Best house security systems of 2020: Live surveillance, Do It Yourself sets, video buzzers as well as even more


The home security industry is booming after about 10 years of app-enabled upheaval. There’s a new wave of less expensive DIY systems, cameras, smart locks and video doorbells to consider alongside the professional alarm and monitoring system options that have been around for decades.

Big names in tech like Amazon and Google want a part of the action, too. It’s admittedly quite a bit to take in — and today’s home security providers don’t necessarily always make it easy to comparison shop, to say the least.  That’s where we come in, though — not only by putting these systems and their best features to the test ?t the CNET Sm?rt Home, but by ev?lu?ting the whole buying process, ?s well.

We look ?t other import?nt f?ctors, too — including the priv?cy concerns th?t come with filling your house with cloud-connected c?mer?s.  So, ?re you re?dy to set up ? b?se st?tion, inst?ll th?t window sensor ?nd door sensor, ?nd connect your doorbell c?mer? to ?n ?l?rm monitoring service or home security comp?ny? Keep re?ding for our bre?kdown of the best home security systems th?t we’ve tested to d?te, including DIY home security systems you c?n inst?ll yourself, profession?lly inst?lled systems th?t promise to ?utom?te your whole home, ?nd st?nd?lone g?dgets like video doorbells, too.

Install-it-yourself systems

If ? profession?lly inst?lled security system from ?l?rm comp?nies or Brinks Home Security sounds like overkill, then you c?n s?ve ? lot of money by buying ? system th?t you inst?ll yourself.

For my money, systems like these offer some of the best v?lue for your home security doll?r. You’re not missing out on much in terms of function?lity. Though profession?lly inst?lled security systems might offer ? f?ncier keyp?d or touchscreen control p?nel, the rest of the h?rdw?re is l?rgely the s?me ?s wh?t you’ll get if you go the DIY inst?ll?tion route, relying mostly on wireless, b?ttery-powered sensors th?t you stick up ?round your house.

Just keep in mind th?t while DIY home security systems will deter intruders, they typic?lly won’t offer ?s m?ny integr?tions with things like c?rbon monoxide detectors, sm?rt lights or your sm?rt thermost?t. When DIY ?l?rm systems first st?rted popping up ?s ? low-cost ?ltern?tive to going with the pros, few, if ?ny, c?me with ?n option for profession?l monitoring or customer service. Th?t’s no longer the c?se.

Most DIY security systems now offer the option of profession?l monitoring — ?nd most of them ch?rge less for profession?l monitoring th?n the profession?l inst?ll?tion security providers do, too. Autom?tion ?nd sm?rt home devices h?ve helped lower the overhe?d cost for monitoring services like those, ?nd some of those s?vings get p?ssed on to you. And the f?ct th?t most DIY systems don’t require ?ny sort of service contr?ct — just ?

Wi-Fi network ?nd m?ybe some cloud stor?ge — is ?nother nice p?rt of the pitch. Something else to keep ?n eye out for: All-in-one DIY security devices designed for sm?ller homes ?nd living sp?ces. B?sic?lly, just single-point, t?bletop c?mer?s p?cked with extr? motion detectors ?nd sensors for things like temper?ture ?nd ?mbient light, these devices c?n be ? good fit for something like ? studio ?p?rtment th?t doesn’t h?ve ? g?r?ge door or m?ny street windows to protect.

N?mes to look ?t include C?n?ry, Honeywell ?nd the Abode Iot? — though our f?vorite of the bunch, Piper, is no longer on the m?rket ?fter Al? purch?sed its p?rent comp?ny in 2016. If we find ?nother ?ltern?tive th?t we like ?s much ?s we liked th?t one, I’ll upd?te this sp?ce.

Other options we’ve tested

Professionally installed systems

These ?re the m?inst?ys of home security — security monitoring comp?ny n?mes like ADT ?nd Brinks th?t you’ve prob?bly been f?mili?r with for ye?rs, ?long with home security systems offered by m?jor telecom providers like Comc?st ?nd AT&?mp;T. The pitch is pretty simil?r ?cross the bo?rd.

In ?ddition to b?sics like motion sensors, window sensors ?nd door sensors, these kinds of profession?l inst?ll?tions will ?lso promise to cut b?ck on f?lse ?l?rms to the monitoring center ?nd se?mlessly integr?te things like door locks, c?mer?s, keyp?ds, thermost?ts, c?rbon monoxide detectors ?nd touchscreens. And they’ll often support voice controls vi? Am?zon Alex? ?nd the Google Assist?nt, too.

Most ch?rge ?n upfront equipment or inst?ll?tion fee ?nd most require multiye?r service contr?cts. As for the monthly fee for profession?l monitoring, those ?re m?nd?tory ?nd will typic?lly r?nge from £30 to £50 per month. High-end systems like these will sometimes m?ke it tough to comp?rison shop between comp?nies.

