Best Home Security Systems (2017 Buyer’s Guide)

New home security products seem to pop up almost daily.

With so many choices, it can seem overwhelming. Most of us struggle to find the time to do the laundry, let alone research all of the home security companies in our area.

That is why we are here to make sure you have the best service to keep your home and family safe we have done the research for you. We have selected our top ten best home security systems, both monitored and DIY, to help you find the perfect one for you.

Tip: This buyer’s guide is very detailed. Short on time? Try our quick 2-minute quiz to discover the best home security solution for your specific needs.

How to Choose the Right Home Security System: A Buyer’s Guide

Before you select a home security system, there are a few decisions you will need to make. Here are some of the most common questions about home security systems to help you narrow down your selections.

DIY or Company Installed?

One of the first things you should determine is if you are going to install your own home security system, or if you will have a home security provider install it for you. As do-it-yourself wireless options are becoming more popular, installing your own system can save you both time and money.

The old scenario of a salesperson visiting your home to get you to sign a contract, followed by an installer drilling holes all over your house… that’s a bit old fashioned and unnecessary in 2017. These days, whether you want professional monitoring or you prefer to self-monitor, the most popular systems and products are easy to set up yourself at home.

Contract or No Contract

As with every evolutionary event, change can be great for some, and not so great for others. The growth of the DIY home security system industry is ideal for consumers and not so ideal for traditional home security providers.

Contract services have been the most popular way to have a fully monitored home security system for over one hundred years (seriously). But their costly annual commitments have spawned a new DIY home security uprising. Newer contract free companies tend to lean toward month-to-month subscription solutions.

While there may be a higher equipment cost, in the beginning, the monthly fees tend to be lower than contracted options or even better non-existent. And the best part is you aren’t locked into a contract that makes you pay a cancellation fee. The no contract option is ideal for home and apartment rentals; you can’t be stuck with an annual agreement that makes you pay the penalty should you decide to move.

If you are comfortable with a contract because you are never going to leave your current house, then the traditional model is a good one to choose. But if you are a free spirit that cannot be tied down or you just want to pay less for 24/7 monitoring, then the no contract option is the perfect choice for you.

Most no-contract options will make you pay up front for the equipment, but once you pay for it, you own it. They also provide month-to-month billing options that you can cancel anytime. With less expensive monthly payments and no credit checks, they make it easy for new renters or homeowners to have a quality home security system.

What Equipment is Provided

If you are going to pay for the equipment, you should know what you are paying for. If you are choosing an annual subscription option, they will provide you with their equipment, but if you decide on the DIY route most likely, you will be buying the equipment.

If you are buying the equipment, you will want to make sure that what you are getting is everything ou need. You also want to know that the equipment comes from a from a high-quality provider. Here are some of the devices you want to ask about before paying for home security system equipment.

  • Essential equipment: this should include sensors, alarms, motion detectors and a hub to connect your devices to.
  • Additional sensors: entry sensors, motion sensors, water sensors, video camera sensors, these allow data to be reported back to the monitoring center in the event there is an anomaly.
  • Additional detectors: carbon dioxide, smoke, door, window, garage door, power, and water sensors, these allow the monitoring center to alert you should a sensor indicate a water or power outage, or a broken window, etc.
  • Central command center: this will allow you to connect other smart home devices to one central hub. Connected devices can include SmartThings, Z-wave, IFTTT and other providers.

You will also want to inquire about the technology used in provided devices. As Wi-Fi protocols and device technology updates you don’t want to find yourself with devices are behind the times. Before you decide on a company, you should make sure their technology is up to date.  These are a few of the devices you should check on:

  • Smartphone apps
  • Keypads and Touchscreens
  • Home Automation Hub
  • Home security cameras
  • Two-way audio

Once you are confident that you know what equipment has been provided, and that it is the latest version, you can move forward with your buying decision.

Choosing a Monitoring Service

It is not enough to have a monitoring service. You need to have a reliable, high-quality monitoring service. Before you sign up for a program, you should do some research. Here are a few things you should know before you decide on a home security system provider:

  • Is the monitoring center certified by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA)? You want a center that is both UL and Five Diamond certified.
  • What do customers (via reviews) say about the monitoring service?
  • Can you find their response times online?  And if so are they acceptable?
  • Is the service included in the monthly or annual fee?
  • If you own their equipment what happens when there is an upgrade?

Once you have completed your research, you will want to contact the company to review all of the fees. If there is an additional cost for adding or using the service, you may want to continue your research. To help you in your research these what we consider to be the top five best home security systems that are professionally monitored.

