Best Self-Monitored Security Systems of 2020

Find a home security system that lets you monitor everything yourself.

Whether you’re a smart home junkie or you just want to get a notification the next time your creepy neighbor Marv tries to wander into your backyard, self monitoring home security systems let you keep an eye on your property all by yourself. With just a smartphone, you can have total control over your alarm system and smart home devices.

But most of the popular home security systems on the market require professional monitoring and high monthly subscription fees. Here are the five best self-monitored alarm systems that let you DIY for less (or sometimes even free).

Best self-monitored security systems of 2020 pricing and packages
CompanySelf-monitoring priceStarter kit priceSmart speaker integrationsLearn more
Google Nest SecureFree$260.22Amazon Alexa, Google AssistantView at Walmart
AbodeFree$229Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, SonosView System
Scout Alarm$9.99/mo.$229Amazon Alexa, Google AssistantView System
Ring AlarmFree$199.99Amazon Alexa, Google AssistantView on Amazon
Samsung SmartThingsFree$69.99Amazon Alexa, Google AssistantView on Amazon

Amazon.com List Prices (as of 4/13/20 18:48 PST)

A badge depicting this brand as the Reviews.org Editor's Choice for September 2020

Google Nest Secure: Editor’s choice

Google Nest Secure will make your neighbors jealous with innovative tech features.

Google Nest Secure equipment

Source: Google Nest

Google Nest Secure is a tech-lovers dream. Its equipment is easy to set up, intuitive to use, and, dare we say, sexy. Nest loves to build little perks into its devices, like entry sensors with built-in motion detectors and smoke detectors that also work as nightlights. Early adopters rejoice: Nest usually has the coolest features first.

Pros

  • Innovative tech features
  • Free self-monitoring

Cons

  • No Z-Wave or Zigbee integration

What we like

Self-monitoring is a cinch with Nest Secure. You don’t have to pay an extra monthly fee for access to the mobile app, and you can keep track of your whole system from your smartphone. Nest does offer professional monitoring through Brinks if you want it, but this system is made to watch yourself.

Google Nest Secure plan prices
PlansPriceMonitoring typeLearn more
Self-monitoringFreeSelfView at Walmart
Brinks monitoring, 3-year agreement$19/mo.ProfessionalView at Walmart
Brinks monitoring, no agreement$29/mo.ProfessionalView at Walmart

Data effective 4/13/2020. Offers subject to change.

Nest offers basic security equipment, including a base station and door and window sensors that have a built-in motion detector, so you don’t need two different devices. You can also get environmental devices from Nest, including smart thermostats and a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector called the Google Nest Protect.

Google Nest cameras

What about cameras, you say? Nest’s got cameras and gizmos aplenty. (Get it?) For real, though, Nest offers indoor, outdoor, and doorbell cameras. And, as usual, Nest’s cameras have some of the best features on the market. You’ll find things like 4K image sensors, artificial intelligence capabilities, and cloud recording.

Want to know when there’s a human at your door or if you’ve just had a package delivered? Nest’s doorbell camera can tell you.

What we don’t like

Nest’s not as integrative as some of the other options on this list. It doesn’t work with Z-Wave or Zigbee. Nest stuff works best with other Nest stuff, so you can’t just add on any Z-Wave smart lock you find on Amazon and hope it’ll work with your Nest system.

Read more about Google Nest Secure

Abode: Best for smart homes

Abode supports multiple smart home protocols so you can add on extra devices.

Abode hub and sensors

Source: Abode

Abode is like the friendly kid on the playground at recess. It gets along well with just about everyone. Abode makes it easy to integrate smart home devices into your system, and it has a bunch of different third-party integrations, including standard Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols.

Pros

  • Excellent smart home integrations
  • Affordable starter kit

Cons

  • Limited camera options

What we like

Like Google Nest Secure, Abode doesn’t charge extra for you to self-monitor your home security system. You have free access to the mobile app included with your security system, and you can arm, disarm, and check on your system from anywhere using your smartphone.

Abode monitoring plan prices and details
PlansPriceMonitoring typeLearn more
BasicFreeSelfView System
Connect$8/mo.SelfView System
Connect + Secure$20/mo.ProfessionalView System

Data effective 4/13/2020. Offers subject to change.

Keep in mind that the free Basic plan doesn’t give you cellular back-up. That means if your power goes out or your Wi-Fi dies, then your home security system goes down with it. We think it’s worth the extra monthly cost to have cellular back-up.

