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The 4 best home security systems we reviewed

From ADT to Frontpoint to Vivint, these are the best home security systems for 2023.

Which home security system is the best to protect your family?

Which home security system is the best to protect your family?

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I’ve been testing and writing about home security systems for years, and these are the best home security systems for 2023, whether you want an affordable DIY system or a more expensive, professionally monitored system.

In the Bay Area in 2019, there were 515 burglaries per every 100,000 inhabitants. Rates differed greatly based on the city, with San Francisco logging the highest number of thefts, 4,644 burglaries, while Yountville had the least, only five, according to FBI data. No matter where you live, however, it’s important to protect what’s yours.

The best home security systems for 2023 offer a wide variety of equipment. These can include motion detectors, doorbell cameras, entry sensors, smart locks, and smoke detectors, among other security equipment designed to protect your home. They also offer a range of fees, remote monitoring options and service contracts, spanning from three years of service to no contract at all.

Today's home security systems are smart-compatible, which means that you can use your phone and an internet connection to check in on your home from anywhere in the world.

Best Home Security System Methodology 

But with so many security systems to choose from, which one is right for you? Here are the major factors I considered while reviewing home security systems:

  • How well each security system worked: We installed and tested each security system to determine how easy it was to set up and how well it worked, including how soon we got notifications when alarms went off, how easy the mobile app was to use, etc.
  • Pricing: We compared pricing in terms of equipment costs, professional installation, professional monitoring, and other costs that come with buying and using a home security system. 
  • Equipment: We looked at the range and the quality of the equipment available, including sensors, cameras, video doorbells, etc. 

And here are my top picks for the best home security systems for 2023:

Best Home Security Systems Side-by-Side Overview

System ADT Frontpoint Vivint SimpliSafe
Best for Overall Smart home security Professional monitoring Wireless
Read full review ADT review Frontpoint review Vivint review SimpliSafe review
Installation Professional DIY Professional DIY or professional
Minimum cost of professional installation $99 $0 No minimum; determined by equipment quantity and type $99.99
Monitoring Professional DIY or professional Professional DIY or professional
Minimum monthly cost of professional monitoring $45.99 $49.99 $19.99 $27.99
Contract length 3 years None Monthly or equal to the timing of loan None
Voice assistant compatibility Alexa/Google Assistant Alexa/Google/Siri/Apple Alexa/Google Assistant Alexa/Google Assistant

Please note that we do our best to give you the most accurate information, but prices are subject to change. The information in this article is accurate as of January 2023.

Best Home Security System Overall: ADT

If you’re looking for professionally installed and monitored home security, look no further than ADT. While it might be the oldest home security company in the country, with a whopping 145 years in business, ADT’s systems are smart and updated. I got alerts on my phone whenever any of my motion sensors went off. And after I integrated my system with both Alexa and Google Assistant, I was able to enable voice commands. 

All of ADT’s equipment worked as it should, particularly its Nest cameras. These second-generation cameras offer 4K, the best video quality on the market, while the industry standard still stands at 1080p HD. Plus, you can set up person detection so ADT will only notify you when your Nest Cam detects a person. No more unnecessary motion detection notifications! 

A drawback? Of the companies we evaluated, ADT didn’t offer as many smart home integrations as some of its competitors. Rather, it works with only some Internet of Things (IoT) devices from Kwikset and Liftmaster. So it’s best for someone who’s looking for a more traditional setup and doesn’t need to integrate home security into an existing smart home system. For straightforward home security with a smart twist, ADT is a great option. 

Professional monitoring starts at $45.99 a month, and professional installation is required and usually costs around $99, while Vivint and Alder offer it for free.

Best Smart Home Security System: Frontpoint

Frontpoint is another one of my top picks for Bay Area homes. These systems are simple to set up and operate. Just plug in the base station, follow the prompts in the app, and you’ll be up and running in no time. Frontpoint also has a slick app dashboard that gave me a sense of sitting in the cockpit of a plane (so many controls!). 

Now, Frontpoint isn’t the cheapest option. When the dust settled, I had invested $490 to protect my 2,500 sq. ft. home. A sub-$500 price tag is decent, but it’s not as cheap as DIY competitors like SimpliSafe or Ring. But then again, SimpliSafe and Ring can’t hold a candle to Frontpoint when it comes to smart home features and overall peace of mind. I’ll explain.

Using the control app I cozied up with my Frontpoint dashboard. Inside the “cockpit” I could arm and disarm my system, lock and unlock my front door, adjust the temperature, and even set custom scenes. If you’re not familiar, custom scenes are nifty home automations that tell your system to perform functions automatically. Want your porch lights to turn on when you get home? Need your system to automatically arm at 9 pm every night? How about automatic video recording when motion is detected? Frontpoint’s “scenes” can do all of that and more.  

I didn’t love paying $49.99 per month for 24/7 monitoring. But the silver lining here is that each Frontpoint system also includes fire, environmental, and life safety monitoring. Of course, you can always skip professional monitoring and self-monitor Frontpoint for free, but you’ll miss out on the best features. 

