02 Apr 6 Best Self Monitored Alarm Systems
With most home alarm systems, you have to sign a contract and pay an external company or surveillance agency a monthly subscription fee so they can monitor your house 24/7.
However, some people don’t like the idea of paying a monthly subscription fee in addition to their base payment for cloud storage and home surveillance device. Some people also don’t like to give complete strangers access to their homes, even if it’s for security purposes.
That’s where self monitored alarm systems, also known as unmonitored alarm systems, come in.
As the name suggests, Self Monitored Alarm Systems are those home surveillance systems that allow you to individually monitor your house and keep it safe from environmental damages or intrusions. They generally consist of various surveillance devices like surveillance cameras, entry sensors, motion sensors, temperature and humidity sensors, etc. These devices allow you to monitor different aspects of your house. If you find that something is amiss, it’s your responsibility to take remedial actions.
Self Monitored Alarm Systems are those that can be installed DIY-style, don’t include any contracts, and generally don’t include any subscription fees either. However, since you are completely responsible for your own security, you need to make sure you get the best surveillance kit possible.
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the best self monitored alarm systems on the market.
Best Self Monitored Alarm Systems
1. abode Starter Kit
abode Starter Kit is one of the best and most intelligent self monitored alarm systems on the market. The base kit comes with a primary gateway, a door/window entry sensor, a remote KeyFob, and a motion sensor. There is no subscription fee so you can monitor the devices for free. However, the smartphone app can only maintain up to three days of history before being wiped off. As such, if you want to retain the data, you have to download it before the three-day window.
This is a completely wireless alarm system so installation is pretty simple. You just have to sign up with adobe and use a code to connect the primary gateway to the account. Once the gateway comes live, all your sensors will automatically get detected without you having to do anything. The KeyFob also comes pre-paired and you can use a single button to arm or disarm the entire alarm system whenever you want. The whole process can be completed in a few minutes without a hitch.
The smartphone app has three modes of operation — Standby, Home, and Away. When you place the device on Standby mode, you hear a tiny chirping sound whenever the entry sensors get triggered. In Home mode, a loud 93dB alarm is triggered whenever the entry sensors are triggered. Finally, in Away mode, both the motion sensors and entry sensors are active. These are all fairly intelligent modes, but they cannot be changed. You can’t change the sensitivity of the sensors or schedule them. This also leaves you vulnerable to false alarms, especially if you have small kids or pets in your home. Some people prefer the lack of customizability because it makes the entire device extremely simple to use. But it can also be a major hindrance for some.
As the name suggests, this alarm system is a “starter kit”. So it’s pretty much expected that it won’t have extended customizability or a wide range of features. However, I am still disappointed that they haven’t included at least a basic camera with this kit. Cameras are pretty standard for self monitored alarm systems, especially because false alarms is a very real possibility.
If an alarm goes off when you’re away, this abode Starter Kit will only let you know that there’s an emergency. It will tell you if the motion sensors or entry sensors have been triggered. However, there’s no way for you to actually see if there’s a real issue for you to be worried about. Is it a false alarm? Has the entry sensor simply been tripped by a pet or animal? Or do you have something to worry about? Without being able to see a visual confirmation, you will either have to rush back home only to find a false alarm or you’ll have to contact your neighbors, friends, or family to check in.
abode Starter Kit can be integrated into your smart home as well. You can control smart lights, smart locks, and other compatible smart devices from the adobe smartphone app. However, the initial setup has to be done through the web browser. You have to log into the web browser to set them all up, so you can control them via the app in the future. Furthermore, the amount of commands you can set up is minimal and the response time is also lacking. As such, if you want an extremely efficient smart home alarm system, this is not the one for you.
All things considered, abode Starter Kit is one of the best self monitored alarm systems for those who want a bare-bones and simple alarm system. However, the lack of a camera is a major oversight and they need to update their smart home integration systems.
- Relatively cheap.
- Entry sensors and motion sensors are effective.
- Extremely simple to use.
- Easy installation process.
- Lacks customizability.
- No camera.
- Smart Home integration is weak.
- Other devices have to be integrated via a web browser.
- Only maintains 3 days of history for free.
2. Arlo Pro 2
Arlo Pro 2, developed by NetGear, is one of the world’s most advanced self monitored alarm systems. The entire system is completely wireless so you can install the cameras anywhere at all, as long as they’re within 300 feet of the base station.
