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Home Security Systems: Picking the Right One

Home Security Systems: Picking the Right One

Picking the right security system for your home can be a challenge. That’s why we’re here to help you figure it out. There’s no need to break the bank to get a decent home security system: There are tons of budget-friendly gadgets and devices out there, as well as a number of reasonably priced security companies, that are making it easier and more affordable than ever to secure your home. There are established security companies like ADT that can set things up for you, or you can opt for a DIY alternative like SimpliSafe or Wyze. We’ve reviewed each system to help you make an educated decision on what works best for your household.

Browse our selection of complete home security camera systems here.

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More competition in the home security market makes for more internet-connected gadgets like video doorbells, smart locks and cameras with motion detection. But it also brings new vulnerabilities, including an increased risk of hacking. It’s definitely a lot to take in, and today’s home security providers don’t always make it easy to comparison-shop.

That’s where we come in. We’ve put security systems to the test, from top-of-the-line monitored systems with professional installation to wallet-friendly DIY alternatives that include a home security camera (or cameras) and smart home devices monitored via a smartphone app. We’ll be updating this article as we go based on hands-on experience.

Keep this page bookmarked and check back as we expand it to include a deep dive into all the best home security system options for 2022.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Comcast Xfinity Home security is a terrific, accessible and affordable service, which is largely why we gave it an 8 out of 10 in our review. It could cost you thousands less than comparable setups from direct competitors like Vivint and ADT, it works with plenty of third-party smart home gadgets and it doesn’t require a contract. If you can get around Comcast’s pressure to bundle with their other services (you don’t have to do it!) and the service’s limited home automation capabilities, this home security system will treat you well.

Read our Xfinity Home Security review.

Hobie Crase/CNET

Ring’s Alarm Pro system has changed the DIY home security game, wrapping a Wi-Fi 6 Eero router into its base device. Not only do you get reliable security performance, but you’ll also get access to all sorts of extra features, including cellular-powered backup Wi-Fi, network security monitoring, local processing and storage for all of your Ring devices and integration with Alexa’s Guard Plus service (provided you have an Echo speaker or display). Considering all the bells and whistles, the Ring Alarm Pro received an impressive score of 9/10 in our review. 

Ring still has a troubling history when it comes to its privacy practices and policies, but the Ring Alarm Pro is undeniably one of the smartest DIY home security systems I’ve ever tested, and it’s still competitively priced in a crowded market.

Read our Ring Alarm Pro review.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

We’ve tested the SimpliSafe system a number of times and most recently gave it a review score of 8.5 out of 10. If you’re just looking for home security — without all the extra Wi-Fi and smart home integrations of the Ring Alarm Pro — SimpliSafe’s easy-to-install, easy-to-use DIY system is a great option. It offers a comprehensive set of features, including security equipment like security cameras and a very good mix of battery-powered motion detection sensors, all of which performed reliably well in our tests. Starter kits begin at less than $250, or you can build your own custom alarm system with the exact mix of devices you’re interested in. The security company’s professional monitoring plan starts at $15 a month, but you’ll almost certainly want to spring for the $25-a-month monitoring service plan, which adds in things like mobile app controls and smart home security system voice support via Alexa and Google Assistant.

Read our SimpliSafe review.

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Vivint is a lot more expensive than Comcast Xfinity — and received a lower review score of 7.7 due in part to the high upfront costs — but if money is less of a concern than smart home integration, it’s worth considering. Vivint gives you a super-polished experience with nice third-party device integrations — and it doesn’t require a contract. With monthly monitoring ranging from $30 to $45 a month, it’s comparable month-to-month with Xfinity.

Read our Vivint Smart Home review.

David Priest/CNET

Like SimpliSafe, Wyze allows you to build a custom security system for your home needs. A home monitoring subscription starts at either $10 a month ($100 annually), which also includes the required Wyze Sense Hub for free. From there, you can add motion sensors, cameras, keypads, video doorbells and more. Or you could opt for the Home Security bundle at Amazon, which includes a v3 camera, two door/window sensors, a motion detector, a keypad and the Sense Hub, as well as a six-month monitoring subscription for less than $150. The only real drawback: Wyze doesn’t have cellular backup in case of power or internet outages. Perhaps that feature will come with time, but for now, we give the Wyze Home Monitoring system a solid 8.4 out of 10.

Read our Wyze Home Monitoring review.

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Other home security systems we’ve tested

Besides the systems above, we’ve tested many of the top competitors, including Abode, Abode Iota, Frontpoint, Kangaroo, Ring Alarm, Cove and ADT. Abode and Abode’s all-in-one security camera Iota were both solid contenders that couldn’t quite match SimpliSafe’s price, but they’re worth checking out if you’re interested in DIY smart home systems for small spaces or systems that don’t require monitoring subscriptions. Ring Alarm is another solid DIY option, but the company’s recent problems with police partnerships tip us away from recommending it — especially when a company like Wyze offers such a strong, budget-friendly alternative.

