Home Security System Buyer Guide

Quick Read:
Home security is about peace-of-mind and safety, but you still want to get the most bang for your buck. Finding a modern and reliable home security systems with excellent support isn’t hard to do. There are plenty of easy-to-use, affordable systems out there, but it’s really about narrowing down the features, options and components to find what works best for you. From the hardware to the operating details and tech support, we’ve evaluated nine aspects to help you understand how to compare ratings and make the best choice.

What You Need to Know:
Each security system has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some rely completely on alarms within the home, while others rely on a silent alarm and/or a security service to monitor the status. Others are completely wireless or may require additional hardware. Some homeowners even monitor the audio and video from their home security systems on their smartphones from virtually anywhere. The only true constant across nearly all systems is the fact that homeowners can tailor the system to meet their individual needs, from casual observation or highly-detailed in-depth monitoring. The idea here is to understand the details of security systems as well as which companies offer the most value for the system that fits each homeowner’s needs.

Standard Features

Most security systems have many of the same standard features. The first thing is a central controller. This controller can accept inputs from a variety of wired and wireless devices such as motion detectors, video cameras, wired power, battery backup and a some type of alarm. Premium systems will also offer redundant wired and wireless communications to reach the monitoring company, fire and/or police dispatchers in an emergency. The redundant communications enable your system to work in a power outage or in the event your power and phone lines are cut.

Technically speaking, a security controller with a single wireless or wired motion detector and a 24/7 monitoring contract is a “complete” system, but it isn’t necessarily ideal. The additional features and services outlined below will be an important part of your decision.

Wired or Wireless

Security systems come in wired or wireless version. Both rely on internet or phone connectivity to transfer information like silent alarms outside the household. Wireless systems are easier to install because they use less hardware, and are often more affordable for the same reason. That makes them perfect for a DIY job, but also means they have more potential to experience glitches like dropped signals because they aren’t hardwired in to the system.

Smart Home Features

Nowadays, people can control just about every electronic item in the home with a mobile app, as long as they have a Smart home controller and numerous external devices. People can monitor and control lights, thermostats and video cameras from any mobile device. While these features are very common, they don’t necessarily need to be tied in with a security system, making it more expensive than it would be without those options.

Smart home technology is so common and inexpensive now that anyone can install Smart home devices that work with common mobile apps, including Google, Apple and Amazon voice control.

Video Surveillance

There are numerous video surveillance options that range from simple doorbell monitoring by the homeowner to video transmission to a security service. Obviously, the more involved or “high-tech” the service or equipment, the higher the cost.

To save on costs, consider turnkey wireless video systems. They’re much easier to install DIY with the right basic skills. If flexible is your goal, wireless video is unmatched, but wired systems do boast a bit more reliability. The number of cameras also modifies the price; you can pick up a decent four-camera system can be purchased for under $500, whereas a security company is likely to charge much more for video.

Extras / Options

Some options that can be included or added on to most security systems are a doorbell camera with two-way voice, automated door locks, light controls, energy management controls, voice response and remote garage control. These options offer convenience and consistency, but it’s really about how much the homeowner wants their system to do. For some, that amount of technology can be too overwhelming, while others desires that level of automation and/or technological control.


Advanced technology doesn’t have to be difficult to use. New Smart security equipment can be controlled with just a touch, combining power and simplicity to make it easier for people to manage and control their systems from a distance. Mobile app integration provides easy access to monitoring equipment from virtually anywhere, letting users keep track of video monitoring and even interact with systems on the fly. These systems also keep users informed by sending out automatic texts or notifications if and when someone triggers the alarm. Systems with live video technology add another safety layer, giving the power to quickly check on pets or kids.

Technical Support

Most top security systems consist of different components, some of which require professional installation and 24/7 monitoring. Even though security providers offer DIY options, it’s often a good idea to have systems installed, configured, and maintained by professionally trained technicians. Companies should provide technical support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day — with specialized services for emergencies, taking the maintenance burden off the homeowner.


Do-It-Yourself installation is not available for most premium packages from security companies. Having a security system professionally installed ensures the entire installation is guaranteed and supported by the company’s tech support. When it comes to selecting wired or wireless options, wireless may be the way for renters to go. If the home can be serviced by wired connections and backed up by wireless connections, that’s typically the most reliable way to go.

Choosing a Reputable Brand

There are so many security systems and options available that it can be difficult to narrow down the best option, but a few specific brands do stand out. Our favorite brand base on the combination of features, pricing, customer service, ease of use, customer reviews, brand reputation and durability are as follows:

Our Top Home Security Pick for 2018 / 2019

1. ADT

This household brand company has been around for over 100 years. Reviewers give mixed feedback on individual franchises, meaning it may be better to go direct for the best experience. Their product and services allow for complete control of the home through mobile app technology.

Free Quote >>

Knowing a bit more about security systems should make selecting the best products and services for the home and business much easier. When feeling unsure about which system to invest in, buyers should err on the side of the most security, protection, and peace of mind for them and the people they care for most.