Best home security systems for 2021


Home security is evolving. Over the past 15 years, professional systems such as ADT have been forced to make room for more affordable DIY alternatives from disruptors like Wyze and Ring. Meanwhile, internet-connected gadgets — like smart lockscameras and video doorbells — have captured our imaginations, giving rise to the expectation that security will also make your home smarter.

Tech giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon are also wading into the fray, acquiring smaller security-focused companies and partnering with established security brands. These new technologies often mean new vulnerabilities, too, whether it’s the risk of hacking that accompanies the proliferation of Wi-Fi connected security cameras in homes or the rise in package theft that has accompanied Amazon delivery’s explosive growth.

It’s admittedly quite a bit to take in — and today’s home security providers don’t always make it easy to comparison shop.

That’s where we come in. We’re putting security systems to the test this year — from top of the line professional systems to wallet-friendly DIY alternatives — updating this article as we go according to our hands-on experience with the products. Keep this page bookmarked and check back as we expand it throughout the year to include a deep dive into all the best home security system options for 2021.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Comcast Xfinity Home security is a terrific, accessible and affordable service. It could cost you thousands less than comparable setups from direct competitors like Vivint and ADT, it works with plenty of third-party smart home gadgets and it doesn’t require a contract. If you can get around Comcast’s pressure to bundle with their other services (you don’t have to do it!) and the service’s limited home automation capabilities, this home security system will treat you well.

Read our full review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe’s easy-to-install, easy-to-use DIY home security system is great. It offers a comprehensive set of features, including security equipment like security cameras and a very good mix of battery-powered motion detection sensors, all of which performed reliably well in our tests. Starter kits begin at about $200, or you can build your own custom alarm system with the exact mix of devices you’re interested in. The security company’s professional monitoring plan starts at $15 a month, but you’ll almost certainly want to spring for the $25-a-month monitoring service plan, which adds in things like mobile app controls and smart home security system voice support via Alexa and the Google Assistant.

Read our SimpliSafe review.

 

David Priest/CNET

Vivint is a lot more expensive than Comcast Xfinity, but if money is less of a concern than smart home integration, it’s worth considering. Vivint gives you a super-polished experience with nice third-party device integrations — and it doesn’t require a contract. With monthly monitoring ranging from $30 to $45 a month, it’s comparable month-to-month with Xfinity.

Read our full review.

 

David Priest/CNET

Wyze Home Monitoring is ridiculously affordable. The base kit includes two door/window sensors, a motion detector, a keypad and a base station with a built-in siren — and all that costs $80 (the price has gone up since it first released for $50). Add $5 a month for professional monitoring. Or just sign up for a year of professional monitoring ($60) and get the starter kit half-off. From there, you can add cameras for around $30, sensors for under $10 and a slew of other gadgets for ridiculously cheap prices. The only real drawback: Wyze doesn’t have cellular backup in case of power or internet outages.

Read CNET’s full review.

 

What (and how) we tested

Besides the systems above, we’ve tested many of the top competitors, including Abode, Abode Iota, Frontpoint, KangarooRing Alarm and ADT. Abode and Abode’s all-in-one security camera Iota were both solid contenders that couldn’t quite match Simplisafe’s price — but if you’re interested in DIY smart home systems for small spaces or that don’t require monitoring subscriptions, they’re worth checking out. Ring Alarm is another solid DIY option, but the company’s recent problems with police partnerships tip us away from recommending it — especially when a company like Wyze offers such a strong, budget-friendly alternative.

DIY systems Frontpoint and Kangaroo both had features to recommend them. Frontpoint’s system is reliable and its hardware is reasonably priced, but its $45 monthly monitoring fee is just too expensive. Kangaroo, by contrast, is incredibly wallet-friendly, but its doorbell camera is terrible, so Wyze still keeps its edge in the budget category.

ADT, on the other hand, was broadly disappointing. It’s too expensive (not to mention that it requires a contract) and the app is clunky. We’ve tested AT&T Digital Life, too, though we’ve removed the system from consideration since the company stopped installing it for new customers.

We have yet to test Brinks Home and Cove security — though we hope to include those in our consideration in the coming months.

For each system we test, we install it ourselves (or have the company install it, in the case of professional systems), just as any customer would. From there, we spend a week at minimum testing the system, device-by-device and as a whole. Our ranking prioritizes value, but also takes into heavy consideration the quality of hardware, service and general user experience. For more thorough information on any of the recommended security systems above, please read the full reviews.

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