Breaking-and-enterings are not only terribly common crimes but are also some of the scariest ones: your home and personal space is being violated, which is often enough to dampen your spirits for a pretty long time. Add the fact that you (or one of your loved ones) could be at home when a criminal decides that they would like to help themselves to your things, and such a crime can be downright panic-inducing.
This very primal, yet justifiable fear is the reason behind the wide array of home security systems currently on the market. Until relatively recently, this service was the sole territory of large security firms. Security systems were frequently tied to expensive equipment, stiff monthly fees, and less-than-impressive response times. Plus, any electricity outage or problem with your land telephone lines (remember those?) would render these services ineffective.
But hey, you can’t put a price on your family’s safety, right?
While that may still be true, the fact of the matter is that the price for safety does not need to be so high anymore. After all, the smart home revolution is here. If you can dim your lights, turn off your heating, or blast your home’s stereo remotely, there should be no reason you can’t monitor what is going inside your home too.
The 8 Best Smart Home Alarm Systems
Abode offers a wide range of beautifully-designed and unobtrusive gadgets that will allow you to secure your home with as much accuracy as any traditional system, if not more.
The Abode system’s starter kit offers solid but elegant hardware and includes one main gateway sensor, one door or window sensor, one motion sensor, and a remote key fob. Additional motion sensors are also available depending on the size of your home. Plus, if you want to take your home’s security one step further, they also have several advanced sensors available: from broken glass to smoke and CO2 sensors to or water leakage sensors. Wide-angle motion-activated cameras and high-definition cameras are also a possibility.
The Abode system requires a good and fast Ethernet connection to provide real-time feeds. However, in exchange, it offers great flexibility. In addition to their Abode Cue home automation app, they also integrate with Alexa, Google, and Nest.
The company seems eager to keep their customers as free and as in-control of their expenses as possible. The Abode suite is free to self-monitor, but they also have a wide range of plans for those willing to delegate a bit – from $10 a month for cellular backup to more integrated professional monitoring. As they don’t lock you into plans, you are free to hire professional monitoring for as little as three days, which is perfect for those who just need some extra peace of mind during their next long weekend away.
A great option for those who need some high-tech reassurance while still minding their budget, the Wink Lookout system is meant to be integrated into the Wink Hub 2 home automation system, but it refrains from locking you into their branded products.
The first step to install the Wink Lookout is to purchase the starter kit. This is a basic package that includes the basic Wink Hub control panel, a motion sensor, a siren, and two door or window sensors. Additional sensors are very reasonably priced, and the Wink Hub is fully compatible with other third-party cameras and systems – from garage door controls to thermostats and emergency lights.
The Hub itself is a high-quality device with superb customization options: from customizable sirens to automation options.
The Hub works with either a direct Ethernet cable or your Wi-Fi. In addition, the add-on devices also support Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and third-party wireless protocols.
The entire ecosystem is designed to respond to a centralized Wink Lookout app, which offers a quick glance at all the sensors in your home, and the last time any of them were activated. This app also allows you to create, activate, or deactivate many automated commands or “robots.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t integrate with either Alexa or Google Home, although some of the lights and thermostats will respond to Alexa verbal commands.
A pioneer in the field of smart home security systems, SimpliSafe established itself as a threat to traditional home alarm models back in 2006. Ever since, they have continued to update their models and devices and now provide some of the sleekest and most reliable equipment pieces out there.
Rather than just one simple Starter Kit, SimpliSafe likes to begin their customization option from the very start. Their Command Centre suite comes in five different iterations: Alpha, Bravo, Delta, Echo, and a 12-Piece Kit with Camera that they weren’t able to name Charlie.
All of them include a base station, a keypad, and a keychain remote. Depending on your choice of kit, you may also get different numbers of entry and motion sensors (from three to eight), a camera, a panic button, sirens, and a glass break sensor.
If you are seeking protection from Mother Nature in addition to neighborhood criminals, SimpliSafe also offers leak, freeze, and CO2 sensors.
