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Pros & Cons of Installing Your Own Home Alarm System

Published 01/08/2024 by General Security


You may still be wondering whether a do-it-yourself (DIY) home alarm system is right for you. A major component of that equation revolves around questions of installation.  

With advancements in home alarm technology, consumers find many benefits in setting up their own systems and outdoor security cameras.

However, many people prioritize price without considering other equally important factors: equipment quality, convenience, peace of mind, flexibility of associated contracts, and level of customer service, among others.

Evaluating different features of DIY security systems is crucial for finding the best way to protect your home and family.

Here are just a few points to consider: 

    1. Cost Considerations: DIY systems can save you money, but failing to properly install your home alarm system can result in other unexpected costs.
    2. Equipment and Features: Professional setups sometimes offer higher-quality equipment and more advanced security features, while DIY systems provide quick installation and flexible contract terms.
    3. Customer Support: Professional installations come with superior customer service and warranties, ensuring easy access to assistance and equipment replacements.
    4. Flexibility and Integration: DIY options allow for easy setup and contract flexibility, but professional systems usually offer better system integration and compatibility.
    5. Convenience and Peace of Mind: Experts can help you understand what your needs are, recommending the most appropriate tech and monitoring solutions.

How to Monitor Your Security System

Before you even begin to evaluate the pros and cons of installing a home alarm system yourself or contracting a professional, you should determine how your system will be monitored.

For instance: 

  • Will you be able to keep a vigilant and ever-watchful eye on your home’s security systems? 
  • Are you better off leaving that to a professional company that can oversee things 24/7?

DIY installations can certainly become centrally monitored later on, should you decide that self-monitoring is too burdensome or a responsibility you no longer want to manage. However, whether you contract with a security service provider now or later will also impact overall costs for your home alarm system in the long run. 

For the intents and purposes of this post, we’ll assume you plan to enlist a professional security provider for monitoring your home.


Short-Term vs. Long-term Costs of DIY Home Alarm Systems

These types of household decisions begin and end with the budget. 

  • What can your family afford? 
  • Do you need to spend more to obtain peace of mind when you’re away from home or your children are fast asleep at night?

Overall costs largely depend on short-term and long-term factors. 

For instance, upfront DIY components may cost between $200 to $350 for a starter package, with upcharges for extras, such as security cameras, and video doorbells. 

Those costs naturally increase if you plan on equipping your household with additional protection, including smoke alarms, contact sensors, carbon monoxide detectors, flood sensors, and low-temperature sensors, which can increase costs between $300 to $700 in many cases. 

While DIY can be less expensive, professional installations often provide flexible financing options, making them an affordable avenue. In effect, a home security provider can make more sense if you’re on a tight budget but feel an urgency to increase your family’s security. (In a related note: There are several things you can do to improve your household security when on a tight budget.)

Professional monitoring costs typically range from $20 to $60 a month, to say nothing of the activation fees a security provider may charge you upfront when you first establish an account.


Don't Overlook Home Alarm Equipment Quality

Often neglected when selecting a security system, equipment quality can dramatically impact your savings over the long run.

Hardware used in professionally installed systems can sometimes be more robust and less prone to problems than DIY kits (though that’s not necessarily the case). You absolutely can save money by installing a home alarm system yourself, but as the adage goes, “cheap is expensive.” 

For instance, imagine you’ve installed a video doorbell, but it fails to work properly, resulting in numerous packages being stolen from off your front steps. In this case, your DIY installation has suddenly become much more costly. 

Keep in mind that smart home packages can be customized, as well. So be sure you consult with a security professional before settling for more standard security options. Burglar alarms are pretty skeletal compared to the advanced safety features made possible by smart home security systems, which offer you real-time notifications, more rapid emergency response, and improved efficiencies

Many of these more sophisticated features become all the more important for parents with young children of school age

Also, DIY components are usually only compatible with their own monitoring service. This locks you into working with one company until you buy new hardware, even if you’re unsatisfied with the service. Most professional setups, however, can be transferred to a new monitoring service at the end of a contract, giving you the option to shop around if dissatisfied or safety conditions change.


