5 of the Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems with Cameras (2019) Buying Guide

self monitored home security system with camerasWhen our parents were young, they didn’t have to worry too much whenever they left the house unlocked after going out. But times have changed, and we now have to invest more time and money to protect our property. For the most part, the best self-monitored home security system with cameras should give us the necessary peace of mind.

By installing a quality home security system, we can get real-time alerts if there is a break-in. Additionally, self-monitored alarm systems can notify us of other safety threats. For example, some of them come with smoke and water leak detectors.

On top of that, modern home security systems are flexible. We can easily customize them by adding new sensors, cameras, and other devices.

To help you sift through all the options, I’ve created this simple guide. It should be a good starting point for finding the best self-monitored home security system with cameras.

But first, let’s go back to the basics of alarm monitoring. I’ll go over all of the things you’ll need to know before buying a home security system. Then, you’ll learn more about the features to look for and what to avoid. In the end, I’ll recommend some great products that just might work for you.

Final Comparison — My Top 5 Picks for the Best Self-Monitored Home Security System with Cameras

Prices accurate as of:

Buying Guide for the Best Self-Monitored Home Security System with Cameras

Smart home security app

The home security market is growing ever so rapidly. By 2023, it’s expected to be worth about 55 billion dollars. That growth is likely fueled by an increase in crime and the advancement of technology.

We now have voice control devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home that help us automate our homes. Almost all home monitoring systems are compatible with such devices. So, it’s easy to integrate cameras into our smart homes. That way, we can keep track of everything that’s happening in and around our house when we’re away.

Also, the best self-monitored home security system with cameras will have an alert system. That means it will usually come with sirens, sensors, and detectors.

But wait — all this time I’ve been talking about “self-monitored” systems, but I haven’t explained what that means. So, let me break down the difference between monitored, unmonitored, and self-monitored systems.

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Last update on 2019-09-17 at 16:40 / Affiliate links / Ratings / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Self-Monitored vs. Unmonitored vs. Monitored Home Security System

Home security alarmThere is a slight difference between unmonitored and monitored security systems. Essentially, it all comes down to who is looking after our house.

With a monitored system, we would need to hire a professional security company and pay a monthly fee for the monitoring service. The company would also install the monitoring equipment, and in most cases, we’d have to sign a contract. Then, if we wanted to get out of it after some time, we would most likely have to pay a penalty.

In contrast, with an unmonitored system, we have to do the monitoring ourselves, as well as buy the equipment and install everything on our own. Also, if there is an emergency, it will be up to us to call for help.

So what is a self-monitored system? It’s the same as an unmonitored system.

Benefits of Self-Monitored Home Security Systems

Installing the best self-monitored home security system with cameras has many advantages.

First, self-monitoring systems are usually easy to set up and maintain. We can add sensors, detectors, and cameras depending on our needs. In essence, creating a fully integrated home security system is simple.

Second, we’ll have complete control over our home security setup. There’s no need to hire a security company and spend a lot of money on monitoring services.

Also, the best self-monitored home security system will usually come with a mobile app. So, we’ll be able to watch what’s going on in real time. People who are often out of town will appreciate this feature the most. Moreover, those who have kids can keep an eye on their little ones from anywhere.

Finally, the ability to add more cameras or sensors in the future is, in my opinion, crucial. However, only the best self-monitored home security system with cameras will be scalable. The size of the home will usually dictate the scope and size of the security system. So, for some people, customization features will play an important role.

Related Buying Guide For Business Security Cameras: 5 of the Best Security Camera Systems for Small Business


Do You Need a Self-Monitored System?

Self-monitored security systems might not be the right fit for everyone. So, I’ll try to help you decide if going with a self-monitored system is the right call for you.

If you’re uncomfortable with installing an alarm security system, think twice about getting one. Since you’ll be in charge of everything, some technical skills will be necessary. Connecting everything properly is the key to getting the most out of the security system. Plus, you’ll need to program all the devices to work in sync, especially if you have a smart home.

