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Find the best DIY home security systems

Compare reviews, equipment and costs

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
ADT, Brinks Home Security™, Vivint Smart Home, Blue by ADT, Frontpoint, Link Interactive and Cove
man installing security camera

Do-it-yourself home security systems are increasingly popular — they are versatile and more affordable than traditional, hard-wired systems. Sometimes, you don’t even have to sign a contract.

Most systems include window and door monitors, a keypad and a base station. Some might also include a camera, glass break monitor, water leak sensor and more. With so many options out there, it can be hard to know which is the best DIY home security system to protect your home and family.

Our top 4 DIY home security system picks

Below, we look at some of the best companies on recent reviews, equipment, features and pricing. Read our methodology to learn how we selected our top picks.

Our pick for free self-monitoringRing
  • Multiple packages and add-ons
  • No long-term contract required
  • 30-day free trial of Ring Protect Plus

Ring is what we suggest for an affordable home security system. You can get started with a Ring alarm security kit for around $200 and then self-monitor for free. Kits are expandable, so it’s easy to add equipment to the system later on.

The free self-monitoring plan has some standard features, like motion-activated notifications and real-time video. However, it costs an extra $3 per month to be able to record, save or snapshot the video.

What to consider: professional monitoring

If you don’t want to just keep an eye on things yourself, upgrade to the $10-per-month Plus plan, which includes 24-hour professional monitoring. It’s a month-to-month contract that you can cancel at any time. Cellular backup is another benefit of the Plus plan.

However, Ring customers complain about the network’s reliability in some areas. The system also won’t be very useful unless you have a decent smartphone.

What reviewers like: Ring app and doorbell cameras

Most happy customers say Ring is effective and affordable. A reviewer in California said their system (three floodlights, a doorbell and Chime Pro) was very easy to set up. With the new system, they “no longer worry about things that go bump in the night or need to open [their] door to strangers.”

“The overall security system is great because it allows you the ability to connect between different devices,” according to another reviewer in California. “I am able to connect my outdoor floodlight camera with the Ring mobile app and my doorbell camera. It's also great you can connect it to your Amazon Alexa device to view who is at your front door.”

Our pick for professional monitoringBrinks Home Security™AUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Three DIY equipment packages
  • Affordable equipment bundles
  • Products come with a two-year limited warranty

Brinks stands out as a great option for a versatile DIY alarm system. It combines cameras with smart-home automation and professional monitoring to protect the interior and exterior of your house. Through cellular and Wi-Fi connections, it can connect to smart lights, locks, thermostats and other devices.

We also like that the company offers equipment bundles with competitive monitoring rates.

What to consider: no DIY monitoring; strict cancellation policy

Brinks partners with Alarm.com to provide 24-hour professional monitoring with all security systems. Monthly monitoring fees range from $39.99 to $49.99, depending on the package and equipment you select. Most monitoring contracts are for 36 months.

A few recent complaints indicate that Brinks has a relatively strict cancellation policy. Expect to pay some kind of fee if you cancel service before your contract is up. Another potential drawback is that a camera is not included in the basic package.

What reviewers like: system upgrades and ease of use

Many positive reviews highlight Brinks’ system and equipment upgrades. However, it should be noted these sometimes require an in-home appointment with a technician.

A recent reviewer in Georgia said that they like the new touchpad — "It's simple. I love the part when you actually lock or arm it to leave.” Plus, they said “the price went down a buck or two” with the update, which is great to hear.

Existing customers also seem to appreciate the competitive pricing and the simple setup. According to a reviewer in North Carolina, “The ability to have everything controlled on one central app on my phone is the selling point.”

Our pick for flexible payment optionsFrontpointAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Comes with professional monitoring
  • Discounts for paying upfront
  • 30-day risk-free guarantee

With Frontpoint, You can buy the equipment upfront to avoid getting into a long-term contract, or you can finance the system over 36 months. Either way, professional monitoring fees are $50 per month.

Typical upfront costs are between $300 and $800. As of publishing, you can start off with The Safehouse package — central hub, doorbell camera, two window sensors and a motion sensor — for $99 when you pay upfront, or around $3.20 per month if you finance.

What to consider: false alarms triggered by pets

“If you have pets, the motion sensors are not a good choice,” according to one reviewer in Indiana, who told us they have two cats. “If a cat were to jump up on a table, the alarm goes off. It's good, but it's overly sensitive.”

What reviewers like: good customer service and easy installation

“I like the ability to buy the equipment and there was no contract. The fact that all the equipment was wireless was a good thing for me also,” a reviewer in New Jersey told us. Most other positive Frontpoint reviews highlight how easy it is to get a quality system set up.

