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Home / Tips and Tricks / Best home security of 2019: professional monitoring, do-it-yourself systems, video doorbells and more

Best home security of 2019: professional monitoring, do-it-yourself systems, video doorbells and more


Chris Monroe / CNET

After a decade or so of app rocking, the home security category is booming. Along with professional surveillance systems that have been around for decades there is a newly established bumper crop of cheaper do-it-yourself systems that you can install yourself together with cameras & smart locks and video doorbells that are also worth considering. Big names such as Amazon and Google also want a part of the promotion.

Admittedly, it's a lot to take ̵

1; and today's home security providers don't always make it easy to make a comparison store.

We also add – not only by testing these systems at CNET Smart Home, but by evaluating the entire buying process and also examining other important factors – including the privacy issues that are associated with filling your home with cameras connected via the cloud.

Keep reading for our breakdown of the best home security systems that we have tested so far, including do-it-yourself kits that you can install yourself, professionally installed systems that promise to automate your entire home, and stand-alone gadgets such as video doorbells.

Read more : Nest versus ring versus place of residence versus SimpliSafe: the smart home security systems with the best privacy policy

Best home security we tested [19659009] Best do-it-yourself system [19659009] SimpliSafe $ 230 in advance Monitoring starts at $ 15 per month, $ 25 per month with controls for mobile apps and integration with Alexa. View online Best professional installation system Comcast Xfinity Home $ 99 in advance Monitoring costs $ 40 a month during the first year, then $ 50 a month; bundle discounts available with TV and internet. View online Best video doorbell Nest Hello $ 230 in advance Continuous recording from $ 5 per month. View online Best for part-time monitoring Location $ 299 in advance Monitoring available for $ 20 a month. See it online

Install-it-yourself systems

If a professionally installed system sounds like overkill, you can save a lot of money by buying a system that you install yourself. For my money, systems such as these offer some of the best value for your domestic security dollar.

You don't miss much in terms of functionality. Although professionally installed systems can provide a nicer touch screen control panel to operate the security cameras, sensors, alarm system and monitors, the rest of the hardware is largely the same as what you get when you choose the DIY route, mainly depending on wireless, battery-powered sensors that you can use anywhere in your home.

Read more: The best do-it-yourself security systems of 2019

When do-it-yourself systems first appeared as a cheap alternative to going with the pros , few or none came up with an option for professional monitoring or customer service. That is no longer the case. Most do-it-yourself systems now offer the option of professional monitoring – and most of them demand less for professional monitoring than the professional suppliers of installation security. Automation and smart home devices have reduced overhead costs for professional monitoring by third parties, resulting in savings being passed on to you. And the fact that most do-it-yourself systems do not require a service contract or monthly fees is another nice part of the field.

Chris Monroe / CNET

The easy to install, easy to use system from SimpliSafe is well positioned as one of the best values ​​for home security. It offers an extensive set of functions, security cameras & # 39; s and a very good mix of battery-powered sensors, all of which performed well in our tests. Starter kits start at around $ 230, or you can build your own custom system with the exact mix of devices you're interested in.

Professional monitoring starts at $ 15 a month, but you almost certainly want to jump for the $ 25-per-month subscription that adds things like mobile app controls and voice support via Alexa and the Google Assistant. That also means that you have to choose another option such as Abode or Ring if you do not want professional monitoring, but still want to operate your system via a smartphone app. General CNET score: 8.5

Read the full review.

Something else to keep in mind: All-in-one do-it-yourself protections designed for smaller homes and living spaces. In short, only single-point, tabletop camera & # 39; s packed with extra motion detectors and sensors for things like temperature and ambient light, these devices can be well suited for something like a studio apartment without a garage door or many street windows to protect.

Names to watch include Canary Honeywell and the Abode Iota – although our favorite of the bunch, Piper is not longer on the market after Alarm.com purchased its parent company in 2016 . If we find another alternative that we like as much as we liked, I will update this space.

Abode & # 39; s excellent DIY system is worth considering. Chris Monroe / CNET

Other options we tested

Our best SimpliSafe alternative, the well thought-out system from Abode supports both Zigbee and Z-Wave, it works with Alexa, IFTTT and Nest, and it has recently improved its integration with the Google Assistant too. The real point of appeal, however, is that Abode offers a lot of flexibility with regard to professional monitoring – including the option to only pay for temporary monitoring in the time that you actually leave town. No long-term contract required. General CNET score: 8.3

Read the full review.

