When I first bought my house 7 months ago, I immediately wanted to get the latest gadgets to ensure I had the best security system. The problem was it seemed like every option came with a monthly or yearly fee.
We have spent hours and hours researching nearly every smart security system on the planet (or close to it), and have determined that Abode Iota is the best overall smart security system that has no monthly fee.
Some quick Pros are:
- Comes with a 1080p camera (many security systems don’t)
- Cellular and battery backup, secured home during power outages
- No drill required, equipment has an adhesive backing
- Very easy to set up, 30-45 minute setup time
- Friendly with IFTTT, Z-Wave & ZigBee devices
- Massive list of sensors available (Vibration glass break sensor, Water leak sensor, etc.)
The runner up was the Skylink SK 250. It was a tough call. It comes with everything a DIY security system hobbyist could ever ask for. The main Pros are:
- Add up to 100 devices (sensor/lighting receivers) and up to 10 cameras
- Multi-Arming feature (Home, Away, Panic mode)
- Highly smart
compatiblity(IFTTT, Alexa, Google)
- Affordable additional sensors
- Kit includes a camera (many don’t)
The reason why we ranked it 2nd is the Skylink camera can only manually record (from your phone via the App), it cannot automatically record or save any videos to an SD card.
You can still view the cameras live stream but you can’t go back to a past history of video or record any of it. Skylink is not compatible with any other camera either.
Outside of that, Skylink really shines in all other aspects. You have so many other smart options available to you with its flexible compatibility and
This doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other great choices. We made sure that these recommendations are easy to set up and don’t require a lot of time or expertise. Here is the full list of the absolute best 12 DIY smart security systems (with no monthly fees):
- Abode Iota
- Skylink SK-250
- SimpliSafe 3
- Fortress Security Store S03
- Ring Alarm
- Piper NV
- Nest Secure
- Smart Wi-Fi Alarm
Note: Ranked in chronological order from #1 being the overall Best
That’s a big list right? Don’t worry, we’ll break down why each one is on this list along with the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
First, we need to cover the basics real quick of what exactly is a smart home security system, the different types, and what important factors you need to be aware of.
What is a DIY Smart Security System?
So what is a DIY Smart Security System and how does it differ from other security systems?
DIY Smart Security Systems are a package of security devices that monitor multiple aspects of your home that can be set up on your own. They usually can be controlled centrally from a keypad, app, or hub.
This is what makes them smart, is because they can all communicate together and be controlled remotely. A few examples of multiple parts of your home that can be monitored is:
- Inside/Outside the home (security camera)
- Water leaks (water sensor)
- Door entry (door sensors)
- Glass windows breaking (glass sensors)
The list can go on and on, but those are just a handful of examples of the different parts of your home that you can monitor.
What makes it smart and centrally controlled is the ability to check everything from your app. You can open your app and look through the history of your security camera, see a history who when the door was open, and more.
What makes it DIY?
DIY means that you will install everything. DIY = Do It Yourself. This means you install and setup everything. You unbox everything, hook everything up to the internet or your wifi router. You install all 10-15+ sensors you want, pair all the devices together. All you.
There is a lot of options and how you want to expand your security system. The options are really only limited depending on which security system you choose.
So how does this differ from other security alarm systems?
Well, many big security systems like ADT or Vivint are professionally installed for you. You don’t have to spend time setting it up and it is usually monitored for you. More on that soon.
The costs add can add up for a professional security system
In the end, you usually end up paying thousands and thousands of dollars ($1500+) up front for a professional security system that is installed and monitored. Then additional annual fees throughout the years; Example: $50/mo for monitoring doesn’t sound too bad.
But in 25 years that equals over $1000.
Just something to be aware of if you are money conscious and need to stay within a budget.
Different Types of Security – Monitoring and Self Monitoring
A quick summary of what Professional Monitored and Self-Monitored means and the differences.
The names are pretty self explained but lets just touch on it really quick.
Self Monitored security systems, or a stand alone system, is one you install yourself and are in charge of monitoring it. If an alarm or sensor is tripped, you are the one that is alerted via the App.
It is your responsibility to contact the authorities if need be or to disarm the system.
Professionally Monitored systems are where a company like ADP or Vivint will monitor the security system for you and alert the authorities for you. They may reach out to you first or reach out to the police directly if they don’t hear back from you.
