No matter what you’ve paid for your home, its value is largely dependent on how safe and secure you can make it. That’s why having a home security system – even one you’ve installed yourself – is commonplace today.
But what type of DIY home security system should you buy and what are the top brands?
In this article, I’ll highlight some of money expert Clark Howard’s picks for home security systems that you can install yourself.
What Should I Look for in a Basic Home Security System?
Here is a typical basic setup for a home security system that you can install yourself:
- A hub or base computer system
- Sensors for doors, windows and walls
- A video doorbell
- Wireless monitoring and/or professional monitoring (optional)
Clark says homeowners who want to build their own security systems have plenty of good options in a wide range of prices. 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).
Here Are Some Affordable DIY Home Security Systems
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 $199 as of June 2023)
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: 24/7 professional monitoring costs $24.99 a month.
Ooma is a no-frills security system for the budget-conscious homeowner. Its base plan, called the Home Security Starter Pack, gives homeowners access to Ooma Telo, a nationwide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service, as well as motion sensors and two door or window sensors. You can add more at an additional cost.
Ooma.com 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: From $150 ($99 base system, $24.99 door sensor and $24.99 window sensor)
Starting cost for monitoring: $5.99 a month
Video doorbell maker Ring’s basic home security platform is called the Ring Alarm Security Kit (8-piece).
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. Kit buyers also get a 30-day trial of Ring Protect Pro, the system’s 24/7 monitoring service.
Starting cost of base system: From $175 (includes security kit, key pad, motion detector, contact sensor and range extender)
Starting cost for monitoring: $20 a month or $200 a year
Clark purchased and installed a Ring security system. Read his Ring Security System review!
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 has interactive guidance from the SimpliSafe App. If you call a SimpliSafe professional installer from SimpliSafe, fees start at $124.99, according to its website.
Starting cost of base system: from around $200 ($129.99 base station and $69.99 keypad). The system also comes with a free indoor camera.
Starting cost for professional monitoring: Around $335 a year (99 cents a day)
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.
Aside from knowing when and where to shop for a security system, Clark says you might just want to streamline and get a video camera that you can monitor via cell phone.
“And the Wyze cams are so easy to set up, even a techno idiot like me has been able very easily to set up and monitor the Wyze cams,” Clark says.
Interested in more money-saving advice on home security systems? Read up on which security systems rank better than Ring.