The SimpliSafe system does not include a free self-monitoring option. However, plans start at just $15 a month, depending on whether you just need professional monitoring or want to add a cellular backup (which is always handy for when your Wi-Fi is misbehaving) and app integration.
If you choose to include app integration, you will find that the suite integrates very easily with both Google Assistant and Alexa. All these plans are easy to subscribe to, change, or cancel as you need – you won’t be locked into a contract.
Nest was created, designed, and manufactured by one of the Alphabet Group’s companies (you know, Google), and therefore offers truly superior hardware for those who are willing to pay a little bit more.
This is definitely a great option for those who believe that “less is more.” While it doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of other systems, it guarantees that what it does offer is of the best quality.
Surprisingly enough, the Nest suite does away with the centralized hub or control panel of other systems, which is a very smart choice, considering the fact that many burglars now know what to deactivate first. Each camera and sensor connects directly to your smartphone via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. The monitoring app has one of the cleanest user interfaces in the industry and makes self-monitoring a breeze.
The basic package includes both indoor and outdoor cameras. However, the full range of products also includes movement and smoke detectors, smart thermostats, and highly customizable sirens.
As a Google company, Nest Secure offers complete integration with Google Assistant, and if you are choosing to self-monitor, it will also be completely free.
For those who need an expert to look things over (or simply can’t be bothered), there is a professional surveillance plan available as well. Lovers of stability can sign a three-year contract, but Nest has left the door open to monthly plans as well.
Honeywell Smart Home Security System
As a well-established manufacturer of home-control systems, Honeywell has managed to keep their offers high-tech by quickly embracing Smart Home technologies. Their completely modular, do-it-yourself home security system is easy to adapt and easier to install. It’s an especially great option for those who already own any of their environmental controls or gadgets.
The Honeywell system starts very small but can be scaled up quickly, as needed. You can start with one base station, one camera, and one key fob. A larger starter kit will throw in a couple of motion sensors and a window or door sensor as well. For those who need to expand, sirens are also available.
However, starting small will not entail a low-quality setup. Their wide-angle camera can transmit high-definition (1080p) video and offers face recognition and two-way audio capabilities. Talk about a brand new way to spook an intruder or tell the cat to get off the shelf.
All motion sensors use geofencing technology, which allows them to be activated or deactivated as you move around the house, without any hassle.
Because the camera uses cloud storage and has pretty high resolution, using Honeywell systems will require a fast and powerful Wi-Fi connection. However, no professional installation will be needed for the equipment itself. The welcome kit offers very easy instructions, and the app’s user interface is remarkably self-explanatory.
The Honeywell system can fully integrate with Alexa, and you can use voice commands to alter some of the settings. Finally, the system relies completely on self-monitoring, which may put the onus of attention on you but comes with no hidden fees or subscription plans attached to it.
Founded by a former Shark Tank reject, Ring Alarm shows that reality TV is not the ultimate measure of an entrepreneur’s business chops. This good-value option can be easily adapted as you move from a one-bedroom apartment to a full-grown home and offers the kind of imposing protection that we are used to having to pay big bucks for.
The basic 5-piece starter kit includes a base station, a keypad, a motion detector, a door sensor, and one range extender. Additional sensors and detectors are available separately or as part of the starter kit. In addition, vacationers will also be able to get environmental alerts with the flood and freeze alarm, the smoke detector, and the CO2 detector.
A basic siren is included as part of the base station, and it’s loud enough to get you on your feet. However, large suburban or rural properties can opt in for an additional dome siren, which will amplify the sound to up to 105 decibels.
Ring also offers a range of security cameras and video-sound smart doorbells. These are technically not a part of their security suite, but they can integrate with it.
The base station needs to be connected to the internet via an Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi. The app is free for those who want to self-monitor, and it’s quite easy to use. For those interested in professional protection, plans start at just $10 a month. In addition, you can add video recording capabilities to your cameras for just $3, which is a very small investment for the kind of security it offers. It’s definitely something to consider if you are away a lot or are setting up an Airbnb vacation rental.
