The 4 Best Home Security System of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more›

Head here to find all of our expert cozy coverage and enter to win a bundle of our favorite picks for a comfy, snug fall. (Giveaway terms and conditions.) Diy Security Camera

The 4 Best Home Security System of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

We have pulled our recommendation of all Wyze camera models due to a security concern. For a full explanation see this post .

Achieving peace of mind for your home doesn’t have to be pricey or difficult. Traditional home security systems often require long contracts and expensive professional installation, but most smart DIY security systems are affordable and easy to install, and allow you to pay for a monitoring plan only when you want it. Ring offers two of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use DIY home security systems we’ve tested: the Ring Alarm Pro and the original Ring Alarm. Both use the same simple app, offer multiple add-ons (including more choices for cameras and video doorbells compared with our other picks), and give you the option to sign up for pro monitoring without locking you into a contract.

Some systems don’t require a monitoring subscription, but we recommend one so you don’t have to be on call 24/7 in case there’s an alert.

Cameras enhance a system’s effectiveness. Ensure that your subscription plan includes storage for video recordings.

Most systems can be customized to your needs, with add-on sensors that detect carbon monoxide, water, smoke, and extreme temperatures .

To cut down on false alarms, some cities require a permit or other provisions to install security systems that connect to emergency services.

The latest Ring security system has a built-in Wi-Fi 6 router, works with almost every type of add-on you can imagine, and provides internet backup (for a fee), as well as the option to add up to 24 additional hours of backup power in case of an outage.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works With Ring

The strength of the Ring Alarm Pro, in addition to all of the sensors and accessories it can support (including a wide variety of cameras), is that it includes a built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router. That means you can replace your standard router, depending on your service, or create a mesh network to improve your Wi-Fi’s speed for security cameras and other smart-home devices around the house. It also creates a cellular backup web connection when your power or internet goes down (with a Ring Protect Pro plan). The easy-to-use DIY security system offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to professional monitoring ($20 per month or $200 per year). It has almost every add-on you can imagine, including a few options for door and window sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and several types of hardwired and battery-operated doorbells and cameras. It does allow for self-monitoring, but the original Ring Alarm would be better for that (although we don’t really recommend self-monitoring anyway).

Our pick Ring Alarm (2nd Generation)If you don’t need the Eero The original Ring system is easy to use and inexpensive to set up, and has more camera add-ons than any of our other picks.Buying Options$200 from Amazon $200 from Lowe's $200 from Best Buy

The original Ring system is easy to use and inexpensive to set up, and has more camera add-ons than any of our other picks.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works With Ring

If you already have a mesh network or don’t want one, we recommend the original Ring Alarm. This easy-to-use DIY security system works with all the same add-ons as the Ring Alarm Pro, including the optional Ring Protect Pro monitoring plan for $20 per month. You can also use it as a self-monitored system for no extra cost, or add video storage for as little as $4 per month. If you purchased a Ring system after March 29, 2023, you will need to subscribe to a professional monitoring plan in order to use the Ring app to Arm or Disarm their system in addition to the keypad—existing Ring owners have app access grandfathered in (see Flaws but not dealbreakers). Unlike the Ring Alarm Pro, it doesn’t offer internet backup or work with external battery packs, but the base station provides 24 hours of battery backup, and the Pro plan includes a cellular connection.

This SimpliSafe kit is affordable and easy to install and use. Its optional monitoring plan is slightly cheaper than that of our top pick, although it doesn’t provide video storage.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, August Smart Locks

SimpliSafe is another easy-to-use DIY security system, with add-ons such as indoor and outdoor video cameras, a doorbell camera, a smart lock, and smoke and other sensors. Its 24/7 professional monitoring fees are competitive with those of other DIY systems, though all of their kits also offer a self-monitoring option. Unfortunately, outside of smart speakers, the only non-SimpliSafe devices it’s compatible with are August locks. Still, for anyone who wants a reliable system that’s easy to use, works with voice-control systems, and offers a good selection of add-ons, the SimpliSafe setup is still a great choice.

Abode offers more smart-home integration than any other security system we tested, which means you can tie it into smart-home devices from different manufacturers.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Z-Wave, Zigbee

Abode is for the person who wants a security system that can integrate with smart lighting and thermostats, voice-controlled speakers, and other smart-home devices—and doesn’t mind going through the steps to create that setup. Abode supports both Zigbee- and Z-Wave–enabled devices, as well as Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and IFTTT (If This Then That). That type of support comes at a price: We found Abode starter packages and most accessories to be more expensive than our other picks.

The latest Ring security system has a built-in Wi-Fi 6 router, works with almost every type of add-on you can imagine, and provides internet backup (for a fee), as well as the option to add up to 24 additional hours of backup power in case of an outage.

The original Ring system is easy to use and inexpensive to set up, and has more camera add-ons than any of our other picks.

This SimpliSafe kit is affordable and easy to install and use. Its optional monitoring plan is slightly cheaper than that of our top pick, although it doesn’t provide video storage.

Abode offers more smart-home integration than any other security system we tested, which means you can tie it into smart-home devices from different manufacturers.

