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This summer, it’s time to finally take the plunge and do more than just lock the deadbolt when you head out the door on vacation. It’s time to get a home security system.
Traditionally, if you wanted such a system, you were stuck having to call a company and navigate through a complicated (and ultimately costly) sales pitch. Then you had to deal with installation (which always seemed to introduce some wrinkle that cost you more).
Those days are over. You can get enough hardware to cover your own house for well under $500, install it yourself, and monitor your home yourself from your smartphone. You can even add a camera or two to keep an eye on who’s outside your door, even when you’re home.
But with so many options, it can be hard to choose. Here’s a closer look at two of the top contenders.
SimpliSafe has been at the do-it-yourself home security game before anyone else even thought it was possible. The company started with a simple idea: good hardware could give even those who can’t install permanent systems the same piece of mind that traditional home security systems offer.
Simplisafe offers a very familiar 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.
Everything is battery-powered, so it sets up in minutes—no wiring or plugs are needed. And it’s a solid, easy-to-use system. One minor issue 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 recorded video (you can view live video without a subscription). That $25 per month is comparable to what you’ll find with other DIY solutions.
As long as that isn’t a deterrent, you can grab the brand’s Essentials package on Amazon with Prime shipping, but I recommend getting the Knox package for around $30 more to add smoke detection, more sensors, a secondary siren and a key fob.
LifeShield by ADT
If there’s any other DIY solution comparable to SimpliSafe, it’s LifeShield. It started out as its own company after SimpliSafe paved the way. But then ADT snatched it up and rolled it into its parent company when it went searching for a do-it-yourself solution of its own.
Unlike SimpliSafe, LifeShield offers a robust hardware package for the price. The 15-piece system starts with the L.O.U. (LifeShield Operating Unit) base that not only offers landline and cellular connectivity for your system, but also 24-hour battery backup.
The Security Advantage set also comes with four entry sensors, two pet-friendly motion detectors, a fire safety sensor, a keypad and a keychain remote. Unique to systems in this price range is a touchscreen tablet to operate the system and a smart camera. In fact, this is the only brand that offers a smart camera as part of a base package. From start to finish, depending on the size of your home, it should take about an hour to set up your new system.
You can purchase additional compatible hardware as well, including outdoor cameras and an HD video doorbell camera (available this summer).
LifeShield is compatible with your smart home as well. You can control it with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. And it’s Z-Wave compatible. Professional monitoring isn’t required to operate the system, but is available for between $20-25 per month.