Nice article. I see from your disclaimer at the top of this article that the site participate in the program that can get fees from linking to Amazon purchases. And I know not every security system is available from Amazon. But could you still review the latest Simplisafe system please? I’m trying to decide what to get, and I have three friends that have the old Simplisafe. The new one looks so much better. I really don’t care about Geo fencing or whether or not I can chat with google or Siri. I’m just interested in getting a security system that works and doesn’t cost way too much. Thank you!
On another note, I really like this article. It has a lot of good information that I’ve added to my personal research. One thing I like about Abode is that the Chris Carney (a founder) has many years of experience in the security industry. It is open source and seems like it protects user data better. After Google purchased Nest, one can only imagine how they are combining all of that personal data with all of the other personal data they have on us. The on-demand monitoring seems really valuable–I only really need 3rd party monitoring when I’m out of town.
I had a question as I am looking for a camera system to use for my outdoors. I have blink for inside and am plenty happy with it, but want something better for outside. I really wanted to go with Ring, but was disappointed with the integration available. Then I looked closer and from what I understand there is no way to turn off recording. Is that correct? That is fine maybe for the front of my house, but who is going to want a system in their home or in their backyard that they can not stop recording. This leads into serious issues about privacy to me.
Ring also doesn't currently offer any additional security accessories, but it plans to add a leak sensor and other devices at some point. And while your Ring security cameras and video doorbells ($250 at Amazon) live in the same app as your Ring Alarm Security Kit, there aren't any direct integrations between them today. I'd like to see something like, "If the Ring Alarm Security Kit's front door sensor notices that the door is opened in Home or Away mode, then tell my Ring Video Doorbell Pro to record automatically" -- even if the Video Doorbell Pro itself hasn't detected motion yet. 
2. If you want monitoring of video, check out SimpliSafe. They won’t monitor your motion events, but rather your sensors. If your sensors show an alarm event, they can log into your camera to gather video evidence. They offer what’s called ‘video verification.’ The downside to SimpliSafe, when compared to the options presented in this article, is that it lacks home automation. The system does support Nest Thermostats, Alexa, Google Assistant, and the August Smart Lock Pro, but it doesn’t offer an automation engine. Also, integrations are not free, which is in contrast to what abode, Ring, and Nest offer. Finally, SimpliSafe does not have an outdoor camera though they did recently release a video doorbell and have plans to launch an outdoor camera. abode, Nest, and Ring all lack professional monitoring of video and the cameras are not tied to the alarm as motion sensors. Camera motion activated events are self-monitored.

After the hardware itself is set up, you can pretty much forget it's there, except for the keypad. You won't need to adjust the sensors regularly or clear alerts on them, everything you do from here on out is done via the app or keypad. It's worth noting that since the sensors aren't hardwired, you will need to change the battery at some point, though Ring says that the included batteries should last for up to three years with normal usage.


Do it yourself can be a really good option, but you need to make sure this is right for you before you jump in. There won’t be any technicians or professional installers to make sure everything is installed and working correctly. Ring does claim that the system is effortless to install but that obviously doesn’t guarantee that you won’t run into issues, especially if you don’t have experience with security systems. In this case, you just need to know yourself to know if this type of installation and maintenance is right for you. If you tend to hire out for most of your home projects, this extremely important project probably isn’t the one you want to start with trying on your own.
Swann Smart Security Camera is an indoor/outdoor battery powered security camera that works without a base station. It’s most similar to Reolink Argus and Canary Flex. The camera records in 1080p FHD, offers a 120° field of view, night vision, and is IP65 rated for outdoor use. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with any third-party devices and it lacks intelligent features to reduce false alarms. The camera boasts a feature called True Detect™, but that’s just a fancy marketing term for PIR motion sensor. The camera’s best feature is free local and cloud storage. From the app, you can playback seven days worth footage stored locally. The camera also includes two days of cloud storage.