Best Professionally-Monitored Home Security Systems


Frontpoint – Our #1 Recommendation

Call 877-706-5208 or visit their website for a free quote.

There is a lot to like about Frontpoint when it comes to professionally monitored home security systems.

During our calls with Frontpoint, their agents were nothing but polite and professional.

They are clear and up front about pricing, which is easy since there are no hidden fees anyway. Plus it’s easy to try since they offer a 30-day trial of their service.

Equipment

You do have to install the equipment yourself, but the set up is relatively easy. While there are no fees for installation, but you do have to pay for the equipment. Prices for equipment range between $99 and $430. If you have a high credit score in at least the 600s, you can qualify for a $99 equipment cost.  All of the equipment provided is wireless so you can place items without worrying about cables. These are some of the equipment options you can get from Frontpoint when you choose the basic package.

  • Control Center
  • Motion Detector
  • Door and Window Sensors

You can purchase additional equipment or choose a package that provides additional equipment, these options include:

  • Lighting controls
  • Thermostats
  • Automated Door Locks
  • Glass Break Sensor
  • Smoke Detector
  • Flood Sensors
  • Wireless Outdoor Camera

While you can choose what equipment you want to purchase, all systems come with basic sensors and a control panel. Frontpoint offers cellular monitoring, which means you don’t need to have a landline, or even internet service, to get their monitoring service.

Monitoring Service Options

Frontpoint offers three options for monitoring services:

Protection Plan: this is the lowest level of monitoring service provided and comes with essential features including:

  •  100% cellular service, intrusion, fire and environmental protections as well as life safety and 24/7 monitoring service.
  • Not included in this plan; crash and smash protection, email/text alerts, remote access, and control, lighting control, image sensors, geofencing, live video, motion activated recording, auto door locks, HD night vision, motion activated video and energy management control.

Interactive Plan: this plan is considered to have the best value for consumers and adds additional features including:

  • 100% cellular service, intrusion, fire and environmental protections, life safety, 24/7 monitoring service, crash and smash protection, email/text alerts, remote access and control, lighting control, image sensors and geofencing
  • Not included in this plan; live video, motion activated video, HD night vision, auto door locks and energy management control.

Ultimate Plan: this plan includes all of the features offered by Frontpoint.

One thing to remember is that you do need to pay for all equipment up front. Most of the additional options will require you to purchase additional equipment. However, Frontpoint offers large discounts for customers who qualify. Most customers qualify, so you will likely be able to save a significant portion off your equipment cost.

Protection Plan Interactive Plan Ultimate Plan
Control Panel
Door/Window Sensors 3 ($32.99 each for additional sensors) 3 ($32.99 each for additional sensors) 3 ($32.99 each for additional sensors)
Motion Sensor 1 ($64.99 each for additional sensors) 1 ($64.99 each for additional sensors) 1 ($64.99 each for additional sensors)
Smoke/Heat Sensor 1 ($64.99 each for additional sensors) 1 ($64.99 each for additional sensors) 1 ($64.99 each for additional sensors)
Garage Door Sensor 1
Water/Flood Sensor $44.99 each $44.99 each 1 ($44.99 each for additional sensors)
Glass Break Sensor $74.99 each $74.99 each $74.99 each
Light Control 1 ($49.99 each for additional controls) 1 ($49.99 each for additional controls)
Thermostat Control Call for price Call for price
Door Lock Control Call for price Call for price
Wireless Indoor Camera $129.99 each
Wireless Outdoor Camera $379.99 each
Wi-Fi Doorbell Camera $189.99 each
Keychain Remote $29.99 each 1 1
Alarm.com Mobile App
Estimated Upfront Cost ? ? ?

Some of the additional features that come with your Frontpoint service include:

Mobile Apps

You can control and adjust your security system using the Frontpoint mobile app. You can turn your system on of off, turn on or off lights or watch live video feed from your security cameras.

Home Automation

Beyond the basic security functions, you can also use your Frontpoint service to build a fully connected smart home. You can manage your thermostat, interior and exterior lights and door locks using the app.

Crash and Smash Technology

What is this crash and smash technology you say? Most people have probably never heard of crash and smash monitoring. It is a service that will prevent an intruder from destroying your equipment before a signal can be sent to the monitoring center. The command center will know when the alarm is disarmed without your code.

Once it recognizes that someone has disarmed your security system without proper authority, it will send a signal to alert the monitoring center that officials should be sent to your home to investigate.

