Budget Home Security System
To choose the best budget home security system, you must consider which systems will save you money upfront in equipment costs, which will in turn cut costs on long-term monitoring fees. Some, like the Ring Alarm system, achieve both. The systems on our list cut some corners compared to professionally installed security systems, but achieve excellence in particular areas without costing you thousands of dollars. Consider which of these bargain systems will make you feel safest.
Best Overall Bargain: Ring Alarm Security Kit
Ring Protect Plus is a shot across the bow for major security companies that charge $40–$60 a month for video monitoring and to “unlock” security features that you can’t do without. Ring makes motion-activated notifications and live view free for self-monitoring customers, charges only $30/year for video storage, and $100/year for 24/7 professional monitoring. Assuming you use Ring for five years, its top-tier subscription would save you thousands of dollars compared to ADT’s video-monitoring plan.
Other security companies also tend to charge obscene amounts for security cameras, while Ring keeps them bargain-priced to compete with other wireless home security cameras on the market. The Ring Indoor Cam costs a mere $60, while many companies’ proprietary indoor cams cost upwards of $199. The excellent Ring Spotlight Cam matches them at $199, but believe us when we say most companies’ outdoor cams trend more towards $300–$400 without spotlights for superior night vision. Most importantly, Ring Cameras have strong AI performance while many proprietary cameras from home security companies lack object recognition.
Other Ring or “Works with Ring” products can be expensive, however, and the Ring Security starter packs are comparable in price to our other picks’ entry-level bundles. However, for a security system that relies on video monitoring for a large home without costing a fortune, Ring should be your first choice.
- Cheapest video monitoring service
- Free app for self-monitoring
- Great indoor, outdoor and multi-use cams
- Neighbors app for local crime alerts
- Long list of Works with Ring devices
- 10% discount on Ring devices with Protect
- Limited home automation
- Pro installation option pricier than it needs to be
Best Overall Bargain
Cheap, peerless cameras
Ring makes pro monitoring shockingly affordable, but doesn’t lock out self-monitoring if you want to save even more money.
Best Bargain for Professional Monitoring: Nest Secure Alarm System
Nest devices aren’t what you’d call budget buys unless you find a good deal. We wrote up a list of Nest Cam alternatives due to their steep list prices, but you pay for quality with Nest, which is why the brand tops a lot of our lists.
Compared to professionally installed home security systems, however, Nest offers reasonable pricing, particularly in terms of its starter kits. Brinks Security, which has the top JD Power customer service rating of 2018 and 2019 for professional home security, handles Nest’s video monitoring. Best of all, Brinks charges $19 per month if you sign a Nest Secure x Brinks contract, versus $39 if you actually buy a Brinks security system.
Nest Secure may not hold its own versus Ring Alarm in price, but if you already own Nest devices and want to stick with that ecosystem, that’s not a bad decision. It’s not cheap, but the higher fees and cost of devices may translate into better protection. It’s the best budget home security system that won’t feel as cheap as some of the other systems.
- Well-known, reputable brand
- Half-price on Brinks pro monitoring
- Nest Tags for quick security disabling
- Works natively with Google Home
- Full range of Nest smart home devices to connect
- Not compatible with Alexa, Z-Wave, HomeKit
- Not truly bargain-priced
- Non-contract monitoring is a little costly
Best Bargain for Professional Monitoring
Half-priced pro monitoring
Nest, Google, and Brink are a dream team for a high-tech home security solution.
Best Bargain for Self-Monitored Cameras: Eufy Wireless Protection System
Cheap professional monitoring will save you money over time, but the best way to save money is to not pay for monitoring at all. With most home security systems today, an alarm triggers an alert to your phone, and the security company waits on confirmation from you that the threat is real before calling the police. Self-monitoring simply cuts out the middleman and gives you free tools to spot threats.
Eufy sells a home alarm kit with a homebase and siren, keypad, entry sensor, and motion sensor, and it’s one of the cheapest starter security sets we’ve found. But for the best protection, you’ll want to add a Eufy Indoor Cam 2K, which competed favorably against other cameras in its category. For outdoor protection, of course, the Eufy Cam 2 is a great option while also topping our list of best security cameras with local storage.
Eufy gives buyers plenty of reasons to trust its cameras to make up for the lack of professional help. For one, they all offer local microSD storage, so you can enable 24/7 video and capture full clips of events instead of motion-activated clips that stop after 30 seconds (the industry standard). For another, some Eufy cams have pan and tilt, enabling them to automatically follow moving objects. They respond to sounds as well as movement, so you can manually move your cams remotely in the app if you receive an alert. And they can differentiate between humans, pets and objects, which minimizes false positives and allows you to customize what does or doesn’t trigger an alert.
- Cheap home security starter kit
- No monthly monitoring, cheap monthly video storage
- Pan & tilt cameras
- Cameras have local microSD storage
- Automatic commands for activity zone movement
- Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit support
- No option for professional monitoring
- Limited home automation
Best Bargain for Self-Monitored Cameras
DIY for everything
Eufy’s low-price, intelligent cameras, and bargain alarm kits make it a no-brainer if you want to protect yourself from threats.
Best Bargain for DIY-Installed Security: SimpliSafe Home Security System
SimpliSafe rose to the top of our best home security systems catalog in part because its low cost of entry belies the level of quality it delivers. That said, it does have some financial and feature downsides that prevented it from being our top pick from a budgetary standpoint.
