Best self-monitored home security systems of 2024

Save by skipping professional monitoring

Author pictureAuthor picture
Author picture
Written by
Author picture
Edited by

Looking to protect what matters most? Get matched with your best security system.

    ADT Self Setup and SimpliSafe
    person unlocking their house with home security app

    Self-monitoring your home security system is great because it gives you more control over how you handle situations. These systems can be reliable and effective when properly installed and maintained, but it’s your responsibility to monitor and respond to security events — they won’t automatically dispatch emergency responders.

    Our picks for the best self-monitored home security systems

    Compare our top self-monitored security systems

    All our picks also have do-it-yourself install options and offer self-monitoring. We also considered ADT Self Setup, but at the time of writing (June 8, 2023), I couldn’t figure out how to purchase a self-monitored system. It seems like you have to sign up for professional monitoring to get the perpetual “discount” and can’t remove the monitoring/service charge ($24.99 per month).

    More details about our top 3 picks

    To choose our top picks, we started with a list of popular home security companies, then compared features, costs, ratings and reviews to narrow it down to the best options. We gave preference to self-monitoring security systems with cameras. All prices are accurate as of publishing.

    Easy setup SimpliSafe
    • ConsumerAffairs reviewer rating: 2.1
    • Monthly fee: $9.99 to $29.99
    • Equipment costs: $134.73 to $384.94
    • Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, August Locks
    Get Started
    SimpliSafe Camera

    We like the versatility of SimpliSafe. It’s one of the better home security companies overall and has great camera options. If you choose SimpliSafe for self-monitoring, you’ll find its app to be very intuitive, even if it’s your first security system. It’s easy to arm or disarm your system remotely and connect your smart devices to create automation.

    What reviewers like: Easy to install and good pricing
    SimpliSafe is “easy to set up and install” and has “reasonable pricing for components,” according to Shawn in Ohio . Hugh in Arizona had similar feedback: “This system is so easy to install” and “so affordable (under $300 for my needs).”

    Moreen in Nevada told us SimpliSafe is “better than ADT” because “no monitoring contracts required! Put it in myself in minutes … No tech knowledge needed. Love it, and the money saved!”

    What to consider: Free unmonitored option
    Self-monitoring with camera recordings costs $9.99 per month. You get unlimited camera recordings and alerts, but no emergency dispatch.

    It’s possible to completely forego a monitoring plan and simply keep track of the system yourself for free. You still can access basic app features (e.g., view the live video feed or arm and disarm the system) as long as you have an internet connection.

    We don’t recommend this option because you might lose all of your system information, like what happened to Harvey in Arizona :

    “After a recent price increase to the subscription monitoring, I made the decision to cut the umbilical cord, and begin self monitoring. … I was informed that I could indeed still use the mobile app to interactively perform these actions. To my amazement, after cancellation, when I opened the mobile app on my iPhone, all system information had been deleted. I am very disappointed.”


    Good value Ring
    • ConsumerAffairs reviewer rating: 1.3
    • Monthly fee $3.99 to $10
    • Equipment costs: $199.99 to $379.99
    • Compatible with: Honeywell and Alexa-enabled devices
    Learn More
    Ring Spotlight Camera

    Ring has affordable security systems with a variety of equipment options. What sets it apart is the ability to customize according to your specific needs. It’s expandable — maybe you only need a few sensors and a camera right now, but you can add to your system later if you want.

    What reviewers like: Video and sound quality
    Ring has great video and sound quality, according to Jessica from North Carolina , who also highlighted that systems are easy to install and affordable. “Clear video day or night, right to your phone no matter where you are at,” Jorge in Illinois said.

    “My Ring doorbell and security camera works great and the app is easy to download, set up and use,” Norma in California told us.

    “The overall security system is great because it allows you the ability to connect between different devices. I am able to connect my outdoor floodlight camera with the Ring mobile app and my doorbell camera. It's also great you can connect it to your Amazon Alexa device to view who is at your front door,” Cameron in California said.

    What to consider: Equipment costs and monthly fees
    When it comes to self-monitored systems, it's important to strike a balance between value and cost. While the base alarm kits offer affordability, the price will increase if you opt for additional accessories. For those with a tight budget, we recommend visiting Ring's website and conducting a thorough comparison with other available options.

    Ring offers a range of starting costs, spanning from $199.99 to $379.99. Each package includes essential components like a base station, keypad, entryway sensor and motion detector. You can also customize your system with extra cameras, glass-break sensors, smart doorbells, lights and more.

    • With the Basic plan ($3.99 per month) , you get video recording for one Ring doorbell or camera and access to the app for arming and disarming the system.
    • With Plus ($10 per month) , you get video recording for multiple Ring devices at one location, plus extra digital features through the app.
    » COMPARE: Ring vs. SimpliSafe

    Wired cameras Xfinity Home
    • ConsumerAffairs reviewer rating: 1.0
    • Monthly fee $10
    • Equipment costs: $360 to $600
    • Compatible with: xFi Gateway, Xfinity camera devices
    Learn More
    Xfinity Wired Camera

    Xfinity alarm systems are easy to set up and use, but they aren’t compatible with as many devices as Ring and SimpliSafe. With an Xfinity alarm system, you can choose from equipment packages or shop a la carte to design the perfect security system for your home. We like that the wired self-monitored home security systems come with HD live video, night vision and two-way audio.

    What reviewers like: Convenient mobile app
    Multiple happy customers told us how much they like using the app. Ann in Connecticut specifically highlighted the weather map, notification features and ease of use.

