Ranking the Best DIY Home Security Systems of 2020
DIY home security systems offer substantial savings over traditional systems without any loss of protection. They’re easy to set up, affordably priced, and allow you to scale your security system to match your property and threat environment.
A quality security system can harden your home against casual thieves and discourage more determined burglars and home invaders from targeting you.
We checked out the many different companies now offering DIY home security systems. Our list includes some of the best systems out there across a range of price and performance levels.
1. Ring Alarm
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Ring is best known for their popular doorbell cameras, but they also offer a comprehensive suite of security equipment. You can build a system from scratch or go with one of their ready to install starter packs.
Why we like it: They offer one of the most affordable monitoring packages currently on the market. You can get comprehensive monitoring for less than half the price of the entry-level plans for most other home security systems.
Flaws: They don’t offer the ability to interface with all smart home systems. You can pair your Ring systems with Amazon’s Alexa, but not Google Home products. That’s not a huge problem for most people, but it’s still a concern.
2. SimpliSafe 8 Piece Wireless Home Security System
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SimpliSafe was one of the earliest disruptors in the home security market and is still a leader in the space. They offer a full line of sensors, alarms, and cameras that can protect every part of your home.
Why we like it: They’ve consistently introduced innovative new products that have improved home security for every user. Setting up their system is incredibly easy, as it managing it using their intuitive app.
Flaws: If you’re looking for a non-monitored system, this isn’t it. You can technically use their equipment as a local alarm, but you won’t be able to view alerts, manage the system with your phone, or use basically any of the features that make it worthwhile.
3. Cove Security
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Cove Security provides a large and customizable line of security and home protection sensors and cameras. Their lineup includes everything from door and window sensors to smart smoke alarms and motion detection cameras. To make it even better, their pricing for the starter systems is one of the best in the business.
Why we like it: Setup is one of the easiest available for a DIY home security system. You can get your system up and running in less than an hour.
Flaws: Cove doesn’t offer any free to use option. If you purchase their equipment you have to pay a monthly subscription fee to continue using it. It’s affordably priced, but still.
4. Wyze Cam V2 Starter Kit
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Wyze started out as a camera manufacturer and succeeded in completely disrupting a stagnant market. Their cameras offer clarity and features no one else can match and their new motion and door sensors allow you to combine entryway monitoring with comprehensive surveillance of your home.
Why we like it: The Wyze system integrates top of the line cameras with some of the best pricing in the business. Their sensors and cameras are incredibly affordable and offer functionality that many systems three or four times their price can’t match.
Flaws: They don’t offer professional monitoring. You can upgrade the cloud storage capabilities of your individual cameras for a small monthly fee though. If you’re looking for a totally self-managed security system this is the best option.
5. Abode Essentials Starter Kit
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The Abode Essentials Starter Kit gives you a good mix of basic sensors with a highly capable hub system. The pricing system is a bit weird, with either a monthly or 3-day/7-day monitoring package, but overall it works well for most people’s needs.
Why we like it: It offers one of the easiest setup processes and works great with a variety of smart home devices. You can easily interface with your Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit. Their oddball monitoring program works really well for people who are often home, such as remote workers.
Flaws: The basic starter kit is similarly priced to many other DIY kits yet provides only a fraction of the sensors. You can cover three or even four times as many doors and windows for the same price with a different kit.
6. Alder Security
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Alder is something of a fusion of the two home security worlds. They offer DIY options for installation and a contract-free monitoring service yet also have the kind of customization engine and pricing model more comparable to older security systems.
Why we like it: What Alder lacks in pricing transparency they make up for in customer service and ease of use. Their system is straightforward to install and they offer comprehensive and free advice for the best ways to set it up and get running.
Flaws: You won’t be able to find out what their system will cost until you’re actually talking to them. They don’t engage in high-pressure sales tactics, but you can’t window shop to see exactly what the equipment and monthly monitoring will run you.
