Bottom line: SimpliSafe Home Security tops the list
The do-it-yourself home security system that’s been a great success in America is now available in the UK. SimpliSafe home security systems are sleek, small—and above all, simple. There are no contracts, no wires to deal with and no high-pressure sales.
We like that SimpliSafe delivers reliable professional monitoring for almost half of what other home security companies are charging. You can have the reassurance of 24/7 protection without draining your bank account. And SimpliSafe works whether you own a detached home or rent a flat.
#1 SimpliSafe: Overall favourite home alarm system
SimpliSafeoffers the best of both worlds—easy DIY installation and professional monitoring service. You’re in complete control of your SimpliSafe home security system, from the equipment you choose to optional professional monitoring with no contracts.
SimpliSafe has five preselected equipment packages, ranging from £279 to £504. If you don’t find a good match, you can skip the packages altogether and build your own system.
Here’s a look at what’s included in SimpliSafe’s home security packages.
In contrast to its American security packages, SimpliSafe includes its indoor security camera (the SimpliCam) in every UK package. Because visual confirmation is often required for police response, this extra inclusion was a smart move.
The biggest drawback to SimpliSafe is the absence of an external siren or bell box, which is the first signal to a burglar that your home isn’t worth the trouble. Instead, the company provides a yard stake and sign, which is an effective deterrent across the pond, but not as familiar here.
Another consideration is the up-front cost. You have to buy all of your SimpliSafe security devices outright. That can mean a hefty investment, depending on the package you need.
But the good news is that after you buy your equipment, there are no other required expenses. And you can get professional monitoring starting at just £12.99 per month—that’s less than half of the monthly fees from ADT and Verisure.
Our pick for SimpliSafe: The Windsor
The Windsor costs a little bit more, but it delivers everything you need to protect your home and loved ones.
The extra siren helps make up for SimpliSafe’s lack of a bell box, and once you buy the equipment, it’s yours forever. There are no extra fees, but we strongly recommend adding SimpliSafe’s contract-free monitoring.
• 2 motion sensors
• 105 db siren
• Add monitoring for £12.99/mo.
Use the Yale mobile app to set up your system, control your alarm and receive instant alerts. You can also add up to 40 extra devices (including panic buttons and smoke alarms) to make sure every inch of your home is covered.
When it comes to smart home features, the Yale alarm system works with Amazon Alexa for voice control and Philips Huesmart lightbulbsfor an extra burglar deterrent. When your alarm is triggered, Hue lights flash red to warn off intruders.
We like that you can customize the Yale system to meet your needs—including a “part armed” setting that lets you arm devices in designated areas of your home, while leaving other areas unarmed. This is a good way to avoid false alarms from rambunctious pets.
But there’s no option to add professional monitoring, so you’ll be fully responsible for keeping an eye on your home and contacting police in an emergency.
Our pick for Yale: Family Kit
The Yale Smart Home Alarm Family Kit includes everything you need to keep your home safe. Plus, it works with Amazon Alexa and Philips Hue smart light bulbs.
You can arm and disarm your system with your voice and program flashing red lights as an extra warning for intruders to stay away.
• 2 motion detectors
• 1 external siren
• 1 mobile app to control everything
• No monitoring available
#3 Blink Home Security System: Best security camera system
Security cameras are the heart and soul of the Blink home alarm system. Blink cameras come with a built-in motion detector and free cloud storage, so you can capture every second of an intruder’s entry or the adorable antics of your family pet.
If you’re more interested in video surveillance than a loud siren, then Blink is a good match for you. When a Blink HD camera picks up motion, it automatically starts recording.
You’ll get an instant alert with the video attached. Then you can review the footage and decide what to do next.
These security cameras are small and unobtrusive—and you can place them on a table or shelf, or use the enclosed bracket to mount them on a wall. The motion sensor is adjustable, so you can avoid a deluge of notifications every time your cat scampers past.
But this is a limited home security option. There isn’t an external alarm, and there’s no option to connect with guard or police response.
Our pick for Blink: 2-Camera Kit
We like the Blink 2-Camera Kit because it gives you the option to keep an eye on the inside and outside of your home—or you can watch two entrances to your home.
This is a good fit if you have pets or children you want to check in with and if you aren’t looking for a siren or professional monitoring.
