The FBI estimates that a home break-in occurs every 14.5 seconds, which results in more than $15 billion in loss and damages each year. It’s no wonder that home security is becoming more and more important and utilized. Of course, there are any number of professional home security systems ready to be installed in your home, but these have drawbacks. For one, they can be very expensive. Secondly, they are hard to modify or expand as needed. Which is why DIY home security systems are on the rise.
DIY home security systems aren’t necessarily home security camera systems in which you’re building everything yourself from scratch. Instead, a DIY home security system is an interactive system in which you can install yourself, manage yourself, and monitor yourself. Depending on your needs, you have options to install DIY home security systems or to pay a subscription fee to have professionals surveil your home 24/7 (and, upon breaching of security, contact local fire and/or police departments as needed).
If you have decided that you’re ready to take on the DIY home security system and get one going in your home, you’ll want to take a close look not only at the products available on the market today, but also several other factors that will affect your interaction with your home security system. In other words, what do you need to know in order to build a smart home security system that is both effective and easy to use…from anywhere in the world? Here are some things you should consider as you begin investigating this process.
Streamlining of Home Automation & Home Security System
A smart home security system is able to connect to your home wi-fi network, which allows you to monitor and control your home security devices and systems from your phone. Basic DIY home security systems include thigs like a few door/window sensors and maybe a motion detector or two, along with a hub that interacts with those devices. Most basic home security systems allow you to add other devices/sensors around your house.
But do you want more than that? Do you want to create a comprehensive system of home security that includes door locks, garage door openers, indoor and/or outdoor home security cameras, lights, water regulators, smoke detectors, and much more? If so, you will want to be sure to choose a home security system that can be seamlessly integrated into and connected and with other components, all controllable by you and manipulated by using certain sets of rules (e.g., lights turn on with motion detection, doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, etc.).
Essentially, as you consider which home security system will work best in your house, don’t forget to consider the other components of home automation that either already exist in your space or that you want to add into your space later. Video storage that is local on the home security camera, for example, will have limitations that cloud storage later on might not have, but budget certainly comes into play in making these types of decisions.
In the following article, the DIY home security systems that are identified and detailed all incorporate systems that are controlled by a mobile app, with your smart phone serving as the command center. Some of the systems use a communications hub, which does everything the app does but locally on-site, as well as communicates with a professional monitoring service at the triggering of a sensor.
DIY Installation or Professional Installation?
Budget is the first consideration of whether or not to DIY or professionally install your home security system, although it’s not the only one. Obviously, doing it yourself will save money on installation charges and then the followup subscription fees. The DIY kits available on the market are sold as kits that are easily installed and configured to meet your specific needs in your home. These kits are generally expandable, meaning that you can add components at your convenience as your needs change, although you’ll want certainly want to consider compatibility and expansion options in the early stages of your home security system research.
The DIY security systems reviewed in this article are self-monitored, meaning that when devices and/or sensors are triggered, you’ll receive alerts or notifications directly. You will be responsible for contacting the appropriate emergency personnel as a result of those notifications; however, some DIY security system kits are offering professional monitoring services as an optional add-on or on-demand.
Depending on the home security system’s components, installation might be as easy as using some double-sided tape. Or it might be quite complex, requiring specialized tools and configurations. These would be your professionally installed security systems, which often provide 24/7 monitoring but may require multi-year contracts. In addition, professional security systems communicate directly with emergency response teams, based upon the alerts or notifications received.
Can I Just Use a Home Security Camera?
A home security camera might just do the job in meeting your home security needs if you live in a small apartment or condo and you simply want to be able to check in on your home while you’re away. Nearly all security systems connect to your wi-fi, so you can use your smart phone to access surveillance footage and receive push notifications from the camera’s motion/sound sensors (which come standard on most home security cameras now). You can read all about home security cameras here.
However, for multi-faceted security and home automation, a home security camera – even the most deluxe available – just won’t cut it. You’ll want to look into complete home security systems.
Pros & Cons Of DIY Home Security Systems
As is the case with nearly everything in life, there are decided advantages and disadvantages for DIY home security systems. Briefly, they are as follows:
Pros of DIY Home Security Systems
- Lower cost than professional security systems. This lower price tag comes without sacrificing the basic system components that you probably want. Also, cost is generally a one-time fee; after purchase, you won’t have additional alarm expenses.
- Wireless connectivity. Because a DIY home security system isn’t going to be hard-wired into your home’s electrical system, it is relatively easy to install and manage, including moving, expanding, upgrading, or changing in other ways.
