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Across the board, more homeowners are turning to home security systems with do-it-yourself installation. After all, why pay for an expensive professional install and lengthy service contracts when you can choose just the equipment you need and set it up on your own? Then, when it comes time to move, all you have to do is take it down and put it right back up in your new place.
The first thing to decide when choosing a DIY home security system is monitoring: do you also want to do that yourself or would you prefer 24/7 professional care? Most homeowners want to know that someone is on duty round-the-clock and choose to pay for external monitoring, but you've got options if you want to keep an eye on things on your own.
Wednesday, June 29th
There's no shortage of competition in the DIY home security system marketplace, and yet Frontpoint has led the pack for over 10 years. In fact, they were the first company to make it possible for customers to get professional monitoring with do-it-yourself equipment installation.
You choose the equipment
Frontpoint gets high marks for allowing customers to integrate a wide range of home automation equipment - even components purchased through third-party sellers and brands instead of directly from the Frontpoint store. You can easily create a bespoke home security system as you browse what Frontpoint sells (and keeping in mind what you may already have, like a Nest thermostat or other smart home gear).
3 starter kits to choose from
If you feel more comfortable starting with a preselected package, there are three to consider:
No shortage of options
Is there a type of DIY home security equipment that Frontpoint doesn't offer? We had a hard time finding anything missing. You'll see ample choices in the dropdown categories, which include Home Automation, Accessories, Cameras, Intrusion, Best Sellers, and Hazard Sensors. You aren't going to find dozens of choices in each of those categories, but keep in mind what we said about being able to incorporate equipment from other retailers (like most Z-Wave home automation gear). On what Frontpoint does offer, there's almost always a discount in place too - we've seen savings ranging from 20-35% every time we've visited the site.
Monitoring can be a little pricey
You should prepare yourself for the fact that Frontpoint's monitoring fees are on the high end at $49.99 per month. You're limited to up to four cameras (but, honestly, few systems have more than that), yet there's no limit on the rest of your system: incorporate as many features as you like. Plus, when we chatted with a representative on the Frontpoint site, we found out that customers who have their payments automatically debited from their checking or savings will get a $5/month discount on those monitoring fees.
No required contracts here
Frontpoint proudly advertises that there are no contracts needed to use their service - so you might be taken aback when you go to check out and see the monitoring plan described as "three years" . Don't worry: we confirmed with Frontpoint support that it refers to your rate lock. In other words, your monitoring fees are guaranteed to be the same for three full years. You can still cancel at any time, and if you're within the first 30 days of your service you're eligible for a refund on your equipment if your DIY home security system isn't meeting your expectations.
ID theft protection is a bonus
Frontpoint is the only home security provider in our evaluation that includes identity theft protection with your monitoring costs. Known as ID Protect, the service is backed by Allstate and could be a suitable replacement for any other plans you may already be paying for (like LifeLock). If you're spending $20 or more a month for such coverage and cancel it in favor of Frontpoint's service, you can think of it as a discount off those higher-than-average monitoring fees.
Can 10,000 satisfied clients be wrong?
Like many providers of DIY home security systems, Frontpoint has an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. Even better, more than 10,000 people - 90% of all reviewers - have given this service a 4- or 5-star rating. That's even more compelling when you realize that many homeowners have protected their property with Frontpoint for ten years or longer. We did see a slight trend in recent reviews that mentioned issues with reaching support to handle equipment or billing problems, but those are still few and far between - and that wouldn't interfere with these systems' overall ability to keep you safe.
First place for DIY home security systems
Frontpoint has been a name to rely on for home security systems for many consecutive years. You won't spend an arm and a leg to set up your home's protection, you're covered by a 30-day refund policy and no-contract service, and your home security can include as much automation as you like. Frontpoint is the ideal provider of DIY home security systems, and once again they've earned our strongest recommendation.
Doesn't everyone want "DIY home security that's both effective and affordable" ? That's what Cove offers - and quite effectively delivers. Even though they're a relative newcomer to the home security industry, they're already bringing in awards, including a Best Home Security System designation from US News and World Report.
