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Ranking the Best Home Security Systems of 2020

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Home security system

Home security systems offer an extra layer of protection for your home from criminal and accidental damage. They’re also easier to use and more affordable than ever before.

They help prevent casual criminals from targeting your home, deter more serious burglars, and offer the kind of protection against fire and other disasters that are hard to find elsewhere.

We sorted through the many companies offering home security services to find the best ones. Our list includes the best and most affordable home security options you can find.

Rankings 

1. SimpliSafe

Simplisafe

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SimpliSafe was one of the first companies to really shake up the decades old home security market. They pioneered the self-install option and created sensors, cameras, and control systems that made a lot more sense in our modern interconnected world.

Why we like it: They’re the perfect fusion of a DIY and traditional security system. They don’t offer installation services, but the setup process for their excellent equipment is quick and easy. The monitoring service and especially app control features are some of the best and most affordable in the business, all with no contract required.

Flaws: Simplisafe offers extremely basic capabilities without paid monitoring. You can use it as a local alarm, but if you decide to stop paying and go self-monitored you lose most of the usefulness of the system.

2. Vivint Smart Home Security 

Vivint Smart Home Security

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Vivint Smart Home combines the advanced manufacturing knowledge and software support of Silicon Valley with competitively priced plans. They have some of the best and most effective cameras, sensors, and control software available and customer service that’s hard to beat in the home security space.

Why we like it: They offer a full suite of advanced and in-demand security and home automation products. They professionally install everything and offer great customer support to make sure you fully understand how your system works and what you can do for it.

Flaws: Their pricing is definitely on the high side. Their monitoring plans are highly competitive, but the equipment itself is noticeably more expensive than their competitors. You also can’t get prices until you’re talking to a sales rep. The gear is really great, but we’d like to see some more transparency.

3. Link Interactive 

Link Interactive

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Link Interactive is a relative newcomer to the home security space but have begun making a name for themselves in the sheer volume of equipment they can provide. They offer a wide range of useful automation and safety products alongside their security systems. These interface seamlessly with your security system and allow you to control everything from lighting, garage doors, locks, and your thermostat. 

Why we like it: Their contract model isn’t as onerous as some other security companies. You can choose from three pricing levels over 12, 24, or 36 month terms. They also allow you to take your security system with you if you should move.

Flaws: This isn’t too bad, but their gear looks really basic. If you’ve got a specific style of decor it can be difficult to blend in their very bland looking sensors and modules.

4. ADT Home Security

ADT Home Security

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ADT is without a doubt the largest and best known home security company in America. They’ve been in business for over a century and completely understand the security market. Over the past decade, they’re intensely upgraded and redefined what their security service provides, with new integrations available with mobile monitoring and smart home devices just a few of the advances they’ve made.

Why we like it: They offer pretty much everything, for pretty much everyone. ADT is a massive company and has different plans to fit just about any needs. You can get a basic traditional security system or a state of the art system with full smart home integration.

Flaws: They’re consistently more expensive than most competitors. Figuring out just what your system costs involves a long (and high pressure) talk with a sales specialist. There have also been complaints about dealing with installers’ tardiness and their somewhat lackluster customer service.

5. FrontPoint Security

FrontPoint Security

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FrontPoint Security offers a fusion of traditional and DIY home security practices. They don’t offer professional installation but do give you the same level of 24/7 professional monitoring as traditional companies.

Why we like it: They offer a comprehensive basic package of gear that allows you to cover multiple entryways and rooms, all at a price comparable to much less capable packs. Their actual equipment is excellent and gives you performance equal to anyone else’s on the market.

Flaws: Their monitoring plans are both mandatory for their equipment to function and expensive. They’re comparable in pricing to the oldest of old-school home security systems.

6. Google Nest Secure Alarm

Google Nest Secure Alarm

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The Nest Secure Alarm by Google is a fusion product that uses Google’s advanced smart home expertise combined with high-end security hardware and software. It can be self-monitored relatively effectively or used with a Brinks professional monitoring contract.

