Top 10 Best Home Security Systems for 2018
Trusted by over 3,000,000 home owners & featured by ABC News, ConsumersAdvocate.org helps you compare home security systems.
Home security systems detect intruders in your home, and subsequently alert the proper authorities. They usually include wall and window sensors, motion detectors, video cameras, and yard signs. In 2013, the average home invasion rate was four per minute. Purchasing a home security system is the best option for protecting your belongings and safety.
When choosing a home security system, it is important to consider additional features. Frequent add-ons include fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, and flooding detection. Another additional feature, home automation, allows the user to remotely control all home security features. If you decide to purchase a comprehensive home security system with all the add-ons, you’ll be protected not only from intruders, but from all other manner of potential threats.
As with any major financial decision, it’s important to thoroughly research a few different companies and read through home security system reviews. Most home security providers will conduct an on-site inspection and offer a quote with different coverage options. Verify what all the costs are, including monthly fees, equipments costs, and whether there is an installation fee.
Before finalizing your home security system purchase, take the time to verify the company’s reputation, their customer support, and get written cancellation policies and auto renewals. Does the monitoring company guarantee 24 hour coverage? Is intruder detection an add-on or a core function? Will there be an installation fee? Does the system come with a term-length contract, or is it indefinite?
Top 6 Companies
- Angie’s List Super Service Award winner 5 years running. Editor's Choice.
- GE wireless hardware - camera, & mobile app options
- Best reputation in Home Security
- 30-day free trial & 3-year term
- Top quality monitoring, from $34.99/mo
- ADT's monitoring is the most trusted & popular in the US
- Get it installed by a pro - save time, don't risk doing it wrong
- Remote Arm/Disarm With Mobile App to Stay Connected
- 3-year term. 2-year term (in California)
- Website doesn't show pricing, call 866-946-7173
- Qualification: 600+ credit score
- Award-winning Home Security from $19.99
- Affordable yet effective equipment
- Quick setup with no installation fees
- 3-year term
- Qualification: 600+ Fico Score
- Expect to pay $19.99-$42.99/mo
- The #1 smart home services provider in the U.S.
- Highest quality home security and automation
- Free quote, professional installation, $0 activation
- Rated 4.5 stars on The App Store
- Easy online quotes
- Get a free personalized quote
- Latest home security technology
- Quick online application
- Broadband, cellular, or landline monitoring
- All types of properties
- Protecting more than 1 million customers nationwide
- Award-winning live 24/7 monitoring
- Patented ASAPer resolves alarms up to 10X faster
- Free custom system,free professional installation
- Manage your home remotely with your smartphone
- Smart-home leader: video, lights, locks, thermostat & more
- BONUS: Interactive system comes with FREE camera
How We Compare Home Security
Home security companies, either professionally installed or DIY, offer a myriad of equipment options. Some companies actually manufacture and sell their own proprietary equipment, while others utilize third party products of varying degrees of quality. Depending on your situation, you may need a system that is able to relocate. All self-installed wireless systems can be relocated, however only some professionally installed wireless systems can. With regard to sensors, most modern security systems offer sensors that communicate with the control pad wirelessly, these are clearly easier and more convenient to install. The vast majority of systems come with a mounted control panel, however, some of the more advanced offerings allow you to control by smartphone or tablet. Specific intrusion protection safeguards are of particular importance too. Better home security systems come with things like glass break detection and motion sensors, not to mention environmental monitors like carbon monoxide or smoke detectors. Surveillance cameras are usually extra, but can warn of intruders and be placed at a multitude of location in and around your property. Some can even offer access to continuous live feed over your smart device. Finally, medical alert and panic button pendants are sometimes provided as an extra.
Home security systems offer a variety of intrusion protection measures either standard or add on extras. Some of these might include:
- Door & Window Sensors: These notify the system when a door or window is opened when the system is armed.
- Garage Door Sensors: Will notify the system if the garage begins to open.
- Glass Break Detection: This will notify the system if a window is broken.
- Motion Sensors: Notify the system if movement is detected in a selected area.
- Recessed Door Sensors: These work like door & window sensors, but they are hidden from view.
- Crash & Smash Protection: If a burglar tries to disable your alarm system by smashing the control panel, the monitoring center will be immediately notified.
