DIY Home Security Systems

Nowadays, protecting your home has become more of a necessity than a luxury. Thanks to the new and improved Do-It-Yourself (DIY) security systems, home protection is no longer an exclusive service that only a few can obtain. In fact, the security industry has filled the market with affordable products and services, changing the face of home security forever. Currently, security companies provide state-of-the-art technology to monitor your home at accessible rates. There is no better time than today to invest in a DIY smart security system to protect your home and family.

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Keep it Simple

The security industry has taken into account their customers’ needs by creating inexpensive systems that deliver a trouble-free DIY installation. Installing a home security system may seem like an overwhelming job for some customers, especially if they have no technological experience. To lessen this possible stressful situation, security companies have designed their DIY systems with a straightforward plug-and-play setup and wireless devices, for a smooth installation.

Many companies offer preset equipment packages meant for simple installation. The equipment packs often include a centralized Hub or control panel, door/window sensors, and motion detectors. The equipment is intended to be freestanding or has simple peel-and-stick adhesives that you can mount around your home. DIY installations offer a simple setup with essential tools and the smallest amount of effort from your part. But if you are still unconvinced of its simplicity, you can always ask a friend to help out during your DIY installation.

 
For a better understanding of how security systems work, go to the Home Security for beginners guide.

DIY Installation:

During a DIY installation, you will have total control as of where you place all your equipment. You will be solely responsible for installing and running all the devices that come with your security system. This type of security gives you the freedom to customize your system for an ultimate smart home automation experience. In some cases, you may opt for a system without any home automation features; it will work as an alarm system only. This means that it will sound an alarm, and you will get notifications when a sensor is triggered. But that is about it, no smart home automation capabilities.

One key benefit is that you can start small and grow at your own pace, enhancing your security system over time. This flexibility will help you save money since you won’t have to buy all your security components at once. You can add many different devices to enhance your systems, such as indoor cameras, environmental sensors, indoor/outdoor cameras, smart locks, and more. If you are going to add third-party devices, we recommend checking first with your security provider to see if they are compatible.

One of the most significant advantages of choosing a DIY installation is that it eliminates the cost of paying a professional installer to do the job. Installing the system yourself will save you money since you will be doing all the work. This cost-effective route will help you soften the blow of the upfront equipment cost that many security companies require initially.

DIY installations are ideal for customers who like handy projects and have the time to set it up. To help you out during the installation process, many companies provide extensive how-to guides, and some even include video tutorials on their website. Some companies deliver step-by-step instructions through their mobile app, while others offer excellent customer support that can guide you during the whole installation.

Another benefit of taking on a DIY installation is time-management: you can install your system at any moment. When you receive your equipment package at home, you can get started right away. You don’t need to schedule any appointments with a professional installer or take a day off to wait for them to come to your home. Many security companies state that their DIY systems take about an hour or so to set up, depending on your technological expertise and skills on handy work.

DIY installations have some disadvantages as well. The weakness that stands out the most is the absence of professional guidance. Since you will be doing all the work, there won’t be a professional technician to guide you through the installation process. If you come across any problems, you will have to figure it out on your own or do some significant research on the subject at hand. And even though many companies provide how-to videos and have an excellent customer support team, some problems may be hard to explain over the phone. Not having a helping hand may turn your DIY installation into an exasperating situation in a matter of minutes.

With life’s busy schedules, a DIY installation can be time-consuming. For some customers, the possible aggravations that may come with a DIY project are not worth the trouble. If you have a hectic lifestyle between work and family, taking time to do a DIY installation may not be very practical. But the low cost that comes with a self-installation system can make up for all the trouble you could encounter. And remember, you can always ask a friend or family member to help you out. But if you prefer, many companies offer professional installation as an optional service, at an extra cost.

Monitoring Types:

A vital part of acquiring a security system is to gain a monitoring service to watch and protect your family and your home. Security systems come with two routes to choose from: Self-monitoring or professional monitoring service. Every company has a different approach. Some give the option to self-monitor for free, while others will charge you a low monthly fee for access to their mobile app. Other companies provide a professional monitoring plan as elective, whereas others require a mandatory pro monitoring service subscription with their equipment. What monitoring path is best for you will depend on your budget and lifestyle. Feel free to do some research on what works best for you and your security needs.

Although the free self-monitoring option may be very appealing with the no-monthly fees aspect, we highly recommend that you subscribe to a more dependable professional monitoring service. In the section below, we’ll explain the pros and cons of self-monitoring vs. professional, to help you make a better decision on what will work best for you.

 

Self-Monitoring

When choosing to self-monitoring your system, you have to be aware of what this practice entails. You will be responsible for supervising all aspects of your home’s protection, giving you free reins to control and manage all your devices. It is a huge responsibility to take on: be realistic when making your decision and stay well informed of your options.

The key benefit of choosing to self-monitor your system is cost. You will save money on monthly monitoring fees, given that you will be in charge of your home’s surveillance. A few companies provide the mobile app for free, while others require a subscription to at least one monitoring plan to get access. Some security companies have a low monthly fee for extra cloud storage when you purchase cameras, while others provide it for free. We suggest you do your due diligence when selecting a security provider, so you won’t get caught off guard by hidden or embedded fees.

