The best home security systems for any budget in 2023

Protect your house, apartment, condo, or rental property — no matter your budget.
By Haley Henschel  on 
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Best for techies


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Best for Apple users


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Best for cameras

Google Nest

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UPDATE: Aug. 17, 2023, 5:00 a.m. EDT This home security guide has been updated with new information and resources. Our overall product recommendations have not been changed.

The height of the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a surge of interest in home security systems as everyone spent more time inside (and dealt with the headache of missing packages), and market research indicates the industry will continue to grow in the coming years. In addition, many Americans are nervous about rising rates of violent crimes and auto thefts, and they're looking for new ways to protect themselves.

But complicated industry jargon, ambiguous pricing, competing technologies, and ongoing news about serious privacy concerns can easily intimidate the average consumer.

So how do you choose the best home security system?

Here's a rundown of everything you need to know when shopping for a security system. (Spoiler: Ring isn't the only company you should avoid.)

What is a home security system, exactly?

A home security system is a group of devices that all work together to protect your home, usually using a combination of visual surveillance, motion detection, audible alarms, and system alerts. These systems may also include home monitoring for a monthly or annual fee.

Traditionally, home security systems were installed by professionals from companies such as ADT or Vivint, then combined with home monitoring. However, the rise of DIY home security systems from companies like SimpliSafe and Ring have drastically changed the options (and prices) available to consumers. DIY home security solutions allow you to install security cameras, motion sensors, and other alarm systems yourself. Often, these smart security systems connect to your home's WiFi, letting you store security camera footage in the cloud or view video remotely in real-time.

What devices are used in home security systems?

The average home security system typically includes a camera or two, motion sensors that can make out infrared energy, a handful of sirens (either built into the sensors and cameras or standalone devices), and a base hub syncing all of the hardware. You'll control the latter manually using a keypad or key fob, or with a companion mobile app.

From there, most home security companies will give you the option of fleshing out your system with à la carte accessories for further protection. Popular add-ons include:

  • A glass break sensor that alerts the system when it detects the sound frequencies or vibrations of shattered glass.

  • Environmental sensors that can detect water leaks, smoke, and carbon monoxide.

  • A panic button that quickly alerts law enforcement in emergency situations.

  • Yard signs and stickers that serve as visual (and inexpensive) deterrents to wannabe intruders.

Most home security companies are also in the business of home automation these days, which means you'll be able to control your setup using smart assistants and connect it to other devices like smart locks, lightbulbs, and thermostats. If you want to get really fancy, several brands also offer support for "If This Then That," or IFTTT, a free web-based service that lets you connect and build commands for internet-enabled devices and apps.

What is the best home security system?

Below, you'll find a rundown of four home security systems we recommend using in 2023. To get the most use out of your new security system, you may need to sign up for a monthly subscription to access services such as cloud storage and home monitoring.

We recommend comparing all of the options below before selecting the best home security system for your household.

Our Pick

Protecting more than 4 million people across the country, SimpliSafe home security systems are highly regarded for their incredible value and comprehensive protection. 

SimpliSafe's most popular setup is its Essentials package, which includes one pre-programmed base station, a keypad, a motion sensor, an entry sensor, and an indoor camera, all for $275 — though it frequently goes on sale for around $200. (Pro tip: Get this one over the entry-level Foundation kit, which costs $30 less but doesn't include a camera.) You can personalize it with outdoor cameras, doorbells, sirens, key fobs, and other add-on accessories, but build-your-own packages are also available if you want to start from scratch.

The other great thing about SimpliSafe is that it gives you the flexibility to choose between DIY and professional routes for both monitoring and installation. Its professional monitoring plans start at just $17.99 for 24/7 emergency dispatch, environmental threat detection, push notifications, and more, while professional installation via OnTech starts at $99.99 — pretty reasonable in both regards.

Note: if you're looking for the best home security systems without subscriptions, then we recommend building your own SimpliSafe package and opting for self-monitoring. However, you can often score serious discounts if you select a SimpliSafe security package that includes home monitoring.

Buying Options

The Good

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a flat lay of vivint security equipment


Best for techies

If you want your security setup to be part of a sophisticated, full-featured smart home ecosystem, Vivint is the obvious choice (if you can afford it). 

