Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2019

Consumer Reports' tests reveal the best security systems to protect your home

The Abode security system, one of the best DIY home security systems, sits on a small table.
Photo: Abode

The Internet of Things has revolutionized the way we think about and use once-simple devices in the home such as thermostats, locks, and doorbells, by allowing us to monitor and control them while we’re not there. And the highest form of this smart home technology may be the home security system because it knits together such a variety of devices.

Indeed, many of 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, and more with each other, and allow you to monitor and control them with one app on your smartphone.

The appeal is clear: According to a 2019 report from market research firm Mintel, 26 percent of U.S. consumers are interested in owning a smart security system. That’s not far behind one of the most widely sold smart home devices, smart speakers, which 29 percent of consumers are interested in owning.

The hard part for consumers is comparing systems with different components and pricing. To help you make sense of them, Consumer Reports tested 10 of the most popular do-it-yourself (DIY) systems on the market from brands such as ADT, Frontpoint, Google Nest, Honeywell, Ring, and SimpliSafe. 

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“We had to develop a new evaluation method for these systems,” says Bernie Deitrick, CR’s test engineer for home security cameras and systems. “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.”

Deitrick grades each system for its extent of security features that CR deems essential to the job of securing your home. These features include the ability to monitor your system yourself via a smartphone app, keypads and key fobs, and E911, so you can contact your home’s local emergency dispatcher, regardless of your physical 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 quality.

Our ratings also note flexibility of professional monitoring options, whether systems offer web access to control your system remotely from a computer as well as an app on your smartphone, and whether systems offer two-factor authentication (an important feature when it comes to protecting yourself from data breaches).

Below, CR members with digital access will find ratings and reviews of the five best DIY systems from our exhaustive tests. To see all the systems we tested, check our full home security system ratings.

5 Best DIY Home Security Systems

The top models from our tests include systems with required or optional professional monitoring, as well as systems you have to monitor yourself from a smartphone app. 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.

DIY Home Security Systems Rated
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