July 14, 2024

Friorida Home Design

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Best Smart Home Security Systems of 2024

18 min read
  • Smart Capabilities

    ADT partners with Google and now offers the complete line of Nest products: Nest hubs, Nest cameras, Nest thermostats. It’s not so surprising that the system works well with the Google Nest platform. As we noted in our ADT FAQ, you can arm and disarm your system using voice commands and control devices like smart locks, lights, and plugs. Most features are available with Alexa as well, in case you’re more of an Amazon fan.

    An ADT system revolves around a touch screen control panel. That’s where you control the system’s arming modes and see the status of your sensors. It even takes a photo every time someone attempts to disarm the system, which is a great way to see if someone’s trying to gain unauthorized access to your home.

    While we think ADT’s control panel is smarter than most security system keypads out there (compared to the SimpliSafe keypad, for example), we have a few gripes about it. The main thing is that it doesn’t offer much smart home control. You can’t customize your automations or trigger scenes – you need the ADT Control app for that. We hope ADT improves that soon.

    Arming the ADT Home Security Control PanelArming the ADT Home Security Control Panel
    Arming the ADT System.

    >> More Options: Best Security Systems for Google

    Monitoring Options

    Unlike DIY systems like SimpliSafe, ADT requires everyone to sign up for professional monitoring. The system won’t work without it. On the bright side, though, professional monitoring will have you covered at all times, even when you’re too busy to check your alerts. And with 12 monitoring centers across the U.S., ADT has one of the best monitoring programs in the country.

    There is a downside, though. In addition to requiring professional monitoring, ADT requires users to sign a contract. The minimum is three years, and if you cancel service during that time, your system will stop working and you’ll pay an early termination fee. So factor in the monitoring cost if you’re looking to buy an ADT system.

    FYI: ADT now offers a self-monitored option called ADT Self Setup. It’s a separate system from ADT that offers fewer equipment options. That said, it also works with ADT cameras made by Google Nest. It also offers smart home features, but again, only if you sign up for a monitoring plan.

    Pricing

    Speaking of costs, an ADT starter package costs around $500. That’s a little more than what a DIY package from Ring or SimpliSafe costs, but ADT is no DIY system. It’s a full-service security system with professional installation and monitoring. Compared to similar systems, ADT is more affordable. Vivint, for instance, starts at around $600 to $700, while a basic ADT package costs about $500.

    Now, you’d need more than a basic package to use ADT as a smart home security system. You’d need smart home devices, security cameras, and perhaps one of the Google Nest smart speakers or displays that ADT sells. Expect to rack up a bill of roughly $1,000 for the equipment, but see our ADT deals to offset the cost and get more value for your money.

    Lastly, factor in the monthly fee. That’s $34.99 for the one with smart home features.

    What We Like
    • Professional installation on all systems
    • Partnership with Google Nest
    • Responsive, easy-to-use app
    • Nine monitoring centers across the U.S.
    What We Don’t Like
    • Relatively high-priced monitoring
    • 36-month contract required
    • Inconsistent customer service
    • Basic package doesn’t include smart home features
    ADT Control App main screenADT Control App main screen
    ADT Control App main screen

    ADT has been around for over 145 years. That’s about 125 years longer than any other security company out there. This isn’t a company stuck in the past, though. ADT is forward-thinking, with feature-rich equipment that takes advantage of the latest technology. Its new Alarm Messenger service, for instance, reduces ADT system false alarms by notifying customers via message the moment there’s a problem, even before ADT personnel have a chance to check the system. We certainly liked this real-time responsiveness.

    It’s no surprise, then, that ADT works well with both Alexa and Google Home smart platforms. And it’s gone even further by partnering with Google Home to develop and sell smart security devices like smart thermostats and AI-rich cameras (see our ADT camera review). Note that ADT works well with smart devices from other companies, like Kwikset, and it recently introduced Z-wave technology, which enlarges its compatibility to over 4,000 smart products. We connected it to our Android TV so we could review video footage from our ADT cameras from the comfort of our couch.

    Of course, full-service home security comes with a full-service price tag. ADT isn’t cheap in terms of equipment or monitoring. Even the self-installed system requires a serious investment in gear. And you have to play the company’s game: signing up for the right monitoring plan and committing to a long contract. If you’re looking for top-notch security and convenience, though, it’s tough to beat ADT.

