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Find the best smart home security systems

Compare equipment, features, costs and reviews

woman using smart security panel

Automation helps home security systems work more efficiently. For example, you can program doors to automatically lock at a certain time and turn lights on or off from your phone. Smart cameras can automatically record when motion is detected, send alerts and store footage in the cloud.

Some home automation features, such as smart thermostats and water leak detectors, won’t necessarily deter burglars, but they’re still convenient. Typically, you can set up and control smart equipment through your phone or via a central hub.

These days, it actually can be hard to find a home security system that doesn’t incorporate some type of smart automation technology. If you’re in the market for a new home security system, you’ll have to find the right balance between what you need to protect your family and what fits in your budget.

Below, we’ve outlined our top choices for a smart home security system so you compare brands then decide the best system for your needs.

Top 6 smart home security systems

Based on verified reviews, equipment options and availability, our picks for the top smart security systems of 2021 are Vivint, Vector, ADT, Ring, Frontpoint and SimpliSafe. Read our methodology for more information on how we picked.

  • Our pick for smart security cameras: Vivint
  • Our pick for technical support: Vector
  • Our pick for pro monitoring: ADT
  • Our pick for value: Ring
  • Our pick for customizable systems: Frontpoint
  • Our pick for no contracts: SimpliSafe
Our pick for smart security camerasVivint Smart HomeAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Monitoring: Professional
  • Installation: Professional
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google and Nest
  • Trial period: None
  • Availability: Most of North America

Vivint specializes in customizable systems, which let you only buy the equipment you want without paying for unnecessary components. The Vivint home security system earns many positive reviews from both verified customers and industry experts. Some happy customers particularly highlight the remote-access door lock, smart thermostat and water leak detectors.

Devices can connect to existing systems like Google Nest and Amazon Echo with the Smart Hub, which allows you to control everything in your house and get support with one touch. It also has voice-controlled systems compatible with existing products like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Costs and contracts: Vivint doesn’t require a contract, but customers can opt for one for up to five years to finance equipment costs and lock in rates. Activation charges run from $99 for a basic system up to $199 for more comprehensive systems or for customers with lower credit scores. You can buy your equipment upfront or finance it over the life of a contract. Monthly 24/7 monitoring fees run from $19.99 to $44.99 (plus equipment purchase).

Why we like it: Vivint stands out in the market for its home automation with its Smart Deter camera features, highly-rated app and wireless control panel. “New 4K HD cameras work great and the Vivint app is easy to use for everything,” according to one reviewer in Texas. “Love being able to control everything by phone including viewing all camera angles around house 24-7.”

Pros

  • User-friendly app that lets you monitor your system wherever you are
  • Top-quality equipment
  • Lots of choices for customization
  • Award-winning 24/7 monitoring

Cons

  • No self-installation option
  • Equipment costs tend to be more than with some competitors
  • If financing, you have to pay 100% of the cost if you cancel service early
Our pick for technical supportVector SecurityAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Monitoring: Professional
  • Installation: Professional
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google, Siri, Nest
  • Trial period: None listed
  • Availability: Some states

Vector also offers security for small, mid-size and multisite commercial properties and residential homes. Packages have options like smart thermostats, keyless locks, doorbell cameras and lights, all of which are accessible through the Vector Security app. Devices are compatible with existing home automation products like Amazon Echo and Z-Wave. All systems are professionally installed.

Costs and contracts: You can choose from three tiers of service (Essential, Home Automation and Connected Home), which all come with professional monitoring ranging from $44.95 to $69.95 a month. For a smart system, we suggest the Connected Home package, which has an upfront cost of $149.99. The company requires that all customers sign a contract for a minimum of three years with financing options.

Why we like it: The Vector security system stands out in the field for its low-cost entry-level systems, even with professional installation. We also like that equipment comes with an extended warranty.

According to one customer in North Carolina, “Service is always professional, staff very friendly and courteous and price won't break the bank! … The installer was patient in explaining and making sure we, as not so technologically inclined, were comfortable and knowledgeable with how to operate.”

Pros

  • Low initial costs for equipment
  • Can move your system for free during an active contract
  • One-year warranty on equipment with all plans

Cons

  • Strict cancellation policy
  • Limited availability
Our pick for professional monitoringADTAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Monitoring: Professional
  • Installation: Professional
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google and SmartThings
  • Trial period: Six-month money-back guarantee
  • Availability: Most states, D.C. and Puerto Rico

One of the oldest security companies in the business, ADT has a strong reputation for quality service and products, and ADT Pulse expands the brand to include smart devices. All security systems are professionally installed and are paired with one of three monitoring options.

