Not everyone wants or needs a home security system that is monitored by a computer or stranger states away. The biggest surge in home security systems is coming from the self-monitored areas. People are fed up with being tied down to long term contracts with companies that are falling farther and farther behind in technology.
What are the best home security systems that let you dump the monthly monitoring? While there are several options available for homeowners that wish to forego monthly monitoring, the best home security systems in this category are:
- Ring Alarm
- Nest Secure
Each of these companies offers a variety of system options that require no monthly monitoring, no long-term contacts, or any hidden fees. Best of all, they each offer primarily wireless home security systems that can be installed easily.
Best Home Security Systems Without Fees (click on the name for more detailed information)
SimpliSafe offers a wide variety of options for homeowners to add home security without extended contracts or damaging their home with complicated installations. SimpliSafe offers options for professional and self-monitoring, although self-monitoring may limit some security devices.
Abode has partnered with several leading manufacturers in home security to provide homeowners more options for a DIY home security system that can be self-installed and monitored. They do have professional monitoring services available for those that may decide to add this feature at a later date.
A less well-known name in home security, Arlo uses Netgear technology in all of their devices. Arlo is focused on cameras for home security, eliminating more common non-video monitoring such as door sensors. They also offer cloud storage plans for homeowners that want or need outside storage for their footage.
The well-known Ring Video Doorbell launched this company to household name status. Ring offers no-cost options for homeowners to monitor their own homes with no complicated contracts. Although, they do have professional monitoring services available for homeowners that choose the option later.
Nest Secure, owned and sold by Google, offers several options for adding home security and home automation. All devices connect with Google Home for voice control options and require no monthly monitoring plans.
A SimpliSafe home security system is built for the budget-conscious consumer, including renters. All of their packages are designed to work seamlessly and can be installed quickly and easily. They do offer limited self-monitoring options for individuals who may want to get into home security but are not ready to commit to professional monitoring.
The basic system includes a base unit, several sensors, keypad, and a keychain remote. They have several add-on options for larger homes or individuals that want additional protections. You can also feel secure in power outages since all of their equipment has battery backup.
SimpliSafe provides some of the best home security equipment in the industry. All of their equipment is wireless and can be installed by almost anyone. They have no contract requirements allowing their systems to be self-monitored. However, depending on the system, some features may not be available for self-monitoring.
- Lowest monitoring fees if chosen
- Self-monitoring with limitations
- DIY installation
- Trial period
- Cellular driven connections
- 3-year warranty
- No long-term contracts
- No cross-compatibility
- Limited self-monitoring capabilities
Abode is probably the premier security system in self-monitoring. All their systems are wireless and can be easily self-install. After the initial purchase, there are no on-going contract or monitoring requirements. For those that want to add monitoring, they do have professional monitoring services available.
- Easy DIY installation
- All wireless equipment
- No long-term contracts
- Professional monitoring available
- Home automation options
- Lower equipment quality
- Low camera resolution
Abode is a company that offers sales and promotions on their equipment bundles regularly. All systems can be customized for your unique security needs. Their systems utilize cellular monitoring for backup in the case of a power outage.
All Abode systems include their system gateway, a motion sensor, door sensor, and a remote key fob, with add-on options for a customized system.
A great option for DIY installation and wireless home security, Arlo home security is a camera-based system that includes indoor and outdoor options as well as night vision and security lighting. Arlo offers a wide range of video surveillance camera that can easily be monitored from your smartphone or PC, even remotely.
Unfortunately, if you want any other security devices beyond cameras you are going to have to go another way or buy sensor-based equipment from another retailer to pair with Arlo. If video is all you want, then Arlo may be just right.
- DIY Installation
- Wi-Fi and 3G Cellular
- No monitoring
- Night vision
- Limited free storage (currently 7 days)
- Nanny/Baby cams available
- Cameras Don’t Record Sound
- No other equipment available
- No monitoring services available
Arlo does offer subscription plans, but they are strictly for cloud-based recording services. The Basic plan is free and includes the 7 days of storage for up to 5 cameras. There are other plans up to $149/year with no contracts.
4. Ring Alarm
You probably recognize this name. Ring, synonymous with the Video Doorbell is now part of Amazon, which adds several layers to this already dynamic DIY home security option. You may hear that Ring has limited options. However, that is just not the case. Ring now offers a full line of home security kits, as well as several add-on options to meet the security needs of almost any home.
- Well recognized
- A leader in video and two-way communication devices
- Live Video on Demand at NO CHARGE
- Remote Access and interaction
- Easy to install
- Uses Wi-Fi
- Optional Cellular
- Battery or Hardwired for some devices
- Compatible with many other devices
- No contract
- NEW Ring Neighbor app
- No contract
- Theft replacement
- You have to pay to record your videos
Ring now offers several security packages, starting at just $199, which includes the Ring Base Station, a keypad, 1 contact sensor, 1 motion sensor, and a range extender. Ring works seamlessly with all Alexa-enabled devices you may already have, giving you immediate voice control over your Ring Alarm system. You can also connect most Z-Wave devices to your Ring system for nearly unlimited security options.
While many may be discouraged at the lack of video recording, they offer a small recording plan for only $3 per month, that’s just $36 for a full year. This allows you to keep 60 days of video stored in the cloud. You can also add monitoring at any time without being locked into a long contract. And Ring will replace any part of their system if it gets stolen under, they will replace it.
5. Nest Secure
Nest is now owned by Google. Their wireless security system can be easily installed. All devices except the Nest Guard (smart hub) can be placed just about anywhere within your Wi-Fi range for a seamless security system. Nest also offers several add-on components that can easily fit your home, including Nest Detect sensors, Nest Tags, and everything can be monitored and controlled with the included Nest app.
