Self-monitored home security systems are fast becoming the most popular type of system on the market. They put you, the homeowner, in charge of your home security; they don’t require any contracts or commitments; and — maybe most importantly — they’re far cheaper in the long run than traditional professionally monitored systems.
If you want to take care of all your own security needs, you need to have the right security system. You’ll need real-time alerts, for instance, and the ability to view live video footage. You want a system that you can install yourself. And you want a system that will be reliable and hassle-free.
Those are some specific asks! And, if you were doing the research yourself, it could take several hours and a lot of spreadsheets. Lucky for you, we tested the best security systems without monitoring, so you don’t have to. And today we’re sharing our findings.
SimpliSafe is a popular option for those looking to self-monitor, especially if you’re planning to avoid monthly fees. The system works right out of the box with minimal setup but still offers advanced features. You can access your system via a smartphone app, set up and monitor security cameras, and scare off intruders with a siren built into the hub.
>>Find out More: SimpliSafe Review
SimpliSafe’s packages are priced far less than those of bigger, fancier companies like ADT and Vivint. ADT’s cheapest kit starts at $600. You can get SimpliSafe’s very best package, the Beacon, for $709.90. And that’s if you’re paying full price.
SimpliSafe practically always has a sale of some sort going on. Catch one at the right time and you can get its cheapest system for less than $100. Plus, you can finance the cost over 24 months. You can self-monitor for free or add video recording for just $10 per month. If you decide self-monitoring isn’t for you, you’ll find SimpliSafe’s professional plans are a little more expensive than abode or Canary plans. But $30 per month is still well below ADT and Vivint prices.
>> Compare: SimpliSafe vs. ADT
Despite the fact that SimpliSafe offers affordable equipment packages, the equipment in those packages is well built. The outdoor camera, for example, is rated IP65, which means it’s dust-tight and can withstand water droplets. As we note in our SimpliSafe Outdoor Camera review, It’s also capable of withstanding temperatures up to 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. That might not protect you in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but most homeowners never have to deal with temperatures lower than that.
And SimpliSafe is always improving its equipment. It’s on its third generation of devices, and it just introduced a brand-new Smart Alarm Indoor Camera with built-in AI that can distinguish between people and pets — pretty handy for eliminating false alarms.
FYI: In addition to cameras, SimpliSafe offers a whole range of security equipment, including entryway sensors, motion detectors, glass break detectors, and flood and fire sensors. All those devices are routed through the SimpliSafe hub, which is modern, white, and emits a soft glow from underneath.
|The Beacon (10 pieces)
|$709.90 or $29.58 for 24 months
|The Haven (14 pieces)
|$519.86 or $21.66 for 24 months
|The Knox (13 pieces)
|$479.87 or $19.99 for 24 months
|The Lighthouse (7 pieces)
|$469.93 or $19.58 for 24 months
|The Hearth (9 pieces)
|$399.91 or $16.66 for 24 months
|The Essentials (5 pieces)
|The Foundation (4 pieces)
>> See Also: Should You Lease or Buy Your Equipment?
No need to sign up for a monthly professional monitoring plan with SimpliSafe. The company lets you self-monitor and gives you some great features with which to do it. The app provides real-time alerts any time a sensor or motion detector is triggered. Once you get an alert, you can immediately pull up video footage to see just what’s happening. Unfortunately, you can’t connect to Alexa and Google Home unless you go with professional monitoring. That means you can’t use your voice to turn the system on and off. Is it really so inconvenient to press a button on your phone?
SimpliSafe offers the best of two worlds: self-monitoring and professional monitoring. You get to decide which works best for you. How refreshing is that? We started out self-monitoring, and this option worked great. When testing the system, someone a little suspicious knocked at our door. We got an alert at work and were able to pull up our SimpliSafe video doorbell footage. Using the two-way audio feature, we ask them what they needed. They seemed a little startled to discover we were home (we weren’t) and left in a hurry.
We needed to go away for a couple of weeks to make our annual pilgrimage to the CES show — have to keep up with all the new security tech! We get sucked in by all the hands-on demonstrations, and we don’t want to be bothered with security alerts. So, we decided to switch to the professional monitoring plan. Our home’s security was entirely in SimpliSafe’s hands, 24/7, and we knew that if anything went wrong, it would contact emergency services on our behalf.
Of course, you’re looking for a home security system without professional monitoring. Here’s the thing: Bumping up our SimpliSafe coverage didn’t lock us into any long-term contract (one reason SimpliSafe is also on our list of best no-contract home security systems). We bought one month. That’s it. When we got back home, we canceled the monitoring and took over those duties once again. It’s nice to have the options with SimpliSafe.
