It’s now easier than ever to install your own home security system. The growing technology has come with many options that are gradually displacing the traditional alarm system style. Gone are the days when your only option was to enter into a contract with a security system provider who would then send a professional to your house for assessment and recommend what you would require. The traditional alarm systems did not only come costly but you had to bear with holes drilled into your walls and wires running throughout your home.
Nowadays, we have various smart home security systems with smart features that you can set up without the help of a professional. You will find many options in the market ranging from wired to wireless CCTV camera systems, smart alarms, smart smoke detectors, smart window and door opening sensors, smart indoor/outdoor cameras, and smart video doorbells.
So, what do we mean here by everything ‘smart’? It simply means you can link up your new home security system to a Wi-Fi network which then allows installations of the wireless smart features named earlier. Most home security vendors also provide apps that you can download to your personal smart devices for your convenience. The apps are compatible with your smart home security system hence you can receive alerts directly on your personal device.
Types of DIY home security systems
The DIY systems come in all shapes and sizes.
LCD panel system – the panel is installed on a wall at a strategic central area of your house and connects wirelessly to your home network. This panel is the brain of the system. Most use capacitive touch screens and have several radios that wirelessly control things like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth sensors, and other home automation devices. For those who might opt for a professional monitoring plan, this is a good choice for it also contains a cellular radio, speaker, and microphone to serve the purpose.
Hub device system – Just like with LCD panels, hub controllers contain the circuit structure and radios necessary for controlling various components. These devices are low-profile and you can place them on any available flat service in your house like your other home décor.
All-in-one security camera – It contains motion and sound sensors, some wireless radios, and a siren. You can also find some all-in-ones fitted with sensors for humidity, room temperature, and air quality.
Operating your DIY home security system is as easy as any other smart home device because it can be activated or deactivated with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. Many also support IFTTT applets to do tasks such as turn on lights when there is an alarm, change thermostat settings and automatically turn on when you leave the house.
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Basic components of a DIY home security system
You can build a custom-made home alarm system because vendors offer the option of buying components by the piece. Below are the key components.
Main Panel with Keypad – These are the brains used to control everything. The keypad is for activating and deactivating your system and the panel for programming the alarm settings.
Sensors – Your preference, the number of windows and doors will determine the number of sensors you need. Every alarm system must include this. The sensors react when a door or window is opened.
Motion detectors – Some are paired with security cameras and record videos as soon as they detect movement besides the typical raising of an alarm. With the right system, you can watch the video in real-time from your phone. Motion detectors are best placed in areas where an intruder would have to pass through while getting in or exiting your houses such as the main hallway, stairway, and foyer
Video doorbells – This is a device able to record video whenever the doorbell ringer is pressed. You can also program video doorbells to activate other devices such as door locks and interior cameras.
Other general components you might need for your home security system include thermostats, sirens, flood/freeze sensors, glass break sensors, key fobs, smoke detectors, and CO detectors.
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Step-by-Step Guide: What options do you have for installing your home security system?
You can either engage a professional or take the good old Do It Yourself path. You don’t have to be a pro in household DIY to install a security system. Creators of security systems are now even more conscious of making installations as simple and painless as possible. The only crucial point to bear in mind is whether your home security system is wired or wireless.
A wired system can be a bit of a challenge to fix than an entirely wireless system. So if you want to save on costs, go for a wireless system because for sure, to install wired alarms, wired smoke detectors, or a wired security camera setup and such, you will most likely require paying a trained professional. Why not go for a wireless installation using our step-by-step guideline below:-
- Identify specific and key points where you’re going to install the devices
- Keep note of strategic locations for each device. For instance, cameras to be angled towards vulnerable areas. Smoke detectors are positioned all-around your house especially close to areas that pose the greatest fire hazard,
- Ensure that all points are within a good range of your WiFi system and that it’s able to support the system
- Noting that all your wireless home security system elements run on battery power make sure you note the lifespan of the batteries for regular replacement.
- Start the process by installing the panel. This should be near your main entry door and close to a power source. A small nail or screw is provided for securing the panel on the wall. Alternatively, there is a removable double-sided adhesive on it for those that don’t want to screw their wall. Once your panel is safely fixed it’s time to get things connected. There are 3 main points your system needs to be connected to; the power supply, the internet, and your smartphone/device. This equipment has a backup battery that automatically kicks in should the power go off, so the process should run uninterrupted.
- Place the door and window sensors. These are the typically vulnerable areas of your house. Attach the sensors on the corners of the doors and windows for detecting whenever these points are open. The door sensors come in 2 pieces; a wireless transmitter and a magnet that completes the circuit. The transmitter can be on the frame and magnet on the door or vice versa. Either way, the system will activate whenever one separates from the other. Put a maximum distance of ¾” to 1” between the contact and magnet. Immediately the door opens, the circuit is broken and an alarm goes off.
- Set up the motion sensors. Chose a location with a clear view of the whole room. Mark navigator holes utilizing the mounting plate as a pattern. Affix the sensor firmly on the empty wallboard using drywall anchors. Motion sensors’ main role is to protect your house when you are asleep or not indoors. The sensors use infrared technology to distinguish body temperatures but you shouldn’t point them to the windows considering the expected changes in temperature. Body weights of less than forty pounds are not detectable by these sensors so your little dog will not be a bother. But if you have a big dog or cat, consider employing door and window contacts instead as these pets might trip motion sensors.