For example, if you just had a break-in and want a home security system right away, Frontpoint can accommodate you, even if it’s a holiday, according to a reviewer in Nevada. They added, “I like the fact that I didn't have to deal with anyone personally. It was just a phone call and it was set up. The equipment was sent to me and I installed it myself. Everything's fine with Frontpoint. It's worth the money.”

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    More DIY home security options

    Blue by ADT, SimpliSafe, Cove and Abode are popular DIY home security companies. Even though they didn’t quite meet our official top-picks criteria, you might want to consider one of these wireless systems.

    DIY monitoring plan availableBlue by ADTAUTHORIZED PARTNER
    • No long-term contract required
    • Smash-and-crash technology
    • 12-month warranty on equipment

    Blue by ADT has customizable systems that integrate with most smart-home automation devices. The free nonmonitored plan is a definite perk. For those who want it, professional monitoring service costs $19.99 per month.

    What to consider: The starting upfront equipment costs ($179.99 to $299.99) and financing options  (starting at around $8 per month) are similar to other companies. However, some add-on equipment is a little pricey.

    What we like: The optional self-monitored plan, ease of installation, competitive prices and integration with smart-home automation systems are all positives. “Love it. Would not trade it for the world,” a recent reviewer in California said. “I got it due to car theft and for protection for my family and it’s the best thing I ever invested in. The alarm is loud and the Chime is on every window.”

    Quick and easy installationSimpliSafe
    • Competitive monitoring rates
    • 60-day money-back guarantee
    • Three-year warranty

    SimpliSafe has a wide array of security options and competitive monthly rates ($15 to $24.99). If you’re anxious to get the system up ASAP, you might be able to pick up a SimpliSafe kit at your local Home Depot, Best Buy, Sam’s Club or Costco.

    What to consider: Make sure you’re home when the system is delivered. One reviewer in Florida was angry because they couldn't change the password after “squatters” set the wireless system up: “Even though I paid for it … once someone else sets it up … it is no longer mine to use.” However, you can set up additional passwords for relatives or neighbors, which is handy.

    What we like: SimpliSafe systems are intuitively designed. Most happy SimpliSafe customers highlight that systems are built for easy DIY installation. Plus, there’s no need to wait for a technician appointment (or let a stranger into your house).

    A reviewer in Texas likes how you have “complete control” over the system. For example, you can program door alarms to go off after 30 or 45 seconds and window alarms to go off instantly. With the premium monthly plan, you can get unlimited camera alerts, video storage, mobile alerts and water damage monitoring.

    No contract requiredAbode
    • Free self-monitoring plan
    • Full smart-home integrations
    • Built-in high-decibel siren

    Abode works with smart-home integrations to help protect your house and family from fire, flood and break-ins. Security kits start between $250 and $330. Stand-alone cameras, motion sensors and other smart devices are available for an additional charge.

    Check out the Abode Iota system for an all-in-one security package. It comes with a built-in HD camera, 93-decibel siren, motion sensor and more. Systems can instantly dial 911 when an alert is triggered.

    What to consider: Add-ons can get expensive. Abode has most of the standard home security equipment options — cameras, glass-break sensors and motion detectors — but bundle packages only come with up to four mini-sensors and one motion sensor.

    What we like: Even without paying for a monitoring plan, you can manage your system through the Abode app. For $6 per month, you can upgrade to the Standard plan (self-monitoring with smart-home automation access for unlimited users).

    Professional monitoring service costs $20 per month. Pay monthly or get a discount when you pay annually — $60 per year for Standard and $100 for Pro.

    Good valueCoveAUTHORIZED PARTNER
    • Lifetime equipment warranty
    • No contract required
    • 60-day money-back guarantee

    Cove sells home security products that can be combined to create a holistic approach to security. All products include RapidSOS, which sends electronic data to 911 dispatch for faster support. Professional monitoring is available for as little as $15 per month with no contracts.

    What to consider: Cove does not currently offer self-monitoring options, so you must pay a monthly fee to use it. The range of products and features is somewhat limited (no video doorbells or smart-home features).

    What we like: Positive reviews say that Cove is easy to set up and works like it’s supposed to. In addition to anti-intrusion door sensors, you can find environmental sensors for water, smoke and carbon monoxide. First responders, nurses, members of the military and teachers can all get exclusive pricing.

    Compare DIY home security systems

    Below, compare our top picks and other popular companies. For more options, read our guide to find the best smart home security system.