DIY systems Frontpoint, Cove and Kangaroo all had features to recommend them. Frontpoint’s system is reliable and its hardware is reasonably priced, but its $45 monthly monitoring fee is too expensive. Kangaroo, by contrast, is incredibly wallet-friendly but its doorbell camera is terrible, so Wyze keeps its edge in the budget category too. Cove Home Security, despite reasonable hardware prices, fell to an overly restrictive subscription model that doesn’t allow for self-monitoring or app access without significant monthly fees.

ADT, one of the biggest brands we’ve tested, was broadly disappointing. It’s too expensive, requires a contract and the app is clunky. We’ve tested AT&T Digital Life, too, though we’ve removed the system from consideration since the company stopped installing it for new customers.

We have yet to test Brinks Home and ADT Blue, though we hope to include those in our consideration in the coming months.

How we test home security systems

Hands-on testing is core to our evaluations of any home security products. In short, when it comes to the best home security systems, we pay special attention to the user experience, the promised features, reliability and overall value — along with a few other elements. We do the testing in a real home environment over the course of at least a full week. If you want to read more about our review process, check out our in-depth article on how we test home security systems and services.

Home security systems compared

Comcast Xfinity

SimpliSafe (6-piece set)


1x touchscreen controller, 3x door/window sensors, 1x pet-friendly motion sensor, battery and cellular system backup, Xfinity Home Security yard sign

Eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, door/window sensors, motion detectors, a keypad, a siren and optional professional monitoring subscriptions

1 base station, 1 keypad, 1 motion sensor, 3 entry sensors

1 Hub, 2 door window sensors, a motion detector, a flood sensor

v3 camera, two door/window sensors, a motion detector, a keypad and the Sense Hub

Extra features

Integration with a large and growing list of third-party devices, flexible pricing

Cellular-powered backup Wi-Fi, network security monitoring, local processing, storage for all of your Ring devices and integration with Alexa’s Guard Plus service

Customizable system, built-in Wi-Fi and cellular, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Customizable system, integration with many third-party devices, integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Z-Wave devices

Customizable system, integration with many third-party devices, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Review score

Home security system FAQs

Do I have to sign a contract for home security?

Contracts are sometimes required for professional home monitoring or to qualify for free equipment, so service from home security providers like ADT, Vivint and Xfinity may include one. That said, it’s usually possible to avoid contracts if you pay upfront — and other home security companies like Ring, SimpliSafe and Wyze offer DIY home security solutions that never require one.

What’s the best home security camera system for your home?

Arlo, Nest and Wyze cameras are our top picks for the best home security cameras, but the best one for your home depends on your needs. Be sure to consider price, Wi-Fi connectivity, indoor/outdoor functionality as well as compatibility with other smart home devices and security services when choosing.

How do I set up a home security system?

Some home security systems come with professional installation, so you can rely on the company to install and set up your system. Others, including many DIY systems, may require self-installation and setup. These systems should come with detailed instructions, and they’re often easy to set up. In most cases, you can simply place or mount the devices where desired, then connect them to your Wi-Fi and other smart home devices (if compatible) via app.

What’s the difference between a wired and wireless alarm system?

In a home security context, there are two ways to look at “wired” vs. “wireless.” The first is power — home security systems require electricity to operate, so in that context, a wired system would be one with devices that plug into power, and which rely on your home’s electricity to function. A fair number of current-gen systems use wireless, battery-powered sensors and battery backups for the base stations that will keep the setup running if the power ever goes out — you can think of those systems as “wireless” as far as electricity is concerned.

The second way to look at wired vs. wireless concerns connectivity. Every home security system needs to be able to notify you when there’s a problem and alert the authorities when there’s an emergency. It used to be that systems would notify you with the sound of the alarm, and contact authorities with a wired connection to your phone line, but most current-gen systems can also notify the user of issues with a push alert on their phone, and some will use an internet connection to contact the professionals during an emergency.

Even then, we’d still consider the system to be “wired” if you can stop it from operating by cutting your home’s internet signal. That’s why a growing number of systems include built-in cellular connectivity as a backup. Even if the Wi-Fi goes out (or if a tech-savvy intruder disables it), a system like that will still be able to notify you and the authorities of an emergency by way of that cellular connection. Systems like those are “wireless” in the connectivity sense — and if they double down with a battery backup as well, then they’re as wireless as home security gets.

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