Monitored and Unmonitored Security Systems: What’s the Difference?

Safety Team
Updated Feb 19, 2021
3 min read

Home security is a primary concern for millions of people across the country. Estimates suggest that by 2023, shipments for smart home video doorbells will reach 5.6 million units in the United States. There are security solutions available for everyone based on their lifestyle, location and finances. 

Before choosing a home security system, you should decide whether you want a monitored or unmonitored system. Here some factors to consider to help you choose between a monitored or unmonitored home security system.

What’s the Difference Between Monitored and Unmonitored?

By definition, a monitored system means that professionals are monitoring your home. These professionals can send help in case of an emergency. Because real people are monitoring these systems, they tend to cost more than unmonitored systems. 

Unmonitored security systems are less expensive as there isn’t any manpower involved. Although more economical, unmonitored systems are not as robust as monitored systems. Monitored systems feature faster reaction times, which can give you more peace of mind. 

Monitored Home Security Systems

Monitored security systems have a team of professionals working in shifts to keep an eye on your home 24/7. If there’s an emergency, like a break-in or fire, the company can notify the police, firefighters or paramedics, as needed. 

The company can contact you in several ways to reach you even during power outages —  from text alerts to fixed-line calls. Agents stay on the call and guide you until help arrives.


Pros of Monitored Security

Monitoring is comprehensive

Monitored systems have professionals who keep an eye on your property 24/7, responding to every alarm and keeping you and your valuable possessions protected at all times.

Instant notifications

Monitoring companies notify you about any incident, such as a break-in, immediately. If the monitoring team fails to connect with you, representatives will call emergency services and take appropriate action.

Lower insurance costs

Monitored systems help you get lower insurance costs. Because a monitored house runs less risk of incurring damage, insurance companies offer discounts to people using monitoring services.

Cons of Monitored Security

Recurring costs

Professionally monitored security systems are often expensive. In addition to installation and equipment fees, they typically come with a recurring subscription fee. The equipment may also need maintenance and repairs.

False alarms

In case you accidentally trip the alarm or take too long to set it off once triggered, you might have to provide an explanation to authorities for the false alarm. Some home security companies and municipalities also charge a fee for such incidents.

Unmonitored Home Security Systems

Unmonitored security systems are also known as self-monitored security systems. A control panel and/or app allows you to manage the system. These panels may also be voice-controlled and connected to your mobile devices

Pros of Unmonitored Security

Unmonitored is economical

Unmonitored systems tend to cost much less than monitored systems since you can avoid the monthly monitoring fee. 

Easier to set up and operate

Unmonitored security systems are often made for DIY setup, which gives you the flexibility to configure it based on your needs. 


Cons of Unmonitored Security

Connectivity issues

There are many reasons you might not be notified about emergencies, such as a power or network outage. In either case, your house is vulnerable to theft and other unwanted incidents.

Less robust

Unmonitored home security systems are not as robust as their alternatives. While monitoring companies plan and install security systems with several failsafe mechanisms, unmonitored systems rely on your responsiveness. Any mistake in installation or alertness will leave your home vulnerable.

Needs specialized equipment for remote operation

You’ll need to connect the feed and alarm to your smartphone to ensure security when you’re not at home.

What Are the Most Important Factors I Should Consider When Buying a Home Security System?

You can set up a home security system with a wide array of devices in different combinations. When deciding on the kind of home security you want, you should consider the size of your house and your budget. The most basic home security devices include burglar alarms, motion detectors, glass-break detectors and cameras.

Security Cameras

Specialized cameras are available according to specific tasks, such as doorbell cameras and nanny cameras. Doorbell cameras typically record who’s at your doorstep and let you interact with them from a smart device. A nanny cam allows you to check on your pets and kids when you’re away.


Glass-break sensors and motion sensors can be installed to sound an alarm in case of an intrusion. A smoke or fire alarm is also a must to provide safety in case of a fire.

Mobile Applications

Smart security systems typically come with mobile apps that let you manage your home’s security, such as ADT’s ADT Control app.

Other Features

Your home security system should be easy to use and integrate with your existing smart home devices. You should also make sure that the system can be expanded and altered as needed.

If you think you need professional monitoring, make sure you know all the contract details, such as termination fees, installation costs and equipment rental options. Remember, professional monitoring is not a substitute for insurance. To get a fair idea of these factors, you should talk to several home security companies, but we curated a list of the top options to make it easier to find the right fit for your household.

Types of Home Security Systems Available by Company

  • Company, monitored, unmonitored
  • ADT, Yes, No
  • Vivint, Yes, Yes
  • SimpliSafe, Yes, Yes
  • Frontpoint, No, Yes
  • Blue by ADT, No, Yes
  • Brinks, Yes, No
  • Cove, Yes, Yes
  • Abode, Yes, Yes
  • Guardian protection, Yes, No
  • Link Interactive, Yes, Yes


Monitored or not, a security system is a must for the 21st-century home. There is no such thing as too much protection. It is easy to feel stressed out because of security concerns over your assets and your safety. Look for a monitored or unmonitored home security system to help you keep emergencies at bay so you can sleep peacefully.

Home Security Experts

Safety Team

The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.

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