Not all professional security systems actually monitor the system for you, so this is something to look out for. Sometimes they hire a third-party company to do the monitoring, and usually it’s not that great of a service.
Important Factors to Pay Attention to
Here are a few things to pay attention to when looking into a security system. These might not all apply to you, so it may effect your choice.
- Smart Compatibility – Do you want to hook it up to Alexa, Google Assistant, or IFTTT? If you don’t, then SimpliSafe 3 is a good option.
- Available Sensors – Do you care about more advanced sensors like glass breaking sensors or garage sensors?
- Camera Included – Do you need security cameras or is this system designed for something else you had in mind? Maybe a camera isn’t as important.
- How many sensors do you need? Do you live in an apartment or a big house with 3-4 entries and over 20 windows/doors etc. That’s a lot of extra sensors to buy. Maybe you live in an apartment and need the bare minimum. The Piper NV would be perfect for you.
- Cost – Do you want to spend over $250 or under? If you need 10 more sensors on top of what comes with the kit, you could easily spend over $1000.
You’ll want to make sure you consider all these things to help you make the best choice before grabbing a security system.
#1 Abode Iota
We already listed some major Pros earlier like how it comes with a 1080p camera and its super easy to set up, but here are some of my favorite advantages:
- Comes with a 1080p camera (some don’t include cameras)
- They don’t shove a monthly fee down your throat (can still monitor video w/out a monthly plan)
- Start small with a kit, but a huge list of accessories to expand if needed
- Iota working on future improvements like HomeKit compatibility by the end of 2019 and integrations with other smart devices
If you are a DIY kind of person and want to break into the smart security space, this is the one for you. The fact that Abode is still working so quickly to improve their integrations with other systems is amazing.
You want to purchase products from companies like this because they will always provide great support and expand. They will keep getting better and better with each iteration.
Abode has done a great job with providing a plethora of accessories available. Do you want a smoke alarm and outdoor siren connected to your security system? No Problem. Abode has you covered.
Maybe you don’t want it? No Problem, the kit comes with everything you need to get started. Then you can work your way up and expand if you want to.
It’s all up to you.
The Abode Iota isn’t perfect, not every system is.
- You can’t link multiple Abode Iota systems to one account on your phone. You’ll have to create a separate account if you have multiple systems. This can be troublesome if people own more than one home and want to monitor the security there.
- The Video and Camera quality are just okay. I was really hoping that with the new 1080p the quality would shine through, but anything 10 feet or farther is pretty pixelated.
#2 Skylink SK 250
Our runner up was the Skylink SK 250. The Skylink will make any DIY
Our favorite Pros are:
- Easy Installation
- Works with Alexa, Google, and IFTTT friendly
- Add up to 100 devices (sensor/lighting receivers) and up to 10 cameras
- Back up
batteryin case of power failure
We love how many sensors and accessories they have available. Great for someone starting out or wanting to scale up. Plus, it comes with Camera!! This is a big one guys, so many systems don’t include one.
The Skylink is a great choice for someone who wants to setup their own security system and not pay a monthly fee.
The company is made by a French company and this isn’t a bad thing. But the Support can be iffy. Many owners have complained that the customer service and support can be a little rude so it’s something to keep in mind.
A lot of complaints were made about the camera sadly that it was defective or did not work. I don’t know if its a quality check on their manufacturing side but there seems to be some consistent reviews about it.
#3 SimpliSafe 3
Another strong candidate for arguably the best DIY security system is the SimpliSafe 3 . Their most recent release of the SimpliSafe3 has some major Pros:
- Simultaneous WiFi and Cellular connections (either can
usedas backups if one goes down)
- Smash Proof (If
keypadis destroyed, alarmnotification is sent)
- A ton of sensors (entry, motion, glass break, water, and freeze sensors)
- Secret Sensor can only alert you and not authorities (monitor your liquor cabinets!)
- Alexa, Google, August Smart Lock, and Nest compatibility
We love how fast and easy it is to set this system up. The instructions were very clear and straight forward. SimpliSafe has thought of a lot of situations to make sure your system is still backed up in case a connection goes down or if your keypad is destroyed.
Most of their equipment is cheaper than other competitors too. So your upfront costs are relatively low. Their customer support is great and very fast to respond. This is always important for if you run into any trouble with installations, questions, or refund inquiries.
