The best home security systems of 2020 (plus DIY kits, video doorbells and more) – CNET

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Ring security 3

Ring security 3

Chris Monroe / CNET

After a decade of app-enabled upheavals, the home security category is booming. Along with the standard Professional surveillance systems that have been around for decadesthere is a newly established crop of less expensive bumpers DIY systems that you can install yourself, together with intelligent locks, cameras and Video doorbells this is also worth considering. Big names like Google and Amazon also want to participate.

Admittedly, there are a number of things to consider – and today's providers of home security solutions don't always make it easy to compare the shop, to say the least.

This is where we come in – not just by testing these systems on the CNET Smart Home, but by evaluating the entire buying process and also examining other important factors – including privacy concerns This will fill your home with cameras that are connected to the cloud.

Read on for an overview of the best home security systems we've tested so far, including self-installable DIY kits, professionally installed systems that promise to automate your entire home, and standalone devices like video doorbells.

Continue reading: Nest vs. Ring vs. Residence vs. SimpliSafe: The smart home security systems with the best data protection guidelines

Best home security system we've tested

Best DIY system

SimpliSafe

$ 230 in advance

Monitoring starts at $ 15 a month, $ 25 a month, including mobile app control and Alexa integration.

See it online
Best professional installation system

Comcast Xfinity Home

$ 99 in advance

Monitoring costs $ 40 a month for the first year, then $ 50 a month thereafter. Bundle discounts with TV and Internet available.

See it online
Best video doorbell

Nest hello

$ 230 in advance

Continuous recording starting at $ 5 a month.

See it online
Best for part-time surveillance

stay

$ 299 in advance

Monitoring for $ 20 a month.

See it online

Self-installing systems

If a professionally installed system sounds like an overkill, you can save a lot of money by buying a system that you install yourself. For my money, systems like this offer some of the best values ​​for your home security dollar.

When it comes to functionality, you don't miss much. Although professionally installed systems may offer a more fancy touchscreen control panel for working with security cameras, sensors, alarm systems, and monitors, the rest of the hardware is largely what you get when you are on the DIY route and rely mostly on wireless devices, battery-powered Sensors that keep you around your house.

Continue reading: The best DIY security systems of 2020 | The best intelligent garage door controls for 2020

When DIY systems emerged as an inexpensive alternative to the professionals, few, if any, had the opportunity to professionally monitor or contract customer service. That is no longer the case. Most home improvement systems now offer professional surveillance – and most of them require less for professional surveillance than professional install security providers. Automation and smart home devices have helped lower overhead costs for professional third-party surveillance, resulting in savings that are shared with you. And the fact that most do-it-yourself systems don't require a service contract or monthly fees is another nice part of the pitch.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The easy to install and operate system from SimpliSafe is well positioned in terms of its value as the best security system for private use. It offers a comprehensive range of functions, surveillance cameras and a very good mix of battery-operated sensors, all of which performed reliably in our tests. Starter kits start at around $ 230, or you can create your own custom system with the exact mix of devices you're interested in.

Professional surveillance starts at $ 15 a month, but you'll almost certainly want to avail yourself of the $ 25 plan, which adds features like mobile app control and voice support through Alexa and Google Assistant. This also means that you should choose another pick like Abode or Ring if you don't want professional monitoring via a monitoring station, but still want to control your system via a smartphone app. CNET total score: 8.5

Read the full review.

Another thing you should pay attention to: All-in-one home improvement safety devices for smaller apartments and living spaces. Basically, these devices are only single-point table cameras that are equipped with additional motion detectors and sensors for temperature and ambient light. They are good for protecting a studio apartment that has neither a garage door nor many street windows.

Include names to consider canary. Honeywell, and the Whereabouts Iota – although our favorite of the group, piperis no longer on the market after Alarm.com bought its parent company in 2016, If we find another alternative that we like as much as we like it, I will update that area.

Abode's excellent DIY system is worth considering.