• Totally wire-free
• Live video streaming
• Works with Amazon Alexa
#4 Verisure Smart Alarms: Most comprehensive home alarm system
Verisure offers the most home security options of any security company on our list.
These smart alarm systems adapt to the needs of your home—no matter what type of home it is or however big or small it may be. Verisure designs custom alarm systems for flats, villas, apartments, detached houses, garages and sheds.
One of the best features of a Verisure alarm is the company’s quick response time during an emergency. Verisure claims an average response time of 45 seconds. That means help is on the way in around 45 seconds from the moment Verisure’s Alarm receiving centre gets an alert.
And it’s the only security company we’ve found that offers the extra deterrent of smoke to scare off burglars.
The ZeroVision smoke alarm expels a dense fog that impairs an intruder’s vision and buys extra time for the police or a guard to arrive.
Verisure approaches home security with specific solutions tailored to deliver the protection each home needs to ward off theft and other home security threats. Before you commit to a Verisure alarm, a security expert will visit your home and recommend a package that meets the needs of your family and property.
The security consultation is free, with no obligation to enter into a contract, so you can explore Verisure alarms without risk. But you will have to wait for a consultation to get full pricing information, and Verisure’s monitoring plans are the most expensive on our list.
Our pick for Verisure: Flat Alarm System
Verisure’s Flat Alarm System is custom-designed based on a free security consultation.
This ensures the right amount of security for whatever type of property you call home. And the portable control panel means it’s easy to take your alarm system with you if you move.
• Guard response
• SOS panic button
• Lifelong warranty and maintenance
• High-power external siren
#5 ADT: Most trusted home alarm system
ADT has over 140 years of home security experience, and it shows. ADT says over 90% of intruders would think twice about targeting a home protected by an ADT-monitored intruder alarm.
If you want 24/7 security provided by an alarm company with a proven track record, ADT is a solid choice.
You won’t have to wonder if you forgot to set the alarm or turn out the lights—the power to control security alerts, Wi-Fi cameras, lights and any other connected devices is in the palm of your hand.
Every ADT alarm package comes with 24/7 monitoring. If your intruder alarm is triggered, ADT’s central monitoring station responds immediately—monitoring specialists are always on guard and never ignore an alarm.
ADT monitoring can also keep an eye on other vital emergency response systems like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.
But ADT alarm systems tend to be more expensive, and monthly monitoring fees are on the higher end. Plus, security cameras aren’t included in the base equipment package, so you’ll have to upgrade if you want the extra reassurance of video surveillance.
Our pick for ADT: Keyholder Smart Home
ADT’s Keyholder Smart Home package offers outstanding security services, which ADT is known for, plus full home automation integration.
You get mobile access and control through the ADT app.
• Pet-friendly sensors
• 24/7 monitoring
• Smoke and CO monitoring
#6 Ring Alarm: Honorable mention
Best known for its suite of video doorbells and security cameras, Ring is a newcomer to the home alarm world. It’s an affordable alarm system that you can build onto over time without getting locked into a contract.
Ring’s DIY installation starts with a few basic equipment packages that you can add to as your pocketbook allows. If you move to a new flat, you can take your equipment with you, adding new sensors, cameras, or other equipment to cover additional square footage or entrances.
You can choose between self-monitoring or assisted monitoring with a Ring system. With assisted monitoring, Ring’s automatic telephone system will call your emergency contacts one by one until someone answers and disables the alarm. It’s a little more protection than managing the system on your own, but you’ll have to call the police on your own.
You can control the system with Amazon Alexa devices or use your Echo smart speakers to chat with people on the other side of your cameras—convenient when you need to arm the system before heading to work and already have your morning tea in-hand.
Its susceptibility to breaches keeps us from recommending the system higher, though there are a few ways to limit who can access your system and prevent security breaches.
Heads up: Protect your privacy
Any time you connect a device to the internet, we recommend the following best practices for privacy and security: - Set up two-factor authentication. - Never share login credentials—set up authorized users instead. - Use strong, unique passwords for your account. - Limit the kind of information a company can share with third parties. - For cameras, set up privacy zones in areas you’d rather not share.
Our pick for Ring: 7-Piece Kit
Ring’s 7-Piece Kit has enough sensors to cover entrances of most homes. Pair it with Ring Protect Plus so you’ve got backup.