The Ring suite can integrate with both Alexa and Google Assistant, although voice commands will not work.
Point by Minut
Swedish tech company Minut has created an uber-sensitive camera-free option for urban homes, apartments, and small spaces. While the Point smart home security system can be scaled up, it offers an efficient and cost-effective option for those who face more frequent threats but have less space to cover.
The company takes pride in their responsiveness and respect for privacy. Their Open Source software policy allows them to quickly implement new solutions while still keeping their ears and eyes off your private property
Point may be the only system reviewed on this list that deliberately steers clear of adding cameras or microphones from their suite. However, this does not compromise the level of security they offer. Their range of highly-sensitive sensors is easy to install and configure, ensuring that no odd movement within your home will go unnoticed by you.
Their basic minimalist sensor detects motion, changes in temperature, humidity, and sound. Thanks to their self-adjustable algorithms, it will quickly learn what noises are normal and which are not, so you won’t be bothered by intrusive notifications if your neighbors decide to get loud after dinner. Furthermore, this smart detection system means that no raw sound files will ever leave the device.
The Point device is all-inclusive, and you will most likely need only one per floor. In addition to a good siren blast, it also offers the opportunity to contact the police directly, or to call for help from nearby friends and family instead.
Point was designed to require very little and to be as self-contained as possible. If you have decent Wi-Fin in your apartment already, you will be able to set it up in a matter of minutes.
Self-monitoring for one user is free. However, if you would like to set up multiple users or access their Neighborhood Watch system, the Premium version is only $4.99 per month.
Arlo Pro 2
California-based tech company Arlo Technologies has jumped into the smart home security field with a high-end option that combines great design, full customization, and a near-obsessive commitment to customer satisfaction.
Unlike most options around, Arlo offers you the chance to buy the base system alone, in addition to purchasing bundles that also include different numbers of cameras and movement detectors.
Their base system deserves special notice, as it bundles several options that are not often seen fully-integrated. On top of its own 100-decibel siren, it includes two USB ports where you can connect your own flash drive, a great option if you need to keep your recordings for later but don’t want to trust a third-party cloud service. Plus, the base station works as a Wi-Fi extender itself.
The cameras are also remarkably efficient as well. They offer a 130° angle, HD images, and work under both geofencing and scheduling mode. That means that you can set them to follow movement from area to area, schedule them to monitor specific areas around-the-clock, or combine the two. They can also be programmed easily using IFTTT (If This Then That) protocol, which opens up an extra layer of automation.
As for additional bells and whistles beyond the classic cameras and motion sensors, you can add night-vision sensors and 2-way audio capabilities.
Because the home base acts as a Wi-Fi extender, you will only need to connect that piece to your internet via cable or Wi-Fi. All other cams and sensors will connect to the home base directly.
The Arlo 2 is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. A basic self-monitoring plan is free, but if you want to enjoy its full capabilities, you can unlock three levels of professional monitoring: Advanced, Professional, and Enterprise.
What Does a Smart Home Alarm System Offer?
Smart home alarm and security systems use a lot of the same gadgets and monitoring systems that traditional security systems do: motion detectors, CO2 sensors, password-protected locks, and window sensors, among others.
However, instead of sending such information to a centralized office through your phone lines so that they can be received an interpreted by an agent, they connect directly into your home’s Wi-Fi and send real-time alerts to your smartphone.
Depending on the system you choose, you may even enjoy live-feeds showing exactly what is happening once an alarm has been activated. So, no more accidental distress calls triggered by the neighbors’ cat!
Depending on your particular needs, these systems are also highly adaptable and modular. Depending on your budget and the strength of your Wi-Fi, they will allow you to buy the different sensors one by one. Many are designed to work with their proprietary devices, connected to the same app, and provide the benefit of a seamless and highly responsive ecosystem. Others allow you to shop around a bit and research your best investment from a range of compatible devices. Video images may be stored in the device itself, inside a discreet SD card, or stored in the cloud. Panic buttons and direct messaging capabilities to law enforcement agencies are also possible.