Monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems

When you want to install a home security system, you have two monitoring options. Self-monitoring and professional monitoring. Both come with inherent advantages and disadvantages and the choice between having one of the top home security companies monitor your system for you comes down to your specific situation. Professionally-monitored home security systems incur a higher cost but are more reliable. On the other hand, self-monitoring is a cost-effective option but one that comes with more disadvantages. In this article, we will be considering monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems and provide you with all the information you might need to make the best choice.

Monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems

money, representing the difference between Monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems
The difference between Monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems usually comes down to money.

For most people, the decision between monitored and self-monitored home security systems comes down to the associated cost. The fact of the matter is that the cost of installing a new home security system can be substantial, and monitoring only adds to it. But there are a few more differences that are worth noting. Let’s start by examining the pros and cons of monitored home security systems first.

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Monitored home security systems

These systems are being actively monitored by a home security company. In case of an intrusion, fire, or any other emergency, the team at the security company gets notified and they then relay the information to proper authorities.

Pros of monitored security systems

  • Convenience
  • Comprehensiveness

The main benefit that you get from a professionally-monitored home security system is convenience. By getting a monitoring service, you will not need to constantly look at reports, figure out what is a false alarm and not, and will generally have greater peace of mind.

Another advantage that monitored home security systems offer is that you get discounted, or even free, security equipment. This equipment will provide for far greater comprehensiveness and quality-of-life features. Many companies will offer you home automation services that will allow you to control the parts of the system such as lights, electronic locks, and thermostats. This will significantly improve your home security. But these features do not come for free, of course.

Cons of monitored security systems

  • Cost

The only reason why you may not want to have a professionally-monitored home security system is the cost of doing so. All this added convenience and comprehensiveness comes at a cost, after all. While the monitoring price may not be high, it is still higher than zero, which is exactly how much you will pay for self-monitoring. But if you can front the monitoring cost, there are no other disadvantages to having a monitored home security system. When it comes to monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems, the cost factor is usually the deciding one.

money box, representing costs associated with Monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems
Professionally-monitored home security systems cost more.

Self-monitored security systems

Self-monitored home security systems usually include a simple control panel, a couple of sensors, a few smoke detectors, one of the different types of home security cameras, and a siren or two. Most of today’s self-monitored systems are compatible with a smartphone, providing you with the ability to monitor them from “pretty much” anywhere. These systems offer a few benefits but they come with significant drawbacks. Let’s take a look.

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Pros of self-monitored security systems

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Portability
  • Flexibility

The cost

The most obvious advantage of a self-monitored security system is that you will not need to spend any extra money on monitoring services. Furthermore, even if you will be buying the equipment on your own (monitoring contracts usually come with free equipment), the overall cost is still going to be lower. This price can then be further reduced if you choose to install the system on your own. If you want to burglar proof your home on a budget, this is the best option you have. Do note that even though the overall cost might be reduced, your up-front costs will be increased. This depends on the equipment you want to install, of course.


iphone and wireless headphones
Self-monitored home security systems are highly portable.

If there is a group of people that are best suited for self-monitored home security systems, it would be renters. This is due to the fact that these systems are highly portable. When it comes to monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems, self-monitored systems tend to be quite small and able to fit into apartments, townhouses, as well as small condos. You may even want to brave the risks of DIY home security installation, as the systems themselves are usually not complicated to install at all. Even if you do encounter initial issues, they will be gone after you have moved the system a few times.


Perhaps the greatest advantage of self-monitored systems, aside from their cost, is the fact that you can upgrade or change your home security system at a moment’s notice. You simply do not have this option with professionally monitored systems. Or, well, you do but it is a very costly option and not one that you may want to explore. And there is no one that will put undue pressure on you (we’re looking at you, salesmen).

Cons of self-monitored security systems

Self-monitoring comes with quite significant drawbacks. Here are a couple of the most important ones:

  • You’re on your own
  • Possibility of an unreliable connection
  • No failsafe
  • Stress

There’s no backup

Controlling your own home security system means that you are expected to respond to any emergencies that might arise. Needless to say, they can happen at inopportune moments and you might not be able to respond immediately. You don’t get the luxury of having your home watched 24/7. The entire responsibility for that is on you. If you are unable to control your security system for any reason whatsoever, there is no one that can do it for you. And there are a lot of reasons why you might be unable to, including the fact that:

Your connection might be unreliable

person without internet
No internet = no control.

As long as your phone reliably works, your self-monitored security system will too. But what happens when you are out of reception range, or in a “dead zone”? Or if your phone crashes or its battery goes out. That’s right, you lose all the control over your home security system. When thinking about monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems, this is perhaps the greatest disadvantage to self-monitored systems, as you simply cannot know what is going on within your property when you are unable to use your phone.

There is no failsafe

Self-monitored home security systems do not come with a fail-safe code. This code serves the purpose to turn off the alarm siren and send a distress signal to whoever is monitoring the system. Now, you might be thinking that you don’t need a fail-safe code but what happens if a burglar forces you to disarm the security system? If you are on a self-monitored system, nothing happens, the burglar just gets all your stuff. But if you have a professionally-monitored home security system, you can both disarm the system and notify the authorities at the same time.

There is a lot more stress involved with the self-monitored system

Last, but not least, responding to an alarm is a very stressful experience. Whenever there’s an emergency, the best recourse is to keep a calm mind. But, as you might already be aware, this is usually the last thing that happens. Most people will experience feelings of panic when their home is getting robbed and their phone notifies them of it. With a professionally monitored system, you will get a call from someone who has emergency training and who will calmly explain the situation. Needless to say, the latter will induce far less stress.

Monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems – Conclusion

No matter where you live, having a home security system is essential. Monitoring, on the other hand, is a matter of preference and circumstance. If you are capable of monitoring your home security system 24/7 on your own, there is little reason why you might want to pay someone to do it for you. But the fact of the matter is that almost no one is capable of such a feat. Professionally-monitored systems offer far greater reliability, convenience, and comprehensiveness. But, when you get right down to it, your decision will be influenced by the cost. Monitored systems have a lower upfront cost and a higher overall cost. By choosing to go with a self-monitored home security system, your initial costs will be higher but you will be saving money in the long term.

When it comes to monitored vs. self-monitored home security systems, we tend to lean in favor of monitored systems due to the fact that they simply provide greater security. That being said, your choice largely depends on your circumstances and your financial situation. If you are a renter, for example, you may not want to commit to a monitoring contract. But if you are a homeowner, getting a professionally-monitored home security system might be in your best interest.

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