If you want the peace of mind that comes with a home security system and don’t want to pay monthly fees, you’ve got some excellent options. We’ll run through our four favorite systems, but first, let’s clarify one thing: What do monthly fees cover?
In a nutshell, monitoring. When you forego monthly fees, you’re choosing to take full responsibility of self-monitoring your home. Your security system may send you alerts or notify you of anything out of the ordinary. It might also sound its siren, but its job ends there.
In comparison, if you pay a monthly fee, you’ll get either professional monitoring or advanced self-monitoring features. An example is ADT, one of the best-known monitored security systems. In case of an emergency, an ADT system sends out alerts to one of ADT’s monitoring centers. An agent there will assess the situation, notify the homeowner, and call the proper authorities if necessary.
With that in mind, monthly fees aren’t that bad, but each home has different security needs and budgets, so opting to go with a security system without monthly fees is not a bad decision either. However, it helps to know what to look for when choosing your system. Here’s an easy checklist to help you get started.
Using that checklist, we narrowed the field to these four no-monthly-fee security systems that we think are the best out there. We’d like to note that as of May 2022, our top-pick abode is on sale, with discounts of up to 50-percent off, so you might be in for big savings.
But first, wondering how long we test systems for our reviews and other interesting facts? Check out these quick stats:
|Test Duration||10-12 days|
Now, let’s dive into our four best systems that don’t require ongoing fees.
SimpliSafe offers home security at low prices using durable, high-quality equipment they manufacture themselves. They have no contract requirements, and their wireless sensors are easy to install by yourself in minutes. Because of SimpliSafe’s affordability, ease-of-use and flexible monitoring plans, they place #1 on our list of Best Home Security Systems of 2022.
SimpliSafe equipment packages are some of the most affordable in the business, ranging from $229-$489 — each with a three-year warranty. Or, you can make your own package by starting with the base station and keypad for $184.98 and adding on sensors ($14.99 each) and other goodies like a video camera ($99) or a video doorbell ($169). SimpliSafe also has some cool environmental disaster sensors you can include for water, smoke, and freezing temperatures.
Once you have your equipment in place, you can self-monitor your system for free — no monthly fee required. However, when you do this with SimpliSafe, you get a bit less than you do with some of our other top security system picks. That’s because SimpliSafe restricts home automation and cloud video storage to those who pay a monthly fee. The biggest drawback of not paying a monthly fee is the lack of professional monitoring. While you can effectively monitor SimpliSafe yourself through the mobile app, professional monitoring gives you extra peace of mind and protection. That being said, it’s a very capable security system with or without a monthly fee.
Should you wish to upgrade your system, SimpliSafe’s 24/7 monitoring plan is worth a look. The brand offers three options:
Read more about SimpliSafe in our in-depth SimpliSafe review.
It’s not surprising to see abode at the top of this list, given the amount of features it provides out-of-the-box. abode isn’t just a home security system. It’s also a quite capable home automation system. Abode systems are generally easy to install and they are wireless and DIY. Although we did hit a snag while installing abode, we still managed to finish the installation in under 30 minutes, which is impressive given how much equipment we ordered.
abode’s equipment pricing is pretty straightforward. You have two options: the abode Classic Gateway and the iota Kit. The former has starter kits starting from $229, while the latter costs $279 and upwards. Both systems come with built-in 93 dB sirens and battery backup in case of power outages. Both can also accommodate up to 160 devices, so abode is a viable option even if you live in a mansion. And if you’re looking to build a smart home, you’d be happy to know that abode works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and hundreds of Z-Wave-compatible devices.
Now, going back to abode’s prices, it is pretty affordable. Its starter kit prices are on par with other DIY security systems we’ve tested. That’s one reason we picked abode as one of the most affordable security systems, but another reason is the amount of coverage it provides for such low prices.
