Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems of 2020

Unmonitored systems are a great option for those who want to save some money. Once the equipment is paid, there are no more costs. Yet, not everything is perfect. Monitoring a home by oneself is a daunting task. Those who are ready to take it should be informed to make sure that they are picking the perfect solution for their houses. So, those who want to get the best self-monitored home security systems in 2020, read on.

Brad Smith

Brad Smith - Editorial Staff

Updated: May 12, 2020

What We Did to Find the Best

To rank these products, we used five metrics. Each of them has a score between 0 and 10. Then we add and divide them to get an average value. So, each alarm system received a mark for each category, and then we added them to get the final score. Our metrics are:

  • Features

    0-10

    monitoring period, 24/7 alerts, disaster protection etc.

  • Support

    0-10

    telephone, email, chat, and other channels

  • Price

    0-10

    monthly fee, money-back, trial period

  • Ease of Use

    0-10

    installation, maintenance, service support

  • Trust Score

    0-10

    BBB.org and Trustpilot (positive, negative reviews)

Our ranking is the result of lots of research. We looked on the Internet, which the most popular monitoring systems were. We read extensively about them and watched videos about how people used them. We selected the ones that looked more promising and got them to see how they worked. We also checked what previous users said on Amazon and what their experiences were when they used them. We took into the good reviews as well as the bad ones. And then, we gave them a score using the metrics above.

1. Abode: Affordable but Has Everything One Needs

Total Score 9.6/10

Self Monitored Abode Main
Self Monitored Abode Security Device
Self Monitored Abode Cameras
  • Features & Equipment9.0/10
  • Customer Support10/10
  • Price10/10
  • Ease of Use9.0/10
  • Trust Score10/10
Best For People on a budget

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

30 days

Despite being relatively new in the market, Abode can compete with the biggest brands like an equal. The aspect that makes them stand out is their low price and overall efficiency. Their products were designed so that people could use them on their own, without any type of help from a professional. Yet, those who want help getting it up and running can contact the company, and they will send a technician to get everything ready. Their equipment works well, though it does not offer the latest tech in the market. Setting it up is quite straightforward and can be done by anyone. Abode also offers some smart house features that are a nice extra. And this is without charging a lot.

Pros:

  • Cellular backup
  • Easy setup
  • House automation
  • Withstands harsh climates
  • Affordable prices
  • No contract
  • No monthly fees

Cons:

  • Short return period
  • Not the latest tech
  • Some upfront costs

Abode is one of the home security systems without monitoring that does not have all the latest and shiniest features, like a super high video resolution. Yet, they offer good quality products for quite a low price. Their service is reliable, and their tools are durable. Everything is motion-activated, so one can rest easy knowing that if anything happens at the house, they will know about it instantly. And the devices are even designed to withstand harsh weather.

Yet, there are some things to bear in mind before committing to Abode. The first one is that their trial period is relatively short, as one only has 30 days to return the products in case there is any problem. Also, bear in mind that even though one does not need to pay much in the long run, there are some upfront costs to cover. And they will vary depending on how much equipment one will get. In spite of this, the low costs and simplicity make Abode worth a look.


2. Canary: Looks Pretty and Does Its Job

Total Score 9.6/10

Self Monitored Canary Main
Self Monitored Canary Detection
Self Monitored Canary Camera
  • Features & Equipment9.0/10
  • Customer Support9.0/10
  • Price10/10
  • Ease of Use10/10
  • Trust Score10/10
Best For Great design

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

60 days

Canary has a well-deserved place in this ranking because of its flexibility and outstanding design. It was prepared to have all the necessary features in only one place. For example, it has trackers to detect motion and trigger different features if necessary, like cameras, or sending an alert. Everything was engineered to work together coordinately. Plus, it keeps what was recorded so that the user can review it later if he is busy when the app sends the notification. Yet, bear in mind that it will store the film for only one day. So, make sure to check it as soon as possible.

Pros:

  • Super easy DIY setup
  • Effective app
  • House automation
  • No contract
  • Good design
  • Centralized system
  • Top-notch devices

Cons:

  • Some upfront costs
  • Stores videos for 1 day
  • Premium features are pricey

The tools are made of durable materials. And they include some top-notch tech. The camera, for example, has a full HD resolution of 1080p. This means that they will capture even the tiniest of details. And additionally, there is a 60-day money-back guarantee. This means that if one is not happy with the devices for any reason and wants to give them back, he can do so as long as they are in good condition. Plus, all the equipment comes with a warranty for one year in case there are any glitches.