Also, some companies offer fantastic home automation features with their system but are not included in the self-monitoring service. The smart home integrations and features may come only when you subscribe to a professional monitoring service. These features may help you customize your system for optimal performance, but with a monthly price tag.

If you are a customer who likes to experience smart home automation throughout your home, make sure the company you are choosing has those features included.

Many DIY security systems come with a mobile phone app for you to operate and oversee all your devices. Some companies provide alternative products, such as control panels or keypads, for quick access. Take into consideration that some of these devices may not be included in the equipment packages and come as an extra cost.

Most systems come with a centralized Hub or control panel where all other components will connect, to interact with each other. The primary control will remain through the app. This app-dependent style of monitoring might be a little bothersome for customers who don’t like to keep tabs on their mobile phone at all times. You need to be mindful of your phone’s battery level or being careful of not forgetting it at home. Otherwise, you won't be capable of receiving any alerts (real-time) of sensors triggering the alarm. You may not be able to contact the police if there is a security breach at home.

On the positive side, you will be granted access to monitor your home from anywhere and anytime, right in the palm of your hand. You will get notifications to your mobile phone app when one of your sensors is triggered. These notifications come in the form of e-mails, push notifications, or text alerts, varying on the company. From there, you are in charge of verifying if it is a false alarm, or if a real crime is taking place at home. You will be responsible for contacting the proper authorities to take action and assist you when needed.

The most significant disadvantage with self-monitoring your system is that you will be the only one in charge when an alarm is triggered. You will be responsible for taking action, contacting the authorities when a possibly dangerous situation is taking place at your home. No professional monitoring team will be at your disposal to call for help since there is no one else supervising your security system.

If the security system goes offline or you are somewhat injured, it will be hard to reach out to the proper authorities to send out assistance to your home.

Self-monitored systems don’t deliver the same level of security as the professional ones. It is highly recommended that, if possible, you subscribe to a more reliable professional monitoring service. But if you want to be in charge when the alarm sounds and receiving notifications when sensors are trigger are sufficed, self-monitoring is perfect for you.

Professional Monitoring:

Professional monitoring services provide an extra layer of protection to your home security system. You will have expert professionals guarding your home 24/7. When a device triggers the alarm, the system will notify the monitoring center that something is going on at your home. The monitoring center will try to get in touch with you to confirm if it is a false alarm or if a threatening situation is happening at your home. If they verify that a dangerous situation is taking place, the monitoring team will immediately contact the local authorities on your behalf. This fast response time to triggered events is one of the crucial reasons for having a 24/7 professional monitoring service.

Security companies provide some unique features when you subscribe to their professional monitoring services, to make the monthly expense worth your while. Features like Geofencing (a GPS service that can arm/disarm your system) or home automation capabilities are only included when a professional monitoring service is in place. Other features, like access to their mobile app, are also available. With the app, you can manage many aspects of your security system, such as setting alerts, managing smart devices like smart locks or thermostats, and more. In some cases, these features are only available for professional monitoring customers.

Professional monitoring service comes with an extra cost. You will have to subscribe to monthly monitoring fees that are aligned with a contract requirement. And even though some companies provide this service at a low cost, it will make an impact on your monthly bills. Some companies only offer equipment when you subscribe to a professional monitoring service. In some cases, it won't work at all without the mobile app, forcing you to have an active subscription to a monitoring plan. Other companies have no self-monitoring option at all. You will have to decide which monitoring approach is best for you and your security needs.

Another thing to consider is that many security companies require a long-term commitment to their professional monitoring service. You may have to subscribe to a contract that can last a lengthy time, with steep cancelation fees. But on a positive note, many companies are changing how they handle their contract commitment, offering brief monthly subscriptions with better customer benefits. If you are looking for a more dependable security system, with professionals watching over your home 24/7, then professional monitoring is the way to go.

DIY Installation with professional monitoring:

Now that you have a better understanding of a DIY system, depicted below, we’ll talk about the companies that provide for this type of security. As we mentioned above, some companies offer DIY-installation systems with the option of self-monitoring or sign up for a professional monitoring service. The big difference is that the companies listed here will charge a monthly fee for monitoring services, one way or another. Some companies will charge you a fee for the usage of their mobile app, even though it will be a self-monitoring option.

Other companies don’t provide this option at all; you will have to subscribe to the professional monitoring service. The common factor in the following companies is that there are no long-term savings, just on the installation fee, that is always free with a DIY system.

DIY Systems with pro-monitoring:

  • Brinks
  • Deep Sentinel
  • Frontpoint
  • Link Interactive
  • Protect America
  • Scout

Brinks:

Brinks Home is a fantastic choice for security and home automation, as it is one of the leading companies with the latest technology in home protection systems. Brinks equipment and mobile app are powered by the ground-breaking Alarm.com, famous for the Skybell Video doorbell, indoor/outdoor cameras, and many add-on devices. Brinks high-quality DIY equipment gives you the flexibility to customize your system to cover all your security needs

Brinks Home Security is an easy DIY installation system that brings only two preset equipment packages. The core items included in these packs are An LCD touchscreen, door/window sensors, and a motion sensor. The main difference between the two is that one has no video devices, while the other comes with the SkyBell Video Doorbell and an indoor camera. You can purchase your equipment upfront or finance it through monthly installments. You will benefit by avoiding any upfront costs, but it will increase your monthly fees. Brinks wireless equipment is designed for a simple DIY installation. If you would rather have a professional installation, the company does offer this service, as a one-time upfront fee.

