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) interactive control panels, or base stations, allow homeowners to access all the features their security systems offer and act as the central part of the entire security kit. 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. Some security kits might require you to attach an extender to your WiFi network in order to reach new places in your home like outside your front door.
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.
Different DIY home security systems may have different features to choose from. Some of the most commonly customizable features on a DIY system include 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.
Even the simplest 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.
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. Some kits will also enable smart lights when movement is detected. 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. S
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. Consider getting a range extender for your WiFi.
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 monthly fees, so opting out of these services can help the more budget-conscious by cutting monitoring costs.