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The Complete DIY Home Security Guide: Everything You Need for Peace of Mind

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By tom.baldridge

Securing your home and family should be a top priority. But expensive professional installation and monthly monitoring fees often price homeowners out of advanced security systems. That’s where DIY home security shines – offering robust, customized protection that won’t break the bank.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of building your own DIY security system from start to finish. You’ll learn:

  • How DIY security systems work and key components to consider
  • Strategic tips for planning your system layout and equipment
  • Step-by-step installation and setup
  • Activating professional monitoring services
  • Maintenance best practices to keep your system running smoothly

Follow along to gain the knowledge and confidence to install DIY home security tailored to your needs and budget.

Why DIY Home Security Systems Make Sense

Traditional home security meant paying huge upfront fees for professional installation and getting locked into expensive, long-term monitoring contracts. DIY systems disrupt this model through:

Affordability – Equipment, installation, and monitoring costs significantly less than pro systems. Basic DIY setups start under $200.

Customization – Build a system matching your home’s unique layout and security needs. Mix and match components modularly.

Ease of Installation – Modern DIY systems use wireless equipment for straightforward self-installation. No wiring or drilling holes required!

No Long-Term Commitments – Monitoring plans are available from $10/month with the ability to cancel anytime.

DIY security puts control in your hands. You can now protect your family on a budget with month-to-month flexibility.

Key Components of a DIY Security Setup

While offerings differ across providers, most DIY systems include a similar set of core devices:

Hub/Panel – The brains of your system, connecting sensors and facilitating monitoring. Look for cellular or WiFi enabled panels.

Sensors – Detect intrusions at doors, windows, and other points of entry. Motion sensors also help protect interiors.

Cameras – Enable visual verification of activity and deterrence. Position cameras strategically indoor/outdoor.

Environmental Sensors – Critical for detecting threats like smoke, carbon monoxide, water leaks, etc.

Keypad – Allows you to easily arm/disarm the system. Typically mounted near entry/exit doors.

Yard Sign and Window Stickers – Visible security signage helps deter intruders.

Compare top-rated DIY providers such as SimpliSafe, Ring, abode, Scout to find equipment packages that fit your budget.

DIY Home Security

Now let’s go over planning your perfect system layout…

Mapping Out Your DIY Security System

Careful planning ensures you get the right equipment and positioning for optimal protection. Follow these steps:

Create a floor plan – Draw up a simple layout of each level of your home, including all doors and windows. This visual aid helps plan gear placement.

Mark entry points – Note all exterior doors and windows on the floor plan. These are prime spots for entry sensors to detect intrusions.

Consider high-traffic areas – Where do you and your family spend the most time? Prioritize motion sensors in busy living spaces, hallways, stairs, etc.

Identify valuables – Are there certain rooms or belongings you want monitored more closely? Position cameras accordingly.

Factor in environmental hazards – Make sure to spread out smoke detectors, CO sensors according to safety guidelines.

Optimize camera angles – Cameras should cover approaches to your home and areas like back/front yards. Adjust angles to remove blindspots.

Avoid false alarms – Look for sensor placement tips to prevent false alarms. For example, keep motion sensors away from corners.

Thoughtful planning results in comprehensive protection. Take the time upfront to do it right!

DIY Home Security

Now let’s get into the installation and setup process…

Installing Your DIY System

Once you’ve selected equipment and planned positioning, it’s time to install. We’ll cover key steps below:

Mounting Sensors

Most DIY sensors include peel-and-stick adhesive strips for quick and easy mounting.

  • Place entry sensors on stationary framing, not moveable glass/window panes. This prevents false alarms.
  • Install motion detectors 7-8 feet off the ground angled downward. This gives optimal coverage area.
  • Follow height guidelines for smoke detectors and CO sensors (typically ceiling mounted).

Positioning the Hub/Panel

  • Pick a central, inconspicuous spot close to a power outlet. Many panels can sit on tables or mount on walls.
  • Make sure the panel location has cellular and/or WiFi connectivity if enabled.

Connecting Devices

  • Link sensors to the panel according to the manufacturer’s instructions. DIY systems are designed for straightforward wireless setup.
  • Sync cameras with the hub and position them for best coverage following your floor plan.
  • Carefully test all devices (more details next) to confirm everything is communicating properly.
DIY Home Security

With all the hardware installed and connected, it’s time to make sure everything is working correctly…

Testing and Adjusting Your DIY System

Before feeling secure with your new system, rigorous testing is a must.