What we don’t like

Abode’s cameras aren’t the best we’ve seen. It does offer an indoor camera and an outdoor cam that can work as a doorbell camera. That said, we’ve seen more and better options from Nest and Ring.

Read more about Abode

Scout Alarm: Best RFID option

Scout lets you control your home security system with button-free RFID stickers.

Scout hub, door panel, and sensors

Source: Scout

Scout Alarm is a bit of a unique security system. It lets you control things with little RFID tags or stickers. If you haven’t heard of RFID before, it stands for Radio Frequency Identification. And with Scout, it means you can put an RFID sticker on just about anything and use it as a key to arm and disarm your alarm system.

Pros

  • Code-free door panel control
  • Good smart home integrations

Cons

  • Charges extra for self-monitoring

What we like

Scout’s RFID feature gives you an easy way to control your system that doesn’t require typing a code into a keypad or pulling out your phone. When you’re walking into your house with your arms full of groceries (or small children) it can be way easier to just swipe a key tag at Scout’s door panel.

Scout Alarm monitoring plan prices and details
PlansPriceMonitoring typeLearn more
Always On$9.99/mo.SelfView System
Always On+$19.99/mo.ProfessionalView System

Data effective 4/13/2020. Offers subject to change.

If you really want a keypad, you can get one. Scout sells them on the side so you can use both buttons and key tags as you wish.

What we don’t like

Scout has a self-monitoring option for its system, but it doesn’t let you do it for free. Unlike every other company on this list, Scout Alarm makes you pay a monthly fee to have access to the mobile app so you can self-monitor your system.

Plan on spending about 10 bucks per month just to control your security system from your phone and get alerts. Scout also has limited camera options, so it’s not our first choice for equipment either. Although, its doorbell camera is super affordable at only $99.

Read more about Scout Alarm

Ring Alarm: Best budget buy

Ring Alarm keeps costs low with affordable starter kits and equipment.

Ring Alarm equipment

Source: Ring

If you want an easy, self-monitored security system you don’t have to dump a lot of cash on, then Ring Alarm is an excellent choice. The Ring Alarm starter kit costs only $199.99, and it offers a base station and all your standard sensors, including door and window sensors, motion detectors, and flood sensors.

Pros

  • Cheap equipment
  • Free self-monitoring

Cons

  • Questionable camera security

What we like

Ring Alarm is affordable and easy to use. You set up all the equipment yourself, and the system even works with Z-Wave so you can add on third-party smart home devices. Ring doesn’t worry about a lot of bells and whistles. You get a basic keypad, a base station, and standard sensors, like window sensors.

Ring Alarm monitoring plan prices and details
PlansPrice
Monitoring type
Learn more
Self-monitoringFreeSelfView on Amazon
Protect Basic$3/mo.SelfView on Amazon
Protect Plus$10/mo.ProfessionalView on Amazon

Data effective 4/13/2020. Offers subject to change.

Ring doesn’t offer its own smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but you can get a “smoke and CO listener.” This little device listens for your regular smoke detector (or carbon monoxide sensor) and sends you an alert if it hears the siren go off.

What we don’t like

Ring’s self-monitored security system is great, but its cameras have a few more question marks attached to them.

Sure, Ring offers outdoor, indoor, and doorbell cameras with top-notch features like HD recording and two-way audio. But Ring cameras have come under fire in the last year for a host of security issues that consumer watch groups say Amazon (Ring’s parent company) hasn’t properly addressed.

Since the accusations first came out, Ring has added some new security features like two-factor authentication. But you should decide for yourself if you think Ring’s features justify the flaws.

Read more about Ring Alarm

Samsung SmartThings: Best smart home hub

The SmartThings hub gives you central control over all your different smart home devices.

Samsung SmartThings hub

Source: Reviews.org

Samsung SmartThings is more than a security system; it’s a home automation powerhouse. SmartThings works with dozens of different third-party smart devices and home security sensors to create one unified system you can control through the SmartThings app. All you really need to get started is the Samsung SmartThings hub.

Pros

  • Extensive smart home integrations
  • Good mobile app control

Cons

  • Limited camera features in app

What we like

Samsung SmartThings offers some of its own security equipment and sensors, including a multipurpose sensor you can put on doors and windows. The multipurpose sensor includes includes a temperature sensor so you can get alerts if a room gets too hot or too cold.

