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Got a smartphone and looking to add a higher level of security to your home? Today’s world of home security has evolved from simple entry and motion sensors to a smart collection of gadgets that can transform your home into a safe haven you can monitor and control from just about anywhere.
You’ll be notified not only of intruders, but of fires, floods, carbon monoxide, and more, right as they happen. In most cases it’s so easy to setup your kid can probably do it!
What Is DIY Home Security?
DIY (Do It Yourself) home alarm systems can be setup and installed by yours truly. There is no professional needed, and often, there is no monthly fee (this varies by system). We will focus on self-monitored options on this site, since our priority is providing you smarter, more empowered security choices.
We receive many questions regarding DIY alarm systems from our readers. We try and answer the most common ones below:
- What is self-monitoring?
- Will I end up with holes in my wall?
- Is DIY security reliable?
- Will I need a professional to install?
- How long will it take to install a DIY wireless home security system?
- What are my equipment options?
- What should I consider about my home and what equipment is essential?
- Which companies provide DIY solutions?
- What is the best DIY home security system?
- Anything we didn’t answer?
Self-monitoring refers to home security systems that you monitor yourself. In other words, when an event such as an intruder alarm or smoke alert is triggered, you and your designated network of family, neighbors, and friends are automatically notified via a communication method of your choosing (phone call, smartphone app, text message, etc.). It’s then up to you to call the authorities to come check out the problem. This differs from professional monitoring, where your security system is monitored by a call center at a central monitoring station. The primary advantage of self-monitoring is that there is no monthly fee.
DIY alarm systems are set up so you don’t have to drill any holes into your walls. For the most part, the equipment uses a peel and stick backing (for those wondering how reliable this is, typically the peel and sticks are poster board adhesives that can support a weight several times that of the sensor you are hanging; we have had our sensors up for nearly a decade with no issues). However, there are some companies and some heavier equipment that either require or give you the option of drilling and using screws. Typically this is for more complex equipment like control panels and video cameras.
Yes, DIY security can be very reliable, depending on the type of person you are. After all, DIY security can also be called self-monitored, so the onus falls on you, or the network of contacts you designate, to respond to alerts quickly. If you’re on top of this, response times can be lightning quick. After all, with a professionally monitored system, the system first calls through your list of designated contacts before dispatching the authorities. With a self-monitored system you can call 911 immediately. On the other hand, if you’re an individual who doesn’t pay attention to your phone, leaves it on silent or ignores it often, self-monitored may not be for you. If you are someone who always has your phone in hand and checks it regularly, a DIY system can be a great option for you.
Nope! That’s what makes DIY security great, you can DO IT YOURSELF without a professional’s help! This saves not only time, but money as well. Professionally installed and monitored security systems often charge extra for installation. With do it yourself home security systems the installation is fast and easy and you get to brag about all your “hard work” 😉
Each company varies, but we often hear companies brag about an installation that takes less than 15 minutes. Is this realistic? Yes and no. Yes, because installation is that simple, and no because sometimes we like to consider our options and take the time to think about where we want to place the equipment to be most effective. So, if you’ve thought ahead about where you want each piece of equipment to go, 15 minutes is likely a reasonable installation time.
The company you choose and the package or pieces of equipment you purchase will determine what you will need to install at a minimum. Here’s a list of common items installed in do it yourself security systems:
- Control panel
- Door/window sensors (also known as “contacts”)
- Motion sensors
- Glass break sensors
- Security Cameras
- Smoke/heat/CO2 detectors
- Water leak sensors
- Freeze sensors
We suggest having a door contact for every exterior door you have to your house. So, if you have a front door and a back patio door, you should have a door contact on each. Typically front doors and those with ground-level access will be more commonly broken into.
We also suggest monitoring each window on the main and lower levels of your home. You can do so by having a glass break sensor and a motion sensor or window contact. We recommend a glass break sensor because a window contact won’t trigger unless the contact is separated, which typically doesn’t occur when a window breaks. If you have many windows in a primary area on the main floor (think great room), it may make more sense financially to do a motion sensor to cover them all. Don’t forget to add sensors for your basement entry ways as well.
If a security camera is important to you, we recommend having one outside pointing toward your driveway or front door area and another towards your backyard. Try to angle these to get entrance points monitored and the largest coverage area possible.
If you have a second level, we recommend using a motion sensor to monitor the largest area possible.
If you have a room where you keep most of your valuables, it’s a good idea to monitor it with a camera. However, if you don’t want to use a camera, a door or window contact can be used (so you’ll know if someone enters the room). You can also place sensors in a cabinet or drawer to find out when they are opened.
The following list of companies offer self-monitored, DIY wireless home security systems:
- Arlo – View on Amazon | Read Review
- Canary – View on Amazon | Read Review
- iSmartAlarm – View on Amazon | Read Review
- Nest – View on Amazon | Read Review
- Novi – View on Amazon | Read Review
- Piper – View on Amazon | Read Review
- Ring – View on Amazon | Read Review
We have a comprehensive DIY home security system review that compares the top providers and we give recommendations, including pros, cons, pricing and more.
Who’s your favorite DIY home security system provider?