>> Save More: SimpliSafe Deals
|Self or professional
|DIY or professional
|Smart Platform Integration
|Alexa and Google Home
|Monthly Monitoring Cost
If you need a self-monitored security system that’s easy to use, affordable, and comes with some high-tech features and perks, you really need to check out abode. As we note in our full abode review, it provides comprehensive security systems and high-quality products, and, while it’s not exactly perfect, it offers more bang for your buck than you’ll find with most other providers.
abode offers very affordable home security options. How affordable? You can get a complete system for just $139.99. That’s not a sale price; it’s the everyday retail price. abode’s most expensive kit, the Iota All-in-One, is just $379.99. You can add an abode Cam 2, which works both indoors and outdoors, for just $60 more. (See our abode Cam 2 review for more.) That’s $40 cheaper than SimpliSafe’s SimpliCam.
In terms of monitoring, you can always self-monitor for free. At the other end of the spectrum, you can sign up for full professional monitoring for just $12 per month. Or you can find a spot in the middle with the Standard Plan. That plan provides video recording and costs just $5.83 per month.
>> See for Yourself: abode vs. SimpliSafe
abode offers a wide range of devices, from motion sensors to glass break sensors. It’s always pushing the envelope, as with its brand-new abode lock featuring a Bluetooth keypad and fingerprint access. It’s among the best smart locks out there.
abode’s standout equipment is the iota Hub. With a built-in camera and motion sensor, this hub is definitely unique among other home security systems we’ve tested. So kudos to abode for its innovative approach to home security.
Unfortunately, abode’s camera selection is limited: there’s just one model for both indoor and outdoor use and one video doorbell. All abode equipment works through Z-Wave technology, so it integrates seamlessly with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and thousands of smart home products.
Like SimpliSafe, abode offers a range of monitoring options. You can, of course, self-monitor for free. Why else would we have included the company on this list? The free Basic plan includes push notifications, live video streaming, and the ability to turn the system on and off using the app.
The real icing on the cake is that you get smart platform integration with abode. A lot of companies don’t even offer that, and those that do typically charge a premium fee. For example, if you want smart features from Vivint, it’ll cost you at least $45 per month. Even SimpliSafe requires you to sign up for a $20-per-month monitoring plan if you want to run your system through Alexa or Google Home.
abode integrates with a ridiculous number of smart devices. It’s not just that you can hook your system up to Google Home or Alexa and use your voice to operate it. You can also connect it to Apple HomeKit, which even Vivint doesn’t allow.
FYI: Abode is Z-Wave compatible. Z-Wave technology gives you access to thousands of smart home devices, from thermostats to toaster ovens, and the company even manufactures its own devices. You can get smart light bulbs, smart plugs, and even a smart lock for your front door. You can build an entire smart world and never have to pay abode a cent in monitoring fees.
Our favorite aspect of abode is that it works with IFTTT. In fact, it makes our list of the best security systems for IFTTT. If you don’t know the If This Then That platform, it lets you create sophisticated routines connecting all your smart devices. All we had to do at bedtime was say, “Alexa, good night,” and it turned off our lights, armed our abode system, and played a little Miles Davis to send us off to dreamland. “Kind of Blue” in our ears and no worries about our security? That’s a good night’s sleep.
abode doesn’t have the same level of equipment as some of the bigger security systems. There’s only one camera, the Cam 2, which has to do double duty as an indoor and outdoor camera. In our tests, we found it’s not great at either role. And we had to install our own system on our own, so we didn’t get the kind of white glove treatment we got from ADT or Vivint. If you’re looking to save money, though, abode offers genuine security at an affordable price.
|Professional and DIY
|Smart Platform Integration
|Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit
|Monthly Monitoring Cost
Canary makes home security simple. You don’t have to worry about what kind of entryway sensors to get or whether you need one or two glass break sensors for your upstairs bedroom. Canary makes cameras only — really good cameras. And those cameras have all the sensors you need to monitor your home yourself.
>> Check It Out: Canary Home Security Review
Right away, you save money with Canary because you don’t have to buy a lot of extra equipment. The company’s three camera models are all reasonably priced — between $100 and $200. The price you pay, then, basically depends on how many cameras you need to protect your home. If you self-monitor, you never have to pay another dime. Of course, as with SimpliSafe and abode, Canary lets you add professional monitoring when you need it, and that monitoring costs just $10 per month.
Canary doesn’t sell any home security equipment other than cameras — no entry sensors, no motion detectors, no glass break sensors, no smoke alarms. Honestly, we don’t love this. Our favorite security systems offer a range of equipment to cover your home. But thankfully, you have three camera models to choose from, and all are multifunctional.
All three cameras, for example, include built-in motion detection and two-way talk. The Canary Pro even comes with a built-in siren you can use to startle intruders. All three feature 1080p HD resolution and AI capabilities like person detection, although person detection is operational only if you sign up for a professional monitoring plan.
>> Check Out: How Common Is Burglary in the U.S.?