For $25/month, you get unlimited video storage for all of your cameras for 30 days, remote alarm activation via app, cellular backup, video verification of crimes before contacting the police, secret alarms that don’t set off the siren, and smart home integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Watch. All useful tricks, to be sure, but locking smart home connectivity and app controls behind the top-tier plan precludes self-monitoring and makes it pricier over time than other picks.
SimpliSafe offers a variety of entry-level security kits, and sells individual sensors, cameras and smart tech on its site to add on later. Because you attach its devices via adhesive strips and connect them to a hub via wireless, installing new devices into your system doesn’t take significant time. With sensors costing as little as $15, your budget won’t suffer. Keep in mind that SimpliSafe lacks outdoor cameras and its indoor cameras are average in terms of specs — the tradeoffs you make for a budget home security system.
- Affordable initial equipment costs
- No contract, cancel anytime
- Extra sensors and other devices are reasonably priced
- Easy to install, uninstall
- Secret alerts for things you don’t want reported
- Wireless equipment and cellular monitoring & backup
- No dedicated outdoor camera
- No Z-Wave, IFTTT, or HomeKit
- Useful features locked behind top-price plan
Best Bargain for DIY-Installed Security
Cheap security add-ons
Choose a custom selection of simple-to-install devices to protect your home at a discount.
Best Value for Smart Home Security: Wyze Smart Home
Home security systems tend to revolve around a hub, customarily a keypad or touchscreen. Yet if you’re happy to control and monitor your security through your smartphone, then you can save money and get the security basics at a steep discount. It’s the best budget home security system if price is your main criteria.
For a mere $99, you receive a Wyze Cam with SD card, three Wyze smart bulbs, two Wyze smart plugs, three door/window contact sensors, and a motion sensor. That’s enough to protect a small home or apartment, and get started on a proper smart home with IFTTT automation. Program your lights to turn on when your Wyze Cam senses motion to scare intruders, for example.
Wyze doesn’t offer professional monitoring, and expects customers to use its cameras and app without necessarily having to pay monthly for them. Wyze offers free 14-day cloud storage of 12-second clips triggered by motion. However, if you pay for Cam Plus, motion-triggered videos last as long as they need to, and your Wyze Cams become able to differentiate between people and objects. Cam Plus charges $14.99 per camera per year, which saves money compared to Ring’s annual plan unless you need more than six cameras.
Keep in mind that Wyze lacks some security mainstays that you may miss. Its sensors are absurdly cheap, but you can’t get glassbreak, carbon monoxide, smoke or water leak sensors. You’ll only find a panic button in-app, and the only way to have a siren is to connect a third-party siren to a smart plug and use IFTTT to trigger it.
- Cheapest home security package available
- Per-camera pricing for unlimited video
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT
- Wyze Indoor & Outdoor Cams perform well for cheap
- Affordable individual sensors available
- Good list of compatible tech
- No professional monitoring option
- No specialized sensors
- No keypad, touchscreen, siren, or key fob
Best Value for Smart Home Security
Home security for strict budgets
Wyze offers a non-traditional, self-monitored security setup that anyone can afford and pairs well with smart home devices.
Best for Home Automation: Abode Iota All-in-one Home Security Kit
Source: Abode / Weinberg-Clark Photography
Abode’s main draw is its ability to play nice with virtually any smart speaker or smart device. Compatible with Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Z-Wave, Zigbee, and IFTTT, the Abode Home Security Kit will sync up with virtually any smart device you already own or plan to buy. Then, you can use app automations to trigger responses in your smart devices in emergency situations, or to schedule regular behaviors. Your home security will only be limited by your imagination.
Abode is a DIY, customizable home security option that lets you pick and choose which devices you need for your starter package; then, all of your choices arrive already paired together, so all you need to do is place your sensors and cameras where they belong and you’ll have a functioning security system.
It’s also another system that can be self-monitored. Abode offers a standard, month-to-month plan that enables all of its app features (except professional monitoring) for only $6.67 per month. With this plan, you can pay for on-demand monitoring over short periods, such as when you go on vacation, but ultimately rely on yourself to monitor any alerts. If you do choose to pay for monitoring, Abode’s $16.66 monthly fee is less than most services besides Ring’s.
- Month-to-month, no contract or cancellation fee
- Affordable upfront cost for equipment
- Compatible with most smart speakers, smart homes
- Cheap monthly monitoring fee, cheaper app fees
- Abode doesn’t sell outdoor / doorbell cams
- Updated security app has middling reviews
Best for Home Automation
A steal for security smarts
Abode provides home automation for self-monitored protection from threats, plus a cheap price for pro monitoring.
To decide which of the best budget home security systems will work for your home, start with this simple checklist. Do you care about camera footage to catch potential thieves for prosecution, or do you want automated responses to scare people off? Will having professionals on call to double-check alerts give you comfort, or are you more bothered by strangers having video access to your home? Do you care at all about smart home devices, or are you just here for straightforward security?
Your best choice will depend on these answers, but the Ring Alarm Security System is our straightforward security pick. Ring sells reliable, economical cameras that you can stick anywhere, and paying just $10/month to monitor an unrestricted number of them is a steal. Yet if you decide to monitor them yourself for just $3/month, you have that option at any time. Compared against the best home security systems, Ring still holds its own against the rest, no matter the price.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Michael Hicks got his tech start in 2016, covering emerging tech like VR and self-driving cars before expanding to all things tech. When he’s not gaming or reading SFF novels, he writes freelance for Android Central and Windows Central.
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