When looking for the best home security system, self monitored and company-monitored systems are the two categories of equipment available. A company-monitored service may be a good idea for businesses and properties in dangerous neighborhoods. However, most homeowners decide to avoid the monthly fee and focus on identifying the best self monitored home security system. These systems provide numerous benefits. We have detailed important features and options for you.
No doubt, home security is a bigger deal now than ever before. As technology improves, the sophistication of home burglaries is on the rise, allowing thieves the opportunity to have access to your home easier than ever before.
If you're still on the fence about whether or not you need self monitored home security (or actively managed security), here are a few things to consider:
What type of home do you live in? This can be a large factor in whether you should consider a home security system.
If you live in a large, attractive home, this can be enticing to a burglar. And, if you live in a rural area, where homes are spread out, this makes it a lot easier for home burglary. These are two situations where securing your home with an alarm makes sense.
On the other hand, if you live in an apartment complex that constantly has people around, or in a gated community that is difficult to get into, you might have less of a need.
Burglars prefer low traffic areas and homes that are empty for long stretches of time, according to this report by the NCJRS.
This might sound pretty obvious, but it is worth a mention. What are the crime rates in your local area?
Bad company likes to hang out in bad neighborhoods. This isn't a knock on your area of living, but you must take an honest stock of the crime rates in your neighborhood.
Most of this data is published on your city's website for you to see. When looking, make sure to examine what time of crime occurred, paying special attention to burglaries.
The more crime in your area, the better served a home monitoring system will be.
For the context of this conversation, we aren't just talking about your land and dwelling when we say property - we are also referring to everything you own that is inside the house. And, the more property you own, the more necessary home security is.
It also helps to consider what your home insurance or renters insurance deductible is. If something is stolen, what would be the deductible cost to replace it if you filed a claim?
Don't forget that you run the risk of your insurance rates rising with a filed claim. It doesn't always seem fair, but it does happen.
Often times, it is a lot easier to just protect your property with a non monitored home security set up.
Home security systems don't just protect your property - they protect your family as well.
If you are single, then your primary motivation for protecting your home relates to your property. However, if you have family in your home as well, then a home security setup will also protect them.
Additionally, if your family is home for a large part the of the day, then you have even more reasons to utilize home protection security.
Do you spend long days at work, or travel frequently? As mentioned above, burglars love empty homes, and have a lot of time and technology to determine when you're not home.
If you're gone frequently, you have added reasons to monitor your home for burglary and thieves.
Additionally, this is one strong reason to consider an actively monitored solution. For example, if you have an issue while you are out of town, a self-monitored solution will notify you, but typically won't take any action. If you're on a plane or out of range, the security system won't do you much good.
Now that we've gone over all the considerations you should take into account, lets talk about the benefits that come with a home monitoring security system.
Thieves are looking for the easiest house on the block to rob. Over and over again, studies have shown that just making your home look protected and monitored goes a long way in deterring thieves.
If you are able to make your security system noticeable, then you will immediately gain from having a home that looks protected. In fact, many people just install fake security cameras to their house and garage, without ever hooking them up to a system!
Regardless, setting up security devices around your property will reduce the chances of a home break-in, just by the sheer nature of having this presence.
Protecting your home and property are perhaps the largest immediate benefits that come from installing a system to monitor your home security.
A home security system, at its core, will be there to protect against home break-ins. And, should they occur, your system will notify you (or authorities), allowing you to take action to prevent the damage and loss.
The loss that can come from a home break-in can be in the 6 figures, so protecting your property is a huge benefit.
Believe it or not, your home insurer might give you a discount for adding home monitoring. It lowers their risk, and they are often willing to pass long these savings to you.
Typically the savings will be minimal. And, the discount is usually lower for self-monitored security vs actively-monitored. But, every dollar helps!
Many people stop at the inital break-in when they think about a home robbery. However, dealing with the aftermath of a burglary is perhaps the worst part.
First, there is the cleanup, phone calls to the insurance company, and assessment of damage and loss. Next, there is the long, arduous process of recovering what was lost. Many times, what was stolen or damaged is unrecoverable.
Not to mention the personal feelings of violation and loss that come with a break in.
All of this takes time out of your busy life, and brings with it a good deal of frustration and angst. Avoiding a break-in all together eliminates all of this from your future.
Lets be honest - this is perhaps the largest benefit of a self home security system setup. Knowing that you have an added layer of protection for your home, property, possessions, and family members provides incredible peace of mind.
Only you can determine what that peace of mind is worth from a dollars perspective. However, for many, having an in-home security system allows them to sleep easier at night and live better during the day.
