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If you think about it, the current crop of smart home security systems gives you just your old burglar alarm with additional capabilities such as controlling or monitoring the system using your mobile device.
As such, you not only get to help secure your home but you get to check in anytime from anywhere.
You could also have it work automatically with other devices at home, such as switch on your smart lights, turn on your TV, or play some music if you think somebody’s staking your house from outside and you want to make it appear like somebody’s home.
What is a smart home security system? It is a collection of several devices that are connected to the Internet and that serve to make your home safe. Typically, a smart security system would have connected security cameras, motion detectors, sirens, sensors, and locks.
These security-related devices might be all connected to a hub, which takes care of the smart side of your system such as pairing it with your smartphone and having it work with other connected devices.
A typical smart home security system would allow you to use your tablet or smartphone to see real-time video feeds of what’s happening at home, view photos taken by the motion sensors, and even control your lights, appliances, and heating systems.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 What to Consider in a Great Smart Home Security System
- 2 The Best Smart Security Systems – Rated
- 3 Side-by-side comparison: The best Smart Home Security Systems for 2018
- 4 Final Recommendations on the Top Security Systems
What to Consider in a Great Smart Home Security System
Before buying a smart home security system, do ask yourself these questions:
1. Does it require a monitoring contract? There are smart home security systems that include a monitoring service where there are people who monitor your security systems 24/7.
If they detect a problem, they will be able to contact you, send someone to your home, or call the police. Some homeowners, however, do not like this service and would prefer to respond to alerts themselves.
2. Does it require professional installation? There are home security systems that need to be installed by professionals, but this entails additional upfront costs. DIYers and those who are good with their hands sometimes prefer to do the installation themselves.
3. Does it have cellular backup? Cellular backup is very important if your Wi-Fi connection is not reliable. It will ensure that the smart features of your home security system continue to work even when your home Internet goes down.
4. Does it have a means to get around power outages? Do you know that in 2016, there were 3,800 power outages across the United States? On average, power was gone for 48 minutes.
Within that span of time, a thief could have easily entered your house and stolen everything of value, then still have enough time for a clean getaway. If your home security system does not have a backup so that it would continue to function when the power goes out, the thief could have come and gone without you getting alerted about it.
5. What sensors does it have? Home security systems rely on sensors to detect a would-be intruder as he or she opens your doors or windows, or to detect motion outside your doors or within the perimeter of your house.
Different systems offer different sets of sensors, so choose one with sensors that are most useful to you.
6. What are the home automation platforms and connectivity technologies that it supports? Choose a smart home security system that works with the connected devices you already own. For instance, if you already have a Samsung SmartThings hub, then you should get a security system that works with it.
7. Does it work with voice commands? If you have Amazon Alexa devices or Google Assistant, then you should find it more convenient if you can arm or disarm your alarms just by issuing a voice command. You can also use Siri to do the same thing if your chosen alarm system works with Apple HomeKit.
8. How much is it? Price is primarily a big consideration when choosing your smart home security system. Do not just go for the cheapest, but go for the one that gives you value for your money.
Choose a home security system that adequately protects your home without you needing to rob a bank to buy and use it. You also do not have to go for the most expensive one – even if you can afford it – if it has a wide array of features that are not applicable to your home.
9. Does it allow you to catch thieves before they enter your home? A good smart home security system allows you to prevent people from illegally entering your home. While it is good that your security system catches a thief in the act, it might be dangerous for you if you respond to it by yourself.
Or it may be too late and the thief is long gone with your valuables if you call the police. Choose a security system that alerts you early on, and prevents these burglars from even stepping foot inside your house or property.
10. Will your Wi-Fi network be able to adequately connect all your devices? If you have problems getting a reliable Wi-Fi signal anywhere in your house, then you might want to buy a home security system that extends Wi-Fi coverage.
In this case, each device in the home security system acts like a signal repeater, allowing the next device to get a reliable connection. Another way is to boost Wi-Fi coverage by adding routers or signal repeaters around your home. Or you could just place the devices and sensors in areas that can easily be blanketed with a Wi-Fi signal.
