Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2021

Find out which system will work best for you in our comparison of DIY home security systems.
Best overall
SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe
  • Icon Pros  Light
    No contract necessary
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Budget price for great equipment
Best high-end system
Frontpoint
Frontpoint
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Pre-made or custom plans
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Great customer service
Best no-contract system

Security systems don’t have to come with a hefty installation fee—you can easily install DIY alarms on your own, like our top pick, SimpliSafe. It catches our attention with affordable monitoring and equipment, and the long warranty and 60-day return policy are worth sticking around for. Its smart home compatibility could be better, but it's a great choice for most folks.

Read on to learn more about SimpliSafe and how it compares to the "pricey but worth it" Frontpoint and other monitored security systems with DIY installation.

This week's top DIY home security deals

  • Frontpoint is offering a free doorbell camera, a $99 starter kit, and 20% discount on equipment to new subscribers.
  • Abode is offering 10% accessories on kit orders with the promo code: WINTER21.
  • Amazon shoppers can get a $10 Echo Dot with the purchase of Ring Alarm's five-, eight-, and 14-piece kits.
  • Kangaroo is offering $20 off its Front Door Security Kit and free ground shipping with the promo code: GBYE20.
  • New Link Interactive customers qualify for $100 off and a free smart thermostat.

Amazon.com list price and other deals effective as of 01/22/2021 at 10:55 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.



Compare DIY home security systems

Best overall Best high-end systemBest no-contract system Best for smart homesBest budget system
CompanySimpliSafe Frontpoint Blue by ADT Abode Ring
LogoSimpliSafeFrontpointBlue by ADTAbodeRing
EquipmentSimplisafe basic security systemFrontpoint EquipmentBlue by ADT Starter Plus Systemabode security kitRing Alarm
Lowest price
Professional monitoring
Icon Yes  LightOptional
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightOptional
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightOptional
Contract
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightNo
Mobile app in base plan
Icon No  LightNo
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Icon Yes  LightYes
Smart home compatibilityAmazon Alexa,
Google Assistant
Amazon Alexa,
Google Assistant,
Z-Wave
Amazon Alexa,
Google Assistant,
Z-Wave
Amazon Alexa,
Apple HomeKit,
Google Assistant,
Z-Wave,
Zigbee
Amazon Alexa,
Z-Wave
Learn more

Info current as of 01/22/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What equipment can I expect in my DIY system starter kit?

DIY security systems each offer various starter kits—with prices going up as you buy more equipment. Most DIY brands allow you to build your own system or add items to existing kits. Here's a glance at the kits available from our top picks.

SimpliSafe Frontpoint Blue by ADT Abode Ring
EquipmentSimplisafe basic security systemFrontpoint EquipmentBlue by ADT Starter Plus Systemabode security kitRing Alarm
Base kit price$229.00
(4 pieces)
$99.00
(8 pieces)
$219.99
(5 pieces)
$229.00
(5 pieces)
$199.99*
(5 pieces)
Highest kit price$489.00
(14 pieces)
$479.90
(14 pieces)
$299.99
(9 pieces)
$329.00
(3 pieces)
$329.99*
(14 pieces)
Build your ownStarting at
$184.00
Starting at
$99.00
Starting at
$179.99
Starting at
$229.00
Buy extra devices separate from kit
Number of kits65325
Base kit includesBase station,
Keypad,
Entry sensor,
Motion sensor
Hub,
Keypad,
Door/window sensors (2),
Motion sensor,
Yard sign,
Door sticker,
Window decals
Hub with built-in keypad,
Door/window sensors (2),
Yard sign,
Window stickers
Gateway (base station),
Mini door/window sensor,
Motion sensor,
Key fob,
Sticker
Base station,
Keypad,
Contact sensor,
Motion detector,
Range extender

*Amazon.com list price as of 01/22/2021 at 10:55 a.m. (MT). Read full disclaimer.

Our approach

Purchasing and setting up your own home security system is an investment, so we wanted to recommend the best. To find the best fit for a range of lifestyles and budgets, we extensively researched key features, home security policies, installation, customer reviews, instruction manuals, and all the fine print. We even mystery shopped to get the most authentic experience.