    Upfront starting costsMonthly feeContract requiredTrial periodSelf-monitoring option
    brinks logo$199 to $699$39.99 to $49.9936 months30 days
    frontpoint logo$392.40 to $797.88$5036 months (if financing)30 days
    ring logo$60 to $1,010$0 to $13Month-to-month30 days of Ring Protect Plus
    link interactive logoVaries$30.99 to $44.99One to three years30 days
    blue by adt logo$179.99 to $299.99$0 to $19.99Month-to-month30 days of free monitoring
    simplisafe logo$129$0 to $25Month-to-month60 days
    cove logoVaries$15 to $24.99Month-to-month60 days
    abode logo$249$15 to $24.99Month-to-month30 days

    *All information is accurate as of the time of publishing.

    brinks logo$199 to $699$39.99 to $49.9936 months30 days
    frontpoint logo$392.40 to $797.88$5036 months (if financing)30 days
    ring logo$60 to $1,010$0 to $13Month-to-month30 days of Ring Protect Plus
    link interactive logoVaries$30.99 to $44.99One to three years30 days
    blue by adt logo$179.99 to $299.99$0 to $19.99Month-to-month30 days of free monitoring
    simplisafe logo$129$0 to $25Month-to-month60 days
    cove logoVaries$15 to $24.99Month-to-month60 days
    abode logo$249$0 to $20Month-to-month30 days

    Compare DIY security companies side by side

    If you can’t decide between two companies, use our comparison resources to take a closer look at equipment features and costs.

    DIY home security FAQ

    What is a DIY security system?
    A DIY security system is installed by the customer. The security company ships the equipment to the purchaser with instructions for setup.

    DIY systems typically include the following components:

    • Controls: A control panel and keypad are standard. A key fob, keychain remote and smartphone app also come with most systems. The control panel, sometimes called a “hub” or “base,” is essentially the brains behind the whole system.
    • Camera: We suggest at least one indoor video camera. You can also find solutions for outdoor security camera surveillance, like with video doorbell cams. For more, read about how to find the best DIY security camera.
    • Sensors: Entryway sensors are for doors. The window or contact sensor can trigger an alert if anything is opened or closed. Motion detectors are good for hallways. You can also get an integrated smoke detector, glass break sensors and other smart-home devices.

    Most DIY systems are wireless and use Wi-Fi and a cellular network. For more information, learn how to find the best wireless home security system.

    Are DIY security systems good?
    Overall, DIY security systems are great for apartments and homes that don’t require complex setup. Doing it yourself saves money, but it does require some effort on your part, like climbing a ladder or keeping track of sensor placements.

    If your home needs more advanced security arrangements or is very large, you should consider professional installation. A few popular home security companies still require professional installation, even though many of the components are wireless. Often, the company charges an installation fee (typically between $75 and $200) and requires a long-term contract.

    For more advice, compare the pros and cons of professional vs. DIY installation.

    How much do DIY security systems cost?
    DIY security systems typically cost from $200 to $700. If you choose self-monitoring, the monthly fee is between $0 and $20. Companies charge extra for professional monitoring services — up to $60 per month.

    Add-on equipment also factors into overall costs. Starter kits come with basic components, but you’ll have to spend more if you want to expand the system with extra cameras or sensors.

    How do you install your own home security system?
    Most of the time, you can install a DIY home security system in an hour or less. Usually, you start with the wireless control panel or base, attaching it to a wall by your primary entry door either with removable, double-sided adhesive or a small nail. “Peel-and-stick” backings are increasingly common on various sensors and detectors.

    Not everyone is up for doing it all themselves, especially those who live in large houses with lots of windows and doors. Several companies, like Vivint, ADT and Slomin’s, have highly rated systems with professional installation services.

    Can I take my DIY system with me if I move?
    Yes, in most cases, the system can be removed and installed in a new residence without any hassles. This is why wireless equipment is an attractive option for renters and those who don’t plan to be in their current home for a long time.
    How do I protect my DIY security system from hacking?
    There are several ways you can protect a wireless security system from hacking, including:
    • Making sure your Wi-Fi is password-protected
    • Enabling encryption on your router
    • Turning off the Universal Plug and Play feature on your router
    Can I monitor my own alarm system?
    Yes, several popular DIY home security systems allow self-monitoring (alerts go straight to your phone rather than to a monitoring center). For options, check out our guide to find the best self-monitored security systems.

    Bottom line

    DIY home security systems are easy and fast to set up and save you the cost of installation fees. You don’t have to compromise on advanced features and technology, and many companies offer you the option of self-monitoring or professional monitoring.

    Based on our analysis, we picked the following companies as the top DIY home security systems:

    • Brinks Home Security
    • Frontpoint
    • Ring
    • Link Interactive

    Methodology

    We started with a list of 29 popular home security companies that are featured on our buyers guide. After narrowing it down to the ones that specialize in DIY systems, we first considered overall satisfaction ratings and availability, eliminating companies with a star rating below 3.5 or limited service areas.

    To make our final selections, the ConsumerAffairs Research Team analyzed recent review data submitted by verified customers to our site. We required all of our top picks to have a 2:1 ratio of 5-star reviews to 1-star reviews over the last year (July 7, 2020, through July 7, 2021).

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    Profile picture of Jessica Render
    by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.