Whether you’re a home project master or a DIY novice, we found cheap home security options that don’t require a PhD to install. We know that home security isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor, so we found home alarm systems that are priced between $100 and $500 and don’t require extensive wiring or hours of YouTube videos to set up.
If you’ve only got a few bucks to spend, you can take some basic steps toward installing an affordable home security system. But it can be hard to know which components deliver the biggest bang for your buck. With the Fortress Alarm System Kit, all of your home security basics are covered—and you can get them all for right around $100.
Our Favorite Feature: Mobile App
Even though this is a cheap alarm system, you still get the added convenience and extra security of a mobile app. This lets you receive alerts if the system detects something, so you can keep tabs on your home’s security no matter where you are.
Biggest Downside: No Professional Monitoring
Professional monitoring is the most secure way to protect your home. But when you’re watching your budget you have to make sacrifices. Because monitoring comes with a monthly fee, that safety perk just isn’t an option for under $100.
For those who can splurge just a little bit, you’ll be able to start things out right with an affordable smart hub. The Wink control hub runs the network of connected devices that manages both home security and home automation devices like lights and thermostats. This is an excellent upgrade to get for under $200.
Our Favorite Feature: Control Hub
We were excited to find a cheap home security system that offered a smart hub for under $200. With the Wink Lookout system, you have a solid foundation to build upon if you want to expand your home security system down the road.
Biggest Downside: No Security Cameras
This home security system doesn’t come with any security cameras. In fact, you’ll have to spend around $200 to add a compatible camera to Wink Lookout. Unfortunately, this holds true for every cheap home security system we recommend.
Scout offers completely customizable DIY home security, but we recommend the preselected Small Pack because it covers all the basics you need to start protecting your home. We also like that Scout gives you the option of adding professional monitoring to your home security package.
Our Favorite Feature: Cheap Professional Monitoring
Although monitoring isn’t included with the Scout Small Pack, you can add it on for just $9.99 per month—that’s the cheapest security monitoring option we’ve seen. If you’re doing home security on a budget, it’s nice to know you could still afford the extra protection that comes with professional monitoring.
Biggest Downside: Only One Motion Sensor
Scout’s motion sensor detects motion up to 25 feet, but if you have a larger home, one sensor probably won’t be enough to give you the peace of mind you want.
No one will think you’re skimping on home security when they see this sleek system on the job. There are less expensive SimpliSafe packages, but if you can afford a little more, we like the extras offered in the Hearth Package. For around $375 you get a 105 dB siren and fire protection—which are musts for any home safety plan.
Our Favorite Feature: Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors can save lives, and when they’re part of a security system, they do their job even better. When smoke is detected, this fire alarm triggers your security system alarm as well. This leaves little chance of anyone sleeping through an alert.
Biggest Downside: Limited Home Automation
We love SimpliSafe, but its lack of smart home integration is a big negative. SimpliSafe products work with August smart locks and Nest thermostats, but compatibility with smart hubs like Amazon Echo is still unavailable.
Nest is one of the exciting players in the home security and home automation markets. The company started out with smart thermostats and now offers full-blown home security. And this is a brand that’s known for being pricey, so we love that Nest offers a security starter pack for around $500.
Our Favorite Feature: Everything Is Smart
If you geek out over home automation like we do, then you’ll love that every component you get with Nest Secure is smart. That includes the Nest Guard system hub, which is an alarm, motion sensor, and keypad all in one. You also get door and window sensors that are smart and linked up with every other system component.
Biggest Downside: Starter Pack Is Pretty Slim
While you can get started with Nest Secure for under $500, you’re getting a pretty sparse package. Compared to other DIY home security systems, you’re sacrificing extra sensors and features for the Nest name.
More Cheap DIY Security Options
If you’re not ready for a full-on home security system, you can start small. The security products highlighted below can stand alone or work as part of a larger security system. For those looking to dip their toes into home security, these home security gadgets are a great place to start.
Today’s DIY home security systems are straightforward, wireless, and able to integrate home automation in unprecedented ways that even novices can manage. They also work whether you own your home or you’re renting. Before you decide which do-it-yourself security system is the right choice, here’s a look at how a home alarm system works and which components make the biggest difference during a break-in.
How Do Home Security Systems Work?
Home security systems generally have two main features: surveillance devices and sensors that trigger alarms. These include various components like security cameras, alarms, motion sensors, and door or window sensors that are connected through a central hub so users can control the alarm system and respond to incidents.
Compatible Devices That Communicate Wirelessly
While you could have these elements hardwired to a phone line or cable connection, that’s an old-school approach that can be easily sidestepped by thieves. One strategic cut and your alarm system is off-line and your home exposed, especially if you’ve opted to forego professional monitoring. To prevent that, we focus on affordable components and systems that allow homeowners to connect and monitor wirelessly.
A professional monitoring service is both the advantage and disadvantage of DIY home security systems. While it’s cheaper to self-monitor and manage the components yourself, this method also puts you in charge of responding to incidents. Rather than automatically deploying police to your home, your security system will simply alert you and allow you to decide whether to act. If a burglar is trying to break in, delays in responsiveness can have a big effect on property loss and damage.
While you might start out monitoring your own security system, we recommend looking into professional monitoring at some point for more convenient management of alerts and alarms. Some security companies insist that you use their brand devices to sign up for their monitoring services, but a few support customers who buy and install their own devices.
Use our interactive tool to discover which providers support monitoring of existing and DIY systems.
Components of a Home Security System
What goes into a security system? The perfect recipe for protecting your home depends on balancing how much you can invest with the level of protection you need. At a minimum, you want to choose devices that are multifunctional, wireless, able to communicate well with each other, and flexible enough to expand the system affordably. You’ll see some variation of the following components in our recommended packages.
Control Panel or Hub This device acts like the brain or command center of your home security system, receiving signals from various components and providing alerts and status updates.
Door and Window Sensors These relatively inexpensive sensors can be attached to doors and windows to detect disruption, breakage, or vibration if someone attempts to enter your home.
Monitoring Services Professional security companies provide 24/7 monitoring services so that they can keep tabs on your security system, disable false alarms, and deploy police to your home quickly during an incident.
Integrated App You’ll need a place to view updates from your hub and manage cameras, alarms, and other connected devices. Most security device manufacturers have an app that allows you to do this and syncs with your mobile device.
Concerned about the Expertise Required or the Hassle of Installing a System on Your Own?
If you don’t feel like dragging out the ol’ tool box, don’t stress. You can still find affordable home security that comes with professional installation. Many providers offer professional installation along with plenty of help and support. Check out our best home security systems to find one with professional installation that still fits in your budget.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more