DIY Home Alarm Systems Have Become Easier to Install

Many security companies like to tout the convenience of their installation service. You don’t have to lift a finger; they’ll set everything up. 

While DIY security systems used to be complex, they have become much simpler to set up recently, often taking less than an hour. Therefore, if you're okay with the trade-offs, and can spare 45 minutes, installation is hardly a concern.

After all, you get the flexibility of installing it on your own time, without needing to schedule a professional installation when someone is home.

On the other hand, professional installation means you can be confident your security cameras are placed in their most optimal positions and other technical components are arranged properly. Professionals bring with them expert knowledge and industry best practices that you may not be aware of when installing a home alarm system yourself.


DIY Offers Greater Contract Flexibility

Another clear difference between DIY and professional installation options is the adjustability of contracts.

Professional installation can be affordable, but that usually includes a long-term contract, typically encompassing three years. 

Alternatively, DIY systems often come with month-to-month agreements that let you discontinue monitoring at any time.

Then again, if you don’t want to have to think that much about your home security monitoring system or its renewal, you may find that longer contract lengths with professional security providers are more appealing.


Customer Service & Warranties

Customer service quality varies from company to company, of course, regardless of whether it’s a DIY or a done-for-you service. However, pro companies typically have better customer service hours, and many are available 24/7 in case of a malfunction. 

Did an alarm go off due to a technical error at 3 a.m.? Was a sensor accidentally tripped by one of your four-legged friends? Did a younger child attempt to repair your security system equipment?

With a DIY system, you can call the monitoring hotline, but they probably won’t be that helpful beyond contacting the police on your behalf. 

Additionally, if you have the same company install and monitor your home security system, they typically offer warranties and services that are easier to claim if something goes wrong. They’re a convenient one-stop-shop solution for all your security needs. 

If a component malfunctions, someone will come out to handle and replace it quickly if it has become defective. There are also no internet return processes or replacement part shipping times to deal with, which means shorter periods of your home security system being inactive and not protecting your household.


Professional Installations Include Extra Security Features

Most DIY systems are fine for basic security if you accept their limitations, but they won’t be as safe as the components that come with professional packages.

Pro systems often have additional features, such as radio signal transmission—which is more secure than wi-fi—or industry-leading response times and redundant monitoring centers. These extras add a formidable layer of detection and response that will keep your home and family safe.

This is especially true of luxury home security systems.

And, if you’re a pet owner, you may need other more specialized security features to properly protect your household. For instance, animals can trigger false alarms with standard home security components, and accidentally automate even the most advanced smart home devices.


Professional Security Camera Apps vs. DIY Solutions

Before making the decision, you also want to compare features between professional security camera apps and DIY solutions

Nearly all security cameras can be categorized into professionally installed or DIY models. The majority of associated mobile and smartphone applications consist of proprietary or third-party brands—those designed to work with specific equipment, or interchangeable, respectively. 

If you’re hoping to use a security service provided by a particular professional team, then you’ll want to filter for apps powered by a particular brand. For example, if you’re partnering with General Security for your home alarm system (be it DIY or professionally installed), then you will search for apps tagged “powered by” 

This ensures all of your technology, including security cameras and corresponding apps, syncs up properly with your phone


Make an Informed Decision

Today's careful shopper has many questions about home security. While some aspects, like cost and contract details, are clear, others, such as how flexible the equipment is or the availability of customer service, might not be apparent initially.

Weighing the points above will help you decide what kind of home alarm system makes the most sense for you, DIY or otherwise.

General Security is an industry-leading security provider that specializes in state-of-the-art, professionally installed and DIY residential and commercial security systems to protect you, your loved ones, and your property.

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