Home security equipment can be monitored or unmonitored. Monitored means that a paid service helps watch your back: They get alerts from your alarm system and can call 911. On the other hand, with unmonitored home security, nobody is paid to provide backup. That’s why the best unmonitored home security systems have mobile apps for keeping an eye on your property when you leave. Mobile apps can send alerts, and some let you monitor home video surveillance for free.
Best Unmonitored Security Systems: What To Look For
SimpliSafe makes very easy-to-use DIY home security systems. Equipment prices are low ($229 for a starter set) and you can keep an alarm system working without a monthly fee. Owners have the option of adding low-cost professional monitoring anytime.
Some key points about SimpliSafe:
Easy DIY installation
Low-priced optional monitoring
Offers a doorbell camera and indoor camera
Google Assistant for limited home automation
SimpliSafe sensors can be triggered by human motion at doors, windows, and inside. They are pet-friendly to help avoid false alarms.
Going unmonitored is a big reason to choose SimpliSafe. However, you won’t have access to the mobile app unless you pay $14.99/month for their cheapest pro monitoring plan. This means that an unmonitored SimpliSafe system is best for someone who’s satisfied with a loud alarm (105 decibels) as their alert system.
Equipment is low-priced because there’s no middleman markup; SimpliSafe builds the essential equipment and some extras themselves. The cheapest starter kit includes these five devices and a yard sign:
Online promotions sometimes add a SimpliCam or other equipment to the deal for free.
Building upon a starter set, you can add the following SimpliSafe equipment:
Entry sensor, $15
Motion sensor, $30
Indoor camera, $99
Carbon monoxide detector, $50
Smoke detector, $30
Freeze sensor, $30
Water leak sensor, $20
Extra siren, $60
Extra keychain remote, $25
Third-party devices can also wirelessly connect to a SimpliSafe base station. One example is August Smart Locks, which are door locks you can control by voice with Google Assistant, or remotely with the SimpliSafe mobile app. As of 2021, the other third-party compatible features are smart thermostats and lights.
SimpliSafe Unmonitored vs Monitored
With unmonitored home security by SimpliSafe (no paid plan), you’ll rely on a 105-decibel siren and a wall keypad with chime alerts. With the cheapest paid plan, $14.99 month-to-month, you’ll get text alerts plus professional monitoring. This plan doesn’t give access to all features of the SimpliSafe mobile app or home automation.
With the top-tier plan at $24.99 month-to-month, you’ll get text alerts, remote control of your system with the mobile app, and limited home automation as described above.
2. abode - Best DIY Install
Widest selection of home automation options with contract-free home security
Abode is a top choice for unmonitored home security with endless possibilities. They make a simple all-in-one anti-burglary unit ($229), but many customers opt for custom Abode security systems with home automation and environmental monitoring. Either way, Google Assistant is at your service!
The free Abode mobile app lets you remotely monitor and control the system yourself, plus it lets you add pro backup on-demand: You can add professional monitoring for a long weekend, a week, or longer. Promotional prices are under $7/month when you choose a 12-month agreement.
Compared with SimpliSafe, Abode security has the advantage of connecting any appliance with a smart plug. Their Z-Wave compatible security systems can automate lights, thermostats, window coverings, your home theater, and much more. Also, an Abode security system can guard outside your home with weatherproof surveillance cameras.
Some key points about Abode security are:
Professional or DIY monitoring
Z-Wave compatible for home automation
Supports voice commands
Indoor & outdoor video surveillance
Abode Security Equipment
The all-in-one abode iota security system retails for $229. This “plug and play” unit has the following features:
HD camera with night vision
Emergency communication chips
Google Assistant and other apps
The iota system is especially easy to install. More exciting though is Abode’s Basic System, an unmonitored home security kit on sale for $159. It includes a Gateway base station with siren, keyfob, entry sensor, and indoor motion sensor. From there, go with infinite possibilities! Examples of add-ons are:
Amazon Echo speakers
Google Home speakers
Smart lights by Hue
Smart locks by Yale
Smart plugs by Aeotech
Water leak sensors by Aeotech
Abode security equipment is sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The same guarantee comes with many of the compatible third-party devices.
Abode Security – Monitored vs. Unmonitored
Unmonitored home security with Abode has the same mobile app features of paid service. Examples are entry alerts, streaming video access, and remote control over cameras.
Paid plans add cellular backup and/or professional monitoring. Prices for each plan are low. With an instant 50 percent discount, Abode DIY monitoring with cellular backup is just $3.30/month. Their Secure Plan, which includes professional monitoring, is just $8.30/month at half off.
3. Ring Alarm Security Kit - Best DIY Home Security with Alexa
Excellent Amazon Alexa integration plus app-based control of cutting-edge cameras
Ring home security systems are made by Amazon. Amazon also invented the Alexa virtual assistant, so Ring has an edge in the running for best home security with Alexa. You can use Alexa voice commands to arm your security system, adjust lights, set the TV volume, play games, and much more.