7. Blue by ADT
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Blue by ADT is the home security giant’s entry into the DIY market. It combines their decades of experience with the convenience and flexible pricing modern consumers demand. The basic system is really basic, mainly a home base and some stickers, but you can expand it at a pretty affordable price.
Why we like it: Their system is easy to scale up and offers options others don’t. A big one is a choice to have it professionally installed for a fee. It kind of defeats the purpose of a DIY home security system, but if you’d like a self-monitored security system installed by professionals it’s a viable choice.
Flaws: Their professionally monitored option, while cheaper than their traditional services and without a contract, is still more expensive than many comparable systems. ADT also has a rocky history where customer service and reliability are concerned.
8. Google Nest Secure Alarm
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The Google Nest Secure Alarm system combines some of the best home security technology with Google’s quality workmanship. The basic system includes everything you need to get started with a pair of doors and can be scaled up easily with additional sensors or cameras.
Why we like it: The Nest Secure Alarm has some of the most advanced sensors available. They double as doorway sensors and motion detectors depending on where and how you use them. It also offers one of the best self-monitoring options out there, including the option to include cellular backup in a self-monitored program.
Flaws: The professional monitoring option was contracted out to Brinks and is both pricey and includes a lengthy contract. You can get a month to month option, but you’ll pay at least 50% more than the already high contracted option.
9. FrontPoint Security
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FrontPoint Security is an interesting fusion of traditional and DIY security company. You can pick and choose exactly what equipment you need for your home and install it yourself, yet have to buy a monthly subscription. The good news is their actual equipment is well made and interfaces with just about all smart home systems.
Why we like it: Their startup pack is one of the cheapest in the DIY market. You get everything you need to get started plus a few extra sensors and cameras for a very affordable price.
Flaws: They’re only technically a DIY security system. The installation is on you, but the system will not work at all without a monthly monitoring subscription. It’s significantly more expensive than many competitors.
10. Honeywell Smart Home Security Camera Base Station
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The Honeywell Resideo line of security sensors and cameras combines useful features with reasonable pricing. You can combine security sensors, cameras, and sirens with things like smart door locks and programmable lighting.
Why we like it: The actual base station is a fully functional security system in itself. If you have a small space it may be the only thing you need, offering a camera, listen-in capability, and motion sensors plus an ear-splitting siren.
Flaws: One word: Support. The base station is cool and affordably priced, but it lacks many of the monitoring and support options other DIY security systems offer. You can control it all with an app but don’t have access to active monitoring.
What’s new with DIY home security systems
Commercial burglaries soar since coronavirus emergency measures….
Why Home Security System Sales Are Skyrocketing….
3 suspects hold resident at gunpoint in Portola home invasion…..
Who should buy a DIY home security system?
A quality home security system is an affordable way to protect yourself and your family from break-ins and burglaries. Most preppers have more in the way of valuables on hand than everyday people, so it’s a good idea to protect what’s yours.
Preppers with a large property – If you live on a large off-grid property a comprehensive security system is a very good idea. While crime isn’t as common in rural areas, statistics show there are still hundreds of thousands of burglaries in rural areas every year (1).
You can only be in so many places at once, and you may not even realize that someone was poking around in your barn or outbuilding until well after they’ve stolen from you. A DIY home security system works best for rural owners as they can expand their system to match the size of their property much more affordably.
You can set up sensors and cameras at your workshop, your barn, and at key entrance points to let you know if anyone’s on the property.
Preppers with children – Kids are a joy, but they can also be a serious source of stress. This is especially true when they’re at that awkward age where they’re old enough to be alone, but still not fully an adult.
Once they’re old enough to be left home alone a DIY security system allows you to make sure they’re safe and sound even when you can’t be there with them. It also makes it easy to check up on them in common areas with security cameras and to make sure they haven’t gone outside against your wishes (2).
People who live in up and coming areas – Some of the best deals and investment values on houses can be found in so-called ‘gentrifying’ areas. That being said, these aren’t always the safest neighborhoods when you first move in.
