We know what you’re thinking…do-it-yourself home security? Does that involve booby-trapping my front door? No—in fact, that’s illegal.

Fret not, though, there are countless other DIY home security systems that are just as simple and almost as fun as setting a trap to catch a bad guy.

Installing a DIY home security system is a vital step towards responsible and safe homeownership, but step one should always be holding sufficient homeowners insurance. Use Insurify to compare dozens of quotes in your area in a matter of seconds. Once you’ve done that, read on to find the best DIY home security system for your house. 

Choosing a DIY Security System

It wasn’t long ago that equipping your home with a security system involved negotiating complex and pricey contracts with a monitoring company, paying for professional installation, and locking yourself into multi-year commitments. These days, homeowners have a plethora of options when it comes to home security systems, with many do-it-yourself options requiring no outside contact.

Many home security companies offer lower-level plans with DIY setups and monitoring. If you initially choose one of these options but later decide to upgrade to a secondary professional monitoring plan, you’ll be able to do so without switching systems. As for DIY home security systems, though, there are a few vital decisions you’ll need to make to determine the best choice for you and your lifestyle. 

There are a few types of DIY security systems—some with state-of-the-art tech, others with simple, bare-bones designs and straightforward features. Many DIY systems feature a panel that can be secured in a central location inside your home. These (usually a touch screen or LCD keypad) control panels allow homeowners to access all the features their security systems offer. With each accessory of these systems generally connected through WiFi and/or Bluetooth, these control panels bring full home automation and integration seamlessly into your control.

Smart Home Integration

Regardless of the home security company you choose, central control panels will allow you to view doorbell cameras, access contact sensors, disarm systems, and monitor motion detection. Many DIY security systems can also connect to your smart home devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant through voice commands

Your third-party devices will likely also be able to support IFTTT technology. IFTTT (which stands for If This Then That) is a web-based service that can create simple commands to connect your security system to other parts of your home. It can help with tasks all-around your home, like controlling lighting levels, disarming locks, and changing thermostat settings. We’re truly living in the era of the smart home.

Sensors

Different DIY home security systems may have different features to choose from. Some of the most commonly customizable features on a DIY system includes sensors. Door sensors, window sensors, and motion sensors can help level-up your home security system to monitor every inch of your home. These different motion detectors utilize active and passive technologies to and learn the habits of your family members or housemates to reduce the frequency of false alarms of intrusion.

Many DIY security systems also include other sensors and detectors that can protect your home and family members from incidents involving thermostats, stovetops, smoke, and carbon monoxide. They can also help you find missing key fobs through cellular backups, so you’ll never lose your keys again.

Cameras

Even the simplest of DIY home security systems will have a plethora of indoor and outdoor camera combinations for you to choose from. Most of these camera systems only record when motion or sound is detected nearby or within the camera frame. Some of these systems may require a subscription to a third-party cloud storage service to assist with memory and storage of video footage. 

The most common DIY home security systems will include video doorbells. These devices range from low cost options to the high end of the spectrum. They can be connected to smart locks and other cameras on your property. Many video doorbell systems also come with the added bonus of neighborhood social conversation. When an incident happens at your neighbor’s house, your home security system will be notified so you can react accordingly. 

Monitoring Services

The beauty of DIY home security systems is that they can all, for the most part, be self-monitored from the convenience of a mobile app that integrates with your smart home technology. These applications, which are generally available for all Apple, Google, and Android devices, allow homeowners and residents to unlock and lock doors remotely, see doorbell cameras, review video footage, monitor motion sensor activity, and disarm alarm systems. Many systems will automatically alert local authorities if systems are triggered and there is suspicion of a break-in or fire emergency.

Even with self-monitoring options, many homeowners appreciate the peace of mind that comes with hiring professional monitoring services. These additional security systems can often be added on as supplemental coverage through your home security company. You’ll still be able to self monitor all of the features on your security system, but you’ll have the added protection of a 24/7 monitoring center

Installation Options

Many homeowners opt for DIY security systems because of the convenience of being able to install the systems by themselves. However, some components of the system may be complex to install on your own—from the sensors to the security cameras to the WiFi connection, some homeowners may not want the extra headache of installing it all by themselves. Many home security companies will offer professional installation assistance, so if you choose to avoid the extra work of connecting your security hub by yourself, help is easy to find.

Installing door, window, and motion sensors are an important part of the installation of your home security system—it’s vital that this step is done correctly to avoid excessive false alarms, or, God forbid, fail to detect an intrusion. Many security systems will have sensors pre-connected to the other components of the hub, so you’ll just need to activate these sensors by following the instructions. Again, if these tasks seem too challenging, contact your home security provider to see if they offer professional installation, either included in the cost of your subscription or for an additional fee. 

Cost of DIY Security Systems

Like everything in life, the cost of DIY security systems will depend on the number of special features and add-ons you’d like to include. Many options have basic starter kit packages that include a simple set of entry sensors and a yard sign to warn potential intruders. Other products can be purchased individually to help keep costs down, for example, you can simply purchase a video doorbell and use the corresponding mobile app.

