Home Alarm Kit

starter home alarm kit

A basic home alarm kit can be as simple as a keypad and a few door sensors

One of the greatest things about home security is how easy things have become. Twenty years ago, installing a home security system was a complicated job that could only be tacked by the pros, but today’s evolving technologies make it possible for almost anyone to secure their home. And home alarm kits make security even easier.

A home alarm kit is a DIY security system that bundles some of the most important and popular features into one purchase. You can also buy add-ons to your kit, so you can fully customize your system to your home’s specifications. The benefit of a kit over a piecemeal DIY system is in usability: instead of researching every, last component of a potential system, a kit lays the basic groundwork.

Remember, a home alarm kit is a DIY security system. It is not connected to an alarm company, so in the event of a break-in, no third party will be notified to call the police. Furthermore, these systems typically do not offer extras like flood monitoring or fire protection. They are economical, however, typically costing $50-$200 for the basic kit. And since you are not linked to a professional security system, there is no monthly fee.

Guide to Your Home Alarm Kit

fancy home alarm kit

A more comprehensive system adds extras, like window sensors, keyfobs, and a panic button

Basic Starter Package

Out of the box, your kit typically includes the following:

  • Keypad: Even the most inexpensive system will have a keypad, which is used to arm and disarm your system.
  • Door Sensors: Door sensors are the most basic security component but one of the most important, as a home’s exterior doors are the most common method of entry for burglars. If there are not enough sensors to cover each of your exterior doors, you’ll want to purchase add-ons.
  • Window Sensors: Some security kits also come with window sensors (typically, one to three). Windows are the second most common point of entry, and it’s a good idea to arm each of your ground-level windows with a sensor. Extras are almost always available for individual purchase from your kit company.

Add-on Components

With most systems, you can order additional door and window sensors to complete your system. Be aware that your alarm kit has a maximum number of sensors it can accommodate (usually 15-20, but more expensive systems may have greater capacity), so if you need more, you’ll need to buy an additional kit with keypad.


home surveillance system

Video security is available via a separate system that runs $150-$1,000+

Depending on the alarm kit you choose, you’ll have a wide range of accessories to add. Choose wisely, as these components can really add to your bottom line – doubling, tripling, quadrupling or more the original purchase price of your kit. Here are some of the most common extras:

  • Wireless keyfob (keychain remote)
  • Motion detectors
  • Vibration sensors
  • Wireless transmitters
  • Pet immune sensors
  • Glass break sensors
  • Silent alarms
  • Panic buttons
  • Computer locks
  • Shock sensors
  • Wireless sirens
  • Wireless emergency transmitters

Video Monitoring

Most home security kits do not include video surveillance (CCTV). However, video security systems are widely available online and in home improvement or electronic stores. The most basic system costs about $150 and includes only one monitor and one camera, while sophisticated systems can run $1,000+, have multiple cameras, backup video online, and offer other value-added features.

Pros and Cons of DIY Home Security Systems

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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