When you consider the losses you can incur if someone breaks into your house, a home security system can be a good investment. When it comes to choosing a system and installing it, going the do-it-yourself route can save you money.
Money expert Clark Howard says homeowners who want to build their own security systems have plenty of good options in a wide range of prices.
In this article, I’ll highlight some of Clark’s picks for home security systems that you can install yourself.
Here Are Some Affordable DIY Home Security Systems
Home security systems are big business. Driven by technological innovations and declining prices, the global home security market is projected to reach $82.3 billion by 2027.
Sure, you can spend thousands on a fancy, professionally installed home security system. But what if you just want an upgrade beyond the traditional deadbolt lock?
Here are some DIY security systems you can install for less. We’ve included installation information and prices (which are, of course, subject to change).
If you want a system that can be easily integrated into other electronics you may already have in your home, Abode is a great option. The starter kit is compatible with Amazon Alexa and a few other voice-activated systems.
What to know about installation: You won’t need any tools to install the Abode security system. The gear includes one gateway, which is the hub, one mini door sensor, one motion sensor and one key fob.
Starting cost of base system: around $420 (on sale for $389 as of August 2021)
Starting cost for monitoring: Self-monitoring starts at $73 a year (20 cents a day).
The Arlo security platform lets you start with a single camera that you can build out into a system. The Arlo advertises three items as the essentials:
- Video doorbell
- Floodlight camera
Clark says he’s a big fan of the Arlo.
“The Arlo is a wireless camera system for indoor or outdoor use. And get this: It requires no electrical hookup! It uses lithium batteries instead, just like electric cars do,” Clark says.
What to know about installation: Most of Arlo’s hardware can be placed or mounted on flat surfaces without any problems, according to the company, which says its online support center can help at arlo.com/support.
Starting cost for monitoring: Self-monitoring starts at $2.99 a month.
Honeywell got into the smart market relatively recently with its Smart Home Security System, which is a DIY kit featuring standalone and bundled options.
The kit’s primary setup is the Camera Base Station, which comes with built-in Amazon Alexa and the following equipment:
- Two access sensors for windows and doors
- Remote control key fob
- Honeywell Home App, which features video and alerts
What to know about installation: Honeywell includes easy-to-understand tips on where to place the device and get it started.
Starting cost of base system: $349 (includes all-in-one Home Security Base Station with Camera)
Ooma is a no-frills security system. Its base plan, called the Home Security Starter Pack, gives homeowners access to Telo, a nationwide phone service, as well as motion sensors and two door or window sensors. You can add more at an additional cost.
Ooma also has an online tool to build your own system.
What to know about installation: Ooma comes with a quick start guide to walk you through installation.
Cost of base system: around $200 ($99 base system, $49 door sensor and $49 window sensor)
Cheapest plan: Ooma Smart Security Starter Pack: $149
Starting cost for monitoring: $5.99 a month
Video doorbell maker Ring has a home security platform called the Ring Alarm Security System.
What to know about installation: In most cases, you’ll need to know how to mount a bracket onto your home’s exterior wall and be able to drill some screws to hold it in place.
Starting cost of base system: around $199 (includes security kit, key pad, motion detector, contact sensor and range extender)
Starting cost for monitoring: $10 a month or 100 a year
Clark purchased and installed a Ring security system. Read his full review here!
Scout is a build-your-system kit that comes with a month-to-month payment plan and no contracts.
Scout uses its main device, called a hub, to communicate with all of your sensors. The system allows you to grid your home into zones and name your sensors so that you’ll be able to tell which one has been activated when the system senses a problem.
What to know about installation: Scout provides an installation guide, and you can choose the level of support you want.
Starting cost for monitoring: around $9.99 a month
SimpliSafe offers a home security system built around 24/7 alarm monitoring.
In addition to building your own system, you can select from several packages that come with various entry and motion sensors as well as smoke detectors, sirens and panic buttons.
What you need to know about installation: Simplisafe says no tools are needed, but if you have trouble, the company says it can send a professional installer to your home.
Starting cost of base system: from $183 ($114 base station and $69 keypad)
Cheapest Plan: $269 (on sale for $168 as of August 2021)
Starting cost for professional monitoring: $302 a year (83 cents a day)
Home security means different things to different people. It could be motion-detecting lights, surveillance cameras or a plethora of “smart home” options from doorbell cameras to facial scanners.
Before you spend any money, you should decide what you need to feel protected and have peace of mind.
Once you answer that question, determining your budget and the gear you need should become a lot clearer.
Interested in the best times and places to buy? Here’s when and where to buy a wireless security system.