The biggest immediate benefit of self monitoring your home security is cost - after the up front investment, it is virtually free. However, there are numerous benefits to a self monitored security system in your house:
Once you've determined that you and your family are a good fit for a home security system, the next question becomes whether you need a self monitored security system or an actively monitored security system.
A self monitoring home security system is one where you set up the security equipment, but do all of the active security monitoring yourself, without the aid of a company.
Technology today makes this process a lot easier, with WiFi enabled cameras and monitoring devices. You can purchase a system that notifies you of any movements, and connect all of of your security devices to your smart phone and tablet.
On the other hand, an actively monitored security system is run and managed by a company. They handle the monitoring for you.
According to Safewise, "monitored security systems are systems that are actively monitored by a professional home security company. When the system detects a break-in, fire, or other emergency, it notifies the security team and, in some cases, emergency responders.
Many company-monitored systems come with a rental charge for the unit. Or, others allow you to buy the equipment, and the make you pay for a fee-for-use component attached to the monitoring service fee.
In our opinion, there are just too many good options available that provide for free, real-time security monitoring of your home. Don't opt for a system that requires you to pay for a monthly service component; you don't need it.
Now, most to all of the systems out there do offer a paid component. And, in many cases, there is a lot of value in taking advantage of it. For a small fee, you can get recorded and downloadable video footage and even professional security monitoring.
If you opt for layering a paid version on top of your free self monitoring system, make sure to go with one that doesn't have any contracts. Some will give you a discount if you pay for the year in advance, which is a good option once you're convinced it will work to your liking.
Min Monthly Fee
$10/month (Not Required)
5 day video history, cellular backup, 24/7 continuous recording, timelapses, activity zones
$10/month (Not Required)
Professional monitoring, cellular backup, 24/7 continuous recording
$2.99/month (Not Required)
7-day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, notifications, activity zones
$5/month (Not Required)
5 day video history, 24/7 continuous recording, timelapses, activity zones
Professional monitoring, 30-day video history, 24/7 continuous recording
Until recently, hardwired security systems were preferable, as they were the only ones able to sound an alarm. Radio cell systems came second, and wireless systems came last, due to their limited coverage. Technology has improved considerably and hardwires systems have lost ground.
Nowadays, the top end DIY security systems you want for your home embrace wireless technology, allowing you to access your camera(s) and system from any device. You should be able to control and communicate with your system from your phone - this gives you a lot of options and really makes your security more flexible.
They make plenty of self monitored security systems nowadays that are easy to install. They come with easy-to-follow instructions, and do not require any special tools or advanced technical skills. Most of them have flexible configurations that allow the buyer to choose the components and add-ons.
All of the security systems in our review are pretty easy to install. We've found it can take 20-30 minutes on average, perhaps going to 45 minutes, but should never take longer than an hour. A quick look at the reviews should show you if it will take longer - they typically will say!
Owners can access and control the alarm system from a distance. New systems come with dedicated apps that allow users to access the video cameras and the sensors and turn alarms on and off.
Most systems send automatic text alerts to the owners’ phones when systems or alarms are triggered. Each system has a variety of different ways it handles it, and many give you the ability to control how much or how little you are notified.
Nowadays, chances are you have other smart features in your home, such as an Amazon Alexa to control music or lighting. Home DIY security systems are increasingly able to connect with a variety of different platforms, ranging from Amazon to Apple to Samsung to Google.
If you haven't dove into the world of smart technology, and you're not married to a certain system, you'll want to be very careful about what home security unit you buy. Each has their own networks they connect with, and by choosing a model, you might be simultaneously choosing a smart home model as well.
If you already have a certain brand of smart home technology, then look into our reviews to find a good home security option that works with your specific brand. We've included great options that connect to all the major smart home brands.
Alexa, Google Home, Nest, Ecobee, IFTTT, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Hue, LIFX, Google Assistant, CUE
Z-wave, Zigbee, Ring
Amazon Alexa/Echo Show/Fire TV/Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, and more
Alexa, Google Home, Samsung, Nest, Verizon, Iris,
Alexa, Google Home
Today’s self monitored security systems allow users to choose from and combine several types of sensors. A few include entryway sensors, infrared motion sensors, smoke sensors, and gas sensors. Usually, the more sensors the system includes, the safer and more secure the owner feels. In addition, the costs are higher.
Beyond that, you can set up activity zones, exclusion zones, and specialized monitoring areas. Some systems allow the owner to set special safeguards for particular areas of their home, like a safe, an office, a medicine cabinet, or a minibar. Such systems are a great choice for home offices, families with children or pets, or members suffering from addictions.