Other Considerations: With the proliferation of smart home products, there is also the “build it yourself” option. By piecing together the right smart hubs and compatible accessories, you can build some of the same functionality a traditional service “package” might provide.
The advantage to going with a security system smart package (like the ones rated in this article), is that you don’t have to worry about mixing and matching all the components. They just work! Similarly, professional security monitoring integration is not something that you can just piece together (experience counts here!).
The Best Smart Security Systems – Rated
With these in mind, what are the best home security systems that are currently available? Check out:
If you are looking for a stress-free alarm system for the home, get the SkylinkNet Alarm System Starter Kit. The SK200 starter kit sells for $160 and includes the base station, 2 window/door sensors, a motion detector, and a keychain remote.
There are other starter kits available, and these can go as low as $99.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here). You just need to add sensors as you need them.
SkylinkNet offers motion sensors, windows and door sensors, water leak sensors, and garage door sensors, as well as a variety of security cameras and accessories. The SkylinkNet system is also very easy to install; no professional installation is required!
Take note, however, that the SkylinkNet Alarm System is a local alarm. The company does not offer monitoring services. It also does not have cellular backup and it does not have smoke detectors or temperature sensors.
It may not work directly with other connected devices, but it does offer IFTTT recipes, allowing you to get around the lack of compatibility to Zigbee, Z-wave and other home automation platforms. This is a very affordable local security system that offers IFTTT compatibility.
2. SimpliSafe Home Security System
Like what its name implies, SimpliSafe makes securing your home very simple. The wireless system is easy to install because you do not have to worry about laying down cables and boring holes into walls. What’s more, each SimpliSafe device works right out of the box and can easily work together.
Not only is SimpliSafe very easy to install, it also does not require you to get a monitoring contract and you can use it as a local alarm system.
If you want SimpliSafe to also monitor your security system, you can choose from either the standard plan, where you pay 50 cents a day, or the interactive plan, where you pay 83 cents a day.
Both monitoring plans offer round the clock monitoring and cellular backup. The Interactive Plan, however, allows you to enjoy remote control, secret alerts, as well as email and SMS alerts.
To get started, SimpliSafe has the classic package, where you get the base station and eight other devices, accessories, and sensors.
You can also opt for the starter and economy package that goes for $229.96 and $259.95, or go for the Ultimate Package, which includes 16 devices, sensors and accessories for $540 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
You can just add more devices as you need them. For instance, you can add a SimpliCam, which sells for $99, or get an entry sensor, motion sensor, glassbreak sensor, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector, panic button, keychain remote, siren, freeze sensor, and water sensor.
All of these are under $50 each!
With SimpliSafe, you do not have to pay an arm and a leg to secure your home. They have very affordable devices, sensors, and monitoring plans. However, SimpliSafe does not really work well with third-party devices, which means you have to use devices and sensors from the SimpliSafe brand.
The mobile app they offer also gives you very little or too much functionality.
Further Reading on Simplisafe:
3. ADT Pulse
ADT Pulse is an established expert in the field of home security monitoring, and it shows in how knowledgeable their service representatives are. The company gives you a wide array of devices and sensors that can help protect your home from just about any event.
These devices and sensors include fire and smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detector, smart locks, garage door control, video doorbell, smart thermostat, smart lights, flood monitor, and others. All of these are visible on the mobile app, and all of these are professionally monitored.
You have access to both a Web app and mobile app. The Web app allows you to control the Pulse system right down to the nitty gritty. The mobile app, on the other hand, gives you an easy way to check on things.
The mobile app also alerts you when the alarms at home are triggered, and it allows you to arm or disarm your system remotely.
However, ADT can prove to be quite the expert at making you add more sensors and pay more. They have advertised on their Web site that you can secure your home starting at $28.99. However, in reality, you would need to pay for at least three years of monitoring service. And that depends on the tier you belong to.
The $28.99 advertised rate is only for the lowest tier. You pay more as you go higher. For instance, Tier 2 means you pay $47.99 a month in fees and the highest, Tier 4, has a fee of $60 a month. And you have to commit to three years of using ADT, or you pay a stiff pre-termination penalty fee.
