SimpliSafe is our favorite no-contract home security system, but the accolades don’t end there: it’s also one of the best home security systems we’ve tested overall. Why? It’s affordable, effective, and, well, simple. We spent more than 100 hours testing it, and it’s refreshingly easy to install and use, has all the essential features, and includes strong customer service — for a price that won’t crush your budget.
SimpliSafe has a 60-day money-back guarantee. When you add that to the no-contract freedom, you’ve got a system that’s well worth trying out. In our in-home trial, SimpliSafe had the fastest and easiest setup of all the security systems we’ve tested. Plus, SimpliSafe’s equipment costs were substantially lower than comparable systems from other companies. For the SimpliSafe Essentials kit and a few extras, we paid only $301.56. Most home security companies would charge $500-$1,000 for a similar package.
The hardware itself has a cool, modern design. The base station is a sleek tabletop tower that glows a soft blue, like a sophisticated smart lamp. The software, however, isn’t going to wow you with sophistication. We found the SimpliSafe keypad interface to be a lot like texting on a cell phone circa 2001. A move toward touchscreen technology would be a definite improvement in the future. SimpliSafe does, though, have the technology to integrate with Alexa and Google Home for easy voice control, which we appreciate.
SimpliSafe equipment packages range from $183-$391. Or make your own package by starting with the base station and keypad ($184.98) and adding on entry sensors ($14.99 each), motion sensors ($29.99 each), and other sensors. You can also get a panic button for $19.99 and a SimpliCam for $99. SimpliSafe’s packages even come with a SimpliCam, the brand’s indoor camera, which retails for $99. For more details, check out our review of SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam.
SimpliSafe has two monitoring plans to choose from:
When we tested out the system, we went with the latter, and we recommend you do, too. It’s one of the more affordable monitoring plans we’ve seen, and it comes with 24/7 professional monitoring, priority dispatch, and a user-friendly mobile app. We found ourselves using the app to manage our system about 75% of the time, so we would not recommend going without it.
To read about our full experience with SimpliSafe, check out our hands-on SimpliSafe review.
Frontpoint earns our #2 slot with its custom features, slick app, and high-quality GE equipment. After more than 70 hours testing Frontpoint in our home, we can safely say that the higher price for equipment and monitoring is worth it if you want a system that’s smart home-compatible and super customizable. And don’t forget that there’s no long-term contract to stress about!
Frontpoint’s hub design is sleek and modern, with an iridescent sheen. It uses a dual-path connection, which means it’ll connect to your cellular service first, and if the cell service is down, it’ll automatically connect to your Wi-Fi. This is the best connection type you can get.
Frontpoint equipment packages range from $319.95-$599.88. Or, create your own package by starting with a hub and keypad for $249.98 and adding on sensors and other accessories. Their door/window sensors run $19.99 each, motion sensors are $29.99, and panic pendants are $19.99.
Get the full picture in our Frontpoint cost and package guide.
Frontpoint’s monitoring plans are nice and straightforward. The brand has one plan that costs $49.99 a month. It includes 24/7 monitoring and cellular backup in case of a power outage.
Plus, Frontpoint has some advanced features that are worth talking about. For instance, it lets you customize “scenes.” There are four preset scenes built in: Home, Away, Sleep, and Wake Up. But you can also create your own customized scenes. When we tested the system in our home, we made a nighttime routine scene that armed our system silently and forced bypass of our bedroom sensor (so we could leave the window open) — with the simple tap of a button. Many other home security systems require each step to be done manually in the app, so this was a huge time saver.
Frontpoint also lets you customize the instant notifications you receive. Like other brands, Frontpoint sends its notifications via email, SMS text message, or push notification. But they won’t just notify you if an alarm is triggered. They’ll let you know about any event you set as a trigger. When we tried out the system at home, we were very happy to get a “Left Open” alert one morning when we’d forgotten to shut one of our doors. The alert arrived just in time to fix the problem before leaving the house for the day.
And we wouldn’t be doing the Frontpoint system justice if we didn’t mention its geo-fencing feature. Frontpoint uses your smartphone’s GPS to put a virtual “fence” around your home. When you leave the area without arming the system, you’ll receive a notification reminding you that your home isn’t secure. This feature alone may bring you a lot of peace of mind. To read about our full experience using Frontpoint Security, have a look at our in-depth Frontpoint review.
We put abode through nearly 75 hours of rigorous hands-on testing and were wowed by its innovative hub with built-in camera, its super-small sensors, and its home-automation abilities.
