When you get existential about it, much of our daily lives revolve around the notion of “protection.” When you toss a password on your computer’s log-in screen, for instance, you’re protecting your data against wannabe hackers. When you slip a cardboard sleeve on a paper coffee cup filled with your half-caf vanilla oat milk latte, you’re protecting your hand from the sloshing liquid’s scorching heat. And when you vaccinate your kids — you’re definitely vaccinating your kids, right? — you’re protecting them and people who are immunocompromised from potentially life-threatening diseases.
It’s sort of weird, then, that so few of us have equipped our houses — the place where we spend most of our time and keep our most precious belongings — with some sort of protection: According to the National Council for Home Safety and Security, a mere 17 percent of U.S. households have a fleshed-out home security system. What gives?
Maybe it’s because shopping for a home security system is kind of a nightmare. When I, your friendly neighborhood tech writer, began my reconnaissance for Mashable’s roundup of the best home security systems, I was taken aback by the amount of complicated jargon I encountered — more so than usual for consumer technology, and plenty enough to scare off the average homeowner with limited knowledge of the market. I was taken even further aback by the ambiguity of some popular companies’ websites when it comes to basic details like system specs and average costs, and by the sheer number of companies that offer seemingly identical gear.
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I came away from my preliminary research with a whole mess of questions. Like, is transparency not a thing in this market? Why does Company A think its sensors are better than Company B’s, even though they look exactly the same? Most importantly, what the hell is IFTTT and why does everyone keep talking about it? (PSA: It’s an acronym that stands for “If This Then That,” a free web-based service that lets you create applets to connect different devices and apps. It’s pretty neat.)
Maybe you’ve faced similar setbacks on your pursuit to protect your home, and if that’s the case, then solidarity; it’s a jungle out there, folks.
For what it’s worth, spending several hours of your precious time perusing the depths of home security websites, familiarizing yourself with the paraphernalia, and waxing poetic on customer service hotlines can, in fact, teach you a lot. But based on our collective experience in the realm of consumer tech, all of us at Mashable know that if you want unfiltered and plainspoken takes on virtually any kind of product, you hit up the real experts: online reviewers.
Whether you’re looking for an apartment-friendly starter kit or some protective gear for your new vacation home (#humblebrag), there are options out there for the lot of you. Below, you’ll find our top picks for home security systems based on what we’ve seen in comments and reviews written by actual customers.