This self-monitored home security system is quite cheap, though there are some upfront costs to consider. Depending on the number of devices, one will get the price will vary. But as there are no contracts, no monthly payments, and no installation fees, the overall cost ends up being quite low. Also, the installation is super simple, as there are no wires involved. Just stick the devices where they go, set up the app, and it is ready to start working. They even claim that one can forget about having to use the toolbox.


3. SimpliSafe: Get Started with the Right Foot

Total Score 9.4/10

Self Monitored SimpliSafe Main
Self Monitored SimpliSafe Camera
Self Monitored SimpliSafe Detection
  • Features & Equipment9.0/10
  • Customer Support10/10
  • Price9.0/10
  • Ease of Use9.0/10
  • Trust Score10/10
BBB Rating A+
Best For Beginners

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

60 days

This is one of the better-known brands in the market. They are quite flexible. For example, there is the option to monitor the house by oneself. And with this come the perks of not having to sign a contract or pay any monthly fees. Plus, their equipment is of quite high quality, even in terms of video quality. And whenever something happens, they send an alert. The client has many options to choose from two. In total, they sell five packages of hardware that adapt to different needs. The setup process is very simple too. Everything is wireless, so this is something that clients can install on their own. Simplisafe is a pretty good option for those who are getting started with these systems and need something simple but effective.

Pros:

  • Easy setup process
  • No contracts
  • 60-day trial
  • App notifications
  • Easy-to-use
  • Durable materials
  • Nice design

Cons:

  • Not easy to automate
  • Upgrades are not worth it
  • No cellular backup

Their design is good in many aspects too. The equipment is made with durable materials. And it can go on any part of the house. They have devices for doors, windows, and every type and size of rooms. And they are movable too. As nothing is hardwired into the house, it is possible to change the placement of the equipment as one sees fit, as with the cameras, for example.

Their basic plan also includes some key tools, like detectors for floods, carbon monoxide, and fire. If any of the trackers detects something related to this, the alarm system will send a notification to the user’s phone. Then, they will be able to choose how to proceed. Simplisafe also offers a money-back guarantee of 60 days. This is another reason why this system is a good choice for people who are using a self-monitored home security system for the first time. If they realize that for any reason they are not satisfied with the system, it is possible for them to get a full refund.


4. iSmartAlarm: Change Your Mind at Any Time

Total Score 9.4/10

Self Monitored iSmartAlarm Main
Self Monitored iSmartAlarm Devices
Self Monitored iSmartAlarm Camera
  • Features & Equipment9.0/10
  • Customer Support9.0/10
  • Price9.0/10
  • Ease of Use10/10
  • Trust Score10/10
BBB Rating C+
Best For People looking to upgrade

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

30 days

iSmartAlarm is totally wireless. So, getting it up and running will take almost no time. It is affordable and asks for no long-term commitments. This means that if one is not happy with the system, they will have the option to change it as soon as they see fit. It also comes with a warranty for one year, so the team will solve any problem that arises with the devices within that period. Among other features, they have SMS, phone, email, and app notifications. This means that if something happens, there is no way one will not learn about it. In this way, having a monitoring team seems like something of the past.

Pros:

  • One-year warranty
  • Completely wireles
  • All types of alert
  • Good upgrades
  • House automation available
  • Remote control
  • Simple setup

Cons:

  • The lower plan is too basic
  • Not many updates
  • Upfront costs

They have many plans. The most basic one does not include monitoring or monthly fees. It does have all types of alerts, a siren, and 4 contact sensors, though. They come together with 3 motion centers and 3 remote tags. And those who are looking for something more advanced have the option to upgrade. In total, the company offers 8 packages and bundles. All of them have several devices and in different quantities. In this way, clients can choose the one that suits their house better, no matter its size.

In the higher plans, one gets video features, i.e., cameras, more sensors, and more control. Getting started with a basic package and then grow to another one, if necessary, is a good idea. Whichever one chooses, the devices are not hardwired. So, the whole process is simple and fast. It is also possible to get some smart house features, though the ones offered by this brand are quite limited.


5. Nest Secure: Comfortable and Safe

Total Score 9.4/10

Self Monitored Nest Main
Self Monitored Nest Cameras
Self Monitored Nest Detection
  • Features & Equipment8.0/10
  • Customer Support10/10
  • Price10/10
  • Ease of Use10/10
  • Trust Score9.0/10
BBB Rating B
Best For House automation

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

30 days

This brand by Google has been in the market since 2010. It stands out for having very advanced smart house features. Some of the devices that help with this are their thermostats. They create their products with a user-centric approach. This shows in their simple setup process and their friendly mobile app. This is one of the reasons why they are considered a good option for beginners. There is the option to pay for monitoring if the user wants. But those who do not will be happy to know that they can do it themselves. On top of that, the price of the whole equipment is quite high, which means that the upfront cost is not the best.