This DIY installation option from Nest by Google is great, but the cost of $ 399 is much higher than that of the competition. It's a decent system, but it's really only worth it if you want to lock yourself in a Google smart home ecosystem. General CNET score: 7.2

Read the full review.

Ring & # 39; s alarm security kit, an Amazon subsidiary, is quick to install and easy to use. Apart from a new "Works with Ring" program to fold compatible smart locks and other third-party gadgets, there is nothing so innovative about it, though Alexa users will appreciate being able to turn the system on and off with voice commands and that they can use Ring's sensors to activate Alexa routines. With a buy-in cost of $ 199 and professional monitoring available for just $ 10 a month, Ring Alarm distinguishes itself as a value. General CNET score: 7.5

Read the full review.

Professionally installed systems

These are the pillars of home security – names of security companies such as ADT and Brinks that you are probably familiar with for years, along with security systems from major telecom providers such as Comcast and AT&T.

The field is generally quite similar. In addition to basics such as motion sensors, window sensors and door sensors, these types of professional installations also promise to reduce false alarms and seamlessly integrate things such as door locks, cameras, keyboards, thermostats and touch screens, and they will often also support voice control via Alexa and the Google Assistant. Most charge equipment or installation costs in advance and most require multi-year service contracts. Regarding the monthly fee for professional monitoring, these are mandatory and usually range from $ 30 to $ 50 a month.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

It is not available in all regions (check local availability), but Comcast Xfinity Home left us impressed when CNET Senior Editor Josh Goldman tested the system in his home in northern New Jersey. It is a robust, well thought-out system that works well with your smart home equipment, including old favorites such as Lutron Caseta light switches and the Nest thermostat. "What Xfinity Home showed me," Josh wrote, "was how smart home devices make much more sense when they are fully integrated with the sensors and cameras of a home security system."

You get the best value if you are willing to bundle Xfinity Home with Comcast's internet and TV service, but you can also use it as a stand-alone service. I also appreciated that the sales approach was less intrusive and useful than the competition when I gave them a test call (I could get a quote for my house in about 10 minutes and the only piece of personal information I gave was a zip code). General CNET score: 8.5

Read the full review.

High-quality systems such as these sometimes make it difficult to compare between companies. For example, go to the ADT website and you will find many marketing specimens that mention the value of the various security and home security offers from the security company, but you will not find much in terms of price information. Instead, the site asks you for a & # 39; free quote & # 39; request either by calling the sales team of the security company or by providing your name, zip code, telephone number and e-mail address. If you do the latter, ADT customer service will ensure that you & # 39; are called from time to time about ADT offers & # 39 ;. Read the fine print and you will see that these calls are "offered" using "automatic dialing technology".

Note that ADT is hardly alone here. Some are less rude about it than others, but you will find similar tactics – and comparable fine print – on on just about every website for professionally installed alarm systems such as this . If the website is not clear what a system built for your house would cost you, it is best to call the security company directly, tell them what you want to set up and request a quote.

Your experience may vary depending on the sales person you're talking to. For example, when I first tried to call ADT, the seller told me that he could not give me a quote without first performing a credit check . I politely ended the call and called back another day, and had a much better experience with a vendor who had priced a core system for me within 10 minutes, no credit check or other exchange of personal information needed.

Shopping for a pro system

Basic costs in advance Monthly fees Contract length How long did it take before I got that info when I called What personal information I had to give to get it
ADT $ 129 ($ 229 for a system with a doorbell camera) $ 47 ($ 67 for a system with a doorbell camera) 3 year First attempt would not give a quote without credit check, second attempt took 10 minutes
AT&T Digital Life $ 550 installation costs $ 40 2 year Easily available on the website
Brinks $ 399 installation costs $ 29 3 year Easily available on the website
Comcast Xfinity Home $ 99 installation costs (waived if bundled with TV and internet) $ 40 for the first year, then $ 50 ($ 175 if bundled with TV and internet) 2 year 10 minutes Postcode
$ 99 installation costs $ 40 plus financed device costs (for a bare installation, about $ 10 per month for 60 months)
17 minutes

Whoever you call, don't be afraid to put your foot down on your own privacy. Companies that use robocalls and junk mail as sales tactics are not entitled to your address or other personal information until they have earned your business, complete stop.

