Best home security systems
Burglary statistics in the US are startling, with roughly 2.5 million break-ins each year, amounting to one every 13 seconds. The average loss due to these crimes is $2,251 (around £1,710), and a mere 13.6% of these incidents result in an arrest, due to a lack of evidence.
If that isn’t scary enough, according to the US Department of Justice, a household member is present almost 28% of the time during the robbery, with 26% of them ending up as victims of violent crime.
A study from the University of North Carolina interviewed over 400 incarcerated burglars, and found that “approximately 83% of the offenders said they would attempt to determine if an alarm was present before attempting a burglary and 60% said they would seek an alternative target” when an alarm was found. Therefore, it is easy to see the value of an alarm as a deterrent.
Thankfully, gone are the days of drilling holes and running wires throughout the house for complicated alarm installs. Contemporary wireless technology simplifies the process, and can make your home alarm install an easy weekend DIY project.
But which alarm system should you go for? We’ve picked out some of the best right here.
- We've also chosen the best security camera systems for businesses
A niftily customizable DIY option
Born from an ABC Shark Tank in 2013, the Ring Video Doorbell has been a popular way for home owners to monitor their front door via a phone app. Now owned by Amazon, the Ring Alarm security system expands beyond that initial product to include an entire range of home security offerings suited to building out a custom security solution, piece by piece.
The system is designed for DIY installation, and the monthly fee is quite affordable at $10 (£8), with no contract required, no moving costs, and no cancellation fees – plus that includes access to videos for up to 60 days and cellular backup. The system connects to the Ring app, which sends notifications to your smartphone when an event triggers the system.
The build starts with the Alarm Security Kit which costs $199 (£152) and includes the base station, a keypad, contact sensor, motion extender and a range extender. The base station boasts a 104dB siren, and 24-hour battery backup to provide protection even if power to the house is lost.
There is also the option to build this out, with additional components of the basic kit available à la carte, including even more options such as a spotlight cam, and a smoke/CO alarm.
The plug-and-play approach to home security
Those with more modest homes, such as a rented apartment, may want a simpler plug-and-play solution, such as the Canary All-in-One which retails for $169 (£129). One plastic canister provides a 1080p HD camera with night vision, a 90dB siren, an integrated temperature, air quality and humidity monitor, and the device is available in white or black to match a variety of decors.
Setup can be completed in a few minutes as the device just needs to be connected to electrical power and the internet for protection to kick-off.
While the Canary All-in-One can be used with free access, a membership plan of $9.99 (£8) monthly is needed to get the most out of it. Features included are full length videos that are stored for 30 days, unlimited video downloads, and two-way Canary talk.
A slick home security option from Nest
Nest made its name in home technology with its thermostat which debuted in 2011. These days, Nest is part of Google, and the company has expanded into home security with Nest Secure.
This is sold as the Nest Secure alarm system, commanding a premium fee of $399 (£304), and it includes a base station, two Nest Tags, and two sensors. The Nest Tag is a key fob-style device that can arm or disarm the system when in proximity with the base station – other options for arming include a passcode, Google Assistant, and the Nest App.
The sensor is Stick Nest Detect, which is a versatile piece of hardware, as each one can be used to secure a window, door, or even a wall, as it detects motion, with additional sensors available for $49 (£37). All of these sensors feed their information through the base station to the Nest App.
Nest Secure works over Wi-Fi, but cellular access as a backup is a $5 (£4) additional monthly option. The system can also be expanded with options for indoor and outdoor cameras, and compatible Yale electronic locks.
While this system is designed to be used for self-monitoring through the Nest App, there is also an option for professional monitoring via Brinks Home Security for $29 (£22) monthly, or $19 (£14) monthly with a three-year contract.
DIY professional-grade home security
Abode offers a security solution that is professional-grade, and yet easy to install for the homeowner. Like its competition, the company offers a starter kit that includes the essentials: a gateway, a mini door/window sensor, a remote key fob, a motion sensor, and a security sticker – that package retails for $229 (£175).
This does not include a keypad which will run you $79 (£60) extra, and is designed for self-monitoring via a smartphone app. There are a wide variety of expansion options available, including indoor add-on sirens, a water leak sensor, and a glass break and vibration sensor, to name just a few of the many offerings.
Upgrade to the next plan for $239 (£183), and this includes the same starter kit, plus a year of cellular backup on the T-Mobile or AT&T network, and 50% off the add-on keypad. The top plan goes for $299 (£228), which includes everything from the lower plans, complete with a year of professional monitoring.
Whole home protection from this well-known vendor
SimpliSafe is a well-known brand in the security space. Unlike some other solutions, the company offers five different options for its starter kit. At the low-end is the aptly named Foundation Kit, which has a base station, keypad, an entry sensor and a motion sensor, all for $229 (£175).
At the top-end, the Haven Kit, which is priced at $489 (£374), includes the same base station and keypad, as well as a key fob, four entry sensors, two motion sensors, a 105dB siren, a panic button, freeze sensor, water sensor, and a smoke detector, which is suitable for a larger home, and obviously protects you from more than just burglary.
All kits are backed by a 60-day guarantee – the product can be returned if it does not work out for you – and you have a choice of monitoring plans that include professional monitoring and cellular backup (and neither requires a contract).