Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2021

Consumer Reports' tests reveal the best ones for protection

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Abode Home Security system on side table by a house front door Photo: Abode

Today’s home security systems are capable of far more than simply monitoring your home. They can integrate connected lights, locks, thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, video doorbells, and more, and allow you to monitor and control them with an app on your smartphone. But for all their appeal, it’s still difficult for consumers to compare systems because of their different components and pricing.

To help you make sense of them, Consumer Reports has tested a variety of do-it-yourself systems from brands big and small, such as Abode, ADT, Brinks Home Security, Cove, Eufy, Kangaroo, Ring, and SimpliSafe.

“Unlike many other products CR tests, DIY security systems offer many options for customization, so they needed to be evaluated from that perspective, as well as for their basic functionality," says Bernie Deitrick, CR’s test engineer for home security cameras and systems.

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Deitrick grades each system based on its array of security features. CR has identified a minimum feature set that we view as essential to the job of securing your home. It includes the ability to monitor a system yourself via a smartphone app, keypads and key fobs, and e911 so that you can contact your local emergency dispatcher regardless of your location. In addition to these essentials, our test engineers judge add-on security features geared toward environmental and personal safety, smart home capabilities, ease of use, ease of setup, motion detection, and security camera video quality.

For more information on our testing and advice on choosing a security system, go to CR’s home security system buying guide. If you want to see all the systems we tested, check out our home security system ratings.

5 Best DIY Home Security Systems

The top models from our tests include systems with required or optional professional monitoring. With professional monitoring, dispatchers at alarm-monitoring centers immediately notify you and the police when your alarm goes off. Self-monitored systems send an alert to your smartphone, but it's up to you to contact the police.

We note each system’s type of monitoring and the monitoring costs. Because these DIY systems are sold as kits, we also list the components included in the box.

Security Systems 101

Self-installed security systems are becoming more popular, but there are a few things to consider. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Dan Wroclawski explains to host Jack Rico what to look for when buying one.

Home Content Creator Daniel Wroclawski

Daniel Wroclawski

I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).