The right technology improves quality of life, yet there are plenty of good reasons why you might not want to go all in with the latest and greatest devices. Maybe you prefer less screen time, you’re intimidated by all of the options, or maybe you just want core functions without distracting bells and whistles. Whatever your reason for taking a less-is-more approach, we’ll help you narrow down the home security selection to make mindful, uncomplicated picks that will work best for you.

First Things First: A Few Home Security Basics

We have found that there are a few helpful concepts to point out and clear up when it comes to selecting home security systems and gear. If you’re unsure of what you want, start here by familiarizing yourself with the smart home and home security landscape. 

Professional Monitoring vs. Self-Monitoring

Before you make any big home security purchases, ask yourself what you need from your system. Do you want a private system that you can check yourself, or do you want to pay for a professional monitoring service to notify emergency personnel in the event of an alarm?

If it’s the former, you will likely be able to get away with fewer devices, but you’ll also have to learn how to use them all. If it’s the latter, you’ll likely need a larger system, but there will be less hands-on work for you. You’ll also have to pay a monthly or yearly fee for a monitoring plan in addition to the costs of the necessary equipment. 

Professional Installation vs. Self-Installation

There’s one more thing to decide whether or not to DIY: installation. Professional installation might save you a headache, but you’ll need to let someone into your home to get started or to make repairs down the line. On the other hand, self-installation may be simpler and cheaper, and is very doable if you’re sticking with a limited number of devices. If you move a lot or plan to, self-installed devices are also much easier to bring with you. 

You Don’t Need a Landline (But It’s Still An Option)

Modern home security systems no longer rely strictly on landlines. The leading companies typically give you a few different options when it comes to connectivity, and they’ll even let you select a backup in case of a downed line or power outage. You can connect your system via Wi-Fi network or ethernet, a cellular connection (4G/LTE) or the traditional landline. If you need to rely on cellular, don’t worry – you probably won’t need to negotiate with your cellphone company. In most cases, the home security provider take care of those details.

There is one exception: cameras. Basic home security setups don’t usually include a camera. Video footage requires a lot of data, and that usually requires the larger bandwidth of a Wi-Fi or ethernet connection. Most standalone cameras from leading brands like Nest and Ring require a Wi-Fi connection. There are some cellular cameras that don’t need the internet, such as the Arlo Go or Vosker V100, but they require data plans and aren’t as favorably reviewed. 


Best Bets: The Simplest Home Security Systems, Services & Devices

Feeling confused? Skip right to the good stuff. We’ve identified these great options and strategies for simple home security setups. 

Option 1) A Professionally Installed & Monitored Basic Home Security System

If you want a professional monitored home security system that’s easy to use, consider the entry-level packages from established industry leaders. These typically include a central command hub plus essential sensors (flood, fire, carbon monoxide, etc.) to monitor your household’s safety. By sticking to the basics, you won’t have to use a smartphone app or learn new digital protocols. 

In this category, we recommend the Traditional Package from ADT, with professional installation, cellular connectivity options and 24/7 monitoring. 

Frontpoint

Option 2) Self-Installed Home Security System With Professional Monitoring

Maybe you’d like a basic system that connects you with a professional monitoring center, without the complication of someone coming to your home to install it. In that case, choose a DIY home security system and opt into a professional monitoring subscription.

SimpliSafe is quickly becoming a leader in this category. We like that you can purchase the essential equipment up front (base station, keypad, motion sensor and entry sensors) with the option to add on more once you get acclimated. Plus, the equipment itself is sleek and simple. They also have flexible monitoring and installation plans, so you can opt into only what you need without paying for anything extra. Review SimpliSafe packages here.

Frontpoint Home Security is another provider worth considering if you like the idea of self-installation. While they do require long-term contracts, they also have a reputation for excellent, straightforward customer service to guide you through the process. Review more DIY security providers here. 

nest outdoor security camera

Option 3) A Security Camera That You Install & Monitor Yourself

To add a layer of security without a full-scale system or a monthly monitoring fee, consider getting a standalone security camera. On the downside, you won’t have professionals monitoring your household for you. On the other hand, automation features make it easy to monitor the camera yourself. If you know how to use a smartphone, you can get real-time alerts about activity caught on camera. And as long as your home has Wi-Fi, set up is a cinch too.

The Nest Cam IQ Indoor and the Ring Stick Up Cam are Safety.com’s two top picks for wireless security cameras. Both are simple to set up and offer benefits like 1080p HD video quality, two-way audio, motion detection and mobile alerts. For a deeper dive into easy-to-install camera options, explore our Best Wireless Security Cameras comparison guide

(Note: All of the leading monitored home security providers offer higher-tier packages with add-on security cameras. However, these start to bring us into more advanced territory. If you definitely want a system that includes monitored home security and a security camera with mobile alerts, then start by comparing top home security companies and check prices on the specific configuration you desire. If you’re not tech-savvy, it will probably be easier to go through one company than to mix and match devices and providers.)

Option 4) A Personal Medical Alert or Panic Button

Personal medical alert systems and buttons provide the peace of mind of 24/7 monitoring without the hassle of a home set-up, so they can be a very streamlined way to represent your most essential safety and security needs. They’re ideal choices for independent seniors or individuals with medical conditions, especially those living alone. Depending on the company and configuration you select, they require very little equipment, virtually no installation and a minimal monthly monitoring fee, in addition to being very simple to operate. 

Compare personal medical alert systems here. At the top of the list is Medical Guardian, which offers a number of wearable device options and flexible monthly plans that are very competitively priced. GetSafe is another good choice if you’re trying to bridge gaps in home security, because its expansion packages include home services like smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring.