Do It Yourself (DIY) is a trend that has taken hold over the last several years in a major way, and in many different areas. Home security, once solely the domain of experienced professionals, has become a landscape filled with options the average homeowner or renter can install themselves. With most of these options, the protection offered is just as good as what you would find hiring an outside installer, and is usually much lower in price. This makes it a perfect option if you are on a budget, or just enjoy doing things with your own hands.
The Cost to Install a Home Security System
Cost is usually a prime factor when choosing whether to install a home security system yourself, or hire a specialist to do it for you. A quality Do It Yourself (DIY) security system averages between $150-$200 for the basic hardware itself. While extras, such as additional room sensors or smart home capabilities, can raise this price, it is still less expensive than having to pay installation costs to an outside contractor.
How To Install a Home Security System
While the specifics may be different between different models or brands, the basic steps are usually the same. These include:
• Mount the Security Hub/Panel: The hub of a home security system is the security panel, which is a small box affixed to wall of your home. The best place to select is somewhere near the front door, and close to a power source. Screws are usually used to hold it in place, or double-sided tape if you want to avoid holes.
• Position the Sensors: Also an important part of the home security system, sensors or detectors must be placed throughout your home in areas you want to monitor, such as doors or windows. Placement usually involves reusable, double-sided tape, which allows them to stay in place and be moved to different areas if necessary.
• Test the System: Consult the information included with the specific system you purchased to find the directions on how to test to make sure all components are working properly.
Security Systems Can Still Work When the Power Goes Out
Power outages can be scary, and having to worry about burglars taking advantage of the situation only exacerbates that fear. Whether or not your system will continue to work if electricity is cut off for any reason depends greatly on which type of system you have, what type of backup hardware you added, and what it uses to power it.
For a normal system, purchasing a UPS, or universal power supply, can make sure your system is powered, even if the electrical grid is down. A backup generator is also helpful during long-term blackouts. Solar powered systems are fast becoming popular, due to the clean nature of the energy, and that it does not depend on the whims of traditional electricity for a power source.
The Best Do It Yourself (DIY) Home Security Systems
While the perfect system does heavily depend on the level of protection you want, and how much you are able to spend, there are several brands that truly shine out from the rest. No matter what your needs are, one or more of these is bound to satisfy completely.
If your goal is a comprehensive Do It Yourself (DIY) home security setup, which is both wireless, and unaccompanied by costly fees or contracts, ViZion is a good choice. Partnered with hardware producer Smanos, ViZion gives you a totally wireless setup that protects your home without an ongoing price tag. The prime draw of a system like this is it is easily movable, and can be upgraded with little fuss. The system will not only sound an alarm if your space is breached, it also sends text messages to one or more people to alert them.
There is a drawback to a system like this, in that it has no professionals ready and waiting to contact authorities if an alarm is triggered. Once you receive the notification, it is your responsibility to follow up with the police to make sure they know a crime is in progress. A wireless system also has the potential downfall of signal degradation over long distances, or through solid objects.
• Totally Wireless
• Easily Customized
• Text Notifications
• No professional monitoring
• Potential Signal Degradation
Have you ever wanted to see who knocks on your door when you are not home? Not in the mood for lots of visitors, and want to screen the people that come to your house? The Ring video doorbell provides these capabilities with a 720-pixel camera mounted on your front door. If someone presses the doorbell, or approaches within a certain distance of the motion detectors, you receive an alert on your smartphone or tablet. This opens up a live feed, that even allows you to converse with the visitor without having to answer the door. Easy to install, and able to record video to the cloud, this is a worthy pick for many situations.
There are a few downsides to the Ring, most notably the quality of sound when conversing with your visitor. This system can also be a bit too sensitive, even registering passing trucks no matter how close you set the boundaries of the motion sensors. Lastly, the battery life has a tendency to be on the short side.
• Know when someone knocks on your door
• Live Feed
• Cloud Recording
• Poor Sound Quality
• Low Battery Life
SimpliSafe offers powerful monitoring that is extremely easy to set up. These professionals offer both self and professional monitoring packages, with reasonable prices even if you have them keep watch. The hardware is eminently affordable, and pairs well with a Nest smart home thermostat.
It is important to note that there is a chance that hackers could access your security panel and hack your passcode, thus disarming the system. While this is rare, this problem has not yet been addressed, which could put your home in unnecessary danger. Also, if you want to monitor things through your smartphone or tablet, there is an additional monthly charge.
• Self or Professional Monitoring
• Affordable Hardware and Service
• Pairs With Nest Thermostat
• Potential to be hacked
• Extra charge for text notifications
The Iris, the Do It Yourself (DIY) security system from home-improvement giant, Lowe’s, is inexpensive, and boasts one of the biggest lists of compatible smart-home devices and systems. The Iris is also notable as one of the more user-friendly systems in terms of installation, making it a good pick for those who are tech challenged. Alert response times are also very quick, and the system is easy to automate.
It is, however, important to note that the app used with the Iris system is less than optimal, with problems found in delays with email notifications, the complete inability for push notifications, and being very tedious to use. Devices often lose connectivity with the hub as well, making it a system not suitable for those wanting constant and reliable protection.
• Log list of compatible smart-home devices
• Difficult to Set Up
• No Hardware Support
An excellent all-around system, the Scout includes both basic and advanced features that are highly customizable. The Scout pairs well with smart-home products, such as Amazon Alexa and Samsung SmartThings. At $20 for professional monitoring, this is also one of the cheapest ways for you to enlist the help of professionals in keeping your home safe.
One drawback is that an additional charge of $10 is levied if you want to use an app on your smartphone or tablet to monitor things yourself. The door alarm, a separate type of device than window motion sensors, can also be a bit on the loud side.
• Highly Customized
• Low Monthly Monitoring Fee
• Pairs well with smart-home devices
• Extra charge for app use
• Loud Door Alarm
An addition from one of the leaders in smart thermostats is the Nest Secure, a stylish and simple-to-install system with separate multi-purpose sensors. These sensors can both let you know whether the window or door it covers has been opened, as well as if there is movement in the designated area. The Nest even includes handy key fobs that allow you to disarm the system without typing in a code.
The Nest, however, is a bit on the pricey side when compared to other top brands with similar features. Professional monitoring service comes with a 24-month commitment, and it can only be paired with Nest’s own smart-home devices.
• Multi-purpose Sensors
• Handy Key Fobs
• Only compatible with Nest Smart Thermostat
For the height in affordability, Protect America is likely the best choice. No upfront charges exist with their systems, meaning you get all the equipment you need to secure your home without spending a cent. Protect America provides live recording of security events, and stands behind their hardware with a lifetime warranty. Homes are monitored 24/7 through broadband, cellular and landline.
One drawback to an absence of upfront fees is the lengthy contract needed to use the service, which is 36 months. Not to mention that you are required to pay the entire balance for your contract if you cancel the service after an initial 30 days.
Finding the right Do It Yourself (DIY) home security system can spell the difference between total protection and loopholes that enterprising criminals can exploit. Do your homework and take an accurate assessment of your needs, and you are bound to find one that gives you peace of mind in knowing your property is secure.
• No Upfront Cost
• Lifetime Hardware Warranty
• Live Recording
• 36-month Contract
• Stiff penalties if canceled early
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