I first started testing smart-home devices more than 20 years ago, back when the only smart-home devices were X10. I’ve covered smart-home gear for Wirecutter since 2016, and I’ve had my hands on everything from in-wall smart light switches, smart LED light bulbs, and plug-in smart outlets to indoor security cameras, smart doorbell cameras, and smart water-leak sensors. I’ve also written tech articles for The New York Times, Wired, and Men’s Health, among other publications.

For this guide, we interviewed peers, home security consultants, police departments, and insurance agents. We also sent security companies detailed questionnaires about their products and services.

You’ve probably worried about the safety of your home at some point, but it’s important to know that most homes and apartments will never be burglarized. According to the FBI, the number of property crimes in the US has continued to drop for more than 25 years. Still, if you want more peace of mind about the safety of your family and the security of your belongings, and if you want to know that someone will call emergency services should the need arise, a security system can play a valuable role. And although a home security system can’t stop a determined burglar from breaking into your house, it can discourage someone from breaking in if they know you have it, frighten someone away if they do get in, summon firefighters or cops in case of an emergency, and save you as much as 10% on your home insurance premium. “An alarm system might sit there for 10 years and do absolutely nothing,” said Bob Dolph, a home security consultant who has spent decades in the business. “You only need it to work that one time.”

An unmonitored system leaves all the work up to you. That means you need to be on call and ready to determine whether police, fire departments, or other emergency services need to be dispatched.

Note too that security systems aren’t just about crime prevention: Most have add-on sensors that can protect your home from fires, floods, and even temperature changes (to prevent pipes from bursting, for one thing). And some of those sensors (door/window and motion, specifically) can alert you to how active a parent or grandparent is, as well as if they’ve accidentally left a door or window open. Also, many of these systems can integrate with other smart-home devices. That means you can add, for example, a smart speaker to arm, disarm, and check your system’s status with the sound of your voice, or trigger cameras and lights to turn on based on alerts or your location.

Neighbors is the focus of a lot of controversy. We clear up the good, the bad, and the questionable practices surrounding Ring’s in-app feature.

Investing in a security system is a great idea, but they aren’t one size fits all. Ask yourself these questions to find the one that’s best for you.

There are two types of security systems: professionally monitored and unmonitored. In the former, when an alarm goes off, a pro monitoring company receives a notification and then attempts to contact you (and, if need be, your local emergency services). An unmonitored (aka self-monitored) system leaves all the work up to you. That means you need to be on call, day and night, during work and vacation time, and ready to determine whether police, fire departments, or other emergency services need to be dispatched. Then you need to make that call yourself. It’s a big difference, and why we think a professionally monitored system is fundamentally more secure.

Once you decide which type of system you want, you need to pick what that system will include. Most security companies, whether its kits are DIY or professionally installed, professionally monitored or self-monitored, offer guidance if you’re confused about what to choose. DIY systems are also modular, so you can easily add sensors and devices as you need them—perhaps a camera by the garage, or sensors on the sliding glass door upstairs.

The backbone of a home security system is the base station. This unit communicates with all the security sensors and smart-home components in your house. Many connect to a home router, but if your base station comes with Wi-Fi or cellular support, placement is more flexible. Contact sensors are the first thing you should buy alongside the base station; these attach to doors and windows and alert you when they open. Other home security components include motion sensors, keypads, key fobs, cameras, glass-break sensors, and panic buttons.

We only looked for DIY security systems that offer professional monitoring options—the key feature that sets a security system apart from a local alert system. We also insisted on no-contract systems, even though those require you to pay for the hardware up front. While some companies provide free or heavily discounted hardware in exchange for a service commitment that can last anywhere from one to five years, we found no-contract systems to be the most flexible. For instance, some people may want monitoring only when they’re on vacation; no-contract systems let you come and go as you please. They also cost less in the long run and allow you to be in total control of the equipment you use, as well as how and when you use and pay for monitoring services.

We didn’t consider alarm systems that require professional installation. Pro-installed systems usually cost more, despite using equipment similar to that of DIY systems; typically come with long and often onerous contracts; and rely on the same monitoring companies as self-installed systems, so they offer little advantage. A good example is the Vivint Smart Home Security system, which we’ve reviewed separately and don’t recommend for most people.

After years of researching and reviewing security systems, we’ve come up with a list of features and add-ons that are the most beneficial, and so we’ve restricted our picks to systems that include the following:

To thoroughly test each system, we spent several weeks walking in front of motion sensors, opening and closing doors and windows equipped with contact sensors, soaking water-leak detectors, and setting off sirens. Next, we looked at cameras, keypads, and iOS/Android apps, when available. Finally, we armed, disarmed, and spied on each system from inside and outside the home, even testing each system’s battery backup by cutting its power.

To gauge reaction times for the monitoring company, we triggered each system a minimum of five times (through the contact and motion sensors). However, keep in mind that the monitoring company’s reaction time has absolutely nothing to do with the speed at which your local authorities respond to the alarm—if they respond at all. Many municipalities have rules designed to limit the time and resources that police and fire departments waste on false alarms; you may even be fined if you have too many. For instance, Salt Lake City requires confirmation of an emergency from a responding private security guard before police are dispatched. Several cities, such as Los Angeles, also require a permit to even own and operate a home security system.

Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and, as much as possible, investigates how the companies whose products we recommend deal with customer data. As part of our vetting process for home security systems, we looked at the security and data-privacy practices behind our picks.