Brinks has excellent home automation capabilities and integrates smoothly with many third-party devices. You can buy many products to enhance your security systems, like environmental sensors, indoor/outdoor cameras, glass break detectors, and more. Brinks integrates with numerous Z-Wave products and This Then That (IFTTT) technology. It also has Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home integrations.

Brinks provides only two professional monitoring plans; there is no option for self-monitoring. The plans include 24/7 professional monitoring service. They use cellular and Wi-Fi coverage for a more secure connection.

The equipment pack is bundled up in the monitoring plans for a more affordable option. The downside: it comes with a long-term commitment. You will have to sign up to a strict three-year contract. If you want to opt-out early, you will be accountable for any pending balances, including financed equipment.

One unique feature that sticks out with Brinks is the ASAPer: a live messaging system that allows real-time communication with a list of personalized contacts. The ASAPer live messaging is a fast way to prevent false alarms, or check in with family members to see if they are involved in a threatening situation at home. When the alarm is triggered, ASAPer provides a chatroom for the contact members to communicate. It allows you to get a hold of all your family members quickly and check who hasn't responded. It is a cool feature to have at hand, especially if there are more than a few members that have access to your security system.

Deep Sentinel:

Deep Sentinel is brings an innovative approach to home security. It is a home security system that blends predictive Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), outdoor camera surveillance, and 24/7 human monitoring service, combined for a truly unique experience. It provides a proactive response to alerts, unlike any other security system in play today.

It can recognize a possible crime in progress and respond appropriately, instead of reacting after a sensor is triggered and the break-in is on its way. The security monitor team can communicate with any suspicious characters lurking around your home through the camera’s built-in speakers, to defuse the situation. If it escalates to a crime in progress, the monitoring center will contact the police for immediate assistance.

Deep Sentinel provides a unique DIY installation starter kit, sold along with the professional monitoring service. The starter kit comes with an A.I. Hub, three outdoor wireless cameras, and four rechargeable batteries. The outdoor cameras are the core component for the system; you can purchase a fourth camera, but it comes with an added monthly fee.

The company has no financing plans available, so you will have to buy this high-end priced equipment upfront. Deep Sentinel is a DIY system easy to install, with no activation or installation fees. If you wish, Deep Sentinel recommends a third-party company to arrange for a professional installation service, for an extra cost.

Deep Sentinel has no add-on devices, like indoor cameras or access sensors, unlike other security companies nowadays. This limited product selection is directly related to how this system operates in particularly. The outdoor cameras will provide the only surveillance to your home's outer limits, joining forces with the predictive A.I. Hub and the intervention from the monitoring center to bring a unique surveillance system. Due to this integrated equipment and monitoring service, Deep Sentinel has no smart home integrations.

The company offers only one professional monitoring service plan, along with its equipment starter kit. The system works using Wi-Fi coverage; there is no cellular backup, contrasting other security companies that provide this extra layer of protection in their connectivity.

Deep Sentinel requires a one-year contract that you may cancel early but comes with a steep termination charge. After the mandatory first-year commitment is over, you can choose to self-monitor for free. You can also continue with the professional monitoring service with monthly/yearly fees that you can cancel at any moment.

The one thing that genuinely makes Deep Sentinel stand out from every other security company is its preventive system. It is designed to bring together state-of-the-art cameras, Artificial Intelligence, and real-time human intervention, to provide a unique security system.

The A.I. technology helps to sort out different types of motions outside your house, making the system smart enough to focus its attention on real potential threats. This means that it will tell the difference between your neighbor’s dog sniffing around your garden and a somebody lingering suspiciously on your front door. This distinction will help the system send live feeds to the monitoring center of only potentially dangerous situations before they even reach your home. The monitoring agents can take action instantly, deterring the intruder or contacting your local authorities to dispatch to your home.

Frontpoint:

Frontpoint is best known for its outstanding customer service and response time. World-famous General Electric (GE) provides most of Frontpoint’s innovative equipment, allowing the system to be monitored by other companies. Their equipment, along with the monitoring plans, are considered world-class, with excellent customization upgrades to build your system over time.

Frontpoint is a simple DIY installation system, offering six equipment packages for your choosing. Each bundle comes with these essential components: A Hub, keypad, motion sensor, and door/window sensors. The rest of the packs vary in parts, some come with cameras or smoke sensors, while others include glass break sensors.

Frontpoint’s equipment needs to be purchased upfront, there are no financing plans available. To counterweigh this high initial expense, Frontpoint presents its customers with substantial discounts on the system. The catch: you are required to subscribe to the three-year contract to qualify for the markdown. Frontpoint is designed to be a straightforward DIY installation process. Therefore, the company does not provide a professional installation service.

