Unlike the old-school hardwired alarms of decades past, today’s DIY home security systems offer modern, whole-home protection right in the palm of your hand. You can install these app-controlled alarm systems right out of the box, eliminating the need to pay a pro for installation. While smart cameras and video doorbells can work in tandem with your security system, sensors, motion detectors, and hubs are the main components of most DIY home security kits in our guide. These gadgets intuitively monitor your home for emergencies like break-ins and fires and, when paired with a professional monitoring plan, can help dispatch authorities to your residence.
After weeks of testing several popular DIY home security systems, we’re confident that the SimpliSafe 8-piece Alarm System(available at Amazon for $163.48) is the best self-install option for most households. The setup process is a breeze, it supports voice control with smart assistants like Alexa and Google, and it’s equipped with a 24-hour battery backup in the event of a power outage. If you need quick and reliable smarts on a budget, our Best Value pick, Eufy’s 5-piece Alarm System, is the one you want. The competition was tough, as there are many reliable smart alarm systems out there, and each alarm setup offers a little something different when it comes to safeguarding your home.
These are the best DIY home security systems we tested, ranked in order:
SimpliSafe 8-piece Wireless Home Security System
Ring 5-piece Alarm Home Security Kit
Eufy 5-piece Alarm System
Cove 7-piece Home Security System
Frontpoint Safe Home Starter
Abode iota Security Kit
Ecobee Home Security Solution
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SimpliSafe 8-Piece Wireless Home Security System
Eufy 5-Piece Home Alarm Kit
How We Tested
What you should know about DIY smart home security systems
SimpliSafe takes the No. 1 spot for the best DIY smart home security system you can buy right now thanks to its beautiful blend of serious smarts and impressive performance. The company has a longstanding history of customer excellence and is regarded as a top-choice by reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report and This Old House.
We have to agree, Simplisafe’s alarm system is the best we tested. From start to finish, SimpliSafe made the installation process a cinch thanks to its simple peel-and-stick installation of entry sensors, motion detectors, and keypad (no tools required). The products come clearly labeled in the box, making for a headache-free setup that any home security novice can easily tackle. The setup is also incredibly foolproof, offering clear directions about how to correctly install the sensors and motion detectors. We also found SimpliSafe’s motion detectors to be some of the most pet-friendly, taking into account different installation methods depending on the size of your cat or dog. (This can help pet owners avoid false alarm triggers when the system is armed.)
The entry sensors come with a claimed 10-year battery life—head and shoulders above other smart sensors we tested. The system supports up to 100 sensors and SimpliSafe offers plenty of options to pick from including water leak detectors, temperature/freeze sensors, glass break sensors, and more. We also like that SimpliSafe sensors are some of the easiest to remove and reposition, making the system an ideal option for renters.
SimpliSafe offers users the flexibility of choosing between preconfigured home security bundles or individually purchasing components for a truly customizable DIY alarm system. A home base and keypad are necessary components of the SimpliSafe system and are included with your purchase if you opt for a preconfigured bundle. The home base plugs into a standard electrical outlet and has a 24-hour battery backup. It’s also an attractive, modern-looking home security system that mixes in well with any home’s decor.
SimpliSafe's alarm system supports Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. While it doesn’t fully support Apple HomeKit, you can control some aspects of the system on an Apple Watch like arming and disarming the system and receiving alerts. It also integrates with August door locks, one of the best smart locks we’ve ever tested, and can lock the door depending on the status of your alarm system.
The DIY alarm also has helpful security offerings like a Duress Pin, which is meant to be used in the event someone forces you to disarm your system, but instead, discreetly alerts authorities. Secret Alerts are also available with SimpliSafe for areas of the home like liquor cabinets, gun safes, and anywhere else at home where you want to receive notifications without altering the monitoring center.
A paid plan isn't required to use SimpliSafe, but it's the best way to get the most out of your alarm system. While self-monitoring is available at no cost, it’s pretty barebones. You won’t receive smart alerts or be able to arm/disarm your system remotely, but you can access the 7-day event history and view the status of your system anytime. Plans start at $14.99/month for basic features like 24/7 professional monitoring and a built-in cell connection to keep your system powered at all times.
Simply put, SimpliSafe is the best DIY home security system you can buy.
Eufy’s 5-Piece Alarm System won us over for its idyllic mix of smarts, user-friendliness, and affordability. The fully customizable system comes with a mountable keypad, home base, two entry sensors, and a motion sensor. Eufy makes installation a breeze with step-by-step instructions in the Eufy app. If you want to mount the keypad, you’ll need a screwdriver, otherwise, the rest of the setup is tool-free.
