When it comes to a home security system, there are two ways you can go — you can monitor it yourself, or have it professionally monitored.
While there are pros and cons to both approaches, one of the main considerations is ongoing cost. Professionally monitored systems tend to cost less on the front end, but will usually require signing a long-term contract and paying a monthly fee for the monitoring service.
We totally understand why some homeowners wouldn’t want to make that type of commitment, which is why we’ve compiled this list of our favorite self-monitored systems below.
|Test Duration||10-12 Days|
Now, let’s take a look at the best brands to choose if you want self-monitored home security.
Arguably one of the most well-known names in self-monitored home security, SimpliSafe is a great option for folks looking for flexibility when it comes to their family’s protection. The systems are all easy to install and even easier to use. And, since there’s no long-term contract required, you can keep an eye on things at home while keeping an eye on your budget as well.
Like we said above, Simplisafe is a great solution for folks looking to take their home security into their own hands. While they do offer some of the best professional monitoring out there, they understand that some users aren’t going to need every bell and whistle to keep their family safe.
Their systems are flexible, too. When you customize a package, you’ll choose exactly which cameras, sensors, and other equipment you need. Set up a base station, install your keypad, mount your hardware, and tether everything together using their intuitive app.
Or, if you would rather go the pre-packaged route, there are seven different packages you can pick from (all currently on sale). Here’s the breakdown:
|The Haven (14 pieces)||$509.86|
|The Knox (13 pieces)||$469.87|
|The Beacon (10 pieces)||$699.90|
|The Hearth (9 pieces)||$394.91|
|The Lighthouse (7 pieces)||$464.93|
|The Essentials (6 pieces)||$274.95|
|The Foundation (4 pieces)||$244.96|
Keep in mind that these systems go on sale pretty frequently, and you can usually score a package for anywhere between 30 to 50 percent off. For more information, check out our guide to SimpliSafe’s deals.
Now, when it comes to SimpliSafe equipment, there are two new pieces that stand out. Their new and improved indoor camera and their new two-in one Smoke and CO detector. Both can help make sure your family is even more secure than before. Just so you know, though, to really get the most out of their new camera, you’ll need to spring for professional monitoring. If you’re dead set against the monthly fee, though, go with the original $99.99 SimpliCam we reviewed.
Pro Tip: While SimpliSafe’s cameras are great, there are plenty of security cameras on the market you want to avoid. Check out this list of three security cameras you don’t want watching over your home.
If you decide to self-monitor, which is going to eliminate monthly monitoring fees, you can still protect your household, but you’ll need to keep an eye out and respond to serious alerts when they come. SimpliSafe’s plentiful sensor arsenal — CO, smoke, water, window, and more — will make sure you get the job done right.
Finally, know that SimpliSafe offers a 60-day money back guarantee and does not require a contract.
|Smart Platform Integration||Alexa, Google Home, and August Smart Locks|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||None|
If you’re in the market for a reliable self-monitored security system at an affordable price, abode may be what you’ve been looking for. Abode security systems don’t come with a lot of extra bells and whistles. What they do include, though, is high-quality equipment that’s durable enough to survive high heat and heavy rain.
The fact that abode is no frills doesn’t mean you’re compromising on features or utility. Abode’s latest cameras, like the abode Cam 2, come with full-color night vision, two-way audio, and package detection — the same technology their pricier competitors offer.
There are many things to like about this system. It’s wireless, which makes it easy to install and easy to adjust. Abode offers the flexibility of building your own package, so you can invest in the products you need without having to pay for equipment you don’t. The basic system comes with a Gateway hub, a mini door sensor, a remote key fob, and an abode sticker. It’s easy, though, to add motion sensors, cameras, keypads, panic buttons, and sirens. Abode even offers its own line of smart products, like smart light bulbs, and it works well with other smart products from companies like Bose, Amazon, and Yale. And, you can save even more money by bundling products. Right now, all of abode’s bundles are 50 percent off.
FYI: Right now, all of abode’s bundles are 50 percent off, but it looks like that sale might be ending soon. We like to keep an eye on these things, so check back here before you buy.