The company doesn't offer any one-size-fits-all kits, but instead curates a package based on your specific needs and space. That can include cameras, sensors, and alarms, as well as other home automation products like smart locks and thermostats. (Everything is connected on the company's proprietary, cloud-based AI and machine learning platform, so you'll be able to control your entire fleet via the Vivint app or your main Smart Hub.) An in-home consultation, professional installation, 24/7 support, and service for broken devices are all included in your monitoring plan, which starts at $19.99 a month.

We have to dock Vivint a few points for the fact that you have to call or fill out a form to find out how much its equipment costs; that pricing isn't listed on its website. When reached for clarification, Vivint's team told Mashable that the base cost of a starter system with a base and a couple of window/door sensors is $599, while add-ons can cost anywhere from $169.99 to $249.99 apiece. Financing options are mercifully available.

Buying Options

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the abode iota system


Best for Apple users

Apple users, rejoice: abode makes two systems that offer HomeKit compatibility. We prefer the all-in-one iota package ($329) over its entry-level Smart Security kit ($279) because of the former's upgraded hub, which has a built-in motion detector, WiFi support, and built-in streaming camera. A mini door/window sensor and a key fob are also included.

It's a pretty basic system, to be sure, but you can upgrade it with more cameras, sensors, sirens, signs, and other add-ons (including some smart home devices). There are tons to choose from, though it can get expensive fast, with most priced in the $30 to $80 range.

The other notable thing about abode is that it offers what's basically on-demand professional monitoring: Your plan can be as short as three or seven days, which is perfect for when you go on vacation. If you decide to extend your stay indefinitely, monthly and annual 24/7 monitoring plans are an option, too. (You'll pay $21.99 a month or $219.99 per year.)

Buying Options

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After discontinuing its popular Nest Secure systems in 2020, Google now offers a trio of security bundles under its Nest (no "Secure") smart home brand. It's the best home security system with cameras for anyone interested in fleshing out a smart home system, as its devices are designed to work effortlessly with other Nest products like the bestselling Nest Learning Thermostat and Nest Audio smart speaker. But bear in mind that its equipment lineup is pretty limited. We'd recommend it primarily to people who want a system of mostly cameras, since... well, that's pretty much all it sells. 

Nest's entry-level options (starting at $234.98) are a little too bare-bones for our liking, so go with its Total Security Package — that'll get you a Nest Hub Max smart display, a wireless Nest Doorbell, and a wireless indoor/outdoor Nest Cam for $523.98. (Fun fact: The latter is one of Mashable's absolute favorite security cameras.) Add a wired Nest Cam, a Nest Cam with a built-in floodlight, a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm, or a smart lock starting from $99.99. Nest Aware subscriptions start at just $6 a month if you want to save your cameras' video history and get smart alerts. 

As an aside, it's worth mentioning that Nest devices are among the prettiest of their kind. Not that "function over form" should be your main line of reasoning when shopping around for home security equipment, but at least these devices won't stick out like a sore thumb.

Buying Options

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Topics Privacy

How we tested

We haven't personally tried out these home security systems, but we were able to identify some make-or-break criteria that guided our picks. We carefully pored over spec lists and customer reviews to determine the must-have features in the best home security systems:

  • Overall value: With many home security starter kits priced well upwards of $200, and most monitoring plans going for around $20 per month, you should be getting a decent amount of useful accessories and features for your money.

  • Contracts: No one wants to be locked into a years-long contract, and we avoided picks that mandated them whenever possible.

  • Self-service options: Handy DIYers should have the option to install their equipment if they feel up to the task. Ditto for self-monitoring. In 2023, the best DIY home security system is just as secure as a professionally installed system.

  • Smart assistant support: Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility are pretty standard nowadays, while Apple HomeKit options are fewer and far between.

  • IFTTT support: It's not absolutely necessary, but it's nice for advanced users who want to noodle around with smart home automation.

  • Equipment warranties: You should be able to get a refund or replacement if a device randomly conks out after a few months.

  • Data privacy concerns: Most home security companies collect some form of customer data, so don't give anyone your money (or a glimpse around your property) without reading their privacy policy first. But they shouldn't be making headlines for routinely mishandling it or being hacked.

Several big names in the home security sphere were ruled out based on one or more of those factors:

  • eufy: Anker's smart home brand lied about the security of its cameras to The Verge, which was able to bypass encryption and stream live footage from two eufy cameras through the cloud using a third-party media player last fall. There's no evidence that this security flaw was ever used for nefarious purposes, and Anker eventually owned up to it at the beginning of 2023, but not before getting up to some weird shenanigans with its privacy promises. It's going to need to prove its transparency and trustworthiness before we consider recommending any of its equipment.

