Many home security companies require long-term contracts. For 12 to 60 months, you’re responsible for payments. These service agreements are convenient for some customers – but if you prefer no monthly fee, read on! We share five best no monthly fee home security systems.
Best Self Monitored Home Security Systems of 2020
- SimpliSafe – Best Security for DIY Install
- Abode – Best System with No Contracts
- Ring – Best Doorbell Camera Options
- Arlo – Best Outdoor Security Cameras
- Nest – Best Indoor Security Cameras
With any choice, you’ll get a free mobile app for DIY monitoring. You can add professional monitoring anytime, as explained below.
A Detailed List of the Best No Fee Home Security Systems
1. SimpliSafe - Best DIY Install
SimpliSafe is a leader in do-it-yourself home security systems. As the name suggests, they make it simple to keep safe. They were among the first companies to sell affordable wire-free systems that customers can self-monitor. More than a decade later, easy installation and low prices keep SimpliSafe a leader.
Basic SimpliSafe equipment guards against intruders with DIY monitoring. It also supports indoor video surveillance and environmental safety. For example, you can connect motion-activated cameras and smoke detectors. You’ll receive text alerts if the devices are triggered. You can also set the cameras to record continuously, plus you can start recording remotely.
Recently the company added limited home automation options. For example, SimpliSafe is compatible with Nest thermostats, August smart door locks, and Google Home products. Google Home lets you control home functions with voice commands.
You can install an affordable SimpliSafe security system in 30 minutes or less, then get free text alerts if security is breached. Brand-new basic systems cost about $200, and you can buy cheaper refurbished sets that are under warranty.
Professional SimpliSafe monitoring is optional at $14.99 or $24.99 per month. Recently the top-tier plan added support for Google Home automation with voice commands.
What We Like
- Affordable security equipment
- DIY installation
- Free text alerts
- Indoor video camera
- Optional monthly contract
What We Don’t Like
- No outdoor cameras
- Proprietary equipment
Each SimpliSafe system has a keychain remote. Built into the device is a USB drive with the SimpliSafe Easy Setup Wizard. When you plug the USB into a computer, you can set up the equipment or change settings. You’ll also need to download a mobile app and use home wifi.
The USB program doesn’t add software to your computer. It prompts you through system setup with simple words and pictures.
You can easily move the equipment if you relocate; it’s all portable:
- The SimpliSafe hub plugs into a wall.
- Adhesive tape (included) lets you attach sensors to walls.
- The SimpliSafe camera is freestanding.
SimpliSafe doesn’t charge to re-activate protection when you change addresses.
With paid service at $24.99/month, you can skip the USB and access your system at SimpliSafe.com or with a mobile app… but again, SimpliSafe is a favorite among people seeking no monthly fee home security.
2. Abode - Best No Contract Home Security System
Abode is a top choice for no-contract home security with lots of advanced options. Start with a simple security set for about $200, or build a system with add-ons to support environmental monitoring, home automation, and voice commands. Compared with SimpliSafe you’ll have more options.
Setting up Abode security is easy. The quickest setup is with an all-in-one unit; iota combines a siren, motion detector, and camera.
Other Abode systems can be installed with about 30 minutes of work. Basic steps are plugging in the hub and connecting it to your Internet router, installing the Abode security mobile app, and placing sensors around your home.
After installation you can choose from:
- No monthly fee (no professional monitoring)
- On-demand monitoring for three or seven days
- Monthly service
- A year of service
Without a contract, every Abode customer can get free text alerts.
What We Like
- DIY setup
- Professional or DIY monitoring
- Supports home automation
- Compatible with many brands
What We Don’t Like
- Pay for equipment first
Abode is a great choice if you prefer DIY security and no contracts, but would like an occasional short-term backup. It’s the only security site we’ve reviewed that lets you get pro monitoring for just a three-day weekend! You can also choose longer terms. Adding service is quick and easy with the Abode mobile app.
- Abode on-demand monitoring prices are $8 for three days and $15 for a week. If you choose a monthly or yearly plan, you’ll get better prices per day, professional monitoring, and extra video storage.
- Twelve-month agreements start at $80 or about $6.67 per month.