Frontpoint integrates smoothly with many smart products, thanks to its outstanding home automation capabilities. The company has an extensive catalog of home automation products that you can add to your security system: Indoor cameras, smart locks, video doorbells, and more.

Given the fact that GE is part of the Z-Wave Alliance, Frontpoint’s equipment integrates naturally with Z-Wave products. According to the company, some integrations are still in the works, like Amazon Echo; but Frontpoint works great with Nest and Google Home. To enjoy the full home automation features, customers must subscribe to the most expensive monitoring plan.

Frontpoint provides three professional monitoring plans; there is no self-monitoring option. All three come with 24/7 professional monitoring service. The system uses cellular coverage, with Wi-Fi as a backup, for a more secure connection.

Frontpoint gives you the option between a one-year or a three-year contract. But remember: To be eligible for the hefty equipment discount, you are required to sign up for the lengthy three-year commitment. If you opt-out early, Frontpoint will charge you a high termination fee for the remaining balance on your contract.

One cool feature that Frontpoint gives its customers is the Geolocation service, included in the mobile app. When you enter the invisible zone set around your home (Geo-fence), the geo-service settings will automatically jump into action. This feature allows you to arm/disarm your system when you enter the geo-fence zone. It is pretty handy, especially if you have your hands tied down with grocery bags. It allows you to program cool settings for when you leave the geo-fence, like set reminders to arm your system, turn off the lights, and many home automations actions.

Link Interactive:

Link Interactive is best known for its outstanding flexibility, from á-la-carte equipment selection to contract preferences. Most Link Interactive equipment is manufactured by Two Guys In a Garage (2GIG), a company with an excellent reputation on high-quality home security systems. Also, it has partnered up with the renowned Alarm.com corporation to power up all Link Interactive’s equipment, bringing smart home solutions into its mobile app. Link Interactive delivers an exceptional, highly customizable system that lets you tailor every aspect according to your security needs.

Link Interactive is a simple DIY installation, with incredible flexibility when selecting your security components. It has no preset equipment packages, unlike many security companies nowadays. You will pick each item á-la-carte based on your security needs, for a more personalized system. It has a core item, The Go! Control Panel, required to manage all add-on devices to your system. From there, you can add different products, such as smart locks, motion sensors, environmental detectors, and more.

The upfront equipment cost can get a little pricey, particularly with all the tempting add-on products. Keep an eye out for your total cost, since there are no financing plans available. The company does allow you to bring your previously owned equipment. You can subscribe to a monitoring service without having to purchase any additional products, saving you some money on equipment costs. Always check first with the company, to see if any restrictions may apply. Link Interactive is intended to be a simple DIY installation system; There is no professional installation service available.

Link Interactive has remarkable home automation capabilities and third-party integrations, fitting together with many smart home products. The system integrates effortlessly with Z-wave technology, giving you the freedom to add many different devices. Plus, Link Interactive works wonderfully with Nest products, Apple TV, Amazon Echo, and Google Home.

Link Interactive provides two options for monitoring your system: self-monitoring or professional monitoring. If you choose to self-monitor, you will still have to pay a high monthly fee for access to the mobile phone app. The app is required to manage your system, so no real savings here. On the other hand, the company offers three professional monitoring plans to choose from. All Link Interactive’s professional services provide 24/7 monitoring and come with cellular coverage for its connectivity.

Link Interactive’s flexibility reputation is echoed in its commitment agreements. Link Interactive offers a one-year, two-year, or three-year contracts, or you can choose to go along a monthly subscription. If you sign up for the longer three-year commitment, the company will lock in the monthly rates for the length of the contract.

What sets Link Interactive apart from other security companies is its well-deserved reputation of being the most flexible customization system. Its fantastic flexibility is reflected throughout the entire company, from equipment selection to monitoring plans. This kind of freedom is quite different from many security companies in the market today.

Protect America:

Protect America has been the first company to manufacture a monitored DIY installation system. From that moment on, many security companies have replicated this model into their own home security systems. Protect America is an unbelievably affordable DIY system for customers seeking long-term solutions. It offers an exceptional security system, providing low-cost equipment and monitoring plans, with plenty of customizable options for its customers.

Protect America is a straightforward DIY installation system that provides free equipment with its monitoring plans. The equipment packages come with a control panel, door/window sensors, a motion detector, and a keychain remote.

You can purchase additional devices to enhance your security system, like smart thermostats, Video doorbell cameras, smart locks, and more, at an extra cost. The company offers no financing plans; but then again, there is no upfront expense since the equipment price is embedded in the monthly monitoring fees. The drawback: you have to sign up for a long-term commitment.

Protect America is intended to be a simple DIY install system. If you prefer, the company offers a professional installation service, at an extra cost.

Protect America provides remarkable home automation capabilities and a wide range of third-party integrations. The system works excellent with Z-Wave technology, If This Then That (IFTTT) scenes, and the X10 standard. It supports Alarm.com products, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa, but does not work with Nest products.

