Home Security Buying Guide

Picking the right home security system to help watch over your home 24/7 is the key to feeling safe and secure whether you’re at home or work. We’ve compiled a security system buying guide with all of the best information, tips and questions to help guide you to the right security systems to protect your home and family.

Home Security Buying Guide

Understanding the Different Types of Home Security Systems

  • Landline home security systems: Home security monitoring with a landline relies on a wired phone connection and radio frequency to send alerts when sensors are triggered. If phone lines are down or there’s a power outage, these home security systems depend on a backup battery to continue monitoring your home. Landline security systems often require professional installation to connect to your phone line. But in the Digital Age, these are growing a lot less popular due to wireless systems offering easier installation, regular security updates and more additional features to give you more control of your equipment.
  • Wireless home security systems: Wireless security systems use cellular signals to alert you of triggered sensors. The security equipment is easy to install without a professional technician or drilling. Most equipment comes pre-programmed and ready to use when it arrives at your home. Wireless home security systems still offer professional home security monitoring and instant alerts. If you choose a wireless security package, consider your area’s cellular signal and ask the provider about options of your area has spotty cellular signals that may impact your equipment working properly.


Reading the Fine Print of Home Security System Contracts

Before buying a home security system read the fine print. Some security providers require a binding contract for a number of years for the lowest pricing or discounts. There are a few points to keep in mind when reviewing your home security provider’s contract:

  • Some providers may charge you a termination fee costing hundreds of dollars if you break your contract early – some cost more than $700.
  • Contracts may include installation and equipment fees. If you’re not satisfied with the equipment, you may not get a refund.
  • Understand what your provider will and won’t cover If you experience a burglary or damages with your home security system installed. Some offer a money-back guarantee for burglaries, while others state in their contract that they will not be held liable.
  • Your home security provider may allow you to rent or lease the equipment instead of owning it regardless of how long your contract is. And if it’s not working properly after returning it, you may incur a fee.

If you don’t understand or have questions regarding your contract, reach out to your security provider before signing. After all, it’s a legally binding and long-term investment to help protect your home.

Home Security Installation

DIY installation

A DIY installation home security system requires you to set up your equipment yourself. Most security providers make this easily with ‘how-to’ videos, manuals and pre-programming the equipment so it’s ready to use immediately. A DIY home security system typically doesn’t require drilling or wiring and are easy to set up with removable adhesive or plugs into your standard wall outlet and completing the setup on your smartphone or Internet. With DIY installation, you’ll have the freedom to set up your system the way you want and when it’s time to move, you’ll be able easily to pack up the system and reinstall it in your new home without needing a professional technician.

Professional installation

Some home security systems require professional installation to set up your home’s security equipment correctly. If a technician is required, you’ll schedule an appointment for installation. On the bright side, this means you’ll save time and headaches of handling wiring and drilling, however, you’ll want to factor in the cost of professional installation when purchasing the home security system and equipment – as some cost over $200, but there may be a discounted rate depending on the security equipment or package purchased.

Expectations for Home Security System Customer Service

To learn more about home security system providers, consider giving them a quick phone call to get all of your questions answered. Purchasing a home security system is a long-term investment so don’t just rely on their website and reviews to protect your home. Here are a few questions to ask about any home security system. By the end of the call, you should have a better understanding of the security provider, their offerings and how they help keep your home safe.

  • What security measures does your company take to help protect my home?
  • How much does the security equipment cost? Is there a warranty?
  • What customer service or tech support is available?
  • How is your home security system installed?
  • How does your equipment work in the event of a power outage?
  • Can I add more equipment to my home security system over time?
  • Do I have to sign a contract for equipment or professional monitoring?

What to Look for in a Home Security System

  • Home automation

    Look for a home security system with the power to connect your favorite home automation devices with your security equipment for a seamless smart home. Some security providers, such as ADT, use a hub or control panel to send signals to your smart lights, video doorbell, security cameras and more. The most popular home security systems connect to voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to control your home security system hands-free. Connecting these devices allows you to create automated routines to save you time and money. You’ll be able to create schedules to turn the lights on and off to trick lurkers into thinking you’re home when you’re away on vacation, or automatically lower the thermostat’s temperature and turn off the lights when you leave for work at 8 A.M. to save on your energy bill.

  • Mobile app

    The best home security system mobile apps make it easy for you to control your home security system from your smartphone when you’re at work or watching TV at home. Home security provider mobile apps allow you to instantly be notified when your security system’s sensors and signals are triggered. If your security camera detects motion, you’ll automatically receive a notification and you’ll be able to see live footage using the app without ever peeking outside.

  • Professional monitoring

    Having professional monitoring for your home provides peace of mind while at home or away. Professional monitoring services are dedicated to responding to any motion and sound detection signals your system notices. As soon as your security provider receives an alert from your home security system, they’ll investigate the situation including contacting emergency responders and notifying you of nearby danger. If you choose not to have professional monitoring services , your home security system will immediately notify you if a sensor is triggered, but you’ll be responsible for handling the situation including contacting emergency responders or scaring off intruders using your security camera’s two-way audio. Your security monitoring choice depends on your home and safety needs. Homeowners and renters alike use both options.

  • Usability

    Your home security system is designed to help protect your home, making it easy for you to use without worry. .In the event of an emergency, you should instantly know where the ‘Panic’ button is or how to arm your security system. Your home security system should make it easy to understand what each sound or alert means. The system should also automatically alert you if there’s a power outage, batteries are low or there’s a technical issue with equipment.

  • Expandability

    After installing your new security system or moving into a new home, you may need more equipment to help protect your home. Your security provider can offer additional sensors, security cameras and other security equipment. Before buying a home security system learn about how you may be able to add more equipment to your existing system.

