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Best DIY home security cameras of 2021

Compare surveillance costs and monitoring options

Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Vector Security, Blue by ADT, Frontpoint and Scout
man adjusting home security camera

When it comes to installing your own security camera system, it’s important that you understand the benefits and drawbacks. Since you won’t have a professional technician to help find the right placement for devices, there’s a bit more research involved with the process. Still, with the right tools and knowledge, you can save a lot of time and money with DIY security cameras.

Our 5 picks for top DIY security camera systems

We started with a list of 28 companies. To narrow it down, we eliminated those without any verified reviews on our site from the last 12 months, as well as companies with an overall satisfaction rating below 3 stars, leaving 14. We then compared equipment options, installation process and monitoring options to make our final selection of the top DIY home security camera systems.

Our pick for DIY camera system overall
Blue by ADT

Company nameContact
blue by adt logo
LogoSummary
  • Self-monitoring option
  • Pro monitoring fee starts at $19.99 per month*
  • Base equipment starts around $200*
Read more

*As of publishing date

ADT is known in the security industry for its high-tech, professional solutions. Blue by ADT is the company’s DIY security solution, offering more flexibility in the purchasing and installation process.

Blue by ADT’s Starter System is $219 and includes two sensors and a keypad. These systems can be used with or without monitoring, which starts at an additional $19.99 per month. One reviewer in Delaware said they pay $59.99 a month, which gets them seven home cameras, a video doorbell and a motion detector.

Pros

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Customizable packages
  • No contract required
  • Rapid response monitoring center

Cons

  • Equipment can get pricey
  • Relatively high monitoring cost
  • Some customer service complaints

Our pick for cloud video storage
Ring

Company nameContact
ring logo
LogoSummary
  • Self-monitoring option
  • Pro monitoring costs $10 per month or $100 per year*
  • Base equipment starts around $200*
Read reviews

*As of publishing date

Ring is a DIY alarm company that is known for its affordable Video Doorbell. This device starts at $99 and is designed to be easily installed with a drill. To save, review and share video, customers must pay an additional $30 per year. Recordings are “very clear,” and the price is “reasonable,” according to one reviewer in South Carolina.

Other packages start at $199 and include the doorbell and other devices, like indoor cameras or floodlights. Ring systems integrate easily with many smart home systems and include access to the Neighbors App, which keeps homeowners updated on security threats in the area. For more, compare Ring vs. ADT.

Pros

  • High-quality video surveillance
  • No long-term contracts required
  • Simple installation and setup
  • Expandable with smart home integrations

Cons

  • Accessories can get expensive
  • Must drill into exterior wall
  • Relatively short battery life

Our pick for customer support
Frontpoint

Company nameContact
frontpoint logo
LogoSummary
  • Limited self-monitoring options
  • Pro monitoring fee starts at $44 per month*
  • Base equipment costs $99 to $479.90*
Read reviews

*As of publishing date

Frontpoint sells DIY home security systems that are preprogrammed and ready to install. People seem to like that the systems are wireless and you can add additional cameras whenever you want. Overall, reviewers say setup is easy. One customer in Texas reported some installation issues but noted that Frontpont’s customer service representative was “super friendly, happy and helpful.”

Home security packages start at $99, with monitoring for around $2 per day. In addition to traditional security devices like cameras and alarms, Frontpoint also offers environmental sensors, lighting and temperature control and panic pendants. Because they’re preprogrammed, Frontpoint systems can be installed in minutes.

Pros

  • Month-to-month service available
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Home
  • Customizable system options
  • Devices come preprogrammed

Cons

  • No lifetime warranty on equipment
  • 30-day return policy
  • Strict cancellation policy

Our pick for DIY setup with professional monitoring
Vector Security

Company nameContact
vector security logo
LogoSummary
  • No self-monitoring option
  • Pro monitoring starts around $40 per month*
  • Base equipment costs included in monthly fee
Read reviews

*As of publishing date

Vector Security sells three home security packages, starting at $44.95 per month in some states. There’s no upfront cost, and the camera packages include more products and devices compared with some other options. Prices include the equipment and monitoring, which can be handy for many individuals.

Vector Security requires a written cancellation notice within 30 days of contract renewal and does not accept phone or email cancellations. It will automatically renew your contract without written notice that you wish to cancel service.

Pros

  • Comes with equipment warranty
  • Support for home automation features
  • System relocation options
  • Military discounts

Cons

  • Contract from 36 to 60 months required
  • Complicated cancellation policy
  • Not available in all states

Our pick for budget DIY camera system
SimpliSafe

Company nameContact
simplisafe logo
LogoSummary
  • Self-monitoring option
  • Monthly monitoring is $14.99*
  • Base equipment costs vary
Read reviews

*As of publishing date

SimpliSafe sells DIY home security systems that offer protection against vandalism, theft, fires, water damage and more. Reviewers say the installation is intuitive and the system is easy to set up. One customer particularly appreciates “getting text messages that let me see who has come to my front door via the doorbell camera.”

