So you want to protect your home, but you’re not interested in getting a hard-wired system installed. We get it — why have someone else do it when you can do it yourself? In fact, there’s never been a better time to invest in a DIY smart security system. These kits are typically more affordable than a professional installation, while still giving you the necessary devices to protect your home. Plus, there are usually no long-term contracts to worry about. Our top pick is SimpliSafe, but we’ve reviewed dozens of these systems and have several other recommendations to make as well, so be sure to check out the full list.
SimpliSafe redid its DIY kit in 2018 with a new (and much better) look and better functionality, including dual cellular and Wi-Fi connections, so the system won’t be disrupted by a power outage. The Knox is an excellent choice for larger homes where you already know you’ll need more than one or two sensors for full protection.
It comes with a base station and separate keypad, a key fob, six door sensors, two motion sensors, a siren, and a smoke detector — all in one package. Professional, no-contract monitoring is available for $15 per month, and you can add extra devices like outdoor cameras, smart locks, and more. It’s an excellent system if you want to start off big.
Ring’s security kit combines a few more traditional elements of home security systems with a newer DIY approach that works well if you are comfortable with a classic setup. The kit comes with a base station, a separate keypad to install on the wall, a contact sensor, a motion detector, and range extender (plus compatibility with all other Ring products, specifically their video doorbells and security cameras).
That’s an excellent array of products for a great price, and they are easy to set up and understand even if your experience with home security systems is limited. The keypad allows you to switch between Away, Home, and Disarmed modes, like traditional systems, but with useful features like programmable delays for arming, and push notifications for your phone app.
Ring also offers 24/7 professional monitoring and video recording for a fee, with no cancellation fees if you decide to go back to a simpler setup. Get more information from our full review.
Kangaroo 5-piece kit
If you’re looking for a more affordable home security option, seeing these options for $200 to $300 each may feel a little depressing. Fortunately, there’s a great answer in the market for smaller budgets, too, thanks to Kangaroo’s five-piece security system that’s still under $100.
The system includes a hub with a keypad and siren that also acts as a smoke and carbon monoxide sensor, two motion sensors for guarding entryways, and two “Roo tags,” which are essentially keychain fobs for easy entry. You manage the system via an app, which includes alerts for motion detection and fires, and there is an option for professional monitoring with a free three-month trial period. The system also has some nice extras like Alexa compatibility and a pet mode for setting up the system with pets in mind.
Nest Secure (read our full review) is the best example of what a home security starter kit should be: Simple, easy to understand, and unobtrusive while it’s working — but, with plenty of options for expansion or additional features. The kit comes with the Guard hub, a round device with a number pad that tracks all the other sensors, but also incorporates a siren and motion sensor of its own. You also get two Detect motion sensors to set up where you please around the house, and two Tag key fobs that will let you pass through them. You can disarm the detectors with a code, or simply choose a silent mode to avoid triggering the alarm when necessary. These sensors can also light up as indicators, let out chimes so you know when an unlocked opening has been accessed, and switch to a pet mode so pets won’t set them off.
It’s an expensive setup for three motion detectors and no cam, but Nest’s devices are state of the art, responsive, and minimalist, so you really get what you pay for. You can add indoor or outdoor cams, video doorbells, and additional motion detectors whenever you want to expand the system. You can also arrange for mobile notification, and enable professional monitoring via Brinks Home if you prefer.
Much like the Nest Secure, Abode’s starter kit includes a Gateway that acts as a hub (although the excellent app also allows for full control), a door/window sensor, a general motion sensor, and a key fob for access. Where Abode differs is in compatibility: While Nest Secure is designed to only work with a few Nest devices, Abode offers compatibility with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and Wi-Fi technologies, allowing for many different third-party integrations, including devices that you may already own.
Add in the many different sensor options you can buy from Abode, and this DIY system is one of the best around for expansions or integrating with older devices. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands. Read our full review to get more details.
Finally, if you’re uncertain whether you want to do it yourself or have one installed for you, we also have a list of the best home security systems, which is a combination of professionally installed and DIY kits to help you.
- The best home security systems in 2020
- The best smart smoke detectors for 2020
- The best smart locks for 2020
- The best wireless security cameras for 2020
- SimpliSafe Sale: Huge discounts on home security systems (and a free Simplicam!)