Setting up the Arlo Pro 2 alarm system is extremely easy and can be done in about 15 minutes. You have to connect the base station to the router using the provided cable. Following that, you have to simply download the Arlo smartphone app and connect the cameras to the base station to make them go live. Arlo Pro 2 has a number of expensive subscription packages. However, for self monitoring purposes, you can get the Basic Plan which allows you to cover up to 5 cameras and gives you access to 7 days of video recordings for free. That is quite a generous plan and you have plenty of time to download the videos from the cloud to your local storage.
The biggest issue with Arlo Pro 2 is that it’s just a camera alarm system. You can install up to 60 motion-sensor cameras around your house. As such, all the cameras also double as motion sensors. However, the kit doesn’t come with cheap motion sensors or entry sensors that you can populate around your house. You also don’t gain access to any environmental sensors. So Arlo Pro 2 is fairly expensive and only provides protection from burglaries and possible home invasions.
While you don’t gain access to any additional alarm systems for your home, the camera itself is extremely powerful. It is weatherproof with an IP65 rating, so you can install it both outdoors and indoors completely assured that it can survive being exposed to erratic climatic conditions ranging from wild rainstorms to sandstorms.
Arlo Pro 2 camera can record 1080p videos with a 130-degree viewing angle. As such, you can see extremely sharp and detailed videos and you also have access to a wide horizontal view, which helps eliminate pockets of blind spots.
Arlo Pro 2 also has an impressive Night Vision feature. It is equipped with infrared lenses that allow the camera to record videos even in complete darkness. It has about 25 feet of visibility at night. As such, even if someone breaks into your home in complete darkness, you’ll still be able to see them in your smartphone app. The only issue here is that the recorded footage will be black and white and a little dark so you might not be able to see details clearly.
This Arlo Pro 2 camera also serves as a motion detector. It is equipped with a PIR (Passive Infrared) Motion Sensor, so whenever there’s some motion detected, it can send you a push notification in your phone so you can react to it immediately. Furthermore, the motion sensor here is far more advanced than the ones provided by adobe Starter Kit. Since it is a PIR motion sensor, it only gets triggered when it catches motion from something emitting infrared energy, i.e., animals and people. Furthermore, it doesn’t get triggered by small objects. As such, Arlo Pro 2 has one of the most advanced motion sensors that eliminate all false alarms and only gets triggered when people approach it.
When the motion sensor gets triggered, you immediately get notified. Following that, you can choose to either communicate with the intruders via the intercom or you can also set off an extremely loud alarm to scare them away. Arlo Pro 2 can also be integrated with smart home devices like Apple Homekit, Wink, SmartThings, and others. As such, you can also trigger other warning functions like turning on all the lights in the house or turning on the speakers and TV.
Arlo Pros 2 might not offer as wide a range of alarm devices as adobe Starter Kit, but its camera is extremely advanced and it can serve several functions at once. The biggest issue is that purchasing several cameras to populate in different parts of your home will be too expensive.
- Extremely simple installation.
- Stores up to 7 days of recorded footage for free.
- Camera is extremely advanced.
- Has night vision.
- Motion sensors can differentiate between humans and other animals and inanimate objects.
- Can be integrated with smart home.
- Smartphone app is useful and easy to use.
- You don’t get access to additional alarm system devices like entry sensors, temperature sensors, panic buttons, etc.
- The camera does double as a motion sensor. But it’s also a lot more expensive than a dedicated motion sensor so installing several of them would be too expensive.
- Extremely expensive.
3. Canary All-in-One
Canary All-in-One is exactly what its name claims it is. It’s a single self monitored camera that has inbuilt motion, air-quality, and temperature and humidity sensors. As such, you just have to install a single camera in a strategically chosen location and it will be able to monitor against burglaries and environmental hazards.
This self monitored alarm system has four intelligent modes — Home, Away, Night, and Private. Based on that, the camera turns on or off depending on your location. The camera records 1080p videos with a 147-degree wide angle lens that minimizes all blind spots and gives you access to a wider field of view than most cameras. It is also equipped with a 3x digital zoom function that allows you to zoom in and capture details such as facial features in case of break-ins.
One of the best aspects of this alarm system is that it has an extremely advanced motion sensor. It only gets triggered when a human comes in close proximity because it uses infrared sensors and mass detection to differentiate between people and other inanimate objects or smaller living things. If your motion sensor is triggered, you get a notification in your smartphone app. There’s no latency so you get notified immediately so you can take immediate actions such as triggering a loud alarm, contacting the authorities, or using the camera’s two-way audio system to talk to the potential intruders.
While Canary All-in-One has a great motion sensor, that’s not what sets it apart from the crowd. Most security cameras have motion sensors. However, this alarm system also has inbuilt environmental sensors in place. The environmental sensors include a temperature and humidity sensor and an air quality sensor.