Chris Monroe / CNET

We tested other options

Our best SimpliSafe alternative, the sophisticated system from Abode, supports both ZigBee and Z-Wave. It works with Alexa, IFTTT and Nest and has also recently improved integration with the Google Assistant. The real advantage, however, is that Abode offers a lot of flexibility in terms of professional surveillance – including the option to only pay for temporary surveillance when you are actually out of town. No long-term contract required. CNET total score: 8.3

Read the full review.

This Nest DIY-owned installation option owned by Google works great, but the upfront cost of $ 399 is much higher than that of the competition. It's a decent system, but it's only worth it if you want to integrate into a Google Smart Home ecosystem. CNET total score: 7.2

Read the full review.

Ring & # 39; s Alarm Security Kit, a subsidiary of Amazon, is quick to install and easy to use. Apart from a new "Works with Ring" program that integrates compatible smart locks and other third-party gadgets, nothing is particularly innovative, although Alexa users will appreciate the two-way voice feature that they enable and enable Disable the system using voice commands and use the ring sensors to trigger Alexa routines.

With a $ 199 buy-in and professional surveillance for just $ 10 a month, Ring Alarm is an outstanding choice – but Ring's constant concerns about Ring's user data protection and controversial collaboration with police organizations make us short to recommend. CNET total score: 7.5

Read the full review.

Professionally installed systems

These are the cornerstones of home security – names of security surveillance companies like ADT and Brinks that you've probably been familiar with for years, and home security systems offered by major telecommunications providers like Comcast and AT&T.

The pitch is pretty similar across the board. In addition to the basics such as motion sensors, window sensors and door sensors, such professional installations will also help to reduce false alarms in the surveillance center and seamlessly integrate things like door locks, cameras, keyboards, thermostats and carbon monoxide detectors and touch screens. They also often support voice controls via Alexa and the Google Assistant. Most require an upfront fee for equipment or installation, and most require multi-year service contracts. Monthly professional surveillance fees are mandatory and typically range from $ 30 to $ 50 per month.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

It's not available in all regions (check on-site availability), but Comcast Xfinity Home impressed us when CNET editor-in-chief Josh Goldman tested the system at his home in northern New Jersey. It's a robust, well-designed system that goes well with your smart home gear, including long-time favorites like Lutron Caseta light switches and the Nest Thermostat. "What Xfinity Home showed me," Josh wrote, "was how smart home devices make a lot more sense when they're fully integrated with the sensors and cameras of a home security system."

You get the best price-performance ratio if you want to bundle Xfinity Home with Comcast's Internet and TV service. However, you can also use it as a standalone service. I also appreciated that the sales approach was less intrusive and more helpful than the competition when I called them for testing (I was able to get a quote for my home in about 10 minutes and the only personal information I gave was a zip code ). CNET total score: 8.5

Read the full review.

High-end systems like this sometimes make it difficult to compare companies. For example, visit the ADT website and you will find a lot of marketing texts that demonstrate the value of the various security offerings and customer service provided by the security company – but you won't find much in terms of pricing. Instead, the website instructs you to request a "free quote" either by calling the security company's sales team or by providing your name, zip code, phone number, and email address. The latter ensures that an ADT customer service specialist "calls you from time to time about ADT offers". If you read the fine print, you will find that these calls are "provisioned" using automatic dialing technology.

Mind you, the alarm company is hardly alone here. Some are less outrageous than others, but you'll find similar tactics – and similar fine print just about every website for professionally installed alarm systems like this one, If it is not clear on the website what a home-made system would cost you, it is best to call the security company directly, tell them what type of facility you want, and request a quote.

Your experience may vary depending on the seller you speak to. For example, when I first tried to call ADT, the seller told me that he couldn't make me an offer without first performing a credit check, I politely ended the call and called back another day. I had a much better experience with a salesperson who gave me a price for a core system within 10 minutes without the need for a credit check or other exchange of personal information.

Shopping for a professional system

Basic costs in advance Monthly charges Contract period How long did it take to get this information when I called? What personal data did I have to give to get it?