Adding on professional monitoring services will likely cost you with monthly fees, so opting out of these services can help for the more budget-conscious by cutting monitoring costs.

DIY Home Security System Options

With dozens of options with differing features, price points, and abilities, it’s important to consider all of your options carefully before committing to a DIY smart security system. Here are Insurify’s top picks for the best DIY home security systems of 2020. 

SimpliSafe Home Security

A new kid on the home security block, SimpliSafe is on a mission to help homeowners’ take control of their security systems, with easy-to-use tech. With no long-term commitment requirements and affordable starter contracts, SimpliSafe has a lot to offer homeowners. Simplisafe is one of the best DIY home security systems around.

Pros Cons
✅ Money-back satisfaction guarantee ❌ Expensive upfront costs 
No contracts ❌ Limited options 
✅ Affordable rates ❌ Long contract periods 

Best for… 
SimpliSafe is a great option for renters. With no long-term contract requirements, tenants leasing their homes are able to switch up their coverage on a dime, so moving frequently is no problem. The SimpliSafe system is also great for smaller spaces. 

Not the best for… 
Those living in large homes or on a large piece of property. SimpliSafe has limited camera options, with just one video doorbell option, which may leave parts of your property vulnerable to invaders.

Google Nest Secure

Everyone expects a lot from Google, and its Nest system doesn’t disappoint. With Brinks Home Security integration for 24/7 professional monitoring, plus no professional installation requirements and numerous other home security features, like thermostat and garage door controls, this is the tech lover’s security dream. It can even be used with your Google Home with voice commands, and its easy-to-use mobile smartphone app makes integration a breeze. 

Pros Cons
DIY installation ❌ Expensive equipment
✅ Window and door sensors included  ❌ Stringent contract requirements 
✅ Sleek, modern aesthetic ❌ High monitoring fees
✅ Easy, all-encompassing app integration  ❌ Battery-reliant

Best for… 
Techies who love to control everything right from their smartphone. Google Nest allows users to lock and unlock their doors from anywhere, turn on and off lights, adjust the temperature, and even seamlessly integrate other safety features like smoke detectors. 

Not the best for… 
Homeowners who don’t like to be reliant on their smartphones. Also, to fully experience the Nest home security system to its fullest potential, an expensive subscription to Brinks home security is required. 

Ring Alarm Security System

The camera doorbell was originally innovated by the Ring security system. Since its inception, Ring has expanded beyond its original products to a flock of security offers. The Ring Alarm security system is an affordable, bare-bones home security system.

Pros Cons
✅ Lower-cost options  ❌ Cameras not included 
✅ Ring neighbors app  ❌ Expensive equipment costs 
✅ Package options ❌ Limited customizability 

Best for… 
Homeowners looking for a simple home protection product with no extra fluff and a mobile app for easy integration and interaction. 

Not the best for… 
Homeowners or tenants looking to fully integrate their home security systems with add-ons

DIY Home Security Systems FAQ

I can’t afford a fancy home security system. What do I do to protect my house?

You don’t need an intricate home security system to protect your home from intruders or other dangers. Many DIY home security systems can consist of simple components, like a video doorbell and a corresponding mobile app. Simply installing motion-detecting lights can protect your home from nighttime intrusions. If a security kit is out of the question due to price, having sufficient homeowners insurance is your best protector.  Use Insurify to compare dozens of home insurance companies at once to get the cheapest quotes. 

How can I protect my home from intruders?

There are dozens of options available to homeowners and tenants to properly protect your property and family from intruders and other dangers. To protect your home from intruders, decide what type of security system you’re looking for, how much you’re willing to spend, and whether or not you’d like to manage your security system by yourself or with help from a professional. From there, you’ll be able to choose the best home security system for you, your home, your family, and your lifestyle. Your home security needs are as unique as you are. 

Is there a single control panel I can use to manage my home security system?

Each system has its own abilities. Most have a dashboard, base station, or control panel of some kind that you’ll be able to operate from. Many security systems also have these control features through mobile apps. Some can even be signaled remotely through voice control commands via Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices.

What if my home security system is triggered through a false alarm?

If you’re alerted to a problem through your home security system that ends up being a false alarm, fret not—that’s what they’re for! If there’s a recurring problem of false alarms alerting local police or fire departments, you may need to contact your home security company to identify the issue. 

Conclusion: Protecting Your Home With a DIY Security System 

With so many options, choosing a DIY smart home security system can seem like a daunting task, but there’s no need to worry. With a simple combination of door locks and home security cameras, your home will be protected in no time.

Don’t forget the most important step to responsible homeownership starts with sufficient homeowners insurance. To find the best homeowners insurance to work alongside your home security system to protect you and your family, use Insurify to compare dozens of quotes in a matter of minutes. 

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Updated May 8, 2020

Jackie Cohen received her B.A. in Global Media and Public Relations from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Currently based in Boston, MA, she works as a content writer for Insurify. An avid globe-trotter and foodie, Jackie spends her spare time adventuring far and near.