Best DIY Home Security Systems with No Monthly Fees

In Home Security by Christy

Home is where our family should feel safe and secure. But the truth is, no matter how careful we are, our homes will always be vulnerable to home invasions, fire, and even accidents. The only way to lessen the chances of these events happening to you is to add security to your home.

Want to add a security system without a monthly fee and keep an eye on your house using your phone?

If you want to secure your home while still on a budget, then a DIY home security solution could be right for you. We’ve summarized the most popular DIY home security systems with no monthly fees.

ProductProsConsRatingPrice
Ring Alarm- Easy to use
- Wide options for outdoor cameras
- Optional professional monitoring
- Available options for WiFi and cellular monitoring
- Works with Alexa and Google Home
- Limited support for third-party devices
- No keyfobs
4.5/5$139
Nest Secure- Devices are easy to set up and customize their settings through an app
- Window and door sensors are multifunctional
- Comes with key fobs
- Sensors come with sleek and discreet designs
- Provides an option for professional monitoring
- Very expensive initial cost and add-ons
- Some customers reported connectivity problems
- Recent news of cameras being hacked
4.4/5$399.99
Abode- Wide option for smart home integrations
- Comes with battery backup
- Has geofencing feature
- Optional professional monitoring services that include cellular backup
- Old-fashioned hardware design
- Base station works only with ethernet
- Camera performance is not so good, according to some customer reviews
- Mobile app is not as robust as the web portal
4.3/5$179
Arlo Pro- All cameras are battery-operated
- Cameras are available for indoors and outdoors
- Comes with a geofencing feature
- Some customers reported that cameras can trigger false alarms
- Issues with SmartThings integration
4.1/5$279
Simplisafe- Initial cost for a starter kit is cheaper
- Offers a wide range of devices
- Affordable and optional professional monitoring services
- Great video monitoring options
- Comes with a large selection of add-ons for home automation
- Limited smart home integration
- Video monitoring is available only through a plan
- App doesn’t have free self-monitoring
- System can't be armed/ disarmed through the app without the monthly subscription
3.6/5$209.91
Samsung SmartThings- Easy to use
- Wide support for third-party devices
- Can be integrated with Zigbee and Z-Wave
- Allow complex interactions between devices
- App is not user-friendly
- Issues with fault-tolerance
- System can only be accessed using a smartphone
3.5/5$139.90
iSmartAlarm- Free and easy to use
- Offers numerous equipment options
- Low-price
- Add-on features are completely free
- Comes with phone call alerts
- System relies on WiFi only
- Slow mobile app
- System is not expandable
- System requires a hub
- Solutions for past vulnerabilities are still in progress
3.2/5$149.99

What To Look For in a Self-Monitored Security System

Finding the right DIY security system can be challenging. There can be many factors that you need to consider. The end goal is for you to find a solution that fits all your needs. We have summarized the factors you should look for when choosing a self-monitored system:

Communication Technology

Wireless security systems are becoming popular because they are generally cheaper and easier to install compared to wired systems. Most of these devices work with WiFi and the common thing you should be worrying about is when there is a power interruption. You don’t want to deal with an emergency situation when power is suddenly cut. So it is always better to choose the one with backup cellular transmission especially if you live in an area with frequent power interruptions.

Control

If you choose a self-monitored security system, remember that you are solely responsible for monitoring your home. This means that you should choose a DIY security system that gives you lots of options for control. Can you customize the system and set it on different modes like home, away, sleep modes? Can you arm or disarm the system remotely? Choose wisely.

Protection Beyond Burglaries

Your security system should be smart and be able to connect with other devices. Aside from home invasions, it should be able to protect you from other accidents like fire and flood. A smart system can be customized so you can install particular rules and your devices can work together to protect your home. For example, when your main door is opened, it should automatically trigger your security camera to record the footage.

Visual Verification

When your sensor detects unusual events, it is not enough to just receive a phone notification or alarm - you would want to see what’s happening especially when you’re away from home. A security camera is the best way to see the actual footage of your home and save evidence in case of burglaries. 