Pros:

  • House automation
  • Learns routines
  • Reputable brand
  • Integration with third-parties
  • No commitment
  • Easy to set up
  • Great mobile app

Cons:

  • Unresponsive customer care
  • Some cameras have glitches
  • Not the cheapest equipment

Since its creation, the company has evolved from a smart thermostat to a house automation system. And then, to a security brand. Now, their reputation is among the best ones. In part because of their career, but also because Google manages them. As with most products from this company, their main aim is to please their users. This shows in the great quality of the devices, like the camera, and in some of their policies. For example, users can return the equipment within 30 days if they are not happy with it.

Their devices are also optimized to adapt to what each client needs. They learn the users’ routines so that the customers do not need to worry about everything there is to do. Nest does not offer a specific bundle. Rather, users can pick each and every device that they want to buy. As they are also compatible with third-party products, one can mix brands. In this way, clients can choose the products that offer the best, and they will still work.


6. Samsung SmartThings: Rely on Brands with Experience

Total Score 9.2/10

Self Monitored SmartThings Main
Self Monitored SmartThings Camera
Self Monitored SmartThings Detection
  • Features & Equipment8.0/10
  • Customer Support10/10
  • Price10/10
  • Ease of Use10/10
  • Trust Score8.0/10
smartthings-logo-sidebar
BBB Rating B+
Best For Best-known brands

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

30 days

This self-monitoring home security system was developed by Samsung together with ADT. In this way, they combine the knowledge of an expert in good hardware and HD cameras with that of a reputable security company. Clients can choose if they want the company to monitor their house. But those who do not want that will get some very good devices for the price. The package includes cameras for indoors and outdoors, entry detectors, video doorbells, and an app. They are all wireless, which makes it simple to install them. Among some of their top features, there is house automation as well as protection against environmental problems. As with most of the competitors, setting everything up is easy and usually takes less than half an hour.

Pros:

  • Backed-up by Samsung and ADT
  • HD cameras
  • Options to upgrade
  • DIY installation
  • Complete equipment
  • Cellular connection
  • Remote access through the app

Cons:

  • Poor reviews
  • Short return time
  • Warranty does not cover much

Those who want to opt for a monthly plan will be happy to know that there are no commitments. This is to say that one does not need to sign a long-term contract that binds him to the company for years. Instead, they pay a low fee every month. And they can stop doing so whenever they please. For further safety, the whole alarm system does not rely entirely on having access to a WiFi connection. It can also connect to a cellular network to send notifications in case someone tries to break in during an outage, for example.

The well-known brands come at a high price, though. The upfront cost of the equipment is almost double than the one of the competition. Having a service backed up by Samsung, an ADT may be worth the money for some, though. In case the user is not happy with the service, they have 30 days to return their purchase. Then, there is also a warranty of one year for those who want the system but encounter some problems.


7. Arlo Pro 2: Simplifying the Market

Total Score 9,0/10

Self Monitored Arlo Main
Self Monitored Arlo Camera
Self Monitored Arlo Detection
  • Features & Equipment8.0/10
  • Customer Support10/10
  • Price10/10
  • Ease of Use8.0/10
  • Trust Score9.0/10
arlo-logo-sidebar
BBB Rating B
Best For Pro Devices

DIY instal

YES

Trial Period

7 days

Arlo Pro 2 is professional equipment at a fair price. The brand has been working for a very long time. And has built a reputation for its quality. In terms of how to use it, the camera has two modes. The first one is without wires, just using the battery. As it is made of lithium, it will last for years without failing.

The other camera mode is the wired one. Such a thing means that owners can just plug the device to electric power. In this manner, the battery is saved for later when clients might need it more. The system also includes a two-way audio feature for families to be in touch at all times. The mic is quite loud for everyone to hear it.

Pros:

  • Wide-range night vision
  • Add-ons allowed
  • High-quality audio and video
  • Wired or Wireless with great performance
  • 1080p camera
  • Fast-charging battery
  • Waterproof for outdoors

Cons:

  • Very pricey
  • Only a week of trial
  • Sound can falter

Another great feature is its voice commands. Arlo Pro 2 can connect with different techs like Alexa or Google Voice. This way, customers will control it from afar, and they do not even have to be present. The cloud is also very fast and has a great capacity. So, owners will be able to store every video and footage they need without paying for more.

