Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems
Looking for home security with no monthly fees or long-term contracts? We’ve got it covered.
- Budget-friendly home security
- No required costs beyond equipment
- No long-term financial commitment
- No contracts to worry about
- Affordable home security packages
- Kits starting at $159
- No ongoing monthly fees
- Only pay for what you need
- Monitoring plan not require to live-stream video
Setting up a security system isn’t cheap. In fact, the equipment alone might cost you hundreds of dollars, and then you may have to pay up to $60 more per month for monitoring, cellular backup, or cloud storage.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, a security system without monthly fees might be for you. That is, if you’re willing to put in extra work and monitor your own security system. That’s called self-monitoring, and in this guide, we’ll discuss the best options for self-monitored home security. They are the ones with the most complete set of features right out of the box, the most reliable equipment, and the most competitive prices.
Take note that while these options offer self-monitored solutions, you can always upgrade to professional monitoring with monthly fees.
All right, without further ado, let’s dig right in.
How We Test Security Systems
|Number of systems tested||4|
|Number with free notifications||4|
|Number with free livestreaming||4|
|Number with free cloud storage||1|
Comparison of the Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems
Ring Alarm Security Kit
|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||$232-$292||$200-$330||$160-$342||$99-$1,230|
|Read Review||SimpliSafe Review||abode Review||Ring Alarm Security Kit Review||Arlo Review|
Summary of the Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems
- SimpliSafe - Best Equipment
- abode - Best for Home Automation
- Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best Security Camera and Alexa Compatibility
- Arlo - Best Security Camera System with Free Cloud Storage
Detailed List of the Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems
1. SimpliSafe - Best Equipment
Equipment is everything when you’re self-monitoring a security system. You’ll need reliable hardware with a robust set of features, and the components themselves must be high-quality.
SimpliSafe makes its own hardware, and thanks to that, it is one of the best DIY home security systems. You’ll install the system yourself (professional installation is available for $79), but in our experience, the process is so streamlined that you can have it up and running in minutes. As for the quality of the hardware, it’s undeniable: They’re robust and durable. We’ve had ours for years with no signs of falling apart.
What We Like
- Remote control
- DIY installation
What We Don’t Like
- No mobile alerts without paid plans
- No person detection on indoor cameras
- Can’t download video to your phone without paid plan
- Kit required for outdoor camera
Equipment and Monitoring Choices
SimpliSafe equipment works around the clock to protect your home. The base station is the main component. All the other sensors connect to the device wirelessly, and then the device connects to Wi-Fi to communicate alerts and send notifications to your smartphone. It even has a 24-hour battery backup so it can stay on and protect your house even when the power is out.
In our experience, SimpliSafe is a well-rounded security system with most of the components you’ll likely need to protect your home. That includes security sensors, sensors that detect safety hazards like fire and gas leaks, and security cameras both for indoor and outdoor use.
While you don’t need a monthly subscription to use SimpliSafe equipment, you certainly have the option to opt in should you choose. And the best part is there are no contracts. If you’re going on a trip, for example, you can buy a monitoring subscription for exactly one month and then cancel it when you get back home. There are no cancellation fees or penalties.
Feature Free plan Cloud storage for 1 camera Cloud storage for up to 10 cameras Standard plan Interactive plan Price per month $0 $4.99 $9.99 $17.99 $27.99 Livestreaming Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Professional monitoring No No No Yes Yes Environmental monitoring No No No Yes Yes Cellular connection No No No Yes Yes Remote control Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Alerts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Secret alarms No No No No Yes Video-verified alarms No Yes Yes No Yes 30 days of cloud storage No Yes Yes No Yes Smart home integrations No No No No Google Assistant, Alexa
Self-Monitoring and Notifications
So how effective was SimpliSafe? Here’s how it reacts to possible break-ins: First, the sensors detect intrusion. When a door is opened when it shouldn’t or movement is detected where there shouldn’t be any, the sensors notify the tower-like base station. The base station, in turn, sounds its siren. That should be enough to ward off intruders, in theory.
