You don’t like contracts? No problem! Contracts are common in home security, but many fine systems work without paperwork. Here we detail the best no-contract home security systems of 2020.
All companies below let you self-monitor a home security system. Also, most offer an optional connection to pro monitoring; they can automatically call for help if your system is breached. No contracts or credit checks are needed.
- SimpliSafe – Best No Contract Home Security Overall
- Abode – Best DIY No Contract Security
- Ring Alarm – Best Alexa Compatible No Contract System
- Arlo – Best No Contract Security Camera System
- Scout Alarm – Most Affordable No Contract System
SimpliSafe – Best No-Contract Home Security Overall
An early leader in home contract-free home security, now on its third generation of equipment
SimpliSafe is a top choice for those seeking good quality without a markup. The company builds mostly wireless security equipment, and you can own a starter set for $229 MSRP.
What’s “simple” about SimpliSafe? The equipment is remarkably easy to set up. Also, the no-contract monitoring plans let you sidestep stress. For a while, the equipment was rather basic too, but SimpliSafe is now on its third generation. New SimpliSafe systems let you integrate Google Assistant or Alexa to control a doorbell camera, lights, and other connected equipment.
Many people choose SimpliSafe for totally DIY home security. The base station siren works without paid service, and you’ll get entry alerts on the wireless PIN pad. You can add mobile alerts about system activity for $14.99/month.
Going beyond DIY, the best SimpliSafe plan provides 24/7 professional monitoring. For $24.99/month you’ll get security backup from the award-winning COPS network of emergency dispatching centers. This SimpliSafe plan also adds the benefit of home automation with equipment from select brands.
SimpliSafe Home Security Equipment
Most SimpliSafe equipment is wire-free, which lets you accomplish setup without any tools. The only exception is the SimpliSafe Video Doorbell Pro; it connects to your old doorbell’s wiring, and you’ll need a Phillips head screwdriver for installation.
Customers choose from various SimpliSafe starter kits. Prices start at $229 before discounts. Kits are designed for homes of different sizes; the bigger your home, the more sensors you’ll need for basic security. Some kits combine security sensors with environmental sensors (e.g., smoke detectors).
A SimpliSafe Base Station is the heart of each system. This small cylindrical tower plugs into a wall and has 24 hours of battery backup. Its “Heartbeat” feature constantly checks your security system’s integrity, and a soft glowing light lets you know it’s working. Other features of the SimpliSafe Base Station are:
- Voice prompts for set-up
- 85-decibel siren
- Can connect with 41 sensors
- Cellular chip for optional pro monitoring
- Tamper detection
The Base Station works with a wireless keypad for entering your PIN. You can also arm your security system with a key fob, and with paid service, you can call upon a virtual personal assistant: “Hey Google, arm SimpliSafe to HOME.” SimpliSafe’s $24.99/month plan lets you add Google Assistant and Alexa to the system.
As noted above, the base can monitor up to 41 devices. SimpliSafe makes sensors such as:
- Wireless keypads
- Entry sensors
- Glass break sensors
- Indoor motion sensors
- Indoor cameras
- Video doorbells
- Smoke detectors
- Water leak sensors
- Water freeze sensors
Additionally, several brands make smart home equipment that’s compatible with the SimpliSafe Base Station. Product choices include:
- Amazon Echo speakers
- Google Home speakers
- Nest Learning Thermostat
- August Smart Lock Pro
SimpliSafe lets you try any home security system risk-free for 60 days. If you decide to return the equipment, you can get a full refund and free return shipping.
No-Contract Monitoring with SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe gives three choices for no-contract home security monitoring:
- Free do-it-yourself (DIY) monitoring without mobile alerts
- Paid DIY monitoring with mobile alerts, $14.99/month
- Paid pro monitoring with mobile alerts and remote control, $24.99/month
Free DIY monitoring with SimpliSafe is rather limited; if you aren’t home, you won’t be alerted to trouble. At home, you can hear doorway entry chimes, the base station’s siren, and any additional sirens that you might connect.
