No Fee Home Security

Monitor Without Fees With DIY Smartphone Home Security

If you’re in the market for a home security system, you know it can be overwhelming. There are tons of different systems to choose from, and researching and comparing the features of each system would take days. I could write a book on each home security system, but who would have the time to read it? Instead, let’s break down the pros and cons of seven DIY, self-monitored home systems: iSmartAlarm, Piper NV, Scout, Canary, Nest Cam, Angee, and SimpliSafe.

1st Place iSmartAlarm
2nd Place Nest
3rd Place Angee

All Systems Compared

iSmartAlarm Piper nv Scout Canary Nest Cam Angee SimpliSafe
ismart piper nv Scout Alarm canary Nest Cam Angee SimpliSafe
Entry Level Package Name Preferred Package Camera Only Basic Bundle Camera Only Camera Only Camera Only Economy Package
Entry Level Price $164.99 $260.71 $319.99 $198.95 $185.00 $429.00 $259.95
Includes Siren Yes, in base station. Yes, in camera. Yes, in base station. Yes, in camera. No No Yes, in base station.
Includes Motion Sensor 1 Included ($36.44 Extra) Yes ($59.99 Extra) 1 included ($49 Extra) Yes Yes Yes 1 included ($29.99 Extra)
Includes Contact Sensor: 2 Included ($59.99 Extra) No ($39.95 Extra) 2 Included ($29 Extra) No No No (Tag Cost Unknown) 3 Included ($14.99 Extra)
Includes Key Fob 2 Included ($24.99 Extra) N/A 2 Included ($4.99 Extra) N/A N/A N/A 1 Included ($24.99 Extra)
Smart Home Automation IFTTT Channel Z-Wave, AllJoyn Certified, and IFTTT Channel Zigbee, Works with Nest, IFTTT Channel (Fee Required) Wink, HomeKit Coming Soon Works With Nest No Works with Nest (Requires Interactive Monitoring Plan)
Includes Smart Home Devices No (Smart Switch $39.99 extra) No (Smart Lock, Smart Switch, Dimmer Switch, Motion Sensor, Outdoor Switch $44.99 – Smart Bulb $29.95) No No No (Nest Thermostat $249.00, Nest Protect $99.00) No No
Voice Control Through IFTTT to Amazon Echo Through IFTTT to Amazon Echo Amazon Echo and Google Now (Fee Required) Potenital Through HomeKit, Coming Soon NA Yes No
Includes Security Camera No (iCamera KEEP $149.99, KEEP Pro $199.99, and Spot are extra) Yes No, Works with Nest Cam Yes Yes Yes No (Camera $99.00)
Includes Yard Sign Includes 2 Sensor Stickers ($14.99 extra) Includes a Window Decal Yes ($10.00 extra) Includes a Window Decal Includes a Window Decal Unknown 1 Included ($3.99 Extra)
Other Included Includes CubeOne Base Station Built-in Humidity, Temperature, and Light Sensors. Built-in sound detection and battery backup. 2 RFID Stickers, Battery Backup, Cellular Chip (Activated with a Fee) Built-in Air Quality, Humidity, and Temperature Sensors Built-in Sound Detection. Built-in Motion Sensor Follows Motion, Battery Backup Includes Wireless Keypad and Base Station, Battery Backup, Cellular Chip (Activated with a Fee)
Other Not Included Satellite Siren $39.99 Water Sensor $39.95, Range Extender $24.95, Smoke Sensor $TBD NA Canary Flex (Outdoor Camera $199), Flex Accessories Outdoor Nest Cam $199 NA Glassbreak Sensor $34.99, Smoke Detector $29.99, CO Detector $49.99, Panic Button $19.99, and More
Cloud Storage Or Service Plans Free Cloud Storage Free Cloud Storage Monthly monitoring and cellular backup available for $9.99+/month. Free Cloud with Option to Add More 3 Hours Snapshots Free with Nest Aware Starting at $10+/month Unknown Monthly Monitoring Available $15.99+/month
Other Equipment Package Options Deluxe $249.95, Premium $349.00, Guard $299.00, Protect $399.00, Shield $499.00 Piper Pro $389.99, Piper Ultimate $979.99 Customized Packages NA NA NA Starter $229.96, Classic $349.92, Master $449.87, Ultimate $539.85
iSmartAlarm Piper nv Scout Canary Nest Cam Angee SimpliSafe