- Cell phone notifications and alerts. When your security sensors are breached in any way, your alarm system connects to your cell phone (and, for many DIY systems, other cell phone numbers that you want), so you receive immediate, real-time communication.
- DIY security systems work well for renters or for those who are planning on moving at some point in the future, because you can easily uninstall and move the system with you.
- Online monitoring. Not all DIY home security systems and smart home automation systems are mutually exclusive because of online monitoring features; these mean that, through your app or online portal, you can do things like adjust lights, thermostat, etc.
Cons of DIY Home Security Systems
- Risk of installation errors. If you’re DIYing your home security system, it means you’re not a professional, which ultimately increases the risk that the system might be installed incorrectly or less than optimally.
- Expensive extra components. While it’s great that DIY home security systems offer expansion opportunities, these don’t come without a cost. Each additional sensor and component will raise the cost of your overall system.
- Repair costs. If your DIY security system fails, or a component breaks, you are responsible to cover the replacement cost.
- While simplicity in installation can be a good thing, simplicity as far as additional security options (e.g., battery backup, redundant alerts, programmable motion immunity for pets, etc.) can be a disadvantage.
- Self-connect with emergency response. Probably the biggest advantage to having a monitored (e.g., “professional”) alarm system is the immediate alerting sent to police and/or fire department. DIY security systems don’t have this.
- Limited warranty. After the purchase of your DIY security system, you’re pretty much left on your own, without tech support, free equipment upgrades, etc.
Home Security Systems Reviews
The following section takes a close look at many DIY home security systems on the market today. Consider your needs as you study each system; remember, the more complex the system, the more it’s likely to cost.
The Blink home security camera system is a battery-powered wireless camera system with a two-year battery life from two AA lithium batteries. Blink includes a built-in motion detector/sensor, so when motion is detected, an alarm is triggered. The integrated wifi camera(s) will then send an alert to your smartphone with a short recorded video clip of the event sent to the cloud for your review, either in real time or later on. The system includes everything you need for successful monitoring by a home security system: the camera itself, a wall mount, batteries, Blink Sync module, and any associated accessories.
The camera captures video in 720p HD resolution, which facilitates your clear viewing of the video surveillance. There is little distortion or blurring with high definition. You can easily access on-demand, live video streaming through the Blink app. Blink is designed for indoor use.
A simple self-installation process allows you to have your home monitoring system up and running in just a few minutes. After that, wireless cameras are easily controlled with the included apps or even with just your voice through Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices (e.g., Alexa, Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap). As any good home security camera system will do, Blink provides home and pet monitoring in real time in the video camera “live view” streaming mode. There is also totally free cloud storage, without any monthly fees or service contracts required.
BIBENE Wifi Home Security Alarm System
The BIBENE home security system serves multiple purposes as both a motion detector and a cost-effective professional wireless security home alarm system kit. There is a built-in magnetic contact sensor as well as a PIR motion sensor. These two sensors work together within the BIBENE system to detect any forceful break-in. Detecting such, BIBENE will activate the alarm (0-120 decibels) to deter potential intruders, send an alert, and undergo SOS emergency for safety protection.
The BIBENE system PIR detector is 8M, with a wide-angle 110-degree field of view coverage, during both daytime and nighttime. All sensors included in the BIBENE home security alarm system kid are already connected with the main panel; each sensor is individually labeled with a corresponding label on the main panel to improve the ease and accuracy of installation. You have the capacity to use each sensor in the way that seems best for your situation and needs – for example, you might choose to keep the motion sensors inactive while you activate the door sensors. This DIY customization aspect is a huge benefit.
BIBENE is proud of the app’s easy installation and usability. You will be able to control the entire system remotely from your smart phone or tablet. When you receive warnings or alerts, you’ll be notified of the exact area that the alarm was triggered.
OXA Smart Wireless Sensor Alarm System
This smart OXA sensor alarm system features a DIY installation in under 15 minutes. The entire system is easily set up with your smartphone simply by downloading the app, scanning the QR codes in the user manual, or through the app store/Google play. OXA is compatible with Amazon Alexa, allowing you to control the system with just your voice. Easy, right? You can control a single sensor in the system, or you can group specific sensors and control them together as one unit. The benefit of this individual sensoring within the entire system is that you can know, within a few seconds, the exact sensor that was triggered and be able to respond effectively.
OXA system is a wifi-enabled cloud security alarm system including a wifi hub (to which all the sensors will connect via wireless connection), door/window contact sensors, motion sensors, remote controller, and a waterproof doorbell button/panic button. There is also a built-in strobe siren that sounds at 80 decibels, although you can customize what the alert is for each sensor. Because it is wire-free, the system is easy to remove and take with you, if you want.
