In 1918, Popular Science Monthly featured a home security kit involving an electric-powered stair alarm.
It worked with a hinge apparatus with a circuit hidden on a stair. By stepping on the stair where the alarm was installed, the circuit tripped and sounded a gong and turned on the lights.
This version of DIY home security is tame when compared to cruder methods once used. Vicious dogs, trap doors, trip wires that set off guns or gun powder bombs have all been employed for home security. There is considerable risk in these methods as these days they can often result in criminal charges and civil damages against the property owner who uses them.
Fortunately, DIY home security now is high-tech, cost effective, and unlikely to get any homeowner or renter in trouble. When deciding to install a DIY system or use the services of a home security company, consider the following benefits and shortcomings.
Benefits of DIY Home Security
Cost – A professional home security system starts with an installation cost plus monthly fees for its services, which is in the $35-60-plus range from basic to more advanced. To lock in these rates, a minimum contract term normally applies, usually up to 36 months.
You can purchase a basic DIY system around $100 or a premium system for around $300. Once purchased, there are no additional monthly costs and you only pay more if you wish to add additional sensors or features.
Easily Customized – DIY systems offer many features including key ring remotes, cell phone notification, and online monitoring through security cameras. You can also buy as few or as many motion detectors as needed. This allows for a highly adaptable system that can be adjusted to any homeowner’s needs.
Portability – Being wireless, these systems are easy to un-install and transport to another resident. This is especially important for renters who may change residences more often than homeowners. There is no need to call the security company and notify of a move or gut walls to remove an involved wired system.
Installation – To be effective, the system must be installed correctly. Improper installation can lead to failure and false alarms, both of which can be costly to a homeowner or renter of the premises.
Home security companies are very effective at tuning motion detectors so that they are not tripped at the slightest movement and avoiding false alarms. A DIY homeowner may not have the same skill and motions sensors could end up too sensitive or not sensitive enough.
Support and Warranty – Once you purchase a DIY security system, you are usually on your own. Any repairs will be of your expense. If there is a false alarm, you will need to pay any fines assessed by your local police or fire department or home owner’s association.
Home security system companies offer warranties and support after installation to repair these problems and absorb any costs arising out the system’s malfunction. If you decide to go with a DIY system, research if the manufacturer offers technical support or any warranties. The best way to ensure this service is to go with leading manufacturers.
Notification – DIY systems are capable of sending notifications to telephone numbers programmed into it. However, 911 is not a contact option. Basically, the system will notify all people programmed into it that there is trouble but it will be up to those individuals to decide whether to call the authorities.
Limited Features – Motion sensors on DIY systems will detect a break-in but these systems are not designed to detect fire, broken pipes, or other at-home catastrophes. Home security companies offer these services in addition to intruder alerts.
DIY systems also lack battery back-up in case of power outages, panic buttons in case you enter your home and discover an intruder beat your system, or adjustments to keep pets from tripping sensors.