The sensors are accurate at detecting events, instantly sending alerts when someone opens a window/door or walks by the motion sensor. Unlike any other motion sensors we tested, Eufy’s attach to a swivel base for precise positioning and can be affixed with screws or adhesive tape. The sensors have an impressive 100-degree field of view up to 30 feet away and sensitivity is adjustable in the companion app.
Eufy’s monitoring plans are among the most affordable included in our guide. Self-monitoring is free, while the Basic Plan ($4.99/month) includes local storage, local AI detection, and tap to dispatch (via the companion app or keypad) which alerts the surveillance center to call authorities on your behalf if a problem arises. Eufy also offers complete professional monitoring through its Plus Plan ($9.99/month). The plan includes false alarm forgiveness, custom monitoring settings, and more.
This system doesn’t include a key fob, but it's easy to control remotely from the companion app. The entry keypad claims a 6-month battery life, and the motion and contact sensors claim up to 2 years. A base station is required to use this system and is included with your purchase. Additional motion sensors and entry sensors can be added. Other Eufy devices, like video doorbells and indoor smart cameras, can easily be integrated for whole-home coverage, with up to 16 cameras and sensors per base.
There are a couple of downsides. The alarm siren claims to be 100 decibels but, as several Amazon reviewers point out, it’s not very loud. Amazon Alexa is the only supported voice assistant (no Google or Apple HomeKit support) and the functionality is pretty limited (currently you can only arm/disarm the system via voice control). That said, the Eufy Security app is straightforward and user-friendly for total home control. Considering how well this system performs and the value it offers, it’s a safe bet for any home on a budget.
Hi, I’m Rachel Murphy, the senior staff writer of Reviewed’s smart home section. My home is full of connected gadgets like security cameras, plugs, speakers, appliances, and more. During my tenure at Reviewed, I’ve tested everything from smart plugs to smart water leak detectors, alongside tons of other gadgets that can be controlled remotely or via smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.
Growing up with my parent's early 2000s alarm system, I’ve always taken an interest in home security. Now that I’m a homeowner with a family of my own, finding the best home security kit was not only a professional priority but a personal one. I spent weeks testing seven of the best smart DIY security systems in my home to find out which one you (and I) should buy.
For this roundup, we put each DIY home security system through a series of in-depth, hands-on tests to fully understand each one’s capabilities, features, and downsides. We tested for important factors like ease of installation, sensor responsiveness, alarm tone, app navigation, and privacy protection measures. The tests included installing the hubs/keypads and sensors, connecting to the systems to compatible smart assistants, and determining how well each performs in a 1,400-square foot household with kids, pets, and adults constantly coming and going.
What you should know about DIY smart home security systems
Deciding between professional and self-monitoring
The biggest deciding factor when it comes to selecting a home security system is choosing between professional monitoring or self-monitoring and there are pros and cons to both. Professional monitoring came standard on alarm systems of the past. However, modern home security systems are more sophisticated, offering the flexibility of monitoring the system yourself or paying for 24/7 professional monitoring.
Self-monitoring is an economical way to safeguard your home versus paying for a more expensive monthly monitoring plan, but the catch is that you’ll be in charge of managing your system and responding to emergencies as necessary. Most alarm systems can be used for free without professional monitoring, though the features can be limiting when it comes to managing your system remotely.
However, It’s impossible to oversee your system on a 24-hour basis, making around-the-clock monitoring a desirable option. Professional monitoring centers receive alerts from your system when an emergency like a break-in or fire occurs and can help quickly dispatch authorities to your residence. These services cost between $10 to $50 a month depending on which system you choose. Another perk of professional monitoring plans is that most systems will remain connected using cellular data during internet and power outages.
One final factor to take into consideration is that you may be eligible for home insurance discounts by opting for paid professional monitoring. Although not all insurance companies offer discounts for DIY home security systems, more are coming around to the idea, so make sure to check with your provider to see if your system is eligible. Discounts for self-monitored systems may be available at lesser savings.
Setup and installation
All of the systems included in our guide can be installed without professional help. Taking a do-it-yourself approach to home security can save you money on installation, which is why clearly labeled packaging and detailed instructions are key to a smooth setup.
Most systems include basic equipment like a control panel or keypad, entry sensors, motion detectors, and sometimes outdoor signage. Though the components of a DIY alarm system are wireless, the hubs and control panels will require a nearby electrical outlet for power. Installing the sensors is as easy as peeling off the adhesive backing and sticking the device where you want it to go. You don’t need any special know-how or tools to install the sensors and detectors, though you may need a drill or screwdriver if you want to mount a keypad or control panel in your entryway.