The temperature and humidity sensor allows you to monitor the temperature in your house. Since the device is smart home integrated, you can set it up so that the air conditioning or heating regulates when it hits certain temperatures. As such, this self monitored alarm system can also act as a smart thermostat.
The air quality sensor can detect Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen, Dust, Cigarette Smoke, Isobutane, Cooking Smoke, and Ethanol. In addition to simply giving you these readings, it also tells you what the normal range is. As such, if any of your readings are in excess of normal, you can turn on the humidifiers to air out your house. This can keep you safe from potential carbon monoxide poisoning and it can also be useful for those who have allergies or respiratory issues.
Canary All-in-One is a smart self monitored alarm system and it works with most popular smart home devices like Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, Wink, Amazon Alexa, and various others. It also works with IFTTT so you can set up specific commands regarding how different devices should function in response to your Canary device’s various sensors.
The biggest drawback of purchasing a Canary All-in-One is that it only gives you free access to recorded videos for up to 24 hours. After that, the videos are deleted and you can’t retrieve them. As such, if you want to keep a video, you’ll have to download it from the cloud as soon as possible or miss your chance to do so entirely.
- A single device can provide protection from burglaries and environmental hazards.
- Motion detection can detect people specifically.
- Excellent video recording features.
- Two-way audio is available.
- Air-quality sensors can keep your home healthy.
- A single button can contact emergency services immediately.
- Smart home integration.
- Since all the different sensors are located in a single device, you can’t monitor different parts of your house specifically.
- If you want to monitor different zones separately, you’ll simply have to get multiple devices, which can be expensive.
- Maintains video footage for just 24 hours for free.
4. Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
Samsung SmartThings is one of the most popular self monitored alarm systems and is compatible with an extremely vast ecosystem of smart devices. Samsung SmartThings comes with one primary hub with which you can also control other smart lights, smart locks, and other smart devices in your home. However, in order to set up a Samsung alarm system, you have to purchase additional sensors, plugs, and devices.
Samsung SmartThings is one of the most customizable self monitored alarm systems because you get to choose which devices and sensors you want (and how many), and which you don’t. For example, if you have several doors and windows in your ground floor, you can get a bunch of entry sensors. If you’re concerned about health hazards, you can get environmental sensors for different rooms.
In terms of installation, Samsung SmartThings is fairly simple. You connect the SmartThings Hub to a power source or allow it to run on batteries. You also have to connect it to your router with an Ethernet port. Following that, you simply download the smartphone app, connect it to the hub, and then start pairing all the devices. The app pretty much walks you through everything you have to do for the setup. You don’t need any professional help.
While you can add as many sensors and devices as you want, the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit comes prearranged with some of the most essential devices — two multipurpose sensors, one motion sensor, and one outlet. You can install the multipurpose sensors at doors and windows to know if someone tries to break in. The motion sensor should be installed in one of your main entry points so it will get triggered wherever someone moves. You should, however, keep it away from areas that generally experience considerable foot traffic as you can’t modify the sensitivity so you may get false alarms.
The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit doesn’t come with a water leak sensor or an arrival sensor, but you can get them separately. The fact that you can purchase additional sensors means that you can add sensors in different rooms around your house at a cheap price so you can monitor different zones separately.
The biggest drawback of SmartThings is that there’s no camera. As such, if an alarm or sensor gets triggered while you’re away, you have no visual means of verifying if something is actually wrong and how serious the situation is.
One of the reasons Samsung SmartThings is so popular is because it gives you access to all the features for free. You don’t have to pay an additional monthly subscription for additional features or to gain access to recorded videos.
- Works with an extremely wide ecosystem of smart devices.
- No subscription fees.
- Can set up separate zones around the house.
- Easy to set up.
- Can add or remove as many devices as you want.
- No camera.
- The smartphone app isn’t very well organized.
- The Home Monitoring Kit doesn’t have any environmental sensors.
5. iSmartAlarm Preferred Package
iSmartAlarm is similar to Samsung SmartThings in a lot of ways. It’s a completely DIY self monitored alarm system that comes with one primary hub and a bunch of other sensors and devices which you can choose. As such, you can choose only the devices and sensors you need to keep your house safe. The presence of so many sensors and their scalability also means you can set up different sensor zones around the house to monitor their conditions.