Geofencing

Geofencing uses GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual boundary. The boundary will enable smart home devices to know when people leave and enter your home. If your family leaves the house, but you forget to lock the door geofencing will know that you aren’t home and send an alert to your smart door lock and lock the door.  It can also manage things like lighting and temperature control. It is both super awesome and a bit creepy at the same time, but way more awesome than creepy.

PROS:
  • Customer service agents are pleasant and helpful
  • Several monitoring plans
  • Variety of home monitoring and automation devices

CONS:
  • You pay for all equipment upfront
  • If you have a low credit score, you pay more for equipment

You may also be interested in our full review of Frontpoint Security.

Protect America – Our #2 Pick

Call 866-247-0376 or visit their website for a free quote.

Protect America makes it easy for you to get started. They do not have an upfront charge for their equipment, so you can get your home security up and running with little or no cost.

However, you need to love them, for at least the term of your contract. If you want to move on to another provider, you will have to pay 100% of what you owe on the remaining contract. This is one of the highest cancellation penalties when it comes to home security companies.

With a variety of security devices and package options, they will work with you to customize a package that meets your needs. You can choose from a wide range of smart home devices from wireless motion, glass, smoke and flood detectors. They also offer medical pendants and key chains that allow you to operate devices remotely.

However, any equipment that is added outside of the original devices may result in you paying an additional fee. While the cancellation fee can be substantial, Protect America provide customers with a highly competitive rate for its professional monitoring services.

Equipment

There are several different monthly equipment packages that provide that Protect America offers, they include:

  • Copper Package: priced at $19.99 this package includes: Simon XT control panel, three door/window sensors, one motion detector, three window decals and one-yard sign.
  • Bronze Package: priced at $35.99 this package includes: Simon XT control panel, six door/window sensors, one motion detector, three window decals and one-yard sign.
  • Silver Package: priced at $37.99 this package includes: Simon XT control panel, nine door/window sensors, one motion detector, three window decals and one-yard sign.
  • Gold Package: priced at $39.99 this package includes: Simon XT control panel, eleven door/window sensors, one motion detector, three window decals and one-yard sign.
  • Platinum Package: priced at $42.99 this package includes: Simon XT control panel, fourteen door/window sensors, one motion detector, three window decals and one-yard sign.

The only thing that changes between the packages is the number of door and window sensors, so you should determine how many sensors you need and then choose the correlating package.

Monitoring Service Options

Protect America offers five monitoring options. These include:

Packages Copper Bronze Silver Gold Platinum
Equipment Fees Free Free Free Free Free
Monthly Fees Landline $19.99 Broadband and Cellular $41.99 Landline $35.99 Broadband and Cellular $47.99 Landline $37.99 Broadband and Cellular $49.99 Landline $39.99 Broadband and Cellular $51.99 Landline $42.99 Broadband and Cellular $54.99
Commitment Term 36 months 36 months 36 months 36 months 36 months
Equipment provided Base, Motion Detector, 3 door/window sensors Base, Motion Detector, 6 door/window sensors Base, Motion Detector, 9 door/window sensors Base, Motion Detector, 11 door/window sensors Base, Motion Detector, 14 door/window sensors
Check Pricing View Plan View Plan View Plan View Plan View Plan

While Protect America has more options than other professional monitoring companies, there is something to note. The monitoring service is handled by an outsourcing provider named Criticom. This doesn’t mean that your calls won’t be answered. However, when you use a third party provider that handles monitoring services for hundreds of companies, you may experience a less personal interaction.

Outside of its core monitoring packages, there aren’t many additional features. You can add video surveillance and auto door locking options for an additional fee, but that is about it.  If you want to add a smart thermostat or lighting control, you will need another command center to manage them.

PROS:
  • No upfront equipment charges
  • More monitoring options than competitors
  • Offers landline, broadband, and cellular options

CONS:
  • Locked into a 36-month contract
  • If you cancel service, you have to pay the remainder of the contract
  • Limited smart device options

You may also want to check out our full, in-depth review of Protect America.

Call 866-985-0567 or visit their website for a free quote.

Link Interactive may not be a name you are familiar with, but it’s one you should get to know. This new DIY security company was created by Mountain Alarm, a regional security company in Utah. And while they may be regional they bring 60 years of security experience to the table.

Link Interactive allows their customer to create their own security system by providing a wide variety of devices to choose from.  In addition to home security products, Link Interactive also offers home automation devices that allow you to control your thermostat, door locks, lighting and garage door using Z-Wave devices. While the set up is DIY, all of the equipment you choose will arrive programmed and ready to use.

