Many people are turning to DIY security systems because of the price and advancing technology, but not everyone may be tech-savvy enough or want to monitor their properties. We've done the research about the variety of options, pros and cons, and what you need to know if you're thinking about DIY security so you can make the right decision to protect your home.
Is a DIY Security System Right For You?
Is a DIY Home Security System Right For You?
Creating a home security system on your own brings images of power tools and sawdust to mind. But modern home security has expanded over the last few years, and now most home security installations can be performed fairly painlessly and without any drilling.
Recent advances in smart home technology makes it easier than ever for home security novices to have everything they need right at their fingertips. But traditional subscription services for home security still hold a few advantages over their DIY counterparts. Which system works best usually depends on the home and what features are needed to secure it properly.
What are the differences between professional installation/monitoring and DIY?
In the past, comprehensive home security could only be achieved through professional installation. The DIY option would usually be considered a bad idea for anyone but the most technologically-inclined. Now the difference between the two options is mostly time and money.
DIY home security systems are generally less expensive than professional installations because the homeowner is doing the work themselves. Although it takes more time, it also gives the home security system a personal touch, and no one is more concerned about a home’s security than the person living there.
Despite innovations in DIY security, anyone installing their own system will need to be somewhat tech-savvy. A professionally installed security system can be a relief for homeowners who aren’t sure which way to go on the technology that’s needed for adequate security.
Anyone who’s renting and interested in home security should probably look into DIY security first, as professional installation may not be a viable option as it’s typically permanent.
What DIY security options are available?
DIY home security systems can be customized to fit the needs of almost any home. Most current DIY home security systems come as kits to ensure that all of the components connect and work together. These kits range in price and complexity, but they all generally contain two things—a hub and sensors.
The hub is the brains of the system. It is where the user will be able to monitor and control the sensors to varying degrees, depending on which home security system is used. Modern home security hubs are usually wireless, and some feature cellular and power outage backup as well.
Sensors that connect to the hub are used to monitor doors, windows, and other vulnerable spots on the homeowner’s property. These sensors can be two-piece devices that attach to walls and windowsills or more advanced motion detectors that cover entire areas.
What features do you need most in a DIY home security system?
The main thing DIY alarm systems need to be is reliable. When considering which features will work best for a home, the top concern should be ensuring the system will do the job under all circumstances. Purchasing a DIY system with backup power will keep the security running through outages and other unexpected events.
When looking into different features on security systems, don’t get caught up in fancy add-ons like deluxe touch screens and home automation. These features can be nice, but the nuts and bolts of any home security system are the sensors—and how well they connect and respond to the control hub. These features should receive the most attention when researching home security options.
Can my smart home devices work with my DIY home security system?
The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to change the way we interact with our homes. Some homeowners in the market for DIY home security may already have some smart home features set up and wish to integrate their existing IoT features into the security system. Now home security dealers are selling systems that can link up to homeowner’s smart devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
If the home is already outfitted with a few smart devices, it might be worth checking with the manufacturers to see if the new system will be able to link up with the existing devices.
What are the pros and cons of a professionally monitored system?
Professional monitoring around the clock
Repairs for security equipment usually included in service
Monitored systems usually require a lower investment upfront, due to ongoing contract
Expert installation means that the job is done right
Security professionals can recommend solutions that fits the needs of individual homeowners
Not as customizable as DIY home security
Usually requires signing up for a contract, sometimes multi-year
Moving requires notifying monitoring service and may involve additional expenses
A third-party must enter into the home to install a monitored system
Monitored security services often lease equipment, instead of selling it
What are the pros and cons of a DIY security system?
Highly customizable features and equipment
Rarely requires signing up for an ongoing contract
Equipment can be easily relocated to a new home
Can be self-installed without a third-party
Homeowners usually buy and own security equipment, rather than lease it from a company
Often requires self-monitoring
If something breaks down the homeowner will need to make repairs themselves
Higher upfront cost, due to the homeowner purchasing the equipment
Self-installation leaves room for mistakes
Purchasing the necessary security equipment relies on independent research and technical know-how
SimpliSafe could be considered a disrupter in the home security industry, because it was among the first to provide forward-thinking customer benefits like self-installation, self-monitoring, video verification and month-to-month pricing. Its generous 60-day risk-free trial helps ensure long-term customer satisfaction.
What we like
Inexpensive professional monitoring
What we don’t like
Mobile alerts not available in the basic monitoring plan
No selection of smart home devices
Smart home capabilities not available in basic monitoring plan
Link Interactive combines the best of time-tested security solutions with modern technology and equipment. It’s the nationwide DIY branch of Mountain Alarm Fire & Security, a commercial and residential protection company founded in 1952 operating out of Utah.
What we like
Build-your-own equipment packages
1, 2 or 3-year contracts
Family owned and operated
What we don’t like
No smart home capabilities in base plan
No professional installation option
Video monitoring only available in highest-tiered plan
Frontpoint offers a competitive range of security equipment and monitoring services with the freedom of do-it-yourself installation and month-to-month contracts. We also appreciate their straightforward pricing and solid customer service reputation.
What we like
Renter-friendly services and equipment
Good customer service
What we don’t like
Outdoor camera, doorbell camera only available as add-ons