For a long time, home security systems have been linked with high monthly prices. They’re essential for professional monitoring, which involves skilled dispatchers keeping an eye on your system and alerting police if a break-in occurs.
However, there are now a number of DIY home security systems available that allow you to monitor them from your smartphone and without paying the extra costs.
When one of these devices is activated, a siren sounds to frighten away prospective burglars, and you receive an alert on your smartphone, allowing you to contact the cops yourself. One thing to keep in mind is that if you phone 911 from out of town, the dispatcher will have to contact the police department in your hometown, which may cause a delay in the police response. Instead, you might contact your local police department directly.
When it comes to monitoring, you have some leeway. “Many of these DIY systems still provide professional monitoring as an option, “If you go on a long trip, for example, you may sign up for it temporarily.”
All of the systems below offer optional professional monitoring and cellular backup, which keeps the system connected to the internet in case of a power or internet outage, for a monthly fee.
Here are the List of Best Self-Monitored Home Security System No Monthly Fee
|Installation||DIY or professional||DIY or professional||DIY or professional||DIY|
|Smart platform integration||Google Assistant, Alexa||Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit||Google Assistant, Alexa||Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit|
|Free live streaming||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free cloud storage||No||No||No||7 days|
|Free local storage||No||No||No||Yes|
|Equipment package prices||view availability on Amazon||view availability on Amazon||view availability on Amazon||view availability on Amazon|
Another excellent option for no-contract home security is Abode. It gave us even more possibilities than SimpliSafe in terms of packages, add-on devices, short-term professional monitoring, and home automation connection.
We began with the Smart Security Kit, a basic home security bundle that cost around $180. Then we added environmental monitoring, home automation, and voice commands to that basic system.
We had flexibility in smart home components as well. Abode works with a number of smart device companies, including Philips Hue and ecobee. It also works with Nest, a company you can learn more about in our Nest cameras review.
Finally, we had the option to add three or seven days of cloud storage for just 60 cents or $1.40 — or we could have added three or seven days of on-demand monitoring for $1.98 or $4.62.
|Compatibility with Apple HomeKit||Only a few camera models|
|DIY or professional monitoring||Low-rated apps|
|Compatibility with Nest cameras, Phillips Hue lightbulbs, ecobee thermostats, Schlage locks, Bose sound systems, and other IoT devices||Poor customer support|
|DIY installation||Person detection not available on all cameras|
It was a breeze to set up our home security system. We went with a basic system that included a siren, a motion detector, and a security camera in one device. Our installation was only four steps long because it was “all-in-one”:
- We plugged in the hub (essentially a base station).
- We connected the hub to our internet router.
- We downloaded the abode mobile app.
- We placed door sensors and window sensors around our home.
All told, the installation took us about 30 minutes.
Abode turned out to be a great choice for DIY, no-contract security. The system sent us mobile text alerts, and we livestreamed footage from our phones.
We found that abode also worked well when we needed occasional professional monitoring. In fact, it was the only alarm system we tested that let us get professional monitoring for a three-day weekend only! That was perfect when we decided to go out of town for Labor Day. Who wants to check their security feeds while they’re at the lake, right
|Features||Basic plan||Standard plan||Pro plan|
|Smart home integrations||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video storage in days||0||7||30|
|Timeline of events||No||Yes||Yes|
|In-app panic alarms||No||Yes||Yes|
|24/7 professional monitoring||No||No||Yes|
|Premium customer support||No||No||Yes|
|Free shipping in the continental U.S.||No||No||Yes|
|Unlimited device warranty||No||No||Yes* (annual only)|
Overall, we were delighted with the equipment provided by habitation. The Gateway hub, a motion sensor, a door/window sensor, and a key fob were all included in the Smart Security Kit, which cost $180.
We spent another $160 on an outside camera and were really pleased with the crystal-clear image we received. Abode cameras have a 1080p HD video quality and a zoom range of 127 degrees. Our Amazon package delivery person’s clothing had a stain on it, which we could see. In addition, dwelling cameras offer two-way audio and infrared LED night vision.