Finally, you can count on abode to provide you with top-notch customer service, something you don’t always find with affordable self-monitored systems. If you’re old school, there’s a 24/7 phone line, or you can take advantage of an online chat feature. Best of all, it doesn’t matter what package you purchased, you get the same level of care and attention.
|Monitoring Options||Professional and DIY|
|Smart Platform Integration||Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit|
|Monthly Monitoring Cost||$20|
From a homeowner’s perspective, there is much to love about Canary. It is often touted as the option security professionals enjoy because of its low cost and overall versatile product offerings. We also love the simplicity of the buying process. While there are several products offered, the website does not overwhelm. Canary focuses on providing quality rather than quantity.
There are several key benefits here, especially in the overall design and installation of the system. For example, Canary’s fully functional video cameras provide more vivid details than you may find from other products. Here are a few other things to consider about the Canary home security system.
Canary is a minimal, hub-free home security solution with only two indoor cameras to choose from — the Canary View and the Canary Pro — and the outdoor Flex. Keeping things simple lets Canary focus on functionality, which is remarkably good for its price tag. In terms of monitoring, you have two options with Canary. You can go contract-free and monitor your home yourself, or you can try Canary’s monitored plan, which is pretty cheap at under 10 bucks per month.
If you decide to self-monitor, all you pay are the upfront equipment costs. There are no installation fees because Canary is completely DIY, and as we learned firsthand, very easy for anyone to set up.
The Canary home security system offers some nice benefits. It is motion activated. Once there is motion detected with the system, it automatically turns on and begins recording. It also allows for the user to tap into the device using the mobile app. When you do, you can view the previous or current recording. You can also watch what is happening through the camera from the mobile app. This provides live connectivity 24 hours a day. However, the system will only record and maintain that recording for one day. This means users will need to review the video as soon as possible or risk losing access to it.
Looking for a really unique product? Check out the Canary Twist Mount. It can be moved around and twisted or hung from a fixture, branch, railing, and more.
The equipment itself is very reliable and well designed. It is durable. It comes with a one year device warranty, which is good for the industry. Perhaps one of the best features here is the camera quality. Unlike other systems that have moderate quality in their cameras, the Canary cameras are 1080p HD cameras. This provides a very clear image and one you can easily enjoy using.
|Field of View||Up to 147°|
|Resolution||Up to 1080p|
|Smart Platform Compatibility||Alexa and Google Home|
Below we consider pros and cons of unmonitored home security systems (see here if you're looking for companies with the fastest monitoring response times). Keep in mind that some security equipment can be used with and without professional monitoring, giving you month-to-month flexibility.
We’re going to unpack this below, but here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons of going with a self-monitored home security system:
|Less Expensive||No Professional Oversight|
|More Customizable||Less Peace of Mind|
|More Opportunity for Home Automation||Fewer Homeowners Insurance Discounts|
|Fewer False Alarms||Usually Have to Install Yourself|
|More Control||Doesn’t Offer as Much Peace of Mind|
Sometimes paying for professionally monitored home security isn’t practical. Maybe you live in a secure apartment building, for instance, but would like a personal security camera for remotely checking in on your children, pets and service providers. Or maybe your budget is very tight and you can’t always afford monthly monitoring. If you’re confident that you or others would respond to an alarm, then an unmonitored security system could be effective. A high-decibel alarm can sound for a few minutes if sensors are triggered, and lights can be set off too. With smartphone-compatible security, you can also receive text alerts about possible intrusions.
Most systems are do it yourself installations. This means there is no cost to pay for installing the system. Additionally, as unmonitored systems, these home security options are very low cost overall. Once you purchase and install the system, you will only pay more if you decide to add features to it. As a result, self-monitored home security solutions are the most affordable option because they do not have ongoing monthly fees.
Most home security systems have home automation features. They generally rely on the ability to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi or other internet access. As a result, they tend to be highly modern and upgradable. You may find new features added to some of these systems over time. Most are also IFTTT compatible. They are designed to provide secure access to your home through connectivity.
Fewer False Alarms
A nice benefit here is that there are fewer instances in which you have to worry about the system sending a false alarm to the local emergency teams. The difference here is that the system does not automatically contact the police or fire crew if it senses a problem. Rather, it contacts you. You can then log into the system using your smartphone. And, then, you call emergency response when you need to. There are fewer false alarms and less concern about these risks.
There are various brands and each brand offers a number of different upgrade options. One of the nice benefits here is the added control homeowners receive. You can customize them to include more monitoring, or less. You also gain the ability to control when the system is monitoring, and when it is not. You can turn it on or off remotely. You can also gain more access to updates as they happen over time.
