August 20, 2013
Tips for Installing a DIY Home Security System
Even if you don’t describe yourself as a “do-it-yourselfer,” you probably know that DIY is the way to go with home security systems. DIY alarm systems save you time and money – and they’re super easy! As one customer told us, “It’s about as hard as sticking a magnet on the fridge.”
The key to DIY home security is wireless technology. A standard, traditional alarm system requires professional installation, with a technician at your home, running wires through the walls. Those systems require a physical, wired connection between the security sensors and the control box. When the sensors detect a security breach, they send an alert. The control box then signals the central monitoring station, using either the home phone line or internet cable.
With wireless home security, none of the components are physically joined together. All communication is wireless. If the system is 100% wireless, the connection between the control panel and the monitoring station is cellular.
Here are 5 quick tips for selecting and installing a DIY home security system:
Tip 1 – Choose 100% wireless security, with cellular monitoring
If you’re purchasing a “wireless alarm system” you expect all aspects of the system to be wireless. However, the best home security companies advertise wireless systems, when in fact their monitoring connection is wired – not cellular. Their “wireless security” pertains only to the sensors. Professional installation is required for the phone or internet integration between the home and monitoring station.
If you need to schedule (and pay for!) a technician’s visit, obviously your home security system is not DIY. When selecting a system, ask the sales person if it is 100% wireless, with cellular monitoring. Some companies offer cellular as a back-up, but then charge extra for it. There’s no point in paying extra. Companies like FrontPoint Security offer cellular monitoring with every system, for no extra fee.
Tip 2 – Map out your home’s security needs
Your alarm company should help you customize your security system, to fit your home. They can provide as much advice as you need, over the phone and on their website.
Start by deciding where to place sensors. Every ground-floor entry point (doors, windows, etc.) should be protected with an intrusion sensor. Most alarm companies offer glass-break sensors or motion detectors as a cost-effective alternative for homes with lots of windows. (No need to pay for a sensor on every window.) If you have an automatic roll-up garage door, there are also sensors designed for them.
Remember: intrusion isn’t your only concern. Most modern alarm systems are advanced enough to offer fire and flood protection, while also covering environmental hazards such as carbon monoxide and freezing pipes.
Tip 3 – Plug, peel, place!
Usually you can buy your DIY security system online or over the phone, and avoid bringing a salesman into your home. The system will arrive a few days later, with the wireless connections already programmed in. Your control box will also be ready to communicate with the monitoring station. All you have to do is plug it in! Since the control box is the “brains” of the whole system, place it in an easily accessible location.
All the wireless sensors will include an easy peel-off adhesive. Simply peel away the backing and stick the sensor in the appropriate spot: on the wall, ceiling, shelf, door frame or window frame. The sensors are small and will barely be noticed.
The whole setup will probably take you less than 30 minutes. A quick call to your alarm company then finalizes the DIY process, as they test and activate the system.
Tip 4 – Choose an alarm company known for customer service
With any kind of DIY project, it’s important to choose a vendor you can count on to respond to your needs. When it comes to the security of your home, you especially want to feel confident that you’re working with trustworthy, knowledgeable support staff, qualified to provide prompt, expert guidance.
The best way to learn about a company’s level of service is to read reviews from other customers. Log onto your favorite consumer site or Google the phrase “home security system reviews.” Angie’s List is another highly respected review source. Look for a home security company that has won the Angie’s List Super Service Award. Check with the BBB, too, to confirm that the company is in good standing.
Tip 5 – Add equipment whenever you want!
With wireless alarm equipment you get flexibility as well as simplicity. For example, you can move your equipment anytime you want. Or you can augment the system with new sensors and security cameras. Start with the basics and increase your protection and features later, as budget permits. There should be no additional expense, except for the cost of the sensor.
We hope these tips have made you comfortable with the concept of a DIY home security system. You’ll find DIY is really the right choice, because of its many advantages over hard-wired alarm systems:
- Save Money – No installation fees
- Convenience – No waiting for technicians. Set up your security system on your own schedule.
- Safety – Much more reliable connections between your home and the monitoring team, so they can send help when you need it.
- No Phone Line Required – DIY home security systems are equipped for cellular signaling so you don’t need a landline, an internet connection or even a cell phone.
- Aesthetics – No holes in your walls
- Privacy – No strangers in your house