SmartThings also offers its own indoor camera. It has some pretty good features, including 1080p video and advanced object detection.

Samsung SmartThings monitoring plan prices and details
PlansPriceMonitoring typeLearn more
Self-monitoringFreeSelfView on Amazon

Data effective 4/13/2020. Offers subject to change.

But you don’t have to rely on SmartThings equipment alone. SmartThings allows for various integrations, so you can add on other security sensors, smart home devices, and security cameras from a bunch of other companies, including Yale, TP-Link, Arlo, and August.

SmartThings also doesn’t require a monthly subscription cost. You have full access to the mobile app for free.

SmartThings ADT monitoring kit

SmartThings offers a second, professionally monitored security system as a collaboration with ADT. You get ADT equipment and monitoring but with all the smart home functionality of the SmartThings system.

Just keep in mind that the ADT kit doesn’t support self-monitoring. Be sure you’re going for the regular SmartThings equipment if you want to take charge of things yourself.

What we don’t like

The big appeal of Samsung SmartThings is that you can control all the different smart devices you have in your house from just one app. Otherwise, you’d need a separate app for every different device.

But SmartThings can’t totally get rid of all those other apps. If you use security cameras, you’ll still need to keep those individual apps around so you can view your camera’s livestream.

Read more about Samsung SmartThings

Recap: Which self-monitored security system is best?

DIY security is more popular than ever, and you have a bunch of different options for self-monitored home alarm systems.

Nest Secure: Best self-monitored—Nest is an excellent self-monitored home security system with cameras. It always has the latest and greatest technology features, and it lets you self-monitor your devices for free.

Abode: Best for smart homes—Abode doesn’t have the best camera, but it offers free basic self-monitoring, and it gives you some popular smart home protocols.

Scout Alarm: Best RFID option—Scout Alarm connects with both Z-Wave and Zigbee, plus it gives you RFID control over your system. But you have to pay a monthly fee to self-monitor your system.

Ring Alarm: Best budget buy—Ring Alarm has super affordable and functional security equipment, but its cameras suffer from security flaws.

Samsung SmartThings: Best smart home hub—SmartThings lets you connect all your smart home stuff and make it worth together. Plus, you can self-monitor your equipment for free.

Do you have a self-monitored home alarm system? Do you prefer professional monitoring? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

FAQ

How do I choose a self-monitored home security system?

Which system you choose depends on what you want. Do you want to add on a bunch of smart home devices? Do you want security cameras? Do you mind paying an extra monthly fee for self monitoring?

Here are some things to look for as you compare different systems:

  • Does it charge extra for self-monitoring, or is it included with the purchase of the system?
  • Does it integrate with the other smart devices you use or want to use? For example, Philips Hue lightbulbs or a Schlage Encode smart lock.
  • Does it have cellular back-up? If your power or your Wi-Fi goes out, you want to know that your security system will still work.

If you want a system with top-notch cameras, then it’s worth looking at brands like Nest and Ring. These companies are known for their security cameras, and you know you’ll get features like two-way audio, night vision, and HD recording.

If you want a system that supports smart home devices, then check out something like Abode, Scout Alarm, or Samsung SmartThings. These systems support smart home protocols, like Z-Wave and Zigbee, and they integrate with major brands like Philips Hue smart lights and Schlage smart locks. (Check the company’s website for specific information on integrations.)

How does self-monitoring work?

Self-monitoring relies on your smartphone. You’ll get push notifications and alerts when something triggers your alarm system. If it really is an intruder and not just your teenager forgetting the passcode again, then you can call the cops (or fire department or EMT’s) yourself.

Cameras are helpful with self-monitored systems because you can view the camera’s livestream and see what’s actually happening on your property even if you’re not physically there.

Are professionally monitored security systems worth it?

The short answer is yes, we think so. But not if you can’t afford them.

It’s nice to have professionals who can keep an eye on your security system 24/7. Everyone has to set down their smartphone at some point, and you can’t respond to alerts about your security system (including false alarms) if you’re not monitoring your phone. Professional monitoring is always on high alert.

But professional monitoring is also expensive. And if it comes down to not having a security system or having a security system that you monitor yourself, we think it’s better to secure your home and keep an eye on things on your own.

Aside from the initial up-front cost of the equipment itself, most self-monitored systems don’t charge you much, if anything, for self-monitoring.

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