Why we like it: The Nest Secure Alarm is one of those rare products that does most things right. It can be either professionally or DIY installed, offers a full range of monitoring equipment, has excellent support and is reasonably priced.

Flaws: While you can run the Nest system with no contract monitoring, it’s substantially more expensive to do so. For the lowest prices, you’re required to sign a multiyear contract with Brinks. That locks you in with their services for the long haul.

7. Brinks Home Security

Brinks Home Security

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Brinks Home Security is one of those companies with near universal name recognition. They’ve been in the security business for over a century and have constantly been a leader in its development. They’ve partnered with several other companies for alarm services and offer their own comprehensive system.

Why we like it: They offer transparent equipment and service pricing while providing effective service. Their professional monitoring is as good as any other security companies and they offer a full range of quality sensors, cameras, and even the ability to interface with many smart home systems. 

Flaws: Brinks require long contracts on just about all their security plans. Their cancellation fees are legendary, often requiring 100% payment of the remainder of the contract to break it.

8. Scout Alarm Home Security

Scout Alarm Home Security

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Scout Alarm Home Security offers a reasonably priced monitoring program with a decent selection of equipment. They lack some of the specific benefits other plans provide and offer almost zero support for self-monitoring. They’re not a bad choice, but they definitely aren’t the best.

Why we like it: They have a good range of physical equipment with an attractive design. Scout’s plans are some of the least expensive and include both a professionally monitored and self-monitored option.

Flaws: Scout is basically a clone of similar larger companies but with more expensive gear. They offer all the same sensors and cameras of competitors, but many are noticeably more expensive for not a lot of difference in performance. As weird as it sounds, they also don’t offer any kind of keypad so you have to use your smartphone to interface with the system.

9. Ring Alarm 

Ring Alarm

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The Ring Alarm comes from the makers of arguably the most popular doorbell camera on the market. It has a heavier camera focus than many other security systems out there but still offers a full range of sensors for securing the rest of your home.

Why we like it: They offer one of the most affordable and flexible monitoring options available, with multiple plan levels based on your equipment. You can get comprehensive professional monitoring for less than what some other providers charge to keep the system turned on. 

Flaws: They don’t offer any professional installation options or smart home integration. If you’ve got an Amazon Echo or Google Home and would like to connect your security system to it you should look elsewhere.

10. Abode Home Security System 

Abode Home Security System

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The Abode Home Security System combines excellent workmanship with somewhat odd pricing and system choices. They use a unique day by day monitoring plan payment system that can be purchased in blocks of 3-day or 7day packages. 

Why we like it: They have some of the best smart home compatibility on the market. Their core systems can interface effectively with virtually all major smart home hubs and works well with things like smart locks, lightbulbs, locks, etc.

Flaws: Abode offers no professional installation options and includes fewer sensors with their basic starter kit than similarly priced packages from other manufacturers. For what they charge for a single entryway you can cover all your windows and doors from another company. Add in their downright odd monitoring plan pricing system and they become much less attractive.

What’s new with home security systems

Commercial burglaries double during NYC coronavirus shutdown….

Cops’ hands tied as burglaries rise amid coronavirus crisis: NYPD….

Residential Security Sales in the COVID-19 Age….

Who should buy a home security system? 

While pretty much anyone who owns a property can benefit from a home security system, there are some groups who should absolutely purchase one.

Preppers with kids – Kids are great, but let’s not pretend that they can’t also be a handful. Even with eyes in the back of your head, you can’t always tell what they’re going to do or where they’re going to do it.

This is especially true as they get a little older and you begin to think about giving them more independence. They may be excited at the thought of being left home alone, but you’re probably pretty nervous.

A home security system lets you make sure the house is safe and secure while they’re there on their own. It can also serve as a great way to know they’re where they’re supposed to be when you’re home.

Door and window sensors make it much easier to stop your teens from sneaking out, just as an example.