Each starter kit includes a base station or “hub,” one mini door/window sensor, and one key fob — each with a sleek, modern black-and-white design. From there, just add on any additional accessories you want. Most homes will need at least a couple of additional door/window sensors, which are $39.99 each. Note: We installed abode in our home and their mini sensors are the tiniest we’ve ever seen! They’re even smaller than Ring Alarm’s 2nd Gen sensors, which is impressive. You can also add an indoor/outdoor HD camera with motion detection for $40.99, a panic button for $35, and lots more. These prices are the MSRP, but you’ll often find discounts up to 50-percent off on abode’s website.
Now comes the special part about abode’s higher-priced starter kit. In addition to getting all of the above, you get a smart hub called iota that has its own built-in HD camera with motion sensor and two-way talk. This hub, unlike the Gateway that comes with the basic starter kit, can connect via Wi-Fi rather than requiring an Ethernet connection. That means you can put it wherever you want, knowing it’ll double as a security camera. In our in-home testing, we positioned it to monitor our living room and entryway.
After our 75 hours of hands-on tests, we noted in our review of abode’s iota hub that we liked the built-in camera feature quite a bit. In the end, it felt like we would have missed something if we’d gone with the basic Gateway hub instead. For example, every time we armed or disarmed the system, our iota captured a short video clip, which showed up on our timeline in the app. We thought that was pretty cool, and well worth the price.
Whichever equipment package you choose, you’ll be getting the ability to use your security system as a home automation tool. CUE is abode’s native home automation platform, which is built right into the app. Use it to integrate your smart home devices so you can use Alexa or Google Assistant to control your security system. Or, use CUE to control your smart lights, your garage door sensor, and even your Bose speakers.
After setting-up your equipment, you can self-monitor for no monthly fee. This includes the ability to view live video (if your setup includes cameras), smart home integrations, and getting push notifications. If you’re taking a hands-on approach to home security, those features will be sufficient. However, if you want access to some of the system’s special features, you’ll need a monthly plan. Those features include: having a timeline in the app, storing captured video content, and executing automations. (Automations are rules you can create to tell the security system to do certain actions automatically, like arming the system at a pre-set time each night.)
Should you wish to upgrade to a monthly monitoring plan, you’ve got two options:
Ring, originally known for its video doorbell, now has an entire catalog of home security equipment — with no contracts or monthly fee requirements. In addition to seven versions of the well-known Ring Video Doorbell, we’ve reviewed Ring’s security cameras and the newer Ring Alarmand Ring Alarm Pro, security systems with a base station, window sensors, and all the goodies. The company offers a range of smart lighting and accessories, too.
Most of Ring’s products are sold individually. All of Ring’s cameras, including the $60 plug-in Ring Indoor camera, include everything you need in a security camera: 1080p HD quality, motion-activated notifications, real-time video, two-way talk, and lifetime theft protection. (If your Ring device is stolen, report it within 15 days to get a free replacement.) These are strong features, and for competitive prices. Ring cameras range from $59.99 for the indoor cam to $249.99 for the floodlight cam. Video doorbells start at $59.99 and go up to $169.99 for more advanced features. Additionally, the Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro security kits start at $199 and $299, respectively, so they won’t break the bank. Both systems use the same components, the biggest difference being that the more expensive Ring Alarm Pro has a base station that also functions as a Wi-Fi router. And it’s not just any router, but an eero router, one of the most advanced routers out there.
Since we’re talking about security systems without monthly fees here, let’s focus on what you’ll get from Ring out-of-the-box. None of the Ring products require a monthly fee. The cameras and doorbells can stream live footage to your phone as long as they’re connected to the internet. The Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro systems, on the other hand, can notify you remotely of intrusions and other home events. Much like abode, as long as you have the time and energy to check on every notification from Ring, you should be able to self-monitor Ring without any problems. The Ring Alarm and Ring Alarm Pro systems can be equipped with entry sensors, motion sensors, panic alarms, smoke and CO detectors, so everything is pretty much covered.
Now, what you don’t get without monthly fees is cloud storage and professional monitoring. If you have Ring cameras, you need to be watching the feed in real-time when the break-in happens to catch the suspect. And if you have a security system, you should be able to call the cops immediately. But if you pay for a Ring Protect plan, you can transfer some of the monitoring responsibilities to Ring.