Paid DIY monitoring sends you mobile alerts if security is breached. You’ll receive info, but at $14.99/month the app isn’t enabled for remote control.
For $24.99/month, professional monitoring activates your system’s cellular connection to COPS emergency dispatchers. It also gives you access to all SimpliSafe mobile app functions, including remote control over equipment connected to the Base Station.
Best DIY No Contract Security – Abode
Cutting-edge equipment for home automation and home security without a contract Abode is favored by shoppers seeking lots of flexibility with video surveillance and smart home sensors. An Abode hub can work with Z-Wave, so compared with SimpliSafe you have a wider selection of third-party gadgets to choose from. Without monthly payment, you get a mobile app for system control and can integrate Alexa or Google Assistant. The cheapest starter set is just $199.
With Abode you can choose free DIY monitoring or get pro monitoring without a contract:
- Free DIY monitoring includes a mobile app and short-term video storage. You can extend the storage for $8/month.
- Pro monitoring costs $20 month-to-month. It provides a 24/7 connection to Central Monitoring Center (CMC) in case of an emergency.
Abode Home Security Equipment
Customers choose from two base units: the Gateway base station and the iota tower. These can monitor sensors over Wi-Fi, plus each has a 4G cellular chip. Installation is simple; these plug-in devices require no wall mounting. Each unit can respond to voice commands and also works with a keychain remote control.
- The $199 Gateway hub can support up to 160 sensors, from basic motion sensors (included) to equipment with Z-Wave and Zigbee technologies. Its backup battery can serve for 10 hours.
- The $299 iota tower can likewise support up to 160 sensors and is Z-Wave/Zigbee compatible. Additionally, iota has a built-in motion sensor and night vision camera, so in small apartments, it may be sufficient security on its own. This unit has six hours of backup battery power.
Available directly from Abode are these and other compatible devices:
- Occupancy sensor (Detects motion, light, and temperature)
- Indoor and outdoor sirens to augment the main system alarm
- Smart home power switch to control any appliance remotely
- Smoke detector
- Water leak sensor
- Motion-activated snapshot camera
- Motion-activated video camera
All Abode equipment carries a 30-day money-back guarantee.
As mentioned above, you can also wirelessly connect third-party devices that use Zigbee or Z-Wave. (Zigbee lets you create a small personal area network for wireless communication. Z-Wave devices use a specific radio wave frequency to communicate.) Examples of popular Z-Wave gadgets are:
- Smart speakers for interacting with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Smart light switches and dimmers by Philips Hue
- Smart keypad locks by Kwikset and other brands
- Nest thermostats for automated energy efficiency
Your options with Abode are infinite! Thousands of Z-Wave products are on the market, and the Smart Home Power Switch lets you automate and remotely monitor any household appliance.
No Contract Monitoring with Abode
Abode provides the best no-contract security with three main options:
- Free DIY monitoring – Includes full access to the Abode mobile app and can easily integrate Alexa or Google Assistant. Free do-it-yourself service also saves video clips to cloud storage, although just three days per clip. Equipment communicates over your home Wi-Fi network.
- $8/month – Expands cloud video storage to 14 days per clip. This no-contract security deal also adds cellular backup in case your Wi-Fi fails.
- $20/month – Adds cellular backup and professional monitoring. Pro monitoring is also available for shorter and longer terms, no contract required.
You can order expanded cloud storage and/or professional monitoring on-demand with Abode’s mobile app.
In sum, Abode home security can be very low-priced in terms of equipment and optional paid monitoring. However, many customers choose to add gadgets that are more expensive than what you’d get with SimpliSafe.
Best Alexa-Compatible No-Contract System – Ring Alarm
Contract-free home security with the industry’s best Alexa integration Ring Alarm is a leader with smart doorbell cameras and other video surveillance solutions. Their equipment works beautifully with Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant, and a Ring hub can monitor much more than cameras; Z-Wave lights, locks, smart plugs, and other devices are compatible.
Many customers choose Ring for totally DIY home security. No-contract paid monitoring is available too.
Ring home security is best known for its doorbell cameras. Some need to be hardwired. Others are mainly battery powered and can be installed especially quickly. You can use a doorbell camera without a physical hub; the Ring mobile app works as a control center.