They also have new products coming out like the New Video Doorbell so keep your eyes out for that.
So the SimpliSaf has 2 major downfall that is really hard to ignore.
The cost of their app is $15 or $25month and the lack of home automation flexibility.
So you may think, well I don’t necessarily need the app or the monthly fee because it is not required. Well, with SimpliSafe, they have designed it so you kind of need the monthly paid app or else it’s not really a security system.
You don’t get any of these:
- 24/7 Live Alarm monitoring at all or a cellular connection.
- Alerts to Your Phone
- Security Alerts
- Unlimited Camera Recording
- Smart Home Integrations (Alexa/Google)
If you can
We don’t hate the SimpliSafe, it’s great and backed by Wirecutter and named Editors Choice for Home Security by CNET and PC Magazine. But that monthly fee for using their app is a deal breaker for me.
If you simply need a security system that is simple, then the “Simpli”Safe is for you. We just wish you didnt need the monthly paid app to monitor your system and had a little more smart flexibility to work with Z-Wave or ZigBee.
The Ooma is another security system that flies under the radar the big dogs. They are actually well known for their VoIP phones products.
They’ve released a security system of their own and deserve to be in the Top 5. They bring real-time monitoring for DIYers and have facial recognition software other competitors don’t have.
Some major advantages are:
- Patented Remote 911 Feature
- Facial Recognition Software (Cost extra)
- Auto arm/disarm feature based on location (Geofencing)
- Butterfleye Camera Included in the Kit
- Watch Live Stream 24/7 Videos (with your included Camera)
- Push notifications on suspicious activity on phone/SMS/email
- Alexa Compatible
We love how easy it was to
My favorite feature is the fact that the
This kit includes:
- 1x Motion Sensor
- 2x Door/Window Sensor
- 1x Ooma Security Hub/Gateway
Additionally, there are things like the Remote 911, Smoke Alarms, Sirens, Water Sensors, and Garage Door Sensors if you want to pay extra for them.
Again, No monthly fees. Yay! But, if you do decide to sign up for a monthly fee, Ooma is very very affordable at plans starting out at 3.99 to 5.99.
The Ooma isn’t perfect, like many others. Here are the main disadvantages that could sway you to look the other way
- The 911 Remote requires a monthly subscription
- Doesn’t have any outdoor sensor options
- REQUIRES a smartphone/tablet device to control and use the app
- Not Smart Device Friendly (Alexa, Google, IFTTT)
The Ooma is the biggest underdog in the top 5. But these few reasons knocked it down our list. We really wish that it had a little more options in the sensors department (Like a glass breaking sensor).
Also not compatible with any smart devices really brings it down a notch. I tried looking on their website and researching, but it only
Aside from that, it is one of our favorite aesthetically designed security system. It just looks really sleek.
#5 Fortress Security Store S03
The Fortress is a great affordable option that comes with the basics that every security system needs to get started.
It is nearly half the price of
The major advantages are:
- Loud 110dB alarm alerts your neighbors and may scare off intruders
- Mic allows 2-way communication
- Easy to
- Alerts push notifications or email
- Alexa Compatible
This is a great starter kit for those who are worried about investing a lot of money and want the basics.
Unfortunately, the Fortress is far from perfect. Let’s find out why.
- The sirens can be “too loud” (Looking at you apartment renters, Stay away)
- The quality of the product is subpar
- Product only works with a landline phone number
- Not Google compatible (Or any other smart technologies)
- No Camera included
Requiring a landline number is kind of in the dark ages. Why not require a WiFi or Ethernet plug like most competitors? It’s just not very smart compatible either with other technologies and we really wish it came with a camera.
The Fortress is great for people who need a ton of sensors and need to notify up to 6 people for alerts.
And it will sound a really really loud siren to scare people off.
If that’s all you need, then the Fortress can be the solution for you. Again, no monthly fees!
Note: Their expensive option is the S6 Titan but it’s pricey.
#6 Scout Alarms
The Scout Alarm System comes packaged with 9 different pieces and is compatible with Alexa. Scout is speaking my language.
