Whether you live in a New York City apartment or house, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a professional install a security system to protect you and all of your belongings.
These days, there are smart-home security systems that start at a couple hundred dollars, can usually be installed yourself, and only require an internet connection. And, if you move, you can take the devices with you and buy extra devices if you’ve traded up to a larger space.
Most of these smart-home security systems have apps with alerts or live streams of your security cameras, which is ideal if you’ve temporarily left the city or travel often. All of the systems are customizable so whether you live in a studio or a three-story townhouse, you only have to buy the devices you need. And, if you just want to keep an eye on your place and don’t want professional security monitoring, there are usually tiers of services to choose from.
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was published in January 2017. We are presenting it again here with updated information for January 2021.]
Keep reading for five of the most popular smart-home security systems including Simplisafe and Canary to see how they differ on costs, services, and devices.
How much does the system cost? You can build a custom system, which starts at $185 and goes up if you add extra devices like a panic button or extra keypad or you can buy a package, which starts at $229. You can get a 25 percent discount on the system if you sign up for their Interactive Plan.
How much does the service cost? The standard plan costs $15 a month and the Interactive Plan costs $25 a month and comes with 24/7 monitoring and priority police dispatch.
What kind of devices are available? Devices include smart locks, video doorbells, motion sensors, glass-break sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, temperature sensors, and panic buttons.
What sets it apart? No contract is required and if you don’t like the system, you can return for a full refund within 60 days.
How much does the system cost? The security systems start at $200 and the video doorbells (which can help you stop startle a thief) start at $100. There are also starter kits with bundled items at discounted prices.
How much does the service cost? Ring Protect, which allows you to review and save videos and photos captured by your devices, starts at $3 a month, or $30 a year for the basic plan. The pro plan costs $10 a month, or $100 a year, and includes recordings for all of your devices and 24/7 professional monitoring.
What kind of devices are available? In addition to various models of the Ring doorbell, you can also buy accessories like door and window alarms, motion detectors, and flood sensors.
What sets it apart? Neighbors by Ring is an app that connects you with your neighborhood and public safety officials and delivers crime and safety alerts.
How much does the system cost? The starter kit costs $368 but you get a $40 to $138 discount depending on what service you sign up for. There are also other kits if you need more coverage, including the Total Home Pack, which costs $567 but you also get a discount depending on which service you choose.
How much does the service cost? The basic service is free and includes 24/7 live streaming, motion-activated recordings, and one-touch access to first responders plus other features. For $10 a month, or $100 a year, for your first device and an extra $3 a month or $30 a year for each additional device, you can get their premium service which includes safety buttons, two-way talk (if you see someone trespassing on your property, you can yell at them through the camera), and other features like desktop streaming.
What kind of devices are available? There are security cameras like the all-in-one Canary Pro, outdoor security cameras, and accessories like mounts that let you hang the camera on the wall or hide it in a house plant.
What sets it apart? The system works with both Google Assistant and Alexa plus you get discounts on the products depending on what service you sign up for.
How much does the system cost? The touch alarm panel costs $184 and then you can add extra devices, like a motion detector which costs $30 each. If you build a package, you get discounts on add-ons, like $15 off motion detectors.
How much does the service cost? The basic service costs $15 a month and the premium service, which adds features like a lifetime equipment warranty; smartphone control; and voice control though Alexa and Google, for $25 a month.
What kind of devices are available? Door sensors, motion detectors, remotes, glass-break detectors, flood sensors, and a medical alert necklace.
What sets it apart? You can answer a few quick questions and they will tell you what system is best for your apartment or house.
How much does the system cost? You have to call Vivint or fill out a form to get a quote, but according to Safety.com, their systems start at $600. They also require professional installation, which starts at $50 depending on your equipment.
How much does the service cost? The smart home service package starts at $40 a month and the smart home security package starts at $30 a month, according to Safety.com. It’s also an extra $5 a month per camera if you want video monitoring.
What kind of devices are available? You can buy doorbell cameras, outdoor security cameras, door and window sensors, and garage door controls.
What sets it apart? Vivint also makes other smart-home devices like a thermostat and a smart hub, that can also control devices like your Philips Hue lights, if you want a fully integrated system.
Earlier versions of this article contained reporting and writing by Virginia K. Smith.
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