Prices start at $3 per month with Ring Protect Basic. This plan enables cloud recording on one camera, so if a break-in happens, that one camera will start recording and send the video to the cloud. From there, you can review, download, and even share the video. The next tier is the $10 per month Ring Protect Plus, which enables cloud recording for an unlimited number of cameras installed at the same address. You’ll get the same benefits as with the Basic plan, but this time, you can recover recordings from all your cameras.
The most advanced plan from Ring is the Ring Protect Pro plan at $20 per month, and it’s most valuable if you have a security system, particularly the Ring Alarm Pro system. Besides all the features included in the Ring Protect Plus plan, you’ll also get professional monitoring. Ring will monitor your system for you, assessing alerts as they happen and even calling the cops if necessary. Additionally, this plan gives Ring Alarm Pro base stations 3 GB of backup cellular bandwidth per month, so devices connected to it can continue to connect to the internet even if your internet connection cuts out.
Arlo is a bit different from the other security systems on our list in that Arlo only sells video cameras (including video doorbell cameras and floodlight cameras) and a few camera accessories, like batteries and solar panel chargers. They don’t offer whole-house security systems or professional monitoring services yet, but the company has announced a security system coming soon. For now, Arlo focuses on security cameras, and they do well in that regard. Their cameras are packed with features and easy to use.
Arlo security camera prices range from $99.99 to $249.99. All include motion sensors, color night vision, two-way noise-canceling audio, and a siren built into the camera. Resolution begins at 1080p HD, which is the gold standard for the industry, and it goes up from there, with 4K resolution on Arlo’s top-tier model. If you’re looking for industry-leading picture quality, see how Arlo stood up to our hands-on tests in our Arlo camera review. There’s a reason we named Arlo among the best wireless cameras of the year, after all. Speaking of picture quality, the field of view on Arlo’s base model camera is 130 degrees, and it increases from there, reaching 180 degrees on the 4K model. All of Arlo’s cameras have a modern, streamlined appearance in your choice of black or white. They have easy DIY wireless installation, and require no monthly fees.
Arlo’s Video Doorbell starts at $149.99 and goes up to $199.99, depending on installation type. You can choose wired or wireless installation. (Need help deciding? Visit our security camera installation guide.) They’ve got 180-degree viewing angles and all the great features of Arlo’s other video cameras: motion sensors, color night vision, two-way audio, and a built-in siren. They connect automatically to your Wi-Fi and work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Learn much more in our hands-on Arlo Video Doorbell review.
Now, what features does Arlo have to help you monitor your cameras? For free, you get instant notifications if movement is detected on your cameras. And at any time, you can view a live video stream from your cameras on your PC or mobile devices. But what about recording and other features? Those will cost. They’ve got two paid Arlo Smart plans that give you some extra monitoring functions.
Now, about the upcoming security system, Arlo is still yet to announce its complete features and pricing. All we know for now is that it will be a complete home security system with sensors as peripherals, and that it will integrate well with Arlo cameras. Arlo also announced that it will launch a professional monitoring option for the system, which will likely be attached to the existing cloud recording plans. Stay tuned for more details.
What’s the best no-monthly-fee home security system?
Our four top-rated no-monthly-fee home security systems are SimpliSafe, abode, Ring, and Arlo.
Do no-monthly-fee security systems offer video recording?
They all offer real-time viewing for free, but most require a monthly fee for video recording. With a recording plan, they’ll store your videos on the cloud for a set length of time (often 30-60 days).
Do security systems without monthly fees offer professional monitoring?
Though many security systems without monthly fees do offer professional monitoring, they only include it as an add-on service that you must pay for. This would be an upgrade from the free self-monitoring option. Prices vary from one company to another.
How much do no-monthly-fee security systems cost?
Generally, the cost of a no-monthly-fee security system is the cost of the equipment you choose to install. That can vary greatly from one home to another. A single security camera may cost less than $100. Equipment for an entire DIY home security system averages between $250-$400.
