Some Clients ask us if they can forego monitoring the alarm system, and just receive text and email notifications from their system.  This is called Self Monitoring.

Broadly speaking, security systems connect to the Monitoring station, or to you in one of two ways: via the internet; or via cellular networks.  See the post here on Cellular vs IP based Systems. The different methods effect the cost of self monitoring, so it’s helpful to understand.

Internet Based Systems

Security systems like HAI and ELK can connect to the internet for monitoring.  Because the internet is free, there are no monthly fees to receive text and email notifications.  However, it requires someone to manage the home network settings. These frequently need to be updated in order for you to continue receiving text email notifications.

Cellular Based Systems

Alarm systems like the popular 2GIG system use a cellular connection.  This is just like it sounds.  It uses the cellular networks, like your cell phone, to send text and email notifications.  The security systems require a ‘Cell Unit’ or ‘GSM’ provided by 3rd party companies like  It’s basically a SIM card, like your cell phone has, that we place into the Security system.

That’s what allows the security system to connect to you and communicate with you.  Because it’s utilizing 3rd party services like, and the cellular networks, you have to pay a monthly fee. Even if you aren’t having the system monitored, you still need to pay a monthly fee to receive text and email notifications.  Usually it will be in the $15-20 range.

Some Rule Breakers

Home automation and Smart Home platforms like Control4 and Savant can integrate with Home Security Systems, and provide self monitoring through the Smart Home app.  These are internet based systems, but still require the monthly fee.  Remember we said the internet based systems require regular updating of the network settings.

This sometimes creates a poor user experience, especially for Clients that aren’t comfortable managing their home network settings.  So companies like Control4 and Savant have set it up in a way that you don’t have to mess with the network settings.  But it requires a monthly fee.

Matt Montgomery, TYM, Salt Lake City, Ut

Matt has designed the audio/video and smart home automation systems for 4 Home of the Year Awards projects from Electronic House & CE Pro magazine, and 3 Mark of Excellence awards from the CTA™ (Consumer Technology Association), including  "Home Theater of the Year", and "Custom Smart Home of the Year". Watch Matt share his secrets on YouTube!

Matt is a Golden State fan.


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