Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2021

Consumer Reports' tests reveal the best ones for protection

The Abode security system, one of the best DIY home security systems, sits on a small table.
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 tested the most popular do-it-yourself systems from brands such as ADT, Brinks Home Security, Frontpoint, Honeywell Home, Ring, and SimpliSafe. Below, CR members with digital access will find ratings and reviews of the five best DIY systems from these comprehensive tests.

“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 for its extent of security features that CR deems essential to the job of securing your home, such as 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 our home security system buying guide. If you want to see all the systems we tested, check out 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. 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.

Ring Alarm Kit 5-Piece
Professional monitoring:
Optional.
Monitoring cost: $10 per month or $100 per year.
What’s in the box: A base station, keypad, motion detector, contact sensor, and range extender.
CR’s take: The Ring Alarm Security Kit is a terrific system for the money. It receives Excellent ratings in all but three of our tests. The exceptions are security essentials, security add-ons, and ease of use, where it rates Very Good, Fair, and Good, respectively. One of the Ring Alarm’s Excellent ratings is for smart home add-ons because it has a small but growing smart home ecosystem called the Works With Ring program. The system also works with Ring video doorbells and security cameras, allowing you to set them to automatically record any activity when the alarm goes off. If you sign up for optional professional monitoring, you'll also receive 60 days of cloud video storage for any Ring security cameras or video doorbells you own. Additional contact sensors and motion sensors cost $20 and $30, respectively.

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DIY Home Security Systems Rated
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