Preppers with a large property – Large properties can be difficult to manage under the best of circumstances. If you’ve got dozens or hundreds of acres, you may not even realize that someones creeping around until something actually happens.

Modern home security systems are more effective than they’ve ever been before. For a very affordable price you can pick up sensors, cameras, and all kinds of other gear that let you rig up your outbuildings, barn, and entry/exit gates to let you know if someone’s monkeying about on your property.

Preppers living in up and coming areas – Many places in America are experiencing rapid changes in housing value and desirability. You can get a really good bargain on a beautiful home in a gentrifying area, but it does open you up to potential risks.

Areas that are rising often border on rougher areas. Living in a shiniest, newest home on the block can make you a target (1). A comprehensive home security system deters casual thieves and makes it more difficult for dedicated burglars to make off with your possessions.

Preppers who keep cash or precious metals in their homes – Most preppers understand the importance of keeping ready cash on hand. In an emergency cash is king. Who knows if credit or bank cards will even work (2).

Many preppers also choose to invest in physical gold and silver as a hedge against local uncertainty. Gold is gold anywhere in the world if you live in a country with the potential for currency devaluation having gold or silver bullion protects you from total loss.

Unfortunately, having large amounts of cash or gold in your home can also set you up for a major loss in the event of a robbery. A home security system protects your emergency fund from burglars and casual thieves.

Preppers with multiple homes – If you own multiple homes, and especially if one of those homes is a fully stocked bug out retreat, you should splurge a little for a high-quality home security system. Think about the dollar value of all the gear you’ve got at your secondary property.

Now think about how often you’re away from that property, and how easy it would be for a criminal with hours and hours of time to break in. Installing an effective security system with at minimum door and window sensors is a small price to pay to protect your investment.

Firearms owners – For most American preppers, firearms are a major part of their plans. Being able to effectively defend yourself from threats is crucial in a major disaster. Unfortunately, guns not directly in your possession are also tempting targets for thieves.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimates that hundreds of thousands of firearms are stolen every year. As responsible gun owners, it’s our duty to ensure that our tools for defense don’t end up as weapons for terror in the hands of criminals (3).

Effectively securing your weapons in a safe is the first step, but a comprehensive home security system is the next thing to do. It makes your home much less likely to be targeted and your firearms much less likely to end up in the hands of criminals and degenerates.

How we ranked 

We looked at six main factors while creating our list. These were installation process, equipment and monitoring quality, ease of use, contract terms and affordability, smart home integration, and cellular backup.

Installation process – Home security systems are divided into two main categories based on installation. Traditional systems require an installer, while DIY systems can be self-installed.

We’ve previously covered the best DIY home security systems, so today we’re going to focus on traditional systems. Looking at the installation process we included the ease in placing your order, how difficult it was to schedule an appointment, and overall how well they did in installing your system.

Equipment and monitoring quality- The best way to measure efficiency with home security systems is the quality of the equipment and the effectiveness of the monitoring service. We considered what kind of services they offered, how responsive they were when dealing with alerts, and just how good their gear is. Window and door sensors are pretty much all the same, but things like motion sensor sensitivity and camera quality can significantly change your experience.

Ease of use – Until pretty recently there wasn’t much involved with using a home security system. You had the sensors installed and you used a keypad by entrances to arm and disarm it.

Nowadays there are a lot more methods you can use your security system. App support allows you to receive alerts when alarms go off, remotely arm and disarm the system, and even view security cams. 

Contract terms and affordability – One of the biggest complaints people have about home security systems is the long and expensive contracts they often require. In the past, it wasn’t uncommon at all for companies to require 36, 48, or even 60 month contracts for even a basic home security system. 

When you consider that the average home security system costs between $25 and $50 a month just in monitoring costs, you understand why many people were leery locking themselves into a multi thousand dollar commitment (4).

Ideally, we looked for security systems that were contract-free. Barring that, we at least wanted them to have more favorable terms and a buyout system that doesn’t require full payment of the remaining contract.