Voice control through Alexa
Types of home security services
Audible vs. monitored system
Audible, or bells-only, alarm systems are the most affordable option, but their only line of defence is a siren that sounds when the system is triggered.
Monitored alarm systems are linked to an alarm receiving centre where trained alarm monitors keep watch over your property 24/7. When deciding between a monitored or bells-only alarm, consider where you live.
If you live in a busy area with an active neighbourhood watch scheme, a bells-only alarm might be all the protection you need. But those who live in a detached home, where neighbours are farther away, may want the extra security provided by a monitored burglar alarm.
Keyholder vs. guard or police response
Monitored alarm systems come with different response options. Keyholder response provides alerts to the homeowner and any other named keyholders when the alarm is triggered. This is the most common response level, and it’s usually included in most basic alarm system packages.
Guard or police response—where a private security guard or the police are dispatched after an alarm—is likely an upgrade and may increase monthly fees.
The level of response you choose will depend on a number of factors including the type of property, the valuables you’re protecting and the ages and abilities of household members. If you have rare or costly valuables that would be difficult to replace, or you want to provide extra help to younger or older family members, the added comfort of guard or police response may be worth the extra expense.
Wired vs. wireless alarm system
Both wired and wireless alarm systems are available. Your choice will depend on multiple factors including cost, reliability and maintenance. Hard-wired security systems must be professionally installed, so that can increase costs.
Wired systems are more likely to include police response, but they must meet National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Intruder Alarm Policy standards. Wireless alarm systems are considered more convenient and less expensive to install. Because you don’t need to run cables or lift carpets, wireless systems are easier to install, which reduces installation fees.
DIY vs. professional burglar alarm
You can choose between a professional alarm system (like Verisure or ADT) or a home alarm that you can purchase and install on your own.
A DIY security system (like our top pick, SimpliSafe) is usually less expensive and gives you total control over system design and installation. Plus, you won’t have to worry about paying a monthly monitoring fee. If monitoring is not a concern for you, a DIY system is an affordable home security alternative.
Professional burglar alarms provide the highest level of security, but they also cost more and come with fewer options. However, you don’t have to worry about figuring out installation or conducting maintenance on a professional security system. There may be more costs, but the convenience and confidence provided by a professional alarm system are well worth it.
What to consider in a UK alarm system
We’ve identified the most important things to consider when searching for the best intruder alarm system. These six factors give you a solid starting point for evaluating the different home security options available.
National Security Inspectorate (NSI) accreditation assures consumers that products and security companies consistently meet or exceed security industry standards.
Look for companies that hold gold-level certification from NSI. Gold-level alarm companies deliver the “greatest perceived value across industry and by the police, fire and rescue services, and insurers.”
Protecting your home can require a sizeable investment. It’s important to know how much an alarm system is going to cost you up front and long term. When you’re researching burglar alarms, keep these three things in mind: equipment and activation fees, installation fees and monthly maintenance fees.
Companies usually provide different options—from buying equipment outright to leasing it on a monthly basis. Before you commit to an alarm system, identify both your monthly budget and the amount you’re willing to spend up front. This will keep you from biting off more than you can chew in regard to overall system price.
You rely on your alarm system to keep your loved ones and property safe, and you need the company you choose to provide top-notch service. Chances are you’ll interact with customer service multiple times throughout the lifetime of your security system.
To ensure the best service, we recommend thoroughly vetting the alarm company before signing on the dotted line.
Search online to find out what other customers say about reliability, responsiveness, and overall quality of service. Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, give your top choices a call to find out firsthand how you’ll be treated as a customer.
If you want an alarm system with police response, professional monitoring by a regulated alarm company is required.
Thanks to home automation, your burglar alarm system can turn your house into a smart home. Most security companies are starting to offer packages that include smart home technology that lets you control everything in your home—from the lights to small appliances—right from your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
If you want the extra security and convenience of home automation, look for an alarm company that offers smart home features. However, you should keep in mind that home automation may be an upgrade that will increase your monthly and upfront costs.
Everyone is on the go these days, so you need to control your burglar alarm no matter where you are. With mobile access, you can manage your alert settings and preferences or remotely arm and disarm your system.
If you have a system with home automation, mobile access is granted through an app that you download to your mobile phone or computer. If your system includes CCTV surveillance, you may also be able to view live or recorded video from anywhere at any time.
Contributing author: Celeste Tholen
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Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more