3 Top DIY Home Security Systems
Smart security systems have exploded in popularity in recent years, thanks to DIY-friendly setups that offer professional-grade features to the average homeowner. Not only can these systems deliver peace of mind, but they may also lower your homeowners insurance.
These DIY security systems provide “set and forget” ease of use with HD cameras and motion sensors that can be purchased as a package or as add-ons. Intuitive apps allow people to check in on their home while they’re away, receive alerts when movement is detected – or when a siren is activated – and remotely arm or disarm their security system. An additional subscription fee is usually required to record video in case of any incidents.
In choosing the best DIY security systems we considered:
Ease of use – is it straightforward to setup and operate?
Usefulness – how much value does it add in security?
Integration with other devices – will it play well with other smart home devices, including smart home hubs? The more information that can be analyzed from various home devices, the better a smart home can respond to its owner’s routines. Look for integration with popular smart home hubs such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings – if you own one of these (or plan to).
The best DIY security system for most people: SimpliSafe
With the DIY SimpliSafe system, you can slowly build out your home security with easy-to-add devices such as motion-detecting HD cameras, entry and motion sensors, glass-break detection, and a 95dB siren. There are also hazard detectors, including sensors for water damage, gas leak, carbon monoxide, and smoke. Alerts are sent to a smartphone app, where you can arm or disarm the system. It all revolves around a sleek base station that simply needs to be plugged in and connected to your WiFi.
According to the company, its sensors distinguish between intruders and pets based on their heat signature, so you can arm your system at night without worrying about your pet setting it off (and traumatizing themselves in the process). The devices are then synced so that when you receive your system, you can set it up immediately. For $14.99/month, you can subscribe for 24/7 professional monitoring. Upgrading to the Interactive plan for $24.99/month gives you the ability to arm and disarm the system with Alexa or Google Assistant, save video recordings from the camera, and receive alerts from temperature, water and other sensors. A subscription is not required to use SimpliSafe.
SimpliSafe consistently receives outstanding marks – 4 or more stars out of 5 – from professional reviewers, including Wirecutter (their top pick), PCMag (rated excellent), and USNews (their top pick). Consumers also love SimpliSafe with reviews on Amazon averaging 4.4 stars, reviews on Best Buy averaging 4.4 stars, and reviews on Newegg averaging 4 stars.
Range of optional security devices: Sensors for temperature, water, smoke and carbon monoxide, as well as for motion, glass break, and entry
Professional monitoring: Yes, starting at $14.99 per month
Integration with other devices: Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, as well smart locks from August
Price: From $229, on sale now from $137 on Simplisafe (check price on Amazon) for base station, keypad, one motion sensor, and, for a limited time, one motion-detecting indoor camera, no subscription required
The best DIY home security system on a budget: Wyze Cam Pan
If you want to start your smart security system with a small investment, the Wyze Cam Pan perfect starter piece with a lot of room to grow. You get live-streaming HD video with night vision, motion tracking that triggers notifications, a custom motion detection zone so you won’t trigger false alerts, and 12-second recording. You get two weeks of free, rolling cloud storage, and a microSD slot to bump that up. A mic and speaker offer two-way audio, and you can use the app to remotely pan, tilt, and zoom the 120-degree wide-angle lens for different angles on a room. Smart software tags and distinguishes between humans and animals.
Reviewers love the Wyze Cam Pan with Tom's Guide giving it 4 stars (their Best Budget Security Camera), PCMag giving it 4.5 stars (Editor's Choice), and Digital Trends giving it an 8 out of 10. Consumers give it high marks too: the Cam Pan has earned 4.5 stars on Amazon, 4.3 stars on Walmart, and 4.3 stars on Home Depot.
Range of other security devices: Designed for home protection as well general automation, with smart indoor and outdoor cameras and locks, plus lights, plugs, video doorbells and thermostats that you can link and control via the Wyze app
Professional monitoring: No
Integration with other devices: Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Price: $29 on Wyze (check price on Amazon); no subscription required
The easiest to set up DIY home security system: Arlo Ultra 2
The Arlo Ultra 2 is a home security system in one unit, packing a siren and a floodlight into motion-detecting cameras. They stream video in 4K ultra-high resolution with a color, night-vision mode and HDR for detailed imagery. They can be used indoors or outdoors and run on battery power (rated for up to six-months) for easy installation. The Arlo Ultra 2’s motion-activated spotlights are a good deterrent for would-be intruders, while the sirens can be set to automatically sound and/or be triggered manually via the app.
You can use the Arlo Ultra 2 cameras without a subscription service, but the Arlo Smart service delivers a lot more value, including a 30-day recording history as well as smart object detection to distinguish between vehicles, animals, and packages, so that you can decide whether you need to take action. Subscribers can also set up zones to monitor so that notifications are only sent for critical areas (instead of, for example, a closed yard where your pet normally roams).
The Arlo Ultra 2 is a new product, but it's already earned 4 stars on Best Buy, 4.3 stars on Costco and 4 stars on Amazon. The professional reviews haven't come in yet, but its predecessor, the Arlo Ultra, received 4.5 stars on Tom's Guide (Best Wireless Security Camera), 4.5 stars on PCMag, 4 stars on Pocket-Lint.
Range of optional security devices: No Arlo devices
Professional monitoring: monthly service starts at $4.99/month
Integration with other devices: Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Samsung SmartThings plus the Arlo doorbell and floodlight camera
Price: starting at $599 on Arlo (check price on Amazon) for 2 cameras plus the hub
[Image credit: SimpliSafe, Wyze, Arlo]