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Smart Home

9 home security systems you can install yourself

Watch over your castle with these contract-free home security systems.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Do-it-yourself home security companies aren't like the ADTs and Vivints of the world. Instead of locking you into a multiyear contract, most DIY systems give you the flexibility to chose how and when you monitor your home. That usually means you can sign up for a monitoring service on an optional basis and cancel any time -- without early termination fees or other hidden charges. 

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

Chris Monroe/CNET


The $300 Abode starter kit 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. 

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 CNET's full review of the Abode Starter Kit.


Honeywell Smart Home Security System

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 CNET's first take of the Honeywell Smart Home Security System.

Colin West McDonald/CNET


iSmartAlarm offers a variety of bundled DIY home security kits, ranging in price from the $150 Starter Package to the $614 Shield Package. The Starter Package includes a CubeOne hub, complete with a 110-decibel siren, one door/window sensor, one motion sensor and one key fob. iSmartAlarm works with IFTTT and has optional accessories you can add to your core system over time, as needed, such as iSmartAlarm Spot or iCamera Keep Pro cameras. iSmartAlarm does not offer professional monitoring. 

Read CNET's full review of the iSmartAlarm home security system.

Now playing: Watch this: Nest's alarm system is expensive, but secure

Nest Secure

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. 

Nest Secure does not currently offer professional monitoring, but the feature is expected to be offered in the future. 

Read CNET's full review of the Nest Secure.


Ring Protect

Ring announced its Protect home security system in early October. The $199 Protect starter kit includes a base station, a keypad, a contact sensor, a passive infrared motion sensor and a Z-Wave extender. $199 is a great price compared to systems like the Nest Secure and the Honeywell Smart Home Security System. The Protect is supposed to offer professional monitoring and cloud storage starting at $10 per month. 

But you'll likely have to wait for the Ring Protect to reach stores; a Delaware judge stopped the sale of Ring's Protect system after ADT filed a lawsuit against Ring, according to a report by the website Law360.

Read CNET's first take of the Ring Protect

Tyler Lizenby/CNET


The Scout 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 CNET's full review of the Scout home security system.

Colin West McDonald/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 (partly because it offers a wide variety of accessories). Its starter kit costs just $230. At the same time, SimpliSafe's devices and web interface look outdated. You also have to pay at least $15 per month to access any remote security features (something that's typically offered for free with other systems).

Read CNET's full review of the SimpiSafe home security system.

Juan Garzón/CNET

SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit

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 CNET's first take of the SmartThings ADT Home Security Starter Kit.


Wink Lookout

Wink, now owned by's tech company, now sells a home security system called Lookout. Available for just $199, the Lookout kit includes two door/window sensors, one motion sensor, one siren and chime and one second-generation Wink hub

Since Wink's first- and second-gen hubs act as the brains for the Lookout system, existing hub owners can skip the starter pack and purchase standalone accessories -- it's $29 per door/window sensor, $39 per motion sensor and $39 per siren and chime. The Wink Lookout system does not offer professional monitoring. 

Read CNET's first take of the Wink Lookout.