Answer a few questions for a personalized recommendation
The most straightforward way to start with Cove is by using their questionnaire to figure out what they recommend. You'll indicate if you're setting up a DIY security system for a home or business, if you've already got an alarm system in use, details about your pets (to determine if you need pet-sensitive sensors), and so forth. That can be accessed via the box labeled "Want some help?" near the bottom of the Cove site.
No problem to customize as needed
Once you've answered those questions, Cove displays the security system arrangement that should perfectly meet your needs. What we really love is that even this part is customizable: choose any element and increase or decrease it at will. Who knows, maybe you want even wider camera coverage and decide to include an extra one for your backyard, or you realized that your upstairs windows don't need entry sensors. It's a big perk that Cove lets you get that specific and doesn't require you to purchase a premade package.
Big bang for your buck
Your next step is to choose a monitoring plan: Cove Basic or Cove Plus. Both offer 24/7 monitoring of all alarms and environmental alerts via ATT 4G LTE connections, 24-hour battery backup, smash-and-grab protection, and hourly automated system checks. You'll pay $14.99/month for the Basic plan, and it includes a one-year warranty on your Cove equipment. But, upgrading to the Plus plan for $24.99/month isn't a bad idea: your warranty coverage expands to lifetime protection, your rate is guaranteed forever, and you'll get a $5 credit every month that you can apply towards new equipment (and you can roll that credit over each month until you have enough for the gear you want to buy). This plan is also what you'll need if you want camera integration or smartphone/Alexa/Google Home control capabilities with your Cove system.
Designed to minimize false alarms
One feature of Cove DIY home security systems that stands out is their TripleTouch Alarm Response. Let's say your system is triggered: a text message will be sent immediately to your number on file, and your in-home control panel will turn on the LiveAssist function, both in an attempt to contact you. If a Cove rep isn't able to reach you one way or the other, the next step is to call your phone. If they still can't get in contact with you (or if they do and you confirm that there's an emergency), Cove reps will contact emergency services. This makes false alarm calls much less common - and that's good news if you live in an area where you're assessed a fee for first responder visits.
Lower-cost equipment and zero contracts
You'll also love that you can get everything Cove has to offer with no contracts. The biggest commitment is the cost of buying the equipment upfront, but even that is much more affordable than many Cove competitors. As a reference point, we looked at what it would cost to fully protect a two-story home with multiple door/window sensors, remote controls for a household of six adults, and so forth. We were amazed that the entire package cost less than $500. And yes, Cove home security systems are made for easy DIY installation, with plenty of support on hand via phone if you need it - but if you'd like someone else to do it for you, Cove has professional installation available for a one-time fee of $79+.
Give it a try for 60 days
What's the downside? There isn't one, as far as we can see. Cove even lets you put your whole system to the test for 60 days, risk-free. If there's anything you don't like, you can send back the equipment for a full refund, and Cove covers the return shipping fees too.
Reputation is strong and climbing
Despite being a newer home security company, Cove has established a trustworthy reputation. That begins with an "A" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, where there were just a small handful of complaints filed over the three years leading up to our review. Those not-so-satisfied customers typically reported having problems getting their Cove home security systems working properly or with the experience of dealing with Cove support reps who were apparently based outside of the US. On the other hand, more than 2500 clients have already given Cove a five-star rating for providing knowledgeable support, hassle-free setup, and security coverage that delivers precisely as advertised.
One of the best DIY home security systems
Even though they've still got a bit of room for improvement, Cove stands out as one of the best options for DIY home security systems. We appreciate their transparency with pricing on both equipment and monitoring, all with no minimum contracts. The company also seems to be making the effort to improve their already-decent customer service experience, and we expect to see that reflected in future comments from Cove clients. Since you've got the reassurance of a 60-day, money-back guarantee, why not give Cove a try?
Never heard of Alarm Relay? Many homeowners haven't, and yet the company has been in business for more than 50 years throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and some parts of Canada. The Better Business Bureau gives Alarm Relay their highest recommendation - an "A+" rating and accreditation - and this provider has received no complaints there. Not many home security companies can make that claim.