  • 2. Vivint – Best Smart Home Security With 24/7 Monitoring

    Product Specs

    Equipment costs Starting at $449
    Monitoring options Professional
    Monthly monitoring costs $40 per month
    Contract lengths Starting at 42 months
    Installation options Professional
    Smart platform integration Alexa and Google Home

    Smart Capabilities

    Even ADT doesn’t have Vivint’s smart home capabilities. The equipment integrates smoothly with Alexa and Google Home. It also works with Kwikset locks, Phillips Hue lighting, and Chamberlain garage door openers. Plus, you get Z-wave functionality. But Vivint’s own products also come with some nifty smart features. As we note in our Vivint video doorbell review, for example, Vivint cameras can tell the difference between people, animals, and packages, and send customized alerts accordingly.

    Vivint Base HubVivint Base Hub
    Vivint Base Hub

    >> Compare: Vivint vs. ADT

    Monitoring Options

    Vivint is another system that offers professional monitoring only. If you’re the type of person who has a smart home for convenience, that’s perfect. It’s one more thing you don’t have to think about. If, on the other hand, you’re someone who has a smart home because you love to be in control of your technology universe, you might prefer self-monitoring. Vivint doesn’t offer self-monitoring.

    Vivint’s monitoring isn’t on par with ADT, but it’s a close second. For instance, while Vivint doesn’t have a feature exactly like ADT’s Alarm Messenger, it has text-based alerts. You’ll receive notifications through SMS. Vivint also has multiple monitoring centers, but not quite as many as ADT has. Vivint has two locations – one in Utah and another one in Minnesota.

    >> Check Out: Best Self-monitored Security Systems

    Pricing

    Vivint’s package prices start at $600, but it’s easy to spend well over $1,000 for a good system, especially if you’re looking for plenty of smart functionality. In fact, we haven’t come across a home security system as expensive. And you won’t find many Vivint deals. Monthly monitoring can be expensive as well, with plans ranging from $40 to $60 per month. We can attest that this is one of the very best security systems out there, and worth every penny. That’s a lot of pennies, though, and if you don’t need premier protection, there are a number of cheaper options that can keep you plenty safe.

    What We Like
    • Top-tier equipment
    • Professional monitoring with every plan
    • Best smart home features on the market
    • Free professional installation
    What We Don’t Like
    • Required fee if you decide to move
    • Proprietary equipment doesn’t work with other systems
    • Packages are expensive
    • No upfront pricing

    ADT has worked hard to stay up to date with current smart home technology, whereas Vivint was actually built to integrate with smart homes. The goal is to put you in charge of your system. You don’t just get a notification when a sensor is triggered; you can watch live footage from any Vivint camera any time, either on Vivint’s Hub or through your mobile device. And monitoring isn’t just someone at a call center checking on you. When a smoke alarm went off while we were making dinner (don’t ask) we had a real conversation with Vivint personnel about how to reset the detector, and they even stayed with us until we’d tested it.

    Vivint Outdoor Cam ProVivint Outdoor Cam Pro
    Vivint Outdoor Cam Pro

    Vivint works seamlessly with both Google Home and Alexa, and with Z-wave compatibility, you can link virtually any smart device to your system. Vivint’s own equipment is pretty smart as well. The video doorbell, for instance, doesn’t just let you know a sensor has picked up some activity; you get a message telling you whether it detected a person, an animal, or a package. During testing, we found Vivint to be simple to use. The app is well designed. And all the features and controls were right at our fingertips.

    >> Dig Deeper: Vivint FAQ

    If there’s a downside to Vivint, it’s their business model. As millennials, we like to be able to go online and choose equipment and options for ourselves. With Vivint, signing up for a system and picking out components involved calling the company and dealing with a customer service representative. We financed all our equipment, which kept us from having to pay over $1,000 up-front, but we were locked into a five-year plan as a result. And getting out of that plan involves a steep cancellation fee. In fact, Vivint even charges an extra fee just for moving. That’s a lot of hoops to jump through for quality home security.

  • 3. SimpliSafe – Best Google Home-Compatible Smart Home Security

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Packages starting at $280
    Monitoring Options Professional and DIY
    Monthly Monitoring Costs $19.99 per month
    Contract Lengths Month-to-month
    Installation Options DIY or professional
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Smart Capabilities

    SimpliSafe’s equipment isn’t quite as advanced as equipment from ADT and Vivint. The system does pair easily with Alexa and Google Home. It also works well with certain smart home devices, such as Nest thermostats and August locks. Functionality is a little better with Alexa than Google Home, but we were able to control the system using voice commands with both devices. Best of all, SimpliSafe gives you these smart home controls even if you don’t purchase a professional monitoring plan.