All of these devices come with a privacy policy that, as you have probably experienced, can be difficult for the layperson to parse. We read each of the privacy policies for the systems we chose to test, specifically looking for sections that stray from what we consider to be standard in the category. We also reached out to the companies that produce our top picks and had them answer an extensive questionnaire to confirm information that we thought should be of primary concern for any potential buyer (see Privacy and security: How our picks compare to read their answers in full).

There are some common and important considerations that anyone interested in a DIY security system should understand. For instance, most security companies say they share data with third parties; however, “third parties” typically refers only to the partner monitoring companies that support the security systems, and the “data” collected is just which type of alarms/alerts are triggered (and when), as well as the address where emergency services would be sent. SimpliSafe told us it also shares information with app developers at Google Firebase and the analytics company Heap to keep tabs on the user’s app experience and make improvements.

If you opt to use security cameras, only consider models made by companies that provide robust security and privacy protections. Our top and runner-up picks include two-factor authentication, which does a good job of ensuring that access to your camera and video recordings is restricted. The Abode Smart Security Kit is the only one of our picks that currently makes it an option (the Ring and SimpliSafe systems require it).

One especially daunting topic is how companies encrypt video, a process that keeps outside entities and companies from accessing your data and video recordings. All three companies that produce our picks encrypt video in transit and at rest, which means when it’s moving (such as from your device to the cloud) as well as when it’s not moving (like when it’s stored on a hard drive). Ring is the only one of our picks that offers it from end to end (as an opt-in feature). That means your videos can’t be accessed by anyone, including Ring, even if requested by law enforcement via a subpoena or court order.

In July 2022, Senator Edward J. Markey published a report criticizing Ring's privacy practices, specifically accusing the company of providing user videos to law enforcement agencies without prior consent on 11 occasions so far this year. We reached out to Ring and a spokesperson told us, "The law authorizes companies like Ring to provide information to government entities if the company believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder, requires disclosure without delay. Ring faithfully applies that legal standard.” Ring’s privacy policy, which is common to companies in this category, states the company may honor law enforcement requests without prior user consent if "there is an emergency involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person and there is insufficient time to obtain a court order." We encourage all new and existing users to read the privacy policies of any company they buy a product from before installing it. If you are a Ring user concerned about privacy, enabling end-to-end encryption, prevents unwanted sharing of any user video.

On May 31, 2023, the Federal Trade Commissions announced a $5.8 million settlement with Ring addressing privacy violations dating back to 2017. The FTC had accused Ring of failing to properly protect customers from hacking incidents, noting that some employees and contractors had repeatedly accessed customer videos without permission. The report stems from incidents prior to Amazon's acquisition of Ring in 2018, but the order requires Ring to delete all algorithms and data collected from unlawfully viewed videos. The company must also create a new privacy and security program that will include "safeguards on human review of videos," unless required by law.

Wirecutter long-term tests all of its picks, including keeping track of app, firmware, and policy updates, as well as hardware and software incidents. Should privacy or security issues be found with any of our picks here, we’ll report them and, if necessary, update or alter our recommendations.

The latest Ring security system has a built-in Wi-Fi 6 router, works with almost every type of add-on you can imagine, and provides internet backup (for a fee), as well as the option to add up to 24 additional hours of backup power in case of an outage.

The original Ring system is easy to use and inexpensive to set up, and has more camera add-ons than any of our other picks.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Works with Ring

Ring Alarm Pro is the most comprehensive DIY home security system we’ve tested. It’s easy to set up and use, can be customized with a large selection of compatible add-ons, and features an optional, affordable monitoring plan ($20 per month or $200 per year). The Ring Alarm Pro doesn’t have the ability to integrate with as many third-party smart-home devices as our other picks, but it does have a built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router (more on that below). This means the base station can both serve as the brains of your security system and replace your current Wi-Fi router (it can be set up as a mesh Wi-Fi network, too, which may improve your Wi-Fi’s range and performance). The Eero router also provides backup internet access via a cellular connection (as part of a Ring Protect Pro plan), should you have a power or internet outage. However, if you already have a mesh Wi-Fi network, don’t want one, and/or don’t need backup internet, opt for the original Ring Alarm instead.

Ring has a number of features that make it a real standout. First, it’s the only one of our picks to offer both 24/7 monitoring and 24/7 customer service, which are available over the phone. Like our other picks, the base station sends alerts should it get disconnected from power; plus, it has a built-in battery that provides 24 hours of backup power, which is comparable to that of SimpliSafe’s system (and confirmed by our testing). With Ring Alarm Pro, you can also add up to three backup power packs for an additional 24 hours of power (depending on usage).

The only hardware feature of the Ring Alarm Pro that’s new compared with the original model is its base station, which includes a built-in Eero router, supports local video storage (by adding a microSD card), and can be paired with extra battery packs in case you anticipate lengthy power or web outages. Otherwise, the Ring Alarm Pro is compatible with all the same sensors and other add-ons that work with Ring Alarm. If you have the older system, you can upgrade by buying just the base station. You can also buy a starter package such as the 8-piece kit we tested, which includes the base station, four contact sensors for doors and windows, one motion detector, and a range extender to help connect alarm components around the house.