Equipment

You can build your own package for both security and home automation on the Link Interactive site. They also offer two options when it comes to their equipment; you can pay for everything upfront, this will get you the lowest rate on monitoring. Or you can have a few items (they didn’t specify what a “few” meant when I spoke with them) broken up into smaller payments monthly.

Security and home automation devices are available online to purchase; you can add items to your cart and complete the purchase once you have everything you want to add to your home security system. If you want the option where you pay monthly, you will need to reach out to a sales agent.

You can build your own system using the devices found on their site. Link Interactive has a vast library of smart home security and automation devices that you can purchase. They provide one free control panel, but they also offer a second IQ panel that you can buy for $100. Also, they provide a broad range of sensors, detection devices, security cameras and home automation devices for purchase on their site.

Monitoring Service Options

Link Interactive offers three options when it comes to their monitoring service; prices vary depending on the package you choose, below is a breakdown of what each package offers.

Services Offered Basic Gold Platinum
Monthly Fee $29.99 $34.99 $39.99
Cellular Monitoring 24/7
Fire, Carbon Monoxide, Smoke Detectors
Distaster Monitoring (flood, fire, freeze)
Smartphone App
Home Automation Control
Text/Email Alerts
Motion Activated Video
Recorded Video Playback
Ability to Schedule Video
Video Monitoring
Live Video Monitoring
Learn More View Plan View Plan View Plan

Using a 100% cellular monitoring options provide you with an additional level of security should someone cut your data or landline phone cables. Link Interactive also provides a 2-way voice panel which means if you don’t have access to your phone they can still communicate with you. It also allows them to contact the police or emergency services if you do not respond.

PROS:
  • They offer a wide variety of security and home automation devices
  • They use 100% cellular, which is a more secure solution than landline or wireless options
  • System comes with a 2-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee

CONS:
  • You have to purchase all the equipment upfront
  • If you cancel outside of the 30-day guarantee, you will pay a cancellation fee of 100% on the remaining contract

Recommended: See our complete review of Link Interactive. They’re a great company worth considering.

SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe has one distinct advantage, no contracts. Yep, you can live in a world where your home security system is monitored 24/7 with no long term commitment. Which makes SimpliSafe popular with buyers who don’t want to be tied into a 36-month payment plan with a huge cancellation fee.

It is also one of the easiest DIY options to set up. If you follow the video on their site, you can usually have a fully functioning security system installed in about an hour. They provide a variety of easy to connect devices and sensors, which makes installation less painless than some of the other more complicated home security DIY providers.

One thing that was glaringly absent in their equipment offerings were security cameras. They have a wide variety of sensors, but none of their packages feature indoor or outdoor security cameras. Given the growing popularity of smart security cameras, it seems to be a missed opportunity that SimpliSafe should consider when adding new devices.

With a wireless system that provides a cellular back-up, you can rest assured that your home security system won’t be compromised. SimpliSafe has a variety of packages that can range in price from $230-$540. Each package comes with a variety of devices; these are their current package offers:

Packages Equipment Provided Price
Starter Base Station, Wireless Keypad, 1 Motion Sensor, 1 Entry Sensor, Keychain Remote $229.96 Check Amazon
Economy Base Station, Wireless Keypad, 1 Motion Sensor, 3 Entry Sensors, Keychain Remote $259.95 Check Amazon
Classic Base Station, Wireless Keypad, 2 Motion Sensors, 3 Entry Sensors, Extra Siren, Smoke Detector, Keychain Remote $349.92 Check Amazon
Master Base Station, Wireless Keypad, 2 Motion Sensor, 6 Entry Sensors, Extra Siren, Smoke Detector, Keychain Remote $449.87 Check Amazon
Ultimate Base Station, Wireless Keypad, 2 Motion Sensor, 4 Entry Sensors, Extra Siren, Smoke Detector, Panic Button, Water Sensor, CO Detector, Freeze Sensor,Keychain Remote $539.85 Check Amazon

Monitoring Service Options

SimpliSafe offers two professional monitoring options, Standard and Interactive. The Standard plan is priced at $.50 per day and has two features, 24/7 live alarm monitoring, and cellular connectivity. The Interactive plan includes 24/7 live alarm monitoring, SMS/Email alerts, remote control devices, secret alerts, and cellular connectivity.