    SimpliSafe System's full device lineupSimpliSafe System's full device lineup
    SimpliSafe’s full device lineup

    >> Find Out More: SimpliSafe vs. Vivint

    Monitoring Options

    One of the nice things about SimpliSafe is that you can choose between DIY and professional monitoring. In fact, you can buy a system and pay nothing else, ever, if you’re willing to monitor things yourself. There are no contracts; plus, you get real-time alerts and access to live video feeds. Pay a bit more and you can add cloud storage to your plan. Or go all the way and sign up for full 24/7 professional monitoring.

    Pricing

    Yet another thing we like about SimpliSafe is its upfront pricing. SimpliSafe offers several equipment packages, ranging from the four-piece Foundation to the 14-piece Haven. You can frequently find SimpliSafe deals, and prices are subject to change frequently, which can make it hard to know exactly when is the best time to buy a system. All the prices are published on the site, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Monitoring is also cheaper than with some of the full-service systems: 24/7 monitoring is $30 per month, which is some $15 less than ADT and Vivint’s cheapest plans.

    What We Like
    • Easy voice control with both Alexa and Google Home
    • DIY setup is simple and fast
    • No long-term contract required
    • Choice of professional or self-monitoring
    What We Don’t Like
    • Smart home functions require a subscription
    • Limited camera selection
    • Prices are constantly fluctuating
    • System struggles in colder climates

    Our favorite thing about SimpliSafe is that it gives you choices. You can choose one of its packages or build your own. You get monitoring choices: full professional monitoring or complete self-monitoring, plus a few options in between (See our SimpliSafe FAQ for more information). Ultimately, you have many choices when it comes to what you want to spend with SimpliSafe.

    We should mention that to get access to all of SimpliSafe’s smart features, we had to sign up for the most expensive monitoring plan. At $30 per month, it’s about 30 percent less than what we paid for Vivint and ADT. And it was totally worth it to be able to remotely arm our system and view live video footage on our smartphone at work.

    SimpliSafe Outdoor CameraSimpliSafe Outdoor Camera
    SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera

    Our only complaint is that SimpliSafe’s cameras don’t have many artificial intelligence features. See, for example, our review of the SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera. The company also doesn’t offer much choice when it comes to cameras: two indoor models, an outdoor model, and a video doorbell. If you like options, you might want to consider SimpliSafe alternatives.

  • 4. abode – Best DIY Smart Home Security

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Packages starting at $140
    Monitoring Options Professional and DIY
    Monthly Monitoring Costs $24.99 per month
    Contract Lengths Month-to-month or yearly
    Installation Options DIY or professional
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit

    Smart Capabilities

    abode offers three plans, each one with a different level of technology. Trust us: If you’re outfitting a smart home, you want either the Smart Security package or the Iota package. Both come with their own hubs, which allow you to control everything. Of course, you also have the option to use abode’s app, or you can connect everything to Google Home or Alexa and use your voice. As a bonus, abode also works with Apple HomeKit — a rarity that makes it one of our best systems for Apple — and it’s compatible with IFTTT.

    The Abode Iota security system.The Abode Iota security system.
    The Abode Iota security system.

    Monitoring Options

    Like SimpliSafe, you can choose to self-monitor with abode or sign up for a professional monitoring plan. With professional monitoring, you can sign up for a single month of service or save money by signing a one-year contract. You have choices if you self-monitor. You can DIY it entirely, pay nothing, and still get push notifications and access to live video. Or, for a small monthly fee, you can add seven days of cloud storage. One note: The price for professional monitoring goes up considerably if you stay with abode after the first year. We don’t love to see that.

    >> Head-to-head: abode vs. SimpliSafe

    Pricing

    abode’s prices are very affordable. You can get the Smart Security package, with hub, entry sensor, motion sensor, and key fob, for $279. Another option is to buy the more advanced Iota system, with hub, entry sensor, and fob, for $379. Both packages are scalable, or you can build your own.

