Have you ever wanted a way to surveillance your home while you were away on vacation? Has crime in your neighborhood gone up recently? Are you worried that your cats might be wreaking havoc while you’re at work?
Was your favorite vase broken and you suspect the kids lied and blamed the dog? All of these problems (and many others) have a very simple solution: a home security system.
What Is Self-Monitoring, Anyway?
You know how you can install a home security system, but then you’d have to pay a monthly subscription for a professional service to monitor your home around the clock? A self-monitored home security system is basically an individual setup where each homeowner gets to install and monitor their own crib.
Instead of professional service being alerted about what’s going on out and about your home, you will receive a mobile notification if the system, let’s say, detects any movement. Naturally, these systems can be as basic or as feature-packed as you like and, depending on how much money you are willing to spend, they can be quite sophisticated.
How to Choose a Home Security System
We’re not going to lie: choosing a home security system isn’t easy and it requires even more special attention when you think about the fact that your own security and well-being are at stake. We’ve put together a comprehensive list to inform you what are the things to consider and what to look for when you’re thinking about investing your money in a home security system:
You can choose between a DIY and a professionally installed home security system, and you have to understand what each of them does. When you opt for a DIY system, it means that you choose a pre-programmed unit that you have to set up on your own. Units that require professional installation usually offer around-the-clock monitoring, which means that your home will be constantly supervised and authorities will be alerted in case of danger. While very efficient, these systems require paying a monthly fee.
That being said, you also need to consider the costs of a home security system. The equipment itself is going to cost you no matter what you choose. For professional systems, there’s also installation, activation, and monitoring costs to consider. Watch out for hidden fees as well.
There are certain providers that can lease the equipment instead of purchasing it, which might be a more convenient option for those who want short-term monitoring.
You also want to take a look into the type of connection available if you opt for professional monitoring. A landline connection uses your home’s landline to send notification in case of alerts. Even if this option is more cost-friendly compared to the others, it’s also pretty easy to tamper with (someone can cut the line and interrupt your connection with the monitoring center). For homes with high-speed internet, a broadband connection might be a better option.
The biggest downside is that the connection is lost if the power goes out. Cellular connections are based on systems that have integrated chips that connect to the monitoring center using cell phone signal. This is one of the most reliable connection types because it can’t be tampered with and you don’t lose the connection if power is cut off. Needless to say, this is also the most expensive option.
Our Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems
Blink is certainly a name that pops out very often when considering the best home security systems in 2021. The bundle they offer comes with two camera kits, offering both indoor and outdoor cameras for close monitoring. The Blink home security systems delivers a wireless kit that uses two AA lithium batteries (which are included with the purchase) that promise a runtime of minimum two years.
Using motion sensors, the system can send notifications to your phone to alert you about potential intruders on the premises. Even more, it also acts like an intercom that allows you to see, hear, and speak to visitors knocking at your door. The two-way audio is certainly a nice feature that you don’t find on just any home security system.
The user-friendly design makes Blink a system that’s really easy to install. It doesn’t have any wires and eliminates the need to call in a professional to install it. It is compatible with Alexa, meaning you can activate the system and its features using your voice.
The Ring home security system is one of the market’s leaders, there’s no doubt about that. It is a DIY self-monitoring system that promises ease of installation through a kit that has kept homeowners happy for a considerable number of years. This Ring alarm home security system is suitable for homes that have up to four bedrooms, offering a generous kit that includes a range extender, two motion detectors, eight contact sensors, two keypads, and the base station.
It allows push notifications to be sent directly to your smartphone, so you’ll never have to worry about suspicious home activity occurring without you having any clue. Even if the Ring alarm home security system offers self-monitoring, you can always choose to pay the monthly fee of $10 to have professionals do the monitoring for you.
Setup is completed through your home’s wireless connection, so you really shouldn’t have any trouble installing it. If you want, there is always the option to purchase additional components and accessories, expanding the monitoring options and adding more sensors throughout your property.
Here is a very simple and easy to use home security system that can monitor whatever is going on in your absence. It is a device that embeds AI technology in order to deliver you information of actual importance. That means that the device has an intelligent system that will only send notifications once movement is detected.
The privacy mode will let you turn off the microphone and camera, while the automatic arming and disarming feature will turn the camera on and off as you enter or exit the house. The device has a two-way talk feature, which is great for telling your pets to get off the couch even when you’re out of the house. Other features of interest include easy installation, encrypted storage for safe data, or a fast way to contact the emergency service in case of need.
Who Should Purchase This?
Simple, yet effective, the Canary monitoring device is a budget-friendly option for those looking for a more basic, but reliable way of keeping an eye on their home while away.
- 1080p video.
- AI recognition.
- Two-way talking system.
- One-touch emergency service contact.
- Ambient light sensor.