  • Design

    Some home security systems are designed to be small, but powerful. Most homeowners enjoy a stylish home security system to blend into the home’s design without bulky wires and systems. Some systems offer touchscreen tablet-style control panels or smaller base stations to place in the kitchen or bedroom to be simple, stylish and less noticeable.

Shopping for the Best Home Security System Equipment

All home security systems come with the basics including a control panel or base station to manage all equipment and a ‘Panic’ button in the event of danger not detected by sensors. Each security system provider offers different equipment and packages to meet your specific needs. Here are the top security accessories homeowners find most helpful.

  • Glassbreak sensors – Many home security system providers offer glassbreak sensors to help protect your home. Glassbreak sensors are used to detect any glass cracking or shattering within a certain range including windows and front door glass. The sensors use a microphone to listen for the unique sound of glass breaking and sound a loud high-decibel alarm.  
  • Door and window sensors – Most home security systems include door and window sensors to instantly alert you when someone enters your home. Door and window sensors come in two pieces – one side is a reed switch and the other is a magnet to create a closed circuit. If the two ends are more than two inches apart if a window or door is open an alarm will sound to alert you.  
  • Security camera Security cameras are your home security system’s extra set of eyes to watch over your home. They’re placed indoors and outdoors and are designed with motion and sound sensors to record motion detected activity. Today’s security cameras automatically send a mobile alert for you to see your camera’s live footage using your smartphone. Some cameras include two-way audio for you to speak to your home’s guests when you’re away or scare off burglars by the unexpected sound of your voice.
  • Video doorbell Video doorbells are made to show you who’s at your door without leaving your couch to answer it. When your video doorbell detects motion or sound, it will automatically send a push notification to alert you that someone’s at your door and a live view from the doorbell’s camera. Some video doorbells allow you to send a pre-recorded message telling guests your unavailable and many include two-way audio to speak to guests using your smartphone.

Top Home Security Providers

Best for Industry Experience

ADT Home Security

  • BBB rating
  • Starting price
Our take on ADT Home Security

ADT has over 140 years of home security experience which sets them apart as the oldest security provider. ADT remains a top home security company by providing a broad range of services and custom security solutions. It is no surprise that ADT helps protect the home of over 7 million customers. ADT offers three packages homeowners can choose from: Traditional Package, Control Package, and Video Package. All ADT’s security packages include 24/7 professional monitoring with dedicated centers ready to alert authorities if an alarm is triggered at your home. Professional monitoring for ADT’s home security packages starts at $28.99/mo. Customers can choose from a wide range of equipment options, like motion detectors, smart locks, thermostats, doorbell cameras and more. ADT also offers customers to control their alarm system remotely through ADT’s mobile app in select packages.

What we like

  • Over 140 years of industry experience
  • $500 Theft Protection
  • 6-Month Money Back Guarantee
Best for Smart Homes

Vivint Home Security

  • BBB rating
  • Starting price
Our take on Vivint Home Security

Vivint is recognized for its innovative security equipment and simple home automation integration. Vivint provides 24/7 professional monitoring services and professional installation. With Vivint, you have the ability to customize your own equipment package and choose a monitoring service to fit your family’s needs. Vivint has a range of well-designed equipment, with popular choices being the outdoor camera pro, indoor ping camera, and doorbell camera. Vivint offers basic motion detection and keypad control in all packages, allowing customers to customize their smart home and surveillance features. Vivint offers two professional security monitoring plans that start at $38.99/mo. Vivint allows customers to control their home security system no matter where they are through the smart home app.

What we like

  • Variety of smart home devices and features
  • Wireless system
  • Mobile app access and control available
Best for DIY Installation

SimpliSafe Home Security System

  • BBB rating
  • Starting price
Our take on SimpliSafe Home Security

SimpliSafe is a popular DIY security provider known for its affordable professional alarm monitoring. SimpliSafe offers a range of home security solutions for customers with both equipment packages and monitoring plans to choose from. Customers must purchase SimpliSafe equipment upfront, but there are three different package options. SimpliSafe’s equipment is modern and easy to install. Designed with renters in mind, installing SimpliSafe equipment is non-invasive. All packages include the security basics like motion sensors, while the more advanced packages include enhancements like video surveillance or key fob control. SimpliSafe also offers several professional monitoring, starting at the low cost of $14.99/mo. The monitoring plans include features like environmental monitoring, mobile alerts, security camera recording and more.

What we like

  • No contracts
  • Inexpensive professional monitoring
  • A range of security packages

You’ve got everything you need to make your home safe and sound. Ready to pick the perfect home security system for your humble abode? We’re here to help. Check out our list of home security system providers, plans and features available today.

Home Security System FAQs

How much can I save on my homeowner’s insurance with a home security system?

Homeowner’s insurance can cost up to $1,000 annually, but you may be able to reduce the cost with a home security system. Installing home security equipment can save you up to 20 percent depending on your home security and insurance providers.

Is a wired home security system better than a wireless one?

Neither option is better than the other, both have pros and cons depending on your home security needs. To determine which option is better for you, determine whether you’re owning or renting your home, what security equipment you need most and the cost. If you’re renting property, you’ll want to consider wireless home security depending on your leasing terms and conditions in regards to wiring any hardware.

Is a professional home security installation better than DIY installation?

It depends on your circumstances. If you’re renting an apartment, you may find it easier to self-install your equipment. Most DIY installation is installed using standard wall outlets and removable adhesive instead of wiring and drilling. However, if you’re worried about not installing your equipment correctly, ask the home security provider about professional installation options, videos or guides to assist.

How does my home security system work during outages?

Oftentimes, most home security systems include a backup battery to keep the system and equipment on during power outages. However, some features may not be available without connections to send the signals.

Dashia Starr

Written by

Dashia Starr