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Shopping Guide for Best Home Security Systems

There's nothing more important than the safety of your family and home. Installing a home security system is a practical measure that anyone can take to help safeguard what matters most. With an estimated two million homes burgled in the U.S. annually, it's no surprise that a host of new-and-improved home security systems have taken the market by storm. Today’s consumers have more options to choose from than ever before. That’s great news, but it also means that finding the home security system that's perfect for you can seem overwhelming.

To help make your job a little easier, we rounded up five of the best home security systems currently on the market. In our quest to find the best products available, we dissected dozens of the latest home security systems and waded through piles of research to present you with our top picks. We never accept free products, so you can have complete confidence that all our reviews are 100% unbiased and uncensored.

If you're already familiar with home security systems, take a look at our top five featured products above to find your perfect match. If you’re not sure which home security system is best for you, refer to our in-depth guide below to learn more about the different types of home security systems and what they can do for you.

Renters are every bit as vulnerable to burglaries as homeowners, if not more so, and can benefit from installing a home security system.

How Do Home Security Systems Work?

It's vital to familiarize yourself with the various components of a home security system. Just like a puzzle, knowing where each part fits allows you to see the whole picture. To understand exactly how a home security system works, let's take a look at some common elements found in most modern home security systems.

How home security systems work

Motion Sensors

Motion sensors can be used to protect high-risk areas within the home or areas that don't normally get a lot of traffic. When a motion sensor detects movement, the security panel interprets it as a breach in security. An alarm sounds, and a notification is sent to the monitoring company or preselected number.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

SimpliSafe Wireless, 8-Piece

Features and Convenience

When it comes to additional features, the SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security System is simply unbeatable. With mobile app control, power outage protection, a cellular connection, and pet-friendly motion detectors, the SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security System does a great job of covering all the bases. NEST compatibility allows for home automation, and extra sensors, add-ons, and cameras are easily connected.

How home security systems work

Door and Window Sensors

Each sensor consists of two individual components which are installed alongside one another. On a door, one of these components will be placed directly on the door while the other is placed on the corresponding section of the door frame. The same setup applies to windows and window sills.

When the door or window with the sensor is closed and the two components are aligned, a security circuit is formed. Once the system is armed, the control panel receives a notification that these sensors are intact and secure.

Should the door or window be opened, the circuit breaks, and the control panel is alerted to a breach in security. An alarm sounds, and the monitoring company (or another preselected number) is contacted.

DID YOU KNOW?

Homes with security systems are over 30% less likely to be burgled than homes without them.

How home security systems work

High-Decibel Siren or Alarm

Once activated, the alarm is usually enough to send intruders running. Even if not, those inside the home will certainly become aware of the security breach. The alarm also serves the purpose of alerting neighbors to the situation at hand.

How home security systems work

Window Stickers and/or Yard Signs

Some home security systems come with signage in the form of window stickers or yard signs. This signage serves as notification to others that the home is protected by the security system. Often, these “warnings” are enough to discourage potential intruders. We highly recommend that you take advantage of any signage included with your chosen security system.

EXPERT TIP

Stickers and yard signs are included with your home security system for a reason. These visible warnings are often enough to deter intruders and should be placed in easy-to-see areas.


Staff  | BestReviews
How home security systems work

Control Panel

At the heart of every home security system lies the control panel. Most control panels feature a touchpad that’s used to key in the code to arm/disarm the system. Some of the latest models are even programmable to work with voice commands and/or key fobs.

The brains behind the brawn, the control panel communicates with each individual component, sounding an alarm when a designated security zone is breached.

The control panel will also alert the alarm-monitoring company (if you choose to subscribe to one) of possible security risks and breaches.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

BIBENE WIFI Home Security Alarm System

User-Friendly Features

For smaller homes with a reliable WiFi connection, the BIBENE WiFi Home Security System’s price is hard to beat. Complete with one base unit, five door/window sensors, one motion sensor, two remote controls, back-up battery, and a multi-user app for complete remote access and control, it's perfect for out-of-the-box use. No monitoring service also means no additional charges – a feature that budget-conscious buyers appreciate.

Additional Home Security System Features

Some home security systems come with a host of handy additional features. These features may be included as a package deal, or they may be optional add-ons. Below, we outline the most useful “additional” features which may or may not be included with your initial purchase.

  • Security cameras are particularly useful for those who need to keep tabs on entry points and other hard-to-see areas. A system’s security cameras can usually also be accessed through a number of smart devices. This affords homeowners an easy and effective way to monitor their homes remotely. What’s more, having footage of a home invasion greatly increases the likelihood that perpetrators will be apprehended.

  • Glass breakage detectors are designed to recognize the sound of breaking glass. Because it’s possible for a criminal to shatter glass and enter a home without tripping a door or window sensor, some homeowners find this feature very reassuring.

Not all wireless security systems are created equally. Some wireless systems communicate through your WiFi internet connection while others use a cellular signal. Only cellular home security systems are 100% wireless.

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BestReviews
  • Shock sensors are used to detect vibrations and jarring impact, whether natural (earthquakes, etc) or unnatural (attempts to break or move secured objects). Like a glass breakage detector, this type of sensor provides an additional layer of protection and peace of mind.

  • Carbon monoxide detectors monitor the presence of carbon monoxide and alert residents to dangerous levels of this poisonous gas in the home.

  • Environmental sensors detect sudden environmental changes, such as fluctuations in temperature and humidity. They also detect the presence of water and alert residents to potential flooding or leaks.

  • Smoke detectors are common components of home security systems. If your system contains a smoke detector, it can detect the presence of smoke particles and potentially alert you to a dangerous situation.

DID YOU KNOW?

Many home security systems offer add-ons so you can keep expanding your system as your budget allows.

Hardwired vs. Wireless Home Security Systems

You’ll need to decide whether you’d prefer a hardwired home security system or a wireless one. As you’ll see below, wireless systems appear to be the better choice in many cases.

Comparison

Hardwired Home Security Systems

Hardwired security systems usually require professional installation and utilize a phone line to alert the monitoring center when an alarm is activated.

As these security systems use your home's internal wiring system, they are permanent fixtures that would need to be left behind should you decide to move.

In the midst of today's ever-evolving technology, this type of security system is fast approaching extinction. Hardwired security systems are by and large the most susceptible to tampering. It's all too easy for a would-be intruder to cut your phone line, leaving your home vulnerable. However, they do have their place, and this type of home security system may be the only option in rural areas where network coverage is weak or non-existent.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Home8 Oplink Connected TripleShield

Remote Surveillance

Featuring two wireless IP cameras and a free smartphone app, the Oplink Connected OPG2201 TripleShield Home Security System allows you to see what's going on in your house from anywhere via the internet. This includes night vision. The Oplink offers only one motion sensor and two window/door units, but it is an expandable system, so you can add more sensors or cameras if you so desire. The OPU (Oplink Processing Unit) simply updates itself to accommodate the extras.

Comparison

Wireless Home Security Systems

Wireless home security systems are the easiest to install, as their battery-operated components can be placed just about anywhere. However, when it comes to wireless home security systems, things aren't quite as straightforward as they appear to be. Unless you're tech savvy, you may not know exactly what to look for.

There are two types of wireless security systems available, and while they appear similar on the surface, there are some key discrepancies to be aware of.

  • A broadband wireless security system links to your WiFi internet connection and uses this to communicate both internally and externally. For many, these systems work well, but if you happen to have an unreliable internet connection, lapses in connectivity can leave your home vulnerable.

  • A cellular wireless security system relies neither on a phone line nor an internet connection. It works in much the same way that a cell phone does, featuring a built-in cellular module that is capable of sending signals wirelessly to the monitoring station. Although these security systems use the same signal as your phone, they are capable of working on significantly weaker signals, and they can often be programmed to work on the most reliable network in your area. Many people regard this type of system as the most secure.

DID YOU KNOW?

The majority of burglaries take place during daylight hours when most families are at work and school.

