In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Link Interactive's parent company noted that its employees are providing customer support, including troubleshooting, by remote work. Read the statement for more info.
We'll continue to update impacts on security companies as we learn more.
Frontpoint and Cove are offering limited time deals on equipment right now. Check them out below.
Our Top Picks
The top three DIY systems we chose come with custom equipment packages, cellular monitoring, and smart home compatibility. Our top pick, Frontpoint, has a hub and keypad that are smash-proof and encrypted to keep your home and information safe. Frontpoint’s excellent customer service and five package options make it simple for security newbies to install, use, and add smart devices to their system.
Our runner up, SimpliSafe, is our favorite contract-free DIY security system. In addition to eight equipment plans and simple setup instructions, you can choose to monitor the system yourself or opt for professional monitoring. You won’t get locked into a contract, and there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee if you decide the service isn’t for you.
And finally, Link Interactive lets you customize your security system from the ground up. After you choose a monitoring plan, you can handpick security, emergency, and home automation equipment to add to your home. This means you can design your security system based on your family’s needs.
Info current as of 3/25/20. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Purchasing and setting up your own home security system is an investment, so we wanted to recommend the best. In order to find the best fit for a range of lifestyles and budgets, we did extensive research on key features, home security policies, installation, customer reviews, instruction manuals, and all the fine print. We even mystery shopped to get the most accurate experience we could. Learn more about the methodology we use for each of our reviews.
About DIY Install Home Security Systems
Security systems don’t have to come with a hefty installation fee—DIY alarms can be easily installed on your own. Today’s DIY systems are customizable and come with companion apps that guide you through installation, monitoring, and emergencies.
Most DIY security systems link your system to a professional monitoring center that watches for alerts. This means you’ll have monthly monitoring fees, but it takes the pressure off of you, boosts emergency response times, and cuts down on false alarms.
If you’re looking to do it all yourself, some DIY systems offer self-monitoring services. This skips the monthly fees, but you’ll have to watch your alarms and call emergency responders if needed.
Frontpoint’s DIY security system offers reliable professional monitoring with easy-to-install devices. We found customer reviews consistently praising the easy setup, helpful customer support, and effective equipment.
If you pay up front for equipment, you can skip the contract with Frontpoint, but you’re on the hook for at least $250 depending on the equipment you get.
For $0 down and a short contract (three, six, or 12 months), you can get started with your own security system that includes a smart hub and keypad, three door and window sensors, two motion sensors, yard signs, window decals, and door stickers. A system this size should be enough to protect a small home or condo against intruders. These devices are standard because they’re useful for monitoring your home’s entry points and the rooms inside.
The Frontpoint hub and keypad work in tandem as the brains of the system. The hub encrypts information like keycodes and schedules so hackers can’t touch the digital valuables in your home.
The monthly monitoring rates are higher than average, but you get a lot at every tier. Features like 24/7 monitoring, automated system checks, and unique user codes come standard for all the equipment plans. The higher-end packages require more expensive monitoring plans but come with extra features like live video streaming and motion detection alerts.
Long contracts can be scary, but you don’t have to be afraid of SimpliSafe’s month-to-month plans. SimpliSafe is a great system if you’re curious about a new system but don’t want a long term relationship out the gate.
The monthly prices range from $14.99 to $24.99, the same as many people’s coffee budget. Both of SimpliSafe’s plans include professional monitoring for environmental threats like fires and gas leaks, but only the Interactive plan tackles invasion and security issues. The Interactive plan also gives you mobile app access to your system so you can keep an eye on it from your phone.
SimpliSafe has all the equipment you need to protect your family, plus it’s a cinch to install. That said, SimpliSafe is missing features like Z-Wave compatibility, smart locks, and outdoor cameras. Still, it’s a great find for anyone who wants basic security in their home, big or small.
Whether you want bare bones or bells and whistles, Link Interactive has truly customizable DIY home security systems. You can pick your equipment, choose your contract length, or add video monitoring.
Each of the three plans includes:
Professional, 100% cellular monitoring
Intrusion, fire, and tampering (Crash & Smash) alarms
Installing a security system by yourself sounds intimidating, but Link Interactive makes it as easy as peeling off a sticker or grabbing a screwdriver.
The company has a lot of equipment to choose from too, including several indoor and outdoor cameras. But video monitoring is available only through the Elite plan, which can get pricey. And while smart home capabilities are limited on the Standard plan, you can still purchase smart locks to secure your home.
Nest broke onto the scene in 2010 with clever home devices like smart thermostats and smoke detectors and has since branched out into the world of home security. The Nest Securesystem isn’t just smart, it’s thoughtful.