1 The iSmartAlarm Home Security System

iSmart Alarm is a DIY security system backed by multiple home security cameras and smart home capabilities. It started out as an Indiegogo project and has turned into a successful self-monitoring solution. Through iSmart, you can build your system by selecting packages, security equipment, and the best camera for your home. Once you’ve created your ideal system, you can monitor it using your iPhone or an Android device.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 8/10 Cameras, Satellite Siren, Motion Sensor, Contact Sensors, Remote Tag, Smart Switch, Yard Sign
Notifications: 10/10 Push, Text, Email, Phone Call, Siren
Works With: 7.5/10 IFTTT which includes Amazon Echo
Professional Monitoring: Self-Monitoring Only
Amazon Rating: 4 Stars
PROS

  • Security Cameras with live video feed, HD recording, free cloud and local storage, motion detection, and sound detection.
  • 110 dB siren
  • Works with IFTTT

CONS

  • Hub requires a Wi-Fi connection and power source
  • Frequently a delay in the app causing a delay between command and action. For example delays when arming, disarming, and pressing the panic button.

2. The Nest Cam Home Security System

The Nest Cam was anxiously awaited by many. Nest acquired the popular home security camera company Dropcam. After the acquisition, they created Nest Cam as an attempt at a better camera. Though many were disappointed with Nest Cam, I wager that this is a case of great expectations gone wrong. It’s a good security camera. Good. The problem is that most of the really good home security features cost money. Using the camera without a monthly fee, you will be limited to viewing 3 hours of recorded snapshots. Without paying, you will not have access to activity zones, person detection, true cloud storage, nor will you have access to advanced motion and sound detection. You will get motion and sound detection, just not the camera’s best effort. The camera also lacks a siren, additional sensors, and battery backup. It records in 1080p, offers live streaming, two-way talk, a 130-degree angle, and night vision.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 4/10 Camera with built-in sensors
Notifications: 6/10 Push and Email (Phone Call and Text Alerts via IFTTT)
Works With: 10/10 Nest Protect, Works with Nest, Other
Professional Monitoring: Self-Monitoring Only
Amazon Rating: 4 Stars
PROS

  • Easy to Setup
  • You can manually or automatically arm and disarm using geo-fence technology.
  • Small design can be wall-mounted.

CONS

  • You can get continuous recording, video storage, face detection, and activity zones. But these features require a $10 monthly subscription to Nest Aware
  • Cannot connect to any external home security sensors. Lacks a siren and battery backup.
  • Without paid features (zones & person detection), motion alerts are unreliable, making it difficult to capture emergency events in real-time.

3. The Angee Home Security System

It’s impossible for me to hide my enthusiasm about Angee because it is a truly awesome security camera. The biggest problem with recommending Angee is that it’s not a reality, yet. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, Angee is being built, but no one has tested the device against the claims. Angee is what would be born if Amazon Echo and your favorite home security camera had a baby. A really great, superior baby. It has voice control, works with tags to protect your doors and windows, can automatically track movement a full 360 degrees, has smart zones, two-way audio, local storage, cloud storage – you name it, Angee’s got it.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 4.25/10 Camera with built-in sensors, Security Tag
Notifications: 6/10 Push. (Phone Call, Text, and Email Alerts via IFTTT)
Works With: 7.5/10 IFTTT
Professional Monitoring: Self-Monitoring Only
Amazon Rating: NA
PROS

  • Has four activity zones for a better motion detection experience.
  • 360 degree field of view that follows motion in a robot-esque manner.
  • Recognizes your voice, so it knows when you come and go vs. a stranger’s voice.
  • It’s a “learning” system that recognizes your patterns
  • Automatically arms and disarms
  • Can be voice-controlled
  • Has a battery-backup that offers ten hours of life
  • If Wi-Fi goes out, Angee continues to record clips and saves them to local storage

CONS

  • Lacks a siren.
  • Product is still being built, no one has actually tested it. (Estimated Ship Date October 2016)
  • Fairly expensive compared to other options.