Certain companies offer home security packages that include some environmental safeguards. Some of these can be:
- Carbon Monoxide Sensors: These notify the system if there is a build up of CO gas.
- Flood: Will notify system of collecting water, protecting against water damage.
- Temperature Change: Notify system of change in temperature, protecting against fire and freezing.
- Smoke Detector: This will notify the system of smoke build up, protecting against fire.
Security cameras come in multiple types and can be mounted and configured in multiple ways. Some common surveillance add-ons to your system can be:
- Indoor cameras: Cameras for monitoring activity inside the home.
- Outdoor cameras: Cameras for monitoring activity outside the home.
- Doorbell cameras: Cameras built into the doorbell of the house.
- Tilt + Pan cameras: Cameras that can be moved/adjusted remotely.
- Live surveillance: Cameras that send live video/photo feeds to a connected device.
- Event triggered surveillance: Cameras that are only triggered by movement or another event.
Home security monitoring refers to the method by which the homeowner and authorities are alerted should the system detect an intruder. There are several things to consider when judging the monitoring capabilities of a given home security system provider. Home security systems are either monitored remotely by a dedicated call center, or self-monitored through telephone, computer, or mobile device. The connection to the monitor can either be through landline, cellular, or broadband. If a system is professionally monitored, it is good to know the number and size of the call centers the company utilizes, as well as the specific services they provide which can include 24/7 monitoring and police dispatch to name just two.
Home security systems are either self or professionally monitored, though some entities allow for a combination of both.
- Professional Monitoring: For a monthly fee, companies that offer professional monitoring will report intrusions and other conditions to an operations center where highly trained individuals respond to these signals and alert the proper authorities.
- Self Monitoring: For no monthly fee (or a small one), companies with a self monitoring option, allow the consumer to monitor their own security system through mobile device or computer.
Security systems employ three ways of communicating with the monitoring entity should there be an alarm. these are over cellular network, landline, or through your home internet connection.
- Cellular: The home security system communicates to the monitor (either professional or self) via a cellular connection. This is the safest since it will still work if power/ landlines get cut.
- Broadband: The home security system communicates to the monitor (either professional or self) via an internet connection. This isn’t as safe as cellular because it ceases to function if the internet is down.
- Landline: The home security system communicates to the monitor (either professional or self) via a land phone line. This is the least safe option because burglars can easily cut phone lines.
Professional Monitoring Services
Some key services offered by professional monitoring centers include:
- 24/7 Monitoring: This monitoring is continuous and offers the safest and most comprehensive coverage for consumers.
- 2-Way Intercom: This feature allows the consumer to communicate directly with the monitoring company through an intercom, usually located within the control pad.
- Police Dispatch: The monitoring center notifies police of a break-in.
- Fire Dispatch: The monitoring center notifies the fire department of fire, gas, etc.
- Medical Dispatch: Some companies offer a type of medical alert product with its security system. They have the capacity to alert medical professionals if the consumers is in need of medical attention.
To assess a given home security provider's reputation we've taken into consideration any and all certifications & associations the company's monitoring center or equipment itself has received. These can include the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Underwriter's Laboratory (UL), Factory Mutual (FM), Electronic Security Association, the Department of Defense, etc.
Contract & Price30%
Aside from the initial investment in equipment and installation, if applicable, what you continue to pay with home security systems is the cost of monitoring. Providers offer contracts of varying lengths and pricing structure. We look at the minimum and maximum monthly fee for all packages offered by a given company. Also, assess the activation or installation-related fees particular to an individual company, as well as the cost for the most basic equipment package, if any. If there is a monitoring contract required, what is the minimum timeframe in terms of month, cancellation policy, and warranty situation?
Some companies with professional monitoring require a monitoring contract to use their system. Other companies, for example self-install or self-monitored, don’t require contracts.
These days, home security systems are increasingly able to integrate with our computers and mobile devices giving an unprecedented level of flexibility and control both in the home and out. Whereas in the old days the only contact you'd have with your system was when entering or leaving the house, now you can monitor from afar and actually control home systems and appliances off premises with computers and smart devices. Companies offer full integration that allows mobile access and alerts via email and text, and the capacity to arm and disarm the system as well. Home automation features allow customers to control lighting and temperature, or be automatically event-triggered in the case of an intruder. Also, some of the best systemss offer full compatibility with cutting edge platforms such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa.
