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If you want to install a home security system but don’t want to pay monthly fees for professional monitoring, you still have some great options. Consumer Reports has tested multiple DIY home security systems that allow you to monitor them yourself from your smartphone—and avoid the recurring monthly fees you’d otherwise pay for professional monitoring.
Our picks from Abode, Google Nest, LifeShield, Ring, and Samsung/ADT all perform well in our home security system tests, which assess everything from how well the sensors work and how quickly alerts are sent to how easy it is to install each system. Below, CR members with digital access can see ratings and reviews of these five security systems.
When one of these systems is triggered, a siren goes off to scare away potential intruders and you get an alert on your smartphone so that you can call the police yourself. (With a professionally monitored system, the company calls the police for you.) One thing to be aware of: If you call 911 from out of town, the dispatcher has to then contact your hometown’s police department, and that could delay the police response. So you’ll want to call your local police department directly instead.
But you have some flexibility where monitoring is concerned. “Many of these DIY systems still offer optional professional monitoring,” says Bernie Deitrick, CR’s test engineer for home security systems. “You can sign up for it temporarily if, say, you go on a long vacation.”
All the systems below offer optional professional monitoring plus cellular backup, which keeps the system connected to the internet in case of a power or internet outage, for a monthly fee. Two systems allow you to subscribe solely to the cellular backup service. To see all the systems we test, check our full home security system ratings. And for more on how we test DIY security systems, see our home security system buying guide.
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