If an alarm sounds but nobody responds, is that alarm truly useful? The biggest drawback of unmonitored security equipment is that it won’t notify dispatchers. A second drawback is that unmonitored systems often rely on broadband Internet to send text alerts to the owners. Internet connections aren’t as reliable as the cell radio connections used with monitored systems. Also, some equipment only runs off of mains power; look for security equipment with powerful backup batteries. People are becoming increasingly dependent on their smartphones, so it's nice to have a good mobile app which the companies with the best monitoring provide. Not paying for monitoring can be expensive if it allows for theft or bodily harm. Considering the peace of mind that monitoring provides, it seems like a good investment.
The biggest problem with unmonitored system is just that – they do not have any ongoing monitoring in place. Homeowners do not have the luxury of a passive system. This means any time there is an emergency, the homeowner still has to push the button to get help. You must contact the police manually, which can mean it takes longer to get help to your home.
Level of Security
The level of security in a self-monitored system is less. While some companies promise excellence here, it is arguably not as secure as a professionally monitored system. If you cannot address the problem occurring, there is no way for the system to take action. For example, while you are sleeping or away form the home, you have less ability to get help without having to call for help directly.
No Home Insurance Discounts
While most home security systems offer some level of discount on homeowners insurance, self-monitored systems are far less likely to offer the discount you desire. Insurance companies typically only provide such discounts to those systems professionally installed and with monitoring.
Peace of Mind
While adding any security system is better than not having one at all, the best level of peace of mind comes form a monitored system. You have to remain more aware of your home security at all times. As a result, when you are traveling or even when you have the babysitter at the house, you still have to remain vigilant. This often means, in the long term, you gain less peace of mind about the security of your home.
Unmonitored home security systems are much like their monitored competitors,
but minus emergency connections to dispatchers. Here are some common features.
The vast majority of unmonitored home security systems are wireless. However, hardwired systems without monitoring do exist. And there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Generally speaking, wireless is the way to go. These easy-to-setup systems do not require drilling into walls, wiring, or any background in electrical work. Wireless is your no-hassle solution to self-monitored home protection.
You could buy an unmonitored security system that requires professional installation. But then you’d have to bring a stranger into your home and pay the installation fee. Not fun. Instead, purchase a self-monitored home security system that offers easy DIY install. Your new alarm system will be ready to rock in no time flat. Then, take it with you wherever you move.
Mobile Alerts is a powerful feature that comes with the best home security systems without monitoring. With mobile alerts, you can take your home security on the road. If and when suspicious activity occurs, your system will send real-time alerts straight to your smartphone or tablet. This allows you to jump into action, call the police, and mitigate any damage or loss.
Remote control makes everything easier, especially home security. Take total control of your unmonitored home security system with a remote control device, stacked with features like a panic button, arm/disarm capabilities, and more. The best part — today’s remote control devices are small enough to fit in your pocket or purse. Keep your home and family safe remotely with remote control.
Whether you choose a monitored or self-monitored home security system, your kit will come with an assortment of Entryway Sensors. Simply place these magnetic sensors on door frames and windows, and rest easy knowing the perimeter is secured. The moment the magnets separate, the alarm sounds, alerts are sent, and the burglar runs for the hills. Entryway sensors are simple yet powerful devices.
Outfit your home with an added layer of protection. Motion Detectors typically come with unmonitored security systems, offering infrared motion detection to keep your home safe and sound. When motion is detected, the alarm sounds and alerts are sent. The best motion detectors can even distinguish between people and pets. And some even offer facial recognition technology.
Every home security system without monitoring comes with essential equipment like a base station, control panel, entryway sensors, and a motion detector. But most systems are expandable, so you can upgrade your home security to your heart’s content. Get special features like glass break sensors, environmental sensors, keyring remote control devices, and the list goes on.
Get Specialized Alert Zones and put specific areas of your home under close watch. This feature uses special sensors, motion detectors, and cameras to monitor a predetermined alert zone. When the system senses activity, you’ll be the first to know with text alerts. It’s ideal for rooms and areas of the home with valuables and high-ticket items such as art, jewelry, or firearms.
Professionally monitored security systems come with contracts and rental equipment. For obvious reasons, this is less-than-desirable. Not to worry! Unmonitored home security systems, or self-monitored systems, offer 100% equipment ownership from day one. This means you can do whatever you want with your security equipment (c’mon, within reason), and take it with you wherever you move.