Hi Rose! Thank you for such an informative article. Unfortunately, I’m reading due to the fact that my street was just the victim of car break-ins overnight. I am curious to know what your opinion on the night vision (inside and out) for each of the cameras is. I currently have the older Logitech Alert cameras, but their night vision isn’t the greatest so I really couldn’t make out the burglars or the vehicles they were in. I have been leaning on Ring doorbell/stick ups, but no 24/7 recording is almost scaring me away.
The system was quite easy to install. Having six sensors to place seems like a lot, until you realize you can’t cover everything though you can certainly cover enough. I found the system to be very responsive whenever it was armed or a sensor was set off (both the app and e-mail notifications were received mere seconds after an event). This is in marked contrast to a non-Ring security camera I use to monitor the entrance that can take several minutes or longer to send me notifications. The siren too was fairly loud, as I found out one early weekend during testing.
Some jurisdictions require permits for monitored alarm systems, and Ring will guide you based on the address where you're using Ring Alarm. In some areas, Ring can obtain the permit on your behalf once you pay required fees, but in other jurisdictions you'll need to handle it on your own. Either way, once you have your permit, you can enter the permit number and expiration date in the Ring app to make all parties aware that your system is properly registered. My town does not require permits, so I did not need to go through this step.
Think of Smart Alerts as the ability to control alert frequency. You can request to receive more alerts, “standard,” or “light” (fewer alerts) or choose to turn notifications off from the app’s main screen. You can also snooze motion alerts for a set period of time. Once snoozed, you won’t receive motion alerts, but motion events will continue to upload to the cloud. Besides snoozing motion, you can also snooze your Ring Chime or your Chime Pro.
Works with Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Stringify, Wink Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Home, IFTTT, Works with Nest, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Wink, Google Home
Speaking of monitoring, there are different modes that you can set when arming the alarm. When you're at home, there are two choices, including Disarmed and Home. With disarmed, there is no 3rd-party monitoring happening, so you can open and close the doors, windows, and more as you please. Home mode is used for times like when you're home alone or going to bed, and there is external monitoring involved. With Home mode, you can opt to change which sensors are active and which aren't, which is great for if you don't want a motion sensor to go off because of your pets or something.
My wife and I plan to hire a nurse at night for our new baby, but due to the many stories we’ve heard, we want to set up a camera (indoor of course) to surveil her and check up on her at any given time. (we will let her know she’s on camera – it will not be a secret at all.) I read your article but I still want your advice because I’m unsure. Which camera do you suggest for me? The main qualities I need is:

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Ring Stick Up Cam provide easy and effective ways to set up a pretty strong security perimeter around the outside of your home, but it could be made considerably stronger with the addition of the now-Amazon-owned company’s Spotlight Cam. This outdoor camera/porch-light hybrid, illuminates the area and records video when its motion sensor is tripped.
After I finished installing this device I found myself having issues with it for the first 3 days where sensors will go offline for no reason almost every day; suddenly after day 4 maybe, all of the issues disappeared and the system was now working like a well-oiled machine. I reached out to Ring support team and they informed me that there was an automatic update that the brain device was going to perform on its own and that would solve all of the issues I was experiencing. They were indeed 100% correct, after just a few days the system was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing all along. No issues, no dropped devices, a happy customer here now. If you end up choosing this system and experience issues during the first 3-4 days, please wait a few days for your system to automatically update itself to the latest software and you’ll see the issues magically go away.
I have! That is a white box piece of hardware used by several companies so I actually have that same exact camera from another company. I don’t love it, but for the price, it’s a good choice. Of course, a huge portion of the experience is not just hardware, but user experience. I don’t know how Wyze will deliver on that side of the equation, but I’ve ordered a Wyze Cam for Bethuel to try, another writer on this site, can’t wait to hear his thoughts.