- Easy Installation (pro services available if needed)
- Professional monitoring available
- Home automation options
- Not Compatible with IFTTT (or other similar devices)
What sets Nest apart is that they only have one basic security package that includes the Nest Guard hub, 2 Nest Detect sensors, two open/close magnets, two Nest Tags, and various mounting brackets. All you need is an outlet for the Nest Guard and Wi-Fi signal, and you are all set.
Nest offers several addition component options, everything from cameras, including a video doorbell, to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You can even include home automation options, like one of the Nest Smart Thermostats. For those that want to add it later, they do have monitoring options.
Benefits of Self Monitoring Home Security Systems
The benefits of having a self-monitored home security system can go beyond saving the cost of monitoring. These home security systems offer some of the latest smart technology and features that may surprise you. Look at some of the features you will find in these systems.
The future home security is wireless and with many of these self-monitored systems, the future is now. Many of these home security systems use both Wi-Fi and cellular wireless technology to allow you access, send you alerts, and even offer live interaction such as two-way communication and live streaming.
Self-Installation (aka DIY installation)
There’s a common saying in the DIY installation world if you can pair a Bluetooth speaker, then you can set up a home security system. That’s really the truth, most of these systems are basically plug and play; offering some of that most modern technology at your fingertips.
You don’t have to pay high monitoring fees anymore to know what’s going on in your house. Most non-monitored security systems, or at least the ones on our list, offer real-time alerts sent straight to your phone; giving you the option to act when necessary. Best of all you could do it from anywhere.
Control panel, hubs, base unit, keypads, whatever you want to call them, they are all central to every home security system, from the most basic to the high-end systems. Every security system has one of these. Self-monitored systems usually have control units with a built-in smart hub to coordinate, monitor, and communicate between devices and send you alerts.
Everyone probably already understands what a motion detector is, but may not realize the technology can be simple, like opening the door at your local grocery. More advanced motion sensors are even able to tell the difference between you and your pets. Some are even claiming facial recognition.
Another foundational feature of many home security system is the range of entry and access point sensors, these are often the most inexpensive devices to expand your security system and can be placed all over your home. They are designed with two magnets, that when separated send up the alarm.
We said that cost isn’t the only benefit of a self-monitored system, but we were referring to the monthly savings. The savings do not always stop there. Many of the self-monitored systems, including some of the ones above, cost dramatically less than many of the professionally installed and monitored systems.
There are several reasons, first professionally monitored systems usually include fees for installation, even activation that bumps up the price. Another more mundane reason, is they have more overhead. Self-monitored systems usually come from companies that are not employing thousands of people to stare at monitors all day. In the cases where monitoring is an option, they are often through auxiliary partnerships.
Most of these systems can be built from nearly the ground up to fit your unique needs. Can’t quite afford to get everything you want right now? No problem. Pick up another device at a later time. Expanding and modifying your home security system has never been easier. Many of these systems can even work with devices from other manufacturers as long as you make sure they are compatible.
You Own IT!
We all like the idea of ownership, which is probably the best part of a self-monitored system. There is no long-term contract to mess with, no sticking leasing agreements. It is yours to do with as you please, for the most part.
This also means you can take it anywhere you want. Moving to a new house, take it with you. Decide you want to upgrade, give it to your son or daughter. Unlike professional companies that charge not only for installation but uninstallation and moving in many cases, a wireless, self-monitored system can go anywhere you take it.
Honorable Mention – No Monitoring Options
Not every self-monitored system made our best-of list, but that does not mean there are not a few more really great systems available. We decided to give you a brief look at the systems, that just barely missed the cut.
Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
SmartThings is one of the leading smart hubs in the industry, so this home monitoring kit built around its flexible smart hub is genius. This kit includes:
- SmartThings Hub that can connect to a huge range of devices
- 2 SmartThings Multipurpose sensors, that can monitor window, doors, and even allow you to control your lights.
- SmartThings Motion sensor that can detect movement and send alerts when there is an unexpected movement.
- SmartThings Outlet that can be used to control anything from a lamp to a coffee pot.
Fortress Security offers a wide range of security systems, including basic home security packages as well as combo packages that pair the best in wireless security monitoring with surveillance. All their packages are wireless, come with the My Fortress app, and can be completely customized with 20 add-on device options.
Link Interactive is a DIY solution for individuals who want complete control over what their system components are. The entire system is wireless and backed by cellular, so you do not have to worry about power outages affecting your security. They also connect with many home automation devices for even more security. Where they are a bit different than others are, is that they offer no packages. You purchase the control panel and additional components separately.
Scout Alarm is a self-monitoring home security system that you build yourself. Not only do you choose which sensors you want to connect to your Scout Alarm Hub, but you can also choose the color. The hub will run you $120 (but there are always discounts if you look for them) and sensors will run you between $20 and $50 each. You can also add indoor cameras, a video doorbell, or even a smart door lock.
Scout also offers a crazy amount of custom programming options. You can decide what to do when a specific sensor is triggered and set up and secondary alert that happens automatically if you can’t be reached, all with no monthly monitoring fees.
We’ve established that the new path of home security looks quite a bit different from the humdrum professionally installed and monitored systems of yesteryear. Modern home security systems offer some of the integrated technology options that can be easily monitored from most smartphones, tablets, or even a PC. Long gone are the days of hefty fees and outdated equipment, with your own system, you are in total control.
We hope this guide has provided you with the necessary information to help you in deciding which home security system is right for you. Whether you decide to go with one of the ones listed above or build your own system from scratch, you can have the safety, security, and peace of mind that comes with knowing you have done all you can to protect your property and your family. Best of luck to you and yours!