4. The Canary Home Security System

Canary is a learning camera; the system can recognize the difference between common motion events and real danger. Though it doesn’t have any sensors of its own, it does work with Wink. Wink gives Canary users the ability to use the home security camera with their smart home. Adding a Wink hub will add to the overall cost, but from a home security perspective, it adds value.

Standing on its own, Canary has a lot of useful home security features. For one, it has a siren, but the siren doesn’t sound automatically, you must trigger it manually, something to be aware of. It also has temperature and humidity sensors that can send you an alert if your home’s temperature goes beyond what you’ve set as normal. Canary also provides a beautiful picture, limited cloud storage, and motion alerts. It records in 1080p HD, has night vision, and a 147-degree field of view.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 5.25/10 Camera with built-in sensors and siren
Notifications: 4/10 Push and Siren
Works With: 7/10 Wink (HomeKit Coming Soon)
Professional Monitoring: Self-Monitoring Only
Amazon Rating: 4 Stars
PROS

  • The camera “learns” what’s a normal motion or sound event
  • You can manually or automatically arm and disarm the motion sensor using geo-fence technology.
  • Storage of video clips on the cloud from motion/sound events lasts 12 hours (or purchase a monthly subscription for more)
  • Will call your local police department no matter where you are – saving you time in an emergency situation.

CONS

  • The camera always needs to be connected to Wi-Fi and a power source.
  • Equipped with a 90 dB siren, but it must be manually triggered by you.
  • No extra sensors of its own, must buy an additional Wink hub to expand your camera.
  • Still has some issues with false alarms caused by lighting changes.

5. The Piper NV Home Security System

Piper NV is an all-in-one home security camera. Though you can use it to keep your home safe without the need for additional sensors, it does support additional sensors. You can add contact sensors to monitor your doors and windows, a motion sensor, connect automated lights, door locks, and more. Integrated into the Piper nv you will find multiple home security components including a motion sensor, sound sensor, humidity sensor, temperature sensor, and a siren.

The camera offers 1080p HD resolution with night vision, the ability to watch live or recorded clips, two-way audio, and a 180-degree field of view.

From a home automation perspective, they offer an IFTTT channel so that you can connect Piper to your favorite smart home devices including Nest, Amazon Echo, and even other self-monitored systems like iSmartAlarm. Piper is also AllJoyn certified and can connect to LIFX light bulbs, Musick audio, and LG TVs.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 8.25/10 Camera with built-in Sensors and Siren, Contact Sensor, Smart Switch, Outdoor Smart Switch, Water Sensor, Range Extender, Smart Dimmer, Smart Bulb
Notifications: 10/10 Push, Text, Email, Phone Call, Siren
Works With: 10/10 Z-Wave, AllJoyn, and IFTTT
Professional Monitoring: Self-Monitoring Only
Amazon Rating: 4 Stars
PROS

  • The camera needs Wi-Fi and a power source, but does have a back-up battery.
  • Integrates with Z-wave devices for home automation and IFTTT

CONS

  • The system can be manually armed/disarmed from the app, but doesn’t automatically arm/disarm. The addition of Life360 does somewhat address this by sending you a reminder to arm Piper if you leave the house without doing so.
  • Though the camera records in FHD, the picture quality isn’t as good as other HD cameras.

