nicole Johnston pulls from her years of experience raising her family as she explores, tests and reviews a variety of consumer products from food processors to bed pillows to parental control programs. Nicole has over 13 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sectors.
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