Most systems we tested show you where and how to position the sensors around your home, for a frustration-free setup. While doors and windows are the primary spots for sensors, you can use them for liquor cabinets, refrigerators, drawers, and just about anything that opens and closes. Except for Abode and Ecobee, home security cameras aren’t included with most of the smart security systems we tested, but many offer the flexibility of adding cameras and other smart home devices during installation or later on if you want to build out your system.
Depending on where you live, a permit may be required to install a professionally monitored alarm system since it involves dispatching local fire, police, and medical services. Permits were first introduced as a way to prevent false alarms back in the day when hardwired systems were the only option. False alarms occur when the armed system is set off due to human error, improper install, low battery life, or other common issues. You may be fined if the system is accidentally triggered too many times. Choosing the right security system for your home and getting well-acquainted with it can help you and your family members avoid triggering false alarms.
The alarm company should notify you if a permit is needed, but it’s best to check with your local municipality’s permitting department to cover all your bases. Permitting and registration fees may apply.
There’s always a potential privacy risk involved when you use internet-connected devices at home. To help safeguard your smart home, there are some steps you can take. First, look for devices that offer two-factor authentication, which sends a code to your mobile device to verify it’s really you. That way, if someone tries to hack into your account, you will receive an alert and can quickly take care of the problem. Many devices also allow you to activate email or other push notifications in the settings to alert you if someone has logged on.
Additionally, make sure to use a unique, strong password composed of multiple characters, numbers, and letters for each of your smart home accounts. Data breaches feel like the norm as of late, making it all the more important to use different passwords across multiple websites and apps.
Ring’s Alarm System gets a lot right: perfect packaging, elementary instructions, detailed smart alerts whether you’re tethered to paid professional monitoring or not, and a powerful 104-decibel alarm siren. Ring’s plans are some of the most affordable in our roundup, too, including free self-monitoring or continuous professional monitoring for $10/month.
The system comes with door and window sensors and motion detectors that work reliably and a convenient keypad that’s easy to hang by your front door. We like that it sends straightforward smart notifications that include important, upfront details like the date, time, and name of the triggered sensor. It also takes into account cats and dogs, making it one of the most pet-friendly systems we’ve tested.
As one might expect from Ring, there’s no integration with Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri. With Alexa voice control, you can arm/disarm the system (a handy feature since there’s no key fob) and manage the status of your system. Ring’s system also supports Alexa Guard, which uses your Echo speakers to listen for possible emergencies like glass breaking and smoke/carbon monoxide detector alarms. Additionally, you can incorporate Ring doorbells, smart cameras, and lighting into the system. It also works with third-party devices like smart locks and Z-wave devices, giving you plenty of options to build out your home security system.
If professional monitoring is what you’re after, Cove Alarm Systems may appeal to you. Cove does not offer self-monitoring, meaning you’ll always be tied to the monthly payment plan that comes with continuous monitoring. But if that’s not a deal-breaker, there are some good reasons to look into it.
Cove’s system caught our eye from the get-go with its gorgeous 7-inch touchscreen display panel, something no other system we tested offers. In addition to the standard motion detectors and window/door sensors, Cove’s basic equipment setup includes above-average offerings like a smart water leak detector and two key fob remote controls instead of just one. We like that the touch screen panel makes audible announcements when a sensor is opened and gives visual cues so you can easily see the status of the system, making it easy to know when people are coming and going without being tied to your phone.
Unlike every other system we tested, the setup for Cove is done online and not via the companion app. During setup, a representative from Cove’s monitoring team called via the touchscreen control panel to confirm it was working. Unfortunately, we had a hard time hearing what the person was saying and the call got disconnected. They immediately called me on my cell phone, which is a nice touch, especially considering emergencies. However, my first impressions of the touch panel’s ability to communicate were less than ideal.
The Cove Basic Plan costs $15/month and includes continuous live monitoring, 24-hour battery backup, and more. But if you want to control the system from your smartphone and integrate it with smart assistants like Alexa and Google (no support for Siri), the Cove Plus Plan ($25/month) is the one to get. The alarm setup includes a free, 30-day professional monitoring trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
All in all, the setup process felt too involved and took me longer than it did with other alarms included in this guide. The Cove app also repeatedly logged me out after each use and I found it cumbersome to log back in each time. Cove’s system is a good option if you only want professional monitoring or if you prefer a touchscreen panel to a regular keypad, but be prepared to spend about 30 minutes setting the system up.
