Updated 22 April 2022
We have tested several smart home alarm systems, both with and without subscription to see which alarm is the best choice for your home.
Our tests are independently conducted and reflect the test editor's honest and objective opinions. Selection of products and test results are in no way influenced by manufacturers, retailers or other internal or external parties.
Super-simple alarm kit for the minimalist who just wants to keep track of the basics
Installation: Do it yourself Packet: Standard package with main unit Tested products: Base unit Subscription: Yes, can be run in restricted mode without Miscellaneous: Battery operation
How simple can an alarm system be? That’s exactly the question Minut have decided to explore, and given what the product is, it actually does a really good job.
At the same time, it should be said that this is really the simplest possible solution, so if you want something more advanced or the ability to expand, the Minut isn’t for you.
The thing about the Minut is that you get a single unit and that’s the whole alarm. The unit is charged with USB-C, the battery lasts up to six months (three months during our trial period) and you can easily attach it to your ceiling or wall with a magnetic mount. The unit will then keep you up-to-date by staying connected to your home Wi-Fi network.
But what does it actually do? The Minut contains a siren that could scare off intruders or alert your neighbours. It also keeps track of whether you’re at home, to know when it should be active. Other than this, a motion sensor, sound meter, thermometer, moisture meter and simple lamp are built in. There’s also a sensor attached to the magnetic mount that tells you if someone is removing the device.
The idea here is that you should mount it reasonably centrally in your home and from there the Minut keeps track of whether someone is moving around, whether the temperature changes suddenly, or if there is a lot of noise (for example, because of a broken window). The lamp combined with the motion sensor can also act as a night light if you are up and about at night. The moisture meter is also used to monitor whether your home environment is OK or whether you are at risk of moisture damage or mould.
Getting started with the Minut is as easy as the device itself and just for keeping a bit of an eye on your home it's really effective. Of course, should someone break into your home, you’ll only notice it when it’s already happened, so to speak, rather than when someone breaks open the door. But as a very simple solution to see if everything is all right, it's really effective. At the same time, we’d have liked to see a smoke detector built in, so that the Minut could also act as a fire alarm. We particularly like the fact that the app keeps track of us and reminds us to turn on the alarm when we leave home, which happens without exception.
In its basic version and with one user, the Minut is also free to use. If you want multiple units, either in the same house or in different houses, or if you want to give access to other family members, this costs extra on a monthly basis. Handling multiple units is something Minut push hard, to offer a simple alarm solution for people renting out holiday cottages or similar.
The Minut is a rather special alarm because it’s just one unit and because it’s so simple. However, given what it claims to be, it does a really good job.
Smart solution if you have the cameras
Installation: Do it yourself Package: pack with base station, siren, motion sensor and door/window sensors Tested products: basic package (1st & 2nd generation) Subscription: yes, 10 EUR/month Other: same system as Ring’s cameras
Ring Alarm is the next logical step for Ring, which has built surveillance cameras for all your home’s nooks and crannies for many years. In connection with updating and fixing security in their existing system for the cameras (which was a problem a few years ago), many more alarm-like features have found their way into the app. Perhaps the most obvious example is the Home and Away profiles, where you have to specify what should happen when you are at home or away.
If you use the alarm system, this type of function becomes a little more logical. At the same time, this can be a much cheaper way to build a connected home alarm system compared to what major alarm companies offer. Ring's alarm system more or less requires the Ring Protect Plus subscription to work, but so do Ring's cameras. If you already have them, it makes sense to add the alarm.
Here in Sweden, the first generation of Ring Alarm barely landed on the market before generation 2 took over. Practically, both systems are more or less identical and contain the same types of devices. The base station for the two is the same, while the sensors have shrunk quite significantly and the number plate has changed design in the later version.
The base station provides what is needed in terms of connection. In its initial mode, it is plugged into the wall socket for operation, while the connection is made either via Wi-Fi or a network cable. If the power is cut and you have the subscription, the connection will jump over to the mobile network (a Ring-adapted SIM card is included) and the base station itself will switch to battery operation. As all the sensors run on battery, they will still last as long as the base station has power or battery.