A DIY home security system allows you to upgrade your home’s defenses so you can sleep peacefully at night. They also make it much less likely that your home will be targeted in a random burglary by some petty criminal.
Preppers with cash or precious metals in their home – One of the very first steps most preppers take is saving up a basic reserve of cash. Having cold hard cash on hand is extremely useful during localized disruptions and the beginning stages of a major grid down situation.
If you’ve taken it one step further you may have things like Krugerrands, pre 1964 junk silver, or even gold and silver bullion on hand. Precious metals hold their value well in times of crisis and can be the difference between safety and ruin if you should have to flee your home (3).
The last thing you want is to lose your carefully prepared nest egg or emergency cash to some criminal.
A DIY home security system makes your home a harder target. This reduces the chance a casual criminal will go after you and makes it harder for determined burglars to get in and out with their haul.
Preppers who rent – Renters are some of the people who can most benefit from a DIY home security system. If you’re only going to be in a home or apartment for a year or two it doesn’t make sense to have an expensive security system hardwired in.
At the same time, you definitely want to know that your home is protected. A DIY system allows you to set up window and door sensors plus motion detectors and even security cameras, all without having a technician out or modifying the home (4).
One of the biggest uses is to know if your landlord or property management company is entering without your permission.
Small business owners – If you’re a small business owner you understand the benefit of doing things yourself. You also know just how bad a break-in or burglary at your business would be for your financial future.
Commercial burglaries cost business owners billions of dollars every year. Small business owners are especially vulnerable as the loss of equipment or inventory can sink their business in a single robbery (5).
A DIY home security system is just as easy to set up and use in a small business as it is at home. In just an hour or so you can vastly improve the security of your business.
People with second homes – People who own multiple homes should absolutely consider a DIY home security system. It allows you to keep an eye on your properties without having to drive around and check them out physically.
If you’ve been working to establish a bug out location this is especially important. Think about how much expensive equipment, food, and other supplies you have at your retreat. Now think about arriving during a disaster to find it ransacked.
A DIY system lets you cover all your bases without having to get a technician out to your prepared bug out location.
Firearms owners – For most preppers in the U.S., firearms are a major part of their preparedness. They give you a viable option to protect your family from threats and put food on the table through hunting.
Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most commonly stolen items in burglaries. A firearm in your hand is a tool to defend your family. In the hands of a criminal, it becomes a weapon of terror or a blight on your streets (6).
A quality DIY security system can not only help protect your firearms while you aren’t home, but it can also alert you to an intruder while you’re there. If you purchase a system with cameras it can even help you with the law in the event you’re forced to use deadly force to defend yourself and your family.
How we ranked
When comparing DIY home security systems we looked at five key factors. These were usability, ease of setup, monitoring options, affordability, and privacy and security.
Usability – A DIY system needs to be extremely user friendly to work. This includes how you use it to monitor your home, arming and disarming the system, and things like smart home integration.
In the past, the only way to ‘use’ a security system was to arm and disarm it through a panel by the door. Now you’ve got a lot more options.
Many DIY systems offer app support that lets you arm/disarm your system from anywhere, at any time. The best systems also allow you to pair them with things like the Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Ease of setup – With DIY home security systems setup should be extremely simple. Ideally, we looked for a toolless setup that required nothing but some wall adhesive and a few plugs.
The best DIY home security systems connect to a central hub through a mesh WIFI network. Setting it up also shouldn’t take long and should require the creation of little more than an account and a few pairing commands.
Monitoring options – Different DIY home security systems offer majorly different monitoring plans. Some work entirely through local control, some work only with a monthly subscription, and some combine the two features.
If you want to be in complete control of your DIY system there are options for that. For those who want a ‘fix it and forget it’ kind of actively monitored set up, we found several good choices as well.
We looked for security systems that offered the best flexibility between traditional security system full-service monitoring and the independence to do it all yourself.