In sum, Abode security systems can have basic or cutting-edge features. You can choose no monthly fee home security, and on-demand service is always available.
3. Ring Alarm - Best Doorbell Cameras
Ring launched with an exclusive focus on doorbell security cameras. They describe the technology as similar to Caller ID for your front door… Always know who’s calling!
They now make five versions of doorbell cameras along with full security systems: control panels, standard security cameras, smart lights and more. You can just buy a doorbell camera, build a system from scratch, or choose a curated kit.
Ring control panels are compatible with many third-party devices (e.g., Schlage smart locks) and Amazon Alexa… so with Ring you can do it all:
- Guard against intruders
- Monitor the environment
- Automate your home
For no monthly fee, you can self-monitor the system with a mobile app. Ring also offers the free Neighborhood app. It connects neighbors, police, and Ring operators for community crime prevention and reporting.
Paid monitoring starts at just $10/month or $100/year.
What We Like
- Low-priced starter equipment
- No contract needed
- Third-party integration
- Neighborhood app
- Can send alerts to desktop and phone
What We Don’t Like
- Some doorbells require advanced installation skills
What makes Ring doorbell cameras best? First, Ring makes video doorbells to fit most budgets. Features of each doorbell include:
- Motion detection
- Text notifications
- HD video with night vision
- Two-way talk
Next, you get a choice of power options and plate colors. For instance:
- The cheapest video doorbell, Ring Video Doorbell, costs $99. It’s battery-powered (not hardwired). You have a choice of two colors at checkout.
- The most advanced model, Ring Video Doorbell Elite, sells for $499. It’s powered over Ethernet with hardwiring. This model ships with cover plates in four colors.
- Other Ring doorbells give you a choice of battery-only or battery plus hardwiring. Hardwiring can be relatively easy to accomplish if your home already has wiring for an old-fashioned doorbell.
All Ring doorbell cameras are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Android, iOS, and Mac devices.
And finally, as mentioned, Ring doorbells can be part of no monthly fee home security systems. Rely on the siren and text notifications for self-monitoring, or add paid monitoring on a monthly or yearly basis.
As noted above, some Ring doorbells are easier to install than others. You’ll need a screwdriver (included) regardless of the model.
The simplest Ring models can be powered just with a rechargeable battery. No advanced DIY skills are needed. After putting the battery inside your doorbell, you’ll use a Ring mobile app to connect the unit to your Wi-Fi network. Typically a battery works for a year without recharging.
Advanced Ring doorbells require hardwiring. Installation can be easy even for people without wiring experience, provided that wires for an existing doorbell are in good condition. Your main task is to wrap two wires around screws. Sometimes a power drill is needed to finish the work.
In the best cases, you can hardwire a Ring doorbell in about 10 minutes.
4. Arlo - Best Outdoor Security Cameras
Arlo is a top choice for home security cameras. A diverse lineup of high-quality video baby monitors, indoor cameras, and weatherproof cameras helps make them popular. No contract is required, and DIY monitoring starts at just $2.99/month per camera.
At the time of this review, owners can access Arlo video on a desktop computer, smart TV, or mobile device. This includes pre-recorded clips and live streams.
What We Like
- Simple installation
- Remote video access
- Low-cost doorbell camera
- Low-cost DIY monitoring
What We Don’t Like
- Some equipment is expensive
Arlo outdoor cameras are designed for wire-free setup. In the case of a prowler or intruder, each camera has night vision and captures HD video to help law enforcement. Some cameras have facial recognition for the residents and trusted visitors. Here are rundowns of three popular choices.
This robust outdoor security camera has night vision, high-def resolution, and two-way voice. It’s wire-free and cordless, and it’s powered by a long-lasting rechargeable battery. Recordings are triggered by sound and/or motion.
Arlo Go can function anywhere in the US with LTE (4G wireless coverage). Data is saved to the cloud, plus there’s a data card for local storage in case of an Internet outage.
Ultra is Arlo’s best outdoor security camera. It has enhanced night vision to pick up colors, plus it has an integrated motion-activated spotlight. Some other perks are a 180-degree view (no fisheye effect) and noise cancellation for ultra-clear audio.