To go a step further, SimpliSafe will notify you on your smartphone. Take note: SimpliSafe uses your Wi-Fi and internet connection to communicate, so if the Wi-Fi is out, it won’t be able to generate alerts. That’s why the built-in siren is important. In any case, if you receive a notification, you can use the SimpliCam (one is often included for free) to check on your home remotely. It livestreams camera feeds, and you can even use two-way talk to scare off intruders.
Finally, SimpliSafe’s equipment was easy to install. While the company offered us professional installation starting at just $79, it took us less than 30 minutes to install the affordable SimpliSafe security system ourselves.
In addition, that easy installation meant we could move the equipment with no trouble if we relocated. It was all completely portable, making it a great security system for renters or a security system for apartments. Here’s how we put it all together:
- We plugged the SimpliSafe hub into a wall outlet.
- We used the included adhesive tape to attach sensors to the walls.
- The SimpliCam was freestanding, so we didn’t even need a screwdriver. We just placed it on a flat surface and called it a day.
Plus, there are no moving fees if you move to a new home or apartment. Simply update your address via the app, put all the components in a box, and reinstall it in your new place. And if you need additional equipment, you can buy it from SimpliSafe and install it on your own.
2. abode - Best for Home Automation
Abode is a top choice for no-contract, no-monthly-fee home security because of the system’s capabilities right out of the box.
We started with a simple abode security package, the Smart Security Kit, which cost us about $180. Then, we built on that basic setup with environmental monitoring, home automation, and voice commands.
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.
What We Like
- Compatibility with Apple HomeKit
- DIY or professional monitoring
- Compatibility with Nest cameras, Phillips Hue lightbulbs, ecobee thermostats, Schlage locks, Bose sound systems, and other IoT devices
- DIY installation
What We Don’t Like
- Only a few camera models
- Low-rated apps
- Poor customer support
- Person detection not available on all cameras
Setting up our abode security equipment was super easy. We chose a simple system with an all-in-one unit, which combined a siren, a motion detector, and a security camera. “All-in-one” meant our installation was just four steps:
- 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, but most of that time went into placing the sensors, cameras, and smart devices that we bought. In terms of setting up the system, we mostly just had to pair the components with the hub, which we did through the abode smartphone app.
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. The hub also had a siren, which is useful for deterring intruders in case we’re not available to respond to alerts.
Another great thing about self-monitoring abode is that you can professional monitoring on-demand, the first of its kind we’ve ever tested. On-demand means you can purchase professional monitoring for just three or seven days, not a whole month. The on-demand options come in handy if you’re going away for a weekend or a week, for instance, and you need abode’s monitoring partner to takeover monitoring while you’re busy.
There are longer term options available too, if you need at least a month of professional monitoring. Under the Pro plan, abode will provide professional monitoring one month at a time for about $20 per month. Find out more in the table below.
Features Basic plan Standard plan Pro plan Livestreaming Yes Yes Yes Notifications Yes Yes Yes One-touch arming Yes Yes Yes Smart home integrations Yes Yes Yes Video storage in days 0 7 30 Timeline of events No Yes Yes Home automation No Yes Yes In-app panic alarms No Yes Yes Cellular backup No No 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) Daily price $0 $0.20 $0.66 Monthly price $0 $6 $19.80 Annual price $0 $72 $237.60
Overall, we were pleased with abode’s equipment. For just $180, the Smart Security Kit came with the Gateway hub, a motion sensor, a door/window sensor, and a key fob.
We added an outdoor camera for another $160 and loved the crystal-clear image we got. Abode cameras feature 1080p HD video resolution and 127-degree fields of zoom. We could even spot the stain on our Amazon package delivery person’s shirt. In addition, abode cameras have infrared LED night vision and two-way audio.
Our favorite thing about abode is that most of its features worked out of the box. You absolutely don’t need a subscription to enjoy home automation features. Just pair your existing Z-Wave or Zigbee devices with the hub, and you’ll gain control and functionality through the abode app. You can even create schedules, scenes, and rules through abode’s CUE home automation platform. Overall, abode is a great smart home security solution for those on a budget.
3. Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best Security Camera and Alexa Compatibility
Ring revolutionized the home security market with its Ring doorbell cameras, and it continues to innovate home security. If you’re looking for a home security system that works well with Ring’s top-notch video doorbells and Ring security cameras, the low-cost Ring Alarm security system is a solid option.
We bought a curated, five-piece kit for about $200, but you can buy much larger security systems for only a bit more than that price. You can also opt for the newer Ring Alarm Pro system, which also offers Wi-Fi router capabilities within its base station.
What We Like
- Neighbors app, which connects neighbors, police, and security personnel and allows users to post video clips and information about security events at their homes
- Alerts to desktop and phone
- Smart integrations with Google Assistant, Alexa, Schlage, Yale, Chamberlain, Leviton, and more
- Lots of camera and video doorbell options
What We Don’t Like
- Hardwired doorbells that require advanced installation skills
- History of security breaches and hackings
- No local storage
- No silent arming/disarming feature
Given that Ring is a part of the Amazon family, it’s not surprising to see how well the Ring Alarm and Ring security cameras work with Alexa, Amazon’s voice AI. This means you can control your Ring Alarm and Ring cameras using Alexa smart speakers. If you own Alexa smart displays as well, such as the Echo Show, you can even stream live camera footage with nothing but your voice.
With Ring’s Alexa integration, we were able to:
- Guard against intruders
- Monitor for home hazards like fire and gas leaks
- Automate our home
We performed all these actions using voice commands alone. When we went out for a night on the town, all we had to say was, “Alexa, arm Ring.” Livestreaming was easy as well. We named our video doorbell Marty, and all we had to do to watch the live feed was say, “Alexa, show Marty.”
We were pleased to discover that Ring Alarm also works flawlessly with Google Assistant and a whole host of smart home devices, including those from Schlage, Kwikset, GE, Yale, Dome, and Leviton.
Pro Tip: With smart locks from Schlage, Kwikset, or Yale, you can use a mobile app, passcodes, geofences, or home automation triggers from other IoT devices to lock and unlock your door.
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. We live on the fourth floor, so unless Spider-Man tries to break in, good doorbell cameras provide all the video footage we could ever need. And who knows more about video doorbells than Ring, the company that invented them?
Ring has a large selection of doorbell cameras, and here are some of the options.
- Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus: The Video Doorbell 3 Plus comes with Pre-Roll, which adds a four-second preview video to every motion event it captures. Learn more in our Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus review.
- Ring Video Doorbell Pro: The Video Doorbell Pro connects to your preexisting doorbell wiring. Take a deeper dive in our review of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro.
- Ring Video Doorbell Elite: The Video Doorbell Elite gets its power through an Ethernet cable.
The catch with these Ring doorbells and even their security cameras is that without paying a monthly fee, they don’t record footage. You’ll be able to livestream and use two-way talk, and you’ll get alerts when someone rings your doorbell or when motion is detected, but recording is not possible at all. You’ll have to act fast on alerts if you decide to opt out of the monthly subscription.
If you do want your cameras to record, Ring’s cloud plans are among the most affordable we’ve seen. It costs $3 per month to enable recording on one camera or $10 per month for unlimited cameras. All videos are saved in the cloud for 60 days.
FYI: Ring is the only home security company that offers a peephole camera to replace an existing door peephole.
Ring Alarm Pro
We briefly mentioned Ring Alarm Pro earlier, Ring’s newer security system/ In many ways, it’s similar to the classic Ring Alarm, but it offers a unique feature that can elevate your home security further.
In addition to being the main hub, the base station of the Ring Alarm Pro also functions as a Wi-Fi router where you can connect security cameras, smart home components, mobile devices, and computers. But what’s the big deal if you already have a router?
Well, with the $20 per month Ring Protect Pro monitoring plan, the Ring hub gains 3 GB of monthly backup data. If your internet is down, it switches over to cellular data to keep your devices connected to the internet. In home security applications, this means your devices will continue to be connected to the internet, so you can still control your security system, stream live camera feeds, and receive doorbell or motion alerts.