Ring, an Amazon company, also sells several security sensors. First is the keypad. The keypad runs on battery power, and you can wall mount it or place it on a flat surface. In addition to arming and disarming your system, the Keypad Control Panel allows you to choose between Armed Away and Armed Home. When using the keypad to arm your system, it provides a grace period to reduce false alarms. You can customize the grace period using the mobile app. Finally, you can simultaneously press and hold the check and x buttons for three seconds to trigger the panic alarm.
Right now, abode reigns supreme due to the number of integrations they offer, the variety of security sensors, and the fact that it’s an open platform not tied to Google (Nest) or Amazon (Ring). I would give Ring second place due to cost, and it’s bumped iSmart off of my list of recommended self-monitored security systems. My only gripe is that it doesn’t integrate well with its own camera system. Nest takes third, but I would still recommend it. It’s a beautiful system, easy to use, and thoughtfully designed. That said, if Ring raised the bar on their camera integrations, launches a flood sensor (coming soon), and a glass break sensor, it might just become the system to beat.
Nest Secure’s monitoring service is provided by Brinks Security. Originally, service was offered by MONI before MONI, LiveWatch, and Brinks merged to form the Brinks brand. Monitoring of Nest equipment through Brinks is $29.00 per month plus the cost of equipment. If purchased through Brinks, equipment is only $299 for Nest Guard, two Nest Tags, and two Nest Detect Sensors. If you want a discount on Nest Secure services, your only option is to sign a contract. With a three-year contract, you’ll pay $19.00 per month; equipment remains at $299.
Finally, I wouldn’t put too much weight into the Amazon review from 2015. Things have really changed since then, including the Nest app. The Nest app was a little slow going when first launched, but they’ve really improved it and added back features that were initially missing, though found within the Dropcam app, plus added new features like person detection.

Spotlight Cam’s star feature is its light. The camera is equipped with two lights that automatically trigger when motion is detected. The lights aren’t very bright. At 700 lumens, they’re about as bright as a 60-watt light bulb. It’s not enough to scare someone away, but does improve the camera’s ability to see at night. And nighttime is the only time when the lights will automatically turn on, though you can turn the lights on manually at any time. When triggered, the light stays on for about 30 seconds. When turned on manually, it stays on until you end the live stream (required to access light feature).
That all changed when smart home technologies and devices came into play. The landscape of how home security systems behave and how they are used continues to evolve. For instance, you no longer need the help of a professional installer, as most smart home security systems are easy to set up and monitor. Most can be fully functional in a matter of minutes.
There are so many home security systems to choose from; how can you possibly narrow it down and choose just one? There are obviously pros and cons to each system, so you need to think about what’s important to you and what you most value in a home security system. There really isn’t too much known about the Ring security system just yet because it’s very new on the market. The company has made themselves known for their video doorbells, but is just starting to dabble in home security systems. You’ve probably seen the videos of attempted burglars and package stealers caught red handed with Ring doorbells. Clearly, this innovative product has worked well so far. What should you keep in mind, though, when looking at the Ring Security System?

1. Correct. Geofencing is a free feature. I’m not sure what abode uses specifically, but generally, geofencing does require GPS or location services to be enabled. I know the system doesn’t use Bluetooth. My dad is using the system right now and he’s had problems with multi-user geofencing. I asked abode about it, but they just wanted to troubleshoot instead of discussing general performance. If I were to guess, I’d guess that it’s only using GPS to detect presence and not a combination of data like GPS and phone presence (Wifi).
Sightline is accessed from the mobile app. From the app, you can see your video history marked with color-coded activities. The colors represent different zones set by you. For example, a green dot might be driveway activity whereas an orange dot is an activity from your porch. If you own a Nest Secure security system, events triggered by the system will also show up in the Sightline as red dots or bars. You will also be able to see a “snapshot” of the event. Finally, using Sightline, you can swipe to fast forward through several days’ worth of footage.
If you have a dog or a cat, getting a home alarm that won’t be constantly triggered by Fido or Fifi’s movements is a real question you have to consider. The Ring Alarm claims that it won’t detect pets weighing under 50 pounds if the alarm is mounted above seven feet, while pet-friendly motion detection is already integrated into the Nest base station and door sensors.
I am using Wyze Cam on my front porch right now in addition to Nest Hello. I actually have all push notifications turned off, I just use it to check in on things. I’ve had it out there since June I believe, and it’s still kicking. Of course, my porch does provide added protection. I have a friend who mounted his under an eave using the same casing and his is still kicking too, even though it’s more exposed.