Just the basics of home protection
If you're looking for a DIY home security system with every possible feature and gadget, you might be a little disappointed when considering Alarm Relay. This company is known for providing all of the essential components for a trustworthy security system, not for offering the most cutting-edge home automation and equipment. Alarm Relay won't let you down if you need a basic setup with reliable monitoring, though.
Plenty of equipment...
As you browse the equipment for sale on the Alarm Relay website, it'll quickly become apparent what they do and don't offer. For instance, when you look at the Sensors category, you'll see a range of options for detecting smoke, carbon monoxide, and flooding, plus entry point sensors for doors and windows. Under Cameras, Alarm Relay offers several options for indoor and outdoor use, plus video doorbells.
...plus affordable monitoring
You can add as many components as you like to your cart - but don't forget to select a monitoring plan as well. You've got three options for landline, internet and cellular connectivity, with monthly pricing at $8.95, $13.95, and $19.95, respectively. Be aware that those prices are your average monthly cost, but Alarm Relay requires you to pay a year at a time. Also, their costs increase slightly each year for the next three years; after the fourth year, your monitoring price will always stay the same.
Incorporate your existing equipment
Many DIY home security systems require you to purchase their equipment, but Alarm Relay is happy to work with what you may already have in place. You can reach out by using the "Need Help" button on their site or calling their toll-free number; they'll consult with you to get more information about your property and get you up and running in no time. Even if you're starting from scratch, Alarm Relay can help you assess your security needs and recommend the right setup to get the protection you need.
Very satisfied clients
In addition to their flawless record with the BBB, Alarm Relay gets plenty of praise from loyal customers who have used their DIY home security systems for more than a decade. Even people who have recently switched from one of the big-name security brands say that they wish they'd gotten Alarm Relay sooner - for the fantastic protection at much lower prices. While we spotted a few complaints here and there, we're happy to say that Alarm Relay reps always handle them in a professional, friendly way, and there was nothing that caught our attention as being a red flag.
Ideal choice for simple home security
Alarm Relay is our provider of choice for basic DIY home security systems without all of the bells and whistles. You'll only have to commit to a year at a time, and it's one of the only providers that can accommodate existing security equipment. While you won't get any home automation features or bleeding-edge technology through this company, you will get affordable protection and dependable service. Alarm Relay should be one of the first providers you consider if you just need a home security system that gets the job done.
SimpliSafe is one of a few companies that offers true do-it-yourself home security: both on the installation and on the monitoring. More than one million people in the US and UK have trusted this company for protection since 2006.
Pick a package or design your own
You've got lots of ways to put together your DIY home security system through SimpliSafe. For anyone needing to get protection on a shoestring budget, their Refurbished section can save customers some cash. Otherwise, you can either choose the individual components of your system or simplify with one of five pre-made equipment packages:
Can get professional installation for a fee
SimpliSafe equipment is meant to be easy to install, and most customers have no problem getting everything in place, up and running. But, if you're not confident in your own abilities - or you just want to hand that work off to someone else - you can pay for professional installation starting at $99, depending on your address and how many pieces of equipment are in your system.
Monitoring: four options
Some DIY home security systems give you two choices for monitoring: professional or on-your-own. SimpliSafe ups the ante with not two but four. Your setup can be unmonitored, self-monitored with camera recording, standard or interactive. Each option lets you arm and disarm the system remotely, gives you push notifications, and sends you alerts for alarms, errors and camera activity. And, no matter how many components you include with your SimpliSafe home security system, your monthly monitoring fees will stay the same.
Pay nothing when you choose unmonitored
Whether you're on a budget or you just don't want anyone else "spying" on your property, SimpliSafe's unmonitored option fits the bill. Your only cost is for the equipment itself, but this is a case where "you get what you pay for" is accurate. It's not going to include any kind of dispatch of emergency services or text/email notifications, and your logged timeline will only cover the last seven days. We don't think that most homeowners shopping for a DIY home security system will want to go quite this bare with their monitoring, but it might be a cost-effective choice if you're just trying to keep an eye on a second home or other property that's empty most of the time.