Pros and Cons of Professionally Monitored Security Systems

Many modern security systems come with the option of being either professionally monitored (with an additional monthly fee) or self-monitored.

Both types of systems have their pros and cons.

If you opt for a system that includes professional monitoring, the monitoring company will be alerted when a security breach occurs. In most cases, you will be contacted by the monitoring company to rule out the possibility of a false alarm.

In the event that you are unreachable, the authorities will be immediately dispatched.

EXPERT TIP

A monitoring service can provide added peace of mind and a hassle-free experience, but be prepared to pay a monthly fee.


Staff  | BestReviews

Pros of a Professionally Monitored Home Security System:

  • You can rest assured knowing that your home is being monitored 24/7, even if you happen to be out of range.

  • The professionals that respond to your emergency are trained to act quickly and know what to do in emergencies.
     

Cons of a Professionally Monitored Home Security System:

  • A monthly fee is required for the monitoring service, and if you're on a tight budget, this may not be a feasible option.

  • The security system you use will need to be compatible with the monitoring company, severely limiting your options.

An astounding 30% of burglars gain entrance through an unlocked door or open window. Up to 83% of burglars report checking for a home security system before trespassing, and up to 60% avoid homes with security systems in place.

Staff
BestReviews

Pros and Cons of Self-Monitored Security Systems

Self-monitored DIY security systems are just that – self-monitored. If there's a breach in security, a text or push notification will be sent to your phone via the control panel, and it will be up to you to contact the authorities.

Pros of a Self-Monitored Home Security System:

  • The biggest advantage of a self-monitored security system is that there are no additional charges after the initial purchase.

  • Having installed your own security system, you will be familiarized with it and should be able to make any necessary adjustments yourself.
     

Cons of a Self-Monitored Home Security System:

  • There may come a time when you are unable to receive or respond to an alert. Whether this is due to being out of range or simply because your smartphone battery is dead, it leaves a hole in your defenses.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Fortress Security Store GSM-B Wireless Cellular

For Larger Homes

The Fortress GSM-B provides you with three infrared motion detectors, 10 window/door contacts, and three remotes. You should be able to comfortably equip a substantial home using this system. We like the fact that you can give several family members a way to enable and disable the Fortress GSM-B system. This is a particularly useful feature for large, busy families.

Price

The price of home security systems depends on a number of factors.

  • Monitoring services require monthly fees. These fees can range from as little as $15 to as much as $60.

  • If you choose to go with a hardwired security system, you can expect to pay around $90+ for equipment and anywhere between $800 and $1,600+ for installation. Prices varying in accordance with the number of door/window sensors, motion detectors, and other components requiring professional installation.

  • The initial cost of a wireless home security system can be as little as $50 for a basic package or as much as $500+ for a comprehensive system. Should you choose to use a monitoring service, there will be monthly fees on top of that.

  • Getting a wireless security system can help you save money on installation fees, but if you opt for add-ons and a monitoring service, the overall cost can be increased significantly.

Installing a home security system doesn't have to be a time-consuming ordeal. In fact, there are countless DIY options that you can get up and running in as little as an hour – without the need for professional assistance.

FAQ

Q. Should I add cameras to my home security system?

A.  Adding a camera certainly isn't a necessity, but it does have a number of benefits.

  • Some security cameras sync to your smartphone or other device, allowing you to keep an eye on your property, children, or pets remotely.

  • Security footage from the camera can help you or law enforcement identify perpetrators in the event of a home invasion.
     

Q. Will my pet trigger my motion detector?

A. A regular motion sensor detects movement of any sort and will likely be triggered by roaming pets. Fortunately, many home security systems have “pet-immune” motion sensors that recognize the motion caused by pets but don’t act on it. These sensors typically take factors such as mass, speed, and movement into account in order to avoid false alarms caused by household pets.

Q. I’m renting. Can I take my home security system with me if I move?

A. If you purchased a wireless home security system yourself, then you can absolutely take it with you. Wireless home security systems are quick and easy to set up and take down, requiring no internal wiring or home alterations.

Due to the built-in nature of hardwired security systems, however, this investment would likely have to be left behind.

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