You won’t find a better deal on professional monitoring than what Canary offers. Just $12.99 gets you a full month of service, and if you’re willing to commit to two years, that price drops to just $9.99 per month. We know. You’re looking for self-monitoring. And you can definitely get that with Canary, including real-time alerts and crystal clear live video feeds from all your cameras. But we’re obligated to point out that you won’t get a better monitoring price than $9.99 per month.
We’re admittedly a little picky about how our Brooklyn apartment looks — you know, all that jazz about a home being a castle. So, we were pretty psyched when we ordered our Canary system. There are no bulky sensors to scatter about the house, and we were able to make do with just two cameras: one indoor Canary View for the living room and one indoor/outdoor Canary Flex for the front door. Even better, we were excited to find that Canary equipment is sleek and modern. It fit right in with our contemporary aesthetic.
>> Read More: Canary Flex Review
Of course, not everyone will appreciate Canary’s approach. We might have preferred a video doorbell to a camera at our front door. Canary doesn’t offer a doorbell. And, if you have a large property with several entryways, it might not be cost-effective to put a camera at every one of them. Our cozy apartment has just one door, and we don’t want to just know when someone opens it; we want to be able to look right into the eyes of whoever is knocking at it.
Pro Tip: Sign up with Canary’s professional monitoring and you’ll get a neat feature called person detection. This allows the camera to distinguish between people, pets, and moving objects like cars. That way, you don’t have to worry about false alerts flooding your smartphone.
|Professional or DIY
|Smart platform integrations
|Alexa and Google Home
|Monthly monitoring cost
We try to make your life as easy as possible by doing all the home security research and hands-on testing for you. Below is a quick rundown of what we look for in a no-monitoring system.
The three main things to consider when choosing a home security system are:
OK, so you came here looking for a great self-monitoring system. It never hurts to consider all the options, right? Let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of unmonitored systems just to make sure you’ve thought it all through.
|No professional oversight
|Less peace of mind
|Usually have to install yourself
There are certainly instances when paying for professional monitoring just isn’t practical. We live in a pretty secure apartment building. We want to be able to talk to anyone who knocks on our door, and we like being able to check on our cat while we’re at work, but we don’t need a full team of professionals monitoring our home 24/7.
Another great reason to go the self-monitoring route is to save money. Professional monitoring requires a monthly fee. And, if you don’t mind keeping tabs on alerts and alarms yourself, you can avoid the extra money and the hassle of long-term contracts.
If an alarm sounds but nobody responds, is that alarm truly useful? The biggest drawback of unmonitored security systems is that they won’t notify dispatchers when there’s a problem. A second drawback is that unmonitored systems often rely on broadband internet to send text alerts. Most professionally monitored systems offer some form of cellular connection, which is far more reliable. Ultimately, professionally monitored systems offer the peace of mind you just can’t get from doing it yourself.
As we’ve pointed out, there are some real advantages to self-monitoring your home security. It’s important to know what you’re in for. Here are a few handy tips that can help make it a little easier.
There are plenty of great reasons to self-monitor your home security system, and we’re not here to talk you out of doing so. But professionally monitored systems come with some built-in protections you just don’t get from unmonitored systems. There’s no getting around it. That means you have to be particularly careful when you select a self-monitored system.
That said, all the systems on this list can save you money by leaving the monitoring to you. More importantly, they also come with the features you need to do the job well. And after extensive hands-on testing, we found SimpliSafe does the job best.
You’ll find even more information about the best unmonitored security systems in this FAQ section.
Do home security systems need professional monitoring?
No, home security systems don’t need professional monitoring. There are a number of systems on the market, including SimpliSafe, abode, and Canary, that allow you to monitor your home security yourself. These provide real-time alerts so that you know there’s a problem as well as access to live footage so that you can find out what the problem is.
What are the advantages of a self-monitored home security system?
The biggest advantage of a self-monitored home security system is that you never have to pay for monthly monitoring. Once you pay for the equipment, you never have to pay another dime. These systems also give you total control over your security, and they prevent many false alarms.
How do self-monitored systems store video footage?
There are two ways self-monitored systems store video footage: via local storage or through some form of cloud storage. Most companies charge for cloud storage. Alternatively, you can forego storage and rely entirely on live footage to see what’s happening at your home. If you purchase cameras with local storage — DVR, NVR, or micro SD cards — you can review footage any time at no additional cost.
Are there self-monitored security systems that offer professional monitoring?
Yes. SimpliSafe, abode, and Canary all offer professional monitoring as an option. In addition, all three let you sign up for a single month of professional monitoring, so you can add a month when you need it and cancel it when you don’t.
Do any self-monitored security systems work with Alexa and Google Home?
Yes. A lot of self-monitored security systems work with Alexa, Google Home, and even Apple HomeKit. However, many of them require you to purchase a monthly plan in order to access smart functions.