Pros and Cons of DIY Home Security Systems

by Erin Raub | Last Updated Mar. 4th, 2016

DIY alarm system

A DIY burglar alarm system can be expanded to meet your home’s requirements

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to installing a home alarm is often not the initial installation or equipment costs, but the recurring monthly fees associated with traditional alarm systems. (Learn more about how much home security costs.) Though these fees are not exorbitant – most alarm companies charge less monthly than what you’d pay for cable TV – they do add up to a few hundred dollars per year.

What you may not know is that today’s homeowners have a second option in their home security arsenal: DIY burglar alarms. These systems are similar to what you get from a professional security company bur with two main differences: you install your system (no technician available) and there is no company monitoring of your home’s security.

Pros of a DIY Home Security System

It’s Less Expensive
A DIY home alarm has most of the system components you’re accustomed to – keypad, door sensors, window sensors, and motion sensors – and still costs less than $200 for a basic system. That’s a one-time fee, so once you purchase your system, you won’t have additional alarm expenses.

It’s Wireless
Wireless alarm systems aren’t hard-wired into your electrical system, which makes them easier to install, expand, move, upgrade, and change.

It’s Portable
If you rent or might move in the future, a DIY system is easy to uninstall and take with you to your new location. This is particularly beneficial for renters, who otherwise might not have the option for an alarm system.

Online Monitoring
Many DIY systems offer “smart home” features, which means that via an online portal or cell phone app you can adjust lights in your home, change the thermostat, and perform other adjustments – including home monitoring (depending on your system).

Cell Phone Alerts
If your security is breached, your alarm system is connected via cell phone signal to call you – and anyone else you put on your call list. Generally speaking, you’ll be asked to record a warning message that will notify 1-10 parties of the break-in. (You cannot choose 911 as one of these numbers.)

DIY home security

Today, DIY home security is much higher tech than it once was

Cons of a DIY Home Security System

Add-ons Can Be Expensive
If you need more components than come with your system – for example, extra window sensors – you’ll often pay $20+ for each new component. That can get get expensive, considering most systems come with only two or three window sensors. If the ground floor of your home has eight movable windows, you might pay more than $100 additional for accessories to protect each window. The same is true for multiple doors and areas where you need motion sensors.

It’s Simple
Most home alarm companies offer security options above and beyond their basic package: battery backups, redundant alerts, pet-immune motion sensors, panic buttons, fire monitoring (with fire company alert), and more. A DIY home alarm generally does not offer anything beyond basic wireless security.

No Connection to Police
One of the biggest advantages to a monitored alarm system is that the police and/or fire company is alerted in case of emergency. This does not happen with a DIY system, which notifies you (and others you put on the notification list), making it your responsibility to decide on the next course of action.

Limited Warranty and/or Support

Once you buy your DIY system, you’re often on your own. The manufacturer may be able to answer basic questions, but you won’t be able to call for regular tech support, free equipment upgrades, etc.

You’re Responsible for Repairs

With a traditional burglar alarm, your alarm company will replace faulty equipment free of charge, or at least at a reduced cost. With a DIY system, if a component (or the entire system) fails, the replacement cost is yours.

Incorrect Installation

True to name, you’ll do it yourself with this system. Unless you’re a security professional, that increases the risk of incorrect installation of your home alarm system.

For more on DIY home security, check out these Expert Tips on DIY Home Security Systems

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  • Alex Schenker . 3 years ago

    You raise some great points, however you mention that a con to a DIY
    security system is that there’s no contact with police. This is untrue,
    some of the largest national home security providers (Protect America,
    FrontPoint Security, Life Shield, etc.) offer DIY systems that do have
    monitoring plans. More info here: Home Alarm Systems 101.

    Also, as a fan of your site, are you guys aware that has copied your article in it’s entirety? I noticed them mention your logo in the article, but that’s not going to get you visitors or search engine credit. If you approved this, you should at least request a back link to your site. If you didn’t approve it, ask them to take it down.

    Cheers and keep up the good work,

  • kimberlykurimski . 3 years ago

    Another pro is you don’t have to let a stranger in your house. No need for a professional to enter your home and later worry if he/she will return to steal something.

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