At 104.5 decibels, Fronpoint’s Safe Home Starter system has the loudest siren of the bunch. The system works well and comes with all of the expected components like door/window and motion sensors, a hub, and a wireless keypad. A key fob is an additional purchase, but you can arm/disarm the system via the companion app or voice control with Alexa and Google Assistant, something not every system we’ve tested has.
Frointpoint's hub works without Wi-Fi, using a cellular signal for a reliable connection at all times, but you can connect the hub to your internet as a backup. Similar to other alarms we tested, the hub also has a 24-hour battery backup in the event of a power outage. Frontpoint uses Alarm.com for its mobile app, where you can easily monitor the status of your system.
Frontpoint offers helpful user security features like a Duress Code and the ability to build out a custom system tailored to your home without being locked into a preconfigured package. The home security company has an in-house line of smart home devices like cameras that can also be added to the security system. However, Skybell video doorbells are the only third-party devices that currently integrate with Frontpoint’s home security system.
As much as we like Frontpoint and were impressed by its accuracy and smarts, the monthly professional monitoring plans are the most expensive of any system we tested. The Interactive Plan costs $45/month and the Ultimate Plan is $50/month. Both paid options come with 24/7 professional monitoring, wireless/cellular connection, automated system checks, crash and smash protection, and more. While these features are great to have, the cost is considerably more than the others we’ve tested.
Abode may not be as well known as other home security brands on our list, but the iota Security Kit is a smart home lover's dream. The gateway hub has a discreetly built-in 1080p HD security camera and offers rare compatibility across all three major smart assistants: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. The system also comes with one mini door/window sensor and one key fob. It also supports up to 160 devices from popular brands like Philips Hue, Lifx, Yale, Kwikset, and more, making it the most versatile home security system for your well-connected home.
The system itself is a delight to use, but the setup and installation process could’ve been better. Unlike SimpliSafe and Ring’s flawless packaging, Abode’s products are not clearly labeled inside of the box, which may confuse home security first-timers (professional installation is available). Additionally, the motion sensor’s activation tab is shorter than others we’ve tested and we ended up having to use tweezers to remove it. Finally, the sensors are installed using velcro, not adhesive tape like most setups. The velcro is difficult to remove, leaves behind a sticky residue, and is unusable after pulling it up once, making Abode’s security system a poor option for renters.
Despite all of that, Abode’s system, once set up, is quick and full of smarts. When a sensor is triggered, the gateway makes a chirping sound. The gateway also offers visual cues about the alarm’s status. The audible and visual signals are a nice touch for managing your system as you’re moving throughout your home.
Abode has two paid monitoring subscriptions. The $6/month self-monitoring plan includes push alerts, activity history, home automations, geofencing, on-demand monitoring (ideal for short vacations), and more. The Pro Plan runs $20/month and includes professional monitoring, cellular backup, person detection, and geofencing. The system is the most expensive one we tested and therefore not the best option for most people, but for souped-up smart homes, Abode’s iota Security Kit is a winner.
Ecobee’s Home Security Solution is the only DIY alarm system we tested that doesn’t offer professional monitoring. Instead, you have to pay $5/month for self-monitoring, which includes video storage for one device and support for Autopilot, a neat geofencing feature that ditches the need for keypads, hubs, and alarm countdowns. Ecobee plays nice with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, but there's no support for Google Assistant.
The kit comes with an Ecobee SmartCamera (functions as the “hub”), two smart sensors, and four smart sensors for doors and windows. An Ecobee smart thermostat also works as a hub. There’s no key fob or keypad, but you don’t need one thanks to Ecobee's Autopilot feature. Autopilot automatically arms or disarms your system when you (and other authorized users) come and go. With autopilot, you can automate your system to arm when you leave and disarm when you return. It can also be used to create smart home automations like enabling the camera to record when you're not there and shutting it off when you return.
The camera has Alexa built-in, clear 1080p video quality day and night, control over motion sensitivity, and the ability to define activity zones. It also offers a spectacular 180-degree field of view and comes with motion tracking technology, meaning it can follow an object around the room, showing you exactly what’s going on when you’re not there. The camera can also listen for your smoke alarm and alert you if it starts going off, a feature often included with more expensive monthly plans. The system comes with a limited three-year warranty and you can return it for free within 30 days of purchase for a full refund.
We were unimpressed by the alarm sound, which sounds more like an alarm clock going off than a siren meant to deter intruders or alert you to a problem. Ecobee’s alarm system is a viable option if you’re on a budget and only want self-monitoring capabilities, but you’ll need to look elsewhere for better services.
Rachel Murphy covers smart home for Reviewed. She holds a journalism degree from the University of Central Florida. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for several major outlets and as an associate editorial producer for ABC News' Good Morning America.
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