Features to look for in a DIY home security system

When shopping for a home security system there are many features to choose including smart home connectivity for automated routines and remote access via mobile app. Keep in mind that feature capabilities may vary or cost extra depending on the home security provider. Here are the top DIY home security features to consider:

DIY Home Security System

Home security mobile app functionality

Shop for a DIY home security system with a mobile app to control your security equipment at all times. With a mobile app, you’ll be able to receive instant notifications when sensors are triggered to immediately know about any potential dangers whether you’re at home or work. Using a smartphone, you’ll be able to disarm the security system, unlock your smart lock and see real-time security camera footage. Most DIY security apps also allow you to control compatible smart home devices from other brands without using separate apps to save smartphone storage space.

Environmental monitoring

DIY security systems connect to other home safety equipment to help keep a close watch on any dangerous conditions. Environmental monitoring automatically alerts you if the smoke detector senses smoke and if carbon monoxide (CO) detector notices rising CO levels. Some DIY security systems also offer temperature monitoring to alert you of unhealthy home temperatures. Additional environmental monitoring devices including flood sensors can help protect your valuables from damage.

Home automation

DIY home security systems are compatible with smart home devices from various brands. You’ll be able to connect smart home gadgets from other brands to connect to our smart home and security equipment for automated routines. You’ll have the option to purchase a DIY home security package that includes smart home devices or add on devices of your choice. Look for smart lights, smart locks, smart thermostats and garage openers for automated security routines.  


Top 5 DIY home security systems

Best for Creating a Smart Home

LifeShield

LifeShield

BBB Rating: A+


Starting at: $24.98/mo

Our take on LifeShield

LifeShield provides home security solutions for the DIY-er and individual who prefers professional installation. The company offers three home security packages; each package is equipped with the basics like the LifeShield base, an entry keypad, door and window sensors and more.

LifeShield is also a great option for customers who want to monitor their own homes. With self-monitoring, customers can keep tabs on activity in their homes at an affordable price and create their very own smart homes. Customers can also add 24/7 professional monitoring for as little as $19.99/mo. for the Shield Your Pad Package. Monthly monitoring costs increase with higher packages which include additional sensors, environmental detectors and more. Customers can also build out their own security system and pick out the equipment desired for their home.

Best Value for 24/7 Monitoring

Ring

Ring

BBB Rating: A+


Starting at: $10.00/mo

Our take on Ring

Ring offers complete security systems, video doorbells, cameras and more for your home’s protection.The base security system comes with 5 pieces: a base station, keypad, contact sensor, motion detector, and range extender. This alarm security kit has a retail price of $199.00.

Ring offers 24/7 professional monitoring for $10/mo. with the Protect Plus Plan and even the option for a discounted annual price of $100/yr. With this plan, you’ll also have access to motion alerts, live video, an extended warranty and a 10% discount off future Ring purchases. With Ring, you can also level up by integrating Amazon Alexa to control your system and other smart products like Ring’s Stick Up Cam and smart lights.

Best Customizable Feature Options

Frontpoint

Frontpoint

BBB Rating: A+


Starting at: $34.99/mo

Our take on Frontpoint

Frontpoint Security is a newer home security company, founded in 2007. Frontpoint is well-known for its modern equipment and home automation systems, as well as high-quality customer support.

All Frontpoint packages are customizable and include 24/7 professional monitoring with dispatchers ready to take action if needed. Monthly monitoring from Frontpoint starts at $34.99/mo. for the lowest tier plan and increases with more features. Frontpoint’s available features include home automation, live video streaming, sensor history and more. Frontpoint emphasizes their DIY installation options, which allow wireless setup and don’t require drilling holes in walls.

Best Technology Options

SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe

BBB Rating: A+


Starting at: $15.00/mo

Our take on SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe is known for its dedication to helping homeowners take control of their security. With award-winning home security solutions, SimpliSafe offers a number of packages that you can choose from based on your needs.

With SimpliSafe, you’ll purchase and own your equipment. Security packages range from around $229.00 for the basic, Foundation Package to around $489.00 for the more inclusive, Haven Package. The basic package features a base station, keypad, entry sensor, and motion sensor while the highest tiered package adds on a key fob, panic button, environmental sensors, and more. SimpliSafe’s DIY alarm systems also feature the option of adding 24/7 professional monitoring.

Best for Video Recording

Arlo

Arlo

BBB Rating: B

Our take on Arlo

Arlo’s aim is to help us protect the individuals and places that we love since we can’t be in multiple places at once. Arlo makes this easy through its home security solutions. The company has three home security packages. The package prices start at 179.99.

Arlo’s security system is self-monitored and does not come with professional monitoring options. You can, however, purchase an Arlo subscription plan that will allow you to view your video recordings so you can stay on top of your security. With Arlo, you’ll also receive motion alerts whenever activity is detected.

Compare the best DIY security systems

There are two costs to keep in mind before buying a DIY home security system – equipment and professional monitoring costs. The equipment prices below are based on a one-time purchase, and professional monitoring is based on monthly costs. Prices vary based on DIY home security plans and monitoring.

