Home security is certainly important, but so too is your freedom to pick and choose the equipment and service you want providing that security. These days there’s little reason to get locked into a long-term contract that will have you paying monthly fees for years at a time. The good news is there are tons of home security systems available that don’t require bringing pen and ink into the transaction.
Simply put, SimpliSafe is one of the best home security systems on the market today. They’re affordable, easy to use, have all the features you could need, and offer great customer service to help you get the most out of your system. We also like that you’re not going to get locked into a long-term contract, so if your needs ever change, your security system can evolve with you.
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’s equipment packages start at $244.96 and go up to $699.90. Or you can build your own package starting with a base station and keypad and adding on motion sensors and other equipment like a panic button or one of their flagship products, the $99 SimpliCam. For more details on that, check out our SimpliCam review
SimpliSafe’s monitoring is pretty affordable, too. Packages start at just $17.99 per month. When we tested our system, we opted for professional monitoring, and we recommend you do, too. It’s one of the more affordable monitoring plans we’ve seen, and it comes with 24/7 service, 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.
|Smart Platform Integration||Alexa, Google Home, and August Smart Locks|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||None|
With Frontpoint, what you see is what you get — meaning there are no hidden costs or fees to keep you from taking advantage of all the features their equipment offers. While they are a little more expensive than some of the other options out there, when you consider there are no more costs after your initial purchase, Frontpoint becomes quite attractive.
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.
Their equipment packages start at $129, and Frontpoint’s monitoring plans will run you $49.99 per month. Keep in mind, though, that there are no self-monitoring options with Frontpoint, so this is something you’re going to have to factor into your budget. The good news is it includes 24/7 service and cellular backups in case the power goes out. Get the full picture in our Frontpoint cost and package guide.
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.
|Monitoring Options||24/7 professional|
|Smart Platform Integration||Alexa and Google Home|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||$18|
|Contract Length||1-36 months|
We were excited to try out abode’s suite of security products, and we weren’t disappointed by what we found after about 75 hours of hands-on testing. They offer some great features, the equipment is well-designed and simple to install, and the lack of long term contracts made them even more appealing.
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!
Abode’s equipment packages start at $150 and run up to about $330, depending on what you need. They also sell a whole array of security products to add on including cameras, motion sensors, panic buttons and door/window sensors. All of these are affordably priced, but check to see if you can get a deal. Right now, for example, their outdoor siren is discounted by $50.
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.
|Monitoring Options||Professional and DIY|
|Smart Platform Integration||Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||$20|
Cove makes great security products that will help keep you and your family safe, and they try to remove as many roadblocks as they can in securing that protection. This means no contracts to sign and no monthly fees. Great news for folks looking for home protection on a budget.
That said, they do offer professional monitoring for a low price, but that’s completely optional.
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.
Cove’s home security plans have changed in recent years – now rather than purchasing individual plans, monitoring is built into the price of the security package you purchase. A basic plan costs $17.99 per month, and a Plus plan runs $27.99 per month. If you opt for the more expensive plan, you’ll get access to all of your equipment from your smartphone, so it’s usually what we recommend.
And while we’re talking about price, we should mention that right now all of Cove’s offerings are 65 percent off sitewide, and they’ll even throw in an additional security camera with the purchase of a new system. Definitely a good time to buy if you’re interested, because we don’t know how long this deal is going to run.
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.
|Monitoring Options||24/7 professional and DIY|
|Smart Platform Integration||Alexa and Google Home|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||$50|
While Scout is certainly the newest company on this list — they were founded in 2013 — they certainly don’t have the least to offer. They provide simple, smart, hassle-free home security for affordable prices. Their equipment is well-designed with DIYers in mind, and their feature list is impressive. To further sweeten the deal, there’s no need to sign any long-term contracts with Scout.
And speaking of affordable, their security kits are almost rock bottom. Their small kit — suitable for a small house or apartment — costs $229 and the large package for larger properties costs $319. You also have the option of customizing a system from scratch to ensure you’re getting everything you need and nothing you don’t.
And when it comes to monitoring you’ll have two options with Scout:
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.