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The best DIY home security systems of the year

The best DIY home security systems of the year

Do-it-yourself home security companies aren’t like the ADTs and Vivints of the world. Instead of locking you into a multiyear contract with a broad coverage-based subscription fee, most DIY security systems give you the flexibility to choose how you monitor your house. That usually means you can sign up for a professional monitoring service on an optional basis and cancel at any time — without early termination fees or other hidden charges. We considered the quality of the security cameras, the features they offer, whether they work with other devices, including smart speakers and displays, and how they compare to other devices in the product category.  

Scroll through your options below to learn more about the best DIY home security systems available today. We update this list periodically.

The best DIY home security systems

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe was one of the first DIY home security systems to hit stores and is a reasonable alternative to ADT and other professional firms. That’s due in large part to its wide variety of accessories. Its starter kit costs just $259 and underwent a hardware update recently that looks much better than before. 

You still have to pay at least a $15 monthly fee to access any remote security features (something that’s typically offered for free with other systems), but SimpliSafe’s impressive array of accessories and solid performance make it our top pick overall for a DIY alarm system.

Read our SimpliSafe Home Security System (2018) review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Abode has all of the standard sensors (motion sensor, door sensor, entry sensor, window sensor, etc.) and devices for an easy entry-level security system. It integrates with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT for voice-enabled arming and disarming, as well as other advanced automations. You can add accessories to the system a la carte. Professional monitoring is available for $30 per month and includes cellular backup. 

It also supports Zigbee and Z-Wave, which means you can connect the system to a wide variety of third-party devices so you can control everything from within the Abode app.

I wish you didn’t have to use Abode’s web app to make custom rules and automations, but this scalable DIY installation system delivers reliable smart security performance at a good value.

Read our Abode review.

Julie Snyder/CNET

If you want a simple home security system with motion detection at an incredible value, consider the second-gen Ring Alarm Security Kit. Version 2.0 was introduced this year and it’s very similar to the original — and that’s a good thing. 

The eight-piece kit I tested, complete with a base station, a keypad, a range extender, a motion detector and four door/window sensors costs $200. In addition to its affordable price, the Ring Alarm Security Kit has a simple app, it’s easy to install and the whole system works well.

You can scale it up with additional Ring devices, including a Ring security camera and doorbell, and even add in a third-party smart lock and other products. The kit works with Alexa, so you can arm/disarm the system with voice commands — and Ring offers optional professional monitoring for $10 per month or $100 per year (also a great value). 

Definitely consider this DIY system if you want a basic entry-point into home security that can also be scaled up over time, as needed.

Editor’s note: Ring has been called out for its partnership with local police departments in the US, leading privacy advocates to express concern about the data Ring shares with law enforcement and how they use that information. In December 2019, thousands of Ring users’ personal information was exposed, leading us to stop recommending Ring products.

Ring has since updated its security policies, from offering customers a Control Center dashboard to more easily access privacy and security settings to requiring two-factor authentication. We have resumed recommending Ring’s products with this caveat: If you have concerns about Ring’s privacy policies, make sure to familiarize yourself with its privacy statement. You can read more about how we factor Ring’s privacy policies into our recommendations here.

Read our Ring Alarm Security Kit review.

Still have questions? Check out this comprehensive guide to all things home security.

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