Looking for an affordable security system with innovative equipment? abode has a sleek, modern look in classic black-and-white. It’s got the smallest entry sensors we’ve ever seen. And the iota Gateway hub has a built-in HD camera. Most impressive, however, is abode’s CUE — a native home automation platform that turns your security system into a wireless home wizard.
CUE not only integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant, like many other home security hubs, it also integrates with your smart lights, your garage door sensor, and even your Bose speakers. (Yes, you can set unique chimes, crank up the volume of your siren, and more.)
You can also use CUE to create custom automations, like arming your home 15 minutes after sunset. Not only can it set up a geo-fence like Frontpoint does, but it can automatically close your garage door when you leave the geo-fence boundary. Pretty neat. Oh, and all this with no stressful contracts to deal with!
With abode, equipment starter kits range from $229-$329, which is affordable compared to industry standards. Additional door/window sensors are $32 each, motion sensors are $55 each, and panic buttons are $35. You can also choose from lots of other optional accessories.
Abode’s affordable self-monitoring option makes it one of our top-rated systems with no monthly fees. You can self-monitor and tap into abode’s home automation features, or you can sign up for professional monitoring. Here’s a breakdown of those options:
Read our latest abode review to find out if this is the right system to protect your home.
Cove is one of a handful of security companies on the market that has said goodbye to potentially suffocating multiyear contracts and steep cancellation fees. You purchase their equipment and inside a half hour of delivery, you should be up and running. If you find something better, you’re free to go.
This is similar to a number of self-monitored security arrangements we’ve reviewed, except for one big difference. Cove has somehow managed to put together a wireless home security package that offers 24/7 professional monitoring (with RapidSOS) and comparatively low monthly fees.
Cove’s decision to ditch contracts and instead focus on a quality security experience was a good one. Because, let’s face it, homeowners don’t need any extra stress wondering if they’ll need to lawyer up just to switch home security companies. The same goes for mysterious cancellation fees. Those horror stories you’ve heard on the Better Business Bureau website about customers getting stuck with $2,000 final bills on backfiring equipment? You shouldn’t have to go through any of that with Cove.
That’s not to say there are no bills with Cove. Cove home security plans range from a fairly cheap $14.99 per month (Basic) to $24.99 (Cove Plus). If you go with Cove Plus (which may be a good move if you’re a heavy smartphone user), you’ll be able to monitor your home on the go.
Other Cove Plus perks include a lifetime warranty on all Cove equipment and a locked in rate. But even if you go with the Basic plan, both Cove’s InstaText and RapidSOS services are fully available, so your home is protected 24/7 even during a power outage.
In terms of equipment, let’s just say that Cove is wireless, lightweight, and à la carte, so you won’t get stuck with a bunch of stuff you don’t need. Installing your security system is a half hour’s work. Though if you absolutely don’t know the right end of a screwdriver, Cove will send Hello Tech to your home, starting at $79. Read about our own 12-minute installation in our Cove security review.
Founded in 2013, Scout is the newest company on this list, but that doesn’t mean they have less to offer. Scout’s goal was to create a home security system that’s smart, simple, and affordable. And to that end, they’ve included equipment and features to rival the best.
Scout offers a curated home security experience. Its lower-than-average prices place Scout among the most affordable security systems of the year, as well as the best systems that work with IFTTT. You can build your own security system by selecting exactly what you need from their array of artfully designed equipment. Just add their $120 hub to your cart in your choice of white (arctic) or black (midnight). Then add on the sensors you need — door for $50, access/window for $20, or motion detection for $30. You can also include a keypad for $50, a 1080p indoor camera for $99, or a video doorbell for $99.
Scout has two monitoring plans to choose from:
You get several smart home integrations with Scout — notably Alexa and Google Assistant. They continue to add more integrations over time.
Why do some companies require long-term security contracts? How can others operate contract-free? We’ll help you understand your different options.
Home security ads emphasize monthly monitoring fees. Do other expenses apply? Sometimes. Several of the industry’s best security systems require professional installation and/or activation. When companies have long-term contracts, they can build equipment expenses into monthly monitoring fees. (These companies advertise free or cheap equipment, but in truth, the equipment costs are subsidized with the revenue from long-term monitoring.) For comparison, when companies have month-to-month monitoring plans, they might charge more upfront for the use of security equipment.
The most obvious benefit of adding a home security system without long-term contracts is flexibility. If you aren’t pleased with your security plan, or if your needs change, you can terminate service without having financial obligations. This includes avoiding the “small print” risks of some long-term contracts, which can allow for periodic rate hikes and automatic renewals.