Self-monitoring with cameras: under $10/month
SimpliSafe offers another option for anyone who prefers not to have professional monitoring. For a monthly fee of $9.99, your DIY security system can have up to five video cameras with unlimited recording, no limits on your system's history and timeline, some options for integration of smart home components, and alerts and notifications via all channels (email, text, push). You're still responsible for keeping tabs on all of that, since no one else will be.
Professional monitoring: two options
If you're shopping for a home security system, you've probably got some kind of professional monitoring in mind. SimpliSafe's 24/7 monitoring can be accessed in two ways: $14.99/month for Standard and $24.99/month for Interactive. What's the difference? The lower-cost service is just the basics of monitoring, but without SMS/email notifications, reminders to arm your system, or smart home integrations. Going up to the Interactive tier gives you all available notifications and services and recording on up to 10 cameras within your security system.
Get a 60-day trial with no contracts
You've got nothing to lose by giving SimpliSafe a try. Every level of monitoring and all equipment come with a 60-day trial, and you can cancel within that time for any reason.
Some noteworthy features
If you choose the Interactive tier of monitoring with SimpliSafe, you'll have access to two features you may not see with other DIY home security systems. We invite you to check out their Visual Verification tool: that's how their professional monitoring service confirms that an alert or alarm is legitimate, which allows them to get first responders dispatched more quickly. Plus, you'll be able to set up Secret Alerts for anywhere in the house - from an entire room to a single drawer or cabinet - and be silently notified when it's been accessed (want to catch your significant other digging into your hidden stash of chocolate? Go for it!)
Reputation isn't trending upward
In the past, SimpliSafe was one of our year-after-year favorites for DIY home security systems. That's why we were so disappointed to see that recent feedback is shockingly poor. Almost all of their five-star ratings are several years old, and more current comments describe difficulties with getting equipment connected to begin with or with getting it repaired while still covered under warranty, missing refunds when accounts are canceled during the 60-day trial, and problems getting adequate responses from SimpliSafe's support team.
Not improved by recent updates
Another issue with SimpliSafe's service relates to the recent implementation of two-factor authentication for all users. Ordinarily that's a big plus for security reasons, but in this case it has made it impossible for more than one person to access the security system remotely when using separate usernames and passwords on the same account. Unless all members of a household log in using the same credentials (which is a security risk in itself), only one person can respond to alerts remotely. Speaking via live chat with a SimpliSafe rep, we learned that there's no target date for a fix on the problem, and they couldn't reassure us that the workaround (namely, letting everyone share a single username and password) wouldn't trigger further issues with their security systems.
It's hard to completely discount SimpliSafe for DIY home security systems, since they were one of our favorites for so many years running. And yet, with current customers reporting lots of problems and with no solutions on the horizon for some of those, we have no choice but to drop this company in our rankings. We genuinely hope to see them get resolved, enabling us to once again give SimpliSafe a strong recommendation, but for now you should probably stick with the higher-rated providers we evaluated.
Abode is based in San Francisco and is the brainchild of a former ADT executive. Their DIY home security systems place a strong emphasis on smart home integrations, letting you connect devices from a wide range of platforms (even if you buy the equipment somewhere else).
Create your system...
In theory, Abode makes it super-easy to build out your home security system. When you click on the "build" button, you'll be asked several questions like whether you're looking for a system with or without cameras, what you're protecting, how many doors and windows are accessible, and so on.
...or choose a starter package
Also, there are two Abode equipment bundles to choose from, if you'd rather not pick-and-choose each element of your DIY home security system:
Not so smooth after all
However, in reality, we didn't find the Abode process to be very intuitive. Despite our indicating that we needed multiple sensors and cameras, our recommendation still took us to the two basic equipment packages - with no obvious inclusion of all of the equipment we'd need to protect the home as described and no clear way to add items a la carte.
Monitoring options and fees are confusing
Figuring out what we'd pay for Abode monitoring was equally frustrating. Depending on where you look on the site, you might see monthly fees ranging from $6.99 to $21.99 - but that seems to depend on whether or not you buy a package, whether you go month-to-month or yearly on your billing, and so on. There's also a self-monitoring option; unlike some rivals who offer that at no cost beyond the equipment purchase, Abode charges at least $6.99/month. All monitoring options had a free first month option when we last visited the site. On a positive note, if you opt for self-monitoring, Abode is the only service we've seen that lets you buy three or seven days of professional monitoring as needed (like if you're going on vacation or you'll be in a location with no cell service).