Power

Emergency situations can happen anytime. And that is why it is very important that your system runs 24-7 with or without power interruption. This is why systems with battery and cellular backups are highly recommended to ensure that your home is protected at all times. 

Integrations and IFTTT

Ideally, a self-monitored system should have devices that can work with each other. The reality is that not all devices are compatible with one another due to the different communication protocols used. To truly integrate all of your devices into one system, choose your devices that work with IFTTT (if this then that). This way, it is easier to allow your devices to talk to one another and automate or create routines. You can also expand your security system in case you want to add other functionalities.

Cameras

Security cameras that have good resolution can be a great asset when trying to determine if an alarm is legitimate or a false alarm. As a rule, cameras that have a wider field of view will require a higher resolution. Otherwise, you will end up having a pixelated image. But also remember that high-resolution cameras need good WiFi (or cellular) connection. Slow internet connections will result in choppy video footage.  

Sensors

Choose sensors that can help you keep your home safe. Make sure that the basic sensors are included such as the door/ window sensors, smoke/ CO detectors, and motion detection sensors. You can add more if you want as long as it doesn’t compromise the quality of the system. For example, it is more desirable to add other types of sensors that will allow you to use only one app for the entire system. 

Mobile Alerts

Even if you’re using a self-monitored system, it doesn’t mean you can't have mobile alert features. When something is wrong, you want to receive notifications in real-time especially when you’re away from home. An app that notifies you helps you stay updated whenever a sensor is triggered unexpectedly so that you can take action immediately (such as calling the authorities).

Control Panel

Even if you already have an app to control the devices, having a control panel (touch screen or keypad) mounted on the device is helpful especially if you want to take action immediately. An app will require you to access your phone and stay connected to the device. When you have a control panel, you can immediately access the device to do tasks such as arming or disarming the system with a simple swipe of your finger.

Affordable

Being safe and secure doesn’t have to be costly. On top of zero monthly fees, you want your system to be affordable without compromising the quality. When buying a DIY home security system, just make sure that there are no hidden charges or add-ons which may cause you to shed more money in the long run.

Expandable

You can expand and customize your system according to your taste as long as all of your devices are compatible with one another. Make sure that you choose a system that will give you options to add more devices later on. If you are planning to expand your system by using third-party devices, then choose the one that has support for a wide range of devices.

Our Verdict

Before we reveal our top list of DIY home security systems, we’ve summarized our top picks based on the categories below:

Best on a Budget

Ring-Alarm

Source: https://ring.com/

Ring Alarm is the clear winner if you are conscious of your budget. For a low price, Ring Alarm is already packed with almost all the features you want for a home security system!

Best for Techies

SmartThings

Source: https://www.samsung.com/au/smart-home/samsung-smartthings-hub/

Samsung SmartThings offers more flexibility because you can hundreds of devices that support Z-Wave, ZigBee, and IFTTT. However, it does require some time and technical skills to be able to setup a system. But if you love customizing your system and getting your hands dirty, then it’s your best bet.

Best Camera System

Arlo-Pro

Source: https://www.techhive.com/article/3455196/arlo-pro-2-four-camera-bundle-black-friday.html

Arlo Pro offers a complete security camera system that you can use for indoor and outdoor monitoring. All the cameras are wireless, WiFi-enabled, and battery-powered.

Best Expandable

Abode

Source: https://www.techhive.com/article/3259876/abode-review.html

Abode offers the most smart home integrations compared to other DIY home security solutions. It supports a variety of devices using ZigBee and Z-Wave as well as cameras to complete your home security system.

