This is the best smart home security systems from 2018 - No matter your budget or skill level installation, these easy to set up and use smart alarm and surveillance packages will keep you safe, and let you monitor what's happening at home from afar.
What's the Best Home Security System?
The Internet of Things has made it easier than ever to set up a smart home in which you can remotely control your door locks, lights, thermostats, vacuums, lawnmowers, and even pet feeders, using your smartphone and an app. It's also made it simple (and relatively affordable) to monitor your home from pretty much anywhere.
Smart security systems are highly customizable and available as do-it-yourself kits or as full-blown setups that include professional installation and monitoring.
Depending on your needs you can go with a system that you monitor yourself, or pay a subscription fee to have your home surveilled 24/7 by professionals who will contact your local fire and police departments when alarms are triggered. Of course, the more coverage you have, the more you can expect to pay.
If you're not ready for a dedicated security system there are plenty of individual devices available that let you monitor your home from anywhere using your phone or tablet, including indoor and outdoor security cameras, video doorbells, and smart locks.
Here's what to look for when deciding how to secure and monitor your home while you're away.
Streamlining Security and Home Automation
A smart home security system connects to your home Wi-Fi network so you can monitor and control your security devices using your smartphone and an app. Entry-level systems usually include some door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a hub that communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or a proprietary mesh network.
You can add extra door, motion, and window sensors to provide coverage for your entire house and build a comprehensive system that includes door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, lights, sirens, smoke/CO detectors, water sensors, and more.
Any smart security system worth its salt offers components that work together in a seamless environment and can be manipulated using customized rules. For example, you can create rules to have the lights turn on when motion is detected, have your doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, and have a camera begin recording when a sensor is triggered.
Some systems store recorded video locally on an SD card or a solid state drive, while others offer cloud storage. Locally stored video is a good choice for do-it-yourselfers on a budget, but you have to be careful not to overwrite video that you may need later. Cloud storage makes it easy to store and access recorded video, but it can cost hundreds of dollars per year depending on your subscription.
All of the systems we've tested feature an app that lets you use your smartphone as your command center to arm and disarm the system, create rules, add and delete components, and receive push notifications when alarms are triggered. Most apps also allow you to do things like view live and recorded video, lock and unlock doors, change thermostat settings, and silence alarms.
Some apps will even use your phone's location services to automatically arm and disarm the system according to your physical location. The more expensive systems usually come with a wall-mounted panel that acts as a communications hub, with a touch-screen display that allows you to do everything the app does, as well as communicate with a professional monitoring service when an alarm is triggered.
DIY vs. Professional Home Security
Do-it-yourself setups are ideal for homeowners on a budget because they can save you a bundle on installation charges and subscription fees. Most DIY systems are easy to install and configure and are sold as kits that you can configure to suit your specific needs. As your needs grow you can order additional sensors and other components at your convenience and pair them to the system in a matter of minutes.
Your basic entry-level DIY system may only support one or two wireless protocols and usually offer a limited selection of add-on components, while more expensive DIY systems will support multiple wireless protocols and are compatible with dozens of add-on components.