Depending on how deep you want to go, and what type of house you have, you really have a lot of freedom. The more cameras you opt to set up, the more you will want to lean in to some of these advancements.
This is where buying a home security unit can get really confusing. Some brands seem really affordable, until you realize that you aren't getting much with the initial purchase, and you have to spend a lot of money to buy their add-ons that are entirely necessary for utilizing it.
Beyond the price, it can just be downright confusing to try and figure out what you're getting and what is needed!
Most systems have a control panel that allows the owner to adjust its settings, access its features, set, input, and change the security code, and more. The panel is usually installed on a wall close to the main door, so the owners can reach it fast and type in the security code.These are nice to have and usually provide for a solid base of options and systems to build your security monitoring platform off of.
The other important consideration is a camera or multiple cameras. Many come with a built in camera, many include a camera as a part of their kit, and still others don't supply one and you have to purchase it separately.
Base Kit Includes
1 Gateway (base station), 1 mini Door/Window Sensor, 1 Remote KeyFob, and 1 Motion Sensor
1 Base Station, 1 Contact Sensor, 1 Motion Detector, 1 Keypad, and 1 Range Extender
1 Base Station, 1 Camera
1 Camera (fully integrated, no station required)
1 Camera (including base station)
Sleek, professional grade security without the hassle of dealing with a security company.
The abode Essentials Starter Kit is able to be set up in minutes without a professional and provides a no contract 24/7 professional monitoring option.
Unlike similar systems, this home security package does not come with a standard keypad. You can purchase one separately but it is not needed. Instead you can set your alarm via a voice assistant, the included key fob, or by opening the app with your smart device.
The gateways works as the main hub for this security system. It needs to be connected to your internet via an ethernet cable connected to your router.
This is a little bit of a bummer, because it means you'll have to keep the hub near your router, but it isn't a big deal, because you'll never have to access it.
Once connected, it works to wirelessly communicate with all of the components in this security system. There is a built in battery and cellular backup, so that your home is still being monitored when the power fails or if a burglar unplugs it. This is big - none of the other competitors provide this.
Now, when it comes to cameras, the adobe system can be a little confusing. It does not come with any cameras, but does have a built-in motion sensor that will snap off a series of photos that can be used. Nest Cameras are the only certified cameras so far that work with the system. In theory, IFTTT and z-wave enabled cameras can be set up to work, but there is no guarantee of reliability.
As with all of the systems in this review, it has the ability to be self-monitored for free. Adobe provides 3 days of video history included for free with the system, which is the most we've found out there. For $10/month, you can get 14 days of video history (no contract required). And, you can also add on professional monitoring for $8 for three days of service.
The Abode Security System is able to connect across a large variety of smart home automations so that you can connect and control multiple smart accessories in your home. You can pair this security system with Amazon’s Alexa, Google home and Nest. It is also compatible with smart bulb lights, smart locks, a smart thermostat and many other items.
Abode home security doesn’t stop with just the basic package. For additional levels of home security you can add on more door/window opening sensors, window break sensors, a smoke and CO level detector and even a water leak sensor.
The Abode gateway can handle up to 160 sensors, so you can add on as many as you want to give yourself the ultimate protection in home security. The system is also very easy to adjust the settings and personalize features such as the alarm siren length and sound via the app or desktop website.
In the end, the Adobe Smart Security Kit gets our vote for the top reviewed self-automated home security system. Yes, it is the most expensive up front, but not by a wide margin. It provides the most versatility by far, and will save you money over the long run because everything it provides and its low storage costs.
Well-rounded security device that also connects to other smart home accessories.
If you are looking for a very affordable home security system that doesn’t require a long term contract and can also be set up within twenty minutes, then this may be a great option for you.
The Ring Alarm – Home Security System comes with everything you need to create a secure home and control your alarm system via your phone.
The base station works to keep your alarm system online and works to keep your security system connected to your phone and other smart devices.
It also relays commands from your devices (whether you are home or not) to the security system to set the alarm if you forget or to send you notifications if something is amiss.
In the box is:
To keep your system online and monitoring your home, it is $10 per month. This service will give you 24/7 professional monitoring that will notify local authorities and emergency services if an intrusion is detected. This monthly price also includes online saved video recording from your Ring Doorbell or any other Ring cameras.
Not to worry if you lose power, the Ring Alarm offers a backup battery and cellular backup to keep it running when your power fails. You can also add on a Ring Smoke Alarm and CO Listener to your alarm package. This will give your home security system an additional level of security by monitoring for Carbon Monoxide levels and fire in the home.