Secret alerts allow you to know who opens your cabinets, safes and private files that you want to keep protected. Their monitoring options also offer a rapid response option when they detect something that seems unusual if they cannot reach you they will immediately contact law enforcement and emergency services.

PROS:
  • Variety of packages that make it easy to get started
  • Wide variety of sensors and alarms
  • Professional 24/7 monitoring for $14.99 per month

CONS:
  • No security cameras in their packages
  • Equipment looks cheap and dated

Scout

Scout (full review here)  is the DIY professionally monitored home security system you didn’t know existed (probably).

But now that you have been properly introduced, there are a few things you should be aware of. Scout is modeled after some of the other a la carte providers like Oplink, Viper Home, and Simplisafe.

One thing that makes Scout a little unique is you can choose the equipment you want. So you aren’t stuck with items you don’t want because they are a part of a package.

Scout provides a solid way to get started on building a basic home security system. It only has four accessories, which makes it a more limited option when compared with SmartThings or companies like Link Interactive. But what Scout does is blend professional features with an easy to install a DIY system.

Scout Alarm Wireless Home Security System, Arctic

Scout's platform keeps you at the center of your security. From purchase, to installation, to everyday use, we've thoughtfully designed every aspect of the system to provide maximum security, while ...

Available: In stock
$319.99
Buy Now
amazon amazon.com

Scout is reasonably priced when compared to some of its competitors, like SimpliSafe and Viper Home. Below is how Scout compares to the Viper Home and SimpliSafe home security systems.

Feature Scout SimpliSafe Viper Home
Monthly Fees $19.99 with live monitoring $14.99-$24.99 $229.99
Upfront Cost $129 $229.96-$539.85 $9.99 with camera $0 without camera
Professional Monitoring Yes-$19.99 per month Yes- no additional charge Not Offered
Cellular Backup Yes (free with live monitoring, $9.99 without) Yes-no additional charge Not Offered
Compatibility Only compatible with Zigbee No Yes with Zigbee and Z-Wave
Camera Option Yes for an additional $169 No Yes for an additional $149.99

The first thing Scout provides is a hub with a 100 ft range; they also include an Ethernet cable and power cord to connect the hub. The devices come with an adhesive backing that seems to do a decent job, they can be a bit of a pain to remove, but there is no backing left on the walls when you remove them.

Another nice thing about Scout is that you can make the rules. While some of the basic options like Home, Away and Sleep come preset you can edit the pre-populated modes and even add new ones. Scout is a reliable system if you aren’t looking for bells and whistles.

It also has a decent app, but at this time it’s like a one trick pony. In the past, Scout wouldn’t work with third-party devices, which limited it to just being a workable home security solution. Now Scout can work with Nest and IFTTT, with more to come.

Now, finally…

What if you don’t want a monthly fee or a contract, and you are ok being 100% responsible for notifying authorities on time in case of any emergency? Then self-monitored security could be perfect for you:

Self-Monitored Home Security System Buyer’s Guide

If you have control issues or you just don’t like to pay a monthly fee to have your home security system professionally monitored, then a self-monitored system is exactly what you need. Controlling your own system means that you will get notifications from your system when a motion detector picks up movement or a door or window with a sensor is opened.

Once your security system detects unusual movement, it will send you a notification to a smartphone app. You will then need to contact authorities to alert them that there may be a possible break-in at your home. With most self-monitored systems you will be able to respond to alerts from anywhere at any time.

If you are looking for the best self-monitored security system for your home, here is a list of our top five systems.

Provider SmartThings iSmartAlarm Piper Iris Canary
Monthly Fee $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Home Automation Connection
Intergration
Sensors
Detectors
Thermostat
Alarm Siren
Cameras
iOS & Andriod App
Smartphone Notification
Check Amazon Check Amazon Check Amazon Learn More Check Amazon

There are a few things you should prepare for when putting together your self-monitored system:

Buy a (good) Battery Backup

Most self-monitored systems rely on your wireless network, so if you lose power, you also lose the protection of our security system. Adding a battery back-up will make sure that your system continues to work even when the power is out.

Have the App on More than One Device

When you travel, it can be difficult to manage your home security system. To keep your home safe when you are away, you should provide a close friend or family member with access to your home security app. This will allow them to act on your behalf if you have an emergency and cannot be reached.

Keep Your Smartphone Close By

With self-monitoring systems, you are the one in control, which means you will need to have a smartphone with you whenever you are away from home. These DIY home security systems will send you a notification if a sensor, detector or camera detects something is wrong. That means you need to have a way to receive and respond to these notifications immediately in the event you need to call authorities.

