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Buying Guide

Best Home Security Systems For You

Assess Your Home's Security
Family gathering in the kitchen for a meal.

Whether you choose a professional company or a DIY home security option, the first step in having the best home security system is evaluating your needs. Walk through and around your home to evaluate.

  • Are there any entry points that need to be monitored?
  • Do you need security cameras inside and outside?
  • How many motion detectors do you need?
  • How many window and door sensors would give you peace of mind?
  • Any security risks such as high shrubbery or dark areas where intruders can hide? 
  • Do you have enough outdoor lights?
  • Should the best home security system for your home have special security features such as a pool alert, breaking glass sensors or a siren?
  • Is personal security while outside or away from your home a concern?
  • Do you travel a lot? Would professional monitoring be a good option?

Tip: Learn more ways to evaluate your security needs with our Home Security and Video Surveillance Buying Guide.

Smart Home Security Kits
Google Home device on a table in living room.

If your idea of the best security system is one that does everything from controlling door locks to turning down the thermostat, check out the smart home prepackaged systems on the market. Smart home alarm systems work with your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to control and monitor devices using an app on your smartphone. Many brands offer smart home security kits that make choosing, installing and monitoring a home security system relatively simple and budget-friendly. 

Professional Home Security Companies
Person activating an alarm panel.

Some of the top home security systems available for your home can be fully selected, installed and monitored by a professional alarm company. If a break-in, disturbance or other issue comes up, they will notify the authorities for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is a good option if you'd prefer a full-service approach to your home security. Some companies will come to your home for free and evaluate your needs while others only give free consultations over the phone. The more complex your needs, the higher investment you should expect to make.  

Tip: Some alarm companies offer monitoring services for a monthly fee even if they didn't install your home security system. 

Wired vs. Wireless Security Systems
Man adjusting a wireless camera on a fence.

Whether you choose a DIY approach or full service option, you should understand the difference between the best wireless security systems and wired ones. 

  • Wired security systems are hard-wired into your home, while wireless systems can be relocated as necessary. 
  • "Wireless" refers to the signals transmitted by sensors. Most systems require a power supply for the control panel.  
  • Wired home security systems are a good choice for new housing construction. The security system can be installed as part of your structured wiring network, with wires traveling inside your walls from the control panel to sensors in each room.   
  • Wireless home security systems are ideal for existing homes. The wireless sensors install easily without needing to run wires through your home, and are simple to relocate when needed.   
  • Wireless systems are also easy to arm, and often include a key fob with a panic button as well as a button to arm the system remotely.   
  • Since many wireless systems come with a repeater unit, the transmission range can be expanded to allow you to protect outbuildings. This can be very beneficial when it comes to wireless security camera systems.

DIY Home Security Tips
Someone using a video doorbell.

If the best home security system for you is the simpliest, most wallet-friendly option available, here are essential components you can install and monitor yourself.

  • Security cameras with a motion sensor and an SD card slot to record video.
  • Video doorbell with two-way audio communication and night vision, so you can see and speak with whoever is at your door.
  • Smart locks with a geofencing feature that lets you lock and unlock your door with your smart phone.
  • Monitoring capability via an app on your smart phone. 

Common Home Security Components
Lights with a motion sensor on an outside wall.

No matter the level of complexity, home security systems are basically made up of control panels, sensors, motion detectors and alarms. They all work together to alert you to an issue or intrusion.

  • Sensors generally attach to windows and doors. They send a signal through a transmitter to the control panel when a disturbance is detected. 
  • Motion detectors are typically placed inside the home near doorways, where they trigger an alarm or camera when motion is detected. Outside motion detectors can trigger lights to come on. 
  • Alarms are triggered by control panels to alert you, your neighbors, the police or a monitoring service of a disturbance on your property. Alarms can be silent, contacting you or your monitoring service with a phone call, or include sirens, which will alert the neighbors and perhaps scare an intruder away.
  • Control panels receive signals from sensors and trigger alarms. They should be installed somewhere convenient, but not where would-be intruders can see them easily. 
Specialty Security Options
Person watching home security video on a smart phone.

Driveway alarms: This alarm can let you know when someone is coming into or leaving your property. 

Pool alarm: Attach an alert to your pool entrance that uses a siren to let you know if the gate or door leading to your pool is opened. 

Jogger alarm: Take security with you wherever you go. Worn on the wrist, one button on the jogger alarm causes a bright light to flash while a second button emits a loud siren alarm to repel dogs and others.

Water leak and freeze alarm: This early warning system notifies you on your smartphone when a pipe freezes or a leak is detected.

Wireless Security Systems Safety Tips:

  • ‚Ä®Replace the system's default password. 
  • Change your password frequently. 
  • Monitor camera logs for unusual activity. 
  • Keep system software up-to-date.