How to build your own home security system

Smart home security systems are great for keeping tabs on what’s going on inside and outside your home, but not everyone has the need or budget for a full system monitored by ADT or Vivint professionals. DIY systems like Ring Alarm Pro and SimpliSafe are great money-saving alternatives, but they limit you to using only platform-supported components. A third option is to build a custom home security system with the best components on the market. Here, we highlight the top-rated devices for each part of your DIY home security system to help you get started.


Wyze V3 Camera

Start with a security camera

Any home security system worth its salt includes one or more security cameras to monitor activity inside and outside your home. You can find a good indoor camera for under $100, depending on features like motion and sound alerts, local storage capabilities, and facial recognition.

Look for a camera that has at least 1080p resolution and can interact with third-party smart home devices like door locks, lights, and outlets. If you use Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands to control your smart devices, choose a camera that supports voice control and/or streams to a compatible smart display. One of our favorite budget models, the Eufy Indoor Cam 2K Pan & Tilt P24 offers options for 2K video, local and cloud video storage, motion tracking, and mechanical pan and tilt controls. It also supports Apple HomeKit.

Outdoor camera prices tend to vary more. Our Editors’ Choice winner for affordable outdoor cameras, the Wyze Cam V3 1080p, offers plenty of features including color night vision, smart motion detection, voice control, a built-in siren, and local video storage. It also integrates with many third-party smart devices and can trigger door locks, lights, and external sirens. On the other end of the price spectrum, the Arlo Pro 4 projector offers stunning 2K video, color night vision, a bright light that activates when it detects motion, and a rechargeable battery that enables a completely wireless design. .


Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera

Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight Camera

Shed light on outdoor movements with a floodlight camera

Floodlight cameras are useful all-in-one devices for monitoring outdoor activities and lighting up the night. Most floodlight cameras have two powerful, wide-beam LED lights to illuminate large areas such as driveways and backyards, and use motion detection sensors to trigger the lights and the camera.

The setup process for these devices usually requires working with electrical wiring, but some battery-powered models do exist. For example, the fully wire-free Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight camera offers 2K video, color night vision, and interoperability with many other devices.

If you’re replacing an existing wired device, the Ring Floodlight Cam Wired Pro is a great choice that works with other Ring cameras as well as many third-party devices; it also offers 3D motion tracking, HDR video, color night vision, and voice commands. For a more affordable wired solution, the Wyze Cam Floodlight gives you 1080p video, sound and motion detection, a pair of bright LED lights, and a built-in siren.


Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Wi-Fi Smart Lock

Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Wi-Fi Smart Lock

Smart Locks: a convenient way to control access

A smart door lock is an essential component of any connected home security system and should ideally support interaction with your other home security devices. Some smart locks such as the Kwikset Halo Touch are complete lock sets that include deadbolt and strike hardware, interior and exterior escutcheons, and drilling templates. Others, like August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, rely on most of your existing hardware and only replace certain components.

If you want a smart lock that you can control remotely with your phone, make sure it offers Wi-Fi connectivity. Locks that support Alexa, Google Assistant, and/or HomeKit allow you to use voice commands to lock and unlock your doors and to work with other devices on these platforms such as cameras and lights.

We also recommend choosing a lock that offers multiple ways to lock and unlock, such as the Editors’ Choice winner, the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Wi-Fi, which you can unlock with your voice, a fingerprint reader fingers, a touchpad, a mobile application. , and a traditional key.


Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell

Arlo Essential Wireless Video Doorbell

Knock knock… See who’s there with a video doorbell

If you want to see who’s at your door before you open the door to a potential security threat, consider installing a video doorbell. These versatile devices record video and send a push alert when they detect motion or when someone presses the doorbell buzzer. Most models can also trigger other smart devices such as indoor and outdoor security cameras, door locks and lights.

Wired doorbells such as the Ezviz DB1C use your existing doorbell wiring and are relatively easy to install. If you’d rather not bother with the wiring, a battery-powered model such as the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell is a better choice.

Look for a doorbell that offers at least 1080p video, a built-in Wi-Fi radio, and a reasonably priced video storage plan or local storage option. Expect to pay more for doorbells with advanced features like 2K HDR video, package detection, and smart motion alerts that differentiate between animals, people, and vehicles.


D-Link DCH-S161

D-Link DCH-S161

Smart sensors: protect your home from the inside out

Once you’re equipped with the right combination of cameras and locks, you’ll want to start thinking about other accessories that can protect your home from threats inside and out. For example, you can place Eve motion sensors in different rooms of your home to receive motion alerts while you’re away, or configure them to trigger other HomeKit devices like lights and outlets. Likewise, Kangaroo Motion + Entry Sensors lets you know when someone opens or closes a window or door; if you subscribe to a professional surveillance plan, an agent alerts the local authorities in the event of triggering of the sensors.

Finally, water and leak detectors such as the D-Link DCH-S161 Wi-Fi Water Sensor alert you to any leaks and can help prevent major damage to walls, floors and cabinets. Our Editors’ Choice winner, the Flo By Moen Smart Water Sensor, can even shut off your home’s water supply if you pair it with the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff Valve to avoid water spillage. other damage.


House illustration

Intelligence beyond security

In addition to protecting you, smart devices can help make your home a little more livable…and a lot more automated. We’ve tested hundreds of smart home products in over 20 categories to determine which are best for every room inside (and outside) of the home.

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