If you don’t have time to keep an eye on your security system, it might quickly turn into a burden. If something goes wrong, you’ll get alerts and notifications. At the end of the day, it will be up to you to contact the police in case of an emergency.

If your self-monitored home security system doesn’t come with an app, remote viewing will be difficult. Installing specific software on a computer seems like too much of a hassle nowadays. Also, don’t forget that security systems need to be updated and maintained regularly. If something breaks or disconnects, you’ll have to fix it.

Lastly, know that insurance companies won’t offer you a discount if you have an unmonitored home. In other words, they don’t usually consider self-monitored systems for discounts. They often accept only monitored professional services. So, even though you’ll have a security system, it won’t help you lower your insurance costs.

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Features of the Best Self-Monitored Security Systems

Home Security Systems With Camera

Security systems are not rocket science. Most of them will have similar features and functionalities. But it’s important to check what features come out of the box. Some starter kits will include only the essentials that users can later upgrade.

Most home security system manufacturers offer monitoring services as well. These are a great option for people who might want to switch from self-monitoring to monitored services at some point in the future.

Needless to say, the best self-monitored home security system with cameras should come with many features out of the box. Let’s see which ones are absolutely indispensable.


Security Camera

Warning Sticker for Security Alarm CCTV Camera Surveillance - security camera drawing symbolFirst of all, the best self-monitored system should come with a built-in security camera. Still, some models don’t include it, so users might have to buy one separately.

It’s also important to note that most models come with only one camera. Those who’ll need more cameras should make sure their kit can support a multi-camera setup.

If the setup indeed has a camera, it should be able to capture images in HD. Also, users who wish to use the camera outside should make sure it’s weatherproof.

In general, the best outdoor security camera systems will be able to withstand harsh weather conditions. If the base station comes with a built-in camera, though, it’s meant for indoor use only.


Supports Smartphones

Touchscreen smartphoneThe best self-monitored home security systems should have remote-viewing capabilities. In most cases, the manufacturer will provide users with a free mobile app for that exact purpose.

Essentially, the app will work as a command hub of the entire system. It will allow the user to watch camera feeds, arm and disarm alarms, and receive alerts.

But not all home security systems come with smartphone support. As an alternative, the user will most likely have to install monitoring software on their PC.


Smart Home Integration

smart homeThe best self-monitored home security system with cameras should support smart home setups. After all, people who own smart homes usually opt for systems that they can control from one place.

Luckily, most modern home security systems work well with devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. They make it easy to automate mundane tasks. Also, users can control their home’s security system with simple voice commands.


Sensors

sensors laserThe best self-monitored home security system with cameras should come with some sensors out of the box. However, most models will only include the basic ones. If users wish to add more features to the system, they will need to buy more sensors.

Security systems usually come with motion detectors. In most cases, they will work in sync with the security camera. When something sets off the motion detector, the camera will start recording. If the system doesn’t come with security camera solutions, the motion sensor will trigger an alert on the user’s phone.

The best home security cameras will even come with AI capabilities that can differentiate people from animals. That could be a useful option since it could reduce the number of false alarms if there are pets in the house.

Carbon monoxide sensors are also quite common with security systems. Stoves, furnaces, and fireplaces are usually the main sources of CO in typical households. If the security system comes with a CO sensor, it will alert the user if it senses dangerous amounts of the gas. That option might save some lives since CO is odorless.

Some models can also detect smoke alarm sounds. If the smoke alarm goes off, the sensor will detect the sound and send a notification to the user. Still, note that a home security smoke alarm sensor is not a replacement for a real smoke detector.

Finally, the best self-monitored home security system with cameras should also have a glass break detector. The sensor won’t detect glass breaking per se, but rather the sound. So, when the user is away, and someone breaks a window to gain entry to the house, the sensor will recognize the sound and trigger an alarm.