If you are more comfortable managing your home security experience on your own, these providers should work well for you.

Our Top 5 Self-Monitored Home Security Options:

SmartThings

SmartThings is a home automation system from Samsung. It allows you to connect a variety of ZigBee and Z-Wave devices using the SmartThings Hub. While SmartThings is designed to be both a home automation and security system, it can manage both tasks with ease. When it comes to your home security system, there are a variety of devices that can work with the SmartThings Hub.

One of the things that made us add SmartThings to the list is the flexibility of the system. You can start small with just a few devices, to begin with, and eventually grow your home into a self-monitored wonderland.

While we often see home security systems primarily being a collection of cameras, sensors, and detectors, SamsungThings allows you to enhance those devices with that include lighting controls and window controls. These enable you to remotely manage to turn on and off lights or opening or closing window blinds to give the appearance that you are home when you are away.

You can also connect devices like the Ring Video Doorbell and the SmartThings Arrival Sensor.  They also offer a broad range of door, window and motion sensors along with smoke, flood, water and carbon monoxide detectors. You can also connect security cameras that you can access anytime using the Samsung iOS, Windows or Andriod app.

While the original app seemed a bit clumsy, the new app has a sleeker design and is much easier to use. It will sort your devices by room, which makes them easy to find and manage. You can also create routines to set your appliances to turn on and off when you are home or away.

What makes the SmartThings different from traditional self-monitored home security systems is the way it works with other providers. They connect with ZigBee, Z-Ware, and voice automation devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. This allows you to build a robust self-monitored security system and has the added benefit of letting you create a home automation system.

If you realize, after setting up your self-monitored home security system, that you would prefer a professionally monitored option, SmartThings has you covered. They have partnered with the popular home security monitoring provider Scout. Which means you can add a monitored solution to your DIY home security system.

PROS:
  • Updated app that is easier to use
  • Easy to Install
  • Supports IFTTT, ZigBee, Z-Wave and IP devices
  • Can add Scout for professional monitoring

CONS:
  • Relies on ethernet connection
  • Doesn’t support Insteon or Clear Connect
  • Issues can be difficult to troubleshoot

iSmart

If you are looking for a cost effective self-monitored home security system that is both smart and easy to install, iSmart is a good option. Like most self-monitored systems you are the point of contact, which means if the system notifies you there is an issue you will need to contact the authorities.

But with prices starting at $149 for a complete home security solution, iSmart has a lot to offer if you are just getting started adding your own security system. They have several packages to choose from:

  • Starter Package: this package is great for people just getting started out or living in a small apartment or home, it includes:
    • one contact sensor (window or door)
    • one motion sensor
    • one remote keychain tag
  • Plus Packagethis package adds some additional features and includes:
    • one CubeOne with built-in 110dB siren
    • three contact sensors
    • one motion sensor
    • one remote keychain tag
    • iSmartAlarm window decal
  • Preferred Package: this package provides the best value to customers and includes:
    • one CubeOne with built-in 110dB siren
    • two contact sensors
    • one motion sensor
    • two remote keychain tags
    • iSmartAlarm window decal
  • Deluxe Package: this package continues to expand the features offered and includes:
    • one CubeOne with built-in 110dB siren
    • four contact sensors
    • one motion sensor
    • two remote keychain tags
    • four iSMartAlarm window decals
  • Pan & Tilt Video Bundle: this bundle adds the HD iCamera KEEP, and includes:
    • one CubeOne with built-in 110dB siren
    • two contact sensors
    • one motion sensor
    • one HD iCamera KEEP Smart home security camera
    • two remote keychain tags
    • four iSmartAlarm window decals
  • Flexible Smart Home Video Bundle: this bundle adds two HD Spot video cameras and includes:
    • one CubeOne with built-in 110dB siren
    • two contact sensors
    • one motion sensor
    • two Spot home security cameras
    • two remote keychain tags
    • four iSmartAlarm window decals

There are three different cameras offered by iSmart, the HD cameras KEEP, KEEP Pro and Spot. You can buy them all of these cameras independent of the package or bundle you choose. Here is how they both break down:

Spot KEEP KEEP PRO
Price $99.99 $149.99 $99.99 presale, $199.99 retail
Sound Recognition
Time Lapse Video
HD Resolution 720p 1080p
Pan & Tilt
Free Cloud Recording
Local Video Storage up to 32GB with MicroSD card, the card is not included up to 32GB with MicroSD card, the card is not included up to 32GB with MicroSD card, the card is not included
Wi-Fi HD Streaming On App On App On App
2-Way Audio
Zoom 4X Digital Zoom 4X Digital Zoom 8X Digital Zoom
Night Vision
Motion Detection
Apps iOS and Andriod iOS and Andriod iOS and Andriod

Another perk that comes with your iSmart home security system is Smart Switch. This allows you to manage lights and appliances while you are away.  Just plug your lamps or appliances into the Smart Switch, and you will be able to control them from anywhere using a smartphone app.

