- 30-day, risk-free trial
- Outstanding customer service
- DIY, no-cost installation
- No professional installation option
We found out which security companies offer home automation packages and what other home automation technology they’re compatible with. We compared the variety of home automation features as well as the third-party integration capabilities of each system.
We considered each company’s responsiveness to consumer input, including feedback we’ve provided on behalf of customers. We also evaluated consumer awareness of each brand and general customer interest in each home security company.
Only with select packages
None, based on equipment financing
1–3 years, based on equipment financing
|Mobile Access and Control|
Included with some plans
|Smart Home Integration||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Smart Locks, Lights, Thermostat, Appliances||✔||✔||✔|
A home security system is an investment, but it’s one that can be worth it. The average loss to burglary victims was $2,361 in 2016.1 In our research, most residential security systems cost less than that for the whole term of the contract, which is typically 36 months.
Among the systems on our list, the cost of initial equipmAmong the systems on our list, the cost of initial equipment, installation, and monthly monitoring ranged from around $575 to about $2,300 for three years of protection. Monthly monitoring fees came in between $9.99 and $39.99 forent, installation, and monthly monitoring ranged from around $575 to about $2,300 for three years of protection. Monthly monitoring fees came in between $9.99 and $39.99 for basic packages. The average price for entry-level monitoring was $27.99 among our top ten security systems.
Keep in mind that the more features and extras you add to your system, the bigger the price tag—some top-tier packages come in around $60 per month. Taking the time to figure out exactly what you want from a home security system to make sure you don’t end up paying for extra bells and whistles that you don’t need.
Find more information about how to afford home security:
There are three ways that home security companies monitor alarm systems—via landline, broadband, and cellular monitoring. The biggest difference between these methods is that some are more prone to tampering than others. More technologically advanced monitoring methods can also cost a little more.
Landline monitoring uses a home phone line to connect your security systems to the monitoring center. Broadband monitoring uses a broadband internet connection to communicate between the monitoring center and your alarm control panel. Cellular monitoring uses a cellular uplink to communicate with your home security system.
Cellular monitoring is the most advanced and provides the greatest security. Because it doesn’t rely on a landline or internet connection, there are no wires to cut, which makes your system less vulnerable to tampering. But if you live in a remote area with limited cellular connection, you may not be able to take advantage of cellular monitoring.
Find out more about security system monitoring:
The biggest difference between professional monitoring and self-monitoring is that a professionally monitored system has trained professionals keeping an eye on your home 24/7. That means that while you’re asleep, when you’re at work, or if you’re away on vacation, someone is always watching and ready to respond if an emergency comes up.
With a self-monitored system, you and other authorized household members are the ones checking in to make sure everything’s okay at home. The biggest benefit to self-monitoring is that you can save money by avoiding monthly monitoring fees. However, it can leave your home more vulnerable because you won’t have experts watching your home around the clock
Learn more about monitored and unmonitored security systems:
A wired home security system is one that is hardwired into your home’s electrical system. Wired alarm systems have been around the longest and usually use a landline to connect to the monitoring center. Wired systems are considered the most reliable because they don’t depend on internet or cellular connections.
Wireless security systems use wireless technology (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) for monitoring and to connect the components of the system. Wireless home security is becoming more popular because it offers more flexibility, and there are no wires that could be cut by a burglar. Because you don’t have to connect to the electrical system, a wireless system is easier to install and may be able to move with you if you get a new house.
Learn more about the differences between wired and wireless home security:
One benefit of installing a home alarm system is that it may qualify you for a discount on your homeowners insurance policy. Because security systems reduce your risk of being burglarized, insurance companies are less likely to have to pay out a claim for stolen property.
Depending on your insurance company, you may qualify for as much as 15% off your premium.2
Insurance companies usually request a certificate as evidence that you have installed a security system. All of our best security systems of 2018 provide certificates to help you take advantage of discounts offered by your homeowners insurance company.
Get more details about saving on homeowners insurance:
It used to be difficult for renters to take advantage of the protection provided by residential home security—whether you rented a house or an apartment. Thanks to advances in wireless home security and all-in-one security systems like Piper and Canary, renting is no longer an obstacle to home security.
Many of our best security systems of 2018 have special packages available to meet renters’ security needs. This is good news, especially when you consider that rental properties are at higher risk for burglary than occupant-owned residences.3
Learn more about home security for renters:
Nearly all professionally monitored home security systems require a contract. Most contracts require a 36-month commitment. It is possible to find systems that offer shorter contracts, but three years is the most common contract length. If you enter into a contract, make sure you understand the penalties and fees incurred for early termination. Most home security companies will charge you around 75% of the remaining term of the contract, but some require 80% or even 100% of the contract to be fulfilled.
Self-monitored systems are less likely to require a long-term contract. However, some systems—like Nest Secure—require a monthly subscription to access certain features such as cloud storage, live video streaming, or two-way talk.
The latest development in home security and home automation is the ability to control your system and accessories with the sound of your voice. Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa let you turn up the heat, lock the door, or close the garage without moving a finger.
You’ll probably have to pay for professional installation, but that extra cost should come with a guarantee. This can protect your investment if equipment is damaged during installation and guard against any glitches due to faulty installation. Damage due to DIY installation may void the warranties on equipment.
You’ll have to schedule an appointment to have your security system professionally installed, and you’ll also need to remain at home throughout the installation. In addition to the time commitment, many professionally installed security systems have restrictions that may prohibit you from taking equipment with you if you move.
Cameras are one of the coolest parts of a home security system. And when you throw home automation into the mix, the addition of the right camera can change your life. Imagine welcoming your kids home from school every single day without having to quit your job—or telling Fido to pipe down when the mail carrier’s arrival gets him going.
My favorite security camera experience was catching the troublemaker that kept throwing trash in our community recycling bin. As an HOA board member, I was on a mission to solve the mystery and save our neighborhood from repeated fines from the recycling company. A little home security camera was the answer—and I got to save the day.
No matter why you want to keep an eye on things, a security camera is the best way to know what’s going on when you can’t be at home. If you don’t have a home security system, you can buy a stand-alone security camera that you monitor by yourself from your phone or computer. This is a good option if all you want to do is solve a neighborhood nuisance, but if you want to scare off a burglar or catch a thief, a security camera that comes with professional monitoring is the way to go.
Every one of our top five home security systems of 2018 has video monitoring available.
See the cameras offered by our top five home security companies.