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How we review home security systems: Our methodology explained

Our team of technology specialists thoroughly tests and reviews home security systems to ensure you can make an informed decision about your home and family’s security. However, our responsibility extends beyond this – endorsing a product that does not fulfil the brief could lead to serious repercussions.

To ensure our home security system evaluations are as comprehensive as possible, we scrutinise and assess 35 different factors. A provider’s overall performance determines their final rating, and ultimately, our endorsement.

Each element sits within one of the following categories:

  • Reputation and credibility
  • Security and performance
  • Features
  • Plans and pricing value
  • Customer experience

We proportionally score each category based on its significance in determining the best home security system. For instance, we regard the level of security offered as being of greater importance than the costs involved, so the security and performance score will have more weight in the overall rating. That’s not to suggest pricing value isn’t as pertinent, but we would rather a home security system possess superior protection measures over a cheap system that doesn’t perform as well.

Home security system review stats

35
data points measured
5
categories considered
59
home security systems reviewed to date
200+
hours testing home security systems
500+
customer reviews read

The home security system features we prioritise

  • Experience and customer reviews
  • Security level, such as included equipment and monitoring options
  • Features, such as wifi connectivity and smart home device support
  • Pricing value, including up-front equipment costs and monthly fees
  • Customer experience, including what support is available

Reputation and credibility

This refers to how long a home security provider has been in business and – perhaps more importantly – how existing or past customers rate the company. Our researchers read hundreds of verified customer reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and Amazon to gain a feel for how people perceive the company, as well as how the provider responds to feedback, whether positive or negative. Lots of good reviews spread over a number of years is a good sign of trust, while middling or negative reviews could be a warning sign.

Security and performance

Included hardware

A home security system review should consider the various hardware components, such as sensors, alarms, cameras, and control panels. The range and quality of the included hardware give an understanding of the system’s capabilities and whether it can provide a comprehensive security solution. 

We check the hardware for its ease of installation, user-friendliness, scalability, integration, and quality. We also assess the completeness of the system and whether you’ll need to consider additional hardware.

Functionality

When it comes to buying a home security system, it’s important to consider not just the number of features, but also the quality and relevance of those features to your specific needs. 

Systems that offer user-friendly functionality, such as intuitive control panels, customisable options, or smartphone apps make it easier to arm and disarm the system, check the status, and adjust settings as needed. This makes the system more likely to be used consistently and correctly, providing effective protection.

Features like panic buttons, two-way talk with monitoring centres, or integration with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can facilitate a quick response in emergencies, potentially preventing property damage or personal harm.

Ultimately, a home security system with robust features and functionality provides greater peace of mind, knowing that your home is well-protected.

Monitoring options

The choice between professional and self-monitoring depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, budget, and how much responsibility you want to take for your home’s security. 

We factor in the monitoring options for every home security system reviewed, carefully considering the ongoing costs, the services provided, and whether you get value for money.

Installation: Type and complexity

The choice between professional and DIY installation depends on your personal preferences. DIY installation could be a great choice if you’re comfortable handling tech and want to save money. Conversely, professional installation might cost more but avoids the risk of any DIY disasters. 

Our researchers consider both options, analysing the costs involved, the complexity if you choose the DIY route, and a range of other factors.

Quality

A high-quality home security system will perform consistently, providing dependable protection for your home. Inferior systems might fail at critical moments, potentially leading to loss or damage. 

With a home security system, it’s essential to evaluate the quality to ensure you’re investing in a system that will adequately protect your home and last for the long term.

Features

Smart home integration

Smart home integration with home security systems can significantly enhance your security setup’s convenience, control, and functionality. 

Full integration allows you to control and monitor your home’s security system and other smart devices from one central hub, often accessible via your smartphone. Amazon Alexa or Google Home voice commands add a layer of convenience, and real-time alerts provide a more streamlined and efficient user experience.

Connection options

When choosing a home security system, it’s crucial to consider the connectivity options to ensure it meets your needs for reliability, speed, resilience, compatibility, flexibility, and potential for smart home integration. 

The type of connection can also affect how quickly you receive alerts. For example, a system that uses a cellular or broadband connection to alert a monitoring centre or send you notifications can typically do so faster than a system that relies on a landline.

Plans and pricing value

The cost of home security systems varies widely depending on the system’s complexity, if it’s wired or wireless, and whether you opt for professional installation or do it yourself. It’s also important to consider any monthly monitoring fees or subscriptions to data storage systems, as well as any additional costs you might encounter, such as installation charges or contract cancellation fees. 

As part of our reviews, we run detailed calculations of the system costs, both upfront and ongoing, alongside a thorough analysis of any money-back guarantees offered.

Contract requirements

The contract requirements for home security systems can vary depending on the provider and the specifics of the system. However, there are some aspects that most contracts will have in common. 

The contract should detail the time you are obligated to pay for any services, which can vary greatly, from month-to-month agreements to multi-year contracts. It should also include early termination and renewal clauses. It’s important to outline the company’s services, such as professional monitoring and emergency response, and who is responsible for maintaining and repairing the equipment.

Customer experience

Home security systems can be complex, and issues can arise. You may encounter difficulties during setup, or there may be technical problems down the line. Good customer support can help you resolve these issues quickly and efficiently. 

Our experts thoroughly examine and test the support offered by the system provider, allowing you to decide whether the level and quality of support is adequate for your needs. 


You can read more about our commitment to editorial impartiality and our editorial code on our About Us page.

Katharine Allison

Energy Saving Writer

As Independent Advisor’s energy saving expert, Katharine, a keen advocate for sustainability, is an authority on solar panels, double glazing, and cutting-edge renewable energy technologies. Her dedication merges with a commitment to enlighten and steer readers toward embracing eco-friendly solutions and the latest trends in sustainability.

With over 10 years of experience, she has worked with some of the UK’s leading companies and publications, including the Federation of Master Builders, Architectural Digest, and Denon Construction. 

Katharine is particularly passionate about consumer causes and animal welfare and has art, philosophy, and psychology degrees. She lives with her sled dogs in East Sussex.