    The cameras are real bargains, with the abode Cam 2 available for just $59.99. That’s similar to the Ring Indoor cam’s price. As for monitoring, professional monitoring is a full $10 cheaper than what SimpliSafe offers, even if you pay by the month. And, if you purchase a full year, you’ll pay just $149 total. That’s just over $12 per month, cheaper than anyone else out there. The price increases for year two, but it’s still lower than just about every other provider.

    What We Like
    • Smart home control through Alexa, Google Home, or abode’s proprietary CUE platform
    • Z-wave compatibility means system works with tons of smart home devices
    • Affordable professional monitoring plans
    • Low-priced equipment packages
    What We Don’t Like
    • Additional fee for professional installation
    • Requires upfront equipment purchase
    • Limited support unless you purchase a subscription
    • No outdoor camera options

    Outside of Vivint, you won’t find a system with more smart home compatibility than abode. In fact, don’t tell anyone, but the truth is, it has more compatibility. Vivint doesn’t work with HomeKit, for instance; abode does. In fact, abode even offers its own smart system — CUE — so if you haven’t yet started building a smart home, there’s no need to invest extra money in Google Home or Alexa.

    We were most excited to discover that abode works with IFTTT. That meant we could set up some nifty routines connecting our security system to other smart devices in our home. When we went away for the weekend, for instance, we set the TV to turn on every time a motion detector was triggered. That way, anyone who happened to be lurking on our property would think we were home.

    >> Find Alternatives: Best Home Security Systems for Alexa

    Meanwhile, abode’s prices are well below Vivint’s. In fact, they’re comparable to SimpliSafe’s, and in some cases even cheaper. You can buy an equipment package and pay nothing more ever if you’re willing to monitor the system yourself. But why do that when professional monitoring costs as little as $12 per month?

    The abode AppThe abode App
    The abode App

    Of course, this system isn’t nearly as sleek as Vivint’s, and you won’t get the same level of service. The abode app, for example, can be a little clunky, and response times with abode can’t compare to those of ADT or Vivint. If you’re looking for a great app, you might check out our list of the best security systems with apps. Still, if you’re looking for a low-price alternative that still gives you tons of smart functionality, abode could very well be the right system for you.

  • 5. Ring Alarm – Best Alexa-Compatible Smart Home Security

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Starting at $199
    Monitoring Options Professional and DIY
    Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $20
    Contract Lengths 1-12 months
    Installation Options DIY or professional
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Smart Capabilities

    Ring offers the standard range of equipment: entry sensors, motion sensors, and chimes. Where the company really excels is in its range of cameras. You can get anything from a simple indoor camera to an outdoor spotlight camera. Check out our Spotlight Cam review, for instance. There are many Ring doorbell cameras; you can even get a car cam. There isn’t any fancy facial recognition software, but most cameras do come with person detection, provided you sign up for a Protect Plan.

    Ring Alarm Equipment with AlexaRing Alarm Equipment with Alexa
    Ring Alarm Equipment with Alexa

    Monitoring Options

    Ring offers a nice range of choices when it comes to monitoring. This is another company that allows you to self-monitor. You can do that for free and still get real-time alerts and live video. For less than the price of a Starbucks latte, you can get video recording for one camera. Get a Ring doorbell (see our Ring doorbell review), and you can watch footage any time. Go one step up to get recording for an unlimited number of cameras. Or, for $20 per month, you can get full 24/7 professional monitoring.

    We always recommend professional monitoring, since you never know when you’re going to be too busy to respond to a push alert. And with Ring, you’re not going to break the bank getting professional monitoring. Still, it’s nice to have options, and we respect how many Ring offers.

    Pricing

    Ring can be an incredibly affordable system if you’re careful about what you buy. An indoor camera, for instance, costs just $59.99. Pair that with true self-monitoring, and you can protect your home — in theory, anyway — for $60. On the other hand, Ring has never been great about putting together equipment packages. It’s easy to spend a lot when you’re buying items individually. We can say that Ring offers one of the best professional monitoring plans on the market at $20 per month. That’s not quite as good as abode, but let’s call it second best.

    >> Compare: Ring vs. SimpliSafe

    What We Like
    • Low-priced professional monitoring plans
    • Lots of camera options
    • Choice of professional or self-monitoring
    • No contract required
    What We Don’t Like
    • Best cameras can be expensive
    • Only two equipment packages available
    • No equipment financing
    • History of security breaches

    You’d expect a company owned by Amazon to have great smart home compatibility. And you’d be right. Ring products integrate well with Alexa and, to a lesser extent, Google Home (and you get nice Ring Prime Day deals to boot). We certainly had no trouble using voice commands to arm and disarm the system, and we were able to pull camera video up on our Echo Show while we were making dinner.

