Best Self-Monitored Security System: Canary vs Piper vs iSmartAlarm vs Novi vs Ring vs Nest Secure & More!

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iSmart Alarm logo
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Ring logo

There are two types of home security systems prevalent on today’s market: those with professional monitoring (by a central monitoring station), and those that are self-monitored (by you and your network of contacts). The former typically includes a fairly steep ($30-$75) monthly fee to cover the cost of the monitoring station, while with the latter you typically only pay for the equipment.

Don’t want this added expense of monthly monitoring? Worried about false alarms and getting fined by your city? We hear ya! These are a few of the reasons that self-monitored security systems have become so intriguing.

Self-monitored systems put you in control of your system, and you have access to cutting edge “smart” technology that you can control from your smartphone. With these DIY (do it yourself) security systems you’re in charge of when the authorities are called to your home and how you secure your home.

Article Overview

101 On DIY Home Security Systems

First, some background on the terminology that gets thrown around, and which we occasionally use interchangeably:

  • DIY can apply to any system, pro or self-monitored, that you can install without the assistance of a professional installer. The advantage here is that you typically know your home better than anyone, and can probably do a better job. You’ll see, it’s easy!
  • Wireless – Your home security system devices (also called sensors), are installed via sticky adhesives instead of having to drill and hardwire them in (something that’s a pain should you ever decide to move – with wireless home security, moving your system is easy (and free)).
  • WiFi/broadband – A security system that runs over your home WiFi or broadband network (i.e., it will need to connect to the internet).
  • Cellular – a security system that runs over a cell network, similar to your smartphone. Sometimes security systems use both WiFi and cellular.
  • Landline – a security system that runs over your telephone line. This typically only applies to older, professionally monitored systems.
  • Z-wave technology – a standard that allows smart home devices (think door locks, lights, thermostat, etc.) to be powered by and compatible with your home security system.

All In One vs Separate Component Systems

When you think of a security system, you probably think of a base unit with separate sensors (door, window, motion, etc.) like iSmartAlarm and Ring. While some of these systems are designed this way, others are “all in one,” meaning they are a single unit device with all the sensors built-in to it.

For example, Canary, Novi and Piper (all reviewed in this article) are lone devices that include motion sensor and video footage. There are no door/window sensors that need to be installed. We will discuss more of this in each products’ individual review, but we wanted to give you a “heads up” on what to expect as you learn about each companies’ offerings.

What’s So Great About Self-Monitored?

Here are a few important things you should know about self-monitored home security systems before purchasing one:

  • There are no monthly contracts – that means you will not have to pay a fine if you cancel after a few months or years. This is similar to the “contract” you enter into with your cable television provider, for example.
  • All of the systems mentioned in this article are self-monitored. That means you, or someone in your network of contacts, is in charge of contacting the appropriate authorities if your alarm is triggered.
  • The only additional fee you may have (depending on the company you choose) is for cloud storage video recording. This fee pays for space on the cloud where your video camera footage and the activity noted by your sensors are saved.
  • No drilling into your walls, typically. Everything is plug and play or peel and stick. Some devices may have mounts that require some drilling.

iSmartAlarm Review

iSmartAlarm#1

View on Amazon | Visit Website

iSmartAlarm sent us a system to test out in exchange for an unbiased review. We tested iSmartAlarm in January 2015 and were overall pleased with its performance. The installation process was easy except for the iCamera KEEP. Fortunately, customer service helped us through it.

Overall, we had a great experience with customer service. We did initially have to contact them more than we wanted to, but they always answered our questions, had short wait times and helped us learn more about the system. Their equipment isn’t the most attractive, but it performs well.

Since testing the system a couple years ago, the equipment hasn’t changed aesthetically or performance wise. Home security is constantly evolving and the fact that iSmartAlarm hasn’t changed much the past couple of years is a bit disappointing since we think there are a few things they could improve on. That being said, there are numerous DIY home security systems on the market, but only a handful of reliable ones. iSmartAlarm is definitely one of the more reliable ones, which is one of the reasons we’ve chosen it as our best DIY security system.

