Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2020

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 12 of the most popular do-it-yourself systems from brands such as ADT, Brinks Home Security, Frontpoint, Google Nest, Honeywell Home, Ring, and SimpliSafe. Below, CR members with digital access will find ratings and reviews of the six 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.

6 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.

Google Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack H1500ES
Professional monitoring:
Optional.
Monitoring cost: $19 per month with a three-year contract or $29 per month with no contract.
What’s in the box: A base station with a keypad, motion sensor, siren, two contact sensors with motion sensing, and two RF tags.
CR’s take: The Google Nest Secure security system is a stellar product, rating extremely well in our core security system tests. It’s lacking in only two areas—security add-ons and smart home add-ons—where it rates Good and Fair, respectively. Despite these shortcomings, this Nest system is very easy to set up and use, earning an Excellent rating in our setup test. It even has Google Assistant built into its keypad/base station, so you don’t need a separate smart speaker for voice control. Additional Google Nest Detect contact/motion sensors cost $49 each. Of course, it also works with Google Nest security cameras. You can monitor the system yourself using the Nest smartphone app or sign up for the optional professional monitoring.

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DIY Home Security Systems Rated
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