SimpliSafe is known for its sleek SimpliCam, which is $99. Additional packages start around $200 and come with more devices and features. Customers must pay an additional monitoring fee if they want to record their video footage and gain access to emergency support, which starts at $14.99 per month. For more, compare SimpliSafe vs. ADT or SimpliSafe vs. Frontpoint.

Pros

  • Affordable monitoring plans
  • Highly customizable packages
  • No drilling or tools
  • No contract required

Cons

  • Upfront equipment cost
  • Limited professional support
  • Relatively few smart home integrations

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    Compare more DIY security camera options

    If you still aren’t sure which home camera system is right for you, you might consider options from Canary, Arlo and Scout Alarm.

    Canary Pro Indoor Home Security Camera

    Company nameContact
    canary pro indoor home security camera
    LogoSummary
    • $76.99 with free returns*
    • Free year of premium service
    • Work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
    Shop on Amazon

    *As of publishing date

    Canary sells video cameras for indoor or outdoor use. Its Starter Pack, which includes two cameras, is $269. Customers have the option to add a year of monitoring to that cost in order to save more money over time and pay just one upfront fee. Without bundling, customers pay $9.99 per month for monitoring. Canary cameras work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

    Arlo Wireless Camera System

    Company nameContact
    arlo wireless camera system
    LogoSummary
    • Four-camera kit for $409*
    • Wireless and weatherproof
    • Built-in two-way audio capabilities
    Shop on Amazon

    *As of publishing date

    Arlo specializes in high-tech and high-quality security cameras, including 4K video. Other products include doorbells, floodlight cameras and other accessories. Customers can also purchase a bundle and save more. Arlo hardware comes with a one-year limited warranty.

    Scout Alarm Video Doorbell

    Company nameContact
    scout alarm video doorbell
    LogoSummary
    • $119 with free returns*
    • Quick and easy installation
    • Not wireless
    Shop on Amazon

    *As of publishing date

    Scout Video Doorbells are easy to set up. Installation doesn’t require the Scout base hub or a monitoring plan. Through the Scout app, you can get notifications, stream video footage and communicate with people at your door. Choose from three colors of faceplates to match your door.

    DIY security camera FAQ

    How much do DIY security camera systems cost?
    It depends on what’s included in the overall price. You should expect to spend around $100 for a basic security solution. If you want more devices, it can cost about triple that.
    What is the difference between a DIY security system and professionally installed system?
    DIY systems are designed to be installed fairly easily by homeowners — usually with no tools or just a few common tools. With DIY security, a homeowner will have to decide the best places to put devices. Professional installation, on the other hand, not only includes the literal installation of the system but also recommendations of where to put each device for the most comprehensive security solution.
    What is a wireless security camera and how does it work?
    A wireless security camera connects to your home’s Wi-Fi to offer real-time video footage at your home. Most companies require that you pay an additional cost in order to save video and view footage that isn’t live.
    How do you install a security camera yourself?
    For most security cameras, it’s as easy as finding a stable spot on the wall where there’s existing wiring (if needed) and drilling holes. Most security cameras today are wireless, so you can even skip that extra step.
    Can I monitor wireless camera footage through my phone?
    Yes. Most companies offer the ability to monitor footage in real time. But if you want to see past footage or even save a recording, you’ll likely have to pay a monthly or yearly fee.
    Can DIY security camera systems incorporate smart home automation features?
    Yes. Many DIY security camera systems offer smart home integrations, like working with your garage openers, lights, thermostat and more. Some companies offer more automation features than others, so it’s smart to know what you’re looking for before you buy a device.
    How do you know a security camera will work in your home?
    If you have Wi-Fi, a security camera will work in your home. If you don’t have Wi-Fi, you can invest in a system that is hard-wired to the internet.
    How much internet data do DIY home security systems use?
    Home security devices generally require upload speeds of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps). Ask your home security company about specific internet speed requirements before choosing a system.

    Bottom line: What is the best DIY home security camera system for you?

    The best DIY home security system is the one that’s personalized to your needs. Most companies offer the flexibility to truly build a solution that works for both your budget and the design of your home, but it might take a bit of work to figure it out. Just make sure you understand where you want certain things like cameras and alarms and what type of integrations and features you want before you start comparing options. For more, read about how to find the best wireless home security system for you or learn about additional ways to secure your home.

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    Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
    by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.