Yet, the access is quite limited. Clients will only have one week to give it a try and see if Arlo is really what they are looking for. But still, the good thing is that buyers can place the device inside or outside. It is protected with a waterproof feature. As a result, it will not be ruined by rain, dust, or snow.


Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems of 2020 (Pricing & Features)

Finding the self-monitored home security system that adapts better to a house takes time. Doing research is key to this. But there is so much data that it may get confusing. Here is an easy way to contrast all the info and see which brand has the most to offer.

Total Score Price DIY instal Trial Period Warranty Return Policy Wireless Cellular Backup House Automation Upgrade Options App HD Cameras Environmental sensors Remote Control
1. Abode 9.6/10 $199 Yes 30 days 1 year 30 days Yes Yes No 2 Yes No Yes Yes
2. Canary 9.6/10 Custom Yes 60 days 1 year 60 days Yes No No 1 Yes Yes Yes Yes
3. SimpliSafe 9.4/10 $229 Yes 60 days 3 years 60 days Yes No No 5 Yes No Yes No
4. iSmartAlarm 9.4/10 $299.99 Yes 30 days 1 year 30 days Yes No No 2 Yes No No Yes
5. Nest Secure 9.4/10 Custom Yes 30 days 2 years 30 days Yes Yes Yes 1 Yes No No Yes
6. Samsung SmartThings 9.2/10 $117.31 Yes 30 days 1 year 30 days Yes Yes Yes 3 Yes Yes No Yes
7. Arlo Pro 2 9.0/10 $149 Yes 7 days 1 year 45 days Yes No Yes 2 Yes Yes Yes No

Unmonitored Home Security Systems: Everything You Have to Know

There are many good aspects to monitoring the house by oneself. But it is not all perfect. This is why some people prefer to have a team of pros doing it for them. While others choose flexible plans and decide which months they will need someone to do the job. Here are the weak and strong points of unmonitored home security systems.

Benefits

Many people wonder if getting a self-monitored home security system will solve their problems. In that case, consider these perks of having one of these before making a decision.

1. Price

The only cost to worry about with these services is the upfront price of the devices. There are no monthly payments or installation fees.

2. Smart Home

This means setting up some things to happen automatically when another event triggers them. For example, for the thermostat to lower when one leaves the house.

3. No More False Alarms

First responders will not be called unnecessarily when something happens. The user will receive an alert, and then he can decide if it is OK to ring them.

4. Control

People can choose how they want their system to work. They can, for example, decide which devices to install and whether they want an upgrade.

Drawbacks

These services are not all benefits, though. There are some negative aspects to bear in mind. Else, one could get disappointed when trying them out.

1. Comfort

The owner has to be constantly vigilant in case something happens and they need to call the police. If they do not, nobody will.

2. Safety

Doing everything by oneself is less safe. At one point or another, the user will need to sleep or will be distracted, and burglars could break in then.

3. No Discounts

Those who have a security system can get some discounts on their house insurance. Yet, these companies only give this to the people who pay for professional monitoring and have a technician do the setup.

Features of Home Security Systems Without Monitoring: What You Need to Have in Mind Before Buying

These types of systems are very similar to the monitored ones. The main difference lies in their connection with the police. Let’s take a look at some common specs for these devices.

With or Without Wires

Both options have their good points. Wireless connections are faster and easier. They do not take a lot of space and never get messy. Hardwires, on the other hand, are, at times, more reliable. But they still need tools and making holes on the wall to mount them.

Type of Setup

It can be DIY or professional. The last one is better in terms of time saved. And making sure there are no errors. But this also means a stranger has to enter one’s house. And that the client has to wait for them to come.

Alerts via Phone

Very useful to get an eye on what is going on at the house. Even if the owner is far away. Most companies have their own apps so people can either see live cameras. Or they can get alerts every time motion sensors are triggered.

Remote Control

This little device allows users to control the whole system without having to be there. Among other things, clients can arm and disarm the alarm, set off the panic button, and more. This is the best friend of the person who keeps an eye on the house. And they are so small that they fit in every pocket.

Entryway Sensors

These items are in charge of sending a notification to the phone when someone comes in. They work with little magnets that trigger the alert once the door is opened, and they are separated. When this happens, they immediately follow the agreed procedure.

Motion Detectors

These usually work with infrared lights to track and detect any type of movement. They send a notification when something triggers them. Or sometimes, they also make the siren sound. Try to get the ones that do not sense pets, or else there will be lots of false alerts.

