No matter how nice your neighborhood or how modest your home, you could become the victim of a home invasion. That’s a pretty scary thought, and it’s why so many people are reaching for security technology. Such systems can seem like daunting investments, but they're not necessarily outside of your budget. There are many relatively inexpensive options for DIY home security that will work in any home, from the 15-room mansion to the four-room shotgun.
Many home security systems designed for DIY installation are wireless—much easier than the alternative, which requires running wires through walls and flooring. If you're going with a wired system, you’ll need to drill holes, test connections and spend hours (or even days) getting the system up and running.
With a wireless system, you'll simply install a mounting bracket and attach your hardware. Push some buttons, run a software program and you’re done. Many basic DIY home security systems can be installed in a few hours or less.
Security System Options
Wireless security packages usually come with several standard pieces of equipment, some of which have optional extra features.
Video monitors - Some bundles come with one or more video monitors, which can be mounted near the doors, or wherever else you'd like. This equipment isn’t available in every package, and it isn't strictly necessary. To save money, you may choose not to install video monitors, especially if your system can send video to your phone.
Door sensors - Home security packages typically include one or more door sensors, which can also be purchased individually. Place a sensor on each external door, including the garage.
Window panels - You may want to block some windows with simple screen panels as a part of your DIY security system. Prioritize protection of windows close to the ground and large enough for a person to fit through. Windows in dark areas of the home are also particularly vulnerable, as are those in areas where the view of the window is obstructed from outside.
Alarm panel - An alarm panel comes standard with home security systems. From this control hub you can arm and disarm the system, set timers, and access any other available functions.
Motion detector - A useful addition to your security suite, motion detectors are often included in packages, too. You may consider using motion detectors for your doorways, garage, and/or basement.
Stickers and yard signs - As an added bonus, many systems come with yard signs and stickers, so you can make it known that your home is protected. Sometimes, a simple warning like this is enough to deter thieves.
Key fobs - Many home security packages come with optional key fobs that allow you to arm and disarm your system. This works in the same way as a key fob paired to a vehicle—holding the fob near the control panel will activate the function.
DIY installation is much more affordable, and it's easier than ever thanks to wireless technology. However, there are some drawbacks to installing your own security system rather than hiring professionals. If any part of your installation is done incorrectly, the entire system could malfunction and put you at risk.
When you buy a DIY home security system, you’ll have a limited warranty on all pieces of equipment. You will also be responsible for all your own repairs and maintenance on the system. You’ll need to check battery life regularly, and routinely test each piece of equipment to ensure it continues to function properly.
Many security systems are designed to sound alarms and send alerts when something has been triggered. It’s becoming more common for security equipment to sync up to your smartphone, so you can monitor the system remotely and receive alerts as soon as anything gets tripped.
However, DIY systems are not usually connected to police support or a monitoring service. You will probably need to purchase a monitoring service separately if this is a feature you want. Otherwise, you will be responsible for alerting authorities and managing the problem if your system goes off.
Take an objective look around your home to determine where you need door monitors, window panels, video cameras, and motion detectors, then find a package that has the features you need, or build your own system out of just the elements you prefer.