ADT Pulse also works with Z-wave hubs, allowing you to control other smart devices. You can also use voice commands to operate it if you have an Amazon Alexa speaker.
ADT Pulse might be expensive, especially if you have a custom set up involving a lot of devices and sensors, but when it comes to home security, you really can’t be too sure.
The fact that ADT Pulse has devices that work really well, professional and knowledgeable monitoring service agents, and round-the-clock customer support should your security camera or other device break down makes it a good choice.
4. Vivint Smart Home
The Vivint Smart Home helps keep your home secure with a range of components, including a doorbell camera, an outdoor camera, a ping camera, a smart lock, an element thermostat, and a garage door opener. You choose the components you want to include then select a monthly plan.
There is an option for you to avoid paying for the monthly plan and monitor your system yourself, but you will not be able to use the mobile app nor can you call their tech support.
Another thing, the $39.99 per month fee is only for the round-the-clock professional monitoring. If you want camera functionality and if you want to use other Vivint devices such as the thermostat and the doorbell cam, you will need to pay the $49.99 service plan.
The nice thing about Vivint Smart Home is that you can add more sensors and more devices as you need them. You can add a glass-break detector for $70, a window sensor for $40, a two-way camera for $200, or the Element Thermostat for $150.
All of these devices work together and these are all monitored by professionals. The control panel not only allows you to adjust the thermostat, view recorded videos, and even press the panic button.
The panic button alerts your local police.
Everything about the Vivint Smart Home looks beautiful and you cannot ask for more when it comes to these devices doing their respective functions. The mobile app is also intuitive to use and you can get a lot of information from it.
For instance, you can find out which of your doors and windows are currently open and which of your smart locks are unlocked, and you can arm or disarm your security system. Like the professional monitoring, the mobile app is able to show you what each of your connected devices and sensors is seeing.
The Vivint Smart Home would have been our top choice for the best smart home security system for making devices and sensors that are easy to use, for having top of the line specifications, and more importantly, for securing your home easily.
But it does suffer from being too expensive, especially for those who live in large houses.
5. Abode Home Security
If you are looking for a smart security system that is easy to install, does not require you to pay monthly plans, can connect to a wide range of devices, and has IFTTT compatibility, Abode Home Security is the answer.
The Abode Home Security has a starter kit that includes everything you need: a gateway, door and window sensors, a motion sensing camera, and a remote keyfob. You can also add other sensors such as a glass break and vibration sensor, acoustic glass break sensor, occupancy sensor, and a water leak sensor.
You can download a smartphone app and connect your Abode. You can get instant notifications on what your sensors detect. You will know if your doors or windows have been opened, or if the system detected motion at home. The mobile app gives you the chance to see only the alerts you want to see.
The Abode Home Security system also has geofencing capabilities, using your phone’s GPS locations to know if you are home or whether to automatically arm or disarm the alarm.
Once you have your system up and running, you can pay $10 per month for cellular back up and 14 days of storage. But you need to pay $30 per month for professional monitoring and 90 days of storage.
The best thing about the Abode Home Security is that you can just add sensors as you need them and since it works with Zigbee and Z-Wave platforms, you can even use third-party devices and sensors with it.
Side-by-side comparison: The best Smart Home Security Systems for 2018
|Monitoring contract required?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Power outage backup||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with Zigbee or Zwave||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Compatible with Amazon Alexa||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Compatible with Google Home||Yes||No||No||No||No|
Final Recommendations on the Top Security Systems
If you are looking for a simple local alarm, you can go with SkylinkNet, which offers you adequate protection for your home and has IFTTT compatibility, allowing you to connect with more devices and services.
If you want to get a simple and affordable system with an equally affordable monitoring service, then go for SimpliSafe.
If money is no problem, you can choose among Vivint, ADT and Abode, all of which offer you round-the-clock professional monitoring services, power outage backup and cellular backups, as well as compatibility with Zwave and Zigbee home automation devices.
However, both ADT and Vivint need to be professionally installed, while Abode is simple enough for you to install on your own. The Abode Home Security system also wins when it comes to IFTTT support and it supports a wider range of sensors and devices.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!