Also note that Frontpoint sells video doorbell cameras and indoor and outdoor security cameras for whole-home protection.

Features The Starter Pack The Home Shield The Family Lookout
System Size 4-piece 9-piece 9-piece
System type Basic intrusion protection Intrusion + environmental + video Intrusion + video
Sensors included 1 motion, 1 door/window 1 motion, 1 smoke/heat, 1 flood, 3 door/window 1 motion, 3 door/window
App-based controls Yes Yes Yes
Indoor camera No Yes Yes
Video doorbell No No Yes
Equipment cost $129 $269 $349
Monthly monitoring cost $49.99 $49.99 $49.99

Finally, one last word of advice: I recommend paying the extra $149.99 for Frontpoint’s LCD touchscreen control panel; you’ll be glad you did. (The included pushbutton panel is so 1990s). Overall, you really get what you pay for with Frontpoint, and that’s why it’s one of my top picks for Bay Area homes.

Best Home Security System With a Professional Monitoring Plan: Vivint

Of course, some people don’t want to DIY. They’d rather have someone else install and monitor their security system for them. If that’s you, check out Vivint. While Vivint is one of the pricier options, especially when it comes to equipment, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your system is installed and monitored by a professional. 

Professional monitoring starts at $19.99 a month.

All Vivint systems come with professional monitoring, which requires a monthly fee. That said, you can also choose to self-monitor your system through the Vivint app, as well as set up automation with Nest thermostats and Philips Hue smart lighting. While Vivint doesn’t have the greatest number of smart home integrations I’ve seen (that would go to Abode), it’s a good choice for someone with a basic smart home setup. 

One of the best things about Vivint is its equipment, which rivals the Nest Cams available with ADT. Take the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro, for instance. Like the Nest Cams, the Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro has 4K video quality, two-way vision, and infrared LED sensors for clear night vision. 

But one cool feature not available in many other cameras is its red LED light ring. If someone is on your property for too long, the camera will detect them, shine the light, and even sound a warning tone. You’ll get an alert on your phone with a thumbnail image of the person. 

That’s one area where Vivint beats ADT. But keep in mind that the Vivint camera will cost you $399, which is $100 to $200 more than any of the Nest Cams. 

Best Wireless Home Security System: SimpliSafe

Today we all have a ton of devices, and with these devices come wires galore. So the last thing you want is more wires to trip over. If wireless is the name of the game for you, consider SimpliSafe. 

Most of SimpliSafe’s components are wireless and Wi-Fi-connected, so all you have to do to install them is peel and stick. Users can connect up to 99 wireless sensors to a base station, making SimpliSafe a great option for houses big and small. 

Professional monitoring and installation are both optional, making this a great choice whether you prefer DIY or hands off. Professional monitoring costs $27.99 a month, and professional installation starts at $99.99. Of course, you can save money by self-monitoring or installing your system yourself, both for free.

Plans Unmonitored (Free) Self Monitoring with Camera Recordings Standard Monitoring Interactive Monitoring
Professional monitoring No No Yes Yes
Livestream No Yes Yes Yes
Maximum number of cameras for unlimited recordings N/A 5 N/A 10
Video alarm verification No No No Yes
Cellular backup No No Yes Yes
Water damage/temperature monitoring No No Yes Yes
Home insurance discounts No No Yes Yes
Extended warranty No 1 year 3 years Lifetime of subscription
Cost per day N/A $0.33 $0.66 $0.99
Cost per month N/A $9.99 $17.99 $27.99
Cost per year N/A $120.45 $219.00 $339.45

Other Home Security System Options

If you’re still unsure which home security system would best protect your Bay Area abode, keep reading for some alternatives. 

  • Ring Alarm: The Amazon-owned smart home security company offers the widest selection of cameras and video doorbells I’ve seen for very affordable prices. Professional monitoring costs only $20 a month, although you can self-monitor for free, much like SimpliSafe.
  • Deep Sentinel: Ideal for the San Francisco techie, Deep Sentinel’s claim to fame is its artificial intelligence security cameras. Not only can they detect people, they can notify you about robbery attempts, break-ins, car theft, and even assault — all within 30 seconds. Deep Sentinel’s cameras are the most advanced smart home security cameras on the market. It takes artificial intelligence a step above the person detection capabilities of Vivint and Nest Cams by detecting specific behaviors, not just the presence of people.
  • Brinks: With home security sensors and cameras, life safety devices, and smart home devices, Brinks is a great choice if you want 24/7 professional monitoring (starting at $29.99 a month) plus professional installation.
  • abode: abode is the best option for the smart home nerd, working with Internet of Things companies like Google, Amazon, Nest, Philips Hue, ecobee, LIFX, Kwikset, Yale, and other brands. Plus, with abode, you don’t need to sign up for a monthly plan; rather, you can self-monitor your live feed and get sensor notifications for free.