Can I still get a homeowners insurance discount with a no-monthly-fee security system?
Often you can, but it depends on the insurance company. Many offer a discount no matter what type of home security system you have. The discount may be higher if you subscribe to a professional monitoring service. Check with your insurance company for guidelines.
Do no-monthly-fee home security systems still offer apps for access?
Most (though not all) do allow some measure of control via their app. However, the amount you can do in the app tends to be limited without a monthly subscription plan. For example, they may charge a small monthly fee if you want access to more advanced app features or if you want to receive mobile notifications.
Do all no-monthly-fee home security systems have DIY installation?
Most do. This is generally a simple plug-and-play style setup that takes about 20-40 minutes. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, though, nearly all companies offer professional installation for a fee.
Do no-monthly-fee home security systems have home automation features?
Yes, nowadays, many no-monthly-fee home security systems have home automation features and built-in integrations with major smart systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Automation features vary widely from one system to another, so read up on any system you’re considering so you’ll be sure to get the capabilities you’re looking for.
If you are looking for no monthly fee home security systems in 2022, you might consider learning what some of the basic features are and what they do. Then you can make an educated decision about which of those features you really need. Here are some of the most common security system features available in 2022 and what they do.
On the market for a security system with no monthly fee? If so, chances are you value streamlined simplicity. And that’s exactly what Wireless brings to the table. Wireless systems offer easy setup, with no drilling or wires to hide. And they typically use a secure cellular connection to communicate with the monitoring station. Wireless is where it’s at.
Go with DIY installation and save the blood, sweat, and tears for another day. Thankfully, most do-it-yourself home security systems don’t require a monthly fee. It’s a one-and-done upfront cost, and then you self-monitor from there. DIY systems don’t require drilling into walls, splicing circuitry, and all that nonsense. Get up and running with plug-and-play ease with DIY.
Just because you don’t pay ongoing fees doesn’t mean you can’t have nifty features. Real-time Mobile Alerts are sent to your smartphone when a security breach is detected. You then open the app to see what triggered the event, and take any necessary action (either get the nunchucks or call the police). Mobile alerts let you monitor your home on-the-go.
Control Panel technology is always evolving. These wall-mounted devices now come with modern touchscreens, allowing you to control your home security and automation with the simple swipe of a finger. And of course, your system’s mobile app lets you access these same features when you’re out and about. Even systems with no monthly fees offer impressive control panels.
Mount these devices strategically around your home, and enjoy a more robust home security experience. Powered by infrared sensing, motion detectors sound the alarm and send alerts when movement is detected in your home. To reduce false alarms, some detectors can distinguish between people and pets. And others even boast a facial recognition feature. Welcome to the future.
Secure your windows, doors, garage, and other entry points with Entry Sensors. All home security systems come with an assortment of these magnetic sensors. When the system is activated and the magnets separate, the alarm will sound signaling a potential security breach. The best no-monthly fee home security systems come stacked with entry sensors, but you can always purchase more if needed.
Everyone wants to feel safe in their home, but nobody wants another monthly cost. That’s why self-monitoring home security systems are exploding in popularity among homeowners and renters alike. These no-monthly-fee plans offer plenty of home protection, but at a surprisingly affordable price. Just watch out for the extra add-ons and upgrades that can ring up quite the tab.
Expand, customize, modify, repeat. Expandable home security and home automation allows you to build a system to suit your tastes. The money you save by not shelling out for monthly fees can instead be used to purchase new equipment. Security cameras, smart lighting, electronic door locks, you name it. Just be sure your system supports third-party equipment, as some require their own proprietary products.
Steer clear of long-term contracts and monthly monitoring fees. Instead, go with a no-contract security system. You pay an upfront equipment cost, but you’ll have outright ownership of your system. By owning your own equipment, you can do whatever you please with it, and even take it with you when you move. Break free of the perpetual cycle of contract signing with system ownership.
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.