Ring Alarm Security Kit
Given Ring’s history, it’s no wonder that there are five distinct Ring doorbell cameras to choose from. Ring Alarm security systems, which include control panels, conventional Ring security cameras, smart lighting, and smoke alarm listeners, are also available at a reasonable cost.
|Neighbors app, which connects neighbors, police, and security personnel and allows users to post video clips and information about security events at their homes||Hardwired doorbells that require advanced installation skills|
|Alerts to desktop and phone||History of security breaches and hackings|
|Smart integrations with Google Assistant, Alexa, Schlage, Yale, Chamberlain, Leviton, and more||No local storage|
|Lots of camera and video doorbell options||No silent arming/disarming feature|
Given that Ring is now a part of the Amazon family, we weren’t surprised that Ring Alarm works seamlessly with Alexa. That integration meant, for example, that we could stream camera footage to our Fire TV Stick or our Echo Show. The bigger the screen, the easier it was to catalog the facial details of anyone walking the hallways of our apartment building. In fact, with just one fully integrated system, we could:
- Guard against intruders
- Monitor the environment
- Automate our home
Ring is an especially good choice for those who, like us, prefer living in apartments. The thing is, most apartment dwellers don’t need outdoor cameras.
Ring has a large selection of doorbell cameras.
SimpliSafe made it simple for us to make our house safer, starting with a variety of economical equipment bundles and DIY or expert installation options. SimpliSafe is, in fact, a market leader in DIY home security systems. It was one of the first firms to market low-cost, self-monitoring security systems to consumers like us. SimpliSafe is one of our favorite home security systems, and it’s always at the top of our list.
|Affordable||No mobile alerts without paid plans|
|Remote control||No person detection on indoor cameras|
|DIY installation||Can’t download video to your phone without paid plan|
|Renter-friendly||Kit required for outdoor camera|
Equipment and Monitoring Choices
SimpliSafe’s basic technology protected us from intruders, but we also had the option of upgrading our inside video monitoring and environmental security. SimpliSafe’s technology, for example, was utilized to link to motion-activated cameras and smoke alarms. We could, however, manage our equipment and monitor feeds whenever we chose, from anywhere in the globe. While we choose to monitor ourselves for free, SimpliSafe offers expert monitoring for around $15 to $25 each month.
|Feature||Free plan||Cloud storage for 1 camera||Cloud storage for up to 10 cameras||Standard plan||Interactive plan|
|Price per month||$0||$5||$10||$14.99||$24.99|
|30 days of cloud storage||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Smart home integrations||No||No||No||No||Google Assistant, Alexa|
Home Automation With SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe’s top-tier monitoring plan adds support for Google Assistant automation. That meant we could use voice commands. We didn’t take advantage of this option because, as we said, we wanted to save a little money by self-monitoring. However, we liked that we could add this feature later if we wanted.
In addition to Google Home, SimpliSafe is compatible with Alexa and several smart devices, including Nest thermostats, August smart door locks, and Apple watches.
Arlo has a wide range of video baby monitors, indoor cameras, and weatherproof cameras to choose from. It is, in fact, one of our top picks for home security cameras on a regular basis. We didn’t have to acquire a lot of extra components because many of its cameras come with motion detection. Rather, we put up a security system that consisted just of a hub and cameras and met all of our requirements.
|Portability||No door sensors|
|Wide selection of Arlo cameras||No glass-break sensors|
|Low-cost Arlo doorbell cameras||No Apple HomeKit support|
|Easy installation||No free person detection|
Arlo has a wide choice of camera designs and features to choose from. In fact, it releases so many new cameras each year that keeping up with them may be difficult. Three of our favorites are as follows:
- Arlo Pro 2: We found the Arlo Pro 2 to be a solid camera with 1080p HD resolution, a 130-degree field of view, infrared night vision, and two-way audio in our Arlo Pro 2 review. It’s also cord-free, so we didn’t have to deal with cables, and it has a rechargeable battery backup that can last up to six months on a single charge. Recordings are triggered by sound and/or motion.
- Arlo Pro 3: This camera features amazing 2560p HD 2K resolution. As if that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a 130-degree field of view and 12 times digital zoom. Best of all, with the attached spotlight and color night vision, we knew exactly whose cat was sitting outside our front door and meowing at 2 in the morning. For more information, check out our Arlo Pro 3 review.
- Arlo Ultra: Arlo’s greatest outdoor security camera is the Arlo Ultra. Because its enhanced night vision takes up colors through motion-activated illumination, it performed excellent for us at night, as we noted in our Arlo Ultra review. A 180-degree vision with no fisheye effect and noise suppression for ultra-clear audio were two more Arlo Ultra features we loved.
Arlo cameras are all wireless. Wire-free security cameras, unlike “wireless” security cameras, do not require any connected connections. As a result, we were able to place them everywhere in our house, both inside and out.