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But if your current system doesn’t support these features and you’re otherwise happy with it, it’s not worth buying a new one that does—even the best newer home security systems work with a pretty limited subset of smart-home devices. Whether you need 24/7 professional monitoring depends on how much you trust yourself (or your friends, family, and neighbors) to respond to text messages and alarms, how paranoid you are, and perhaps how much you value your stuff.

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They all work in about the same way, though newer systems have better control panels and have smartphone apps for remote control.Most home insurers offer premium discounts of 8 to 15 percent if you have a monitored alarm system.Depending on the price of your monitoring service and your home insurance premium, this could cover half or more of the price of monitoring.A 2012 study conducted by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation, in which they interviewed convicted burglars, found that 60 percent of offenders would pass by a house if it had an alarm system.However, that doesn’t mean that you should buy fake security signs. A 2012 study conducted by the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation, in which they interviewed convicted burglars, found that 60 percent of offenders would pass by a house if it had an alarm system.When the system triggers a call to the service, an operator calls you to verify the alarm.

Most monitoring services will double-verify: If you don’t answer, they’ll call a second number.

I’ve tested and reviewed many smart-home systems, and have installed and programmed security and home-automation equipment ranging from simple DIY surveillance cameras to professional-level Control4 systems.

A monitored home security system is for people who want more peace of mind about the safety of their family and the security of their belongings, and need to know that someone will call emergency services should the need arise.

Based on that experience, our new pick is the Live Watch Plug&Protect IQ with Total Home Video, which uses the same equipment and apps as Frontpoint, our previous pick, but costs slightly less, has shorter contracts with no early termination fees, and includes a feature that lets your household group chat in the event of an alarm.

A home security system is not a purchase to take lightly, so we’re confident based on our testing that the Live Watch Total Home Video system is the best self-installed home security solution for most people.

Live Watch offers reliable equipment and fair monthly monitoring prices, a contract that doesn’t lock you into years of payments, and an innovative instant messaging system that can help protect your family and reduce the likelihood of false alarm fines.