Your Guide to DIY Home Security Systems

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best DIY home security systems
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If you’re thinking about buying a home security system, you should know it doesn’t have to bust your budget. In fact, one of the best ways to save on a security system is to do it yourself!

Money expert Clark Howard says there are plenty of options today for homeowners who want to build their own security systems for peace of mind.

In this article, we’re going to highlight some of the best DIY security systems on the market.

Here Are Some Affordable DIY Home Security Systems

Home security systems are big business. Driven by electronic innovations, the global home security market is projected to see more than 10% growth into 2023, with no sign of slowing down.

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 without breaking the bank. We’ve included installation information and prices (which are subject to change).

Abode

Abode DIY home security system

If you want a system that can be easily integrated into other electronics that may already be 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 this one. The gear includes one gateway, which is the hub, one mini door sensor, one motion sensor and one key fob.

Cost of base system: Around $259

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Starting cost for monitoring: Professional monitoring starting at $100 a year

Arlo

Arlo home security system

The Arlo security system lets you start with a single camera and allows you to build a system based on two Smart Plans. It advertises three items as the basic essentials of its platform:

  • Cameras
  • Video doorbell
  • Pro Floodlight camera

Clark is a big fan of the Arlo. Here’s what he says about it:

“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 the items can be placed or mounted on flat surfaces without any problems. Arlo says their online support center can help at arlo.com/support.

Cost of base system: $179-$949

Starting cost for monitoring: Self-monitoring starts at $2.99 a month

Honeywell Smart Home Security System

Honeywell DIY home security system

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 setup is the Camera Base Station, which comes with Amazon Alexa as well as the following equipment:

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  • 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.

Cost of base system with self-monitoring: Around $449

iSmartAlarm

iSmartAlarm DIY home security system

This system features several packages that have devices to protect your home, including alarms and cameras. Here are the three basic types of packages they offer:

  • Home security packages: These include a CubeOne (the hub) along with devices and sensors you need
  • Home video packages: Camera solutions that offer free video recording, pan-and-tilt and other features
  • Site-exclusive packages: These are add-ons that can only be purchased on iSmartAlarm.com

What to know about installation: Setup is easy as iSmartAlarm gives you suggestions on where to place the cameras and other devices.

Cost of base system with self-monitoring: Around $180

Nest

Nest DIY home security system

Nest, owned by Google, has two primary security systems of interest to the DIYer: An alarm system and a camera system.

The Nest Secure Alarm System has become immensely popular with homeowners. Inside the box you’ll find an array of hardware, including:

  • Nest Guard: An alarm and keypad with Google Assistant built in
  • Two Nest Detect sensors: Motion detectors for your doors and windows
  • Nest Tags and more

Cost of base system with self-monitoring: Around $399

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Starting cost for professional monitoring: $19 a month (via Brinks)

The Nest security camera system features two models that can stream and record video continuously:

  • Nest Cam Indoor: This security camera can be set up in any room and comes with a USB cable and wall mount
  • Nest Cam Outdoor: This weatherproof model for your home’s exterior can be monitored from your phone

What to know about installation: All Nest products can be installed on most surfaces. Depending on the model, they may come with a magnet and wall plate. A tripod is extra.

Cost of base system: Around $199

Ooma

Ooma DIY home security system

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 access to Telo, a nationwide phone service, as well as motion sensors and two door or window sensors. You can add more at additional cost.

Ooma also has an online tool that makes it easy to build your own system for your home.

What to know about installation: Ooma comes with a quick start guide to walk you through installation, which is fast and easy.

Cost of base system: Around $180

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Starting cost for monitoring: $14.99 a month

Ring

Ring DIY home security system

Video doorbell maker Ring has a comprehensive home security system 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 drill in some screws to hold it in place.

Cost of base system: Around $199

Starting cost for monitoring: $100 a year

Clark purchased and installed a Ring security system. Read his full review here!

Scout

Scout home security system

Scout is a build-your-system kit that comes with a month-to-month payment plan and no contracts.

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Scout uses its main device, called a Hub, to communicate with all of your sensors. The system allows you to virtually grid your home into zones and name your sensors so that you know exactly which one went off.

What to know about installation: Scout’s installation guide lets you set up in no time. As an add-on, you can also choose the level of support you want.

Cost of base system: Around $170

Starting cost for monitoring: Around $107 a year for self-monitoring; $215 a year for professional monitoring

SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe home security system

SimpliSafe offers a home security system built around 24/7 alarm monitoring.

In addition to building your own system, you can select from five security packages — including the Essential and Foundation plans — 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, they can send a pro out to your home.

Cost of base system with self-monitoring: From around $183

Starting cost for professional monitoring: $15 a month

Final Thought

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, the question only you can answer is this: What do I need to feel protected and have peace of mind?

Once you answer that question, your budget — and the gear you need — will become a lot clearer.

Interested in the best times and places to buy? Here’s when and where to buy a wireless security system.

More Home and Money Resources From Clark.com:

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