Built-in Siren

SirenIf there is ever a break-in, scaring the burglar off with an alarm might be enough to prevent further damage. That’s why the best self-monitored home security system with cameras should also have a built-in siren. If the security system comes with a base station, the siren will usually be built into it.

Most often, the strength of the siren will range anywhere from about 90 to over 100 decibels. More decibels means a louder siren. Still, note that sirens found in most self-monitored systems aren’t loud enough to alert the neighbors.


Two-Way Talk

Two-Way TalkWhen buying the best self-monitored home security system with cameras, check to see if it supports two-way talk. It should have a two-way microphone and high-quality speakers. Note that some models come with that feature out of the box while others don’t.

Having the ability to speak through the system could prove to be important, especially if there are kids in the house. If there’s a problem, the user can get in touch with the kids right away and tell them what to do. If the microphone supports two-way talk, the user will also be able to hear responses from the other side.


False Alarm Prevention

False AlarmFalse alarms can create needless stress. If the security system is prone to sending false alarms, the user might not take real threats seriously. That’s why the best home security systems with cameras should have false alarm prevention features.

False alarms can also be costly. For example, if the self-monitored system falsely dials the police, the user can get fined.

But that shouldn’t be a huge problem with self-monitored alarm systems. They are designed to alert the user if there is an emergency, not the police or the fire department. In case of a fire or a break-in, the user will get an alert and decide if it’s necessary to call for help.


Types of Notifications

NotificationsThe best self-monitored home security system with cameras should be able to send alerts to the user if there’s a problem.

If the system comes with a mobile app, it will most likely be able to send push notifications. That way, the user will get real-time alerts directly within the app.

Some systems can send text message alerts as well. More advanced wireless alarm systems will even call the user in case of a fire or a break-in. For those who prefer email alerts, most systems support that feature too.

But there is an obvious downside to alert notifications. The user will always have to be connected to the Internet or have cellular reception to be able to get the alerts. So, phone calls and text message alerts might be a good fallback if the user can’t connect to WiFi.


Storage and Viewing Options

CloudLastly, when choosing the best home security system with cameras, it would be wise to check if it comes with a storage solution. If the system doesn’t come with a camera, storage shouldn’t be a big issue.

The best camera system will come with a built-in microSD card slot. That means the footage from the cameras will be recorded directly to a memory card. Still, since memory cards have limited space, there is a risk of recording over clips that the user might otherwise want to keep.

The second popular option is a DVR recorder and a hard drive. Some models will record the footage directly to a hard drive through a built-in DVR device. The hard disk will usually have more free space than a microSD card. In fact, if the security system comes with a hard drive, it might be possible to enable 24/7 recording.

Yet, the most popular option nowadays is cloud storage. Most companies offer it by default because it’s more convenient. But that option usually doesn’t come cheap.

Free cloud storage may seem ideal, but it practically doesn’t exist. So, the user will most likely have to pay for cloud storage each month. If the security system includes free cloud storage, which is rare, it’s bound to come with strings attached. Most often, the user will be able to store clips only for a limited time period after which they will get deleted.

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My Top Picks for the Best Self-Monitored Home Security System

If you’ve read the entire buying guide, you now have a better idea of what to look for in a good security system. All that’s left is for me to review some of the best options that are dominating the market right now. Who knows? Maybe the best self-monitored home security system for you is on my list too.

1. Abode iota

Iota All-in-One Security Kit | DIY Home Security & Smart Home Hub | Compatible with Alexa

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I don’t want to spend extra money on professional monitoring services. However, I also don’t want to bend over backward to set up my self-monitored security system.

If you are anything like me, then you might appreciate the simplicity of the Abode iota security system. Abode’s model might be the best self-monitored home security system with cameras for the average user.

Not only does this home security system look modern, but it also comes with many advanced features. However, to get a complete security system, you’ll have to buy additional devices.

HD Camera, Siren, and Two-Way Talk

The camera is built into the base station and can capture 1080p HD video. It starts recording when it senses motion.