One of the best examples of this thoughtfulness is the Nest Detect, a combination motion and contact sensor. Most security systems sell separate devices, but Nest combined the two to reduce device clutter, which can be a real problem in larger homes.
From the moment you finish the easy setup to adding a schedule in the mobile app, Nest guides you through installation, setup, and everyday use. Unless you opt for professional monitoring, you’ll pay for only the initial equipment cost, but it can be steep—the basic alarm kit is $399.
Cove offers no-frills, no-commitment DIY home security. It’s wildly easy to set up Cove in only a few minutes and you won’t need a contract to do it. When you sign up for this system, you’ll begin with a basic package you get to customize. From there, you can add any sensors you want to install. Some of these extras include glass break detectors, flood sensors, and a medical alert button.
Cove is new to the game, but if it can improve its limited smart home capabilities, it’ll be higher up on our list.
Amazon-owned Ring is another no-contract DIY system to watch. While you can get professional monitoring, you can also monitor it yourself. Ring has several equipment packages to choose from and a whole fleet of outdoor cameras and lights to keep your home and backyard illuminated and safe. It also has more smart doorbell options than other DIY alarm systems on our list. We like Ring because it’s a simple system with some neat add-ons.
Several Ring Alarm and camera users have reported account breaches where a stranger hacked into the two-way communication to intimidate them. This is a risk every user takes when using any internet-connected wireless system.
The good news is you can minimize the risk with proper internet security. Secure your system from online threats with these tips:
Use strong, unique passwords for all your accounts.
Opt for extra security measures like two-factor authentication.
Add shared users instead of sharing login credentials.
Change your home Wi-Fi password frequently.
We still confidently recommend Ring and other similar wireless internet-connected systems. And while these threats are real, they can be avoided with a few extra precautions.
Things to Consider before You Buy a DIY Home Security System
There are tons of great systems that you can install yourself, but there are a few things to keep in mind before you make the plunge.
1. Notification Preferences
Your schedule can affect how you receive and respond to notifications. If you’re away often, professional monitoring may be best because the monitoring center can alert authorities if you’re unavailable when an alarm is triggered.
2. Visitor Access
Do dog walkers, babysitters, house cleaners, and other folks need access to your home when you’re not there? Consider a system with key fobs or personal codes they can use to enter. Other DIY systems have doorbell cameras you can use to buzz in visitors when you aren’t home.
3. Long-Term Living Plans
Lastly, consider your living plans for the next three years. A lot of monitored security systems with DIY installation have a 36-month contract. If you’re currently renting, will you be moving in the next three years? If so, look for a DIY security system you can take with you and install in your new home. All the companies above let you take your equipment with you.
Frontpoint isn’t just our favorite system with a DIY install, it’s our favorite security system period, especially since it dropped its monitoring contract requirement last year. Even though it’s more expensive than other systems on this list, we think it’s well worth the investment to get excellent customer service and equipment options. Overall, considering factors like your family’s schedule, any regular visitors, and your security goals can help you choose a security system that suits your family’s lifestyle.
Can I take my DIY system with me if I move?
Most DIY systems are easy to set up and can move with you, making them great for renters. Generally, DIY systems come with peel-and-stick sensors that attach directly to the wall. At most, you’ll need a screwdriver to pop open battery cases or secure equipment to the wall. The simple assembly makes for easy disassembly when you pack up to move out.
How many entry sensors do I need in my house?
The size of your house will determine how many contact sensors you’ll need. At minimum, you should have a sensor at each main point of entry. This may mean only one if you live in an apartment or several if you have a larger house with multiple exit points.
Will my dog set off the system when I’m gone?
Most motion sensors aren’t triggered by pets under 40 pounds. For dogs over 40 pounds, you can replace the motion sensor with a glass break sensor or indoor security camera. Just note that not all companies monitor security cameras for you.
Can I mix products from different systems?
Not usually, but systems compatible with Z-Wave technology allow you to customize your home with third-party products like smart lightbulbs and outlets. Z-Wave uses radio signals to connect your smart home devices through the smart hub so you can control everything from one place. You can find Z-Wave products from a variety of manufacturers.
Other products use Zigbee technology that creates a connected mesh network throughout your home. The more Zigbee products you have, the stronger your network becomes. When paired with the right security system, both Z-Wave and Zigbee devices can make your home smarter and safer.
What do I do if my system breaks or malfunctions?
Most DIY systems come with at least a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you have problems with your system within that first month, you can return it for free. Each system has a unique policy and warranty, so it’s best to read the fine print before purchasing.