6. The Scout Home Security System

Scout is similar to iSmart and SimpliSafe, yet different. First, where iSmart has multiple camera options, Scout doesn’t have a Scout branded camera. Instead, they’ve decided to work with Nest Cam. Second, the sensors have a more modern design, but they are also larger than the iSmart sensors. Scout is also like SimpliSafe in that it can be self-monitored or professionally monitored, but as a self-monitored system, it’s rather useless.

Scout charges for access to almost everything including access to their mobile app and notifications. It’s understandable that they charge for professional monitoring and cellular chip activation, but surprising that they charge for other features. If you do pay, you can add and remove service on a monthly basis – no contracts. If you want to add monitoring, this is the system for you.

Scout has both battery and cellular backup. Battery backup is included in the price, but if you want to activate the cellular chip, you must be willing to pay. It works with IFTTT, but can also play with Nest products beyond Nest Cam through the Works with Nest program, and it works directly with Amazon Echo. If you don’t want to use Amazon Echo to voice control your system, you can use Google Now with compatible Android devices, but again you must pay to access these smart home features. In some ways, these benefits are superior to the other systems, but requiring a monthly fee for basic features is detrimental.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 6.25/10 Hub (with built-in siren), Door Panel (with built-in siren), Access Sensor, Motion Sensor, RFID Sticker, Key Fob, Nest Cam, and Yard Sign
Notifications: 2.5/10 Push, Text, Email, Phone Call, Siren (Mostly Fee Based)
Works With: 2.5/10 IFTTT, Amazon Echo, Works with Nest (All Fee Based)
Professional Monitoring: Self or Professional Monitoring
Amazon Rating: 4 Stars
PROS

  • You can customize the system by buying the sensors that are most useful for your home.
  • The hub always needs to be plugged in, but offers battery backup.
  • Option for 24/7 Professional Monitoring or Activation of the Cellular Chip

CONS

  • The sensors are large and may not accommodate all window and door frame styles.
  • Scout has announced products multiple times and yet never produced them. This includes a video camera (though they went with Nest Cam), a takeover system, and a light socket.
  • True self-monitoring features like mobile app access and smart home control require a monthly subscription.

7. The SimpliSafe Home Security System

Another self-monitored home security option, SimpliSafe has glowing reviews and a loyal customer base. Like Scout, equipment can be purchased a-la-carte or in packages, allowing you to customize the system for your home. Also like Scout you can self-monitor the system or pay for professional monitoring on a month-to-month basis.

As a self-monitored home security system, there is very little you can do with SimpliSafe. It does not provide mobile app access for free. If an alarm event occurs, the system will trigger the alarm. If you are home to hear the alarm, you can call the police. If you are away? Hopefully, the siren will scare away the intruder. Without a camera and without a mobile app, sounding a siren is the only task SimpliSafe can provide without a monthly fee.

Getting Down To The Details

Security Equipment: 8.25/10 Base Station, Wireless Keypad, Entry Sensor, Motion Sensor, Glassbreak Sensor, Panic Button, Smoke Detector, Carbon Monoxide Sensor, Wireless Freeze Sensor, Wireless Water Sensor, Extra 105 dB Siren, Key Fob, Yard Sign, Security Camera, Some Plans Work with Nest
Notifications: 2/10 Test and Email But Only With Paid Plans
Works With: 1/10 Works with Nest (Fee Based)
Professional Monitoring: Option for Self or Professional Monitoring
Amazon Rating: 4 Stars
PROS

  • Option for professional monitoring. Base price is $14.99 a month (no push notifications or email alerts), adding phone control is $24.99 per month.
  • Works if power goes out (battery back-up)
  • It uses a built-in cellular system, but you must pay to activate the cellular chip.

CONS

  • Works with Nest is the only form of home automation and it requires their Interactive Plan
  • Recorded Video History is an Extra $4.99 per Month.
  • Mobile App Access Requires a Monthly Fee
2 replies
    • Danielle says:

      Get Kuna is a really cool camera. I’m not sure that I would classify it as a self-monitored security system, since it lacks the ability to connect to other devices and is intended for outdoor use, but it certainly has its place. Which style lantern do you own?

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