- Easy to install (no tools necessary)
- Very Smart Compatible with other technologies (Alexa, Google IFTTT, Lifx, Yale, Philips Hue, Nest, Z-Wave)
- Sleek design
- Door Panels
- 2 Key Fobs
- 5 Window Sensors
- 2 Motion Sensors
- 2 Window Stickers
- Yard Sign
There are a few red flags to be aware of before settling on the Scout.
- Expensive for the bigger kit (2x the price of competitors)
- No Cameras Included
- No Apple Homekit
- No Alarm Trigger Notification to preselected contacts
- Monthly fee needed for Camera use/storage
I couldn’t find a lot of information on if you could monitor your live feed or get regular alerts from Scout without a monthly plan, but it sounds like you pretty much need it.
If monitoring video feed is important to you and you want to avoid monthly fees, stay away from the Scout Alarm. Outside of that, it’s a good choice for an security system.
#7 Ring Alarm
We’ve all heard of Ring from their infamous Video Doorbell. Well, they’ve broken into the Security world too and deserve their rightful place.
Ring Alarm comes with standard sensors and a keypad. You can manage and receive alerts all through your app.
- Manage all Ring products from the same App (Doorbell + Alarm System)
- Alexa, Z-Wave, Zigbee Compatible
- Cellular Backup Available (Extra $)
- Base Station sends an alarm signal if destroyed
- 1 Base Station
- 1 Contact Sensor
- 1 Motion Detector
- 1 Keypad
- 1 Extender
- No Camera Included
- Starter Kit is lacking (most Kits come with multiple sensors)
Keypadis basic, no touchscreen
- Sensor Accessories are limited (No Garage/Door Lock/
- No Separate Siren (it’s attached to your base)
- To record camera video footage, monthly fee required
Unfortunately, the Ring does lack in a lot of departments. Really Ring, only 1 sensor?
It shines really well with its Camera and Video Doorbell, but it needs to work on expanding it’s security system a little more.
If you just want some basic security sensors, own other Ring products, and don’t mind paying $10/month, this is perfect for you. But if you want to scale out in terms of security, look else where.
#8 iSmart Alarms
The iSmart Alarm is one of the cheaper options being under the $200 category. This is a competitive price that other systems don’t offer.
- Free Alerts via Text/Emails!
- Easy to install
- Alexa and IFTTT Compatible
- 1 iSmart Alarm Hub
- 4 Door/Window Sensors
- 1 Motion Sensor
- 2 Remote Tags
- 2 Stickers (for Yard/Window)
This smart security system is fast to setup and has everything you need to get started. It also has other accessories like the iCamera or additional sensors if you want.
- No Camera Included
- Many complaints about App bugs and slowness due to
- Customer Service can be spotty
- No Alerts if System is down
The iSmart isn’t perfect, and at that price
This is perfect for someone looking for an affordable security system that comes with plenty of sensors and free text/email alerts.
Also if someone unplugs your smart system, your out of luck. The chances of that happening though are low because they’ll need to get through your sensors first. A power outage however can occur from time to time.
Something to keep in mind folks!
#9 BIBENE Alarm System
The new BIBENE 3G alarm system is a wonderful DIY security system. They have a fancy touch screen keypad and flaunt up to expandable 792 sensors.
- WiFi/3G/GSM/GPRS Alarm System pushes alarm notifications for Free via WiFi
- Alexa Compatible
- Crash & Smash Safe Keypad
- Allows bonding 792 sensors at once
- HD 4.3″ touch screen
My favorite feature about the BIBENE is the back-up battery in the keypad in case your power goes out. Now you’re protected from electricity grid failures.
Another interesting feature is you can add a SIM card into your 3G/GSM alarm system for emergency calling. If the alarm goes off in case of a power loss/ internet connection loss, you can call or click SOS button for help.
- 1 x Wireless GSM/WIFI/3G/GPRS DIY Alarm Host
- 1 x Wireless PIR Detector
- 1x Door Window Sensor
- 2 x Wireless Remote Controller
- No 5GHz connection, only 2.4GHz
- Not a big name brand
- Does not accept wired connections
- Not Smarthome friendly (No Google Assistant/IFTTT/HomeKit)
We just wish it BIBENE had a recognizable big name company. I couldn’t find their website so I’m not even sure if they offer support or can be contacted. That’s a little fishy,
This is perfect for someone who just needs a decent affordable security system and has only Amazon devices.
