What Are Your No-Contract Security Options?
Just sign on the dotted line.
The thought of committing to something for years can be scary. What happens if your circumstances change, you’re unhappy, or the product moves in a direction you don’t want? You might have an opt-out clause. Even then, you could be looking at a termination penalty fee.
In the home security industry, contracts typically range from 12 to 60 months, but the average is 36 months. That still locks you in for three years.
A contract isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. It explicitly defines what you are and aren’t getting, outlines the responsibilities of each side, protects both parties, and possibly even freezes the amount you’ll be paying for the duration of service. Many security providers are happy to finance and spread out the start-up costs for customers who commit to 12+ months.
But what if you just don’t want to? Or can’t, for whatever reason? What are your no-contract home security options?
DIY Home Security Systems
The home security industry is growing by leaps and bounds. The global market was worth an estimated $52 billion in 2020. This is predicted to top $82 billion by 2027. In the United States alone, it’s valued at roughly $14.1 billion.
With a market worth that much—and with such steady growth—there’s enough room for providers representing every tier and budget. That’s great news for frugal, savvy consumers. If you’re looking for no monthly fee and no-contract home security options, you’re spoiled for choice.
Here are some of the industry leaders.
Launched in 2013 and initially focusing on doorbell cameras, Ring was acquired by Amazon in 2018. It has since expanded its product offerings.
Choose from their extensive selection of doorbell cameras, motion detectors, window/door sensors, alarms, security cameras, and more. Build your own package, or go with a curated bundle to fit your needs and budget.
Because it’s now owned by Amazon, everything integrates flawlessly with Alexa, Fire TV, and the Echo Show (to say nothing of Google Assistant and other smart home devices).
You can self-monitor for free. That makes Ring a true contract- and fee-free home security service. At this level, you can receive alerts to both your computer and smartphone; watch in real-time via the customer portal, mobile app, or integrated smart device; and crowdsource security with the Neighbors App that connects you with neighbors, Ring users, and local police agencies for shared crime prevention.
You can opt in to one of three tiers of Ring Protect. Starting at $3/month, Protect provides important features not offered with the free plan. These include the ability to save video footage, digital backups, and 24/7 professional monitoring. Monitoring is only available with the Pro plan for $20/month.
Ring is one of the most popular no-contract security options.
SimpliSafe was founded in 2006 by a couple of Harvard students frustrated by the lack of affordable security options for renters. It’s widely considered a provider to beat in the subscription-free marketplace.
SimpliSafe is purposely easy to install. Plug in the hub, attach the keypad and sensors with included adhesive tape, and place freestanding cameras wherever you want coverage. The entire system is designed to be semi-permanent and easy to take with you if you move.
Select your gear from one of several bundles or build your own. Start with the hub and keypad, then add motion detectors, entry sensors, cameras, glassbreak sensors (unique to SimpliSafe), and sirens. For enhanced overall safety, you can also add smoke detectors, water sensors, and carbon monoxide detectors.
While there is a free service tier available, it doesn’t allow for much. You can livestream, but that’s about it. If you want to save video footage and video-verified alarms, you’ll need a monthly subscription. Those start at $5/month.
Professional monitoring is available in either the Standard ($15/month) or Interactive ($25/month) plans. Smart home integrations via Google or Alexa are only possible with the latter.
No contract, DIY, and portable? Yes. But SimpliSafe is very limited without at least the basic monthly subscription. As far as no-contract security options go, this might not be your best bet.
Earning the coveted Editor’s Choice award for 2021 from Reviews.org, a former ADT exec started abode in 2014 with other security and tech experts. Many think abode lives up to the hype of its pedigree.
Forgoing bundles in favor of customized packages, the abode system is built on gateways (hubs), accessories, and the mobile app. You select only the components you want and need.
DIY installation? Check. No contract? Check. No monthly fee? Check.
However, as with the other providers, abode offers subscriptions with better features and protection. The Standard plan includes notifications, home automation, and cloud storage for $6/month. The Pro plan adds 24/7 professional monitoring for $20/month.
abode stands out from the crowd in two significant ways:
- Provides more integrations than any other provider
- Offers on-demand monitoring for either 3 or 7 days at a time
If you’re looking for no-contract security options that turn your home into a smart home, you might like abode. But you should definitely consider upgrading to a paid plan.
The elder statesman of the subscription-free security system crowd, Vivint was founded in 1997. It has 1.5 million customers across the United States and Canada.
You won’t find their complete product and service offerings on the website, though. Vivint takes a different approach from the others.
You’ll need to call Vivint and speak to a ”Smart Home Pro.” They guide you through building a custom package and schedule a time for the professional installation. Vivint does not offer DIY products.
Besides standard doorbell cameras, entry sensors, security cameras, and 2-way audio, Vivint offers smoke detectors, smart thermostats, flood/freeze sensors, smart locks, and carbon monoxide detectors. You can control your system via the Vivint app, Smart Hub, or integration with smart home devices.
It’s possible to get a monthly subscription-free package. However, Vivint will aggressively upsell you to one of its paid tiers. Monthly service packages that include professional monitoring and home automation range from $30 to $45/month.
Vivint products are high quality, but you’ll pay a premium for them. Even by Vivint’s own admission, the system’s functionality is limited without a subscription package.
The Best of the Rest
Ring, SimpliSafe, abode, and Vivint are the brands you’ll encounter most often. They’re definitely not the only no-contract security systems. A few other options include:
- Frontpoint:: Smart home compatible, DIY installation, bundles and build-your-own options, geofencing, customizable notifications, and programmable routines. They offer a single subscription plan for $50/month that includes professional monitoring.
- Arlo: Bundles, floodlight cameras, doorbell cameras, and security cameras. Low cost, easy installation, and free video recording. Arlo Secure ($10/month) and Arlo Secure Plus ($15/month) increase functionality exponentially.
- Cove: No-tool installation and no contracts. A touchscreen control panel allows you to communicate directly with monitoring agents, should you opt for a subscription package starting at $15/month.
- Scout: Full range of products (cameras, sensors, motion detectors, doorbell cameras, and more) available in build-your-own or bundles. Fast and easy installation. No contracts. No hard-wiring. Smart home integrations. Optional plans start at $10/month or $20/month and include professional monitoring.
There’s a lot to love about living contract-free, but it’s important to read the fine print. The old adage “you get what you pay for” clearly applies to no-contract security cameras. They lack the features you need unless you’re willing to pay extra. Even something as fundamental as a mobile app is sometimes not included with the free tier. Ask questions and do your homework.
If you want a stronger, more secure solution, you’ll need a paid subscription with a contract. Deep Sentinel’s cutting-edge surveillance system is backed by a service agreement that’s shorter than the industry average. That way, you have the flexibility you want and the protection that you need.