ADT

$ 129 ($ 229 for a doorbell camera system)

$ 47 ($ 67 for a doorbell camera system)

3 years

The first attempt would not make an offer without a credit check, the second attempt took 10 minutes

none

AT&T Digital Life

$ 550 installation fee

$ 40

2 years

Easily available on the website

none

Brinks

$ 399 installation fee

$ 29

3 years

Easily available on the website

none

Comcast Xfinity Home

$ 99 installation fee (not applicable if bundled with TV and Internet)

$ 40 for the first year, then $ 50 ($ 175 bundled with TV and Internet)

2 years

10 mins

Post Code

Vivint

$ 99 installation fee

$ 40 plus funded equipment costs (approx. $ 10 per month for 60 months for a bare bones setup)

none

17 minutes

none

Whoever you end up calling, don't be afraid to set your foot on your privacy. Companies that use robocalls and junk mail as a sales tactic have no right to your address or other personal information until they have earned your business, period.

Aside from this limitation, the benefit of alarm systems like this is that professionals come to you to install everything for you, and you can usually expect more technical support and customer service if you ever want to make changes to your setup too. Choose a professional system from a telecommunications provider and you can probably bundle your home security with your television or internet service. This is a convenience that can also help you get a discount.

Vivint-smart-home-2

Vivint's system works well, but the equipment is not cheap.

Chris Monroe / CNET

We tested other options

Vivint is a solid system that worked well when we tested it, but the equipment is a bit expensive. A basic starter kit with the mandatory touchscreen control panel, a motion sensor, and two entry sensors costs $ 599, which you can pay in advance or spread over 60 months. Do you want to add cameras to avoid false alarms? In addition to the additional equipment cost, an additional $ 5 will be added to your bill each month. A nice thing with Vivint: No contracts. CNET total score: 7.6

Read the full review.

It's not cheap, but we liked this slim system and the fact that straightforward pricing was available online. Our service professionals optimized the signal strength for each device in our setup during installation – a nice touch that has made the pro approach worthwhile. CNET total score: 8.3

Read the full review.

Video doorbells

If you don't need a complete security system and just want to keep an eye on the activities on your doorstep instead, you can install a video doorbell to keep up to date.

Continue reading: The best video doorbells of 2020

You now have many options, and thanks to automation, all notifications are sent to your cell phone or mobile device in real time over a Wi-Fi connection or a cellular connection when someone calls to show you who is at the door. Some also track unexpected movements or enable bi-directional audio – and we see many new options these are also recognize faces, This includes our top selection:

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The stylish video doorbell from Nest is a clever and elegant choice that won over our tests. Functions such as person recognition and geofencing are helpful and user-friendly. You can also upgrade to Nest Aware's cloud subscription service to enable facial recognition and access to saved recordings.

This is obviously the best for households who have already opted for the Google and Nest smart home ecosystem. However, the doorbell from Nest also works with Alexa and IFTTT, which helps make it a very solid choice for just about everyone. CNET total score: 8.5

Read the full review.

Prices for doorbells like this are usually between $ 100 and $ 250, and most charge an optional fee for viewing saved video clips. To select one, you first need to find out whether your front door has a hard-wired doorbell connection or whether you need something battery-powered. Then consider functions – e.g. B. do you stop at a porch at night or do you need something with night vision?

From there, think about which smart home platforms your doorbell should work with. On this page you will find many options that work with Alexa and IFTTT as well as with Google and / or Nest. But Siri is still catching up – the only HomeKit-compatible video doorbell that we have been looking forward to is the Netatmo Smart Video doorbell, which debuted at CES last January.