The Best DIY Security Systems with No Monthly Fees

Ring Alarm

Ring-Alarm

Source: https://ring.com/

Price: $139
Rate: 4.5/5

Pros: 

  • Easy to use
  • Wide options for outdoor cameras
  • Optional professional monitoring
  • Available options for WiFi and cellular monitoring 
  • Works with Alexa and Google Home

Cons:

  • Limited support for third-party devices
  • No keyfobs

Although Ring is one of the new players in the market, it has become one of the toughest rivals of DIY solutions because of its full-packed features at the cheapest price. The Ring products are also known to be the first to use both Z-Wave SmartStart and Z-Wave Security 2 (S2) for signal encryption between its hub and devices.

Ring’s basic package includes a siren. However, you can't make the siren sound during a system alert unless you subscribe to their professional monitoring services at $10 per month. With self-monitoring, you can only receive email alerts and push notifications. 

The not so good side of Ring is that it has limited support for third party devices. But it does work with selected Z-Wave devices such as Yale and Schlage locks as well as First Alert Smoke and CO Alarm. On top of that, you can add voice commands using Alexa as well as Alexa Guard for monitoring unusual glass breaking sounds. Ring also offers robust cameras which are great additionals for a home security system. The app allows you to manage the Ring cameras and monitor your home through live footage.

In case you change your mind, you can also switch from a self-monitoring system to a professional monitoring plan. Ring offers a monthly fee of $10 which already includes cellular backup and 60 days worth of cloud storage for the Ring cameras.

Nest Secure

Nest

Source: https://sea.pcmag.com/nest-secure/17551/nest-secure

Price: $399.99
Rate: 4.4/5

Pros:

  • Devices are easy to set up and customize their settings through an app
  • Window and door sensors are multifunctional
  • Comes with key fobs 
  • Sensors come with sleek and discreet designs
  • Provides an option for professional monitoring 

Cons:

  • Very expensive initial cost and add-ons
  • Some customers reported connectivity problems
  • Recent news of cameras being hacked

Although Nest is more expensive than its latest rival Ring, we still believe that it’s worth mentioning in our post. Nest’s basic home security kit includes a base station, keypad, two contact sensors which also act as motion sensors, and key fobs used as RFID tags. You can also add a range extender for an additional cost if you have a large house. However, Nest doesn’t have its dedicated motion sensors, flood sensors, humidity sensors, glass break sensors, etc.

Among the leading features of Nest is its add-on cameras that work well with the home security system. You can choose different cameras for indoor and outdoor applications. When the Nest system alarms, it triggers the cameras to take a picture to record the event. You can also have a video doorbell to know who’s behind your main door. 

Nest also works perfectly with Philips Hue lights and Nest Protect if you want to play with other devices to enhance your smart home system.

Another feature of Nest is that you can connect all of your devices using Nest Guard which is great for self-monitoring. You can easily integrate all your Nest products and setup push or email notifications when the alarms are triggered. If you want a cellular backup, then you must subscribe to their professional monitoring services at $5 per month.

Abode

Abode

Source: https://www.techhive.com/article/3259876/abode-review.html

Price: $179
Rate: 4.3/5

Pros:

  • Wide option for smart home integrations
  • Comes with battery backup
  • Has geofencing feature
  • Optional professional monitoring services that include cellular backup

Cons:

  • Old-fashioned hardware design
  • Base station works only with ethernet
  • Camera performance is not so good, according to some customer reviews
  • Mobile app is not as robust as the web portal

The Abode home security system is your best bet if you want a system with access to a number of smart home integrations. With Abode, you can have the Abode Gateway or Abode Iota which can be a bit different but offer almost the same features.

The Abode Gateway comes with a battery backup as well as a cellular chip which can be activated at $8 a month. But since we want a DIY system, you can take advantage of the system without any cost so that you can integrate great features such as email and smartphone notifications, IFTTT integration, voice commands like Alexa and Google Assistant, integration with Nest products, arming/ disarming the system remotely. 

Another way to boost your home security is by using the Abode Iota. This comes with similar Abode Gateway features but is added with an all-in-one camera feature and hub as well as a wide range of support for different sensors. Iota also works perfectly with Abode RF, Zigbee, and Z-Wave devices.  