If you opt for the rechargeable battery, you have to either disable the device every time it needs a charge or buy an extra battery. The battery is also a pain in the you-know-what to get out. Ring uses special screws that require a specific screwdriver head to remove. It comes in the package with the camera, but even so, you have to track down that one specific screwdriver every time you need to remove the cam.

The base station is also wall-mountable and can be installed on a Wi-Fi network or connected directly to your internet router over Ethernet. It has a 24-hour battery backup plus the ability to connect to an LTE network in the event of a power outage. (The LTE connectivity is available when you subscribe to Ring’s Protect Plus monitoring service and uses AT&T’s network.) Both the keypad and the base station feature colored LED rings to signify if the system is armed or disarmed and have built-in speakers to sound the alarm in the event of an emergency or intrusion.


Works with Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, SmartThings, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Stringify, Wink Alexa Devices With a Screen, Google Home, IFTTT, Works with Nest, Stringify Alexa Devices With a Screen, Wink, Google Home
The decision to separate the system’s brains—the base station—from the keypad is smart: It allows you to place the larger base station somewhere out of the way and put the smaller keypad near an entry door, where it’s easy to access. You can also deploy more than one keypad—one at the front door, one at the back, and one on your bedside table, for instance. Putting the base station somewhere other than near an entry door also enhances the system’s overall security: If burglars can’t find it quickly, they can’t disable the system.
On the downside there is no way to enable/disable video motion detection clips in sync with the armed status. I only want certain cameras to record when armed stay or away. They really need the option to tell the cameras when to record and when not to record. Other than that the 2-way camera communication is spotty at best, but not really a feature that’s important to me. Adding live video to the online access would be a BIG plus too (currently you can only access the cameras through the app).
If you just want an indoor and outdoor camera (not a doorbell), I would recommend Arlo Pro or Pro 2 outside and Arlo Pro/2 or Arlo Q inside. However, it would be best if you could place your Base Station in a central location. The Arlo cameras talk to the Base Station and the Base Station connects directly to your router (or Ethernet outlet or range extender).
Thinking of your situation only….More than likely, you will need to buy an additional piece of hardware to upgrade your wired system to support newer technology, but it’s hard to say without more details. You might want to look into a device called Konnected. This would allow you to integrate your wired system with SmartThings which supports Ring cameras. You can read about that here. In my situation, they are not integrated, although most major home security companies now work with at least some third-party devices like Ring, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August, etc.

You can place the keypad on a flat surface like a table or shelf, or you can mount it on the wall. Just remember that it needs a Micro USB cable for power, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be placed close to an outlet. Ring says its internal battery will last six to twelve months depending on usage. As a result, you could potentially place the keypad anywhere in your home and charge it every so often.


