With a DIY security system, your options are a little more limited than they might be with a system that is installed by professionals. However, those options aren’t as limited as you might think. Even if you aren’t a professional alarm installer, a professional electrician, or even highly proficient with tools in your hand, you can still have a highly effective alarm system that delivers peace of mind by keeping you and your family safe.
What is a DIY Security System?
Basically, there are two types of security systems:professionally installed and homeowner installed. Above and beyond the ease with which the security system can be professionally monitored around the clock, the only benefit of having your security system professionally installed is that you don’t have to do the work.
It’ll probably also get done a little quicker, since the professional has experience, which means he knows ways to do things more quickly and easily than someone that doesn’t have that experience.
Every type of sensor that is available to a homeowner with a professionally installed security system is also available when the homeowner decides to install a DIY security system. The main difference when it comes to sensors may be in how they’re installed, unless the homeowner is comfortable getting inside walls and ceilings to run the wires behind drywall.
This means that the sensors that you can have in your system that you install are only limited by what you decide upon and your budget. These sensors include, but aren’t limited to:
- Door switches — both main doors (such as the front door) and garage doors
- Window switches
- Glass breakage detectors
- Motion sensors
- Carbon monoxide and heat detectors
- Exterior pad switches under windows and other access points
You can even have what’s known as an auto-dialer with DIY security systems if you want. These are output devices that connect to one of the alarm control panel outputs, and then to an active phone line (landline or cellular) to summon help in the event of an emergency.
More advanced control panels can even differentiate between types of alarms (intrusion, carbon monoxide, thermal/fire) and generate the necessary output to the auto-dialer to cause this device to make the necessary report when making the emergency call. When you set the auto-dialer up, you are prompted to record outgoing messages that the system will then transmit to the emergency response center that is called.
As I alluded to above, you can even set your DIY security system up with 24-hour professional monitoring services, although doing so takes a little extra work. This monitoring is normally accomplished through your home Internet connection, either wired or wireless.
Monitoring gives you an added layer of security and peace of mind, in that the monitoring company usually employs roving guards that will respond to your house in the event of an emergency. Quite often, they’ll even arrive before police and fire personnel are able to, since they are normally already in the area.
Lastly, you can even add video monitoring of both the inside and outside of your home to your security system. As an example, you can install nanny cams in your children’s rooms and common rooms that can be activated without activating the full security system. These cams can be programmed to allow you to monitor them from a tablet or smartphone when away from home.
Some Places You Can Buy Complete DIY Security Systems
Radio Shack used to be one of my favorite places to send people to buy security systems to install. However, except for a few add-on sensors, such as programmed IR motion sensors, they’ve stopped selling security alarm systems and have been focusing almost completely on video monitoring systems.
They have a number of very good digital video recording and monitoring systems that range in price from around $300 to $1,200. They also have a pretty cool selection of covert video cameras, such as those hidden in clocks and other innocuous devices.
The Home Security Store has become one of my go-to locations when I’m installing low-cost systems and want to give my customers the best quality possible for their money. They have both wired and wireless security systems that someone with little electrical experience can install fairly easily. Even better, most of their systems can be professionally monitored for a very low monthly fee (The website says $9 a month). I don’t have experience with this service, however, because most of my clients either choose no monitoring or another, more well-known monitoring service.
SimpliSafe is a DIY security system supplier that I don’t have any experience with, but from what I’ve read and seen about them, they are definitely another option for homeowners looking to buy and install their own security systems. You get all the bells and whistles of a more expensive system, but can save quite a bit of money by performing the installation yourself.