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Best home security systems for renters

Which home security devices are best in smaller spaces, and when you don't want to drill into walls or doorframes?

Home security systems can give you peace of mind, but depending on where you live, a professionally installed system -- or even some DIY systems with more invasive installations -- might not make sense. If you don't want to drill into walls, fiddle with doorbell wiring or pay to install a permanent system in an apartment you might only be staying in for the year, there are still home security systems for you.

To put together our list of the best home security systems for renters, we tested every major security system on the market -- from professionally installed systems to DIY ones. In general, the professional ones won't make much sense for renters because they tend to rely on more permanent fixtures, and they sometimes come with contracts that can last longer than your lease. The better picks are going to be cheaper, do-it-yourself affairs. Here are the best systems for the job.

Read more: Best smart locks for 2021

Wyze

Wyze's home security system is ridiculously cheap -- even after the price bumps many of its products saw in early 2021. The company's home monitoring system costs $80 and comes with two door/window sensors, a motion detector, a keypad and a base station with a built-in siren. You can also get a year of professional monitoring for $60. That'll give you a 50% discount on the system (which rounds out the price at $100).

In short, Wyze's is a solid system with a really appealing price tag -- and it's cheaply and easily scalable for a variety of apartment or home sizes (adding a camera, for instance, will set you back as little as $30). The big drawback? It doesn't have cellular backup, which means if the power or internet go down, you lose the professional monitoring and remote alerts. The system will still work locally, though, so if someone breaks in while the power is down, the siren is still going to sound.

Read our review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Editors' note: Ring has been called out for its partnership with local police departments in the US, leading privacy advocates to express concern about the data Ring shares with law enforcement and how that information is used. In December 2019, thousands of Ring users' personal information was exposed, leading us to stop recommending Ring products. Ring has since updated its security policies, mandating two-factor authentication, adding end-to-end video encryption and introducing CAPTCHA and authenticator app support.

Ring has a ton of baggage, but its $160 home security system is a solid midrange DIY option. It comes with a door/window sensor, a motion sensor, a keypad, a range extender and a base station. What I like most about Ring Alarm for renters, though, is that it works with the Ring Peephole Cam, which is one of the only video doorbells that works with those peepholes you often find in apartment buildings. Like Wyze, Ring doesn't have cell backup.

Read our review.

 

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe is our favorite DIY home security system for reasons: it's reliable, well-priced and has no significant weaknesses (that's right, you have cell backup here, unlike the two systems above). That said, SimpliSafe does have one shortcoming for renters in particular: its video doorbell is wired-only. For many renters without doorbell wiring (or without permission to fiddle with it), that takes the video doorbell off the table.

If you're not worried about the video doorbell, though, SimpliSafe offers fantastic packages at prices that, while slightly higher than the systems above, beat out direct competitors like Abode. Packages start at $229, but you can regularly find them on sale on the SimpliSafe website for significantly less -- at the time of writing, for instance, the base package only costs $137.

Read our review.

 

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