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Best self-monitored home security systems

Compare costs, equipment and technology

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Written by Kathryn Parkman
Edited by Justin Martino

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    Self-monitored security systems send alerts straight to your phone through an app. You check on potential threats through live video, but it’s up to you whether you contact the authorities. These systems are popular because they’re more affordable than traditional monitored security systems, and they are easier to upgrade and move to a new home.

    What are the best self-monitored home security systems?

    We started by considering 30 of the most popular self-monitored home security systems available right now. We compared their costs, equipment, technology and consumer reviews to narrow down our list. We then only included systems that come with video surveillance features or allow for camera upgrades. Our top picks are all easy to install and come with a limited warranty between one and two years.

    Compare our favorite self-monitored home security systems

    Security systemIncludes cameraOptional monitoringWireless installation
    Ring Alarm Kit
    Blink XT2
    Abode Essentials
    HeimVision
    Zosi Camera System
    Includes camera
    Optional monitoring
    Wireless installation

    Ring Alarm 5-Piece Kit

    This Ring Alarm starter kit includes a base station with built-in alarm, control keypad, contact sensor for your door or window, motion sensor and range extender. Cameras aren’t included, but the system can be expanded and customized with Ring video doorbells and security cameras.

    Ring is compatible with Alexa and connects through ethernet, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee or Bluetooth. The Ring app lets you arm and disarm the system and sends alerts if the sensors detect motion or someone opens a door or window.

    There are no monthly fees associated with Ring’s security system unless you update to a protection plan. Ring’s optional 24/7 professional monitoring services cost $10 a month and have no long-term contract or cancellation fees.

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    Ring Alarm 5-Piece Kit
    • Easy installation
    • 1-year limited warranty
    • $199*

    BUY ON AMAZON

    Abode Essentials Starter Kit

    Abode home security systems are great for homeowners and renters — they’re easy to install, and you can add to your system whenever you like. The Abode Essentials Starter Kit comes with a window/door sensor, motion sensor, key fob, security stickers and a Gateway, which is the central hub of Abode’s security system and connects to your router via an ethernet cable. The system is compatible with Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomeKit.

    The kit does not include security cameras, but you can expand the system with compatible cameras and other equipment for more customized protection. Additional accessories and upgrades include water leak sensors, security cameras, glass break sensors and short-term professional monitoring. You can also upgrade your storage to 14 days for $8 a month with their Connect plan. The Connect + Secure plan includes 90 days of storage and professional monitoring for $20 a month.

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    Abode Essentials Starter Kit
    • Install in less than 30 minutes
    • 1-year limited warranty
    • $199*

    BUY ON AMAZON

    HeimVision Wireless Surveillance System

    HeimVision’s surveillance cameras are a great option for a no-contract security system without monitoring. The system includes a wireless network video recorder (NVR), four cameras, power adapters, a network cable, USB mouse and installation supplies. Through the free IP Pro app, you can access remote viewing and get alerts when the system detects motion. The system is expandable and lets you add up to eight cameras.

    The dust-tight, waterproof cameras are equipped with infrared night vision that automatically activates in low-light conditions. The cameras can be installed almost anywhere and capture a 110-degree view angle. The system runs on a wireless interconnection, but it still requires a plug-in to supply power.

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    HeimVision Wireless Surveillance System
    • Plug-and-play setup
    • 1-year limited warranty
    • $199.99*

    BUY ON AMAZON

    ZOSI Security Camera System

    A ZOSI security camera system includes an eight-channel DVR, four bullet cameras, CCTV cables, power splitter cables, batteries, a USB mouse, mounting screws and a pre-installed hard drive. You can customize the system by adding up to four extra cameras.

    Customers like that they receive alerts when the system detects motion. You can also view footage remotely and access it later for playback. An optional recording mode lets you record continuously, during scheduled times or when motion is detected. The recycle option lets you automatically overwrite older video files when recording new ones, so you don’t have to worry about running out of space.

    zosi security camera system
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    ZOSI Security Camera System
    • Requires DIY cabling to install
    • 2-year limited warranty
    • $139.99*

    BUY ON AMAZON

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      How do self-monitoring alarm systems work?

      Self-monitored home security systems let you keep an eye on your home from your smart devices. Self-monitoring alarm systems typically include motion sensors, contact sensors, cameras and sometimes video doorbells or smart locks.

      You can use surveillance cameras to stream live video footage from your front porch, backyard, nursery or small business. You can arm or disarm the system through an app on your phone and receive alert notifications if a motion or contact sensor detects activity.

      Some unmonitored security systems send a push notification or text, while others call or notify predetermined designated contacts. Some systems provide additional protection, such as carbon monoxide alerts or smoke detectors.

      Unlike traditional monitored security systems that connect to trained responders, self-monitored security systems only send alerts directly to your phone. Self-monitored systems let you decide how to respond instead of triggering a professional emergency response.

      Self-monitored security system pros and cons

      Self-monitoring security systems are great for those on a budget because they don’t require monthly fees or long-term contracts and can be expanded over time with upgrades and accessories. It’s easy to arm and disarm the system from your phone, but not all systems have built-in alarms to deter burglars and intruders.

      However, they also require more diligence than professionally monitored systems because you are responsible for evaluating security threats. On the plus side, if your system has automatic cloud storage, the video surveillance footage is valuable evidence for law enforcement.

      Pros

      • More affordable
      • Provides video evidence
      • Helps prevent false alarms
      • Arms and disarms remotely
      • Easily upgraded

      Cons

      • Requires diligence and attention
      • Might not operate during internet or power outages
      • Accessories can get pricey over time
      • Not all systems have alarms

      Bottom line: Are self-monitored security systems worth it?

      Self-monitored security systems are an excellent option for those on a budget or who don't want to commit to a long-term contract. Just remember that if there is an emergency, you have to assess the situation and contact emergency services yourself. Unmonitored systems are a great alternative to professional monitoring if you are comfortable with the responsibility.

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