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Maybe you’ve always wanted to get a security system, but the idea of the hard sell and lengthy installation put you off. Or perhaps you’re renting and couldn’t drill into walls or install permanent sensors. Or maybe you just thought systems were too expensive to maintain and not really worth your time.
Those days are over. You can install modern security systems yourself without a single screw (sometimes without even a plug) and monitor them from your smartphone. The best systems give you extra value, with two-way cameras, doorbell cams, and integration with your smart devices like thermostats and light switches.
But there are a lot of options out there, and deciding between systems can be tough. So here’s a closer look at two of the top contenders.
SimpliSafe has been the forerunner in the DIY security market, bringing non-permanent, self-install hardware to the market well before anyone else thought it was possible.
If you’re looking for a strictly traditional system, SimpliSafe offers a solid hardware package—a monitoring base that’s the brains of the system, a keypad activator, motion detector, entry/window sensors, add-ons like smoke and flood detectors, as well as smart cameras like the SimpliCam and Video Doorbell. It even works with your Nest thermostat to activate home and away settings.
Everything is battery-powered and sets up in minutes—no wiring or plugs. Once operational, it’s a solid, easy-to-use system. The only hiccup is that you have to sign up for professional monitoring (with a 30-day free trial) at around $25 per month. Without the monitoring, you can’t access your system through the app or view your camera feed. It would be nice to at least be able to set things up without having to give a credit card number.
If that isn’t a deterrent for you, the least expensive package on Amazon is the Essentials kit. But I recommend getting the Knox package for around $30 more to add smoke detection, more sensors, a secondary siren, and a key fob.
Ring is another hardware innovator, being one of the first brands to bring a doorbell cam to market. An Amazon company, it offers a full-fledged security system.
While you can create your own custom hardware package directly on the Ring site, I recommend heading straight to Amazon and choosing a hardware package that fits your home. In addition to the standard base unit, keypad, motion detectors and up to eight entry sensors, you can also choose to include a free Echo Dot. (Being owned by Amazon has its perks.) Since Ring is Alexa-enabled, it gives you a way to control your security system without having to fiddle with the keypad.
In addition to using Alexa or enabling or disabling the system with the keypad, you can use the Ring app for system commands and to view your integrated cameras. Reviewing past video clips is available if you spring for the $10-per-month professional monitoring package, but it’s not required and there are no contracts.
Oddly, there are no cameras included with any of Ring’s base packages. If you want to integrate the brand’s most popular product, the Ring Video Doorbell, you’ll need to buy it separately. The same goes for Ring’s Stick Up Cam. It’s a shame, because the company’s video tech is what got them here today, and including at least one of its cameras would give them a leg up on the competition.