Best Self-Monitored Home Security Systems

Our Top Pick to Our Bottom Pick

What sets our self-monitored security system reviews apart from others is that we’ve actually tested the systems. In fact, we don’t just test the systems, we live with them. At any given time we will be running a combination of iSmartAlarm, Scout, Nest Cam, SmartThings, Piper, Canary, and more.

Beyond hands-on experience, we look for a system that has all of the right components. While we love Canary and Piper, they fare better as home security cameras than security systems. A good security system will protect your home from the outside in. In order to do this, it needs components like door/window sensors, motion sensors, sirens, and add-on cameras. Also, it needs to be useful as a self-monitored system. What good is a system that doesn’t notify your phone while you are away? What good is a self-monitored system that charges for mobile app access? And what good is a system that locks you into one type of hardware? A good system will open the door to smart home capabilities and connect with other devices. These are just some of the things we think about when reviewing systems.

Through experience using these products and use of our DIY ranking algorithm, we’ve compiled the list below.

  • SecurityGem Tested and Approved
  • Speaks Multiple Home Automation Languages
  • Text and Email Alerts
  • Option for Professional Monitoring Via Scout Alarms
  • Geofencing
  • IFTTT Integration

SmartThings is a system I have been running for more than two years. Fair warning, it isn’t as easy to set up as Scout or iSmartAlarm. Scout and iSmart are both home security in a box type setups, SmartThings is a home automation hub. However, if you are the creative, tinkering type, you can do so much with this system. It connects to hundreds of other smart home and home security devices. It can also connect through IFTTT and Amazon Echo adding new possibilities and voice control. I love asking Echo to turn on my lights before I go downstairs at night!

The new SmartThings’ hub includes battery backup, the option to control your devices locally, as well as in the cloud, and expanded security camera coverage as well. Through a partnership with Scout, you can also add month-to-month professional monitoring.

If you are willing to put a little thought behind your system, SmartThings can be a ton of fun and it’s always been a reliable system for me.


  • SecurityGem Tested and Approved
  • IFTTT Channel and Works with Nest
  • Battery Backup and Optional Cellular Backup
  • Option for Professional Monitoring
  • Security Camera Coverage Via IFTTT
  • Voice Commands via Amazon Echo

What Scout does well is play with others. They had originally planned to create their own line of smart home devices, but as time went on, they started adding more and more “friends”. Scout works with Nest and it also works with IFTTT. Through IFTTT you can connect to a range of home automation devices including cameras, thermostats, locks, and even connect to other web-based services like Google Docs (log data every time someone enters or exits your home). One of my favorite features is using IFTTT and Scout to set up phone call alerts. There are times when a phone call is so much more effective than a push alert, and you can set a unique ringtone for all Scout phone calls. My other favorite feature is voice control through Amazon Echo. I can ask Echo to arm my system, disarm it, or even use voice commands to trigger a panic mode.

Like SmartThings, Scout offers battery backup. It’s nice to know that it has this added protection from power outages. And if you are worried about losing internet, you can pay to add cellular service to Scout which will keep it up and running even when power and internet fail. Finally, you can add professional monitoring as needed. The contracts are month-to-month so you can add service while on vacation, but cut service off as soon as you get home.

The one feature that Scout is missing is a true home security camera solution. While you can connect a camera through IFTTT, they do not have a camera that can be controlled within the Scout app. They say that have one that is “coming soon”, but it’s been a lot of talk and little action for a long time.

  • SecurityGem Tested and Approved
  • Full Home Protection
  • Video Monitoring with Free Cloud Storage
  • Phone Call, Email, SMS, and Push Alerts
  • IFTTT Channel

iSmart is another system I’ve been using for awhile. It’s so darn simple! Open the box, download the app, stick the sensors where you want them, and you have a home security system. The app is easy to use as well, with a primary interface that let’s you arm and disarm with a click.

iSmartAlarm is my go-to suggestion for those that are not overly technical and don’t care as much about adding smart home features (though it does offer security cameras, a smart plug, and IFTTT).


If you would like to compare these systems, checkout our compare chart here.

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