The abode home security system can be controlled and monitored using the Abode app. You can set different modes for your system (home, standby, or away), enable geofencing, and access the live footage from your cameras. However, if you do want to customize your system by changing modes, sensor triggers, routines, and notifications, you need to use Abode’s web portal. 

Arlo Pro

Arlo-Pro

Source: https://www.techhive.com/article/3455196/arlo-pro-2-four-camera-bundle-black-friday.html

Price: $279
Rate: 4.1/5

Pros:

  • All cameras are battery-operated
  • Cameras are available for indoors and outdoors
  • Comes with a geofencing feature

Cons:

  • Some customers reported that cameras can trigger false alarms
  • Issues with SmartThings integration

If you’re looking for a complete home security camera system, then the Arlo Pro is your best bet. The cameras are all wireless, WiFi-enabled, and battery-powered. You can even add Arlo products to enhance the home security system.

Another great thing about Arlo Go is that it works with SmartThings. For example, if your camera is triggered with unexpected motion or sound, you can set a SmartThing device to do certain tasks. It also works vice versa - when a SmartThing device is triggered, you can set the Arlo Pro to record a video and enable the siren. You can definitely do a lot of things with Arlo Pro and SmartThings to automate and enhance your smart home. However, some customer feedback revealed buggy integrations with SmartThings. We hope that these bugs can be fixed very soon to make everything work smoothly.

Lastly, you don’t SmartThings to work with Arlo Pro. You can also integrate other devices that support IFTTT. Custom modes are available as well as creating routines for each mode. Other Arlo products such as Arlo Q, Arlo Security Light, Arlo Baby monitor and the new Arlo Audio Doorbell can be used for a full home automation system.

Simplisafe

Simplisafe

Source: https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/simplisafe-home-security-system

Price: $209.91
Rate: 3.6/5

Pros:

  • Initial cost for a starter kit is cheaper
  • Offers a wide range of devices
  • Affordable and optional professional monitoring services
  • Great video monitoring options
  • Comes with a large selection of add-ons for home automation

Cons:

  • Limited smart home integration
  • Video monitoring is available only through a plan
  • App doesn’t have free self-monitoring
  • System can't be armed/ disarmed through the app without the monthly subscription

We think that SimpliSafe is worth a thumbs up because it has been in the market for a while. You can use a wide range of sensors and expand your system easily whenever you want. The devices are battery-powered and don’t require frequent replacements. 

You have the option to upgrade to a monthly contract if you want to enhance your home security system and cancel anytime should you change your mind. You can downgrade to self-monitoring and still keep some of its features.

However, the downside of SimpliSafe is that most of the features important for home security are only available through a monthly subscription. These features include remotely arming or disarming your system through an app, enabling smartphone notifications, and using the camera to record footage. You have to pay for the cloud storage which already comes with the subscription plan in order to use the camera. Overall, these lacking features are probably the weakness of SimpliSafe, giving other newcomers like Ring an edge.

Samsung SmartThings

SmartThings

Source: https://www.samsung.com/au/smart-home/samsung-smartthings-hub/

Price: $139.90
Rate: 3.5/5

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Wide support for third-party devices
  • Can be integrated with Zigbee and Z-Wave
  • Allow complex interactions between devices

Cons:

  • App is not user-friendly
  • Issues with fault-tolerance
  • System can only be accessed using a smartphone

One of the many likable features of SmartThings is its compatibility with hundreds of Z-Wave devices which include smart locks, smart bulbs, heating controls, smart sprinklers, and many others. This simply means that you can easily expand your system and add more devices as you wish without worrying too much on compatibility issues. You can also add home security cameras including Nest for your smart home or make complex routines using IFTTT.

Aside from Z-Wave, the SmartThings hub also works well with ZigBee devices. Every device included on the SmartThings starter kit is compatible with ZigBee. It is also compatible with HVAC systems so you are not just limited on home security but also an overall home automation solution. However, you can't integrate devices that use Bluetooth, KNX, X10, Insteon, and other similar technologies since SmartThings don’t have support for these protocols.