The subscription also includes something that Ring calls Assisted Monitoring. Quite simply, this is a telephone service that calls to make sure that everything is alright at home. You can also set the alarm in so-called Self Monitoring mode and cut the telephone aspect completely. It is worth noting that this is a telephone service, not a call-out service with security guards, like those offered by alarm companies. There is no option to connect such a service here.
The basic package includes a siren for outdoor use, a range extender, a code plate, a motion sensor, and a door or window sensor. The sensors and base station use the Z-wave protocol, but for safety reasons only Ring’s own sensors are compatible. For the same reason, we also found no way to pair Ring’s sensors with other Z-wave compatible systems.
The sensors themselves are, at least in the second generation, fairly small and flexible. The battery life is six months to one year, depending on the activity, and you can attach them with both double-sided tape and screws (both included).
As with all Z-wave products, the range is about 30 metres and, should that not be enough, the range extender is available, as mentioned. Unfortunately, the company’s Z-wave cameras haven't been built in and cannot act as extensions, which would otherwise have been smart. In general, it is precisely in combination with Ring’s cameras that the alarm has its strengths. As an alarm-only app, Ring’s app is quite confusing, which it can sometimes be felt with just the cameras as well. With both alarms and cameras, it is still a little messy, but still provides a good overall solution. With a camera and sensors, it’s quite easy to add monitoring to all the nooks and crannies of your house for while you’re not home.
If you already have cameras from Ring, then Ring Alarm is a reasonably inexpensive and easy way to add alarm components to your home. However, the app is a bit confusing and, given the structure, we would have liked to have seen e.g. smoke alarms and leak sensors included as part of the package.
All-in-one alarm with siren and physical lens protection
Camera: Yes (Full HD) **Movement detector: **Yes (and thermal detection) Night vision: Yes Facial recognition: No Storage: Cloud (subscription linked) Perimeter protection: Window alarm Siren: Yes (90 dB, built into camera) Voice control: Yes (Alexa) Fire detector: No (but fire detector detection built into the camera) Battery backup: Yes (6 hours) What's included: 1 x camera, 1 x IntelliTAG, 1 x key fob
The Somfy One combines an alarm system and surveillance camera network into one single security system. The result is a user-friendly product which is straightforward to install, with each component easily connecting to your smartphone. All in all, the whole system took about five minutes to install.
The alarms that you install on your windows are quite small and are easily attached via the included stickers. Thankfully they manage to stay on well and won’t impinge much on the view from your window. The alarm’s sirens are actually attached to the cameras and produce a very loud and frightening noise when activated. Of course, a thief would only need to pull the cable out of the camera to stop it this noise, but by then they would have already been captured by the security cameras - provided that you have positioned them properly. If you reconnect the cable to the camera the alarm will continue to sound, meaning that you have to properly switch off the camera in order to stop the sirens once they has been activated.
One advantage of the Somfy One are the active privacy shutters on the camera lenses. Surveillance cameras can be relatively easy targets for computer hackers. When you identify yourself as being at "home", only the perimeter protection of the Somfy system will remain activated.
This means that only the window alarms will be activated and the security cameras won’t be recording. Furthermore, the physical lens shutters on the cameras will slide across automatically, meaning that you won't have to worry about any unwelcome hackers having video access to the inside of your home. Telling the Somfy One system that you are home is very easy. Each family member has a remote-control key fob that they simply need to press in order to tell the system they are inside the house. You can also use Somfy’s smartphone app to see which family member are at home via this way.
The cameras produce a good quality image. While they unfortunately don’t support 4K resolution, they offer full HD recording and a wide viewing angle which means that you still get a very good image of the room that the camera is in. They capture sound well, but unfortunately the camera units themselves also have a slight humming noise. We would also have liked to seen facial recognition features in the cameras, but they don’t have this feature. Despite these shortfalls, the cameras will thoroughly record any movements taking place in your home. Cloud storage of the footage is free for a short trial period, but after this you will have to pay if you want to store video content from the cameras. This cloud storage proves to be quite expensive, costing £4 a month for one day's back storage and £8 a month for seven days' back storage. The system doesn’t have a slot for memory cards, meaning you are forced to use this expensive cloud storage solution. This lack of choice somewhat reduced our overall score of the Somfy One system.