Pros

Cons

  • Great customer service
  • Android and iOS apps
  • Audio detection for alarms (e.g. CO detector, smoke alarm, etc.)
  • Add emergency contacts
  • Email, phone and help center support
  • Great equipment quality
  • Cameras perform well and have night vision
  • Key fob is pretty handy and works within 30 feet
  • Easy and fast installation
  • Inexpensive home security option
  • Delayed notifications
  • No backup source
  • Inside only
  • Spot camera, when used as a baby monitor, has been known to trigger false alerts

Pricing

  • iCamera Keep – $79.95
  • iCamera Keep Pro – $112.37
  • Spot –$69.95
  • Keypad – Out of stock
  • Motion Detector – $24.97
  • Door/Window Sensor (two-pack) – $42.04
  • Smart Switch – $29.99
  • Preferred – $159.99 (includes 1 CubeOne (the brain of the system with siren built-in), 2 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags)
  • Deluxe – $138.04 (includes 1 CubeOne, 4 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags)
  • Premium Package (Video Camera Bundle) – Out of stock (includes 1 CubeOne, 1 iCamera Keep, 2 contact sensors, 1 motion sensor, 2 remote tags)

Coupon Code

iSmartAlarm savings vary based on the season so click this link to make sure you get the best deal.

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • Night vision
  • 110 dB siren

Read our in-depth iSmartAlarm Review

Canary Review

Canary All In One#2

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Canary is an all-in-one system and has 3 devices from which to choose, Canary All-In-One, Canary Flex and Canary View. These can be connected on the same account (up to a total of 4 connected devices).

Canary All-In-One is the original Canary device that has a manual siren and home health sensors (temperature and humidity levels). Canary View is nearly identical to the All-In-One except it does not have a siren or home health sensors. The Flex varies more since it can be used inside or outside, but it does not have a siren to help scare off intruders either. All cameras do have two-way talk, which could be used for that purpose.

The Canary Flex is a great solution as an outdoor and indoor security camera. We recommend one of the Canary All-In-One devices and adding on Canary Views to cover other areas of your home. This allows you to have a siren that you can manually activate.

Pros

Cons

  • Canary Cloud offers access to events from the past 24 hours for free, and you can bookmark up to 5 videos
  • Great customer service, according to online reviews we’ve read
  • Ability to add emergency contacts
  • Air quality, temperature and humidity sensor (Canary All-In-One only)
  • Android and iOS app
  • 60-day money back guarantee
  • Canary Flex can be used indoors and outdoors
  • Can only connect up to 4 devices on the free Canary Cloud membership plan
  • Some video lag
  • Flex and View do not monitor air quality and have no siren

Pricing

  • Canary All-In-One: $98.00
  • Canary All-In-One (2 pack): $249.95
  • Canary View: $74.00
  • Canary Flex: $139.00
  • Free shipping
  • Canary Cloud
    • Free Access: 1-day storage of 10-second video previews for up to 4 devices
    • Membership: 30-day storage of full-length videos for $9.99/month or $99/year for unlimited devices

Coupon Code

Canary products are generally discounted from MSRP on Amazon.

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty (2-years for devices with cloud membership)
  • 1080p HD camera
  • Canary All-In-One and View field of view: 147° wide-angle lens
  • Canary Flex field of view: 116° wide-angle lens
  • Night vision
  • 90+ dB siren (Canary All-In-One only)

Read our in-depth Canary Review

Ring Alarm Review

Ring Alarm#3

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Ring has some pretty cool equipment. Known for its video doorbells, Ring also offers outside security cameras for you to choose from. However, most recently, Ring launched its Alarm Security Kit, which includes a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector and range extender.

Ring lets you sync all of your equipment together so you can watch for any suspicious activity around your home. So, if you purchase a Ring security system and the Ring Doorbell, you can access it all within one app. The only “downside” is that the security system is brand new (launched in July 2018), so we can’t attest to its performance.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to customize
  • Attractive equipment
  • If your equipment is stolen, Ring will replace it for free
  • Android and iOS app
  • Indoor and outdoor cameras available
  • Reports of excellent customer service according to customers
  • Cannot add emergency contacts

Pricing

  • Ring Alarm – $199.00
  • Protect Basic (optional cloud recording) – $30/year or $3/month, per camera
    • Includes 60 days of cloud storage
    • Ability to share videos and save events

If you opt not to get a cloud recording plan, you still get instant alerts, can stream video and audio, can watch live view and have lifetime theft protection.