Although SmartThings sound more flexible compared to other DIY systems, its biggest downside is that it’s not an out-of-the-box solution. You need some time, patience, as well as technical knowledge to set up the system you want. And unlike other systems, SmartThings doesn’t offer monitoring options that will automatically send notifications to the authorities during an emergency or make recordings. However, you do have the option to integrate the Scout system and subscribe to a monthly fee to avail similar services.

And lastly, SmartThings is dependent on wired power and internet connection. To keep your system working during a power failure, you can purchase separately a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to plug your hub, devices, modem, and router for up to 4 hours.

iSmartAlarm

ismartalarm

Source: https://www.ismartalarm.com/

Price: $149.99
Rate: 3.2/5

Pros:

  • Free and easy to use
  • Offers numerous equipment options
  • Low-price
  • Add-on features are completely free
  • Comes with phone call alerts

Cons:

  • System relies on WiFi only
  • Slow mobile app
  • System is not expandable
  • System requires a hub
  • Solutions for past vulnerabilities are still in progress

When it comes to simplicity, iSmartAlarm is the DIY solution that includes the basic features needed to protect your home. It is not expandable like the other popular DIY home security systems but is the one of the easiest to use, making it a great choice for those who are just starting to build a smart home system. The starter kit comes with a motion detector, two sensors for the door/ window, a siren, two keyfobs, and a mobile app to easily control and monitor your system.

The iSmartAlarm app is designed with user-friendly graphics where you can easily navigate to arm/ disarm the system or change to different modes. You can even customize your own mode by setting triggers for your device and modify notifications according to your liking.

One of the edges of iSmartAlarm is its native phone call which is more reliable than using IFTTT. Of course, iSmartAlarm also works well with IFTTT to connect with other home automation devices such as Nest, Philips Hue, WeMo, Ring Doorbells, SmartThings, and many others. You also have the option to use a smart plug to automation lights and select appliances. 

And lastly, iSmartAlarm has the Alexa skill to arm or disarm your system and changes system modes using voice commands.

FAQs About DIY Security Systems

What are self-monitored security systems?
Self-monitored home security systems is a DIY solution that allows monitoring of your home or property without availing a professional monitoring service. This means that only you and your contacts can be called during an emergency.

What is the advantage of a self-monitored security system?
The biggest advantage of a self-monitored home security system is the zero monthly fee which means bigger savings.

What is the disadvantage of a self-monitored security system?
The disadvantage of owning a self-monitored security system is that your devices are not connected to the authorities and when an emergency happens, you have to call your emergency contacts or the authorities on your own. This increases your risk of not getting help right away.

How much do DIY home security systems cost?
On average, a DIY home security system costs around $300, with Ring Alarm being the cheapest at $139.

What are the best DIY home security systems with no monthly fees?
Some of the best DIY home security solutions are Ring Alarm, Nest Secure, Abode, Simplisafe, Arlo, iSmartAlarm, and Samsung SmartThings.

Do DIY home security systems offer cloud storage for videos?
Most companies will require you to get a monthly subscription to allow you to store videos on the cloud. For real-time viewing, all DIY solutions offer this feature.

Do homeowner insurance companies offer discounts for DIY home security systems?
Most home insurance companies provide discounts for any home security systems, including self-monitored systems. However, some companies may offer higher discounts if you subscribe to a professional monitoring service.

Does a DIY home security system with no monthly fee have automation features?
Yes, most DIY systems can be integrated with devices for home automation.

Wrapping It Up

DIY home security systems are the best go-to solutions if you are on a budget. Even without monthly subscriptions, you can still protect your home and get almost all the features of a home security system. We have summarized in this post the top-rated DIY solutions worth trying with options to upgrade to a subscription plan in case you change your mind on the way.

We hope you found this comprehensive guide helpful! If you are still undecided which DIY solution to set up for your home security, go ahead and review our list. If you have any questions, leave them on the comment section below!