Also featured at the Ring website are wireless indoor and outdoor security cameras. Special features are built-in sirens, floodlights, and two-way voice communication.
Ring Home Security Equipment
As mentioned above, a Ring doorbell camera can work independently; no base station is needed. For small apartments with just one feasible entrance, a doorbell camera could be an adequate all-in-one home security system. However, the most robust DIY systems are built around Ring base stations.
A Ring base station works with a wireless keypad. It can monitor a video doorbell, indoor and outdoor Ring cameras, your household lights, motion sensors, smoke alarms, and much more. The Ring website sells base stations in starter sets for homes of different sizes. The smallest set provides home security essentials for $199. Often Ring includes a free gadget, such as a smart light, to help promote its home automation options. (“Alexa, turn on my porch light.”)
Surveillance cameras by Ring are cutting-edge and diverse. You can choose from hardwired and wire-free setups. Some Ring cameras can be solar-powered and have long-lasting rechargeable batteries; they can serve for years without maintenance. Especially powerful against prowlers is the $249 Floodlight Cam with bright LED bulbs, a 110-decibel siren, and two-way voice.
Two-way voice helps make Ring cameras especially useful. This feature, of course, lets you holler at trespassers, but it’s also convenient for non-emergency communication within your household. The Stick Up Cam ($179) is a popular example. It works indoors and out, so with two-way voice family members can easily stay in touch from anywhere on your property. (If needed, a range extender can expand your Wi-Fi coverage.) Pressing a button on the camera or within the mobile app lets a person initiate interaction.
As mentioned above, the Ring Alarm hub can monitor Z-Wave products from other brands. You can connect up to 100 gadgets such as:
- Garage door tilt sensor by EcoLink – After driving away, or before sleeping at night, verify that you remembered to close your garage door
- Smart deadbolt locks by Schlage – Enjoy keyless entry with a convenient keypad and mobile app
- Plug-in smart outlets by GE – Let the Ring app automate your coffee pot, lamps, TV, and other household appliances
Keep in mind that only Ring brand products can be professionally monitored. For instance, you could connect a third-party smoke alarm, but only a Ring smoke alarm can automatically alert the company’s emergency operators.
You can try Ring Alarm equipment with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
No Contract Monitoring with Ring
A Ring doorbell or larger Ring security system can work without paid service; a free app for mobile or desktop can alert you to activity. The app lets you see live video and use the two-way voice function of Ring cameras.
To save the video, you’ll need a no-contract paid plan. One is for DIY monitoring, and the other adds pro monitoring:
- Protect Basic adds video storage to DIY monitoring. It covers one device for $3/month or $30/year without a credit check. Videos are stored for up to 60 days each.
- Protect Plus adds video storage and professional monitoring. It covers all Ring cameras and other Ring devices for $10/month or $100/year.
Again, there is no contract or credit check for Ring Alarm. It’s a top brand for DIY video monitoring, and the hub works well with Alexa and third-party equipment. You can add professional monitoring anytime.
Best No Contract Security Camera System – Arlo
An impressive selection of surveillance cameras for DIY home security Arlo Technologies is a top recommendation for high-tech DIY video surveillance. The company does not partner with a monitoring service. You can self-monitor a single Arlo camera via an app for $2.99/month, and you can save on plans for up to 10 cameras. Base stations start at $49.99.
Cameras by Arlo are cutting-edge. A sampling of special features:
- Color night vision
- Motion-activated spotlight
- Facial recognition (Familiar faces only; available with all cameras)
- Pre-recorded messages for the video doorbell (Works with facial recognition)
- Lullaby mode on the nursery cam
In early 2019 Arlo announced plans to support Z-Wave and Zigbee. A “Works With Arlo” software update for smoke detectors, smart lights, smart plugs and so forth is expected before 2020.