The abode Gateway also supports limited local functionality. This is in part thanks to the Gateway’s ability to communicate using its own proprietary protocol called abodeRF. If your internet is down, your automated rules will continue to run, assuming that the devices involved are connected to the Gateway directly and not through a third-party service like IFTTT.
Ring cameras will work without a monthly fee, but Ring doesn’t offer any form of free storage beyond a free 30-day trial. Their first plan is Basic which is $3 per month per camera. This plan includes 60 days of cloud storage, video review, and video sharing. Their second plan, Protect Plus, is $10 per month. It covers unlimited cameras including both doorbell and security cameras. This plan also includes coverage for your Base Station. The same $10 per month that provides unlimited cloud storage also provides Ring Response (24/7 professional monitoring) and Cellular Backup.
Just as heads-up, customer support from Ring was top-notch. After a week of use, I had an issue with a sensor that wasn’t communicating properly. Fortunately it didn’t trip the alarm (I say fortunate as I wouldn’t want to local police to show up for faulty sensor). A late night call to the Ring customer service, which appears to be U.S. based, helped to resolve the issue. The rep was professional and patient. All told, I’m glad I chose Ring.
My final issue with Canary Flex has less to do with the device itself and more to do with the company behind the camera. Over the years, Canary has made a lot of changes to their cameras, and the changes don’t always benefit the customer. For example, they promised free two-way audio, but then started charging for it, and for a long time they provided free cloud storage, now they offer what they call “digestible Video Previews.” Changes such as these are concerning.
It doesn't work with the Amazon Cloud Cam indoor home security camera, either. Here's what a Ring spokesperson had to say about it: "Ring Alarm does not work with Amazon Cloud Cam at this time. While I can't comment on the roadmap at this time, what I can tell you is that we will make product decisions based on what will best empower Neighbors with an affordable, effective way to monitor their homes."
Most companies will include a statement that says that recorded footage is only viewable by the customer. Regarding privacy, Nest, Ring, Canary, and Arlo all do a great job. Recently, I looked into where the cameras were sending data, including Argus. You can read about that here. If privacy is your top priority, Argus is a good option because it doesn’t have to send anything to the cloud. Though I’m not a huge fan of Netatmo cameras, they would also be a good option for you. Finally, CleverLoop. You can read more about how those two cameras work with/without the cloud here.
Through Works with Nest, abode works with Nest Protect, Nest Thermostat, and Nest Cam. Using this integration, you have the option to sync your abode modes with Nest modes or keep them separate. The abode system also offers deep integration with the Nest Thermostats. From the abode app, you can access and control your home’s temperature and create temperature thresholds. The same is true for ecobee users.
Ring offers access to a timeline-style feature where you can view events going back six months (if you are subscribed). From the timeline, you can sort through ring events, motion events, starred events, or live view events. From the web app, you can also sort by device so that you can separate your Spotlight Cam footage from footage captured by your other devices. Right now, the feature isn’t very advanced. Soon, Ring plans to completely revamp their mobile app.
If you are willing to pay for Arlo Smart (starting at $2.99 per month per camera), your cameras will be able to detect people, vehicles, and animals. It also adds package detection (beta). This smart feature also makes video sorting easier as you can filter recordings to show what you want to see. For example, you can filter the results to only show recordings with people.
Third, Nest Guard has a voice. Of course, it’s no Google Home, but it will provide useful information. For example, when you arm your system, there is an arm delay which allows you to exit your home without setting off the alarm. Instead of an annoying beep that continues until the system arms, Nest Guard uses a friendly voice to tell you how much time you have left.
Ring's $199 Z-Wave-enabled Alarm Security Kit is so simple you might overlook it at first. The system includes a base station, a keypad, a door/window sensor, a motion sensor and a Z-Wave range extender. It's all basic hardware with basic functionality -- you won't find any fancy features here -- but the Security Kit is super simple to set up and monitor in the Ring mobile app. 
The caller from the monitoring service will identify themselves as being from Ring, since that’s who your business relationship is with, but they actually work for a third-party company that Ring contracts with: Rapid Response Monitoring Services. This is a common arrangement for home security systems. Nest, for example, contracts with MONI Smart Security (which is now doing business as Brinks Home Security). Alarm.com is another major third-party monitoring service.
Hats off to Ring for the smooth-as-silk installation process. This system was easier to set up than anything in my experience. Although there are no installation videos integrated into the app, as Ring provides with its other products, I didn’t miss them at all. The app takes you through each step with pictures and a brief explanation, just enough information so you don’t feel like you’re learning the system by rote. A printed instruction manual is also provided.
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For customers with Ring Alarm, this means you should be able to set your new Stick Up Cam to record automatically if something trips your security system. Adding Alexa should offer the opportunity for simple voice commands -- hopefully things like, "Alexa, show me my living room camera" that you'd then be able to see on your Echo Show or other screen-enabled Alexa device. 
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