Protect America provides three plans for its professional monitoring; there is no self-monitoring available. They come with 24/7 professional monitoring service, with different equipment packages included at no extra cost. Each monitoring plan allows you to choose how you want to connect: Landline, Broadband, or Cellular. There is no price difference between broadband and cellular coverage, it is more a matter of preference.

Protect America has a strict three-year contract requirement. On the positive side, the cost of the equipment is spread out through the monthly monitoring fees, avoiding a steep upfront cost altogether. The setback is that you will be tied down for a long commitment.

Protect America offers three connectivity options for its systems: Landline, broadband, and cellular. This unique selection is something we haven’t seen from any other security company. These coverage options grant its customers the freedom to select the best way to connect to the monitoring center, depending on location or internet service. Landline connections are ideal for homes with poor internet or cellular reception and come with the lowest monthly rate. Broadband is perfect for customers that have fast internet service. The only problem with these two is their vulnerability. An intruder could tamper the home phone line, or if the power goes out, you will lose all communications with your system. The Cellular coverage is the most reliable and secure out of the three, but may not be available in remote locations with a weak cell network.

Scout:

Scout brings affordable, well-designed equipment to its customers. It offers a minimal proprietary equipment catalog but makes up with its extraordinary adaptability, earning the reputation of being the ultimate customizable system in the industry. Scout has excellent home automation capabilities and massive third-party integrations, offering many products to add on to your system.

Scout offers four preset equipment packs to choose from, or the flexibility to custom build your system á-la-carte. The system has a centralized Hub as its core item. The equipment packages also include motion sensors, access sensors, a door panel, and key fobs. Other packs vary in contents, such as door locks, glass break sensors, or environmental sensors.

Scout is an app-dependent system; there are no keypad or control panels available. For some customers, this mobile app dependency may be irritating. It will, however, save you money since you don't need to buy additional devices to manage your system. With Scout, you will purchase your equipment upfront. For a more affordable option, the company offers financing plans so you can spread out the cost throughout monthly installments.

Scout is planned for easy DIY setup; the company does not provide professional installation services.

Scout’s major drawback is its limited product catalog. The company counts on its massive home automation integration with third-party products to give you the freedom to add as many devices as you like, like cameras, smart lights, and more. Scout integrates well with Z-Wave and Zigbee technology, and with If This Then That (IFTTT) integration recipes, for the ultimate customized experience. It is also compatible with the most popular companies in the market today, like Philips Hue, LIFX, and Nest. Scout works with Amazon Echo devices and Alexa, as well as Google Home, to bring voice command into your security system.

Scout provides two options for monitoring: self-monitoring or professional. With the self-monitoring plan, you will need to pay a low monthly fee to get access to Scout’s mobile app. The other option is a 24/7 professional monitoring service that includes free cloud storage for your indoor camera. Scout equipment won’t work without at least one active monitoring plan. The system uses Wi-Fi for its connectivity, with cellular coverage as a backup, for a more reliable connection.

Scout presents a no-contract policy, something pretty rare in the security industry. You can subscribe to monthly/yearly monitoring fees that you can cancel at any time. Scout even offers a prorated reimbursement if you sign up for annual monitoring and cancel halfway.

A unique feature that stands out with Scout is its Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sticker. This one-of-a-kind label is a fantastic alternative to arming/disarming your system using the door panel, without needing the mobile app. You can attach it to any random object at home, turning it into a secret key fob. This way, you can give access to your dog walker or family members to enter your home in case of an emergency.

The following chart highlights all DIY systems that come with a monthly fee, as summarized in the previous segments. It is organized by brand and features, for you to have a better visual understanding of what is entitled to each company.

Detail Brinks Deep Sentinel Frontpoint Link Interactive Protect America Scout
Activation Cost $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
DIY-Installation Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Pro-Installation Fee (Optional) $199.00 Starts at $110 Not Available Not Available $199.00 Not Available
Equipment Packs Starts at $399 $499.00 Starts at $99 Learn More Learn More Starts at $399
DIY Monthly Monitoring Fee Not Available $0 after 12/mo Not Available $30.99 Not Available $9.99
Pro Monthly Monitoring Fee Starts at $29 $49 No Starts at $34 Starts at $19 $19.99
Contract Length
DIY monitoring
Not Available No contract after 12/mo Not Available Monthly Not Available No contract after 12/mo
Contract Length
Pro monitoring
36 Months 12 Months 36 Months Monthly 36 Months No Contract
Prices may vary            

DIY Installation with Self or DIY monitoring:

In the previous segments, we discussed DIY-installed security systems that come with a mandatory monthly fee. Now it is time to examine those systems that won’t charge you a dime. The companies listed below will give you long-term savings, turning it into a complete DIY experience, from installation to monitoring. Some companies offer professional monitoring as optional, for those customers who have no technical expertise or those who prefer a more secure service.

All the companies in the following segment have two things in common: no contract requirements and are app-dependent systems. The first factor is pretty common amongst self-monitoring systems, giving you the flexibility to supervise your security as you see fit. And since you will be doing all the work, most security companies won’t charge you a monthly fee.

It’s important to point out is that some companies may offer free self-monitoring, but do not include cloud storage for your video recordings.