Arlo Home Security Cameras
Arlo cameras, whether indoor or outdoor, are wireless for easy DIY setup. They’re monitored by Arlo hubs and base stations, which connect to your private Wi-Fi router. Here are examples of popular Arlo cameras:
- Arlo HD Baby Monitoring Camera – The Arlo baby monitor records high-resolution video in any light. It has a nightlight with adjustable color, music mode, two-way voice, a cry alert, and other functions. The camera can be outfitted as a bunny or a puppy.
- Arlo Go – Arlo Go is a weatherproof and cord-free security camera. It’s equipped with infrared night vision and two-way voice. Black, white, and camouflage-print cameras are for sale.
- Arlo Audio Doorbells – Arlo doorbells can detect motion, send mobile alerts, record audio, and video, and allow live voice communication. Visitors can also leave messages.
No Contract Monitoring with Arlo Cameras
You can self-monitor an Arlo camera with facial recognition for $2.99 per month. Monitor up to 10 cameras and include facial recognition for a total of $9.99/month, or up to 20 cameras for $14.99/month. Videos are stored for 40 days with the cheaper plans, and for 60 days with the $14.99 plan.
Arlo doesn’t partner with a specific monitoring service. Their Z-Wave cameras may be compatible with other brands’ hubs.
Most Affordable No Contract Security System – Scout Alarm
Low-priced home security systems with optional contract-free monitoring plans
Scout Alarm sells low-cost security systems with affordable DIY or pro monitoring. Each system is built around a hub equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity, a cellular chip, and Z-Wave. The Scout hub also works with Zigbee, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant.
A camera and motion sensor are built into the Scout Alarm hub. You can add external motion sensors, carbon monoxide alarms, and other devices sold by Scout and third parties. A convenient money-saving option is using Scout RFID stickers rather than key fobs or keypads to arm/disarm.
A basic Scout Alarm system sells for $229. DIY monitoring with a mobile app runs $9.99 per month, and pro monitoring costs $19.99 per month without a contract. Emergency dispatching is provided by COPS Monitoring.
Scout Home Security Equipment
The Scout hub is a slim box (about 5” x 5” x 1”) with tamper detection. To blend with your home it’s available in Arctic White and Midnight Black. Features of the hub are:
- 105-decibel alarm
- PIN pad
- Zigbee radio
- Z-Wave radio
- Backup battery (12 hours)
- Status light
Scout sensors can be added wirelessly via a mobile app. A sampling of choices:
- Doorbell video camera
- Door panel with 105-decibel siren
- Key fob to arm/disarm
- RFID stickers to arm/disarm
- Glass break sensor
- Indoor security camera
Scout cameras, including the doorbell camera and indoor camera, are motion activated. They can also live stream video anytime.
Going beyond the Scout Alarm brand, you can enhance your system with smart locks, lights, thermostats, and more. Automate your home with these and other compatible devices:
- Nest – The Scout mobile app can show activity for Nest indoor cameras and thermostats.
- Z-Wave Locks – Scout works with Kwikset and Yale Z-Wave door locks. These allow you the convenience of keyless entry, and you can track PIN activity with your mobile phone.
- Smart Lights – The Scout hub can monitor and control lights by LIFX and Hue. Use your voice or mobile app to set the scene.
- Smart Thermostats – Stay comfortable and reduce your energy bill. Energy-saving Nest thermostats are compatible with Scout.
Scout security equipment has a 60-day money-back guarantee.
No-Contract Monitoring with Scout Alarm
New Scout Alarm systems work with paid service only. You can choose from two no-contract monitoring plans: Always On and Always On+. Always On allows self-monitoring with text alerts. Always On+ provides professional service from COPS Monitoring, America’s largest UL-certified emergency call company.
- Always On: Always On provides self-monitoring SMS text alerts and mobile push notifications. The service costs $9.99 per month, and you can add cloud storage for $2.99/month per camera. For a discount on monitoring, you can pay $107 for one year all at once.
- Always On+: Always On+ provides professional monitoring, mobile/SMS alerts, and email notifications. It’s the most affordable no-contract monitoring when you prepay for a year, as the total is $215 for 12 months. You can also opt for a $19.99 month-to-month deal. Cloud storage is included for one camera, and storage can be added for additional cameras at $2.99 each per month.