Fails to deliver
It's hard to say what guarantees Abode offers. We combed through the site and couldn't find anything offering refunds, a satisfaction policy, or anything even remotely similar. That matters, because despite having an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, Abode isn't doing too well lately with respect to customer feedback. Over hundreds of reviews left within a few months leading up to our evaluation, there were consistent references to the lack of reliability with Abode's home security systems. It seems to happen most often with cameras: they're not detecting people standing at the door but they're going off in the middle of the night when no one is there. It also seems that there was a system update in early 2022 that caused widespread issues with the basic functions, from the keypads to the mobile app, and customers were waiting weeks to get a response from Abode support (or not getting an answer at all).
Not a service we recommend
Abode just isn't straightforward enough to earn our confidence. Customers can expect a difficult time getting the right equipment for their DIY home security system - and even more problems once it's been set up. Until Abode gets its act together, you're going to have a better experience using a higher-ranked home security provider to protect your property and loved ones.
While do-it-yourself home security systems may all start to sound alike, the service provided by Utah-based Link Interactive stands out in three ways.
Not a service we recommend
First, they are one of the only systems on the market that is 100% cellular. You can connect your system to your home WiFi, and any alerts or alarms will be sent through both pathways - whichever one is fastest at the moment the system is triggered. But, if you live in an area where the WiFi is not the most reliable, knowing that your system will function and send through the same 4G LTE network as your cell phone if needed may give you peace of mind.
Choose a preselected package or create your own
Most home security systems today let you design an a la carte package of components, and Ring is no different. You're welcome to hand-select just the gear you want to build out your ideal DIY setup. However, if you like the idea of a ready-made package, Ring has two to choose from: Alarm and Alarm Pro. You'll get just the basics in the Alarm kit: base station and keypad, four contact sensors, one motion detector, and one range extender. If you select that package, you'll then see options you can add - like an indoor camera, video doorbell, or two spotlight or floodlight cameras. That package starts at $249.99 and goes up to a little under $1000 if you choose the Deluxe Pro Bundle. (That package comes with two wired floodlights and not one but two video doorbells - which may be better suited for business owners who have multiple entry points being used regularly.)
Secure your home network with the Alarm Pro package
How about protecting your network at the same time? Ring's Alarm Pro package comes with a built-in eero Wi-Fi 6 router, and there are several equipment packages to choose from here too, starting at $249.99. The advantage of Alarm Pro is that your Ring security system will stay online even if your main internet connection goes out, as well as offering protection to your home network.
Tech for days
Just the basics or every possible component: Ring systems are capable of incorporating as much as you want, whether you buy it all right away or add to your DIY home security system over time. Attractive options include smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, "smart" home gear like light dimmers and thermostats, electronic locks and more. If you're trying to save money, take a peek at the Certified Refurbished section on the Ring website. And, as long as your order is over $49, you won't pay anything for shipping.
Choose between professional and DIY monitoring
Most people looking for a DIY home security system still want to know that someone is on watch, monitoring for alerts and dispatching emergency services as needed. Ring offers that kind of coverage for $20/month; our research indicates that you'll want to take the time to set up your Ring system to minimize any false alarms. On the other hand, you may not want anyone outside of your household to have eyes and ears inside and outside of your property; in that case, Ring is one of very few options for do-it-yourself monitoring. You'll have that capability with both the Alarm and Alarm Pro packages.
Absolutely terrible feedback from Ring customers
Given how popular Ring's security equipment is, we were completely floored by how negative their reviews are. We saw that they had a "Not Rated" designation when we most recently looked at their listing with the Better Business Bureau - due to the BBB having to reopen a half-dozen complaints that had been closed previously. Not that bad so far, right? There were about 250 complaints filed there in the year prior to this evaluation, which also isn't overly concerning for such a big name in home security. However, when we looked at customer feedback elsewhere, it painted a pretty awful picture: thousands and thousands of people said that Ring deserves the lowest possible rating (and less than 20% who would give it a perfect five stars). People described doorbells that stopped working at moderately cold outdoor temperatures, challenges with getting equipment repaired or replaced under warranty, problems with billing, and having a hard time getting any response whatsoever from Ring customer support.
