5 DIY Home Security Systems

Category: Hardware , Security

A do-it-yourself (DIY) home security system can reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium and boost your home’s resale value; provide peace of mind while you’re away or asleep; make an intruder change his mind; and even summon police or firefighters when necessary.

Simple and Inexpensive Home Security

Thanks to modern technology, home security systems don’t have to cost a lot, and you can save a bundle by installing one yourself. These systems don't cost thousands of dollars, and there's no drilling, messy wiring, or technical skills required to install and configure. Here are five do-it-yourself home security options to consider...

Two years ago, I wrote about DropCam, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to add video surveillance to your home or business property. The current version, DropCam Pro, has added interactive voice communication; yes, you can now talk to your dog while you’re at work and he’s stuck in the house. “Get off the couch!” might be a good icebreaker.

Night-vision has also been added so you can see who left that burning paper bag on your porch on Halloween. The DropCam Pro costs $199; optional cloud storage for your video footage costs $299 per year for 30 days’ worth of video, or $99 per year for 7 days’ worth of video.

iSmartAlarm Home Security System

The iSmartAlarm system is a more complete home security solution than DropCam. Wireless sensor modules provide intrusion detection at doors windows and other vulnerable points. “Smart Switch” modules can be programmed to turn lights on and off, creating the illusion that someone is home. Motion sensors trigger email or SMS alerts. The iCamera can be controlled remotely, panned 360 degrees, and used to take snapshots and send them to your iPhone. The iCamera KEEP can save video to your iOS or Android device. Prices start at $199 for 1 CubeOne base station, 2 Door/Windows Sensors, 1 Motion Sensor, and 2 Remote Tags. Additional modules can be purchased a la cart.

The Oplink Connected system for Android, iOS, or Windows Phone devices comes in two bundles. The Alarmshield kit includes base station and sensors for $200, to which the $350 Tripleshield kit adds two wireless video cameras. But to use the cameras over the Internet you’ll need to pay Oplink $20 per month! In case your Internet connection fails, you may want to buy an $80 USB cellular modem and pay an additional $10 per month… or not.

The Viper Home Starter Kit lists for $329 and includes a Smart Hub base station, Indoor Motion Detector, and 1 Magnetic Door/Window Sensor. Additional modules are available a la carte. Remote monitoring and event notification costs $10 per month.

SimpliSafe offers five different kits priced from $229.96 to $539.85, plus a la carte options. CNET chose SimpliSafe as their Editor's Choice because of the ease of setup and usage. One unique feature of SimpliSafe is the built-in cellular component. It doesn't need a landline or Internet connection to communicate with you or a monitoring service. The system runs on 5-year lithium batteries and will operate even when the electricity fails. One key selling point is no annual contract fees. Optional SMS (text message) event notifications cost $15 per month, and remote control from a smartphone costs $25 per month.

Even with monthly fees for the privilege of monitoring and managing your own security system, these DIY solutions have far lower total-cost-of-ownership than traditional alarm systems from companies such as ADT and FrontPoint. First, you’ll save installation fees, and avoid letting a stranger inspect all the vulnerable points of your home. Second, monthly fees for remote monitoring by live agents costs at least double what even SimpliSafe is charging, and won’t get emergency help to your location any faster than you can.

Do you have a home security system? Tell me about your solution. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "5 DIY Home Security Systems"

Posted by:

19 Feb 2015

I use Homemonitor cameras (www.homemonitor.me). You can setup schedules for record on motion detection. The best part is you get a running seven days of FREE cloud storage, always!...no continuing costs like dropcam. It doesn't have two-way audio, just one-way...not that you need to really talk to the dog. I get alerts of motion detection on my smart phone. I also use free IFTTT service to give me a phone call on my cell phone on motion detection, as my phone, like most, is dinging all day, not necessarily catching my attention.

Posted by:

Steven Bulger
19 Feb 2015

I have ADT and I think the the ADT sign I have at my front door and sticker at the back door scares away any robber more than what security sensors, etc you have in the home.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Then why not cancel your service and just keep the stickers?

Posted by:

19 Feb 2015

How about this sign at your front entry. "AMMUNITION IS EXPENSIVE, THERE WILL BE NO WARNING SHOTS"
It would get my attention.

Posted by:

19 Feb 2015

Do you know of a DIY system that accepts wired sensors? I can find nothing.

Posted by:

19 Feb 2015

Dang! I thought this list was going to be Bob's favorite breed of dog and his top pick of self-defense firearms!!! (Did you know that nearly ANY dog that's a pound rescue will wake you up and that a $50 shot-gun is as good as a $500 one if what you really want is the sound of a pump racking a 12 gauge round [often the sound is all you need, no rounds - SO, do you feel lucky today kid, well do ya?]) Shelters also offer German Shepard's for adoption and if they don't keep someone out, they are gonna come in any way. AND you get a friend for life if you treat them right. Who could beat a deal like that! A big old galoot of a dog from a pound, and a friend for Life? As for signs: "Protected by Sig-Saur" or "Trespassers will be shot, Survivors will be shot again" also work well. An NRA sticker on a door also works well. But sings only apply to the literate.

Posted by:

19 Feb 2015

The beauty of SimpliSafe is you don't need to pay for an internet connection when you're away from your home for months at a time and (I know from experience) they dispatch or alert whomever you've selected 24/7. In my case, 3 a.m. for the cops and neighbor. So, six months a year for $90 total (six months at $15/per) after a minimal outlay of less than $200: no-brainer. I love them.

Posted by:

Elizabeth Landry
19 Feb 2015

Dear Bob,
Can these systems be disabled electronically by the bad guy before the break in and then turned back on afterwards? Peace, E

Posted by:

Roger M
19 Feb 2015

I purchased an ENVOY wireless system several years ago from dealer with the door & windows wireless sensors I wanted & fire&smoke detector;
around $500. plus I only pay $80. a quarter for alarm system notification. Very pleased.

Posted by:

Jim Brill
19 Feb 2015

Bob, I've been looking at DYI home security systems for the last few days and I have say that the reviews of SimpliSafe are not all that great. Don't know if I would give them a try.

Posted by:

20 Feb 2015

I have the simplisafe system and it works great. The price is right too. I could do more with it if I had a smart phone.

Posted by:

20 Feb 2015

We have a monitored hard wired security system of 3 motion detectors and several door monitors. I wonder if there is a way we could add one or two wireless video monitors that we could check on by way of our cell phone. We don't need the video monitors to be integrated into our current system. Is it possible to have 2 separate systems that will not interfere with each other?

Posted by:

Jack Adinolfi
21 Feb 2015

We have had SimpliSafe for over three years. The service is excellent and whenever we set the alarm off accidently they are calling us to find out what is wrong. The system also does a check every week to make sure that everything is operating correctly. One insurance point, you have to have both breakin and fire sensors to get a discount from some insurance companies. SimpliSafe offers both.

Posted by:

Jim S
12 Mar 2015

I own a Dropcam Pro with the subscription to archive video and like it so far. Just wish it had an easier way to scroll (forward and backward) through the recordings.

Also, a note to Bob: You may want to clarify that Dropcam does not currently make a weather-proof outdoor camera, so if you want to catch that kid that left the flaming paper bag on your porch you'd better have line-of-site to your porch from inside your home.

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