You can adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensor to your liking. Since it has a wide detection range, you can place it far away from the entrance, and it will still work. Plus, the 93-decibel siren is loud enough to scare off thieves yet hard to hear from the outside.

This system also comes with a two-way microphone that allows you to talk to people in the house and check if there’s an emergency.

160 Sensors and Gadgets

Abode has a wide range of sensors that you can integrate into the system. Out of the box, you’ll get one door/window sensor and a key fob.

To create a more robust system, you can buy a glass break detector, more cameras, and water leak sensors.

PROS:
  • Plenty of add-on sensors and features
  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT
  • Easy 30-minute setup
  • Comes with a mobile app
  • A built-in backup battery that lasts for six hours

CONS:
  • The siren is not the loudest
  • Camera quality could be better
  • Only three-day clip storage


2. Ring Alarm 5

Ring Alarm 5 Piece Kit - Home Security System with optional 24/7 Professional Monitoring - No long-term contracts - Works with Alexa

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When I have to choose between two products, I like to pick the one that has lots of add-ons. Having the ability to customize the basic product is important to me, especially if I’m dealing with issues related to security.

The Ring Alarm system might be a good fit for you if you’re also into customization. Honestly, it could be the best self-monitored home security system with cameras and its own ecosystem.

This particular security system doesn’t come with many features out of the box. It doesn’t even come with home security cameras. Still, it integrates flawlessly with other Ring products to create a versatile monitoring system.

DIY Setup

The Ring Alarm system is extremely easy to set up. You don’t need to hire a professional, and you don’t need any tools. Everything could be up and running in mere minutes. On top of that, the basic kit contains only five pieces: base station, keypad, range extender, motion detector, and contact sensor.

Mobile App and Smart Home Integration

This alarm system comes with a custom app that will allow you to look after everything from one place. The Ring app has a great design and is easy to use. The Ring Alarm system also works with Alexa and can easily integrate into existing smart home setups.

Integration with Other Ring Products

The Ring company has a complete ecosystem of products that work seamlessly with one another. So, you can connect your alarm system with additional motion detectors, doorbell cameras, and other sensors.

PROS:
  • Modern design and easy setup
  • Custom mobile app
  • Integrates well with smart homes
  • The alarm is pretty loud

CONS:
  • Doesn’t come with a camera
  • Rather limited out-of-the-box features
  • Doesn’t support 3rd-party products


3. Arlo Pro

Arlo Pro - Wireless Home Security Camera System with Siren | Rechargeable, Night vision, Indoor/Outdoor, HD Video, 2-Way Audio, Wall Mount | Cloud Storage Included | 3 camera kit (VMS4330)

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Setting up a simple home security system shouldn’t turn into a wiring nightmare. Having lots of tangled wires around the house could be dangerous, especially if you have kids.

If you’re like me, you’re probably always looking to cut down on the number of wires and cables lying around. Arlo Pro could solve that problem for us. It might be the best self-monitored home security system with cameras that are conveniently wire-free.

This security system not only looks pleasing but also comes with many features straight out of the box. You can expand the scope of the entire system by adding more home surveillance cameras and even a doorbell.

Rechargeable Wire-Free Camera

Since the camera doesn’t have any wires, it runs on batteries that support fast charging. The camera captures video in HD quality, giving you sharp images. It also has motion detectors.

Smart Home Integration

The Arlo Pro security system supports smart home integration. Users can add a voice control feature by connecting Alexa to the system. Plus, it comes with a custom app that will allow you to watch camera feeds and control the entire system on the go.

Free cloud storage is included, but you’ll only be able to store clips for seven days. The system also has local backup storage.

Loud Siren and Two-Way Talk

If you’re ever away and need to talk to someone in the house, you can do that with the built-in two-way microphone. Also, you can scare off thieves with the 100+ decibel siren.