Compare intelligent doorbells

August View doorbell camera

Doorbell video doorbell 2

Doorbell video doorbell pro

Nest hello video doorbell

price

$ 230

$ 199

$ 249

$ 229

Finish color

Black, red, white, blue, brass, satin nickel, night gray, bronze

Satin nickel, Venetian (both versions included)

Satin Nickel, Venetian, Satin Black, Pearl White

White and black

energy

Removable battery

Hard-wired or replaceable battery

Hardwired

Hardwired

resolution

1,920 x 1,440 p HD

1,920 x 1,080 p HD

1,920 x 1,080 p HD

1,600 x 1,200 p HD

field of view

No information

160 degrees

160 degrees

160 degrees

Live Streaming

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Cloud storage

Yes, free basic package plus 15-day storage for $ 3 a month and 30-day storage for $ 5 a month

Yes, 60-day storage for $ 3 a month

Yes, 60-day storage for $ 3 a month

Yes, free 3-hour picture history; Continuous admission starting at $ 5 a month

Local memory

No

No

No

No

app

Android and iPhone

Android and iPhone

Android and iPhone

Android and iPhone

Web App

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

night vision

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

warnings

Move

Move

Move

Motion, person, face detection (with Nest Aware)

activity zones

No

Yes

Yes

Yes (with Nest Aware)

Dimensions (HxWxD)

5.2 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches

5.1 x 2.5 x 1.1 inches

4.5 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches

4.6 x 1.7 x 1.0 inches

Third-party integrations

Alexa; Google Assistant; nest

Alexa; IFTTT; to wink

Alexa; IFTTT; to wink

Alexa; Google Assistant; nest

Operating temperature range

-4 to 122 degrees F

-5 to 120 degrees F

-5 to 120 degrees F

14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit

Many of the major home security systems now offer their own video doorbells, and some offer compatibility with standalone video doorbells and keyboards like this. Keep this in mind if you think you want to upgrade to a full system later.

Oh, and would you like more tips on choosing the right video doorbell? Megan Wollerton from CNET did you cover,

Bell video doorbell-two-2 "data-original =" https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/qAsjNmo6F92m8DXuyiQ32-v009k=/2017/06/29/69b9c94f-d53f-473a-b8dc-9d627160224a/ring- video doorbell two-2.jpg

Ring makes a variety of popular video doorbells, but the company faces stringent privacy concerns because of its controversial collaboration in data exchange with police organizations. And, according to reports, thousands of Ring customers have recently released their account information. At this time, we do not recommend any of the company's products.

Chris Monroe / CNET

We tested other options

One of your newer options is August view, which looks great and DIY installation was wonderfully easy, but the mobile app was annoyingly sloppy when we tried to display the live feed. This is the last thing you want when someone is grabbing a package from your porch. CNET total score: 7.1

Read the full review.

Intelligent outdoor lighting

Many of us use motion-activated lights on our porch or in front of our garage door – and although there is much debate about whether outside lighting can actually deter burglary, most experts agree that they can play a role when used correctly. If you are planning to upgrade to something a little smarter than this cheap porch, there are a few options to consider.

Chris Monroe / CNET

For the most part, I think Philips Hues outdoor lights are overpriced and really only pay off when you are ready to pamper yourself. Still, I really liked the Philips Hue outdoor sensor, which you can buy for less than $ 50. Attach it anywhere outside and track movement, temperature and ambient light conditions. You can use this information to fire your Hue lights and Apple HomeKit gadgets under your roof.

I would like the Hue team to offer a larger selection of practical outdoor lights that don't break the bank, as well as lights with their own motion sensors – but if you've already bought or Apple use HomeKit-compatible lights, then the Hue Outdoor Sensor is on definitely worth a look.

Read more about CNET.

Ry Crist / CNET

If you're using Alexa to control the smart lights in your home, you should try Alexa Guard, a relatively new home security mode with a few useful tricks. After turning on protection mode in the Alexa app settings, just say "Alexa, I'm going" as you walk out the door to activate it. From there, Alexa turns your lights on and off to make it look like you're at home. You will also receive a notification when your Echo speakers hear an alarm sound or broken glass.

You don't have an Alexa Smart Lighting setup yet? You are currently getting a third generation Echo Dot bundled with a Sengled starter kit with two light bulbs for just $ 67.

Read more about CNET.

Originally published earlier. Updated when we evaluate new products, last noted the privacy concerns around the Ring product line,