In our latest update, we wanted our rankings to accurately fit what folks want out of DIY security systems so we surveyed our readers directly. To make a long story short, it all comes down to that sweet, sweet moolah with over two-thirds of respondents saying that saving money is their primary motivation.

We ultimately think that full-service systems like Vivint are better for most people since an expert has your back. But it's hard to ignore the sense of accomplishment—and lower prices—you find in DIY security systems.

Learn more about the methodology we use for each of our reviews.

Light Bulb
Self-monitoring to save money

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.

DIY home security reviews

1. SimpliSafe: Best overall

Best overall

Long contracts can be scary; SimpliSafe’s month-to-month plans aren’t. SimpliSafe is a great system if you’re curious about a new system but don’t want a long-term relationship right out of the gate. It's a reader favorite, and we agree wholeheartedly.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet No contract required
Pro Bullet Affordable professional monitoring
Pro Bullet 6 packages to choose from
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Limited smart capabilities
Con Bullet No outdoor camera available

The monthly monitoring prices range from $14.99 to $24.99—way less than many people’s coffee budget (especially if you live "the Venti life"). 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.

SimpliSafe also has some generous equipment policies. We like that it includes a three-year warranty on its equipment rather than the thin one-year coverage from brands like Abode and Blue by ADT. It also has a 60-day return policy that's twice as long as other brands on our list (not that we'd want to return it).

The Interactive plan also gives you mobile app access to your system so you can keep an eye on it from your phone. While we usually recommend starting with a cheaper plan, SimpliSafe's Interactive plan is worth the upgrade since mobile app controls make it easier to control than using the keypad alone.

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 and an outdoor camera. Still, it’s a great find for anyone who wants basic security in their home, big or small.

Get more info from our SimpliSafe review.

2. Frontpoint: Best high-end system

Best high-end system

The Frontpoint DIY security system offers an upgraded experience compared to other DIY systems with professional monitoring. We found customer reviews consistently praising the easy setup, helpful customer support, and effective equipment. Features like 24/7 monitoring, automated system checks, and unique user codes come standard for all the equipment plans.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Great customer service
Pro Bullet Excellent equipment
Pro Bullet Option to start for $0 down
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Pricey monitoring
Con Bullet Video monitoring costs extra
Con Bullet Required payment plan with $0 down option

For $0 down and a short payment plan (3, 6, or 12 months), you can start with your own alarm system that includes a smart hub and keypad, two door and window sensors, one motion sensor, a yard sign, window decals, and a door sticker. If you pay up front for equipment, you can skip the payment plan.

Frontpoint is a high-end DIY security system with the highest monthly monitoring rates on our list—starting at $45 a month. The quality of the equipment and customer service make it one of our favorite security systems overall, but it ranks lower here, mostly due to its high price.

The higher-end packages require the $50 monthly monitoring plan but include live video streaming, smart devices, and motion detection alerts. Even though Frontpoint is pricier than other systems on this list, we think it’s well worth the investment to get excellent customer service and equipment options.

Get the full scoop in our Frontpoint review.

Checklist
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 a key fob or personal code they can use to enter. Another option is a DIY system with a video doorbell and a smart lock to buzz in visitors when you aren’t home.

3. Blue by ADT: Best no-contract system

Best no-contract system

Before Blue by ADT, ADT monitoring required a three-year contract and had some of the industry's highest prices. This system skips the contract in favor of a competitive plan that costs $19.99 a month. Plus, its starter kits are surprisingly affordable—the most expensive one costs around $300, cheaper than similar offerings from SimpliSafe and Frontpoint.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Trusted name
Pro Bullet Affordable price point
Pro Bullet No contracts
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Pricey smart camera add-ons
Con Bullet No online chat option
Con Bullet Glitchy mobile app

It even has a great selection of equipment, including three different security cameras—all costing around $200 each. We think the price is pretty steep for these cameras, especially compared to Ring. The cloud video storage with the monitoring subscription is small—and you pay extra for more storage.