Affordability – For most home security systems the cost of the system itself is a drop in the bucket compared to the monitoring costs. Even worse, you often had to sign a long-term contract that locked you in with a specific company (7).
With DIY systems we considered both the initial cost of the equipment and the recurring costs. Some systems will not work without a monthly subscription fee. Others allow you basic features for free but require a paid subscription for more advanced features or multi-door/cam monitoring.
Privacy and security – It may seem curious to talk about the security of your security system, but DIY security systems are Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. There have been cases of those types of devices being hacked and used to spy on or harass innocent people (8).
Any DIY system you consider should be password protected and use an encrypted communications channel. The last thing you want is the system you bought to protect your family increasing their exposure to risk.
Brands we trust – With any talk of DIY security systems, we have to mention SimpliSafe. They effectively created the category and are still a major disruptor of the traditional home security market. Their products are well-made, affordable, and work in either totally offline or a subscription model. You don’t get full functionality without the subscription, but it’s still a pretty good option.
Another great brand is Wyze. They started out as a simple camera company but have expanded into one of the better and most affordable options. Their cameras and sensors are tiny and offer one of the most customizable service plans.
Things to avoid…. – When it comes to DIY home security some of the old giants of security have started getting into the game. It’s good that competition has shaken them from their older models, but it also opens you up to some issues. Many seemingly DIY systems come with contract monitoring and other things that used to be a staple of security. Make sure you consider whether you need a contract or if another contract-free manufacturer is a better way to go.
We considered each of these factors when looking at a variety of different systems. Each of the DIY home security systems on our list is a good option depending on your needs and budget.
You don’t have to let a stranger in your home for installation – Installing a home security system used to be a major undertaking. A technician had to come out to your property and physically run powerlines, CCTV cabling, and do all sorts of other labor-intensive tasks.
For most preppers, the idea of a random stranger setting up all kinds of recording and security equipment in their home can leave them a little leery.
With DIY home security systems, you get the same security benefits without the hassle. You can set up your system at your own pace without major tools.
Modern DIY security systems most often run on WIFI. You don’t have to run any wires or hook up anything to a phone line. A lot of the cameras, sensors, and other devices even go onto your walls with magnets or sticky pads.
You control every aspect of your security system – Old school home security systems worked through a centralized system. Your alarm, sensors, and cameras were monitored or by strangers at the security company who controlled how things were being operated.
A DIY system lets you take back control of your security. You can set up cameras and sensors wherever you like and view the footage or check the security of things like door locks and window sensors from your smartphone.
You don’t have to rely on some bored security company employees to screen people and check things out, you can look yourself from anywhere in the world.
You can expand or reduce your security system as needed – One of the biggest benefits of a DIY home security system is how scalable they are. You can start off with a few basic sensors and maybe a door camera and expand as needed.
If you feel more security is needed you can order individual items such as window sensors, doorbell cameras, and IP security cams and install them yourself. With traditional home security sensors, they charge you for every time they have to send out a technician and for every change to your system.
DIY home security systems are much more affordable than traditional ones – DIY home security systems offer substantial short- and long-term savings over traditional security systems. The initial setup is usually cheaper but it’s the long-term costs of monitoring where you really see savings.
A traditional security system costs anywhere from $10 to $50 a month in monitoring costs alone. Compare that to free or just a few dollars for most DIY systems.
You also see savings by customizing your security system. Traditional home security systems generally come in a ‘one size fits all’ approach. They can definitely customize your setup, but it costs money to get a technician to expand your coverage.
A DIY system allows you to buy basic security now and continue to expand as you can afford it (9).
DIY home security systems come with no onerous contracts – If you’ve ever considered a security system in the past you may have been put off by the, let’s be honest here, ridiculous contracts offered. Old school home security services want people to sign multi-year contracts that lock them in at a high price while guaranteeing no service upgrades over time.