  • Frontpoint: Once recommended for its easy DIY installation and affordable starter package, Frontpoint has been knocked off our list because it started charging $49.99 per month (with a mandatory three-year contract) for professional monitoring. We're currently on the lookout for a new top pick for renters.

  • Ring: The ultra-popular, Amazon-owned home security and smart home company known for its video doorbells has had ongoing video-sharing partnerships with thousands of police departments for years. which has arguably turned those video doorbells "into a nationwide, private surveillance system for cops," to quote Mashable tech reporter Alex Perry. While Ring technically changed its policy in mid-2021 to forbid police from privately requesting footage from owners of its doorbells, Amazon admitted in July 2022 that it's still handing over users' recordings without their permission in order to comply with "emergency" requests. Beyond the narc aspect, Ring has also planned a neighborhood "watch list" based on facial recognition software, quietly fixed a "high-severity" security vulnerability in its Android app (which is reportedly packed with third-party trackers), and admitted that some of its own employees once tried to inappropriately access user videos.

  • Wyze: The smart home startup offers competitively priced build-your-own systems and $9.99/month professional monitoring (the cheapest rate we encountered). However, the fact that it took three years to alert customers to vulnerabilities in its security cameras keeps it off our list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most home security companies give their customers the option of free DIY installation, which is usually as simple as plugging in a device (or putting some batteries into it), hooking it up to your home's WiFi system, and pairing it with its hub and/or your smartphone. SimpliSafe (our No. 1 pick) says 97 percent of its customers go this route.

For more complicated setups (and those of us who aren't especially tech-savvy), professional installation typically starts around $100.

Many home security companies give their users the option of self-monitoring for free, but you may want to leave this part to the professionals simply because you can't be on guard duty 24/7. Work happens, sleep happens, binge-watching Succession happens, going to the dog park with your new puppy happens — it's easy to miss an alert if you aren't staring at your phone all day. It's also on you to decide whether or not to contact law enforcement in case of an emergency if an expert isn't doing it for you, which is a pretty big ask.

In most cases, you'll also get more out of your system's mobile app if you sign up for a monitoring plan. We'll use SimpliSafe as an example again: Its service comes standard with a live video feed of your cameras, a system timeline, and the option to tweak some device settings from the app, but that's it. Additional features like water leak alerts, dangerous temperature detection, and even push notifications are locked behind its monitoring plans, which start at $18 a month. (Most companies' offerings sit somewhere around $20 to $25, for what it's worth.)

Home monitoring may also be less necessary depending on where you live. The best security systems for apartments may not include professional monitoring, for instance.

It's difficult to measure "could-have-beens," so research is mixed on how well home security systems actually deter crime. One expert told The New York Times that he's seen little evidence of risk mitigation with things like alarms and locks, while the National Council for Home Safety and Security, an industry trade association, boldly claims that homes without any kind of protection are 300 percent more likely to be burglarized. (The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines burglary as "the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft," FYI.)

Even the culprits themselves are divided. Some convicted burglars surveyed by an Oregon news station in 2017 said they weren't daunted by security system signs and alarms, which could be disabled or avoided, but most would steer clear of a home with a big, loud dog. Yet 60 percent of burglars surveyed for a frequently cited University of North Carolina survey several years prior would find a different target if they saw an alarm on-site.

These findings should also be considered alongside the fact that burglary rates have seen a decline over the past decade; they only counted for about 16 percent of overall property crimes as of 2019. (That also includes motor vehicle theft and arson.) Burglary crime rates have continued to fall since the pandemic; however, only one in three property crimes are reported to the police, according to the Pew Research Center, so take these statistics with a grain of salt.

The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that most break-ins occur when people aren't home — and in that case, a home security system or camera serving as your eyes and ears from afar can provide invaluable peace of mind.

As an aside, installing a home security system may also qualify you for a serious discount on your homeowner's insurance, which certainly doesn't hurt. Contact your insurance provider to learn more.

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Haley Henschel

Haley is a Mashable shopping reporter based in Chicago. Before joining the team, she covered politics for The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote about exotic pet ownership for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, and blogged for several Jersey Shore stars. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games and hanging out with her parrot (Melon) and dog (Pierogi). You can follow her on Twitter at @haleyhenschel or reach her via email at [email protected].

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