That aside, the advantage of alarm systems like this is that professionals come to you to install everything for you, and you can usually expect a higher level of hands-on technical support and customer service if you ever want to make changes too in your settings. Choose a professional system from a telecom provider and you will probably be able to bundle your home security with your TV or internet service. That is a convenience with which you can also get a discount.


The Vivint system works well, but the equipment is not cheap. Chris Monroe / CNET

Other options we tested

Vivint is a solid system that worked well when we tested it, but the equipment is a bit expensive. A simple starter kit with the mandatory touchscreen control panel, a motion sensor and two access sensors can be purchased for $ 599, which you can pay in advance or spread over 60 months. Do you want to add cameras & # 39; s to eliminate false alarms? Every month adds an extra $ 5 to your bill each month, in addition to the extra equipment costs. A nice thing with Vivint: no contracts. General CNET score: 7.6

Read the full review.

It is not cheap, but we liked this slim system and the fact that clear price specifications were available online. Our service professionals ensured that the signal strength for each device in our installation was optimized during installation – a nice touch that made the pro approach worthwhile. General CNET score: 8.3

Read the full review.

Video doorbells

If you do not need a complete security system and simply want to monitor the activity at your front door, consider installing a video doorbell to keep watch.

Read more: The best video doorbells of 2019

You now have many options and thanks to automation, they all send real-time notifications to your mobile phone or a smart device when someone calls to show you who's at the door. Some also follow unexpected movements or allow two-way audio – and we see many new options that can also recognize faces . That includes our top choice:

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The stylish video doorbell from Nest is a smart, sleek choice that has passed our tests. Functions such as personal detection and geofencing are useful and easy to use, and you can also upgrade to the Nest Aware cloud subscription service to enable face recognition and access to saved recordings.

It is clearly best for households that have already committed to Google and Nest & # 39; s smart home ecosystem, but Nest's doorbell also works with both Alexa and IFTTT, making it a very solid choice for just about everyone. General CNET score: 8.5

Read the full review.

Prices for such doorbells usually range from about $ 100 to $ 250 and most also cost an optional fee for viewing saved video clips. To choose one, you first have to figure out if your front door has a wired doorbell connection or if you need something battery-powered. Then consider functions – for example, do you use & # 39; a change light at night or do you need something with night vision?

From there, think about which smart home platforms you want your doorbell to work on. You will find many options that work with Alexa and many that work with IFTTT, and also with Google and / or Nest. However, Siri is still catching up – the only HomeKit-compatible video door we've discovered so far is the Netatmo Welcome that debuted at CES last January.

Comparing smart doorbells

August View Doorbell Camera Ring video doorbell 2 Ring Video Doorbell Pro Nest Hello Video doorbell
$ 230 $ 199 $ 249 $ 229
Color finish Black, red, white, blue, brass, satin nickel, midnight gray, bronze Satin nickel, Venetian (both finishes included with purchase) Satin nickel, Venetian, satin black, pearly white White and black
Power source
Removable, rechargeable battery Hardwired or removable, rechargeable battery Wired Wired
1,920×1,440p HD
1,920x1080p HD
1,920x1080p HD
1,600×1,200p HD
Field of vision No information
160 degrees
160 degrees
160 degrees
Live streaming Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cloud storage Yes, free basic plan, plus 15 days of storage for $ 3 per month and 30 days of storage for $ 5 per month Yes, 60 days of storage for $ 3 per month Yes, 60 days of storage for $ 3 per month Yes, free image history of 3 hours; continuous recording from $ 5 per month
Local storage
No. 19659064
No. 19
No. 19
No. 19
Mobile app Android and iPhone Android and iPhone Android and iPhone Android and iPhone
Web app
No. 19659064
Yes Yes Yes
Night vision Yes Yes Yes Yes
Movement Movement Movement Movement, person, face recognition (with Nest Aware)
Activity zones
No. 19659064
Yes Yes Yes (with Nest Aware)
Dimensions (HxWxD)
5.2 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches
5.1 x 2.5 x 1.1 inch
4.5 x 1.9 x 0.8 inches
4.6 x 1.7 x 1.0 inch
Integrations of third parties
Alexa; Google Assistant; Nest
Alexa; IFTTT; hint
Alexa; IFTTT; hint
Alexa; Google Assistant; Nest
Operating temperature range -4 to 122 degrees F -5 to 120 degrees F -5 to 120 degrees F 14 to 104 degrees F

Many of the major home security systems now also offer proprietary video doorbells, and some offer compatibility with stand-alone video doorbells and the like. Keep that in mind if you think you want to expand to a full system later.

