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Best DIY home security systems for 2020

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Best DIY home security systems for 2020

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Do-it-yourself home security companies aren’t like the ADTs and Vivints of the world. Instead of signing you up for a multiyear contract with a broad coverage-based subscription fee, most DIY security systems give you the flexibility to chose how and when you monitor your home.

 That usually means you can sign up for a professional monitoring service on an optional basis and cancel any time — without early termination fees or other hidden charges. Factors we considered included the quality of the security cameras (do they have motion detection and night vision?), is there a monitoring plan, can window sensors and door sensors be incorporated, whether the system had a mobile app, can it work with your door locks and can it be incorporated into an existing smart home setup, including with voice commands via Amazon Alexa.

Scroll through your options below to learn more about the best DIY home security systems available today. 

The best DIY home security systems

Best overall DIY security

SimpliSafe Home Security

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe was one of the first DIY home security systems to hit stores and is a reasonable alternative to ADT and other professional firms. That’s due in large part to its wide variety of accessories. Its starter kit costs just $230 and underwent a hardware update recently that looks much better than before. 

You still have to pay at least a $15 monthly fee to access any remote security features (something that’s typically offered for free with other systems), but SimpliSafe’s impressive array of accessories and solid performance make it our top pick overall.

Read our SimpliSafe Home Security System (2018) review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Abode has all of the standard sensors and devices for an easy entry-level security system. It integrates with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT for voice-enabled arming and disarming, as well as other advanced automations. You can add accessories to the system a la carte. Professional monitoring is available for $30 per month and includes cellular backup. 

It also supports Zigbee and Z-Wave, which means you can connect the system to a wide variety of third-party devices so you can control everything from within the Abode app.

I wish you didn’t have to use Abode’s web app to make custom rules and automations, but this scalable self-install system delivers reliable performance at a good value.

Read our Abode review.

Julie Snyder/CNET

If you want a simple home security system at an incredible value, consider the second-gen Ring Alarm Security Kit. Version 2.0 was introduced this year and it’s very similar to the original — and that’s a good thing. 

The eight-piece kit I tested, complete with a base station, a keypad, a range extender, a motion detector and four door/window sensors costs $200. In addition to its affordable price, the Ring Alarm Security Kit has a simple app, it’s easy to install and the whole system works well.

You can scale it up with additional Ring devices, including Ring security cameras and doorbells, and even add in select third-party smart locks and other products. The kit works with Alexa, so you can arm/disarm the system with voice commands — and Ring offers optional professional monitoring for $10 per month or $100 per year (also a great value). 

Definitely consider this system if you want a basic entry-point into home security that can also be scaled up over time, as needed.

If you have concerns about Ring’s privacy and security policies, check out this commentary

Read our Ring Alarm Security Kit review.

Other DIY home security options

The above list covers our favorite self-install home security systems, but there are other options out there. Here’s a rundown of what else is available today. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Honeywell’s Smart Home Security System is a DIY kit. The system’s main hub is called the Camera Base Station; it’s equipped with 1080p high-definition live streaming, a 145-degree viewing angle and free 24-hour cloud storage (this will change to three days during a future update). You can also add to the system with an assortment of optional accessories. Professional monitoring is not available on this system.  

Here’s the list of bundled kits and standalone devices, with pricing:

  • Starter Kit (Camera Base Station, two Access Sensors, Key Fob): $500
  • Camera Base Station: $400
  • Door and Window Access Sensors: $40
  • Key Fob: $30
  • Motion Sensor: $50
  • Indoor MotionViewer: $99
  • Outdoor MotionViewer: $199

Read our Honeywell Smart Home Security Starter Kit review.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Scout Alarm security system includes a $129 hub, a $29 door/window sensor, a $49 motion sensor and a $40 water sensor — that’s $247 total. Pay $10 per month for professional monitoring, cellular and battery backup and a variety of other features. (Read more about Scout’s monitoring services.) Scout works with Amazon Alexa for arming and disarming, but it doesn’t have very many accessories to choose from. 

Read our Scout Home Security System review.

Juan Garzón/CNET

The $550 SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit includes a 7-inch SmartThings panel, two door/window sensors and one motion detector. Its optional $200 expansion kit comes with a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector and a water leak sensor. Unlike the other DIY systems on this list, SmartThings’ system comes with contract-free professional monitoring from ADT. It starts at $15 per month and goes up to $35 per month for full monitoring of both “life safety” and “home security” products.

Read our SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit first take.

Still have questions? Check out this comprehensive guide to all things home security.

More smart home and security recommendations



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