Ring Alarm Pro and Ring Alarm can be used four different ways:

The Pro plan is the only one that includes live monitoring—without it, should your security system trigger, it’s up to you to call the authorities. That means being on call 24/7, and in some cases, requires being at home to witness alarms. Ring has also discontinued some of the app features that made it easy to self-monitor, including being able to arm/disarm the system through the Ring app, as well as receive smartphone alerts when the alarm is triggered. This was previously a feature for all Ring customers and will continue to be a free feature for those who purchased the system prior to March 29, 2023. For anyone who purchases a system after that date, you can only arm/disarm from the keypad and will need to be home to hear sirens blaring. If you don’t want monitoring and aren’t interested in the Eero router, go for the original Ring Alarm, since the Pro’s extras are wasted without the Pro monitoring plan.

The Pro system’s main extra is the built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router, which is typically sold separately for creating a home Wi-Fi network. Since it’s built into the Ring base station, it can replace your existing router, depending on your service. (For instance, our test location has Verizon Fios TV and internet, which requires using a specific router, and so we have to keep that and then connect the Ring Alarm Pro to it.)

To set up Eero features, such as the ability to create a mesh Wi-Fi network, the Ring app prompts you to download the Eero app, name your network, give it a password, and then return to the Ring app to complete setting up the system. We found the process to be pretty easy, but it does mean you’ll need an extra app. (There’s a possibility you’ll never need to open the additional app again, but you can use it to check network speeds, manage connected devices, supervise screen time for users in the house, or completely block users and devices from the network.) Eero claims its network covers 1,500 square feet and can support up to 75 connected devices at a time. Although we didn’t test that many devices this time around, we did add an extra Eero 6 Extender by the front door to ensure a strong connection with outdoor cameras. When connected to our home internet, the Eero actually gave us speeds a little better than promised, up to 900 Mbps. Wirecutter’s networking expert, senior staff writer Joel Santo Domingo, said it’s definitely a plus; he also said he’s planning to make the Eero 6 a pick in our mesh-networking guide soon.

When we unplugged our primary router to mimic a web outage, download speeds dropped to 18 Mbps, drastically slower yet still fast enough to live-view security cameras and even stream Netflix while connected to the Eero router. (Note: If you lose power, the number of devices connected and amount of online activity will kill the Ring Alarm Pro’s internal battery quicker, which is why Ring offers the extra power packs.) Devices connected to the Eero won’t be able to trigger the alarm system, but they will work during a power and/or web outage via the Pro plan’s 24/7 backup internet, which is powered by AT&T. That backup includes 3GB of data in case of web and/or power outages. Note that you’ll eat through that quickly if you’re viewing cameras, watching movies, and doing anything else you normally do on the web—it’s really designed for short-term emergency situations. (Should you need, you can also purchase additional data for a reasonable $3 per GB.)

The Pro plan also enables Ring Edge, a new feature that allows users to store video content locally on a microSD card inserted into the Ring Alarm Pro base station, as opposed to having it in the cloud—which is actually what we recommend. It’s not available on the original Ring Alarm and isn’t compatible with Ring’s Video Doorbell 4, Floodlight Cam Wired Pro, Video Doorbell (1st Generation), or the Stick Up Cam (1st Generation). It’s confusing that Ring charges for this capability, since one of the main perks to storing video locally is that it’s typically free. Still, if you’re concerned about the potential privacy or security risks of storing videos in the cloud, it’s an alternative that’s included with the Pro plan.

Otherwise, the Pro plan includes the option to call emergency services for water leaks, 60 days of video storage for an unlimited number of cameras, cellular backup, and a lifetime warranty for equipment damage for the length of your subscription. It also includes Alexa Guard Plus—normally a separate subscription, and which requires an Amazon Echo speaker (or any Echo device) to monitor for smoke detectors and footsteps—and add in a few other features, like the ability to play barking-dog sounds when triggered by a sensor or another linked device.

The Ring Alarm Pro base station is also the company’s first to incorporate the features of the Ring Smart Lighting Bridge, a tiny box that can wirelessly connect Ring lights to your home network. It’s nice to be able to eliminate another plug-in around the house. We added the Ring Solar Pathlight to our test Ring Alarm Pro system and were able to control the light through the app, create Schedules, and even set an Alexa Routine that would turn on outside lights whenever the system was armed.

Ring doesn’t integrate with a lot of third-party smart-home systems and devices, but it does offer a lot of add-ons, including a smoke/CO listener, the First Alert Z-Wave Plus Smoke/CO Alarm (2nd Generation), a water-leak sensor, a glass-break sensor, and even a sensor for when you want to monitor doors/windows that are cracked open a little. It also has more indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras options than any other system we’ve tested. Unlike the other accessories, the cameras don’t actually trigger the monitoring service—for good reason, since you probably don’t want the cops coming every time you get a package delivered. However, if you receive a smartphone alert that a camera has detected motion and then happen to see someone lurking about, you can click the SOS button in the app (that red exclamation point on the homepage, or on the live-view page of any camera) to call for emergency services. The only notable add-on that’s missing is a key fob, something our other two picks offer.

Ring is the only one of our picks to offer end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for cameras, which means no one can access your video content except you, even in the case of a subpoena from law enforcement, though complying is a pretty common practice with most video cameras. You must enable E2EE in the Control Center in the app’s settings. There are downsides, though: Shared users won’t be able to view video links, you won’t be able to access a timeline of security events, and you can’t watch videos on the Amazon Echo Show, Fire TV, or FireTablet, nor third-party devices, among other things.