Smart home integration – With the proliferation of things like smart locks, doorbells, lights, and speakers, having integration with your security system is great. It allows you to use a single app to control multiple systems and to integrate your lighting and lock systems with your security.

From a practical standpoint, it also makes it much easier to arm and disarm your system through voice commands. They can also integrate with other parts of your home protection, such as smoke detectors, and provide you with a much safer living experience.

Cellular backup – If you’ve ever seen a heist movie you know the scene where the burglars cut the phone lines to disconnect the alarm system. While most modern systems have moved to internet connected models through fiber, this can still be a vulnerability.

A good thing to look for is a backup cellular connection that kicks in automatically if your security system is disconnected. This allows alerts to go out to your monitoring service even if the rest of your connection is down.

Brands we trust – Two companies we trust completely are SimpliSafe and Vivint. They both offer comprehensive security systems with affordably priced monitoring and installation. Their support and control systems are second to none, as is their ability to work with other systems. 

Things to avoid… – The biggest thing we recommend you avoid is getting trapped. There are way too many options out there that offer substantial flexibility to seriously think about signing a multi year contract with any single company.

Using these factors, we compared some of the biggest and best home security companies on the market. Our list comprises the best of the best across a range of price points and service levels.

Benefits 

Home security systems protect your home while you’re away – A lot of preppers are rightfully confident in their ability to protect their home while they’re there. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time at the range to get proficient with your firearms and invested in quality door locks.

It’s when you aren’t home, or when you’re sleeping peacefully, that you’re most at risk for a break in. A home security system allows you to monitor and protect your home even when you aren’t there.

In a major survey of burglars and criminals, it was found that homes without security systems were more than three times as likely to be targeted for a break in. Adding a home security system can pay off in a big way by deterring casual criminals and stopping more determined ones (5).

Home security systems offer peace of mind – One of the biggest soft benefits of a home security system is peace of mind. For a lot of people worrying about their home takes up way too much of their thoughts.

Knowing that you’ve got an effective security system in place allows you to sleep easier at night, without worrying about a break in. 

Home security systems can lower your homeowner’s insurance – It’s no secret that home security systems improve the safety and security of your home. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are real dollar value savings they can enjoy from it.

Insurance companies have done a lot of research on the cost of break ins. They understand the value a home security system brings and how much it reduces the likelihood they’ll have to pay out for a burglary. 

Because of that, a monitored home security system can lower your home insurance premiums by as much as 20% a month. That’s another great reason to invest in a quality home security system (6).

Home security systems can make your home more efficient – Modern home security systems offer full integration with smart home devices. This allows you to control your lighting, heating, cooling, and things like door and window locks remotely.

Having the ability to use a single app or panel to keep track of all these settings can reduce your power bill. It makes it easy to see if anyone has changed the A/C settings without asking and to turn off any lights that were left on by accident.

Home security systems make it easier to keep tabs on your kids – A great benefit of home security systems is how much easier it makes things for parents. As kids get older they naturally crave independence. This is especially true for kids just over toddler age and teenagers.

For the younger kids, a home security system lets you know if they open a door and try to leave the house without permission. For the teens, it does the same thing, by alerting you if they’re trying to sneak out to see their friends.

That’s all besides the natural protection it provides your children against burglars, fire, and other threats.

Home security systems protect you against threats other than break ins – One of the most overlooked benefits of a home security system is the expansive range of threats they protect against. Modern security systems don’t just monitor your home for break ins and robberies, they also interface with tons of safety monitors.

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide sensors are two of the biggest. They allow your security system to alert you and wake up your family if there’s an emergency. They also make it much easier to get the help you need by triggering monitoring alerts that put out a call to your local fire department.

FAQ 

Q: How effective are home security systems?

A: Home security systems are very effective. One burglary occurs every 20 seconds in the US. Home security systems offer a visible deterrent that can help protect your family. Most criminals aren’t looking to work hard. They want an easy score without any complications. Home security system stickers and an audible alarm are enough to make the vast majority of burglars pick a different house (7).