Blue by ADT is new to the market, so it sometimes feels incomplete. The mobile app is a little glitchy, but we expect this to improve through software updates. It's also disappointing that the company lacks a live chat support option, which is often a fast lane to help with your system compared to phone and email.

Overall, Blue by ADT is a welcome DIY option from such a well-known brand as ADT. It shows that even an older company can learn new tricks to help its customers better.

Learn more in our full Blue by ADT review.

Bell
Notification preferences

Your schedule affects how you receive and respond to notifications. If you’re away often, professional monitoring may be best because the alarm monitoring center alerts authorities if you’re unavailable when an alarm triggers.

4. Abode: Best for smart homes

Best for smart homes

Abode is the best DIY security system for creating a smart home. Not only is it compatible with heavy-hitters like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but it also connects to devices running Apple HomeKit, Z-Wave, and Zigbee. No other DIY system on our list even comes close.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Strong smart home compatibility
Pro Bullet Custom automations
Pro Bullet Optional self-monitoring
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No custom automation on free plan

While smart home connections are certainly useful, Abode goes a step further by allowing you to create custom automations using its CUE service. These are easy to set up (unless you use the mobile app) so your system can run automatically based on time of day, your location, and when sensors detect something. One automation worth trying is having Abode arm itself when you leave the house.

When we tested Abode, we didn't like how the CUE automations and some settings weren't very accessible through the Abode app, but the company stepped up and fixed this in a recent app update. The CUE automations do have a drawback; they aren't free for customers without a paid subscription.

For $20 a month, Abode's professional monitoring compares well with SimpliSafe and Blue by ADT. Or you can self-monitor your Abode system without signing up for the professional service. We think most folks will appreciate Abode's affordable equipment as well.

Check out our full Abode review to learn more.

5. Ring: Best budget system

Best budget system

Amazon-owned Ring Alarm is our budget pick for two reasons: cheap starter kits and affordable professional monitoring with cloud video storage. And while you can get professional monitoring without a contract, you can also monitor it yourself.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Wildly affordable equipment and monitoring
Pro Bullet Compatibility with Ring doorbells and cameras
Pro Bullet Cellular backup with Ring Protect Plus plan
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Limited alert configuration

At $10 a month, Ring Alarm has the lowest professional monitoring price among DIY security systems. Not only that, but it includes cloud video storage for all of your Ring security cameras and video doorbells without forcing you to upgrade to a more expensive plan.

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.

Ring starter kits cost as little as $199.99, making it one of the most affordable options on our list and a good alternative to SimpliSafe. We especially like that its most expensive starter kit includes 14 devices for $330 when similar kits from Frontpoint and SimpliSafe cost nearly $500.

Because Ring is an Amazon company, it has excellent integration with Amazon Alexa smart speakers and fits nicely into an Alexa-centric smart home. Overall, we like Ring because it’s a simple system with some neat add-ons.

Read our full Ring Alarm review.

Thumbs Up
Ring's new look

Ring updated its Ring Alarm security system in early 2020. While all of the equipment looks different, it has the same basic functionality and costs the same, though we like that the new keypad is much easier to use.

More brands we considered

Alder

Alder has a relatively simple setup process: the company programs every sensor and accessory before shipping your system. While this is what Frontpoint does, Alder’s monitoring service starts at $29.99 a month, which is about $15 lower.

We also like that Alder includes mobile app controls and video monitoring with all of its plans instead of making it a premium feature. It's a sweet deal compared to professionally installed systems like Vivint and ADT.

Alder locks in your monitoring rate when you sign up, so the price doesn’t go up unexpectedly. That’s good, because Alder also requires one of the longest contracts we’ve seen for home security—a five-year term. Read our full Alder review.

Kangaroo

Kangaroo is another DIY security system newcomer. It's particularly notable for its rock-bottom prices—all of its equipment costs less than $80, with most devices costing $30 or less. It even offers professional monitoring for $10 a month—the same as Ring.

Aside from low prices, the company has a unique approach to how its equipment works. All of its devices connect directly to Wi-Fi, and you don't need to install the company's keypad unless you want a siren and more convenience outside the mobile app.