The second aspect of a self-monitoring system is its dependency on a mobile app. This feature gives you the freedom to monitor your security system from anywhere, at any time. But this app-dependent type of monitoring may be a little irritating for customers who are not too keen on checking their mobile phone regularly.

Many companies provide keypads and key fobs for quick access to the home security system. It will lessen the use of your mobile phone, but some of these devices may come as an extra cost. Always review every detail before deciding which company serves you best.

DIY Systems with self-monitoring:

  • Abode
  • Honeywell Smart Home
  • Nest
  • Ring
  • Simplisafe

Abode:

Abode is a low-cost DIY system that brings impressive home automation capabilities, along with extensive third-party integrations, to deliver an incredible customizable system. Abode provides a vast product catalog for you to boost your security at affordable rates.

Abode is an easy DIY installation system that offers two preset equipment kits. You can choose a package that comes with a traditional centralized Hub, or the one that includes an All-in-one device. Both kits come with a mini door/window sensor and a key fob. You can buy your equipment upfront, or opt for financing plans to spread out the initial expense in monthly payments. By bundling up your equipment kit with a monitoring plan, the company extends a significant discount on your purchase.

Abode is an app-dependent system; the company sells a separate keypad for quick arming/disarming, as an added cost. Abode is a simple DIY installation designed for easy setup. But if you would rather have a professional installation, the company provides this service with extra fees.

Abode has its home automation platform called Abode Custom Automation Engine (CUE) which controls all of your smart home devices and customizable features. The system is highly expandable, alongside the flexibility to add many smart home devices, like indoor cameras, motion sensors, and many more. It comes with excellent home automation capabilities and exceptional third-party integrations, so you can improve your system over time as you see best.

Abode is compatible with Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, If This Then That (IFTTT) products and services. It integrates perfectly with the most popular products in today’s market, from companies like Philips Hue, Kwikset, Ecobee, Nest, LIFX, First Alert, Yale, and Amazon Alexa. In recent times, Abode announced a new, enhanced integration with Google Assistant, giving the customers control over the system with voice commands, for a completely hands-free experience.

Abode offers two monitoring paths: self-monitoring or professional monitoring. With the self-monitoring option, you get to choose between two plans: The first one is a free self-monitoring plan, with no monthly fees.

The second option is a self-monitoring plan that comes with a monthly fee but includes cellular backup and extra cloud space for your media storage.

The last option is a 24/7 professional monitoring service with monthly costs that incorporate cellular backup. All three plans have Wi-Fi connectivity. Abode systems work regardless if you sign up for a monitoring plan or not; it is optional but not vital to run the system.

Abode comes with no contract requirement, giving you the freedom to cancel at any time. You can subscribe to monthly monitoring fees, or opt for an annual fee to get a substantial discount.

One unique feature worth pointing out is Abode’s On-demand professional monitoring service, something we haven’t seen in any other security company. This rare and very affordable feature offers its customers an on-and-off professional monitoring service when they need it. It offers a three-day or seven-day monitoring option, perfect for when you take a vacation or a trip and don’t want to be glued to your mobile phone.

Honeywell Smart Home:

Honeywell is a well-known brand that has manufactured security products for many years. It is making its way now into the DIY industry with the latest system called Honeywell Smart Home. It is a complete DIY experience, from start to finish, possibly one of the most user-friendly systems to set up in the market today. Honeywell Smart Home is extremely easy to use, combining many innovative features to meet all your security needs. Besides this new DIY system, the company offers the popular Honeywell Home products sold by authorized dealers, with professional installation included.

Honeywell Smart Home is one of the most straightforward DIY systems in the security industry. It offers three preset equipment kits for your selection, or the option to custom-build it, hand-picking all the components. The starter kit comes with a unique all-in-one base station, access sensors, and a key fob. From there, the packs vary in devices, like environmental sensors and cameras.

Honeywell Smart Home is a very affordable system that comes with an upfront equipment cost. The company does offer financing plans to reduce the initial costs. And given that it is a full DIY system, there are no activation, installation, or monitoring fees.

Honeywell Smart Home is an app-dependent system; there is no control panel or keypad available. The company does provide a fey fob with their equipment kit, for quick arming/disarming of your system. Honeywell Smart Home is a straightforward DIY system; Therefore, honeywell does not offer professional installation for it. If you prefer, you can choose the more traditional Honeywell Home products that offer equipment with professional installation, through its authorized dealers that come with added costs.

Honeywell Smart Home comes with remarkable home automation capabilities and offers a wide-ranging product catalog. You can heighten your system by adding indoor cameras, thermostats, indoor/outdoor MotionViewer, and more, at an added cost. The system integrates smoothly with Z-Wave and If This Then That (IFTTT) products and services. It also supports Google Assistant and Apple’s Home Kit. One single feature that stands out is that Honeywell’s base station comes with built-in Amazon Alexa, giving you voice control over your system.

Honeywell Smart Home is a complete DIY system; that includes monitoring as well. The system comes with free 24hr cloud storage for your cameras. But if you want more, you can subscribe to monthly/yearly memberships to have extra cloud storage, at an added cost. Because it is a DIY system from top to bottom, the company has no professional monitoring plans.

