8 of the best home security systems, according to people who use them
When you get existential about it, much of our daily lives revolve around the notion of “protection.” When you toss a password on your computer’s log-in screen, for instance, you’re protecting your data against wannabe hackers. When you slip a cardboard sleeve on a paper coffee cup filled with your half-caf vanilla oat milk latte, you’re protecting your hand from the sloshing liquid’s scorching heat. And when you vaccinate your kids — you’re definitely vaccinating your kids, right? — you’re protecting them and people who are immunocompromised from potentially life-threatening diseases.
It’s sort of weird, then, that so few of us have equipped our houses — the place where we spend most of our time and keep our most precious belongings — with some sort of protection: According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, a mere 17 percent of U.S. households have a fleshed-out home security system. What gives?
Maybe it’s because shopping for a home security system is kind of a nightmare. When I, your friendly neighborhood tech writer, began my reconnaissance for Mashable’s roundup of the best home security systems, I was taken aback by the amount of complicated jargon I encountered — more so than usual for consumer technology, and plenty enough to scare off the average homeowner with limited knowledge of the market. I was taken even further aback by the ambiguity of some popular companies’ websites when it comes to basic details like system specs and average costs, and by the sheer number of companies that offer seemingly identical gear.
I came away from my preliminary research with a whole mess of questions. Like, is transparency not a thing in this market? Why does Company A think its sensors are better than Company B’s, even though they look exactly the same? Most importantly, what the hell is IFTTT and why does everyone keep talking about it? (PSA: It’s an acronym that stands for “If This Then That,” a free web-based service that lets you create applets to connect different devices and apps. It’s pretty neat.)
Maybe you’ve faced similar setbacks on your pursuit to protect your home, and if that’s the case, then solidarity; it’s a jungle out there, folks.
For what it’s worth, spending several hours of your precious time perusing the depths of home security websites, familiarizing yourself with the paraphernalia, and waxing poetic on customer service hotlines can, in fact, teach you a lot. But based on our collective experience in the realm of consumer tech, all of us at Mashable know that if you want unfiltered and plainspoken takes on virtually any kind of product, you hit up the real experts: online reviewers.
Whether you’re looking for an apartment-friendly starter kit or some protective gear for your new vacation home (#humblebrag), there are options out there for the lot of you. Below, you’ll find our top eight picks for home security systems based on what we’ve seen in comments and reviews written by actual customers.
No contract required • Add-ons are affordable • Refurbished systems available at discounted prices
Iffy customer service • Reviewers say pets easily trigger the sensors
Easy installation and an easy-on-the-wallet price tag with lots of room for upgrades.
A well-rounded system at a great price with plenty of affordable add-on options — just be sure Fluffy doesn’t get too close.
Protecting more than 3 million people across the country, SimpliSafe‘s home security systems come highly regarded by customers and critics alike for their incredible value and comprehensive protection.
SimpliSafe’s most popular setup is its Essentials package, which includes one base station, one keypad, one motion sensor, three entry sensors, a yard sign, and two window decals, all for just $259. (You’ve got all sorts of add-on cameras, doorbells, and key fobs to choose from, too.) Want an even better deal? Buy a refurbished SimpliSafe system to save 25 to 30%.
Arming and disarming your system and setting notifications is easy with the SimpliSafe mobile app, which works from anywhere in the world. And self-installation is super straightforward, reviewers say; it doesn’t involve any drilling or tools, which is probably why 97% of SimpliSafe customers go that route: Just plug in the Base Station and place your sensors around your home for instant protection. (Not particularly handy? No worries: Professional installation is available for $79.) SimpliSafe’s optional monitoring plans start at 50 cents per day, billed on a month-to-month basis, and include a built-in cellular connection at no extra cost.
Of all the SimpliSafe reviews we pored over, customers’ biggest complaint by far was that its motion sensors were tripped up easily by wandering pets. (FWIW, SimpliSafe claimed in a blog post that under most circumstances, its sensors “won’t detect small pets, typically up to 50 lbs.”) Redditor sauky writes:
“I have SimpliSafe and it’s been solid for me for almost 3 yrs, except for one sensor having issues but was fixed. … [It] was relatively inexpensive and super easy to install. I had a few false alarms in the beginning but that was due to my cat being a cat and setting off the motion detectors. … The monitoring is decent. When I had the false alarms they called quickly, the police were only sent once because we didn’t get the notifications. They can call you but you will also get notifications through email and on your phone.