While we like Kangaroo (especially for apartments), it doesn't offer much smart home compatibility aside from Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls. But overall, it's a great alternative to Ring Alarm. Read our full Kangaroo review to learn more.

Link Interactive

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, and add video monitoring.

Installing a security system by yourself might sound intimidating, but Link Interactive makes it as easy as peeling off a sticker or grabbing a screwdriver. This security company has a lot of equipment to choose from too, including indoor and outdoor cameras, though they're available only through the priciest plan.

And, while there are limited smart home capabilities on the Standard plan ($31 a month), you can still purchase smart locks to secure your home. Learn more in our full Link Interactive review.

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Nest Secure is discontinued, but it still works

Google discontinued the Nest Secure system in October 2020, but customers can still use its features, including professional monitoring. You can still buy it at many retailers and may be able to score it for a deal before it's gone.

Final word

Our top pick, SimpliSafe, is our favorite contract-free DIY home security system. In addition to six equipment plans and simple setup instructions, you can choose to monitor the system yourself or opt for professional monitoring. It won’t lock you into a contract, and there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee if you decide the service isn’t for you.

Frontpoint isn't far behind SimpliSafe. If it wasn't almost twice the price, it would be our favorite system with a DIY install, especially since it dropped its monitoring contract requirement. It’s more expensive than other DIY systems on this list, but the excellent equipment and customer service justify the price.

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. To find out how DIY security systems stand up to ones with professional installation, see our review of the best home security systems.

FAQ

Today’s DIY systems are customizable and come with companion apps that guide you through installation, monitoring, and emergencies. But here are a few things to consider before taking the plunge.

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. All the companies above let you take your equipment with you. The simple assembly makes for easy disassembly when you pack up to move out, which is especially convenient for renters.

DIY system moving tips

  • Generally, DIY systems come with peel-and-stick sensors that attach directly to the wall. This is usually easy to remove, and you can replace the adhesive in your new place.
  • At most, you’ll need a screwdriver to pop open battery cases or remove equipment from the wall.
  • Some devices, like video doorbells, light switches, and thermostats, require light electrical work.
  • Keeping your previous equipment makes it easier to swap them back out when you move.
Checklist
Check for a contract before you move

Always verify that your DIY system doesn't have a contract (our top five picks don't require contracts) since it might renew for a new term if you move.

How many entry sensors do I need in my house?

The size of your house determines how many contact sensors you’ll need. At minimum, you should have a sensor at each main point of entry—exterior doors and easily accessible windows. 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 motion detector when I’m gone?

Pets under 40 pounds don’t trigger most motion sensors. For dogs over 40 pounds, you can replace the motion sensor with a glass break sensor or security camera. Just note that not all companies monitor security cameras for you (usually called video verification).

Learn more over on our list of pet-friendly security systems.

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 light bulbs and outlets.

Z-Wave uses radio signals to connect your smart home devices to a smart hub, which controls 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 home security company has a unique policy and warranty, so it’s best to read the fine print before purchasing.

SimpliSafeFrontpointBlue by ADTAbodeRing
SimpliSafeFrontpointBlue by ADTAbodeRing
Return policy60 days30 days30 days30 days30 days
Warranty3 years3 years1 year1 yearLifetime*

Info current as of 01/22/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
*Ring Alarm offers an extended warranty to Ring Protect Plus subscribers (professional monitoring). Customers without this service plan can expect a one-year equipment warranty.

How do I protect my DIY security system from hacking?

Hacking 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.
  • Stay up-to-date on hacks and breaches.
Notepad
Company statements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Contributing writer: Katie McEntire

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Disclaimers

*Amazon.com list price as of 01/22/2021 at 10:55 a.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
Certain content that appears on this site comes from Amazon. This content is provided “as is” and is subject to change or removal at any time.

†Google and Google Nest Secure are trademarks of Google LLC.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist with over seven years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech. Before joining SafeWise in 2020, John was an editor for Top Ten Reviews specializing in home security and the smart home.