The system uses Wi-Fi as its only form of connectivity; it has no cellular backup, a feature that is becoming more common among many security companies.

Honeywell Smart Home has no contract requirements, only the optional membership for extra cloud space. This is something very uncommon in the security industry that usually demands a contract commitment or monthly fees in some way.

The Enhanced Deterrent option is a one-of-a-kind feature that stands out with the Honeywell system. When the outdoor motion sensor detects someone coming close to your home, it will send a signal to the base station. The base station will then play sounds intended to deter possible intruders away, such as a vacuum cleaner, a dog barking, or party sounds. It will make it sound as if someone is home, while you are absent at home.

Nest:

Nest became a household name thanks to its popular smart thermostats that carried home automation into the mainstream. But they don’t stop there: this company has a wide range of home automation products and security packages for its customers to enjoy a fully customizable system.

Their goal is to bring user-friendly devices, intuitive hardware with learning capabilities, to deliver the ultimate home automation experience. Nest is, at its core basis, a DIY system, from installation to monitoring.

Taking into consideration their customers’ needs, Nest partnered up with the well-known Brinks company to deliver Nest Secure professional monitoring plan. Nest carries the security products while Brinks provides the monitoring service.

Nest offers one essential equipment package with the flexibility to add plenty of home automation products. The pack comes with the Nest Guard base station, detect sensors, and nest tags. From there, you can add cameras, smart thermostats, or locks, for an extra cost, to best fit your security needs.

Even though Nest is a DIY installation system, some products may be a little bit more challenging to install, as the smart thermostats. Because of this, Nest does provide a professional installation service for their more complex devices.

Nest is also an app-dependent system, like most DIY’s. The equipment pack does come with Nest tags at no extra cost for quick access to your alarm. Nest first-class equipment is a little more expensive than most DIY systems in the market today, making the upfront equipment cost a bit high. Nest redesigned its sensors to be multifunctional, to make the system more accessible.

You need fewer devices to cover your home since the sensors operate differently, depending on the location they are installed. But if you want to dodge expensive upfront costs, the company offers financing plans to roll the price into monthly payments.

Nest has its proprietary communications protocol called Weave, allowing a wide variety of equipment to be added to your security system. Nest comes with outstanding home automation capabilities and integrates excellently with Philips Hue, Yale locks and Chromecast.

Unfortunately, Nest has some compatibility problems with Z-Wave products but states that they are commonly resolved by using a standard wired installation. Nest does not support If This Then That (IFTTT) integrations or Amazon Alexa.

Nest is a very user-friendly DIY system that brings self-monitoring without any monthly fees. It does have, however, provide a monthly plan for its cameras and video surveillance called Nest Aware. It offers video history, intelligent alerts, and continuous recording features, at an extra cost. If you favor a 24/ professional monitoring service better, the company delivers a plan called Nest Secure. The service is provided by Brinks, including cellular backup for a more secure connection.

With Nest, there is no contract requirement. You can self-monitor your system free of charge, or subscribe to a professional monitoring service (through Brinks). This service comes with a monthly fee with no contract, or you can opt for a three-year commitment to qualify for a hefty discount.

Nest’s extraordinary features are reflected on its top-of-the-line products, engineered to be as user-friendly as possible. The hardware has learning capabilities, working intuitively to recognize family and friends while learning your daily routines.

Their star product is the Nest Smart Thermostats: They can pick up on your schedule and temperature preferences to deliver a more enjoyable experience at home. Nest main focus is designing smart home products to bring a more comfortable and trouble-free system to its customers.

Ring Alarm:

Ring is mainly recognized for its famous Ring smart video doorbell cameras, however, the company has expanded into the home security industry, creating an impressive lineup of smart devices and home protection. The new DIY system is called Ring Alarm, delivering high-class equipment with the flexibility to add components to protect your home.

Ring provides several preset equipment packages to cover different types of homes, depending on the size. The bundles have the Security Kit as its primary component; it comes with a base station, a contact sensor, a motion sensor, a keypad, and a range extender. The other preset kits are alternatives of this set, varying in components, like video doorbell cameras, an environmental sensor, and more. Also, Ring has the flexibility to build your system á-la-carte, choosing each device for a more personalized system.

Ring Alarm is primarily managed through the mobile app. All equipment kits come with a keypad for easy access and reducing the use of your mobile phone. With Ring, you will have to buy your equipment upfront. The company does provide financing plans for those customers who prefer to spread the initial expense throughout monthly installments. Ring Alarm is an easy DIY installation system; thus, no professional installation service is available.

Ring connects with many smart home components using its “Works with Ring” program. The system integrates with Z-Wave and Zigbee technology but has limited or no compatibility with many platforms outside its program. Ring Alarm has no integration with Nest products or Goggle Assistant, but it does connect with Amazon Alexa.

With Ring Alarm, you can choose to self-monitor your system or opt for a professional monitoring service. The company provides two options with its self-monitoring. The first one is entirely free, while the second one comes with a low monthly fee with extra features (such as review, share, and save videos). The last option is a 24/7 professional monitoring plan that includes cellular backup. All three arrangements use Wi-Fi coverage for their connectivity.