The only thing that this great security system lacks is the ability for voice assistant support through platforms like Amazon’s Alexa. It also does not integrate with other smart home devices. The Ring security system tends to be an island of its own, which can also be a good thing, since your home security system will be contained to it’s own app for controlling.
An isolated device that ensures the home's safety.
Seeing is believing and sometimes you just need visual reassurance of your home. The Arlo Pro - Wireless Home Security Camera System provides you with a clear and wireless security system so that you can breathe a sigh of relief.
These indoor and outdoor weather resistant cameras are able to be mounted without any additional equipment and have long lasting batteries so that you don’t have to fuss with wires.
The cameras are equipped with night vision, so that you can see clearly after the sun goes down. They are also able to pick up motion and zero in on any disturbances in their line of sight. You will receive mobile app notifications or real time email notifications when you are at home or while you are away.
This security system comes with:
There is also a built in siren that you can control remotely to warn any intruders that they have been seen. When you pair this video security system with other home security systems then it will turn on to record a disturbance clip. The Arlo alarm can also be sequence triggered through other paired alarm systems like the Samsung Smartthings.
Video capturing and playback are in 720p HD video, so that you can clearly see details in your video surveillance recordings. For your videos, you have free cloud storage for up to 7 days of video recordings.
If you require a longer video playback option, then you are able to purchase monthly no contract packages that allow you to keep your video playback for longer periods of time. You can have a 30 day video playback option for $9.99 a month or increase it to 60 days of video playback for $14.99 per month.
The Arlo security system works with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. This ability to connect to a voice assistant allows you to view your live video with a simple voice command. This security system comes with three cameras but has the ability to host up to five, so that you can purchase up to two more cameras as needed to round out your home security.
A small but powerful system built for surveillance.
The Nest Guard is a better than the average keypad. Instead of asking for the pin number every time you enter or exit the home, you can use one of the Nest Tags to scan over the keypad. This ease of use allows kids to be able to disarm the system when they come home from school without having to remember a passcode.
The Nest Detect sets up on doors, windows or will monitor a room for motion detecting. There is also a quick exit button located on the bottom of the detect. This allows you to open a door without having to disarm the whole system.
The home security bundle comes with:
There is also a better way to exit system that gives you three minutes to gather your things and leave before the alarm kicks in. This is a must have option when you have kids, because getting them out in a minute or less can sometimes be a challenge. The extended leave time allows you ditch the stress and take an extra minute to make sure that you have everything you need.
Through the Nest app, you can also arm and disarm the system. This way if you leave and forget to arm your security system, you can do it from the car or office without having to go back home.
Nest products have been created to work together to provide you a full home security without you having to purchase huge security packages. You can pick and choose which additional features you want in your home such as video surveillance, a a smart smoke detectorand a learning thermostat.
Nest is also compatible with a voice assistant like the Google Assistant, so you can use quick voice commands to arm, disarm or check the status of your security system without having to get up or locate your phone.
A competent system that makes everything more convenient.
Simple in home video security is a great way to begin setting up your own self monitored security system. With the CANARY All-in-One Indoor 1080p HD Security Camera, you are able to set up the simple video surveillance system and begin to monitor what is going on inside of your home while you are away.
The one piece security camera device is packed full of great features that will help you keep an eye on your home and the loved ones inside of it while you are away.
A 1080p HD camera captures and records any motion that it detects. This will send an immediate notification to your phone so that you are alerted the moment it happens. The camera also has HD night vision capabilities, so no one can sneak by you.
You can also live stream through your camera when you open the app. This lets you just check in on things around your home throughout the day or look to make sure that four legged family members are behaving.
Your recorded videos are saved for up to 24 hours without you having to pay for any subscription or monthly plan. If you would like to keep your video recordings for up to 30 days then you have the option of purchasing a no contract subscription at $9.99 per month.
A Canary membership also gives you more great features to enhance your in home security. You will be able to utilize the two-way canary talk from your smart device. This allows you to have real time conversations with anyone who is at home or for you to get you pets attention if they are in need of correcting while you are away.
The Canary also auto arms and disarms in case you forget as you are running out the door. When the device senses that you have left your home, it will automatically arm itself and begin monitoring. There is also a one touch contact button in the app, so if you do receive a real time notification alerting you to trouble, then this button will alert the local emergency services.
All of your needs packed in to one device.
The above-presented home monitoring systems have their strengths. However, none of them is perfect for all homes, needs, budgets, and expectations. The best strategy for those intending to invest in a security system is to:
As a general rule, the best self monitored home security system offers all the above-listed features. It includes sensors and detectors for all of the dangers threatening one’s home. In addition, it comes with reliable customer service, to eliminate potential installation and configuration issues.
Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.