Best No-Contract Home Security Systems
Let’s face it—there are times when a long-term commitment just doesn’t make sense.
No, we’re not talking about relationships. We’re talking about home security system contracts.
Maybe you’re a renter who’s not sure how long you can put up with paper-thin walls and loud neighbors. Or a parent who wants to make sure your child stays safe when they head to college and move into a house with friends. Or maybe your family is growing and you’re dreaming of moving into a bigger, more beautiful home soon.
These are all great reasons to avoid a long-term subscription. So we reviewed the following companies and picked our top five to help you find the best no-contract home security system.
|Company||Monitoring price*||Equipment cost||Learn more|
|Abode||Starting at $20/mo.||Starts at $279||View on Amazon|
|Vivint Smart Home||Starting at $29.99/mo.||Starts at $549.99||View Plans|
|Scout||Starting at $19.99/mo.||Starts at $299||View System|
|SimpliSafe||Starting at $14.99/mo.||Starts at $229||View System|
|Cove||Starting at $14.99/mo.||Starts at $208.20||View System|
* Some systems allow you to monitor your home yourself for free or a lower price.
Data effective 7/26/18. Pricing is subject to change. Not all offers available in all areas.
With the lowest monthly cost plus the option for monitoring when you want it, Abode is an easy choice for our number-one pick.
What we like about Abode
DIY installation, no holes required
Even if you own your own home, the thought of having to drill holes in your wall can be stressful. But Abode’s equipment uses adhesive backing, which means you can install it anywhere, and it also means you can pack it up and take it with you if you move.
Low costs—including a free option
Avoid the strain on your paycheck with Abode’s low up-front and monthly costs. You can also choose a free plan and monitor your home yourself if you like, though we recommend a professional monitoring plan because you get an extra layer of protection when someone else is watching out for you. But if a monitoring plan isn’t an option for you, Abode has an alternative that we really like.
If you choose their free, self-monitoring plan, you can still add up to a week of professional monitoring when you leave for a well-deserved vacation. This on-demand monitoring comes in a three-day package or a seven-day package, both for less than $20. Ka-ching.
Two-factor authentication available
A common concern about the security of home security systems (say that 10 times fast) is a lack of two-factor authentication.1 Apparently Abode is paying attention because it recently announced that users can add two-factor authentication to their accounts.2 That earns an A+ in our books.
When you add two-factor authentication, you’ll not only be asked for your password, but also an additional credential that only you have access to. This adds a second layer of protection to your account or device, making it harder for others to hack it. The types of credentials you might be asked for with two-factor authentication include the following:
- A PIN or pattern
- Your phone number, a key fob, or something else you own
- Biometric identification, such as a fingerprint
What we don’t like about Abode
Extra cost for keypad
If you’re all about apps (or the key fob), the lack of a keypad in the Abode Essentials starter kit on Amazon probably isn’t a big deal. But it may make granting others the ability to arm and disarm your alarm more difficult. Either way, if you want to add a keypad to your wall, you’ll have to shell out a bit more cash in addition to purchasing the starter kit.
Curious to learn more? Check out our review of best DIY systems.
#2: Vivint Smart Home
If you prefer professional installation and a whole slew of features, Vivint Smart Home reigns supreme.
What we like about Vivint Smart Home
Vivint is known for its innovative security equipment—it’s one of the few, if not the only, company that designs its products in-house. This means your home security system and monitoring include dozens of features that other systems may not have, making Vivint perhaps the most technologically advanced home security and automation system out there.
If you’re looking for two-way talk, live video feeds, a user-friendly mobile app, and a wide range of sensors (including flood/freeze, smoke, and carbon monoxide), then Vivint Smart Home is well worth the price.
Futuristic home automation
Vivint Smart Home also ranks high among smart home security systems in our view, and its wide range of home automation capabilities is sure to satisfy even the most hands-on tech guru:
- Lock/unlock doors
- Set your smart thermostat
- Adjust security cameras
- Turn down the lights (or turn them on)
- Open your garage door
- Control small appliances
What we don’t like about Vivint Smart Home
Pricey no-contract option
Vivint’s home security packages lean toward the expensive end of the spectrum, and if you’re aiming for the no-contract option, you can expect to pay a lot out of pocket.
You’ll need to pay for all your equipment up front to be able to choose no contract. And with equipment packages starting at $549, that’s a lot of cash to hand over all at once.
Cellular connection only
Other home security systems typically offer two to three options when it comes to your connection. Not Vivint. You’ll get the option of only a cellular connection, but you can relax a little knowing it also comes with a battery backup.
Helpful sales reps—but pushy
If you’re not a fan of aggressive sales tactics, you may want to steer clear of Vivint. While its representatives are very knowledgeable and often make helpful recommendations for additions to your system, there have been quite a few complaints about their overly aggressive tactics.
Want to see why we rated Vivint highly? Check out our full Vivint Smart Home review.
Scout has all but the keypad: DIY installation, low costs, and a variety of features.
What we like about Scout
À-la-carte equipment selection
If you find most “one-size-fits-all” security equipment packages don’t quite meet your needs, Scout is the alarm system for you. Once you select a color, you can add as many—or as few—devices as you like. Say it with us, Braveheart-style: “Freeedooom!”
Just like Abode, Scout is perfect for anyone who gets antsy about drilling holes in their walls. Just peel off the adhesive backing and stick those sensors wherever you please.