Sometimes there can be a short delay between starting the app and accessing the footage from the cameras. Another disadvantage is that the cameras are quite bulky, making them slightly difficult to position while also being a bit too visible from a distance. However, the security system as a whole gets a plus point for making it possible to talk to the intruder by holding in a button on the phone app. The app itself is both easy to navigate and straightforward to use. Aside from the app, the system is also able to detect any noise coming from your fire detector systems and notify you of this, which is a handy feature.
Overall, this is a good value for money and well-designed smart home security system for someone who wants to secure their home but who doesn't want to fiddle with a number of different products.
An easily installable and user friendly and system, with the added freedom of being totally wireless.
Camera: Yes (Full HD) Movement detector: Yes Night vision: Yes Facial recognition: No Storage: Cloud (subscription linked) Perimeter protection: No Siren: Yes (built into camera) Voice control: Yes (Alexa) Fire detector: No Battery backup: Wireless (6 months battery life) What's included: 2 x camera, 1 x base station, 1 x charger
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 VMS4230P is a surveillance system that's very easy to install. The package includes a week's cloud storage of recorded footage, with the footage automatically deleted when it is more than seven days old. You will have to pay extra if you want to store the footage for longer than this.
Unfortunately, you can't use a memory card as an alternative to this cloud storage solution – making you reliant upon their subscription service. This can’t help but feel a bit of a stingy gesture when the security cameras cost as much as they do. On the other hand, the cameras do have several useful functions. For example, they have built-in alarms that will sound if they detect someone approaching your home, and they can also send notifications to your mobile when they detect movement. However, one shortfall of this notification feature is that when you open the notifications, the app doesn't automatically open to the live stream of the relevant camera. Instead it takes you to the app's home page and you have to manually choose the right camera, resulting in us often missing seeing the events that we were alerted about in real time, despite this functionality being there.
The cameras themselves are completely wireless. Netgear promises their battery life is around 6 months, but this depends on how often they record video. During our test, we found that the first camera needed charging after only a month's usage. If you want to avoid charging them too often, you should position the cameras so that they don’t get triggered and start filming things unnecessarily. The batteries do come fully charged from the factory, which is useful during set up. One major advantage of the Arlo Pro 2 is that it's restrictive in what it records. For example, it will rarely react to trees moving in the wind but will always start recording if a human or animal passes it. If you position the cameras indoors you can connect them with a power cable. However, the kit unfortunately only comes with one charger so you can't power both cameras at the same time, limiting it to being more of a charging cable.
The Netgear Arlo Pro 2 VMS4230P records video in 1080p resolution and live streams it on command. This image quality is perfectly acceptable and the camera has a very good wide-angle lens and strong night vision capability. However, it can be difficult to achieve good footage quality if the object is far away from the camera so it’s important you position it close to the area you want to monitor. If you try fix this by zooming in on the image, you will find it quickly becomes pixelated.
The outdoor connection range of the cameras is good as long as you have a good internet router. The cameras connect via Wi-Fi and we found that even when the reception was poor they transmitted a high image quality. Another major plus point is that you can also communicate with whoever’s close to the camera via its two-way sound transmission feature. A further plus is that the system’s app is very user-friendly. It's easy to find recorded clips, change settings or play back the live stream. You can also invite other users to look at the footage from the cameras. While they won't be able to control the cameras, they can use them to see what's going on. While we would have preferred them to also be able to use the app’s microphone function, unfortunately that's locked so that only the primary user can use it. You also can’t be logged into several different security systems simultaneously with one single account, which is probably a safety feature to prevent unauthorised access.
Unfortunately the kit lacks a sabotage alarm and the cameras are also very easy to steal because they are only attached to the bracket with a magnet. This means that you’ll need to place it in a position that's difficult to access if you want to avoid them being sabotaged.
