Is a DIY security system right for you?


Technology can make it easier to monitor your home security and systems.


Keeping your family and home safe with a security system can give you added comfort and confidence. The market for home security has expanded to include DIY systems that are often cheaper and can be customized to fit your needs. With all the options, it can be hard to know what to buy, but with some basic knowledge about different systems, the decision can be made easier.

Deciding if a DIY Security System is Right for You

The biggest decision to make when looking at a home security system is whether you will purchase a DIY system to install yourself or if you will purchase a system through a professional company. Each option has pros and cons that you should consider before deciding.


The Pros and Cons of a DIY System
Pros Cons
Save money on installation and equipment Incorrect installation is a possibility
Customize system to fit your needs Add-ons can be expensive
No strangers in your house You are responsible for repairs
Some systems are portable Limited technical and installation support
No contracts or monthly fees required Wireless hacking concerns
Integration with other smart home systems


Choosing a System

If a DIY system is for you, the next step is deciding what you want to include in your system. The three main devices for DIY home security systems are video doorbells, security cameras and complete security systems.

Video Doorbells

Video doorbells increase your home’s security by allowing you to see who is at the door before you answer and to keep an eye on your home when you are away. Some important features to look for in a video doorbell include:

  • Night vision camera –See who is at your door after the sun goes down and decide if it is safe to open your door.
  • High definition camera –Identify accurately who is at your door.
  • Two-way audio –Talk with someone without opening the door even when you are not at home.
  • On demand monitoring – Ability to log into a smartphone app that connects to your doorbell and pull up video feed at any time.
Security Cameras

Security cameras help you keep watch over your home, loved ones and valuables. There are hundreds on the market and it can be daunting to figure out which one is best for you.

The first thing to consider is whether you will be using the camera inside, outside or both. Inside cameras can be used as baby monitors, to keep an eye on pets and to help identify a burglar. You might choose outside cameras as well, to keep track of your car or make sure people aren’t damaging your home or landscaping. Above all else, outside cameras need to be weatherproof. Additional features to consider when looking for a security camera:

  • Video quality – The higher the video quality, the more expensive the camera. Consider what you will be using the camera for and whether you need a sharper image.
  • Audio – Many indoor cameras have two-way audio so you can speak to people or pets. Audio is less common on outdoor cameras, but there are a few with the capability.

Make sure that storage capacity is sufficient for the amount of time you need – systems vary from hours to days to weeks.

Complete Security Systems

Complete security systems allow you to protect your entire home from every angle. When comparing security systems, you might want to consider:

  • Door, window and motion sensors – All of these can alert you if a door or window is opened, or if an intruder is inside your home.
  • Audible Alarm – An alarm that sounds when a sensor is tripped can deter a burglar from entering your home.
  • Optional professional monitoring – Many systems have the option to be monitored by professionals. A few give you the option of month-by-month monitoring, for occasional use. You can pay for a month’s monitoring without having to sign a longer contract if you are on vacation.

Added security will put your mind at ease, knowing that your family and home are safe. Now that you know what to consider, you can confidently choose which system is right for you.

More Resources

Consumer Product Safety Commission Guide to Home Wiring


This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact your local, independent insurance agent for coverage advice and policy service.

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