Frequently asked questions about home security system subscriptions
Do all home security systems require a subscription?
No, not all home security systems require a subscription. Many home security systems offer both subscription-based and self-monitoring options. Subscription-based plans typically offer additional features like professional monitoring, cloud storage for video footage, and smartphone app access. However, you can find DIY security systems that allow you to monitor your home without a subscription by relying on local alarms, notifications, and self-storage solutions.
Can I use home security without service?
Yes, you can use home security without professional monitoring services. Many home security systems offer self-monitoring options. With self-monitoring, you’re responsible for receiving and responding to alerts from your security system, such as notifications on your smartphone. While professional monitoring can provide an extra layer of security, self-monitoring allows you to use home security without a monthly service fee.
Is it worth paying for a home security system subscription?
Yes, if you want the most proactive home security available, it’s worth paying for a home security system subscription. The average loss from a burglary is around $2,600, and it would take you a few years of paying for monitored home security to spend that much—and no amount of money can quantify the other costs of a break-in, like your sense of security. The odds that a burglar might skip your home or get spooked by an alarm system is worth the cost to a lot of people.
But whether a home security system subscription is worth it ultimately depends on your specific needs and preferences. Subscriptions often provide benefits like professional monitoring, extended cloud storage, and access to advanced features. A subscription may be worth it if you want the extra reassurance that comes with 24/7 professional monitoring or require more extended cloud storage for video footage. However, if you prefer self-monitoring and have minimal storage needs, you can often use home security systems effectively without a subscription.
Is there a security system that doesn’t require a subscription?
Yes, there are security systems that don't require a subscription. DIY home security systems like Abode, Arlo, Scout, and ADT Self Setup offer self-monitoring options where you can receive alerts and control your system without a monthly fee. You can also consider building your own system with standalone devices like smart doorbell cameras, motion sensors, and smart locks that don't necessarily require ongoing fees. It’s worth noting, however, that video doorbells and other security cameras may require a subscription for cloud storage and other features.
What security system does not require a contract?
Several security systems do not require a contract. These DIY systems allow you to purchase and set up the equipment without signing a long-term contract. No contract also means you’ll be paying for your security equipment upfront instead of over time. Some popular contract-free options include SimpliSafe, Ring Alarm, Abode, and ADT Self Setup. These systems offer flexibility and usually have optional monitoring plans if you want the 24/7 protection of professional monitoring services.
What’s the difference between a home security contract and a subscription?
Home security systems traditionally had mandatory contracts that lasted around three years on average. Home security contracts include the cost of leasing or financing equipment and 24/7 professional monitoring. Contracts are still available and used mostly by professionally installed security systems. Contracts typically come with early termination fees and other penalties if you cancel.
DIY home security systems, like SimpliSafe, did away with contracts by offering security equipment you can buy outright and an optional subscription for professional monitoring. Home security subscriptions typically offer additional features along with pro monitoring. They are often available month-to-month, letting you start or stop whenever you want without penalty.
Do you have to pay a monthly fee for SimpliSafe?
SimpliSafe offers both subscription and no-contract options. While they do offer monthly monitoring plans with features like professional monitoring, cloud storage, and smartphone access, it's not mandatory to subscribe. However, SimpliSafe does “offer” its professional monitoring services for free for the first 30 days when you activate your system. We haven’t found a way to opt out of the free trial, so be sure to set a reminder to cancel it before it renews if you don’t want to keep it. SimpliSafe also provides a basic, free option that allows you to self-monitor your system and avoid monthly fees if you prefer.
Can I use ADT without a subscription?
ADT primarily offers professionally monitored security services, and ADT typically requires a subscription for its monitoring plans. However, ADT Self Setup (which is geared toward renters) allows you to purchase equipment and use it without professional monitoring. You can self-monitor an ADT Self Setup security system, or you can add on contract-free professional monitoring. If you opt out of monitoring, you won’t have ADT's professional monitoring services and emergency response.
Can you use Ring Alarm without a subscription?
No, due to recent changes in Ring’s plans, you can’t remotely arm and disarm or get push notifications without a subscription. Ring’s website says, “Ring Alarm and all Ring Alarm accessories require a subscription for digital notifications, in-app features, digital arming/disarming, and integration with other Ring, Echo, and third party products. Subscription sold separately.” On its own, the Ring Alarm system works much like a car alarm—sounding a siren and alerting those in the area to potential trouble. But if you’re not at home, it doesn’t do you much good.
Can you still use SimpliSafe without a subscription?
Yes, you can use SimpliSafe without a subscription. SimpliSafe offers a basic, no-contract option that allows you to self-monitor your security system. With this option, you can receive alerts, arm/disarm your system, and view a timeline of events without any monthly subscription fees. While a subscription provides features like professional monitoring and cloud storage, it's not mandatory to use SimpliSafe effectively. But keep in mind, that you’ll get to try SimpliSafe’s monitoring for 30 days for free when you activate your system—and we haven’t found a way to opt out of the trial. Make sure you remember to cancel it before it auto-renews at the end of those 30 days.
Can I use Blue by ADT without a subscription?
Blue by ADT, now called ADT Self Setup, offers both subscription and no-contract options. You can purchase ADT Self Setup equipment and use it without a subscription, but you won't have access to professional monitoring services without subscribing to one of their monitoring plans. Similar to other systems, self-monitoring is an option without a subscription.
What do you get with SimpliSafe without a subscription?
Without a subscription, SimpliSafe still offers essential features, including:
- DIY installation and setup.
- Arm and disarm your system using a keypad or mobile app.
- Receive instant alerts and notifications on your smartphone.
- Live monitoring of sensors, motion detectors, and door/window contacts.
- Local alarm siren to deter intruders.
- Access to live video feed from SimpliCam (if purchased separately).
- Ability to customize and expand your system with additional devices.
While a subscription adds features like professional monitoring and cloud storage for video recordings, you can use SimpliSafe effectively for basic security without it.