ADT’s smart-home features are compatible with many home automation services — Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, IFTTT and Z-Wave — with options for mobile app monitoring. ADT also offers a range of smart products like locks, smoke detectors and garage controllers.

Costs and contracts: The basic monitoring package (Secure Package) starts at $45.99 a month; the Complete Package service costs $57.99. As with most professionally installed systems, ADT requires that customers sign a three-year contract (California residents can get a two-year contract). Check out Blue by ADT for a DIY approach.

Initial equipment prices vary by system, starting from $599 and ranging up to over $1,049. Financing is available, with payments as low as $9.98 a month for 60 months.

Why we like it: ADT systems are relatively easy to use and come with plenty of camera options, which is good for peace of mind. A reviewer in Georgia suggests the brand recognition helps deter intruders: “When people see ADT in the yard and see the cameras, it keeps people away from trying to do [any] harm to your family to a degree because they know somebody is going to be monitoring it.”

Pros

  • Trusted company that’s been around for years
  • Largest network of professional monitoring
  • Six-month trial period

Cons

  • More expensive than some competitors
  • Requires a contract
  • No DIY installation option
Our pick for valueRing
  • Monitoring: DIY or professional
  • Installation: DIY
  • Integrations: Google, Alexa, SmartThings
  • Trial period: 30 days
  • Availability: Nationwide

The Ring security system stands out because it gives you a choice between professional and self-monitoring. Through the Ring app, you can stream security camera footage and get real-time crime notifications and safety alerts.

The video doorbell camera is Ring’s most popular security device. You can select from wired or battery-powered models. Smart lighting is also available — you can turn lights on or off from anywhere or use motion-activated lights with smart controls. The alarm hub runs off Z-Wave protocol.

Costs and contracts: DIY monitoring is free, while pro monitoring costs $3 to $10 per month. No long-term contract is required. Upfront equipment costs range from $60 to $1,010.

Why we like it: Overall, the system is easy to install and operate, according to many verified customers. People also seem to like the video and sound quality. “It’s very inexpensive to add monitoring to your devices,” according to one customer in California. “Hard wiring these devices is the best, but WiFi is good as long as you keep the batteries charged.”

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Affordable equipment
  • Self-monitoring option
  • No contract required

Cons

  • No in-house financing options
  • Some tech support issues
  • Relatively few home automation features
Our pick for customizable systemsFrontpointAUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Monitoring: Professional
  • Installation: DIY
  • Integrations: Amazon, Siri, Google, Z-Wave products
  • Trial period: 30 days
  • Availability: Nationwide

Frontpoint earns favorable reviews with its easy-to-use cellular system. It offers three tiers of service to choose from — The Safehouse, The Bunker and The Fortress, with customization options available.

You can select smart door locks, cameras and video options that detect changes in everyday usage. All systems are designed to be self-installed, but ongoing customer support is available for its wireless systems.

Costs and contracts: Most plans require the upfront purchase of equipment, which ranges from around $300 to $600. Monitoring plans cost $49.20 a month ($1.64 a day). Frontpoint customers aren’t obligated to sign a contract, but the company does offer three-year contracts to those who choose to finance.

Why we like it: Systems are of good quality and reasonably priced, according to several verified Frontpoint customers that spoke with us. They’re also pretty good at distinguishing a real threat from a false alarm. If an intrusion is detected, the monitoring center calls within 30 seconds of the alarm going off.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a 30-day risk-free trial
  • Easy to transfer the system to a new home
  • No contract required (unless financing)

Cons

  • No option for professional installation
  • Monthly monitoring plan is more expensive than competitors
  • Must have Wi-Fi — no landline options
Our pick for no contractsSimpliSafe
  • Monitoring: Professional or DIY
  • Installation: DIY
  • Integrations: Alexa, Google, August Locks
  • Trial period: 30 days
  • Availability: Nationwide

SimpliSafe is a major player in the wireless, DIY home security industry. It offers a number of smart-home features, like video doorbells and smart locks, which can keep track of who comes and goes and will lock the door for you if you forget.

These are compatible with most smart products like Amazon Alexa, Google Nest and Apple Watch, but they don’t work with more advanced automation systems like IFTTT, Z-Wave and Zigbee.

Costs and contracts: Choose from three tiers of monitoring, from basic self-monitoring with security camera recording for about $15 a month to complete professional home monitoring for about $25 a month. The company offers self-installation, but you can choose professional help for a $79 installation fee.

SimpliSafe doesn’t require customers to sign a contract. This allows for flexibility with the service but means there are currently no financing options — and that you’ll face upfront equipment costs (from about $129 to $489, depending on the complexity of the system).