Get the SimpliSafe Essentials package here starting at $259.
Steep discounts on packages available if you sign up for a three-year contract • DIY installation is really easy • Packages available, but you can build your own system, too • Equipment comes pre-programmed • Great customer service • Environmental sensors available
Not ideal for units in rural areas, where cellular connections tend to be iffy • Monitoring contract required
A great option for self-installation and moving made easy; the fact that its monitoring service requires a three-year contract is its biggest drawback.
2. Frontpoint Security
A flexible and portable home security solution for renters whose biggest drawback is mandatory three-year contracts.
There’s no way you’re getting that security deposit back with constellations of nail holes in your apartment’s walls, so go with Frontpoint Security if you’re renting: All of their equipment is freestanding, or you can attach individual devices your walls using removable adhesive; it’s remarkably easy to install. Plus, if you call their customer support line before your move, they’ll send you a free moving kit that includes instructions for getting those suckers off your walls, new adhesives, boxes, and more — and once you get to your new pad, they’ll reactivate your system for the new space at no extra cost.
Frontpoint’s Safe Home Starter package, its most basic bundle, includes the Frontpoint Hub and Keypad, two door and window sensors, one motion sensor, a yard sign, a five-pack of window decals, and one door sticker — just enough gear to cover a modest living space. Each device comes pre-configured, meaning it’s guaranteed to work right out of the box, and relies solely on a cellular connection. (Translation: You don’t have to have a landline for it to work, and it won’t leech off your WiFi.) You’ve also got the option to customize your own home security setup, taking your pick from Frontpoint’s lineup of sensors, decals, cameras, and more.
Packages start at just $99 provided you sign up for a three-year monitoring contract, which will cost you at least $34.99/month depending on your plan. That’s pretty steep for some renters’ budgets, but since Frontpoint doesn’t charge you for moving its systems from one place to another — or force you to buy new equipment for your new home — it’s pretty reasonable as far as a long-term security solutions go. (Just for comparison’s sake, Vivint charges $129 for professional equipment removal.)
Redditor matthewstayton writes:
“I have nothing but good things to say about FrontPoint. I’ve had them for almost 3 years in 2 different houses. The best thing for you [a new customer] to do is decide how many sensors and what types you want and just give them a call. They have several different levels of service but IMO not to pushy with selling you things you don’t need.”
Get a Frontpoint package here starting at $99 with a three-year contract.
Flexible pricing for active-duty military families • Touchscreen panel comes standard with every package • Environmental sensors included • Advanced technology (and all hardware is wireless)
Expensive • No options for DIY installation or self-monitoring (contract required) • Some reviewers report very poor customer service from salespeople
For a pretty penny and your signature on a lengthy contract, you’ll have the smartest home security system in the neighborhood.
3. Vivint Smart Home
Vivint home security ecosystems come with some of the finest equipment around and top-notch professional monitoring, but be wary of sky-high pricing and not-quite-expert door-to-door salespeople.
Call for details
N/A with Premium Service, otherwise 120 days
Yes (sensor sensitivity can be set to 33 or 55 pounds)
Smart assistant compatibility:
Google Home and Amazon Alexa
Mobile app available:
It should come as no surprise that this cutting-edge smart home service provider makes the Cadillac of home security systems.
Vivint doesn’t offer any one-size-fits-all packages. Rather, interested customers are encouraged to contact its experts directly so that they can customize a home security system to their individual needs, living situation, and lifestyle. All systems include a one-on-one home consultation, free professional installation, and 24/7 customer support and monitoring. And while specific product lineups will vary from system to system, they typically include a wireless outdoor camera, flood/freeze sensors, a motion detector, a smoke detector, a touchscreen panel, and door and window sensors. Everything is state-of-the-art and wireless.
Here’s the thing about Vivint, though: Its pricing is markedly vague. Its website says its plans start at $39.99/month, but that probably doesn’t include the cost of your equipment, so you’ll have to call f