Your privacy may be at risk
Those poor customer reviews are bad enough, but it gets worse. All it takes is plugging in a few search keywords (try "Ring" and "hacked" or "Ring" and "police" ) and you'll see for yourself. Ring seems to be taking steps to resolve those concerns, but it's going to take a lot of effort (and results) before we'd feel comfortable with having a Ring security system in our home. After all, who wants to feel like they're being watched in their own home?
Not a trustworthy DIY home security system
For a long time, your only option was Ring if you wanted a video doorbell. Not anymore: almost every home security system offers that equipment these days, without the concerns we have about Ring's product quality or privacy issues. Ring has a lot of room for improvement, and until we see significant changes we can't recommend them for your DIY home security needs.
Wyze aims to "make great technology accessible to everyone" . You'll find a whole host of products in their repertoire, from fitness trackers and scales to vacuums and more. Their DIY home security systems aren't as well-rounded as you'll find offered by companies who specialize strictly in that industry; Wyze comes across as trying to be a jack-of-all-trades (and being a master of none in the process).
Can you even get the right gear?
You may have to buy your Wyze equipment a la carte. They offer a Home Monitoring Core Starter Kit for $79.99, but it was out of stock every time we visited their online store. That kit includes a motion sensor, keypad, hub, and two entry sensors; the a la carte price for all of that equipment is about the same, but without the hub (which we couldn't even find sold separately in the Wyze store). Given that Wyze describes the hub as "the brains" of the entire system, it doesn't sound like they're trying very hard to bring on new customers to their home security plans (and we can't help but hear the Tin Man singing "If I only had a brain" ).
Not nearly enough information on monitoring
There's surprisingly little information about their monitoring, even on the main page for home security. Apparently "there are well-trained monitoring staff that will verify emergencies" and they "plan to start with home security and expand into protecting your home from threats such as fire and water damage" . Okay, cool, but that's not a lot of detail. Sure, you'll only pay $5/month, but what you're getting and how exactly it works? Wyze is pretty tight-lipped about that, other than a few vague references to a third-party vendor called Noonlight that we can only guess is the provider of the monitoring service.
Hard to find any happy customers
Wyze really starts to fall apart when you look at their customer feedback. At the time of this review, their listing with the Better Business Bureau was shown as "being updated" , making it impossible to see anything about their history of complaints there. But, all it takes is a quick visit to Wyze's social media channels, particularly Facebook, to see that very few people are happy with this security system. Here are some of the most concerning comments: "features I used to have when I first purchased, I now have to pay for" , "when the battery dies, the product stops working for good and has to be replaced" , and lots of descriptions of "bait and switch" .
Don't use Wyze for home security
No matter how you look at it, it wouldn't be a wise choice to use this DIY home security system. Not only is it impossible to buy the one component required to operate it, but it sounds like you're completely out of luck when the batteries run out on any of the equipment. Wyze is making people mad right and left, and there's zero reason to waste your time or money on them when better security systems are so readily available. Avoid Wyze at all costs.
Your next decision relates to your setup. What equipment is necessary to provide the coverage you've got in mind? At a minimum, your DIY home security system will likely include enough door sensors to cover all first-floor entry points and a panel/touchscreen hub for arming and disarming it. Other popular components include indoor and outdoor cameras, video doorbells, and sensors for smoke, fire and carbon monoxide. You may be able to buy your gear a la carte, though some security companies require you to purchase a package and then add on any extra components you need.
Finally, consider your budget. How much can you afford to spend, not just on the equipment but also on the professional monitoring if you so choose? Bear in mind that when you add higher-end features like video cameras with storage, you often have to pay more each month for the service contract.
Now that you have an idea of how you want your DIY home security system to be set up, how can you tell which company you should pick? Here are some criteria you can look for as you make the decision:
To help you protect your property and loved ones, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the most popular DIY home security systems on the market today. We're confident that this information will give you everything you need to choose the most effective coverage at a price you can afford.
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