COOWOO ST30 Professional Wireless Smart Home Security Alarm System DIY Kit
The COOWOO ST30 Professional is a DIY alarm system that you can really do yourself, boasts COOWOO. The system includes two sets of wireless contact sensors to be used on doors, windows, cabinets, and/or any important entry areas within your home. The unauthorized opening of any of these areas, by an intruder perhaps, will trigger the sensor to alert you. The security system’s motion sensor detects movement within 6 meters in a 110-degree field of view coverage, during either the day or the night.
COOWOO is probably best mounted on the wall, probably in a corner, and DIY installation is fast and easy. In under 15 minutes, your system should be set up with your smart phone. There is tool-free setup and assembly, as well as plug-and-play installation.
COOWOO can be controlled via voice through Amazon Alexa or remotely via your smartphone or tablet through the system’s app. You can control a single sensor through the app, or you can control an entire grouping of sensors. The smart wireless hub that is included in the alarm system connects all the sensors together, triggers the loud siren, and identifies which of the sensors is triggered. There is also backup battery support to keep the hub in operation should power be lost.
SABRE Home Expandable Wireless Burglar Alarm Security System WP-100
The DIY SABRE wireless burglar alarm security system will definitely get your attention should the need arise, with its very loud (120 decibels) alarms to wake up and/or alert you of a break-in. The sound alone helps to deter the intruder, as it is loud enough to even wake up neighbors up to 750 feet away. This DIY home security system is customizable, with its smart panel with LCD display, motion sensor with directional mounting bracket, door/window sensors, and a key fob remote control to help identify the point of entry more accurately from the eight distinct zones.
This all white security system is designed with aesthetics in mind and actually looks stylish and modern in the home. Even more importantly, however, is SABRE system’s user-friendly properties and features. Four operation modes include alarm, alert, home, and standby, and an unlimited number of sensors can be added to the system and placed up to 500 feet away from the main control panel. This provides a lot of variability and personalization opportunity for use.
Not only is SABRE’s home security system easy to use, but it is also easy to install because it is completely wireless. There is no wiring needed. A low battery indicator will make sure you easily maintain battery operation. An AC adapter is the smart panel’s main source of power, but backup batteries are recommended to provide an added level of security and reliability.
SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security Command Bravo with Camera
SimpliSafe is a fully featured alarm system that provides 24/7 alarm monitoring. Door/window entry sensors are included, as well as a motion sensor and keyless remote. The sensors are all pre-programmed to work together right out of the box, making your DIY setup and installation a snap (like, 15 minutes or less). A wireless 720p HD video security camera provides clear live footage, straight from the camera to your device such as smartphone or laptop. The SimpliSafe home security command is completely customizable, meaning that you can start with one system package and then add more as the need arises at any point in the future.
A major talking point of the SimpliSafe wireless system is that there are no contracts required for full service, yet the protection coverage is comparable in completeness to other home security systems that do require coa
ntracts. There is an optional monitoring feature that connects with police dispatch, to improve your safety at all hours of the day and night, plus an audible alarm sounds on-site when the system is triggered to deter intruders. SimpliSafe is controllable via your smartphone or laptop, providing on-the-go mobile control and immediate alerts should the home security system determine that anything is amiss while you’re away.
UOKOO 360-Degree Fisheye Panoramic Network Wireless Camera
UOKOO is one of the few home security cameras on the market that offers a super-wide view angle, to the tune of 360 panoramic views with a 0.33” fisheye lens. This means that there are no blind spots, and you can view the entire room in 960p high definition viewing resolution. While the motion detection can alert you to any movement at all, you can also adjust its sensitivity so you’re getting only those notifications you want to be aware of in the multi-zone sensor areas.
What’s more, UOKOO’s viewing clarity is not only available during the light of day, but also during the dark of night up to 16 feet with the camera’s night vision. UOKOO offers motion detection, which sends push notifications straight to your phone, and/or you can opt to have the alert photos locally on micro SD storage. The micro SD storage feature allows you to record, store, and review footage up to 128G and can be managed from your cell phone, including video playback.
Two-way audio capacity means that, through a built-in speaker and microphone, you can both hear what’s going on in the room while you’re not physically present, and you can also speak to the room’s occupants through your phone app. This means you can communicate with your family members, friends, and even pets while you’re away from home. This DIY home security camera system is simple to set up with mobile wi-fi, and once you’re set up and ready to go, you will have easy remote access to the camera via your mobile 4G network or wi-fi.