Smart Switch can start your coffee in the morning and turn your lights off at night. It is a simple, straightforward way to add home automation without a hub or pricey equipment. You can also use the app to set schedules for plugged in appliances or other devices. So, if you are on vacation, you can set the lights to turn on and off on their own, which means you can spend more time enjoying your trip.

PROS:
  • No monthly fees
  • Smart Switch lets you build inexpensive home automation
  • Completely Wireless
  • Smartphone controlled

CONS:
  • There can be a delay in camera notifications
  • You have to buy your own MicroSD card for local storage
  • KEEP Pro has few improvements over the original KEEP camera

Iris

While the first generation of Lowes’ Iris Smart Home home automation hub was less than promising. The second generation has the promise the first lacked. Unlike the original version, the app has been refined and now makes installation much less painful.

The Iris Smart Hub is reasonably priced at $59.99, and you can pick it up at any Lowes store, which allows you to enjoy the fun of instant gratification. Currently, Iris supports zWave, and ZigBee, Bluetooth, and wireless devices. Which can make it feel limited in the devices that it can connect with. But with over 100 certified Iris compatible devices and more to come, it is a more than a workable hub.

In addition to providing devices that can manage doors, windows, garage doors, thermostats, indoor and outdoor lighting, and a variety of home detection devices and sensors, you can also control your devices using Alexa from Amazon when connected to Echo, Dot or Tap.

Iris also requires you to subscribe to a plan to manage your devices. They currently have two plans, the Basic plan which is free and the Premium Plan, here is how they compare to one another:

Features Basic Plan Premium Plan
Remotely turn devices off and on Free Free for 2 Months then $9.99 per month
Remotely turn devices off and on
Schedule devices on and off times
Stream video via smartphone
Build custom scenes and control them
Receive notifications when a device is triggered only account holder up to 6 people
View activity history Prior 24 hours Prior 14 Days
Record video on command
Control temperature devices remotely
View inside temperatures from more than one device
Set rules that allow one device to trigger another device
Set rules to manage family members routines and get an alert if something seems unusual.
Lock and Unlocks Doors when away

You are required to choose a plan. If you don’t have a complicated set up the Basic can be a good way to go. But if you want to build a more robust home security system you would need to purchase the Premium to allow you full control. Unlike a contract, these plans can be canceled at any time with no cancellation fee.

The Hub has come a long way from the first generation, but it is still a relatively young smart home option. The easier setup and robust library of compatible devices make Iris a  good starter system.  But the Premium fee seems unnecessary since it doesn’t exist with any the other self-monitored home security systems on our list.

Canary

Canary is pure home security, so if you are looking for a blend of home automation and security stop here. However, if security is your primary driver, there are some good things about the Carnary line of security cameras. Canary offers more feature than most other smart home security cameras; they provide temperature, air quality and motion sensor all packed into an HD night vision camera.

Just an idea in 2013, the IndieGoGo created company has had its struggles. Primarily due to its rush to market. As with all of the “best new things,” it takes a few updates and corrections to deliver on its original promises.

Canary today works as originally promised, but while it was getting there so were other home security camera options. Today it has some serious competitors in Piper NV and iSmart KEEP. The idea that you can have a complete security system in one small camera is very appealing, but Canary isn’t quite there yet. I have every belief that they will get there, but it was a daunting task for any new company.

One thing that is clear is Canary makes a good looking camera, which is most likely how it became such a popular item on IndieGoGo. It is easy to place the camera due to the design it looks modern and isn’t too bulky.

There is a lot packed into the 1080p night-vision camera; it houses a motion sensor to alert the camera to start recording and sensors that detect temperature, humidity levels, and air quality. Also, include is a 90 dB siren, a Wi-Fi radio and a color changing ring to allow you know when the device is armed.

The Canary is no longer the only home security camera that they offer, and the Canary Flex is a new camera designed to work both indoors and outdoors. Portable it aims to be able to move easily between the inside and outside of your home. It connects to a swivel base using a strong magnet, which allows you to adjust viewing angles.

