Home security has many different options, from professionally installed and monitored systems to basic peel-and-stick sensors that send alerts to your phone. But no matter what kind of system you choose, the greatest benefit of a home security system is the peace of mind you get knowing that no one is coming into your home without your knowledge.
Home security systems are also a great way to protect your investment. Smoke alarms and leak sensors can alert you to fires and floods before they wreak havoc on your home, and many home insurance companies offer homeowners discounts for properties with home security systems.
Professional vs. DIY home security
Getting a home security system professionally installed can cost anywhere from $99 to over $1,000, depending on the size of your home and the type of system you want. Professional installation can also come with high-pressure sales. Most home security companies require you to be at home during installation, so you might have to take time off work to meet the installation technician.
On the plus side, with professional installation, you don't have to deal with the hassle of complicated instruction manuals or worry if the system doesn't work right. Professional security technicians also often use higher-quality equipment than is commonly found in DIY systems, and they're trained to understand optimal security system design so that they can ensure the most effective placement for your devices. If you decide to go this way, make sure to get several quotes from reputable companies and read the contract carefully.
- Worry-free installation
- Efficient device placement
- High-quality equipment
- High-pressure sales
- May require time off work
DIY systems cost around $200 for the basics, but they can get more expensive as you add devices like security cameras, extra door and window sensors, and smoke detectors. The good news is that with DIY systems, you can start with the basics and add on more devices as your budget allows without having to worry about the extra cost of paying a technician to come out to your home.
DIY home security systems are also usually wireless, making them a great choice for renters or for people who move frequently. You can take your system with you and reinstall it in your new home. Unfortunately, that could also mean that DIY systems are fairly simple for intruders to disable as well, so it's important to look for a DIY system with a crash-and-smash protection.
- Easy wireless installation
- Challenging installation
- Lower-quality equipment
- Limited input from experts
- Control Panel: Your control panel acts as the "brains" of your security system. When a sensor is triggered, it sends a signal to your control panel so it can call out to a professional monitoring center. Some systems will send the message to an app on your phone using either a landline or cellular connection.
- Video Cameras: Installing indoor and outdoor video cameras can help you keep an eye on your home via live feeds and triggered motion alerts. Video recordings can help verify triggered alarms. Many home security cameras are also equipped with night vision and microphones and speakers for two-way voice communication.
- Door and Window Sensors: Door and window sensors use magnetic connections to send alerts to your home security system if a door or window opens. Most modern systems use wireless, battery-powered sensors that stick to your doors and windows with strong adhesives.
- Motion Detectors: Unlike entry sensors that only cover a single door or window, a well-placed motion detector uses passive infrared (PIR) technology to alert you to an intrusion from almost any point in a single room. Motion sensors are also helpful for monitoring outdoor spaces and can be configured to ignore movement from your pets.
- Flood, Smoke, and CO Detectors: Environmental sensors detect the presence of water, smoke, or harmful carbon monoxide in your home. These sensors trigger your alarm so you can act quickly before your family becomes a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning or your home suffers damage from a flood or fire.
When you're ready to purchase your own home security system, it's important to weigh your home security needs and your budget. You should also decide whether or not you'd be comfortable installing your own system or if you'd rather let a pro handle it. Do you want to be the first person to know if there's an emergency at home, or would you rather have the peace of mind of a professional monitoring center?
Remember that most home security systems are designed to allow for expansion. Hence, it's okay to start with something simple and work up to more comprehensive security as your budget allows. Check out our picks for the Best Home Security Systems and the Best DIY Home Security Systems to find the most fitting option for your lifestyle and budget.