4. Arlo - Best Security Camera System with Free Cloud Storage
Arlo offers a diverse lineup of high-quality video baby monitors, indoor cameras, and weatherproof cameras. In fact, it is regularly one of our top choices for home security cameras. Recently, it also released a home security system, dubbed the Arlo All-In-One system.
Still, one of Arlo’s greatest advantages is the fact that it has an army of security cameras, with which you can record motion events without spending a dime on cloud storage subscriptions.
What We Like
- Wide selection of Arlo cameras
- Low-cost Arlo doorbell cameras
- Easy installation
What We Don’t Like
- No door sensors
- No glass-break sensors
- No Apple HomeKit support
- No free person detection
The Arlo All-In-One takes a page from the now-defunct Nest Secure security system. Instead of numerous sensors, it offers one versatile multi-purpose sensor.
The All-In-One sensor offers eight smart detection functions, namely, motion, tilt, open/close, water leak, smoke alarm listening, CO alarm listening, light, and water. With this, you can repurpose the sensors as needed. During winter, for example, you can move a sensor from your window to under the sink to monitor for freezing pipes.
The Arlo All-In-One system is free to monitor, but its best features are reserved to those who will subscribe to the Arlo paid plan ($19.99 per month). The plan includes professional monitoring, one-tap access to emergency services via the app and hub, and cellular backup, among other things.
Arlo offers a broad range of camera styles and features. In fact, it comes out with so many different cameras each year that it can be hard to keep up. These are three of our favorites:
- Arlo Pro 2: In our Arlo Pro 2 review, we found this camera to be robust, with 1080p HD resolution, a 130-degree field of view, infrared night vision, and two-way audio. It is also wire-free, so we didn’t have cords cluttering up our apartment, and it includes rechargeable battery backup that can last up to six months on one charge. Sound and/or motion triggers recordings.
- 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: The Arlo Ultra is Arlo’s best outdoor security camera. As we note in our Arlo Ultra review, it worked great for us at night because its enhanced night vision picks up colors via motion-activated spotlight. Other Arlo Ultra perks we enjoyed were a 180-degree view with no fisheye effect, and noise cancellation for ultra-clear audio.
THE MORE YOU KNOW: Hardwired security systems use wire for both power and communication. Wireless security cameras communicate wirelessly (though some use landlines or cellular connections in case the wireless goes down).
We liked that Arlo didn’t require contracts so we could self-monitor for no money at all. We accessed Arlo’s video using a desktop computer, smart TV, and mobile device.
Even better, Arlo offers free cloud storage for select cameras. These cameras are the Arlo Wire-Free, Arlo Pro and Pro 2, Arlo Q and Q Plus, Arlo Go, and Arlo Baby. Here’s how it works: When these cameras detect movement, they wake up and start recording. The recording is then sent to the cloud for storage. Each clip lasts in the cloud for seven days before they get deleted permanently, so if you plan to use Arlo without monthly fees, be sure to check the cloud storage every seven days or less.
Another limitation with the free plan is the number of cameras. You can only have up to five cameras on the free plan. Any camera in excess of five can no longer store videos for free.
We use a variety of factors to compile our best lists. In the case of comparing security systems with no monthly fees, these factors include monitoring options, ease of installation, video quality, and how well each system works with its respective mobile apps. Below, we go through the complete set of criteria we used to create this list.
All systems with no monthly fees use self-monitoring. Unfortunately, no company offers 24/7 professional monitoring for free. However, we like systems that at least offer the option to upgrade to 24/7 professional monitoring. You never know when you may want an extra set of eyes on your home.
>> Learn More: Find the Best Home Security System
We’re keenly aware that some self-monitored systems don’t come with all the perks of professionally monitored systems. With this in mind, we look for self-monitoring systems without monthly fees that still provide the essential security tools, like mobile notifications, remote control, and short-term video storage.
For a smart security system to work, there needs to be a strong connection between all the system’s components.
These days, most security systems don’t use landlines. Most use Wi-Fi to communicate instead. Some companies, however, offer cellular security systems or landline security systems as backups. We prefer this safety measure, since we never know when our Wi-Fi might go down.