In our tests, both Ring Alarm systems sent smartphone alerts within 4 seconds of the alarm being triggered, with email alerts as an option, as well. The siren on the base station can be configured to go off between 0 and 180 seconds of a triggering event. If you dismiss an alarm within 30 seconds, the monitoring service will not call you. If you enable the Confirmation Call (found in the Monitoring section in the app’s settings), the first emergency contact on your list will still get an automated call if you disarm the alarm after it sounds but before the monitoring center calls. This setting is off by default, so you have to turn it on if you want to get calls no matter what. In our tests those calls came within 60 seconds of when the 104 dB siren on the Ring Alarm Pro or the 113 dB siren on the Ring Alarm was triggered; the monitoring company will ask for your personally chosen verbal password to cancel the alert.

At 2.95 inches in diameter and 1.06 inches high, the Ring Alarm Flood & Freeze Sensor is larger than those of our other picks, so it may not squeeze into tight spaces, like under a washing machine. However, it responded to our testing quickly with a “water detected” verbal announcement within 1 to 2 seconds, a smartphone alert within around 4 seconds, and an automated call from the monitoring company less than 10 seconds after that.

Both the iOS and Android apps feature the ability to disarm or arm the system in Home or Away modes right from the homepage, and they also offer one-touch access to live views and recordings on all connected cameras. The app also includes one-touch access to Neighbors, a sort of neighborhood-watch social network that allows users to report and monitor suspicious activity in a zone that you can customize with a radius of about 500 feet to 5 miles around your home. You can also post comments and videos, view those from others in your surrounding area, or turn off notifications to ignore it. To completely delete it from view, you can opt out in the app’s Control Center. You don’t even have to be a Ring device owner to have a Neighbors account; there is a standalone Neighbors app for iOS and Android devices. All users can post messages, photos, or links, which are expected to adhere to community guidelines.

To determine how well the Ring Alarm system worked over time, we solicited feedback from staff members at Wirecutter who use the device. Here’s what they said.

“I have been using the original Ring Alarm since fall 2018. Since then, one contact sensor has just recently started burning through CR2032 batteries faster than normal. After changing them twice during my most recent testing round, I realized batteries were lasting only about two weeks. This was not an issue previously, or with any of my other older sensors , so I assumed this sensor was reaching the end of its life. I contacted Ring and had a rep tell me that they encourage people to test sensors regularly, but especially as they get closer to the four-year range, as that is when they may start to reach end of life. However, some sensors will last longer based on your usage. A replacement contact sensor costs $20.”

—Rachel Cericola, senior staff writer, Ring Alarm tester since 2018

As of March 29, 2023, a Ring Protect subscription will be required for all new system owners in order to use the Ring app to arm and disarm the system, as well as to receive smartphone notifications about alarm triggers. That means new Ring owners without a monitoring subscription won’t receive alarm notifications, and won't be able to self-monitor their system using the app, and so will need to be physically at home in order to control the system manually. The company previously made these features free for all Ring Alarm customers. Ring has confirmed that Ring owners who purchased their alarm system prior to that date will continue to have full app access.

One of the bonus features of the Ring Alarm Pro is its built-in Eero Wi-Fi 6 router. That said, to set up and manage the Eero’s features, you need to download the Eero app. So this one product uses two apps—plus the Alexa app, if you plan to add a smart speaker to your system. However, once you set it up, you probably won’t be consulting the Eero app much.

Ring Edge is a new feature that allows you to store videos locally to a microSD card that’s inserted to the base station. However, it’s limited to Ring Alarm Pro users with a Pro subscription plan, which means you’ll need to pay for a feature that’s typically free with other systems.

And finally, Ring doesn’t offer as much integration with third-party smart-home devices as our other picks, since it supports only Alexa and everything under the Works with Ring umbrella. SimpliSafe also supports Alexa and Google Assistant, but it doesn’t allow you to disarm the system using voice commands. If you want more integration and the ability to arm, disarm, and check the status of the system by voice, we recommend our also-great pick, the Abode Smart Security Kit.

This SimpliSafe kit is affordable and easy to install and use. Its optional monitoring plan is slightly cheaper than that of our top pick, although it doesn’t provide video storage.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, August Smart Locks

SimpliSafe is looking to migrate all SimpliSafe monitoring customers in the U.S. over to 4G, based on the expectation that 2G networks will be shut off in the U.S. on January 1. The company is providing free replacement modules that you can install, free of charge. If you didn’t receive a letter about the update, contact SimpliSafe customer service.

SimpliSafe is a flexible, affordable, and easy-to-use security system that offers consistent response times from a professional monitoring service. Setting up The Essentials kit was straightforward, and it offers the ability to set an alarm delay for when you enter or exit (up to 250 seconds after entry, and between 45 and 120 seconds after exit). It’s scalable for both small and large homes and can be configured as you need with a variety of accessories, including entry and leak sensors, fire and motion detectors, cameras, and even a smart lock. SimpliSafe also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing you to arm and check the system using only voice commands. However, the system doesn’t work with many third-party smart-home devices (like Ring cameras and doorbells). It’s also a bit more expensive than our top pick, if you intend to use professional monitoring and want video storage included.