    Ring’s equipment, on the other hand, isn’t what we’d call sophisticated. It has everything you need for basic home security. All cameras come with at least 1080p HD resolution as well as two-way audio. At that resolution, we knew instantly that the guy who showed up on our doorstep asking for “Ray” was a stranger. And we were able to tell him in the clearest possible terms that we weren’t answering our door.

    Ring Doorbell streaming on Echo ShowRing Doorbell streaming on Echo Show
    Ring Doorbell streaming on Echo Show

    There’s also person detection, which can be incredibly helpful when you’re trying to cut down on false alerts. Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of extras: no facial recognition and no privacy zones, except on the Stick Up Cam (see our Stick Up cam review).

    In the end, Ring is a home security system for those who like to be in control. You won’t find a lot of full-service options–no one is going to walk you through purchase options or offer to install your equipment for you (though Ring does recommend some installers if you need them). On the other hand, you get more choices than you do with the full-service companies, and you get a lot of smart home compatibility.

  • 6. Cove – Easiest to Use Smart Home Security

    Product Specs

    Equipment Costs Must customize package
    Monitoring Options Professional
    Monthly Monitoring Costs Starting at $17.99 per month
    Contract Lengths No contract required
    Installation Options DIY
    Smart Platform Integration Alexa and Google Home

    Smart Capabilities

    Cove offers everything you need to keep your home safe: entry sensors, motion detectors, environmental monitors, panic buttons, key remotes, and cameras. Everything runs through the Touch alarm panel, and you can connect that to either Alexa or Google Home, as long as you sign up for Cove’s top monitoring plan. Unfortunately, you don’t get a lot of choice when it comes to equipment: Cove offers just one type of each component. With a lifetime guarantee on everything, it should all do what it’s supposed to.

    Cove's touchscreen panelCove's touchscreen panel
    Cove’s touchscreen panel

    Monitoring Options

    Cove requires you to purchase a monitoring plan. You get to choose from two plans: Basic and Plus. Basic gives you 24/7 monitoring, cellular backup (Cove is one of the best security systems with cellular), and hourly automated system checks. System control through your app requires you to get the Plus plan. You also need the Plus plan to connect the system to Alexa or Google Home. Even with Plus, you’ll wind up paying less than you would for SimpliSafe.

    Pricing

    Cove doesn’t offer any equipment packages. That can be a headache if you’re not great at decision-making. But Cove’s prices are low — a door sensor costs $7.50, $12.50 less than Ring charges — and you can buy only what you need. Monitoring prices are extremely reasonable as well. The top plan is $27.99 per month, $3 cheaper than SimpliSafe, or you can give up smart home functionality and save an additional $10 per month.

    What We Like
    • Low-cost professional monitoring
    • Affordable equipment
    • Works well with both Alexa and Google Home
    • Includes cellular backup
    What We Don’t Like
    • No self-monitoring options
    • Doesn’t offer any of its own home automation equipment
    • Boxy equipment
    • Cameras lack advanced AI features

    Cove offers an interesting mix of full-service and affordable security system features. On the one hand, the company requires you to sign up for professional monitoring. We can appreciate that, as we firmly believe everyone should have professional monitoring. And Cove makes it easy to justify signing up, with two low-cost subscription options. The cheapest of these actually costs $3 less than a Ring monitoring plan, making it one competitive with the most affordable systems on the market.

    Of course, if you want your equipment to work with your smart home, you have to pay for the more expensive plan at $27.99 per month. That’s still cheaper than SimpliSafe’s professional monitoring, but you can get the same features from Ring and abode for much less. In other words, a Cove system can be an incredibly affordable system, but if you want the extras, it will cost more.

    Cove Window SensorsCove Window Sensors
    Cove Window Sensors

    Equipment costs can be similarly deceptive. We managed to get a motion detector, an entry sensor, a smoke detector, and an indoor camera for under $50. That’s pretty remarkable. It helped that Cove threw in the camera for free. The thing is, to make all that equipment work, we also had to buy a Touch Alarm Panel, and that added $124.50 to the overall price. That means an initial investment with Cove costs about the same as you’d pay for abode or SimpliSafe, but adding equipment can be considerably cheaper. Easily expandable is a very particular niche, but it’s an important one.

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