Everyone likes to feel safe and the security of yourself and your family no doubt ranks pretty high on the list of things that are important to you in life. In most places, the days of leaving your house unlocked while you’re away are long gone. That’s why home security systems are big business right now.
With that in mind, homeowners can spend a pretty penny on the latest technology related to home security. Driven by electronic innovations, the global home security market is surging well past $100 billion, according to market watchers, with no sign of slowing down.
But what about a regular Joe who wants to upgrade past the traditional deadbolt lock? There are a number of security systems on the market right now that homeowners can install themselves without breaking the bank.
Home security means different things to different people — it could be motion-detecting lights, surveillance cameras or a plethora of “smart home” options from door-bell cameras to facial scanners. The question is what do you need to feel protected and have peace of mind?
Here are some affordable DIY home security systems
If you want a system that can be easily integrated into other systems, Abode is a great option. The starter kit is compatible with Nest, Amazon Alexa and a few other voice-activated systems. You won’t need any tools to install this one. The gear includes one gateway, which is the hub, one mini door sensor, one motion sensor and one keyfob. Starting cost for Security Kit: $249, If you want a real person monitoring the service along with cellular backup, tack on $30 a month and go from there.
Other DIY home security systems that money expert Clark Howard has highlighted are:
“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. With several camera models on the market, prices range from $2.99 a month per camera to $14.99 a month for up to 20 cameras.
Honeywell, a longtime security company, 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 apparatus is the Camera Base Station, which comes with a powerful 147° wide-angle live video stream that focuses in pin-sharp 1080p high definition. The system can also send alerts via facial recognition when the kids or other family members enter the home.
The Honeywell Smart Home Security System has three plans — the basic plan offers 24 hours of video storage supporting one camera at no charge. The Standard Membership is $4.99 a month ($49.99 annually) for 30 days of video storage. The Premium Membership offers 60 days of cloud video storage for an unlimited amount of cameras for $14.99 a month or $149.99 a year.
This system has several tiers — starting at $180 to more than $350 — for various security kits, including one with a 110-decibel alarm system to alert your neighbors as well. One thing to be aware of though is that this system does not come with professional monitoring. The good thing is that there is no monthly fee or setup costs. Compatible with an IFTTT (If this then that) system, iSmartAlarm has a number of add-ons to make it more robust, such as Spot and the iCamera Keep Pro. Starting cost: $179.99.
The most robust package is the Pan & Tilt Smart Home Video Bundle, which retails at $349.99 (on holiday sale for $199.99 with code SAVE150) and includes a CubeOne (the hub), two contact sensors, one motion detector and a camera among other gear. The other plans mainly just add contact sensors and/or an additional HD camera all controllable via app.
The Nest security system has expanded greatly over the past year. Beyond the Nest Indoor security camera, the company offers several other features such as a thermostat, an alarm system and a door lock among other things.
Nest’s bread-and-butter product is its 24/7 live streaming indoor video camera, which plays back in in 1080p HD, ideal for TV or mobile phones. It comes with a magnetic stand and is all controllable from an app. Cost: Starting cost: $199 for a single camera and up to $645 for a 5-pack bundle.
This no-frills security system offers a tiered system that caters to millennials on the go as well as seniors who are home around the clock. Ooma’s base plan, called the Home Security Starter Pack, gives homeowners a Telo, motion sensor, and two door or window sensors for $179.99. You can add more sensors, a smoke alarm and the Butterflye Camera for extra costs.
Video doorbell maker Ring has launched a comprehensive home security system called Protect, which comes with a hardware portfolio that would make Lego proud. A base unit costs $99.99 for video in 720p quality. The Video Doorbell 2 retails for $199 (currently on sale for $169) in 1080p HD. A Pro (hardwired) and Elite model (ethernet-powered) costs $249 and $499 respectively. Starting cost: $99.
Scout is a built-your-system kit that starts with with a $129 Hub that communicates with all your sensors. Individual sensors start at $29 for the door/window and more. The system allows you to virtually grid your home into zones and name your sensors so that you know exactly which one went off. Notifications can be sent to both your smartphone or computer no matter where you are. Starting cost: $129.
Marketed as “the fastest-growing home security company in the nation,” SimpliSafe offers 24/7 professional monitoring without the excessive fees tacked on by third-party vendors. Tiered plans start from under $100 and go up to $343 for The Haven, which features an array of sensors to protect against fire and water damage. Starting cost: $99.
Samsung brand SmartThings has partnered with ADT to create a pretty powerful DIY security system. The starter kit features an array of wireless detectors and alarms, including a 7-inch touchscreen control panel with siren, a battery, cell data backup, and wireless duel-encryption. Starting cost: $199.
The Wink Lookout is a DIY security system that uses extensive notifications to alert you when someone breaches your door or windows. You can set it to send you alerts when you’re at work or on vacation as well as tell you when your kids get home from school. Prices start at $199 with no required monthly fees and features the Wink Hub, two door/window sensors, one motion sensor and one siren and chime. Starting cost: $199.
Beware of home-security ripoffs
When it comes to signing up for a DIY security system, buyers need to be aware.
“Unsavory players in the home security field have come up with a new way to rip you off,” Clark says. “Here’s how it plays: When you sign a contract, you’re not given a physical copy. What happens instead is you sign on a tablet or smartphone. The terms and conditions are in tiny type and you sign with either your finger or a stylus.”
While it’s difficult for anyone to read a lengthy contract, especially on the spot, Clark advises that homeowners at least skip past the legalese and read the part about what you’re agreeing to at what price and for how long.
In other words, before you secure anything else, secure your wallet. Happy home protection!