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Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2020

Find out which system will work best for you in our comparison of DIY home security systems.
Written by | Updated June 30, 2020
Best overall
Frontpoint
  • Pre-made or custom plans
  • Great customer service
  • Pre-made or custom plans
  • Great customer service
Best budget system
SimpliSafe
  • No contract necessary
  • Budget price for great equipment
  • No contract necessary
  • Budget price for great equipment
Best for customization
Link Interactive
  • Custom equipment packages
  • Large selection of smart home equipment
  • Custom equipment packages
  • Large selection of smart home equipment
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Last Updated: 1 week ago
Many of the companies in our review have made statements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find them below:
Frontpoint: The company created a resource article to help customers learn how a security system can help with social distancing.
SimpliSafe: The company shifted its technical support team to remote working. Learn more at SimpliSafe.
Link Interactive: Employees are providing customer support, including troubleshooting, by remote work. Learn more at Link Interactive.
Google: The company has a COVID-19 page to help people get information and find resources.
Ring: The company is continuing to offer technical support via phone, but temporarily suspended email and chat support. Learn more at Ring.

We'll continue to update impacts on security companies as we learn more.

Frontpoint and SimpliSafe are offering limited-time deals on equipment right now. Check them out below.

Bottom line: DIY with Frontpoint

Security systems don’t have to come with a hefty installation fee—you can easily install DIY alarms 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 home to a professional monitoring center that watches for alerts. This means you’ll have a monthly fee, but it takes the pressure off of you, boosts emergency response times, and cuts down on false alarms.

This brings us to our top pick, Frontpoint. It 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.

Compare DIY home security systems

Equipment
Lowest price
Professional monitoring
Contract
View packages
Best overall
Best budget system
Best for customization
Best for smart homes
Best for outdoor cameras
Best for easy setup
Frontpoint SimpliSafe Link Interactive Google Nest Secure Ring Alder
logo of frontpoint home security logo of simplisafe home security Link Interactive logo image of Nest Secure's logo Ring's logo
Frontpoint Equipment SimpliSafe Equipment Link Interactive equipment Nest Secure Equipment Ring Alarm
$44.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $30.99/mo. $19.00/mo. $10.00/mo. $39.99/mo.
Yes
Optional
Yes
Optional
Optional
Yes
None None 1 year None None 5 years
View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages View on Amazon View Packages
Read review Read review Read review Read review Read review Read review

Info current as of 06/30/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

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 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 authentic experience we could.

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

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.

Reviews: Best DIY home security systems

1. Frontpoint: Best overall DIY security system

The Frontpoint 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 devices you get.

For $0 down and a short contract (3, 6, or 12 months), you can get started with your own alarm 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.

Get the full scoop in our Frontpoint review.

Pros

  • Great customer service
  • 3-year equipment warranty
  • Smash-proof hub

Cons

  • Video monitoring costs extra
  • Required contract with $0 down option

SALE

For a limited time, Frontpoint is offering new customers a free doorbell camera ($149.99 value) + free shipping and security packages starting at only $99! Terms and conditions apply.

2. SimpliSafe: Best budget DIY security system

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 right out of 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 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.

Pros

  • No contract required
  • Self-monitoring available
  • Affordable professional monitoring
  • Eight packages to choose from

Cons

  • Limited smart capabilities
  • No outdoor camera available

Deal Alert!

Right now, you can get 20% off your SimpliSafe equipment package when you choose the Interactive Monitoring plan at checkout. That's almost $100 off the most expensive package, The Haven—putting it at just under $400 total.

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.

This security 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 there are limited smart home capabilities on the Standard plan, you can still purchase smart locks to secure your home.

Learn more in our full Link Interactive review.

Pros

  • Build-your-own equipment packages
  • Home automation add-ons
  • 1-, 2-, or 3-year contracts

Cons

  • Required contract
  • Video monitoring on Elite plan only

4. Google Nest Secure: Best DIY security system for smart homes

Nest broke onto the scene in 2010 with ingenious home devices like smart thermostats and smoke detectors and has since branched out into the world of home security. The Nest Secure system 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.

Find out more in our Nest Secure review.

Pros

  • Self and professional monitoring
  • No contracts needed
  • Lots of third-party compatibilities

Cons

  • Steep initial price

5. Ring: Best DIY security system for outdoor cameras

Amazon-owned Ring is another no-contract DIY home security system to watch. While you can get professional monitoring, you can also monitor it yourself. We like Ring because it’s a simple system with some neat add-ons.

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.

Because Ring is an Amazon company, it has excellent integration with Amazon Alexa smart speakers and fits well into an Alexa-centric smart home.

Ring starter kits cost as little as $199.99, making it one of the more affordable options on our list and a good alternative to SimpliSafe, our budget pick.

Read our full review on Ring.

Pros

  • Wildly affordable price
  • Compatibility with Ring doorbells and cameras
  • Cellular backup with Ring Protect Plus plan

Cons

  • Few sensors in starting package
  • Limited alert configuration
  • Tough features to reset

Ring's new look

Ring recently updated its Ring Alarm security system. 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.

6. Alder: Best DIY security system for easy setup

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. Alder’s video monitoring is an especially 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 review of Alder.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Professional monitoring
  • Locked-in rate

Cons

  • 5-year contract

Final word

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.

Our runner up, SimpliSafe, is our favorite contract-free DIY home 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.

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.

DIY security systems FAQ

What should I consider before buying 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 take 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 alarm monitoring center alerts authorities if you’re unavailable when an alarm triggers.

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 a key fob or personal code they can use to enter. Other DIY systems have a video doorbell 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 to your new home. All the companies above let you take your equipment with you.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

Contributing writer: John Carlsen

Disclaimers

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. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

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