DIY systems offer comparable security protections with zero obligations. If you decide you don’t like a DIY security system you can stop using it, and stop paying for it, at any time. You’ll be out the cost of equipment, but you won’t experience the monthly buyer’s remorse that comes from the contracted fees.
Q: How do DIY home security systems work?
A: DIY home security systems rely on WIFI connections, outlets, and Bluetooth connectivity. Older home security systems required hardwiring to a central control panel that connected directly to your phone line. With DIY systems you avoid all the hassle of physically modifying your home and realize substantial savings on equipment and installation.
Q: Are there DIY home security systems with no monthly fee?
A: Yes. While most DIY security companies offer different levels of professional monitoring, there are options for self-monitored systems. One thing to keep in mind when comparing them is that many sharply reduce the functionality of their systems if you aren’t paying for the monitoring.
Our top pick for a self-monitored DIY home security system was the Wyze Cam V2 Security System.
Q: What DIY home security systems include cameras?
A: The majority of modern DIY home security systems have the option to use cameras. Most, however, do not come with a camera as part of their standard starter kit. If you would like to include home surveillance as part of your security system you’ll most likely need to purchase additional cameras to connect to your system.
Our number one pick for a DIY home security system with cameras is the Wyze Cam V2 Security System.
Q: What are some DIY home security systems with no monitoring?
A: There aren’t as many good no monitoring DIY home security systems as you’d think. Almost every manufacturer offers a self-monitored option, but they substantially reduce the functionality. At a minimum, you should be able to remotely monitor your home and receive alerts when doors and windows open or motions sensors are triggered.
Some that we can recommend are available from Wyze and Google,
Q: How do I DIY a home security system?
A: The DIY part of a DIY home security systems refers to the installation and setup. Traditional home security systems were hardwired into your home and required professional, and expensive installation. DIY systems can be set up in a matter of hours or minutes using just your existing WIFI network and a few adhesives. They’re also easy to upgrade whenever you like by pairing new sensors or cameras with a hub system.
Q: Can DIY home security systems be hacked?
A: While any internet-connected device is susceptible to hack, most DIY home security companies take the threat very seriously. It has happened in the past and is unfortunately likely to happen again, but for most people, it isn’t a major threat. Take basic precautions like keeping cameras in public areas only and you shouldn’t have to worry about it (10).
Q: Are DIY home security systems smart home compatible?
A: Yes. The vast majority of modern DIY home security systems are built to work with smart home hubs and devices. You can use a single app to turn on and off your lights, lock and unlock doors, and arm and disarm your security system. Check and see what systems are compatible with your current smart home setup to make sure you’re good to go.
Q: Do DIY home security systems come with outdoor cameras?
A: They can. No starter packs include outdoor cameras, but there are several companies that offer them as add-ons. Word to the wise though, installing an outdoor camera is different from an indoor one. You’ll need some basic tools and a little knowledge of how to secure a camera mount and run a power cable.
Our pick for best DIY home security system with outdoor camera capability is Ring.
Q: Are DIY home security systems good?
A: Modern DIY home security systems are as good or better than the expensive traditional systems. They have all the security features, sensors, cameras, and sirens, plus cost a fraction of the price to install and monitor. The quality of the sensors and cameras has also never been as good as it is today. You can get HD quality surveillance cameras to add to a DIY system for a remarkably affordable price.
Q: Are DIY home security systems worth it?
A: Absolutely. In a survey conducted among incarcerated felons, more than 60% said they would look for an alarm system before breaking into a house. Most criminals are looking for an easy score. They don’t want to mess around with sirens, cameras, and silent alarms. If your house is more hardened than your neighbors, they’re likely to avoid your home (11).
For the modern prepper, a DIY home security system is one of the easiest ways to protect your home. It allows you to keep your family and your property safe from criminals during good times.
It also makes sure that your carefully stocked preps don’t end up in the back of some burglars van.
For Survival At Home’s #1 DIY home security system recommendation, click here.
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