Special Features

These little perks will make what each brand offers unique. What are they? That will depend on the company. Some offer stickers to warn burglars to stay away. Others give extra devices like detectors. Bear in mind that most vendors will also sell these as upgrades.

Specialized Alert Zones

The purpose of this feature is to put extra safety in one specific room. This usually requires more sensors and cameras in that place. When this is done, the service can take care of only that area while the other ones are unprotected. This comes in handy if one has valuables in one room and does not care much about the rest.

Ownership

The systems that come with contracts usually belong to the provider, and they rent them to the users. So, it is not possible to move them to another house or use them in whichever way one wants. But this is not the case for those who pay for the equipment upfront and have no commitments. They can use the devices; however they want.

How to Choose the Best Self-Monitored Home Security System [Infographic]

Those who are struggling to choose the right equipment may not have found their match yet because they are not following the appropriate steps. Here are the main things to focus on when choosing the right devices.

Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems of 2020

1. Options and Equipment

Review the market and analyze all the systems. There are many players in this field, and all of them have something to offer. Check what devices they have, how much they cost, and if they are the most suitable for the house. Consider its size, since this will determine how many items to get.

2. Convenience in Self-Monitoring

Think about how convenient doing all of this by oneself will be. Not everyone has the time or availability to keep an eye on the house for the whole day. So, make sure that at least there is someone that can review when the user cannot. Also, consider if maybe one needs to pay for monitoring maybe one month every now and then.

3. Reviews

When everything about the possible devices one could buy is clear, read what people who used them have to say about them. This includes reading the reviews written by experts, but also checking out what other people say on Amazon, for example.

4. Customer Support

This aspect is often overlooked, but it is essential to have a satisfying experience. Check what channels of communication they offer and at what hours they are available. Also, see what previous users review about this. This is to say, if they were knowledgeable, efficient, kind, etc.

5. Affordable Pricing

One of the top reasons why people like to do the monitoring themselves is pricing. There are no monthly payments and, in most cases, no installation fees. So, in order to save even more, the only solution is to choose affordable equipment. The good news is that many brands sell bundles or packages with many items at a discount.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Is the Best Self-Monitoring Alarm System?

    The most efficient safety devices are the ones that are easy to install. The whole process should last no more than a few minutes. People often look for a sensor that is wireless. These are easy to pair with your smartphone and have the best reviews. A single button is enough to arm or disarm the system at any time. Some users favor devices they can customize, adding an extra camera, for example. Others, instead, prefer devices that are easy to use. This will depend on what each person is looking for.

  • Is It Safe to Use a Self-Monitoring Alarm System?

    It is very safe. When a regular device, like a camera, triggers an alarm, a middleman receives a message. It is usually a monitoring center. The centers review the house and contact users to check if they need help. With self-monitored devices, there is no need for a middleman. Users get in contact with the authorities. They don’t need to deal with a call center. In addition, there is little risk of a false alarm. This is because first responders show up at a user’s house only if this user phones them.

  • Do Self-Monitored Home Security System Companies Offer Equipment Financing?

    Generally no. Regular devices do use contracts. This is because it spreads out the cost of the safety equipment. And in general, companies offer monthly fees for this kind of product. But with self-monitored devices, it’s not the case. Users must pay upfront. However, it might depend on the brand or the store.

  • Can I Have Friends or Family Members Help Me With Monitoring?

    Yes, companies recommend it. Users should select two or three reliable people. They can be friends, neighbors, or relatives. This way, there will be more than one person handling potential dangers. Some people like using the Ring Neighbors App. This app helps citizens keep each other safe.

  • Can I Self-Monitor Individual Security Devices Without Having an Entire House Security System?

    Yes. Many brands offer a variety of devices that users can pair with a smartphone. Users can buy different products and connect them to their app as they go. A good example of this is a video doorbell. It’s not connected to an alarm device. But it sends the user a message when visitors ring the door. Most cameras allow users to talk to their visitors. This is an effective way to scare criminals away without the help of professionals.

The Solution to Save Money

Those who want affordable protection against everyday dangers are the ones that will profit the most from this type of system. Fortunately, in 2020, there are many devices that are ready to complete this task efficiently. Yet, it is key to make sure that the chosen one will be suitable for the house it is going to keep safe.


Brad Smith

Editorial Staff

Brad has worked as a sales manager in the security sector for 10 years. He is curious, attentive to details, and hard-working. He has dedicated several years to helping customers with their safety and protection. His background has helped Brad to write comprehensive security and life safety materials, which he has been writing for about 4 years. Brad has contributed work to The Washington Post, DailyJournal, Los Angeles Times, and many others.


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