Another big benefit is ownership of the security equipment. With long-term security companies, a customer might not own any of the equipment until their monitoring contract is up … but with certain month-to-month plans, customers keep the equipment. The alarm system can keep functioning too, albeit without professional monitoring.
When signing up for their service, traditional home security companies usually require you to sign at least a three-year contract. Though they’re certainly not our favorite step in the home security journey, they’ve become a sort of necessary inconvenience for certain systems.
We’ve been seeing a huge jump in demand for no-contract systems from the likes of SimpliSafe, Cove, Ring, Frontpoint, and the rest of the industry’s best DIY security systems. These tend to be the best systems for renters, too. These have become a huge pull for modern homeowners and renters alike, namely for their convenience and mobility.
With those companies, you’re not going to get much haranguing about contracts beyond the monthly alarm fee. Of course, experiences are always going to vary; if you’re dealing with a major alarm provider like ADT, for instance, we suggest thoroughly reading ADT’s contract terms and cancellation policy before signing up.
Alternately, if you signed up with a third-party contractor or independent retailer, you’ll find that most installers will routinely switch out systems for users who, for one reason or another, want to change providers rather than cancel altogether.
The bottom line, in any case, is that most companies we’ve tested and reviewed are willing to be flexible if you want to cancel your home security contract. You just have to ask!
No-contract home security plans share many features with long-term plans.
Here are some basics to help you choose the best setup.
We get it. Hardwired systems require drilling, wiring, and splicing circuitry. This is too much commitment for most people. That’s why the best no-contract, month-to-month home security systems are 100% wireless units. Many systems with wireless equipment can be set up in mere minutes, with no tools and no fuss. Go with wireless, you won’t be sorry.
Another attractive feature with no-contract security systems is easy DIY setup. The best companies pre-program the equipment before it arrives at your door. This means plug-and-play setup without having to troubleshoot the system on your own. Phew! Do-it-yourself setup is now easier than ever. You’ll be up and running with home protection in no time at all.
No-contract home security and cellular monitoring go hand-in-hand. Wireless systems use cellular monitoring, as opposed to landline or Wifi hookup, to connect to emergency operators at the monitoring station. Cellular monitoring is powered by cell towers, and it’s typically more reliable and secure than other options. Just be sure you live in an area with a cellular signal, and you’re as good as gold.
Remote Access is another popular feature. It’s the 21st century after all, and people demand immediate mobile access to everything. Why should home security be any different? Remote Access allows you to open your companion app anytime, anywhere, to monitor and control your month-to-month home security system. With Remote Access, home protection is always close at hand.
Secure the perimeter with Entryway Sensors. This feature comes standard with every no-contract security system. Simply mount these magnetic sensors to door frames and windows. When a security breach occurs, the magnets separate, and the alarm sounds and alerts are sent. These easy-install sensors can typically be put into place with removable adhesive.
Shore up your defense with Motion Detectors. This feature also comes with most no-contract home security systems. Leveraging infrared motion sensors, the devices pick up movement inside your home. Upon detection, the motion detectors trigger the alarm and alerts. While these detectors are useful anywhere in the home, they become especially helpful in monitoring rooms with high-value items like art and jewelry.
Who doesn’t love special features? Most no-contract security systems come with a control panel, entryway sensors, a base station, and a motion detector. These are ‘special’ in their own right. But users can add-on neat features like glass break sensors, panic buttons, smart smoke alarms, keyring remote controls, and more. Go on, upgrade your home security system to your heart’s content.
Keep a hawk-eye on certain areas of your home with Special Alert Zones. This feature comes with the best no-contract, month-to-month security plans. Keep your kids away from the liquor cabinet, thieves away from your gun locker, and keep a close eye on Mona Lisa in the foyer. Special alert zones offer increased security where it matters most.
Another key feature to look for is outright ownership of the security equipment. Many no-contract systems give immediate ownership to the user. Of course, the units often still function just fine if and when the month-to-month monitoring plan is canceled. The best part about receiving ownership of the system is that the equipment moves with you, wherever you go.
As Managing Editor for SafeHome.org, Rob Gabriele has written and edited over 1,000 articles in home security. His expertise is in smart home automation and home protection with thousands of hours of testing and research under his belt. Formerly a reporter and producer for the USAToday network, Rob has been a writer and editor for over 10 years. He holds a Master’s of Science with an emphasis on writing from the University of Montana, and he currently lives in the Reno/Tahoe area of Nevada.