For inst?nce, he?d to ADT’s website ?nd you’ll find plenty of m?rketing copy touting the v?lue of the security comp?ny’s v?rious home security offerings ?nd customer service — but you won’t find much by w?y of pricing specifics. Inste?d, the site directs you to request ? “free quote,” either by c?lling the security comp?ny’s s?les te?m or by submitting your n?me, zip code, phone number ?nd em?il ?ddress. Doing the l?tter ensures th?t ?n ADT customer service speci?list “will c?ll you, from time to time, ?bout ADT offers.” Re?d the fine print, ?nd you’ll see th?t these c?lls ?re “provided” using “?utom?ted di?ling technology.”

Mind you, the ?l?rm comp?ny is h?rdly ?lone here. Some ?re less egregious ?bout it th?n others, but you’ll find simil?r t?ctics — ?nd simil?r fine print — on just ?bout every website for profession?lly inst?lled ?l?rm systems like these. If the website is uncle?r ?bout wh?t ? system built for your home would cost you, then your best bet is just to c?ll the security comp?ny directly, tell them wh?t kind of setup you’d like ?nd ?sk for ? quote.

Your experience might v?ry b?sed on the s?lesperson you’re spe?king with. For inst?nce, when I first tried c?lling ADT, the s?lesperson told me th?t he couldn’t give me ? quote without running ? credit check first. I politely ended the convers?tion ?nd c?lled b?ck ?nother d?y, ?nd h?d ? much better experience with ? s?lesperson who priced ? core system for me within 10 minutes, no credit check or other exch?nge of person?l info needed.

Whoever you end up c?lling, don’t be ?fr?id to put your foot down over your own priv?cy. Comp?nies th?t use roboc?lls ?nd junk m?il ?s ? s?les t?ctic don’t h?ve ? right to your ?ddress or other person?l info until they’ve e?rned your business, full stop. Th?t c?ve?t ?side, the ?dv?nt?ge with ?l?rm systems like these is th?t profession?ls will come to your pl?ce to inst?ll everything for you, ?nd you c?n typic?lly expect ? higher level of h?nds-on tech support ?nd customer service if you ever w?nt to m?ke ch?nges to your setup, too.

Pick ? profession?l system from ? telecom provider ?nd you’ll likely be ?ble to bundle your home security with your TV or internet service. Th?t’s ? convenience th?t c?n ?lso help you score ? discount.

Other options we’ve tested

Video doorbells

If you don’t need ?n entire security system, ?nd inste?d just w?nt to keep ?n eye on ?ctivity ?t your front door, then you might consider inst?lling ? video doorbell to keep w?tch. Re?d more: The best video doorbells of 2020

You’ve got lots of options right now, ?nd th?nks to ?utom?tion, ?ll will send re?l-time ?lerts vi? ? Wi-Fi connection or cellul?r connection to your cell phone or sm?rt device whenever someone rings to show you who’s ?t the door. Some ?lso tr?ck for unexpected motion or ?llow for two-w?y ?udio — ?nd we’re seeing lots of new options th?t ?re c?p?ble of recognizing f?ces, too.

Th?t includes our top pick: Prices for doorbells like these typic?lly r?nge from ?bout £100 to £250 ?nd most ?lso ch?rge ?n option?l fee for viewing s?ved video clips. To pick one, first, figure out if your front door h?s ? h?rdwired doorbell connection or if you’ll need something b?ttery-powered.

Then, consider fe?tures — for inst?nce, do you keep ? porch light on ?t night, or will you need something with night vision? From there, think ?bout which sm?rt home pl?tforms you w?nt your doorbell to work with. On th?t front, you’ll find lots of options th?t work with Alex? ?nd plenty th?t work with IFTTT, ?nd with Google ?nd Nest, too.

Siri is still pl?ying c?tch-up, though — the only HomeKit-comp?tible video doorbell we’ve gotten our fingers on thus f?r is the Net?tmo Sm?rt Video Doorbell, which debuted ?t CES this p?st J?nu?ry. M?ny of the m?jor home security systems now offer video doorbells of their own, ?nd some offer comp?tibility with st?nd?lone video doorbells ?nd keyp?ds like these, too. Keep th?t in mind if you think you might w?nt to exp?nd to ? full system l?ter on down the line.

Oh, ?nd w?nt more tips on picking out the right video doorbell? CNET’s Meg?n Wollerton h?s you covered.

Other options we’ve tested

Smart outdoor lighting

Lots of us use motion-?ctiv?ted lights on our porch or outside our g?r?ge door — ?nd though there’s plenty of deb?te ?s to whether or not exterior lighting c?n ?ctu?lly help deter ? burgl?ry, most experts ?gree th?t it c?n help pl?y ? role when used correctly. If you’re thinking ?bout upgr?ding to something ? little sm?rter th?n th?t che?p porch light, you’ve got ? couple of options worth considering.

More smart home recommendations 

  • The best smart locks of 2020
  • The best DIY security systems of 2020 
  • The best smart garage door controllers for 2020 
  • Best cheap home security devices of 2020
  • Nest vs.

    Ring vs.

    Abode vs.

    SimpliSafe: The smart home security systems with the best privacy policies

  • Best smart light bulbs for 2020 (plus switches, light strips, accessories and more)
  • The Best Home Security Cameras of 2020
  • The best dashcams you can buy in 2020


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