We consider each brand’s equipment from several angles, such as camera features, customization, and durability. In particular, we examine these factors:
- Camera features: We prefer cameras that meet or exceed industry standards. Specifically, we want 1080p HD video resolution, infrared night vision, two-way audio, cloud and local storage, smart platform integrations, and artificial intelligence capabilities like person detection and facial recognition.
- Durability: If we’re installing outdoor cameras, we want them to function in extreme temperatures, such as above 100 or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The best outdoor security cameras have IP ratings of 65 or higher, which means that they are dust-tight and can withstand low-pressure water jets. A 65 rating lets us hide our outdoor security cameras anywhere without worrying they might get damaged. Check out our list of the best outdoor security systems to find out more.
- Wireless vs. wired: For wireless components, we consider battery life to be of the utmost importance. A wireless camera backup battery should last one to two years. Wire-free cameras, which rely on battery power solely, can last up to six months, but that length depends on how frequently the camera is triggered. The batteries actually last 48 to 72 hours, but because they operate for only seconds whenever they are triggered, that 48 to 72 hours might stretch over six months. Rechargeable batteries or alternative charging methods such as solar power gain extra points with us. For hardwired systems, we begin by seeing if the components are easy to install. Next, we consider if the systems have some built-in backup. If they have Wi-Fi, we like them to have either landline or cellular backup in case the Wi-Fi is down.
- Storage options: Finally, we consider whether the systems feature any storage options. Some, for instance, provide small amounts of cloud storage on the house. Others offer local storage for free through an included hard drive or micro-SD card.
We also appreciate brands that offer a variety of equipment packages and bundles. We especially like companies that manufacture systems for different home sizes. We live in apartments, but we understand that some people need security systems for large homes.
When you think about how to secure your home, you can’t just think about the price of equipment. Installation can cost money upfront as well if there’s no DIY option. However, most home security systems that are free of monthly fees offer DIY installation only.
A few security companies provide professional installation for a fee. In those cases, the lower the fee, the better. Usually, you can expect to pay around $80 to $100.
None of the systems on this list require monthly fees, but that doesn’t mean they’re free. We have to take equipment costs into account. We’re always looking for the most affordable security cameras and the most affordable security systems.
How much is a home security system? There are lots of factors to consider, from the cost of home security system permits to potential home security system tax deductions (in certain cases when you run a business from your home). When you take everything into account, security systems can range in price from $30 to thousands of dollars. We tend to prefer systems in the $200-$300 price range, but it depends on the size of your house and your security needs.
The best mobile apps are easy to use, free of bugs, and reliable. We always investigate the apps’ ratings on the Apple and Google Play stores, aside from testing them ourselves.
Company Policies and Reputations
Generally, we choose companies that have long or extended warranties, free trials, and flexible return and cancellation policies. We also want the companies we buy from to have reputations for dependability and customer service. Finally, we try to steer clear of companies that have suffered data breaches or hackings.
It’s not easy these days to find home security systems that don’t charge any monthly fees. However, we’ve found and tested the cream of the crop. We’re always willing to do a little extra research to save a little money. For additional savings tips, check out our page on home security deals and our page on Black Friday and Cyber Monday home security deals.
To see all of the security systems that don’t charge monthly fees in action, watch our video review below.
To round out this article, we’ve taken the time to answer some of your most frequently asked questions about home security systems with no monthly fees.
What are the best DIY home security systems?
Our selections for the best DIY home security systems include Ring Alarm, Frontpoint, ADT, SimpliSafe, and Link Interactive. All of these companies let you save money by installing the equipment yourself.
Can you use SimpliSafe without monitoring?
Yes, you can use SimpliSafe without professional monitoring. Unfortunately, you cannot download video, but you can receive notifications, see live feeds, and control your security system with the SimpliSafe app. You can also control the system using either Alexa or Google Assistant.
What is the best home security system without a monthly fee?
The best home security systems without monthly fees are SimpliSafe, abode, Ring Alarm, and Arlo.
How much does Ring Alarm professional monitoring cost?
Ring Alarm offers full-service professional monitoring for $20 a month. You can also sign up for a year’s worth of service for $200, which lowers the monthly price to $16.66.