The Arlo Pro 2 is a good surveillance system for those who want to supplement an existing home alarm system, or for those who simply want a pure camera surveillance network without any sensors for doors and windows. However, we felt that the system is relatively expensive for what it is, particularly if you're going to use the cloud service for more than seven days. If you’re looking for a complete home alarm system, this package will hardly feel sufficient. But if you'd prefer a surveillance system to be completely wireless with lots of intelligent features such as being IP classified, it's a good buy.
Easy home alarm with camera and limited range
Installation: DIY Package: Pack with camera and door/window sensors and siren Tested products: Basic package Subscription: No Other: Dropbox storage
Netatmo has been making weather stations, cameras and fire alarms for many years now, and the products have been really long-lasting. That’s why it was extra interesting when they released Netatmo Smart Alarm as a kind of attachment to the indoor camera. It should turn out to be a rather different alarm system, but one that you can manage without any subscription costs.
Netatmo’s alarm consists of three parts: The Welcome indoor camera, door/window sensors, and an indoor siren. All parts can be purchased individually or as a package, but you must have at least one Netatmo Welcome camera at home. This is because all sensors are connected via bluetooth directly to the indoor camera. Bluetooth is otherwise not the most common protocol for home alarms.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. Firstly, you must have a surveillance camera in your home, regardless of whether you intended it or not. Secondly, the range is quite short when using bluetooth. The range can be remedied by having several cameras in the house that you pair the sensors (Welcome camera communicates via either Wi-Fi or network cable). This means that Netatmo’s alarms may be more suitable for apartments rather than full-sized houses.
You also need to bear in mind that there is no battery backup or the like. If there is a power outage (or the internet goes down), the alarm also disconnects.
Make sure that you have plenty of time and patience when setting up Netatmo’s alarm, as this will be needed.
First, you need to pair the camera. Of the two cameras we had in the test, we succeeded on the third try with the one camera. We gave up on camera number two and connected it directly to a computer for installation, as the app gave us error messages all the time.
Once there, you can set relatively few settings using the camera, which also gets quite hot during operation. Facial recognition is at least there, although it takes a lot of learning before it stops asking the family members questions. The live view also lags at least 30 seconds from reality. Connection to the live view is also very slow.
After that, it's time to set up the door and window sensors. For these, Netatmo has chosen sensors that react to movement instead of traditional magnetic sensors. This means that you do not have to mount a two part sensor, and can instead be satisfied by clicking it on with the double-sided tape supplied. It’s really convenient, and with the sensor we could see when a window was opened, and even if the window was open or closed (perfect information to have in the summer when you leave home). The disadvantage is that the installation is tough. First, you have to wait a couple of minutes for the camera and sensor to pair up, then half an hour of updating the sensor before you can even install it. We've been agitated by more minor things than this in the past.
The siren is also very slow and uses the same connection procedure. It can be operated using either a battery (2 years approximately) or a cable. But it does its job and makes a lot of noise.
Using Netatmo’s alarm system is messy, to say the least. All communication goes via the camera, which in turn is too old to know what Wi-Fi is above a 5 GHz bandwith. If you have a Wi-Fi network at home where 2.4 and 5 GHz are divided, this is not a problem, but if they are combined on the same network name (which is more or less standard today), Netatmo’s camera, and thus the entire alarm, becomes both tough and unstable. Either it takes forever to connect, you can't connect at all, or it suddenly drops.
The app itself is divided between sensors, fire alarms, doorbells and home/away. The latter applies to the cameras, but only which faces the cameras identified while the user was at home or away. The cameras themselves can be found in a submenu.
The sensors would very much like to be calibrated to work properly, of course. But there is no logical place for calibration in the app, and we had to wait for the dialogue box to appear randomly. However, in some cases, all kinds of settings are represented in up to three places in the app, so this is hardly consistent. It feels a lot like a patchwork, or like someone just stacked pieces of software on top of each other as they popped up. Netatmo’s alarm system is a good idea in essence, and in theory it is perfect for apartments and small houses. However, the hardware in the camera would need to be both refreshed and speeded up in order to function as it should, and the app would need to be redesigned from scratch in order to avoid the total confusion it brings. Because right now it’s simply not good.