Canary All-in-One Home Security Device
The Canary All-in-One home security device allows you to stream real-time home surveillance video through a 147-degree wide-angle lens. Not only is the field of view wide for this home security system, but the picture through that wide field of view is crystal clearvia its high-resolution 1080p HD camera. There is automatic night vision capacity as well as high-quality audio capacity.
But, as its name suggests, the Canary All-in-One Device is more than just a home security camera. Canary contains an integrated siren that, at 90decibels, will deter intruders or other suspicious activity simply by sounding off. The device will start recording upon motion activation, and there is a remote arming/disarming feature that allows you greater control while you’re away. Instant access to and communication with police dispatch is another option that Canary offers to provide peace of mind. Not only that, but intelligent notifications allow you to receive instant video alerts on your devices as needed.
Not enough for an All-in-One device? How about this feature: the Canary also monitors air quality, temperature, and humidity with HomeHealth technology, which provides data to help you analyze and understandyou’re your health might be affected by your home. With so much offered, the Canary has a surprisingly (and pleasingly) simple installation procedure: there is no installation required, actually. You only need to plug in the Canary and connect to the internet, and you’ll be on your way. There is free secure cloud storage included with the purchase, meaning you don’t have monthly fees or contracts to access your video footage.
Nest Cam Indoor Security Camera
The Nest Cam indoor home security camera system offers 24/7 live video surveillance from a wide-angle lens of 130 degrees and a high resolution of 1080p high definition. This wide field of view provides you with visual access to your space during the night and the day. Nest Cam detects movement, and when the activity is detected, the security system will send an alert or notification to your phone or email address, along with a still-shot of the activity detected. This DIY home security camera is easy to install: you simply plug it in and download the Nest Cam app onto your smart phone or tablet. Not only that, but Nest Cam works with Amazon Alexa for easy voice-activated control and convenience.
Nest Cam’s built-in microphone and speaker offer two-way communication, almost like an intercom. You can talk and/or listen to whoever or whatever is in the room through the app on your phone. Night vision capacity captures clear video footage during the night as well as the day. There is also an option to program in intelligent alerts, continuous cloud recording, and create activity zones for more precise alerts. A monthly subscription is required for full access.
Fortress Security Store S02-A Wireless Home & Business Security Alarm System DIY Kit
The Fortress home security system is considered an ideal starter security system kit. It is fully customizable in a variety of ways to establish and maintain your maximum security. The system can be customized to work well in just about any space with its a fully programmable main unit and sensors. Magnetic door and window contact sensors detect forceful break-ins, and passive motion sensors will detect any suspicious movement or activity.
Should a security breach be detected, an auto-dialer function will call up to six pre-programmed, designated phone numbers as alert protocol – this includes your own phone, which means that you will receive real-time alerts and notifications about potential intruders. Fortress’ speaker can also be used to play a recorded message or another customized sound. A built-in microphone also allows you to hear what’s going on in your home while you’re not there as you call the system from your phone. Furthermore, the Fortress’ loud alarm (110 decibels) will alert neighbors of the sensor triggered, and thus intuitively deter potential intruders. This DIY home security system is easy to install and to set up. Fortress can be easily deactivated via a keypad or disarmed via a keyfob.
abode Connected Home Security & Automation Starter Kit
The abode safe home security kit is at the top of the DIY home security system spectrum as the first professional-grade, self-installable total home security solution. No contracts are required with this system, and the home automation capabilities are powerful and effective…you can have control of your home from anywhere across the globe. An optional 720p streaming camera integrates directly to the abode gateway, capturing events in real time and providing you with secure streaming to view from anywhere in the world. The abode system is easy to use through its free iOS and android apps, and self-monitoring capacity is free. For those who are interested, however, there is also an optional professional home alarm monitoring option that is provided in on-demand three-day, seven-day, or monthly doses.
Abode home security offers peace of mind with its various effective features, including night vision to help you see clearly what’s going on in your space even in the dark of night, battery backup for when the power goes out, cellular backup for when the power goes out or for mobile access to surveillance footage, and fully encrypted services. Visual event verification helps to reduce the number of false alarms by this home security system as well. Amazon Alexa can be connected to abode as well, providing you with easy voice activation and control capabilities as well.
