Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems With No Monthly Fees

They're from Abode, Blue by ADT, Kangaroo, Ring, and SimpliSafe

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Home security systems have long been associated with costly monthly fees. They’re required for professional monitoring, where trained dispatchers keep an eye on your system and alert the authorities in the event of a break-in.

But there are now a variety of DIY home security systems that allow you to monitor them yourself from your smartphone—and avoid the extra fees altogether.

Consumer Reports has put a number of these systems through our home security system tests, which assess things like how well the sensors work, how quickly alerts are sent, and how easy it is to install each system. We also recently began testing these systems for digital privacy and security, and we’ve found that some systems are vulnerable to hacking. These results are now folded into our ratings, so you can find a home security system that also protects your data and withstands hacks.

We’ve found that the very best self-monitored systems come from Abode, Blue by ADT, Kangaroo, Ring, and SimpliSafe. Below, CR members with digital access can see ratings and reviews of these five security systems.

More on Home Security

When one of these systems is triggered, a siren goes off to scare away potential intruders and you get an alert on your smartphone so that you can call the police yourself. One thing to be aware of is that if you call 911 from out of town, the dispatcher then has to contact your hometown’s police department, which could delay the police response. You could call your local police department directly instead.

You also have some flexibility where monitoring is concerned. “Many of these DIY systems still offer optional professional monitoring,” says Bernie Deitrick, CR’s test engineer for home security systems. “You can sign up for it temporarily if, say, you go on a long vacation.”

To see all the systems we tested, check our full home security system ratings. And for more on how we test DIY security systems, see our free home security system buying guide.

5 Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems

Security System Jamming

Consumer Reports’ Digital Lab has tested DIY home security systems for digital privacy and security and found that a number of systems are vulnerable to jamming attacks. The video below explains how jamming attacks work and what you can do to prevent them.

@consumerreports Our Digital Lab tests found some DIY home security systems are susceptible to “jamming” attacks. Learn more at cr.org/jamming 🚪 🔐. #homesecurity #homesecuritytups #diyhome #jamming ♬ original sound - Consumer Reports

Security Systems 101

Self-installed security systems are becoming more popular, but there are a few things to consider. On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Dan Wroclawski explains to host Jack Rico what to look for when buying one.


Home Content Creator Daniel Wroclawski

Daniel Wroclawski

I'm obsessed with smart home tech and channel my obsession into new stories for Consumer Reports. When I'm not writing about products, I spend time either outside hiking and skiing or up in the air in small airplanes. For my latest obsessions, follow me on Facebook and Twitter (@danwroc).