- Requires membership to unlock some features.
Welcome to Blink, one of the best solutions for self-monitored home security systems that almost anyone can afford. In just three easy steps, you can have your system up and running. Download the Blink app and create your account, plug-in and connect the device to the wi-fi network, and then insert the batteries for camera sync.
Blink is basically like a little black box which is a camera that can surveillance the inside or outside portion of your home. It’s powered by two lithium AA batteries, features a two-way talk system, provides free storage for your past recording, and it’s compatible with Alexa.
Who Should Purchase This?
Thanks to the overwhelming community response, people are more and more tempted to purchase the Blink XT2 home security system, so if you value other buyer recommendations, this is the right product for you.
- Two-way talk system.
- Indoor and outdoor use.
- Day and night coverage.
- Compatible with Alexa.
- Easy to setup.
- Customizable motion detector.
- False battery claims.
Fancy, schmancy; who wants to spend tremendous amounts of money on a security camera when they’re not all that passionate about technology or just need a more basic unit that helps get the job done? With that in mind, here is the Abode home security system. This is basically a starter kit that can easily be set up and used for all your home-related needs.
You can get immediate phone alerts, and you can control the system via your computer or smartphone. You can customize the notifications you get, so you won’t be spammed all the time with information that’s not on a need-to-know basis. The kit comes with the main gateway, a mini door and window sensors, a motion sensor, but also a key chain that doubles as a remote control for the system.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you’re not into tech and fiddling around with complicated gadgets, the Abode security system is the perfect basic item that will give you the non-complicated features you’re looking for.
- Comes with a motion sensor.
- Includes a mini door/window sensor.
- Remote control in key chain size.
- Smartphone + browser monitoring.
- No monthly fees required.
- Not compatible with Alexa/Google Home.
The Arlo Pro 2 is surely an upgrade from the basic model you’ve shown you before, but it also comes at a spicier price. It is one of the best wireless home security systems at this moment, capable of rendering video images at 1080p quality. It packs a motion sensor that can start recording three seconds before an outdoor event.
If you use the camera indoors, you can plug it in and get non-stop recordings stored in cloud. The Smart Siren feature will trigger a loud noise at your command, or whenever the system detects sound or movement. You can also purchase the Arlo Solar Panel, which guarantees that your outdoor system will always have a renewable source of energy for charging the batteries.
Who Should Purchase This?
If you want to get a more complete system that is highly customizable, battery and electricity-powered, weather-resistant, and just overall pretty darn good, the Arlo Pro delivers all that.
- Automatic/manual siren.
- Two-way audio.
- Customizable activity zones.
- 1080p resolution.
- Night vision.
- Works with Alexa.
- Short motion clips can lead to annoying multiple notifications.
Types of Home Security Systems
There are several ways to label home security systems, so let’s have an in-depth look at your current options.
#1: Monitored systems
You have two options when it comes to monitored security systems, as mentioned earlier: self-monitored and company-monitored options.
With self-monitored systems, you have full control over monitoring whatever is going on in and around the house. These systems come with security cameras, sirens, door sensors, and motion sensors. They are usually paired with mobile apps that not only grant control over the settings and features, but also send push notifications straight to your smartphone whenever there’s something suspicious going on around the house.
They offer multiple benefits that make these options popular: they are affordable, can record video evidence if there is enough space to store the files, they are relatively easy to move to different corners of the house or outdoors, and you receive real-time notifications that allow you to take action, such as alert the authorities in case of a break-in. They do also have their fair share of drawbacks, including the fact that they rely on power to work (only a downside if you live in an area with frequent power outages), they offer limited camera coverage (depending on where they are installed), and, if you are in an area with no cell phone service, you might miss the smartphone notification.
Company-monitored systems offer a more professional approach to home security because you have a third-party professional that’s monitoring your home’s safety. When the system is armed and there is suspicious activity detected, these companies will alert contact centers, the homeowners, and even dispatch the security company personnel (or even the police) if you don’t respond to the call.
Of course, company-monitoring home security systems come with ups and downs. They offer the benefit of continuous monitoring and availability even if there is a power outage (as they use battery back-ups for the systems, radio transmitters, and even phone line connection), they will alert the authorities on your behalf if you are not home, they have alarms and sirens that often scare away intruders before they have the nerve to actually break in, and offer professional installation that’s likely to eliminate potential blind spots.
Some of the disadvantages of using these systems include the cost (which is often comprised or equipment purchase and installation, monthly fees, and even hidden costs), you need to constantly activate the alarm system whenever you want your home to be monitored, and, if the system is triggered by accident and you don’t answer the phone, authorities will be alerted right away (and you could be fined for potentially false distress calls).