- Set up glass-break sensors. Glass doors or windows are a great burglars’ target. Glass-break sensors can sense when an intruder breaks a window/door. The frequency of the glass break activates the sensor and off goes the alarm. Sensors have a peel and stick backing to hold them into place and move when the need arises.
- Set up Monitored smoke/heat and CO detectors. These are not similar to the smoke detectors that you already have installed in your house. Monitored smoke/heat and CO detectors are capable of detecting the earliest signs of a fire. At any time any one of these sensors trip, the fire department will be called.
- Install water sensors. These are to prevent you from unexpected accidents. Any occurring pipe break or freezing can be detected and you’re alerted in time to reduce water damage. The water sensors can also switch off the power to prevent electrocution.
- Set up CCTV. Cameras mainly help in recording real-time videos. CCTVs can help determine if there was a break-in or for instance, the cause of a fire. This would later tell you the weak areas of your home so you know what to improve on.
- Set up a medical alarm. New technology has brought a lot of convenience into day-to-day life. If you have certain medical conditions or probably living with seniors, a medical alarm comes in handy. It comprises fall sensors, medical pendants, and a main central intercom that instantaneously notifies the fire department that an ambulance is required.
- Download The App. Smart home security systems come with an App that you can download onto your phone or smart device and program it to fit your security needs. Check them out in the Google Play Store or iOS App Store. Register your system and complete the verification procedure. (The panel should be plugged into an electric outlet and connected to the WiFi to communicate with the App and to pair the devices). Search for and add devices on your App and name the sensors (back door, front door, etc.)
- Once done, set up your home by entering your location and number of rooms in the house on the App. After successful programming, you’re ready to go.
- Testing the security system. Every vendor offers guidelines on how you can test your home security system. Make use of the manual for this.
Point to note, the water, smoke, and freeze detectors are always triggered but the windows and door sensors can be turned on while you go to bed or leave the house. More often than not, the door/window sensors and motion sensors are pre-paired to the panel so all you have to do is remove a battery tab to activate the sensor.
Cameras and doorbells are easy to install, but you’ll have to do the pairing yourself. Luckily, most smart devices have detailed guidelines and voice prompts to assist you to add them to the system without much stress.
Comparison of DIY home security systems vs. professionally installed systems
You will come across the terms “DIY” and “professional installation” used often by makers. Some offer you pre-established kits with professionals to install them; others allow you to customize your setup and installation, while some offer a combination of both. Trying to make sense of these can be confusing. Plainly put, a DIY home security system does not have monthly monitoring but offers you the option and also has no contract or long-term commitments. With professional installation, everything is done for you under a signed contract. There is also a hybrid kind of service where professionals allow you to customize and install your system.
24/7 monitoring – DIY has increasingly adopted the same service through self-monitoring features where you get alerts and local sirens. The main professional services provide it under their contracts.
Customization – DIY gives you the option and freedom to build your own kit based on the devices you need and can let you expand your kit in the future. This is not the case for pre-established kits by professional vendors.
Services – A good DIY system lets you build your kit before purchase. You can add certain devices to a cart right on the website, or pick them with a salesperson over the phone. Though you may sometimes be charged for extra help, you’re pretty much on your own for installation. On the other hand, professional systems come as pre-established kits offered in tiers with the highest tier kit having bells and whistles.
Customer support and warranties – Professionally installed systems generally have longer warranties and customer support. DIY systems provide similar support but they vary slightly from vendor to vendor.
Price – The number of devices and what is monitored are the determinants of the cost. DIY home security packages are lower in price for both hardware and monitoring.
Tips to make the most out of your home security system
- Don’t hide your cameras. According to research from the University of North Carolina, most burglars consider the presence of cameras when picking a target. It, therefore, goes without saying; you should not hide your cameras.
- Protect beyond your front door. Though we could say every entry point to your home needs a second eye, there are a few key areas that should be given priority. Number one is your front door. A lot of traffic can be monitored here, from visitors to deliveries. A camera or video doorbell will monitor intrusion and other mundane things. Back doors and ground floor windows situated at the rear or sides of your house are equally vulnerable. Leaving these spots uncovered to cut costs beats the reason for having a home security system at all. You could lose more in case of a break-in.
- Invest in motion detection devices. This is necessary because you can’t monitor your cameras 24/7. And that’s why we advise that when shopping for a camera, get one with motion detection. After connecting your smart camera, you can activate the applicable feature on the kind of activity you want to monitor.
- Boost your account security. Change the default passwords on your camera. You will find that older or off-brand cameras use simple security and are just a Google search away from intruders. Enable two-factor authentication if possible. Is your router secured using WPA2 encryption? You can never be too careful especially if your camera is connected to WiFi.
DIY home security systems are easy to install, customizable, and scalable over time. They are also less costly to acquire and come with an option for monitoring. Whichever option you go for, ensure you select a plan that suits your home and budget.
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