Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems

Looking for home security with no monthly fees or long-term contracts? We’ve got it covered.

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Aug 12, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Aug 12, 2021
Best No Fee
Our Top Picks

Best Overall

SimpliSafe

Editor's Rating
9.8
/10
SimpliSafe Home Security System
Editor's Rating
9.8
/10
We got professional-grade equipment from SimpliSafe, but we installed and monitored it ourselves for free.

Best for Home Automation

abode

Editor's Rating
8.0
/10
Abode Security Systems
Editor's Rating
8.0
/10
We saved money on abode because we didn’t have to pay for a monthly subscription, but also because it offers the most affordable components on the market.

Home security systems aren’t optional these days; they’re an absolute necessity. We’ve found, though, that far too many security companies charge steep monthly fees. We understand paying a little extra each month if we want professional monitoring, but what if we decide to monitor our own security system? So, we tracked down the best home security systems with no monthly fees.

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

System
SimpliSafe
SimpliSafe Home Security System
abode
Abode Home Security
Ring Alarm Security Kit
Ring Alarm (2nd Gen)
Arlo
Arlo Pro 2
Ranking 2nd 3rd 4th
Ratings 8.0/10 7.7/10 8.8/10
Installation DIY or professional DIY or professional DIY
Smart platform integration Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit Google Assistant, Alexa Google Assistant, Alexa, Apple HomeKit
Push notifications Yes Yes Yes
Free live streaming Yes Yes Yes
Free cloud storage No No 7 days
Free local storage No No Yes
Equipment package prices $232-$292 $200-$330 $99-$1,230
Read Review abode Review Ring Alarm Security Kit Review Arlo Review

Summary of the Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems

  • SimpliSafe - Best Overall No Monthly Fee Home Security System
  • Abode - Best No Monthly Fee Security System for Home Automation
  • Ring - Best No Monthly Fee Security Camera System
  • Arlo - Best No Monthly Fee Security System for Free Storage

Detailed List of the Best No Monthly Fee Home Security Systems

  • 1. SimpliSafe - Best Overall No Monthly Fee Home Security System

    Editor's Rating
    9.8
    /10
    SimpliSafe Home Security System

    As the name suggests, SimpliSafe made it simple for us to make our home safer, starting with several affordable equipment packages to choose from and DIY or professional installation. In fact, SimpliSafe is an industry leader in DIY home security systems. It was among the first companies to sell affordable wire-free security systems that customers like us could self-monitor. We like SimpliSafe so much that it’s consistently at the top of our list of the best home security systems.

    SimpliCam
    SimpliCam

    What We Like
    • Affordable
    • Remote control
    • DIY installation
    • Renter-friendly
    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

    Basic SimpliSafe equipment guarded us against intruders, but we also had options to improve our indoor video surveillance and environmental safety. For example, we used SimpliSafe’s equipment to connect to motion-activated cameras and smoke detectors. We controlled our equipment and checked feeds anytime we wanted, though, and from anywhere in the world we happened to be. While we decided to self-monitor for free, SimpliSafe offers professional monitoring for the very reasonable price of about $15 or $25 per 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
    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 No No No Yes
    Alerts No No No No 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

    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.

    Easy Installation

    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:

    1. We plugged the SimpliSafe hub into a wall outlet.
    2. We used the included adhesive tape to attach sensors to the walls.
    3. 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, SimpliSafe wouldn’t have charged us to reactivate our equipment had we changed addresses. We’re not looking to move, as we’re pretty fond of our cozy Brooklyn digs. But we like knowing we can move if we want to, and it would be hassle-free.

  • 2. Abode - Best No Monthly Fee Security System for Home Automation

    Editor's Rating
    8.0
    /10
    Abode Security Systems

    Abode is another top choice for no-contract home security. It offered us lots of options in packages, add-on equipment, short-term professional monitoring, and home automation integration — even more options than SimpliSafe did.

    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.

    abode Camera
    abode Camera

    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

    Quick Setup

    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:

    1. We plugged in the hub (essentially a base station).
    2. We connected the hub to our internet router.
    3. We downloaded the abode mobile app.
    4. We placed door sensors and window sensors around our home.

    All told, the installation took us about 30 minutes.

    On-Demand Monitoring

    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
    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

    High-Quality Equipment

    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.

  • 3. Ring - Best No Monthly Fee Security Camera System

    Editor's Rating
    7.7
    /10
    Ring Alarm Security System

    Given Ring’s history, it’s no surprise that you can buy five different versions of Ring doorbell cameras. However, Ring also produces low-cost Ring Alarm security systems, including control panels, standard Ring security cameras, smart lights, and smoke alarm listeners.

    We bought a curated, five-piece kit for $200. However, we could have built our own system entirely from scratch, choosing only the components we needed. We like that kind of flexibility.

    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

    Alexa Integration

    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

    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.

    Doorbell Cameras

    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 Doorbell button press
    Ring Doorbell

    Ring has a large selection of doorbell cameras.

    • 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.
    • Ring Peephole Cam: If you’re looking for a replacement for your door’s peephole, the Ring Peephole Cam is the only option we’ve seen on the market.

    FYI: Ring is the only home security company that offers a peephole camera to replace an existing door peephole.

    Neighbors App

    For no monthly fee, we self-monitored our security system with the Ring mobile app. The Neighbors app connects neighbors, the police, and Ring operators for neighborhood crime prevention.

    Users can report package thefts on the app. We even browsed our neighbors’ posted doorbell video recordings of porch pirates so we knew who to watch out for in our neighborhood. That’s important these days with the rise of package theft.

  • 4. Arlo - Best No Monthly Fee Security System for Free Storage

    Editor's Rating
    8.8
    /10
    Arlo Security Camera System

    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. And since many of its cameras come with motion detection, we didn’t have to buy a lot of extra components. Rather, we assembled a security system with just a hub and cameras that took care of all our needs.

    What We Like
    • Portability
    • 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
    Arlo Ultra 4K Camera
    Arlo Ultra 4K Camera

    Camera Options

    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.

    Wire-Free Cameras

    All Arlo cameras are wire-free. Unlike “wireless” security cameras, wire-free cameras require no wired connections whatsoever. This meant we could put them anywhere around our home, inside or out.

    The cameras were super easy to install. We fastened the mounting screws to the wall and hung the magnetic mounts from the screws. We could reposition or even move the cameras anytime we wanted. And because they used battery power exclusively, they worked even when the power went out.

    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).

    Free Recording

    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 was one of only two security systems we tested that allowed us to record video for free. Many of Arlo’s cameras have micro-SD card slots, so we set them to capture up to a week’s worth of images. We had the choice to record at regular intervals or whenever the built-in motion sensors triggered the cameras.

Methodology

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.

Monitoring

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.

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.

Connectivity

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.

Equipment

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.

Installation

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.

Pricing

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.

Mobile Application

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.

Recap

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.

Video Review

To see all of the security systems that don’t charge monthly fees in action, watch our video review below.

FAQs