The following are optional add-ons.

  • Contact Sensor (2 pack) – $39.99
  • Motion Detector – $29.99
  • Keypad – coming soon
  • Range Extender – $25 coming soon
  • Smoke/CO Alarm – $40 coming soon
  • Flood & Freeze Sensor – $35 coming soon
  • Smoke & CO Listener – $35 coming soon
  • Dome Siren – $30 coming soon

Coupon Code

There are no Ring security coupons available.

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • 110 dB siren
  • 24-hour battery backup for base station and range extender
  • Z-Wave connectivity up to 250-feet from base station
  • Range extender adds an additional 250-feet
  • Approximately 3-year battery life for contact sensors, motion detectors

Read our in-depth Ring Doorbells Review

Best DIY Home Security System Comparison Table

 1st: iSmartAlarm2nd: Canary3rd: RingAbodeNest SecureNoviPiper NVSkylinkNet
1st: iSmartAlarm2nd: Canary3rd: RingAbodeNest SecureNoviPiper NVSkylinkNet
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
View on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonN/AView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website
System Price$129.99$119.95$199.00$229.00$399$274.99 Out of stock$135.59
Power SourceAC/DC Wall AdapterAC/DC Wall Adapter or Rechargeable BatteryAC/DC Wall Adapter or Rechargeable BatteryAC/DC Wall AdapterAC/DC Wall AdapterBatteryAC/DC Wall AdapterAC/DC Wall Adapter
Backup SourceNoneRechargeable BatteryNoneBatteryBatteryNone3AA BatteriesBattery
Motion-Activated CameraCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
IndoorCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
OutdoorCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Warranty1 year1 year (2 years if you purchase Cloud membership)1 year1 year2 years1 year limited1 year limited1 year
Field of View350° x 40° pan and tilt (iCamera KEEP Pro)147° wide-angle lens140°Depth 152°, Horizontal 127°, Vertical 67°130°170°180° DiagonalIndoor: Pan 355° & tilt 120°
Outdoor: Not specified
Night VisionCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Siren110 dB90+ dB110 dB93 dB85 dB90 dB105 dB110 dB
Two-Way TalkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Key FobCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Motion DetectorCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Smoke AlarmCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Entry SensorCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Smart PlugCheckmark
Range ExtenderCheckmark
Video DoorbellCheckmark
Smart ThermostatCheckmark
Z-Wave, Zigbee, Insteon CompatibilityZ-WaveZ-Wave & ZigbeeZ-Wave
Read ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead ReviewRead Review
View on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonView on AmazonN/AView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon
Visit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit WebsiteVisit Website

Abode Review

Abode EssentialsView on Amazon | Visit Website

Abode’s starter kit includes 1 Gateway, 1 mini door/window sensor, 1 remote keyfob and 1 motion sensor. You can also connect lights, door locks, thermostats, garage door openers and other home automation devices to your system from other companies like Echo, Nest, Philips Hue, First Alert and more. Abode has a modern, sleek look, but can get a little more expensive than our top 3 picks.

Pros

Cons

  • Battery backup (cellular backup available for additional fee)
  • IFTTT capabilities
  • Compatible with Alexa and other home automation devices
  • Easy to use
  • Little customer feedback online
  • Limited customer support
  • Complaints of camera footage being low resolution

Pricing

Monitoring Plans

  • Basic: Free self monitoring
  • Connect: $10/month for cellular backup

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • 1080p HD camera
  • Night vision
  • 93 dB siren

Nest Secure Review

Nest SecureVisit Website

Nest Secure has an attractive system at a higher price. Nest (owned by Google) is known for providing quality equipment that is easy to install. Where we’re disappointed is that there is no stand alone motion detector. The Nest Guard, which is the keypad for the security system, includes a motion sensor but you can’t add-on individual motion sensors beyond that. We feel that this is a basic piece of equipment that should be offered by security companies.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to install
  • Stylish design
  • No motion detectors
  • More expensive than others in this article
  • Doesn’t integrate with as many devices as competitors

Pricing

  • $399

Tech Specs

  • 2-year warranty
  • 1080p HD camera
  • Night vision
  • 85 dB siren

Novi Review

NoviView on Amazon | Visit Website

Novi was previously in our top 3 but has since been removed because other companies have evolved and created new products while Novi has been rather stagnant. However, we still think Novi is among the best DIY security systems.