Why we like it: SimpliSafe is reasonably priced, easy to set up and expandable, according to happy customers. It also offers some equipment you might not find elsewhere, such as sump pump water detectors.

“Affordable, reliable, easy to set up. Especially like the away feature that allows the dogs to stay home with no false alarms,” said a verified customer in Ohio earlier this year. “All contact with the service department have been very positive, from alarm response to general questions. The camera has a great picture.”

Pros

  • 60-day risk-free trial period
  • Low-cost monitoring options
  • No contract
  • Options for self-install or professional installation

Cons

  • Must pay all equipment costs upfront
  • Limited options for products and systems compared with larger companies
  • Not compatible with all home automation systems
Methodology
We started with a list of popular home security companies listed on our buyers guide. To narrow it down, we first eliminated providers with an overall satisfaction rating below 3.5 stars as of June 21, 2021. We then compared availability and smart-home equipment features to select our top five picks for smart security systems.

We then outlined the top smart home security companies, including DIY and professionally installed systems, along with an overview of average costs, smart-home capability and pros and cons for each company.

Picks are ranked by their overall satisfaction ratings, from highest to lowest.

Compare top smart home security systems

Below, compare our top picks on installation, costs and contracts.

Installation typeDIY monitoring optionUpfront costMonthly monitoring feesRequired contract
vivint logoPro$599.99*$19.99 to $44.99+60 months**
vector security logoPro$0 to $149+$44.95 to $69.95Varies
adt logoPro$599 to $1,049*$28.99 to $57.9936 to 60 months**
ring logoDIY$60 to $1,010$0 to $10None
frontpoint logoDIY$392.40 to $598.41*$49.20+36 months**
simplisafe logoDIY$129 to $489$15 to $25None
vivint logoPro$599.99*$19.99 to $44.99+60 months**
vector security logoPro$0 to $149+$44.95 to $69.95Varies
adt logoPro$599 to $1,049*$28.99 to $57.9936 to 60 months**
ring logoDIY$60 to $1,010$0 to $10None
frontpoint logoDIY$392.40 to $598.41*$49.20+36 months**
simplisafe logoDIY$129 to $489$15 to $25None

If you still aren’t sure which is the best smart home security system for you, compare our picks against other companies side by side:

What to look for in a smart-home system

Most home security systems offer smart-home capability these days, though you may have to opt for the higher-tier service to access all the available technology. The type of system you choose and what smart components you need will depend on the level of protection you want, the layout of your home and how compatible it is with your existing systems.

When deciding on a smart system, consider the following questions. For more, read about the general questions to ask a home security company.

What do you want automated?
Do you only want your security features automated, or do you want your whole house connected? This could include connecting to thermostats, smoke alarms or lights in addition to security cameras, sensors or door locks.

Figure out what features are most important to you and go from there. Many people choose to start small with smart lights and locks as a baseline, then add components as they get used to their system and their needs.

For more, read about how to find the best home automation system next.

Do you have existing smart-home automation?
If you’re currently using Amazon Alexa or Echo, Google Nest or Siri, make sure your new system is compatible. Many of the more advanced home automation services, like IFTTT, Z-Wave and Zigbee, will not work with all home security systems.
Do you have reliable Wi-Fi?
Some systems do better than others with spotty Wi-Fi or when Wi-Fi goes out. Do you need a system that also works on a landline? Are you set up to go wireless, or would you feel more comfortable with a hardwired system? For more, check out our guide to finding the best wireless system.
Do you want professional installation or DIY?
Both self-installed systems and professionally installed systems offer top-of-the-line smart technology, so this depends more on your comfort level.

The DIY systems are designed to be installed by the average person, however, so you don’t need to have a special skill set. Still, you may decide you feel more comfortable having a professional walk you through all the features.

One thing to keep in mind: DIY systems tend to work better in smaller homes or apartments; professionally installed systems might be preferable for larger properties.

For more, compare DIY vs. professional home security installation options.

When do you need your system complete?
Professionally installed systems often have deals on their sites, but their prices, on average, stay the same. You’re more likely to find discounted prices on a self-installation system around the holidays, when these companies tend to have sales.

Some people like having a smart security system so they can keep an eye on different properties at the same time. For example, if you split your time between different cities, a smart security system is great because you can check locks, lights and more through an app.

How do I make my home a smart home?

More and more of our home appliances can integrate with smart technology — it makes sense smart security systems are a hit. Many people choose to start small with only one or two smart components, then add on as they feel more comfortable and competent in terms of operation.

The trend is definitely moving toward more automated products. If you’re interested in this new technology and want to get your home hooked up, it’s a good idea to do your research, compare systems and start small — you’ll be well on your way to making your home a smart home.

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The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.