What we don’t like about Scout
No keypad—but key fobs available
One downside to Scout is it doesn’t come with a keypad, which means you’ll mainly rely on your app to set up, arm, and disarm your system.
While this could be a pro if you’re looking for a minimalist approach to home security, it also means you’ll have to hand over a key fob if your babysitter, visiting aunt, or anyone else needs access and doesn’t have the app.
Want to know more? Check out our full Scout Home Security review.
SimpliSafe is a pro when it comes to no-contract home security, but falls short in home automation.
What we like about SimpliSafe
Customizable equipment kits
Not feeling the pre-packaged sets of equipment? That’s OK because SimpliSafe also lets you build your own security system. Pick a color for your base station and wireless keypad, then go wild adding on different types of sensors, cameras, and accessories.
Lowest cost of the bunch
The price of SimpliSafe’s cheapest equipment kit will make your wallet smile. And probably make you smile too. Not to mention SimpliSafe also has low monthly monitoring costs. Now that’s a double bonus if we ever saw one.
What we don’t like about SimpliSafe
Home automation is almost non-existent
If you’re trying to build the home from Smart House (minus the evil A.I.), you’ll have better luck elsewhere. SimpliSafe keeps the focus on home security, but it does integrate with Nest devices, like the thermostat.
Standard option lacks app control
The Standard monitoring plan is just a little too standard for us. You’ll need to upgrade to the Interactive option to even be able to get text or email notifications or access the online command center to customize your alerts and alarms. (What is this, 1999?) We hope SimpliSafe adds these features to the Standard package in the near future.
Get all the details in our full SimpliSafe review—we’ll be revamping it shortly since SimpliSafe introduced new and improved equipment.
Cove’s equipment is pretty high-end for DIY, but we’re waiting on more home automation integrations.
What we like about Cove
The control panel
Not many no-contract security systems can give you a touchscreen control panel, but Cove can. And its panel does more than look nice—it lets you talk to a monitoring agent right through the screen. (That’s a feature we’ve only ever seen from Vivint.)
Affordable equipment and monitoring
Cove keeps its pricing in line with SimpliSafe’s. (Cove’s starter package is even a little cheaper.) And its monitoring pricing won’t break the bank either. Plus, we like that Cove still lets you pay for your equipment over time if you don’t have a couple hundred bucks in up-front costs.
What we don’t like about Cove
Home automation, where are you?
Cove doesn’t really have any home automation options. If you sign on for its top monitoring plan, you do get some integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Home, but that’s about it. We’d like to see at least Z-Wave or Zigbee integration from Cove.
No smartphone control without top-tier monitoring
Unless you subscribe to Cove’s highest-priced monitoring plan, you won’t be able to use the Cove mobile app to arm and disarm your system (or do anything else). But unlike SimpliSafe, Cove does give you some extra perks to go along with the higher-priced plan, including a lifetime equipment warranty.
Get all the details in our full Cove review.
If you’re searching for a home security system without a contract, you’ve got plenty to choose from. Here’s how our top five stack up:
- Abode is our top pick thanks to low monthly monitoring costs—and the option to add professional monitoring only when you think you most need it.
- Scout is a close runner up. We love its à-la-carte approach to equipment selection and its low monthly costs.
- Vivint Smart Home impressed us with its intuitive design and loads of extra features. But the high price required to get in on that no-contract deal is a doozy.
- SimpliSafe hit a home run with its home security system, but we hope they’ll add more home automation features in the future.
- Cove is a lot like SimpliSafe, but with a bit higher-end equipment. Just like with SimpliSafe, we’re hoping Cove adds more home automation options to its system in the future.
How we picked our top 5 no-contract security systems
Picking out just five home security systems without a contract is no easy feat. There are a lot of excellent options on the market these days, and you’re likely to find something that fits your specific needs, even if it didn’t make our list.
So why did we pick Abode, Scout, Vivint Smart Home, SimpliSafe, and Cove as our top five home security systems that you can pay for month to month? Here’s what we looked at when making our decisions.
How much does professional monitoring cost?
The price is always a biggie for us—if we can save a few bucks, we’re all for it. But price and quality are always a balancing act, so while we focused on budget-friendly choices, we kept quality and performance in mind, too.
Does the system include home automation features?
We’re mainly concerned with home security here, but automation features are fun and helpful additions—and to be honest, most home security systems include them.
What’s more, certain automation features can improve your home’s security. Video doorbells with two-way talk and recording, automated door locks, and even appliance controls can let you breathe a sigh of relief by avoiding dangerous situations—or just not having to worry that you forgot to turn off the oven before you left.
Is there a backup available?
If your power goes out or internet goes down, the last thing you need is a home security system that shuts down with it. All of our top five picks include a battery or cellular backup—or both.
One reason iSmartAlarm didn’t make our list was the lack of a backup. We hope the company will address this issue in the future—it’s a stunner of a system otherwise.
What kind of equipment is included?
Does the system come with sensors, a keypad, and cameras? Most of the best no-contract home alarm systems come with a long list of available equipment, but some systems were missing a key piece or two. If we found a system lacking, we took a peek at whether or not it can integrate with another brand or if there’s another workaround.
At the same time, we analyzed whether you’re able to pick and choose equipment based on your needs or if you have to choose from a pre-selected kit instead. We think the à-la-carte approach is best since it allows even the smallest and largest homes to be fully covered when it comes to home security.
Still debating between a no-contract home security system and one with a contract? Take a look at our best home security systems review—it includes both types of alarm systems.