PROS:
  • Wire-free setup
  • Free cloud and backup storage
  • Supports smart home integration
  • Alexa and IFTTT support

CONS:
  • Motion detection can be rather slow


4. Canary’s 1080p HD Security Camera System

CANARY: All-in-One Indoor 1080p HD Security Camera with Built-in Siren and Climate Monitor | App Phone Motion / Person / Air Quality Alerts | Works with Alexa & Insurance Discount Eligible - White

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Up until now, I thought that the main purpose of security systems was to protect us against thieves. I had never heard of a security system that could check the quality of the air I breathe in.

Canary’s security system claims to do just that. So, I would say this system might be the best self-monitored home security system with cameras that can not just record break-ins but also monitor air quality.

The air quality monitoring feature is the key selling point of this security system. Even though some question the benefits of such a feature, I think it’s important. Wouldn’t you want to get an alert if the air in your house becomes unhealthy?

Still, that’s not the only reason I added this system to my list.

Wide-Angle HD Camera

This home security setup comes with an HD camera that is built into the base station. It has motion detectors and is equipped with AI technology that can recognize people. The system also comes with a custom app, so you can monitor everything remotely.

Siren and Two-Way Audio

The siren is 90+ decibels, which is loud enough to scare off robbers. Plus, the system supports two-way talk, which allows you to record sounds in your house or talk with people on the other side when you’re away.

Climate Monitor

The climate monitor is pretty advanced. It can track air quality, temperature, and humidity in your home. What’s more, it can detect gases and smoke, though you shouldn’t use that feature as a substitute for a real smoke alarm.

PROS:
  • Wide-angle camera
  • Instant access to emergency services
  • Custom mobile app
  • Easy to set up

CONS:
  • Unreliable WiFi connection
  • 24-hour free access to camera footage


5. Reolink Argus 2

Reolink Argus 2+Solar Panel | Wireless Rechargeable Battery-Powered Solar Security Camera for Outdoor Home Surveillance, 1080p HD 2-Way Audio Starlight Night Vision with PIR Motion Sensor SD Card Slot

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Some people might not want a full-blown security system. If that sounds like you, then you’re likely searching for a simple home surveillance system.

The Reolink Argus 2 home security camera system could be the right fit for you then. It will allow you to check in on your property without the hassle of dealing with advanced security features. In my opinion, it just might be the easiest to install and the simplest to use self-monitored home security system.

Compared to other home security camera systems on this list, this model is rather limited in the number of features. Overall, the camera will deliver reliable motion tracking and high-quality video. Since it doesn’t have any wires, the installation process is extremely simple.

Wireless Camera

Moving the camera to different locations will be a breeze because it runs on batteries. The device supports solar charging, but you’ll have to buy the solar panels separately. Also, the camera’s casing is durable and can withstand harsh environmental conditions.

Custom Mobile App

You can keep an eye on camera feeds through the app, but don’t expect many features. The app is rather limited in the number of options it comes with.

Local Storage

This camera system can record video clips directly to a memory card, but the card is not included. Essentially, this security setup is best for recording short motion-triggered clips. It’s not suitable for 24/7 recording.

Motion Detection

The camera’s motion detection feature is fairly accurate. It uses infrared technology to detect motion. As a result, it’s less likely to set off false alarms.

PROS:
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Solar charging
  • Solid video quality

CONS:
  • Glitchy app with few options
  • Doesn’t support 24/7 recording
  • No support for 3rd-party products

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So, Which Is the Best Self-Monitored Home Security System?

All in all, we’ve looked at some feature-rich security systems and some that are rather limited in that sense. Ultimately, choosing the best self-monitored home security system with cameras will depend on your specific needs. Some people like the option to add more sensors or cameras while others prefer to keep it simple.

In my opinion, the best self-monitored home security system with cameras is Abode iota. The main reason I think so is the fact that it can connect up to 160 sensors and detectors. That is a great option for people who want to extend and customize their security system.

On top of that, you get a camera, two-way talk, and a loud siren out of the box. It integrates well into smart homes and comes with support for Alexa and Google Assistant, among other things. Last but not least, it has a sleek design and is easy to install.

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