Arlo audio doorbells ($49.99 and $79.99) let you stay connected with your home’s entryway, even when you aren’t home. A motion detector will send text alerts when someone is present. You can see your doorstep on video, and you can communicate with two-way voice. Recordings are saved to cloud storage for seven days.
5. Nest Secure - Best Indoor Security Cameras
Nest is a leading manufacturer of cameras and smart home devices that work with countless home security brands. Recently they expanded to offer stand-alone security packages with Nest Secure. In any case, Nest indoor cameras are a top consumer choice for no monthly fee home security. The brand is so widespread, you can monitor Nest from select car dashboards and pedometers as well as industry-standard mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Paid monitoring from Nest Secure is contracted with Brinks, an award-winning emergency call center. Nest system owners can choose month-to-month service for $29/month, or annual service for $19/month.
What We Like
- Easy DIY installation
- Free mobile app
- No monthly fee
What We Don’t Like
- Some cameras are expensive
The best indoor security camera by Nest, called Nest IQ, has cutting-edge features. Cheaper competitors can boast about night vision and motion detection… but Nest goes a step beyond with:
- Built-in Google Assistant
- Motion detection up to 50 feet away
- Automatic zoom-in on activity
- Two-way audio communication
- Facial recognition
- An extra-powerful speaker
- Noise cancellation
The camera can text you intelligent alerts. For example, facial recognition makes it possible to say that your hired dog-walker arrived.
The unit plugs in and has backup battery power.
A single indoor Nest IQ cam sells for $299. Two-packs reflect a discount at $499. Outdoor models are also available at slightly higher prices.
With Nest being compatible with so many devices, it’s an easy choice for no monthly fee home video surveillance, environmental monitoring, and home automation all-in-one.
More About Self Monitored Home Security
People choose no monthly fee home security systems for many reasons. Some simply get stressed out by paperwork. Others live in remote areas, so an operator’s 911 call seems unhelpful. Here are some other reasons.
Avoid a Credit Check
When you request a home security contract, generally the monitoring company will check your credit. Usually, the inquiry is soft; it shouldn’t damage your credit score. Even so, credit checks might stress you out! Maybe you have no credit or poor credit, or maybe you just have privacy concerns.
Choosing from the five security companies above lets you get no monthly fee home security, so a credit check isn’t included.
Control Your Budget
Each company above lets you get home security without promising to pay each month. You can also avoid a pro installation fee, so your only expense is equipment.
There are two main trade-offs of going contract-free:
- You will be 100 percent responsible for monitoring alerts, obviously. If you aren’t in earshot to hear a siren, or if you miss a free text alert, then maybe nobody will call 911 in case of an emergency.
- Package deals are cheaper. If you ultimately choose pro monitoring for the majority of the time, it might be wiser to choose a contract instead of on-demand monitoring.
You’re on the Move
No-contract home security is popular among people who often relocate, such as college students and military families. Each security company in this article has friendly features for people on the go:
- You can install/uninstall equipment yourself.
- There’s no re-activation charge at your new address.
- You can install and be self-monitoring a system in under 30 minutes.
These reasons to choose no monthly fee home security can make good sense. Still, the companies featured here are open to commitment if your status changes.
Update: abode now works with Apple HomeKit.
So you want to invest in your home’s security, but you don’t want to pay monthly fees for 24/7 professional monitoring. Hey, I hear you. If you have the time and a user-friendly app, self-monitoring is a great way to save money while still staying safe (say that five times fast). In this review, I picked out my five favorite security systems that allow for self-monitoring, judging them based on their components, installation processes, subscription options, customer support, and apps. Let’s get started with the best home security systems without monthly fee review!
That’s all I have! To explore even more great options, check out the overall best home security systems.
FAQs About No Monthly Fee Security Systems
- What are the best DIY home security systems?
The best DIY home security systems include Nest Secure, Ring Alarm, Frontpoint, ADT, Protect America, SimpliSafe, and Link Interactive.
- Can SimpliSafe be used without monitoring?
SimpliSafe can be used without professional monitoring, however, you won’t be able to use the SimpliSafe app so it will become a local alarm system.
- What is the best home security system without a monthly fee?
The best home security systems without monthly fees are abode, Ring Alarm, Vivint, Nest Secure, and Scout.