5-Minute Home Security System Buying Guide

The 5-Minute Home Security System Buying Guide

ADT, Nest, Abode, Simplisafe and so many other brands have flooded the home security market and made it difficult to choose the system that’s right for you. These companies, new and old, are transitioning to a more hands-off approach for both themselves, to cut costs, and you, for a more convenient system. Unfortunately, distinguishing between all of them isn’t that easy. For the purpose of this guide, we’ll navigate this sea of security systems based on the level of customization, price, and level of involvement required by you.

First, let’s look at the different systems offered. Generally, there are three different ways you can go about this, Full DIY, Partial DIY, and Traditional.

Traditional Home Security Systems

Home Security System Buying Guide

These are the home security systems you have known for years by companies that have a very long-standing reputation. ADT for example, is one of them. The great thing about ADT is just that, their reputation and commitment to service. With them, you don’t have to worry about your system becoming obsolete because the manufacturer decides to up and quit, or the company runs out of funding (as has been seen in many technology startups). ADT has been in the home security industry for over 100 years, and it’s likely they won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

Price – This is where it isn’t super clear. Currently ADT’s site requires you to contact a sales rep in order to “get a quote”. There are three different tiers on their page, which offer varying levels of service such as remote door lock, remote thermostat adjustments, vacation mode, video streaming, etc.

Level of Involvement – With ADT, it will be a monthly subscription, and you may have to pay some installation fees and/or equipment fees. On the flip side, your level of involvement will be quite low since someone else will likely be installing.


Partial DIY

Home Security System Buying Guide

These types of home security systems are fairly new as they combine the benefits of offsite monitoring, cost-saving DIY installation, and the ability to customize your install into one. SimpliSafe is a perfect example of this type of home security system.

With a company like SimpliSafe you have the ability to build a system that is custom to your liking. If you want cameras, you can get cameras. If you want motion sensors, you can get motion sensors, it’s all up to you. The only thing you have to do is purchase them, which you will own forever as opposed to “leasing the equipment” like some traditional systems.

Price – For someone who wants offsite monitoring and is on an economic budget, this is the best option. Although you pay for the equipment up front, you own it forever and can add onto it later. There is a subscription fee for the offsite monitoring (which you can opt out of and the equipment will still work), however I can virtually guarantee it will always be cheaper than a traditional system. Regardless of how much equipment you have, SimpliSafe is only $15 a month.

Level of involvement – Like I stated earlier, you do have to install the equipment yourself, luckily it is all wireless which allows you to install equipment wherever you have a wifi signal. Installation shouldn’t take anyone more than Saturday afternoon and then the only thing to keep up on is changing the batteries at a regular interval, which the system can alert you to do.


Full DIY

Home Security System Buying Guide

Not too many will want to undertake a full DIY setup, but for those who do, you’ll get complete customization of your setup. Unfortunately, it will lack offsite monitoring. It’ll be up to you to pay attention to your smartphone when a notification comes through your phone. Typically, someone who goes full DIY will purchase a central hub, like the Samsung Smart Things Hub, Wink 2, or Logitech Harmony Hub.  Then, find compatible equipment to install throughout the house.

The real benefit in doing this is you can often install equipment that isn’t available in the two options above. For example, if you want a Touch Screen Honeywell Thermostat, or a Samsung Deadbolt, you can add this to a hub that can be controlled from your smartphone.

Price – With this option, the cost is entirely upfront, but there is no monthly subscription fee. Similar to the partial DIY, you can start small and build onto your system over time. The only thing that is required upfront is the hub, which usually runs around $100-$200.

Level of Involvement – The name implies the level of involvement here. You’re doing all the setup and all the monitoring. Any firmware updates (which are usually really easy), equipment installation, and monitoring for notifications, are on you.


For someone who isn’t all that tech savvy, a traditional system will be your best bet. 99% of home security systems now integrate smart phones and remote access into their systems. A traditional company will be better in terms of customer service and assisting in setting it up.

Lower Budget? In the long run, a partial DIY system is your best bet. Although there is an upfront cost, the long term cost outweighs it compared to a traditional system. The only exception might be if you want bare bones basic monitoring, in which case a traditional system may be better.

Already have some smart home devices? Full DIY might be the best choice, especially if you’re tech savvy and have a little extra money to spend. Again, this will require upkeep on your end, but you’ll reap more features from individual products.