The Novi camera attaches to your ceiling and can only be used inside. It is a lone device as well, similar to Canary. What makes it stand out from the competition is that inside each camera is also a smoke detector. So, instead of having multiple things attached to your ceiling, Novi can cut that number in half. The downside is, it takes only photos, not video, but you can take as many photos as you want with Novi.

Pros

Cons

  • Battery lasts 1 year
  • No wires or power cord
  • Android and iOS app
  • Add emergency contacts
  • Adjust motion sensitivity
  • Photoelectric smoke detector in every sensor
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Doesn’t take video, takes photos instead
  • Inside only
  • Not much feedback online from customers
  • No backup
  • Firmware problems in the past

Pricing

Coupon Code

There are no Novi security coupons available.

Tech Specs

  • 1-year limited warranty
  • 720p HD camera
  • Night vision
  • 90 dB siren

Piper NV Review

Piper NVView on Amazon | Visit Website

Piper NV was previously in our top 3 for best DIY security system, but, similar to Novi, it was bumped out due to other companies releasing more current products. Piper is a lone device that monitors video, temperature, light and humidity. It does not have separate components like iSmartAlarm, Ring or what you’d consider a typical security system to have.

What makes it great? It’s easy to install, offers two-way audio and has decent customer service. It is one of the few self-monitored systems that supports Z-Wave technology. What does it lack? This camera can only be used inside, and it is not weatherproof. There are also reports of this camera malfunctioning and the software lacking functionality.

Pros

Cons

  • Motion detection activated
  • View video remotely on iOS and Android
  • Two-way audio
  • Temperature, light, humidity sensor
  • Easy installation
  • Piper does a good job responding to Amazon reviews
  • Battery backup
  • Supports Z-Wave
  • Indoor only
  • Reports of some cameras malfunctioning
  • Software could be improved
  • Video is a little shaky

Pricing

Coupon Code

There are no Piper security coupons available.

Tech Specs

  • 1-year limited warranty
  • HD camera
  • Field of view: 180° diagonal
  • Night vision
  • 105 dB siren

SkylinkNet Review

SkylinkView on Amazon | Visit Website

I tested SkylinkNet out in 2015 and my experience was less than stellar. I experienced a lot of problems while trying to configure the settings. Small tasks like opening the back of a motion sensor were frustrating and took way longer than they should. Since testing out Skylink, the equipment hasn’t changed much, so we doubt this system deserves reconsideration at this time. Not to mention their website, at time of writing, doesn’t use a secure protocol (SSL), which in this day and age is unusual for a security company.

Pros

Cons

  • One of the least expensive options
  • Customizable
  • Equipment feels cheap
  • Directions are lacking some detail
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Batteries are not included

Pricing

Tech Specs

  • 1-year warranty
  • 720p HD camera
  • Field of view: pan 355° & tilt 120°
  • Night vision
  • 110 dB siren

Redefining Home Security With DIY Wireless Home Security Systems

More and more people are moving towards DIY solutions because they not only cover home security, but they also include home automation controls. The cost of a security system is much less than the cost of being burglarized. A home invasion is estimated to cost victims about $20,000. That includes items stolen and need replacing as well as criminal justice fees.

Don’t forget about the emotional toll it can take your family and you on. Having a burglar enter your home and ransack it doesn’t only create physical damage but it also makes you feel less safe at home. Help your family feel safe today, and find out why these solutions are gaining popularity.

Compare Other Security Cameras

You can add more security to your home by installing home security cameras. Take a look at the best WiFi security cameras and best CCTV systems on the market today. We recommend installing cameras near every entrance of your home, including front doors, back doors, patio doors and garages.

What elements are important to you in a home security system?

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Kimberly researches everything before she buys. She wants to make sure she is getting the best bang for her buck by purchasing the best product/service, which is why she loves her work. She has a degree in Multimedia Journalism and has been researching and writing professionally since 2013 to help consumers make more educated decisions.

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Virgie
What about the new Nest security system that just came out?
Guest
I’ve been looking to switch to DIY self monitoring from monitored security because we moved to a place that’s more secure and I don’t see the need to pay a lot for the extra protection but do like to have peace of mind. Anyone have experience with any of these top companies that can help make my decision easier?