The Essentials package we originally reviewed includes the base station, a keypad, three entry sensors, one motion sensor, a yard sign, and two window decals. SimpliSafe is a no-contract security system, which means you pay for the monitoring service on a month-to-month basis rather than commit to a long-term subscription. For $18 per month, you can add around-the-clock professional monitoring and a cellular connection with the Standard Monitoring plan, which enables the hub to communicate with the monitoring service without requiring a landline connection. The $28-per-month Fast Protect Monitoring plan adds unlimited camera recordings for up to 10 cameras, including the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro, which is available separately and has a lifetime equipment warranty for qualifying subscribers. The Fast Protect plan also adds in Video Verification, an opt-in feature that permits the monitoring service to view live video inside your home to confirm there’s an actual emergency before they call in the cavalry—a system intended to reduce false alerts (and, as noted above, a requirement in some communities). SimpliSafe offers a free self-monitored option, as well, which sends smartphone alerts whenever a device is triggered and allows users to arm, disarm, and check the system status via the SimpliSafe app. For $10 per month, you can add 30 days of video storage for up to five indoor or doorbell cameras.

The SimpliSafe equipment is now in its third generation, and the latest app and hardware have a simpler and more stylish design. The sensors are smaller, and the range on the base station—which the company claims is up to 800 feet away—is better. While our tests extended only about 80 feet in different directions, we had no issues with sensors reacting and triggering the alarm.

The base station is the brains behind the SimpliSafe system. It has built-in Wi-Fi, which means it doesn’t need to be physically connected to a router and can sit in any convenient spot in your home (both monitoring plans include a backup cellular connection, in case your internet goes down). It also features a 24-hour battery backup, blue and red lights for alerts, UL certification, and an adjustable 95 dB siren (our tests actually found it closer to 98 dB), which, while not the loudest we tested (Ring was the standout), would definitely catch the attention of burglars in our 1,600-square-foot home. If you want to go louder, or if you have a large home and need more than one siren, you can purchase a standalone 105 dB siren.

Unlike the Ring and Abode base stations, SimpliSafe’s provides voice prompts during setup, as well as when the system is arming and disarming. When the system is triggered, the keypad beeps to prompt you to enter your passcode before the siren starts blaring. If you have the $28-per-month Fast Protect Monitoring (or the self-monitored plan with camera recording for $10 per month), you can also integrate SimpliSafe into Alexa or Google Home smart-home setups, which enables you to arm (but not disarm—this prevents an intruder from disarming the system) the system in Home or Away mode, or check the system’s status using voice commands and a smart speaker or phone.

SimpliSafe’s contact sensors for doors and windows are small enough to be camouflaged when installed on white trim; the motion sensor is noticeable but not an eyesore. When we placed the motion sensor about 6.5 feet off the ground, it was quick to respond, yet it was never triggered by a 30-pound dog. SimpliSafe sells extra entry sensors, water and freeze sensors, a glass-break sensor, a panic button, a smoke detector, and a key fob. SimpliSafe also has a wireless 1080p outdoor camera, an indoor 1080p camera, and a smart video doorbell; none are on a par with the picks in our guide to the best indoor security camera, but they work well with the system and allow for that Video Verification feature. SimpliSafe also offers a door lock, which can be locked and unlocked via the app or the included PIN pad that attaches to the outside of your door. It works well, but you have to set it up through the system’s keypad (versus in the app).

At 2-by-1-by-2 inches, the SimpliSafe Water Sensor is much smaller than the Ring Alarm Flood & Freeze Sensor. It performed well, delivering an audible announcement from the base station and an app alert within 1 second of contact with water. If you have a monitoring plan, the service will also call you whenever water is detected.

Like the companies behind our other picks, SimpliSafe offers 24/7 monitoring, but if you have a hardware problem in the middle of the night, you may have to wait to get help. You can contact customer service through email, Twitter, and Facebook, but live help is available only from 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern, seven days a week. This is better than Abode, which has live phone support from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.—but Ring offers it 24/7.

In August 2019, the LockPickingLawyer YouTube channel posted a video showing how to hack into a SimpliSafe system using a $2 remote. The company responded with a statement that said the system would alert users when it detected any type of interference. (SimpliSafe also questioned the video, claiming that there would need to be a perfect storm of circumstances for someone to successfully hack the system.) Over the period of a week, we ran more than 25 tests using two different 433 MHz remotes, with contact sensors located 6 to 26 feet away from the SimpliSafe Base Station, and we were unable to replicate the issue. Although our testing shouldn’t be taken as conclusive, we believe this issue is unlikely to be a real-world problem for SimpliSafe customers who own the current system.

To determine how well the SimpliSafe security system worked over time, we solicited feedback from staff members at Wirecutter who own the device. Here’s what they said.

“The first time we went out of town, we had a false alarm, but I think it’s because our doors can jiggle a bit with the wind and make it seem like they’re open, so we adjusted the sensitivity and triggers, and it’s been fine since. The lights going on and off in our living room have also sometimes triggered the motion sensor.”

—Daniela Gorny, supervising editor, SimpliSafe customer since 2021

Abode offers more smart-home integration than any other security system we tested, which means you can tie it into smart-home devices from different manufacturers.

Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Z-Wave, Zigbee

If you already use a bunch of smart-home devices and want a security system that can integrate with many of them, you might prefer the UL-certified Abode Smart Security Kit. It is compatible with sensors and accessories that communicate wirelessly using Z-Wave, Zigbee, and AbodeRF (radio frequency). Abode also integrates with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, so it should fit into more elaborate DIY home-automation setups. However, the Abode kit isn’t as pretty as our top pick, costs more for the main system and most accessory devices, and, compared with our other picks, offers limited access to live customer service (9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, seven days a week).

Installing the Abode system is as easy as any other system we tested, but placement is more limited than with the SimpliSafe and original Ring Alarm systems—rather than using Wi-Fi, the Abode hub needs to be wired to your network router with an ethernet cable. (The Abode Iota uses Wi-Fi, but we don’t recommend that system, for reasons mentioned in The competition.) We found the Abode Gateway hub to be less attractive and a little bulky compared with our other picks, about the same size as a standard router. In addition to the network and cellular connections (with a paid Pro Plan subscription), the base station has a five-hour backup battery, which is 19 hours less than the Ring and SimpliSafe base stations.

The Abode system costs more up front than our top pick: For about $250, you get just the Gateway, one door/window sensor, one motion sensor, and a key fob. There is a free plan that allows for self-monitoring, live camera views, and smart-device integrations. For $6 per month or $60 per year, the Standard plan adds seven days of events and video storage as well as CUE automations—which, similar to IFTTT, allow you to create multi-step conditional triggers and Routines in the Abode app that can factor in details like the weather, the time, and the phone locations of family members. For instance, we set up a Rule so that we get a smartphone notification when a monitored door is open for longer than five minutes, but only if we’re not home. The Standard plan does not include professional monitoring (unless you pay an additional fee for three- or seven-day monitoring) or cellular backup; the $20 Pro option adds 24/7 pro monitoring and 30 days of video storage.

Abode’s web and mobile apps are easy to use and allow you to arm and disarm the system, access cameras, check the status of sensors, and control third-party smart-home devices, including Philips Hue bulbs, Ecobee thermostats, and Schlage door locks. A paid subscription adds access to an event timeline and the ability to add the aforementioned CUE automations.

The system performed well in our tests, both in self-monitoring mode and when connected to the monitoring service. Users can customize entry and exit delays up to four minutes. The system sends an instant push confirmation when in Away mode or when the alarm is triggered. When we tested the professional monitoring, we got service calls between 70 and 120 seconds after the alarm was triggered. The service rep was always polite and asked for a four-digit PIN to keep police from being dispatched. We were able to arm and disarm the Abode system using Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. For Alexa and Google Assistant, you need to speak a PIN, whereas HomeKit requires you to unlock your iPhone.

In addition to the Z-Wave and Zigbee products and sensors that you can add to the system, Abode sells several models of door/window sensors, acoustic glass-break sensors, cameras, and other sensors and accessories, including a smoke-alarm monitor that works in conjunction with your existing UL-listed smoke detector. Abode also has an indoor/outdoor camera with 1080p resolution, the Abode Cam 2. We found it worked best when used with 24/7 video recording, an optional, $9-per-month add-on to Abode’s subscription plans (otherwise, the camera is limited to capturing up to 30 seconds of video). In our tests the Abode Cam 2 left huge gaps between clips; it also lacks motion-sensitivity settings and has a limited, 121-degree field of view.

During long-term testing, we added the Abode Water Leak Sensor to our security-system setup. Unlike those of our other picks, it includes a 4-foot water-sensing cable for hard-to-reach places. It did respond well when water was present, but then we realized it’s the only one of our picks that won’t also summon a monitoring service when it sends a smartphone alert.

To determine how well the Abode security system worked over time, we solicited feedback from staff members at Wirecutter who own the device. Here’s what they said.

“No huge issues! Every once in a while I have to re-log in to the app—it’s never at a convenient time, but it also isn’t a huge deal. It’s worth mentioning that the cellular data backup works flawlessly when the Wi-Fi goes out.”

—Eric Dulcet, senior software engineer, Abode customer since 2021

We’re planning to test glass-break sensors from Ring, SimpliSafe, and Abode, and will update this guide with our findings.

We’re also planning to look at the Arlo Security System, which has a Wi-Fi hub with an integrated keypad, a siren, a motion detector, and the ability to alert you when smoke and CO alarms are triggered. The system can be self-monitored without a monthly fee, or with a live monitoring plan that costs $25 per month.

The Abode Security Kit is a $160 entry-level system with a new hub, one door/window sensor, and one keyfob. The system works with all existing Abode add-ons, but doesn't include support for Z-Wave, Zigbee, or Apple HomeKit.

The SimpliSafe Smart Alarm Wireless Indoor Security Camera is a battery-operated camera that works with (and without) the SimpliSafe security system. It includes 1536p video capture, an 80dB siren, and a privacy shutter. And if you have the Fast Protect plan ($30 per month), the monitoring service can see and speak directly to intruders right through the camera.