The iSmartAlarm Preferred Package comes with one CubeOne Hub, three entry sensors for your doors and windows, a motion sensor, and an iCamera. In addition to these, you can also add Sensor Stickers and Remote Tags to your package. The Sensor Stickers can be placed in your yard to dissuade potential burglars from targeting your home. The remote tags are especially useful because they allow you to arm and disarm the system remotely when you leave or enter your home. Furthermore, if you suspect that there’s been a break-in, you can use the panic button in the remote tag to immediately contact the authorities or local emergency service.
The camera records 720p videos with a 130-degree wide angle lens and 4x digital zoom. It has infrared Night Vision so it can record videos in complete darkness as well. It’s also equipped with a motion sensor so it can send you an alert whenever the sensors are triggered. You can use the 2-way intercom to communicate with potential intruders. This camera is also equipped with a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. As such, not only does this entire package offer burglary protection, it can also provide protection from environmental hazards.
Whenever the camera detects motion, it also starts recording a 10-second clip. You can store up to 30 such 10-second clips in the cloud. Alternatively, you can store the clips in a 32GB local MicroSD card. Either way, I find 10-second to be an extremely limited period of time and you might not be able to see anything important within such a small window. If you want to increase your storage or increase the length of the clips, you’ll have to get an upgraded camera which will be more expensive and you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee as well.
All things considered, iSmartAlarm Preferred Package is an extremely effective self monitored alarm system. It’s one of the few alarm systems that gives you access to multiple sensors and a camera so that you can get a visual confirmation of any alerts.
- Can set up multiple sensor zones around the house.
- The camera also doubles as a smoke and carbon monoxide detector.
- You can customize the entire package however you like.
- Communicates well with other smart devices.
- The camera only records 10-second clips when the motion sensor is triggered.
- Can only store 30 10-second clips in the cloud.
6. Scout Alarm
Scout Alarm is a 9-piece self monitored alarm system. The entire alarm system includes one Hub, one Door Panel with KeyFob, five Window Sensors, 2 Motion Sensors, and three window stickers and yard signs.
The Door Panel is equipped with an RFID reader that lets you know whenever the door is opened or closed. You can use the KeyFob to remotely arm or disarm the door panel whenever you want. The five Window Sensors can be placed at all the additional entry points in your home so that they get triggered whenever someone tries to use one of those entries. Together, these 6 devices can cover large homes with multiple points of entry and exit.
The Motion Sensor can be used in rooms with several points of entry and exit because they cover a range of 25 feet with a 90-degree view angle. Whenever the motion sensor is tripped, you get an instant alert in your smartphone app. Finally, the window stickers and yard signs can be placed around your house to ward off all potential intruders.
One of the best aspects of these devices is that you can simply hook them to your doors and windows without having to use any tools. They can simply be clipped or stuck on the surface. So you don’t need any professional help.
However, like so many other similar alarm systems, Scout Alarm doesn’t come with a security camera. As such, you have no way to visually see if an alarm has been triggered by a real threat or if it’s a false alarm. You can, however, give unlimited people access to the smartphone app so if you go away somewhere too long, you can also give your neighbors access to it so they can monitor your house.
This self monitored alarm system also lacks dedicated smoke, fire, or carbon monoxide detectors. However, you can purchase these environmental hazard detectors separately and pair them to the system.
If you do encounter a home invasion emergency, you can trigger the 80dB alarm. I am slightly disappointed by the loudness of the alarm. At 80dB, it’s about as loud as a food processor whereas many other alarm systems are as loud as 90dB or even 105dB. Despite that, the alarm should be enough to scare away intruders in most cases.
- Perfect for large homes with multiple entry points.
- Effective motion sensors.
- Easy to install.
- The smartphone app can be accessed and controlled by unlimited users.
- No camera.
- No fire, smoke, or carbon monoxide detectors.
- The siren isn’t as loud as other alarm systems.
Why do I need Self Monitored Alarm Systems?
You need Self Monitored Alarm Systems because they have the following benefits.
Most monitored alarm systems are pretty expensive because you have to pay a monthly subscription fee in addition to the cost of the camera, the entire surveillance unit, and cloud storage space.
With self monitored alarm systems, you don’t have to incur those expenses. Once you purchase the surveillance kit, you don’t have to make any other payments. You’ll only have to make additional payments if you start storing large quantities of video recordings in cloud storage.
Most self monitored alarm systems can be integrated into your smart home and come with IFTTT integration. As such, you can make your cameras, motion sensors, etc, interact with your other smart devices and trigger actions that can warn you of different situations.
With monitored alarm systems, the local emergency team or surveillance team is contacted in case there’s an emergency. As such, if there’s a false alarm, you’ll have to deal with the local emergency team and spend some time explaining the false alarm.