#10 Piper NV
The Piper NV all-in-one is a good security system that has a ton of features built into the camera. These
Note: The thermostat only tells you the temperature around the camera
You will be notified when events are detected through any combination of push messages, texts, emails, and phone calls.
- Store up to 1000 Videos with free cloud storage
- Z-Wave compatibility (automate, schedule lights, dimmers, etc.) accessories availabilie
- Loud 105dB siren
- Battery Backup Option
- Budget-friendly half the cost
- Live Video Stream
- 2-Way Communication
Piper is dynamic in that when it senses a motion while you are on vacation for example, you can set it to sound the siren, send you a text message, and record a video. Pretty neat.
- 1 All-in-one Piper Camera (Thermostat, Motion Detector, Infrared night mode) 1080p HD
- 1 Door/Window Sensor
- 1 Piper Smart Plug
This is perfect for apartment owners. Or if you only want to monitor one part of your home. Great for small places where you’ll spend a lot of time near where the speaker can come in handy too.
- Support is not good
- Can’t Alert 911/Authorities
- Not a lot of sensors included with the kit
- No Keypad or Hub
It barely comes with any sensors too, just 1 to use for a door or window.
#11 Nest Secure
Nest has been a big player in Smart Thermostats and it’s made a splash in the Security world too. The Nest Secure is seamless to setup and use. The app on your phone is quick and their support is outstanding.
- Built-in Google Assistant
- Easy to Setup
Largevariety of devices available
- Smart integration friendly
The Nest Secure is perfect for those with a bigger budget and not a lot of existing smart devices.
- Nest Guard (Alarm, keypad, motion sensor + Google Assistant Built In!)
- Nest Detect (door/window/room sensor)
- Nest Tag (Keyfob to disarm/arm)
- Very very expensive (Costs can add up considering additional cameras/sensors)
- No Camera Included in Kit
- Every Camera you add that you want history for is an additional charge.
- No IFTTT integration
- Limited Sensor Accessories
You were probably wondering why Nest was so far down on the list. Well, it’s because they really don’t have that many sensors available. And on top of that, the few they do have are pretty expensive.
We wish it would have IFTTT integrations possibilities but it just doesnt either. All this tied into their expensive monthly plans for cameras, really deters this away from the DIY security systems that have no monthly fees.
So while you can technically use this Nest Secure without a monthly subscription, you are left with a rather basic security system. If you have the money to splurge, this is one of the better choices to roll with.
But if you’re in a pinch, I’d go with a cheaper option with more flexibility and sensor options.
#12 Smart Wi-Fi Alarm System
Smart Wi-Fi Alarm System is made by Big Easy Security and comes with a bunch of stuff like IP Cameras, sensors, and more.
- Instant mobile alert when
- (2) 720p HD Camera included
- Comes with a ton of sensors
- Built-in Siren
This kit comes with everything you need to get started and setup.
- 1 Smart Wifi Alarm System Panel
- 2 Security Cameras
- 10 Door/Window Sensors
- 2 Motion Detectors
- 2 Remote Controls
- Only connects to a 2.4GHz network
- Support is not that great
- Setup is not that quick
- Recording Video can only be on the SD card
- No Smart Compatibility (Alexa/Google/IFTTT/Etc.)
- Smaller company
After looking more deeply into Smart WiFi Alarm, it’s missing a lot of selling points for smart home compatibility. We lose out on hooking this up to Alexa, Google, and IFTTT. If you don’t want to hook this to Alexa or other smart devices, then this is the system for you.
Sensor Accessories are also severely lacking, no garage door sensors or glass window sensors.
This is a family owned company and it seems like their support and future integrations are rather lacking. Don’t expect them to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on future improvements anytime soon.
Honorable Mention: Systems and Cameras
SmartThings 3 is amazing too but this list was more for kit style products. I didn’t want you to have to purchase 5 other products on top of the SmartThings Hub. SmartThings is still great if you plan to expand and is highly compatible with a number of smart devices.
GE Personal Security Alarm Kit is good for specifically door alarms. It is really really cheap (under $30) and has amazing reviews. If you just need to monitor your doors in the house, this is made for you.
Another great door alarm system is the BIBENE Door Alarm. This is great for if you are renovating another home and you are not there frequently.