Mobile Access & Alerts
Security systems can come equipped to handle mobile access and push alerts to our mobile devices. Some of the things we look for in this area include:
- iphone App
- Android App
- Email & Text Alerts: Does the system push alerts to phone/ email?
- Live Video Feed: Can the consumer watch live surveillance feeds from their phone?
- Arm/Disarm: Can the consumer can arm/ disarm the system by phone?
- Geo-location Services: This feature allows the system to track the customer’s location through his phone. It can then use this info to do things like arm/disarm the system automatically.
- Lighting Control: Indoor/outdoor lighting can be controlled by the system.
- Thermostat Control: Indoor temperature can be controlled by the system.
- Appliance Control: Appliances can be monitored and controlled by the system.
- Electronic Door Locks: The system can lock and unlock doors.
- Event-Triggered Automation: Certain things like automatically turning lights on and off can be triggered by events (e.g. lights turn on if motion is detected)
- History Log: The system provides customer with an activity log of events that occurred in the house (e.g. door open, door close, system arm, system disarm, motion detected, lights on, etc.)
- Unique User Codes: The system can generate unique codes to arm or disarm the system to be given to repairmen, renters, etc.
Some platforms security systems can integrate with include:
- Amazon Alexa
- Google Home
Customer Questions & Answers
How do home security systems work?
Home security systems consist of a network of interworking devices that protect homes from burglars and other home invaders. When an intruder is detected, an alarm is sounded and the provider alerted, who will then inform the proper authorities. Systems generally consist of a control panel, motion, door & window sensors, security cameras, and a high decibel alarm.
What are the components of an alarm system?
The control panel is the control point of the whole system. It is a computer that communicates with all the peripheral devices and alerts the monitoring company. It typically is a touch pad system installed near the front door. Motion sensors are installed in areas where people usually pass, such as hallways. They send out an invisible field of around 25 feet in a 90 degree configuration, that detects movement. Door and window sensors consist of two parts that join together where the door meets the door jamb, or the window meets the windowsill. Should the door or window be opened when the system is armed, the two components separate and send a signal to the control panel. Surveillance cameras record video of activity in a given area. They are available in wired and wireless models. The alarm is a high-decibel sound that alerts the home's occupants and is loud enough for the neighborhood to hear.
How much do home security systems cost?
Customers who use their own phone lines or broadband internet connection to communicate with the home security provider generally pay between $15 to $30 a month. Security systems that utilize a cellular connection range between $40-$60 a month. The cost of professional installation entirely depends on the size and configuration of the house. Customers reported that the average installation cost between $600 to $850. Though it could go as low as $300, or as high as $1,600.
How much does it cost to install a video surveillance system?
The cost of installing home security cameras vary widely and depend on the size of the property, number of and type of cameras, and video/monitoring technology used. The median range for installing a security camera system is between $750 and $2,000. Although if you are going the DIY route it could go as low as $200. Complicated installations with HD cameras can reach into several thousand dollars.
What's the difference between DIY and professional home security?
With DIY home security you buy the equipment and pay no installation fee because you set the system up yourself. You have control over the configuration, and if you choose to self monitor, there are no monthly fees associated. With professional home security you will pay monthly monitoring fees, but get the professional expertise with the installation and 24-hour experts with a direct line to emergency services. Whether or not you rent the equipment or buy it outright depends on the company, and some companies feature specials where the equipment is discounted or free.
Basically, DIY home security will cost you much less in the long run, but should only be used if you are comfortable knowing you must maintain the system yourself.
Is home security tax deductible?
If you are using your home security system solely to safeguard your family and property then it is not tax deductible according to the IRS. If, however, you use a room or rooms of your house exclusively for business, you can deduct the cost of the system and monitoring of that particular portion of the property. In certain situations, you can also take a depreciation deduction.
Are there home security systems for renters?
There are home security options available for renters. Typically, if you are renting, there are rules and guidelines to what you are allowed to do with the unit. In this situation a DIY wireless system is ideal, as you won't have to be securing cords or mounting control panels. These systems are also usually easily movable. As a renter, this is critical as you can possibly be relocating in the future.