However, with self monitored alarm systems, the surveillance kit doesn’t automatically contact anyone other than you. Based on the information, you can decide if you want to contact emergency services.
You have a wide degree of control over the monitoring systems. You can set up schedules for when they monitor and when they don’t. You can also set up the sensitivity of various sensors. All the control rests in your hands. You have complete ownership of the surveillance unit.
Which Factors to Consider when Buying Self Monitored Alarm Systems?
When you’re buying self monitored alarm systems, you need to take the following factors into consideration.
One of the prime features of a self monitored alarm system is that you are 100% responsible for all emergencies. If there’s an intrusion, for example, you are responsible for contacting the authorities.
To make this instant communication easier, your alarm system should have the following features:
- It should send you instant push notifications or messages in your smartphone.
- It should call you if the system is breached.
- If you’re unresponsive, it should be able to call/text emergency contacts.
- There should be a simple panic button you can use to instantly call emergency services.
Since you have to handle the entire surveillance kit yourself, you need to consider how easy it is to control. Gauge how easily you can carry out the following functions:
- Arming and disarming the alarm system.
- Customizing the system according to your needs.
- Setting up schedules and various modes such as Home, Away, Asleep, or Vacation.
Almost all self monitored alarm systems offer protection from intrusions and burglaries in the form of motion and entry sensors. However, you should also look at additional protections such as carbon monoxide detectors, temperature and humidity sensors, etc. These protections will warn you in case of environmental hazards such as carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, flooding, etc.
Your self monitored alarm system should have an effective camera with a strong resolution and wide viewing angle. If you receive an alert in your phone when you’re away from home, you need to be able to check the camera feed to see if you have anything to worry about.
Without a camera, you might be rushing back home for false alarms or hyperventilating about potential alarms with no way of confirming them.
Some self monitored alarm systems are battery-powered whereas others are hardwired. Both of them have their unique pros and cons.
Battery-powered, or wireless, alarm systems are extremely portable. You can install them anywhere you want and you can also easily move them if you choose. However, you have to be careful that their battery continues working.
Wired alarm systems are extremely reliable and you don’t have to worry about their battery running out. However, they are fixed in place, might require professional installation, and they’re not portable.
Most self monitored alarm systems are easy to set up. Make sure you get a surveillance kit that you can install on your own without professional help.
Special Alert Zones
Some self monitored alarm systems come with individual sensors you can install in different rooms around your house. As such, they can offer extremely specific alerts and warnings about issues in different rooms around your house. If you live in a large house with several rooms and floors, then you should get a self monitored alarm system that can set up special alert zones.
Smart Home Integration and IFTTT
If you have a smart home, make sure that the self monitored alarm system is compatible with all your current smart devices. Furthermore, IFTTT integration will allow you to set the alarm in such a way that it interacts with your other devices.
For example, if the carbon monoxide levels increase past a certain level, you can make it automatically turn off the heating systems. If the motion sensors are triggered, you can automatically make the smart lights turn on to scare away potential burglars.
Frequently Asked Questions about Self Monitored Alarm Systems
The following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Self Monitored Alarm Systems.
Can additional members be added to the Alarm System?
Most self monitored alarm systems allow you to add several different members or devices into the system so they can all monitor the house together. However, the number of people you can add to the system differs for different companies. Most self monitored alarm systems allow you to add 5 to 20 additional users.
Is it possible to install separate security cameras instead of a single self monitored alarm system?
Yes, it is possible to purchase several separate surveillance devices and pair them together. For example, you can get separate motion sensors, cameras, entry sensors, and carbon monoxide detectors.
If you do this, you have to make sure they are all compatible with each other so they can interact well. This kind of setup is also more expensive and requires a high degree of customization and integration.
It’s a lot cheaper, easier, and more convenient to simply get a single all-inclusive self monitored alarm system.
Can the self monitored alarm system be added across various floors in a building?
Self monitored alarm systems can be added across various floors. However, if that’s your intention, you should go for a wireless self monitoring alarm system. You’ll be able to easily install them anywhere you want and they’ll interact wirelessly.
If you get a hardwired alarm system, you’ll have to get professional help to route the cables through different floors of the house. Not only is this a difficult task but it can also leave your house looking messy. Furthermore, if you decide to move any of the devices, you’ll have to again remove the wiring.
When you get a wireless self monitored alarm system, be sure to keep the base device in a central location so all the different devices are in close proximity to it.
I hope this article has helped you figure out which is the best self monitored alarm system for your needs. So you can go ahead and keep yourself and your family safe!