ADT Self Setup combines the ADT Smart Home Hub, the new ADT+ app, and Google Nest products. It comes in three different packages. The Starter kit includes the hub, one Nest Doorbell (battery), four ADT Door & Window Sensors, and 2 ADT Motion Sensors. Self-monitoring will be available, and professional monitoring starts at $25 a month.

Wyze has launched live professional monitoring for any of the company’s cameras for $4 per month or $40 per year. We have not yet tested the service, which works with the Wyze Cam v3 (we have pulled our recommendation of Wyze cameras—see  this post  for a full explanation). If you’re looking to add sensors, the Wyze Home Monitoring system is the cheapest we tested, with equipment that retails for $80 and includes a year of monitoring provided by Noonlight. (Otherwise, it’s $10 per month or $100 per year.) Wyze also offers a free self-monitored option. But neither plan offers cellular backup or fire protection, and only the sensors work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant—which means you can’t arm/disarm or check the system status with voice commands.

Like the Abode Smart Security Kit, Scout is a no-contract system with Z-Wave and Zigbee support and a (bulky) base station that needs to be tethered to a router. However, we think the Abode is a better deal, since it offers support for more third-party products and services (including Apple HomeKit), app access and push notifications without a subscription, and lower-cost monitoring plans.

We dismissed the Eufy Security 5-Piece Home Alarm Kit due to its lack of add-ons. It offers no glass-break sensors, panic buttons, flood sensors, or smoke detection. We do like the option to use the Eufy as a self-monitored system or with a $10-per-month monitoring plan, even though the latter doesn’t include cellular backup.

We like that Blue by ADT has a self-monitoring mode with app alerts, and that you can opt for professional monitoring for $20 per month. However, the system just doesn’t compare with any of our picks in performance or looks. It doesn’t currently support glass-break sensors, and fire protection is available only if you have an existing detector and the $200 Blue by ADT Indoor Camera (which we don’t recommend). ADT-branded outdoor and doorbell cameras are available for around $200 each (we didn’t love them), but you have to pay another $6 per month (for unlimited cameras at one location) for more than 24 hours of video storage—even if you already pay the monitoring fee.

Like the Eufy kit, the Ecobee Smart Security system lacks several add-ons, notably flood sensors and smoke detection (though it can listen for the alarm of separate smoke detectors in the home), and the only sirens are on the thermostat (and on the camera, too, but we don’t recommend it). There’s no backup battery, and the optional $10-per-month live-monitoring fee doesn’t include cellular backup.

The Frontpoint Security system, along with its Interactive Monitoring plan, was our favorite home security system from 2013 to early 2016. Since then, the company has dropped the need for a contract, but the monthly fee is more expensive than that of any of our top picks.

Cove’s system matches that of SimpliSafe in almost every way. What kept it from being a pick was its app—in our testing it would freeze up on occasion and lock us out constantly, requiring us to enter a password for every login.

We encountered a few technical issues with the internal camera and false alarms while long-term testing the Abode Iota, and we no longer recommend it. We also dismissed the Ooma Smart Security system because the monitoring option isn’t currently available in Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, Montana, Rhode Island, or Virginia.

This article was edited by Jon Chase and Grant Clauser.

The cost of a home security system varies depending on the number of devices and accessories included. A good starter system can be had for around $200 and should include a base station, a keypad, at least one door/contact sensor, and a motion sensor. Look for a system that allows you to start small and add on other devices and features as your needs change; contact sensors go for as little as $15, cameras can cost anywhere from $30 to $250, and so on.

Having a security system in an apartment is a good idea, especially in buildings with high traffic. You never know whom your neighbor could be buzzing in—in fact, they might not even know. A security system can also alert you to dangers from fire, flood, and frozen pipes.

DIY security systems are perfect for pretty much any living situation, including rental houses and apartments. Many of the various accessories, such as the contact and motion sensors, come with strong, two-sided adhesive, so you won’t need to drill into walls (and risk losing your security deposit). Also, because many security systems offer month-to-month contracts, you won’t have to worry about being locked into something long term, or passing a contract on to the next renter. Make sure to check with your landlord before you invest in a system, in case there are clauses in your lease that forbid the use of cameras or other security accessories; at the very least, it’s a good idea to let them know you’re installing a system that could trigger a loud alarm or visits from the police and/or fire departments.

David Ludlow, Best home security systems 2022, Top Ten Reviews, January 11, 2021

Katie McEntire, How to Choose a Security System, SafeWise, December 15, 2021

Shelley Little, What You Should Know Before Buying a Home Security System, MyMove, May 5, 2022

Anita Ostrowski, 5 Benefits of On-Demand Home Monitoring, Vector Security, August 15, 2017

David Priest and David Anders, Best DIY Home Security Systems for 2022, CNET, June 12, 2022

Rachel Cericola is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter who has been covering smart-home technology since the days of X10. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, Men’s Health, USA Today, and others. She hopes her neighbors read this bio because it would explain why she always has four video doorbells running simultaneously outside her home. 

When getting a home security system, most people should opt for professional monitoring. Here’s how to decide.

If you want to power up your smart home, then you need to install smart sensors—tiny detectors that tell other smart devices what to do automatically.

New homeowners quickly discover that they also have new worries. These smart security devices provide peace of mind whether you’re home or away.

If your smart speaker is a Google Home, here are the best devices that work with it.

The 4 Best Home Security System of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Diy Security Camera Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).