#2: Unmonitored systems
These systems are different from the ones in the aforementioned category because they are mostly designed to scare off intruders rather than alert authorities in time of need. When the alarm is triggered, it will usually send out visual and audio cues that are loud and meant to discourage intruders.
They are made from components that include door and window sensors, motion sensors, and even smoke detectors. Depending on the model chosen, you could opt for a system that has a compatible smartphone app so that you can control and monitor your home from a distance.
Unmonitored systems can also be pretty reliable, even if it’s not as sophisticated as other options. They are pretty easy to install and figure out, and they are definitely more cost-friendly because there are no hidden or monthly fees to handle. However, they aren’t always effective when you’re out of the house and, since they are not automated, you are the one responsible with calling the authorities if the case demands it.
#3: Wireless systems
A wireless security system is really efficient if you hate having wires around or if you’re worried that intruders might cut off the wires and disable the system. They usually have a three-step home monitoring process, which includes detection (anything from broken windows to untrusted people opening the door), annunciation (the stage where the system alerts you of possible dangers through means that include sirens, alarms, lights, etc.), and monitoring (the alarms should be connected to a monitoring service which can send help in case of an emergency).
Wireless systems offer plenty of benefits: they are easy to install/uninstall (makes it easy to change it location, even if you relocate to a new home), they have a pretty simple installation process (professional help isn’t that much required), they are easy to upgrade (due to the lack of hardwiring), and they offer easy remote control access.
That doesn’t make them flawless, because they are vulnerable to interference (can be jammed with the right tools and even have their signal obstructed by large objects), aren’t difficult to hack by someone with experience in doing so, and require plenty of batteries to run (meaning you have to monitor the battery level at all times).
#4: Wired systems
These systems are connected to an alarm panel using wires. That means that every component in the system needs to be connected to this panel using one or multiple wires. They will offer a more trustworthy connection compared to wireless systems (since nothing can really obstruct the signal), and they also have their fair share of advantages and drawbacks.
As far as benefits are concerned, you should know that these systems are pretty easy to maintain (since there are not batteries that require replacement), they are more suitable for larger homes (since there is no limit to how many motion sensors you can connect, as opposed to wireless systems), aren’t as easy to hack compared to their wireless counterparts, and offer plenty of features.
However, installation will definitely cost more (since it usually takes a professional to do the hardwiring part), can be vulnerable to robbers (especially if the wires are exposed, they are easy to cut), can’t be installed that easy, and can only be armed and disarmed from the main control panel.
Tips for Choosing a Home Security System
If you’re still confused about what type of home security system is best for you, the following list of tips might shed some light on the situation and out you on the right path to make a wise shopping decision:
One of the most important things is to determine if you want company-monitored solutions or if DIY home security systems are the option you want to go with. When budget is a concern, DIY home security systems are definitely the right choice, as professional company-monitored systems are going to cost you a pretty penny.
Consider the advantages and drawbacks or wired vs wireless home security systems. While each of these two options can be reliable, they have their limitations, and staying informed is the best way to make sure you spend money on something that’s useful for you.
Home security systems aren’t just about monitoring the premises, but also to make sure that nothing dangerous is going on inside the house. Some systems will even have smoke detectors and water sensors that can send alerts in case of fire outburst or water leaks that could floor the house. They are useful for plenty of scenarios, from discovering which of the pets broke your favorite antique vase to discovering how big of a party your teenage kid threw while you were away for the weekend.
If you think there will ever be a need to move around the components of a home security system, wireless options are the best ones for you, no questions asked.
When opting for company-monitored systems, always read the fine print. You might end up discovering hidden fees that could end up being a real deal-breaker.
Some units have smart home integrations, and that’s something you can benefit from if you have Alexa or Google home. This will allow you to control the features of the system using voice commands, which can be really convenient.
What is a self-monitoring security system?
A self-monitoring security system is also called a DIY monitoring system, which makes you responsible for everything from purchasing and installing the equipment to monitoring any alarms. Whenever the technology detects any potential threats, the dangers are sent in the form of a notification straight to your cell phone.
Can I monitor my own alarm system?
Yes, this is basically what you do when choosing a self-monitoring security system. The security sensors are tripped, you will receive a smartphone notification.
What is the best home security system with no monthly fee?
There are a few options for great security systems that don’t require paying any monthly fees, and Ring, Abode, and SimpliSafe are such examples.
Can ADT be self-monitored?
If you opt for an ADT system, you will receive 30 days of free professional monitoring. When this trial period expires, you can either choose to renew the subscription and pay the fee to continue to enjoy their service, or you can opt out of this renewal and continue to self-monitor your home.
The future of home monitoring is here, and there are dozens and dozens of good systems to choose from, provided that you have the patience to look at a few of them before actually buying. Remember that most products do offer professional around-the-clock monitoring for a monthly fee, in case that’s something you’d be willing to try.