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The best DIY home security systems of 2020

Keep an eye on your home with one of these do-it-yourself security systems.

Do-it-yourself home security companies aren't like the ADTs and Vivints of the world. Instead of signing you up for a multiyear contract with a broad coverage-based subscription fee, most DIY security systems give you the flexibility to chose how and when you monitor your house.

 That usually means you can sign up for a professional monitoring service on an optional basis and cancel any time -- without early termination fees or other hidden charges. Factors we considered included the quality of the security cameras (do they have motion detection and night vision?), is there a monitoring plan, can window sensors and door sensors be incorporated, whether the system had a mobile app, can it work with your door locks and can it be incorporated into an existing smart home setup, including with voice commands via Amazon Alexa.

Scroll through your options below to learn more about the best DIY home security systems available today. 

The best DIY home security systems

Best overall DIY security

SimpliSafe Home Security

Chris Monroe/CNET

SimpliSafe was one of the first DIY home security systems to hit stores and is a reasonable alternative to ADT and other professional firms. That's due in large part to its wide variety of accessories. Its starter kit costs just $230 and underwent a hardware update recently that looks much better than before. 

You still have to pay at least a $15 monthly fee to access any remote security features (something that's typically offered for free with other systems), but SimpliSafe's impressive array of accessories and solid performance make it our top pick overall. Read our SimpliSafe Home Security System (2018) review.

Read more: Top 6 cheap home security devices of 2020

Chris Monroe/CNET

Abode has all of the standard sensors and devices for an easy entry-level security system. It integrates with Amazon Alexa, IFTTT and Nest for voice-enabled arming and disarming, as well as other advanced automations. You can add accessories to the system a la carte. Professional monitoring is available for $30 per month and includes cellular backup. 

It also supports Zigbee and Z-Wave, which means you can connect the system to a wide variety of third-party devices so you can control everything from within the Abode app.

I wish you didn't have to use Abode's web app to make custom rules and automations, but this scalable self-install system delivers reliable performance at a good value. Read the Abode review.

Read more: Top cheap home security devices of 2020

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The $499 Nest Secure alarm system starter pack comes with one Guard hub, two Tag key fobs and two Detect door/window/motion sensors. You can arm and disarm the system by entering a PIN code on the Guard's integrated key pad, by tapping a paired Tag fob over the top of the Guard hub -- or by changing the mode in the related Nest app for Android and iPhone. 

The Detect sensors are my favorite part of Nest's Secure system, as you can temporarily disarm a single Detect while continuing to monitor the rest of your home. That way, you can open a window, grab the paper from your front yard -- and more -- without having to disarm your Nest Secure system. Read our Nest Secure review.

Julie Snyder/CNET

If you want a simple home security system at an incredible value, consider the second-gen Ring Alarm Security Kit. Version 2.0 was introduced this year and it's very similar to the original -- and that's a good thing. 

The eight-piece kit I tested, complete with a base station, a keypad, a range extender, a motion detector and four door/window sensors costs $250. In addition to its affordable price, the Ring Alarm Security Kit has a simple app, it's easy to install and the whole system works well.

You can scale it up with additional Ring devices, including Ring security cameras and doorbells, and even add in select third-party smart locks and other products. The kit works with Alexa, so you can arm/disarm the system with voice commands -- and Ring offers optional professional monitoring for $10 per month or $100 per year (also a great value). 

Definitely consider this system if you want a basic entry-point into home security that can also be scaled up over time, as needed.

 If you have concerns about Ring's privacy and security policies, check out this commentaryRead the CNET review.

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Other DIY home security options

The above list covers our favorite self-install home security systems, but there are other options out there. Here's a rundown of what else is available today. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Honeywell's Smart Home Security System is a DIY kit. The system's main hub is called the Camera Base Station; it's equipped with 1080p high-definition live streaming, a 145-degree viewing angle and free 24-hour cloud storage (this will change to three days during a future update). You can also add to the system with an assortment of optional accessories. Professional monitoring is not available on this system.  

Here's the list of bundled kits and standalone devices, with pricing:

  • Starter Kit (Camera Base Station, 2 Access Sensors, Key Fob) -- $500
  • Camera Base Station -- $400
  • Door and Window Access Sensors -- $40
  • Key Fob -- $30
  • Motion Sensor -- $50
  • Indoor MotionViewer -- $99
  • Outdoor MotionViewer -- $199
Read our Honeywell Smart Home Security Starter Kit review.

Read more: The best smart garage door controllers for 2020

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The Scout Alarm security system includes a $129 hub, a $29 door/window sensor, a $49 motion sensor and a $40 water sensor -- that's $247 total. Pay $10 per month for professional monitoring, cellular and battery backup and a variety of other features. (Read more about Scout's monitoring services.) Scout works with Amazon Alexa for arming and disarming, but it doesn't have very many accessories to choose from.  Read our Scout Home Security System review.

Juan Garzón/CNET

The $550 SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit includes a 7-inch SmartThings panel, two door/window sensors and one motion detector. Its optional $200 expansion kit comes with a smoke detector, a carbon monoxide detector and a water leak sensor. Unlike the other DIY systems on this list, SmartThings' system comes with contract-free professional monitoring from ADT. It starts at $15 per month and goes up to $35 per month for full monitoring of both "life safety" and "home security" products.  Read the SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit article.

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