This DIY home security system is designed to work well for anyone in any living space – homeowners and renters alike. Abode grows with you and can be modified easily to fit your new living accommodations with more than 150 devices connected to protect and automate anything from studio apartments to large homes. The abode hub is software upgradeable, which means your home security system will always be up to speed, technologically speaking.
iSmartAlarm iSA3 Preferred Package Home Security System
The iSmartAlarm home security system is both iPhone and Android smart phone enabled, which means that you can use your smart phone to arm, monitor, and disarm your security system at any time, from anywhere, in real-time. This is a fully DIY, self-monitored, and self-controlled home security system, which is appealing for those people who don’t want to deal with the middle man when it comes to home security. All sensors are designed specifically for easy installation and noninvasive use.
The iSmartAlarm app will show who is at home, the time(s) that family members left or returned, and the on/off status of each sensor. You will receive free phone alerts, text message alerts, push notifications, and email alerts should the system detect a breach in security, keeping your safety at the highest priority. You can view the status of your home and safety with the optional iSmartAlarm compatible security camera.
iSmartAlarm is open to future home automation features with almost unlimited expandability. You can upgrade the firmware to the most current version to ensure that you have the best experience with the product. No monthly service fees or contracts are required. (Note: This particular model is available only for the United States and Canada at this time.)
SkylinkNet DIY home security system offers wireless access to the system controls via your smart phone. You can arm and disarm the all-in-one system, as well as see the sensor status, with the mobile app. Whenever a new activity is detected, a red LED light will flash inside the sensor, and you will receive push notifications as an immediate alert to that activity (usually faster than a monitoring station can react to the alarm by calling you). In addition, an integrated siren would deter would-be intruders and provide you with local notification.
As with all DIY home security systems, the SkylinkNet alarm system is easy to install (plug-and-play) and is designed to be set up in minutes. What’s more, the sensors can be easily removed, should you move and want to take your home security system with you to your next home. The SkylinkNet app is available for iOS devices. You can customize system settings such as entry delay, exit delay, and alarm duration, all from the app. You can also add up to 10 home security cameras inside or outside and up to 100 sensors and controllers throughout your home as you see fit. SkylinkNet is also compatible with other home automation devices, and they can all be controlled simply and efficiently from your smart phone via the SkylinkNet app.
GetSafe Wireless DIY Home Security System
The GetSafe system is a complete DIY wireless home security system. It is self-contained, requiring no contracts or monthly subscriptions, although there is 24/7 nationwide professional monitoring available through the GetSafe website. In the vein of true DIY home security systems, setting up the GetSafe alarm system takes just minutes (plug-and-play) and requires no specialized tools because the sensors are wireless and can be mounted with 3M double-sided tape. In addition to the GetSafe app (which is compatible with iOS and android devices), this home security system includes a smart hub that communicates wirelessly with the sensors and sends system alerts to your smart phone, a siren of about 85 decibels that uses four AA batteries, an entry sensor that secures doors and windows after 3M double-sided tape installation and is powered by a single AA battery, a motion detector that uses passive infrared technology to sense the body heat of an intruder (but avoids pets under 40 pounds) and also comes with 3M double-sided tape for easy installation, and a cellular SIM card.
Unsightly wall-mounted control panels for your home security panels are old news. GetSafe’s home security system can be controlled simply through the app on your phone, allowing you to stay aware of and keep control of your home from anywhere in the world. What’s more, the system can be upgraded to provide fully customizable functionality (such as alerts, smart rules, etc.) and integration with other smart home applications. Streamlining your smart home security makes you safer while keeping control intuitive and manageable.
In today’s world, it has become easier (and, arguably, more necessary) than ever to set up a smart home. This includes integrating your Things into a system that can easily and remotely be controlled…by you. Think cameras, alarms, speakers, door locks, lights, thermostats, vacuums, and even pet feeders. While the technology to do some, or all, of these things might feel overwhelming, DIY home security systems have taken center stage in designing systems that are made simple and relatively affordable. These smart systems tend to be custsomizable so that, no matter how many or how varied the smart devices you have, managing them is so easy that it’s almost intuitive.
The end goals, of course, probably include your ability to keep your family safe, to save money, and to improve your quality of life. DIY home security systems are an excellent way to accomplish all three of those goals in one fell swoop. Be sure to closely examine your needs and expectations from the beginning as you research DIY and wireless home security systems, as each targets specific facets of home security in slightly different ways. Prioritize your needs, from overall activity sensing to notifications to alarms to controllability.
And if you’ve determined that a full-scale home security system isn’t what you need after all, don’t forget to take a close look at individual devices that can be used to increase your peace of mind and safety in your home. Because, really, that’s what it comes down to: deciding how to best secure and monitor your home while you’re away.
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