Are you worried about your house getting burgled? According to the UK Office for National Statistics, there were 296,150 in the 12 months preceding March 2019 alone and the volume of burglaries is affected by several different factors. For example, those living in houses are affected more often than those living in flats, and city dwellers are more frequently affected than people living in the countryside. Different areas of the home are also more likely to be affected than others. Equally, the nature of your garden and the architecture of your house can affect the likelihood that you will be a victim of a burglary. If for example you have a large hedge that conceals part of your property, burglars can use this so that they can remain out of sight.
With a burglar alarm installed, many people feel more secure against this kind of threat. A burglar alarm is useful whether the property is burgled while you are away from home or whether you're still at home during the event. There are many new types of smart home security systems intended for homeowners. These essentially consist of an alarm panel where you can switch the system on or off, a number of sensors and some form of app or similar piece of software which you can use to control the system. A system that is only monitors break ins of the windows and doors is called perimeter protection system, because the system is only monitoring the boundaries of your home. You can also choose to protect the inside of your home by installing smart security components such as movement detectors. There are also smart home security systems which allow for zone divisions, so that only certain parts of the home are monitored.
Smart home security systems often include surveillance cameras. This means that in addition to being notified if someone has broken into or is outside your home, you can also see them via video link in real time. The cameras often have movement sensors which will be triggered when someone is moving nearby. Many cameras have recording and storage capacities in addition to this real time transmission. Some are intelligent and can see the difference between intruders and moving background objects. This means that they will react if a thief moves through their field of view but won’t be triggered if the movement is caused by something like a robotic lawn mower or by swaying trees in the background. Different smart home security cameras also have their own specialities. Some are motorised so that you can control them remotely, some are IP classified for outdoor use and some have the ability to see in the dark. The cameras that you should choose for the different parts of your home depend both on your home security needs and the type of space itself. You can also buy accessories for your smart home security system to make it clearer that a burglary is taking place – for example by triggering sirens or flashing lights in the area around your house.
When you start to look into different types of smart home security systems, you will quickly realise that you have two different options. One is to choose a selection of different security system components and create a home security system for yourself, while the other is to purchase a complete system installed by the manufacturer of the system or an associated sales company.
In the first scenario, you buy the system either as a ready-made kit or as a number of separate components which you then install at your home by yourself. This can include components such as cameras and sensors which notify your smartphone if someone is moving inside your home. These systems rarely require any ongoing service costs, allowing you to pay for the products and then carry out the surveillance monitoring yourself.
If you instead choose to purchase a complete system from a security system supplier, they will often come and install the system in your home for you. You usually choose between different sized packages which have different installation costs and fixed monthly costs. The monthly cost is usually between £20-40, while the fixed installation can cost several hundreds of pounds. The price will vary depending on the supplier, the type of package and the different types of functions that you choose. In some cases, the company will retain ownership of the system for a number of years, so if you were to cancel the contract they would have the right to remove the system. You should also remember that some contracts for this type of deal come with a minimum term. Another factor you should consider is whether call outs by the security company are included in the monthly cost. With some systems you will receive an alarm notification first, so that you can verify whether or not it is a genuine break-in. You can then forward the alarm call to the alarm operator if you think it is a threat. Other systems will directly notify the alarm operators, who then contact you. In these cases the alarm operator can sometimes see who is in your home and talk to them. Depending on how you use these alarms, this could provide some further security in the scenario that a family member is injured and quickly needs help. On the other hand, this type of arrangement has privacy implications and you need to think about whether you're willing to let a stranger see inside your home in the case of a false alarm.
The majority of alarm systems today are wireless. There are still models where cables are installed in the walls, but these are generally installed while the building is being constructed rather than retroactively. Wireless systems have different sensitivities in regard to interference. Things like the built-in encryption they offer and the frequency of the signals they transmit affect how good the system is. For example, some alarm systems offer double encryption, while others only offer single encryption. If the system communicates on a normal frequency, it could even be interfered with by other gadgets using the same frequency. If you're thinking of investing in a wireless burglar alarm, we implore you to invest in a product that offers high security levels.