    “I love the 24/7 recording and often save videos of things I deem strange. I also love it pulls the cameras up on my TV through my cable box. I love the night mode feature which means if any sensor is tripped, the alarm will go off without warning which is great to put you on alert instantly … I can also arm, etc from any device with the app in case I forget, which is cool,” Helen in Illinois said.

    Corky in Illinois said: “XFINITY home security is convenient and a great product for the amount you pay. I only wish that it worked with Amazon Alexa and my digital door locks.”

    What to consider: Price and availability
    Total equipment costs start a little on the high end, between $360 and $600. Systems also require a subscription to Xfinity Internet, which has somewhat limited availability. It’s really only an option if you live in one of the following states or Washington, D.C. And even if you do, it’s not available in all areas.
    • Alabama
    • Arkansas
    • Arizona
    • California
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Massachusetts
    • Maryland
    • Maine
    • Michigan
    • Minnesota
    • Mississippi
    • North Carolina
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • New York
    • Ohio
    • Oregon
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Virginia
    • Vermont
    • Washington
    • West Virginia
    » COMPARE: Xfinity vs. ADT Self Setup

    Pros and cons of self-monitoring

    The advantages of self-monitoring are obvious: it’s cheaper, and you have more control over what happens when the alarm is triggered. Nobody is constantly on standby, watching over your system — it’s good for privacy, but nobody is ready to take action on your behalf if you need help.

    “You have only yourself to count on to get any alerts that come up, decide how important they are, and then call for help if needed. That’s a lot of pressure. If you can’t be available for that kind of self-monitoring 24/7, it can totally be worth it to pay a little more each month,” according to Rebecca Edwards, a security reporter at SafeWise.

    Self-monitoring is exactly what it sounds like. Unlike a professionally monitored system, it isn’t connected to an emergency response center. Only you get the alert. So, you don’t have to worry so much about false alarms and monthly fees, but it requires a proactive approach.

    Pros

    • Less expensive
    • Instant notifications
    • Remote access and control
    • Fewer false alarms
    • Customizable

    Cons

    • More responsibility
    • Reliance on personal devices
    • Limited professional support
    • No emergency dispatch

    Looking to protect what matters most? Get matched with your best security system.

      How to choose a self-monitored security system

      The most essential feature of a self-monitored system is the app, according to Edwards “If you truly want to self-monitor, the most important thing is full, free access to the mobile app and all alerts and notifications,” Edwards said. “If you can’t get that, you should go for a system with affordable pro monitoring. Without mobile access, you’ve basically got the equivalent of a car alarm looking after your house, pets and loved ones.”

      The reliability of your system also largely depends on the quality of the components, including sensors, cameras and the central control panel. Systems typically rely on an internet connection to send alerts and notifications. So, if your internet experiences frequent outages or interruptions, it may impact performance.

      Without mobile access, you’ve basically got the equivalent of a car alarm looking after your house, pets and loved ones.”
      — Rebecca Edwards, a security reporter at SafeWise

      If video monitoring is important to you, check if the system supports security cameras and offers cloud storage or local storage options for recorded video footage. Consider factors like video quality, storage capacity and any associated costs.

      » COMPARE: Best DIY home security systems

      FAQ

      Are there self-monitored home security systems with no monthly fees?

      Most companies charge a nominal fee for access to their apps, which is a huge factor in how well your self-monitoring system actually works. What you’re paying for is how well your equipment connects to the app.

      SimpliSafe and a few other systems might have some essential features that work without a monthly subscription — but they also offer optional subscription plans or upgrades that include cloud storage, extended warranties or access to advanced features. These fees are almost always more affordable compared with home security costs for a professionally monitored system.

      » FIND: The cheapest home security systems of 2023

      Can you DIY a self-monitoring system without paying a company for an app?

      It’s possible to monitor a security system without an app, but it’s a lot more complicated. You need some technical knowledge to configure devices and establish notifications for specific events, like motion detection or windows breaking. Unless you want to set up your own custom surveillance system, I think paying $3.99 per month for Ring might be worth it.

      » COMPARE: Best DIY home security cameras of 2023

      How do self-monitored security systems work?

      Except for who gets the alerts, it works just like every other security system. Motion detectors, glass-break sensors or other devices are used to identify potential threats. When triggered, the system sends you a notification and/or sounds an alarm.

      Using an alarm system without monitoring is like having a security guard dog at home but no one watching over it. When the dog senses trouble, it barks. You go outside — assuming you hear the alert — assess the situation and call the police if the threat is real. Your dog can't call the police, so you must rely on your judgment and response to handle any potential danger.

      When a sensor detects something unusual, like a door being opened or movement inside your house, it triggers a loud alarm sound or flashes lights to grab attention. You’re responsible for hearing the alarm, checking the cameras or physically investigating and calling help if necessary.

      A professional system alerts a monitoring center when it detects a problem. If needed, a representative calls for emergency services from there. Security system companies charge a monthly fee for this service.

      » MORE: Security system installation: DIY versus professional

      Bottom line

      The effectiveness of self-monitored security systems depends on the quality of your equipment and how good your internet connection is.

      To recap, our picks for the best self-monitored alarm systems are SimpliSafe, Ring and Xfinity. A traditional security system with professional monitoring like ADT or Frontpoint might be a better fit if you prefer a more hands-off method.


      Alina Bradford contributed to this article.

      Did you find this article helpful? |
      Share this article