LifeShield
Ring
Frontpoint
SimpliSafe
Arlo
Price starting at $24.98/mo.* $10.00/mo.* $34.99/mo.* $15.00/mo.* N/A
Equipment starting at $331.91 $199.00 $528.93 $229.00 $369.99
Contract length No contract No contract 36 Months No contract No contract
BBB Rating A+ A+ A+ A+ B

*Price shown is for the provider’s basic professional monitoring plan.


Pros and Cons of DIY Security Systems

Pros of a DIY Home Security System

  • No installation fee: With DIY home security, you’ll be able to set up your security equipment yourself without hefty fees and hours of installation from a professional technician. Most DIY security equipment is pre-configured to simply plug-in equipment or stick up using adhesive and finish installation using the mobile app. Providers also offer ‘how-to’ videos and tech support to assist with set up.
  • Contract-free – Most DIY security providers offer month-to-month options for video storage and professional monitoring. But since DIY equipment is purchased upfront, most DIY security providers don’t require a lengthy contract for leasing equipment. You’ll also have the flexibility to change your monthly plan for storage and monitoring to best fit your home and cancel anytime.  
  • Security equipment savings – DIY security systems allow you to only buy the equipment you want. Some security providers offer popular packages but give the flexibility to choose your own equipment to buy what’s needed. And remember, with DIY security you can always buy more cameras or sensors to add later.
  • Easy re-installation – If you need to reposition sensors or cameras, it’s easy. Equipment is often installed with one screw, adhesive or plugged into a standard wall outlet to work properly. And if you move into a new home, simply pack up the equipment and reinstall it without professional technicians and fees.

Cons of a DIY Home Security System

  • Professional monitoring – Many DIY security providers don’t offer professional monitoring to watch over your home at all times. If sensors are triggered, you’ll receive instant push notifications, but emergency responders won’t be aware of any potential danger until you notify them.
  • Expensive upfront costs – Most wired home security providers include a contract to pay for leased security equipment and services monthly. However, most DIY security providers require you to buy equipment upfront without a contract, which can be pricey depending on your home’s security equipment needs. You’ll also want to factor in potential activation fees to get started.   
  • Privacy and hacking risks – Your DIY home security system will most likely connect to your home’s router or Wi-Fi to monitor your home and send mobile alerts, but it’s also easier for hackers to steal information if you’re not careful. Be mindful of encryption and any authentication steps to protect camera footage and information.
  • System repairs  – Most wired and professionally monitored security systems come with an extended warranty for the equipment. With DIY home security if a sensor is damaged or installed incorrectly you may be responsible for the repairs or replacements. If the equipment is faulty, your security provider may replace it on their behalf.  

DIY Home Security FAQs

What is a DIY system?

A DIY ‘Do-It-Yourself’ security system is hand-picked security equipment that works together based on home security needs. DIY security systems work just like traditional monitored systems, but connect to your home’s Wi-Fi and are easy to set up on your own. They come with only the security equipment you need and are expandable. Most DIY security systems plug into a standard wall outlet, use one screw or stick to sturdy surfaces using adhesive.

How much does a DIY home security system cost?

The cost of a DIY home security system depends on the company, services and your choice of security equipment. DIY security equipment can range from $150 to over $1,000 upfront depending on the products included in a package. As you factor in costs, remember you’re not leasing the equipment, you own it. All security equipment doesn’t have to be purchased at once, you can add more later. And it’s easy to self-install the equipment to avoid expensive installation fees and cut costs.

Does DIY home security have professional monitoring?

Most DIY home security providers offer monthly professional monitoring for agents to watch after your home at all times. When a home security system is professionally monitored, a specialist from the monitoring company is ready to respond when sensors are triggered.  If any activity triggers the alarm, a professional will attempt to contact you and alert emergency responders to your home. The cost of professional monitoring may range from $10/mo. up to $50/mo. Depending on the home security plan and provider, you can opt for monitoring through cellular, broadband, or landline connection.

What equipment is included?

Most DIY home security packages come with a basic set of equipment. Typically, most DIY home security packages include a control panel to manage all equipment, motion sensors, and door or window detectors. Additional equipment such as indoor and outdoor cameras, smart locks and other security equipment can be purchased at an additional cost.

Is the equipment easy to install? 

Most DIY security system equipment is easy to install in just a few minutes using a smartphone. Set up is easy using adhesive backing or plugging into a standard wall outlet. Some systems come pre-configured with all of the settings you need to have home security right out of the box.

Do I want remote access to my security system from my smartphone?

Depending on the smart home gadgets you have, you may want to make the most of their use by connecting them to your security system. Some DIY systems and smart home equipment connect to create automated routines just in case you forget. You’ll be able to automatically schedule when lights turn on and automatically lower your home’s temperature when leaving for work. Some security equipment comes with built-in voice assistants to control using voice commands and by mobile app.

Is a DIY security system right for me?

If you’re looking to save money in the long run and want more flexibility without a long-term contract consider DIY security. You’ll have ownership of the security equipment without the added costs of installation and hefty contract fees. And if you plan on moving, you’ll have a simpler set-up on your time, your way. Each home has varying security needs, so be sure to pick a provider and plan that works best for you.