Q: How much do home security systems cost?

A: Different home security systems have different price points. There are two elements that go into home security pricing: Startup costs and monthly fees. The initial equipment and installation cost money, though often not nearly as much as you’d think. 

You can get some basic gear from between $100 and $400 depending on the manufacturer. Monthly fees are a much bigger question. Depending on who your security provider is and whether you chose to go DIY or tradition, you can be looking at anywhere from around $10 to over $50.

Q: How do home security systems work?

A: All home security systems rely on the same basic principles. You set up sensors, cameras, and control systems around your house. These monitor when doors and windows are open or detect movement within your home. They report back to a central control system that then connects to either you or a monitoring service through WIFI or a cellular connection. If the sensors detect something they send you and your service an alert. From there the appropriate authorities can be contacted.

Q: Are home security systems worth it?

A: Definitely. According to the FBI, the average burglary costs homeowners $2,799. Compare that to the annual cost of even very expensive security systems and you see how valuable they can be. This is especially true when you consider the evidence that shows criminals consistently avoid homes with security systems (8).

Q: What home security systems work with Alexa?

A: Smart home systems are all the rage these days. Even better, there are many home security systems designed from the ground up to interface directly with these devices. The Amazon Echo with Alexa is one of the most popular such devices on the market, and home security companies understand this. Many of the security systems on our list are designed to be compatible with smart home systems like Alexa.

Our top pick for an Alexa compatible security system is the Vivint Home Security System

Q: Can home security systems be hacked?

A: Yes, but it’s unlikely. While there have been several high profile hacks of smart home systems and even some home security systems, manufacturers take this very seriously. Home security systems today incorporate layers of encryption and protection that keeps you and your family safe from hackers. (9).

Q: Does a home security system lower insurance?

A: Most likely. Every security company is different in how they underwrite their policies, but for the most part, a home security system is a mark in your favor. Having a monitored home security system makes your house much less likely to be targeted for a casual burglary. Installing a comprehensive home security system can lower your monthly homeowner’s insurance payment by up to 20% (10).

Q: Are home security systems tax deductible?

A: Probably not. For the most part, home security systems that solely protect your residence are not tax deductible. The exception to this is if you maintain a home office that meets the IRS requirements. So long as you have an area that is regularly and exclusively used for business purposes you can also deduct the percentage cost of your home security system for that area. Basically, if your office makes up 15% of your home, you can deduct 15% of the cost of your home security system from your taxes as a business expense (11).

Q: How are home security systems wired?

A: In the past home security systems had to be hardwired into your home’s power grid and connected directly to a phone line. Nowadays it’s much more likely that you’ll have battery powered sensors and a central hub connected via fiber or cellular data. Another popular connection option is Z-Wave. It’s primarily a home automation wireless communications protocol, but many home security systems use it as well (12).

Q: How do wireless home security systems work?

A: Wireless home security systems were one of the biggest innovations in the home security industry for the past few decades. They rely on WIFI, Bluetooth, or a system like Z-Wave to communicate directly with a base. The base acts as the processor for all the data sent by the sensors and cameras of your home security system and relays that information to you or to your monitoring company.

Q: How do I compare different home security systems?

A: In the last 10 years there been an explosion of new companies in the home security space. Where before you could look at a few big companies now you’ve got dozens of different companies offering substantially similar products. The biggest things to look at are the quality of the service and pricing. The physical sensors, cameras, control systems, and appearance of the gear are all important factors. The price of service includes startup costs and the recurring cost of monthly monitoring. Many home security companies offer nearly identical services and gear, make sure you look for the best price and contract terms.

Recap

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter it’s easy to see the benefits of a home security system. They allow you to remotely monitor the safety and security of your home and provide real benefits from a convenience standpoint. 

As preppers, we often have a lot of valuable gear, cash, or even precious metals in our homes. The relatively low price of a comprehensive home security system is a small price to pay to safeguard those assets.

For Survival At Home’s #1 home security system recommendation, click here.

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