Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems With No Monthly Fees

They're from Abode, 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 send in 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’ve found that the very best self-monitored systems come from Abode, Kangaroo, Ring, and SimpliSafe. Below, CR members with digital access can see ratings and reviews of these five security systems.

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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 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.”

All of the systems below offer optional professional monitoring and cellular backup, which keeps the system connected to the internet in case of a power or internet outage, for a monthly fee. To see the systems we test, check our full home security system ratings. And for more on how we test DIY security systems, see our home security system buying guide.

5 Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems

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).