  • Trigger each sensor intentionally (open doors/windows, walk past motion sensors, etc) and listen for alarm panel to beep or display sensor status.
  • Check live camera feeds and adjust positioning if any blindspots are found.
  • Ensure environmental sensors are functional using recommended testing procedures.
  • Adjust sensitivity settings if certain sensors produce false alarms during testing.

Take the time to test thoroughly – this verifies your protection system works as intended. Tweaking placement and settings goes a long way.

DIY Home Security

Now that your system is installed and optimized, it’s time to connect professional monitoring…

Activating Monitoring Services

Monitoring takes your DIY security to the next level by dispatching emergency responders when an alarm goes off. This provides true 24/7 protection.

How it Works

  1. Sensor is triggered by an intrusion or hazard
  2. The alarm panel communicates the alert to the monitoring center
  3. Monitoring center verifies the alarm and contacts emergency responders on your behalf

Key Tips

  • Look for monitored DIY providers or standalone companies like COPS Monitoring. Compare plans starting around $10/month.
  • Registration typically includes submitting emergency contacts for verification calls when alarms activate.
  • Take advantage of status notifications – this allows the monitoring center to push system status updates directly to your smartphone.

Professional monitoring delivers valuable peace of mind that emergency personnel will be contacted if trouble arises. Well worth the marginal monthly cost!

[Table: DIY home security monitoring service comparison]

DIY Home Security

top DIY home security monitoring services:

Service NameMonitoring TypeSmart Home IntegrationRecommended BySources
Ring AlarmSelf & ProfessionalYesUS News, CNET[1][4]
SimpliSafeSelf & ProfessionalYesUS News, This Old House, CNET[1][3][4]
AbodeProfessional (Add-on)YesTom’s Guide[5]
Ooma Smart Security Starter PackProfessional (Add-on)Yes[5]
ADTProfessionalYes[5]
Wyze Home MonitoringProfessional (Add-on)YesCNET[4]

Maintaining Your DIY Security System

Like any home system, some basic maintenance is required for optimal performance over time. Follow these tips:

  • Replace backup batteries every 1-2 years to prevent failures.
  • Test all devices monthly to identify any connectivity or power issues early.
  • Inspect motion sensors to ensure the lens is clean and unobstructed.
  • Check smoke/CO detector expiration – replace every 8-10 years.
  • Update camera and system firmware when new versions are released for feature/security enhancements.
  • Consider an annual professional inspection of your overall system – an extra set of expert eyes.

DIY maintenance takes some diligence but is straightforward. Stay on top of it and your system will keep your home and family secure for years to come.

DIY security system maintenance checklist

  • Test all components
  • Check batteries
  • Inspect sensors
  • Update firmware
  • Replace expired detectors
  • Clean camera lenses
  • Verify alarm panel connectivity
  • Review and update emergency contacts
  • Confirm proper functioning of keypads
  • Test communication with monitoring service

These additional tasks ensure that the entire system, including cameras, connectivity, emergency contacts, keypads, and communication with the monitoring service, is regularly checked and maintained for optimal performance.

With the fundamentals covered, you’re equipped to build a DIY system tailored to your home’s unique needs. The key is taking a methodical approach – thoughtful planning, careful installation and testing, and consistent maintenance. Do it right from the start and you’ll reap the rewards of robust home protection without professional fees.

Here are a few parting tips before you embark on your DIY security journey:

  • Read equipment reviews and take advantage of provider resources/support throughout the process.
  • Consider an expandable system that allows you to easily add components later as needs evolve.
  • Layer DIY security with other smart home technologies like video doorbells, smart locks, and voice assistants for even more protection.
  • Check if your home insurance provides discounts for monitored security systems – an added cost benefit!

Securing your abode starts with being informed. Use this guide as a roadmap to plan, install, and maintain DIY home security like a pro. The peace of mind is well worth the effort!

Stay safe and protected.

SimpliSafe offers DIY-friendly home security systems with professional monitoring. Learn more about cost-effective protection for your family at https://simplisafe.com/.

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