The Flex only streams live feed in 720p, which is still decent but with competitors live streaming at 1080p it seems a little behind some of the other home security cameras. It plays well with Wink and is working on integrations with IFTTT and HomeKit from Apple.

With some decent accessories, including a mount for Verizon 4G LTE access, the Carnary Flex has a lot more potential than you would think. It also has a rechargeable battery with a lifespan of two months. You can view an event based video history free for the first 24 hours if you want to see data after that you will need to add an optional 30-day plan for $10 per month.

Either camera, the Canary or the Canary Flex would be a great start to building your home security system. If you want something that works indoors and out, I would recommend the Canary Flex as it can do both jobs and it does them a bit better than the original Canary.

PROS:
  • Swivel base with magnetic connector works well.
  • Battery power last up to two months
  • Camera can transition from outdoor to indoor camera

CONS:
  • Currently only connects with Wink
  • You have to pay to view video feed.

Piper NV

Piper NV is a smart home security camera that plays well with a variety of Z-Ware devices,  which makes it the center of your home security system.

When it comes to DIY home security, Piper has everything you would want in a home security camera.

With so many do-it-yourself options on the market, from Canary to SmartThings, Piper is the closest thing to complete as you can get. That is why I saved the best for last when it comes to self-monitored home security options.

Not so say everyone on the list is without merit, they are all beyond capable. It’s just that Piper NV seems to have thought more about design, installation, and use than some of its competitors.

Packed with a solid base of features, this monthly free option is one you should stop and take a long look at. Piper NV is an improvement on the original Piper model. While they may look the same, they are quite different when it comes to their insides.

Easy to install, it takes around three minutes, this indoor camera can be placed inconspicuously in a variety of locations. It is designed with the user in mind, you can see the thought that went into putting together a camera that looked modern and sleek, but that was still easy to use and simple to put together.

Inside the camera, there is a lot to see, besides the obvious camera, it includes a siren, a two-way mic, a speaker and a Z-wave hub. And if that isn’t enough it also houses motion, temperature, sound, light and humidity sensors.

Another way you know that Piper is thinking more about customer experience than some other providers can be found in the app design. The iOS and Android apps allow you to arm and disarm the Piper NV, set your own custom alerts, view live video, view clips triggered by your custom alerts, review sensor changes over a set period and add new Z-wave devices.

The Piper app allows you to add smart plugs, thermostats, sensors, motion detectors, smart locks and doorbells with ease. A few things we would like to see with the Piper NV are an IFTTT channel, and connections with HomeKit, Google Home, Nest, SmartThings, and Wink.

PROS:
  • Piper NV delivers on performance
  • Easy to install
  • The App makes it easy to add new devices and view video

CONS:
  • It plays well with Z-wave but no one else
  • It doesn’t have an auto siren

If you feel self monitoring is for you, be sure to check out our top picks for self-monitored home security cameras and systems.

Conclusion

Self-monitoring and professional monitoring are both appealing options when it comes to putting together your home security system. Self-monitoring allows you to have full control, while your home security devices will send you notifications you are the one who is responsible for calling authorities should a notification alert you to something serious.

One of the downsides of managing your own system is that you need to be tied to your smartphone 24/7 when you are away, which can difficult when you are on vacation. The upside of self-monitoring is that you don’t have to pay a monthly fee, so if you don’t mind managing your home security or maybe you are always on your smartphone, so you never miss an alert, it can be a cost-effective way to protect your home.

Professional monitoring isn’t as cost-effective, but it does have its benefit. You have a professional monitoring center managing your home security system 24/7 with super-fast reaction time. Which means you never have to worry about missing a notification. But it is important to remember that not all professional monitoring companies are the same.

Taking time to review the company can save you time and money. Some providers may provide monitoring services for hundreds of companies, which can be a concern. You want to take the time to research providers, knowing their response times, customer service skills and professionalism will help you make an informed decision.

Keeping your home safe is one of the most important things you will do, it is not just an investment in technology, it is an investment in keeping your family secure. Researching companies will tell you a lot about what they offer, and what you want. It is well worth the time spent to know your home is safe and your family doesn’t need to worry.

Jennifer Kelley is an author and technology blogger. She feels weird writing about herself in the third person, but does so when asked. A graduate of The Ohio State University she is a dedicated football fan and a total dork who loves all things written. You can follow her on twitter @theonlyjen

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