Oh, and would you like more tips on choosing the right video doorbell? CNET & # 39; s Megan Wollerton has you covered .

  ring-video-doorbell-two-2 "data-original =" https://cnet2.cbsistatic.com/img/qAsjNmo6F92m8DXuyiQ32-v009k=/2017/06/29/69b9c94f-d53f-473a-b8dc-9d627160224a /ring-video- doorbell-two-2.jpg cialis19659201 expansion ring-video-doorbell-two-2 cialis19659202 for a ring makes a number of popular video doorbells that are worth watching. Chris Monroe / CNET
<h2> 	  Other options we've tested </h2>
<div class=

One of your newest options, the August View looks great and the do-it-yourself installation was incredibly easy, but the mobile app was annoyingly laggy when we were to try the view live feed. That is the last thing you want when someone is taking a package off your porch. General CNET score: 7.1

Read the full review.

We are big fans of the removable, rechargeable battery in this version of the popular Ring Video doorbell – although it is also slightly larger than average. If it fits on your door frame, it's a great choice that plays nicely with Alexa and IFTTT. General CNET score: 7.4

Read the full review.

Smart outdoor lighting

Many of us use motion-activated lights on our porch or outside our garage door – and although there is a lot of debate about whether outdoor lighting can actually help deter a burglary, most experts agree that it can help to play a role in correct use. If you are considering upgrading to something smarter than that cheap porch light, you have a few options that are worth considering.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The mix of motion-activated smart outdoor lighting from Ring offers great versatility for outside your home. The collection contains both wired and battery-powered outdoor spots and floodlights, plus path lights, steplights and a conversion kit that you can use to brighten up your existing landscape lighting to synchronize it with everything else.

What is great about Ring & # 39; s smart outdoor lighting is that they each have their own built-in motion detectors that can activate one of your lights, some of your lights or all of your lights. They can also activate all Ring Outdoor Cameras & # 39; s in your setup to start recording.

Some lights look a bit cheap for my taste, but I liked the Ring Pathlights on batteries, which you can use anywhere on your property can benefit from a watchful eye. A starter package with two Pathlights and the Ring Bridge is for sale for $ 80, so it is not too expensive to buy in, see if you like it and build your setup from there. Ring says that solar energy is also being used, but I do not expect that we will see it until 2020.

Read more on CNET.

Other options that we have tested

Chris Monroe / CNET

For the most part, I think the Philips Hue outdoor lamps are too expensive and really just worth the trouble worth it if you are willing to spend. That said, I really liked the Philips Hue Outdoor Sensor, which you can get for less than $ 50. Stick it anywhere you want outside, and it follows movement, temperature, and ambient light. You can use that info to activate your Hue lamps and also to activate Apple HomeKit gadgets under your roof.

I wish the Hue team offered a better variety of practical outdoor lighting that does not break the bank, as well as lighting with its own motion sensors – but if you have already purchased, or if you & # 39; If you use Apple HomeKit-compatible lamps, the Hue Outdoor Sensor is definitely worth a look.

Read more on CNET.

Ry Crist / CNET

If you use Alexa to control the smart lights in your home, you should consider trying Alexa Guard, a relatively new home security mode with a few neat tricks. After turning on Guard mode in the Alexa app settings, just say "Alexa, I'm leaving" as you walk out the door to activate it. From there, Alexa will turn your lights on and off to make it look like you're at home – and you'll also get a notification when your Echo speakers hear the sound of an alarm or broken glass.

Don & # 39; don't have an Alexa smart lighting setup yet? Right now you can get a third-generation Echo Dot bundled with a Sengled starter kit with two bulbs for just $ 50, which is a great deal.

Read more on CNET.

Originally published earlier this year. Updated when we review new products.

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