One thing worth mentioning is that Ring Alarm provides one of the most affordable monitoring plans we have seen in the security industry.

Ring Alarm requires no contract agreements. You can sign up for monthly/yearly monitoring plans that you can opt-out early without any cancelation fees. If you subscribe to an annual plan, the company will even refund a prorated amount based on how much time remains of your contract.

Ring Alarm’s unique feature comes in the form of a social app called The Neighbors App. This is a community space where neighbors share vital security information about events in their area; making the app unique from any security company in the industry today. It is a free app that allows the users to post videos and images, share recorded events, and text message alerts, to create a safer community.

SimpliSafe:

SimpliSafe is one of the most affordable DIY systems in the market today. It provides a wide range of newly redesigned equipment bundles to meet various security needs, from essential components to the more robust sets. The company also offers its Original Equipment and Refurbished Equipment packages for a more economical option. SimpliSafe has no cutting-edge features when it comes to home automation capabilities or third-party integrations. The company makes it up by delivering inexpensive home security products with flexibility to enhance your security system.

SimpliSafe delivers 16 newly redesigned equipment packs that come with as little as a 4-piece set, going up to a 16-piece kit, matching any type of home’s layout perfectly. The core items for all equipment packages are the base station and a keypad. The rest of the packs are variations with different devices, such as motion detectors, entre sensors, and many more. If you like, you can build it from the ground up, for a more personalized system. Many devices can be added or bundled, such as indoor cameras, video doorbell cameras, environmental sensors, and many more.

SimpliSafe is app-dependent but provides a keypad with every equipment bundle for quick access. You will have to buy your equipment upfront, there are no financing plans available.

On a positive note, the company delivers very affordable products at competitive prices. And if you want more significant savings, take a look at SimpliSafe’s Original systems and Refurbished equipment packs. SimpliSafe is an easy DIY installation system; the company offers professional installation for those customers who prefer to avoid doing all the work with an extra cost.

SimpliSafe is designed to be a straightforward system, with minimal home automation capabilities. It has no Z-wave or If This Then That (IFTTT) technology, or Google Home integrations. It does have some smart home integrations with companies like Nest Thermostats, August smart locks, Apple Watch, and Amazon Alexa. But to have access to home automation features, you are required to subscribe to the more expensive monitoring plan.

SimpliSafe offers both self-monitoring and professional monitoring options. You can self-monitor your system for free or opt for one of the two 24/7 professional monitoring plans. All plans come with Wi-Fi connections, but only the professional monitoring plans come with cellular coverage.

SimpliSafe has no contract requirements; it is on a month-to-month basis commitment. You can cancel at any time, giving you the freedom to turn the monitoring on and off on demand.

SimpliSafe has a unique feature called Secret Alerts. It is a private notification sent by selected sensors to be on an alert-only setting. The alerts will secretly send notifications to you when a sensor is triggered, without sounding the alarm. You can keep an eye out on places, such as safes, drawers, or liquor cabinets, where you don’t want anyone poking their noses in. This feature is perfect for surveillance your roommates or your kids’ nanny.

The diagram below sums up all DIY systems that have no monthly fees. It is set up with all the security systems we discussed earlier, drawing attention to the essential features that you must know to understand each company better.

Detail Abode Honeywell Nest Ring Alarm Simplisafe
Activation Cost $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
DIY-Installation Fee $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
Pro-Installation Fee (Optional) Starts at $99 Not Available Starts at $99 Not Available $79.00
Equipment Packs Starts at $189 Starts at $449 Starts at $399 Starts at $199 Starts at $229
DIY Monthly Monitoring Fee Learn More $0.00 $0.00 Learn More $0.00
Pro Monthly Monitoring Fee $20 Not Available Starts at $19 $10 Starts at $14.99
Contract Length
DIY monitoring
No Contract No Contract No Contract No Contract No Contract
Prices may vary          

Bottom Line

These days, security companies deliver new, state-of-the-art technology to protect your home. Choosing a security system can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have too much technology experience. You have to figure out which company and system best fit your security needs. And with so many options nowadays, the task can be a little scary. This article was created to help you sort out all the data amongst the best Do-It-Yourself (DIY) systems in the market today, to make the process a little easier.

All companies depicted in previous segments have one thing in common: they are all DIY installation systems. You will be in charge of setting up your security system, doing all the work yourself. A DIY system will help you save money on activation and installation fees, that you can always put towards the upfront equipment cost. DIY installation systems are designed to be straightforward and easy to use. Most important, they are shaped to make your life easier, making home security fit in with your lifestyle and budget.

But as you could see, no two companies are alike: some provide self-monitoring for free, while others require a professional service to be in place. Some companies include equipment packs with their monitoring options, whereas other companies expect you to buy the equipment upfront.

We recommend that before you choose a security company, inform yourself. Make sure you understand how the system is installed, monitored, and how to acquire your equipment before making any decisions.

Other security companies offer a more robust security solution and in some cases, more expensive, where DIY is not an option. To get an inside look at these systems, go to the Professional systems section.

Monica Quiros

Article Author

Last Update

March 24, 2020

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