Amazon’s Ring is also a great choice if you’re focused on DIY video surveillance. They have a wide range of doorbell video cameras, indoor cameras, and outdoor cameras. These devices have cutting-edge features such as night vision and two-way voice. Besides that, Ring has the industry’s best remote camera controls. For instance, just speak to see your backyard camera’s video stream on your phone or TV: “Alexa, show me activity from the backyard.” You can also control camera behavior with the Ring mobile app.
Some key points about Ring home security are:
Professional or DIY monitoring
Supports home automation for security
Supports Alexa voice commands
Advanced indoor & outdoor cameras
You can run an unmonitored Ring alarm system for free. Optionally you can get the Ring Protect Plus plan with pro monitoring, cellular backup, and video storage at just $10/month or $100/year.
Basic equipment (a starter set without cameras) is priced competitively at just $199. Countless Z-Wave products from third parties are compatible, and Ring backs its sales with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Ring Security Equipment
Starter sets at the Ring website are sized for different homes. The larger the set, the more sensors it has for entryways and indoor motion detection. The smallest kit ($199) has five basic components: a base station, keypad, entry sensor, motion detector, and range extender. Also, Ring sometimes includes smart lights for free. “Alexa, turn on the porch light.”
The Ring camera selection is impressive. Ring video doorbells can be hardwired or installed wire-free, and Ring security cameras (indoor and outdoor) can be installed without tools. Some popular products are:
Video Doorbell 2 – Monitor your home from anywhere! This $199 video doorbell can send alerts to your phone or PC, and a wide-angle view shows the scene in crisp 1080HD resolution. Other features are infrared night vision, two-way voice, and adjustable motion detection.
Floodlight Cam – Ring cameras can help discourage crime and stop criminals in action. This bestseller has a motion sensor, LED lights, two-way voice, and a siren. One floodlight camera sells for $249. Ring gives discounts on multiples.
Stick Up Cam – This handy weatherproof camera can be installed to run three ways: hardwired, wire-free with battery power, or wire-free with solar power. It has two-way talk and night vision. One camera sells for $179, and Ring gives discounts with packs of two, three, or four cameras.
Finally, a Ring base kit can also monitor Z-Wave products. Their webpage “Works With Ring” shows a garage door motion sensor, smart locks, light switches and dimmers, and smart outlets.
Ring Monitored vs Unmonitored
You can use Ring without a monthly fee. The mobile app will alert you if someone presses the doorbell camera button or if motion is detected. You’ll also have access to live video and two-way audio with each camera.
To save video and share clips with law enforcement, you’ll need a paid plan. These are called Ring Protect Basic and Plus. The top-tier plan includes professional monitoring for just $100/year.
4. Canary - Best All
For smaller homes, the best plug-and-play security system that works unmonitored
Canary features an all-in-one unit to guard small living spaces. This sleek desktop tower is generally best for apartments, as it’s meant to guard one doorway only. Setup is easy; basically you plug in the tower and connect the free mobile app.
An HD video camera is built into the tower. Also, a high-end freestanding camera is sometimes included with starter sets. Without paid service, you can remotely access live video or saved clips anytime.
The Canary All-in-One tower is affordable at just $169 if you go unmonitored. It’s just $49 if you choose a long-term professional monitoring agreement (two years). You can also opt for month-to-month service at $9.99.
Main points about Canary home security:
Easy to use
DIY or pro monitoring
Indoor video surveillance
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
Limited environmental monitoring is provided by the unit’s air quality sensor. The manufacturer notes that it isn’t a replacement for a traditional smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector; it’s more like a reminder to open windows when the area gets dusty. As of 2021, the Canary tower doesn’t yet support Z-Wave for home automation.
Canary Security Equipment
The All-In-One Security Tower includes:
1080p video camera with night vision
Air quality sensor
Sometimes Canary includes, free of charge, their wireless security camera to pair with the tower. Its cutting-edge features include:
Artificial intelligence to recognize friends
Canary’s wireless camera also has a panic button. It can sound an alarm and, if monitored, call an emergency dispatcher.
Canary Monitored vs Unmonitored
An unmonitored Canary system has a functional 90-decibel alarm. Also, it can send alerts to your mobile device.
With paid monitoring at $9.99/month, you’ll get professional backup from Noonlight emergency dispatchers. This premium service also adds the ability to see camera footage on your desktop computer.
Paid monitoring activates an in-app panic button too. If you press the button, emergency personnel will be dispatched unless you cancel with a four-digit PIN.
Frequently Asked Questions
You know by now that the best security systems don’t require monitoring, but there’s probably a few questions we’ve left unanswered.
The best home security camera system without a monthly fee is abode. Without paying anything, we could livestream footage, receive motion notifications, connect to 160 local IoT devices and have three days of cloud storage.
You cannot get ADT without monitoring. All of their flagship systems require 24/7 professional monitoring, which ranges from $40 to $60 a month. However, ADT’s sub-brands, ADT Samsung SmartThings and Blue by ADT, don’t require professional monitoring, so self-monitoring only is possible.
If you have a home you’d like to protect from burglaries, you need a monitored home security system. Otherwise, you’ll be completely responsible for responding to every motion-triggered notification and contacting emergency services, if need be. However, a professional monitoring service will check into every alarm that goes off and can contact the police, fire department or a local hospital when needed.