Meeting your family’s needs with the right security system for your home


Whether you own your own house or rent one, home is home, and you expect your family to be safe there. Many families have opted for complete, monitored home security systems that alert them to possible intrusions and contact the police when the household is deemed to be in danger. In more recent years, home security companies have begun offering programs that allow for complete home automation, often including connected door locks, window and door sensors, garage door openers, and more, providing homeowners with complete systems to make their lives easier and safer. Now that the market has expanded to include DIY systems that boast tons of benefits, including easy installation, affordability, and smartphone remote control, homeowners are asking themselves which system type is the better deal.

In this article, we’ll explore the various features of complete installed security systems, comparing them to the many options available for DIY home security and automation systems. An understanding of the differences between these two types of systems will help you determine how to choose a home security system.


How a Complete Home Security System Works

Complete installed home security systems vary by manufacturer and service provider, but many of their features are going to be the same across the board. Most complete installed home security systems will offer homeowners the guarantee that the system has been installed correctly, providing peace of mind. Additionally, these services generally offer 24/7 remote monitoring, taking the responsibility of protecting your home and family off of your own shoulders. The added guarantees offered by these types of security systems are often the tradeoff for the higher price tag that comes with them.

Most popular professional security systems include a wide range of features, some of which are:

  • Complete monitoring taken care of by call centers 24/7
  • Police, fire department, and ambulance calls made immediately by call centers in cases of emergency
  • Security cameras running and communicating in spite of power and internet outages
  • Home automation options often available to expand the system
  • An app or website login option for remote check-in

When you’re shopping for a complete home security system, it’s important to review the features of the various systems available to ensure that you find one that is most suited to your safety needs, the size and style of your home, and your ideal price point. The companies that offer these complete systems generally offer different packages and work with you to help you determine which one most closely matches your household needs. While complete installed systems take the guesswork out of home security, some users feel too tied-down by the standardized options. In these cases, checking out the freedom and customization offered through a DIY security system is usually the next step.


How a DIY Home Security System Works

A DIY system is designed to provide affordable security for homeowners while also featuring many of the same benefits as professionally-installed systems. A DIY home security system can include security cameras, door and window sensors, home automation components, and phone or web apps for remote view, just like a professionally-installed system. The biggest differences between these two system types are how they’re monitored, how they’re connected for communication purposes, and how much control the user has over the system’s functions and features. We’ll get into these differences in the comparison chart below.

Most DIY security systems will vary in terms of features, styles, applications, hardware, and more, making it necessary for a potential user to do plenty of research to determine which system gives them what they need most for their home’s security. It can be difficult to compare DIY systems because of the many variables, from hardware to functionality. Additionally, homeowners who take advantage of DIY systems will often be looking for custom features, adding even more variables into the comparison process.

However, typical features of a DIY home security system include:

  • Flexibility for users who may wish to expand their system later but want the freedom to do so without speaking with a consultant or hiring an installer
  • User maintains control of system, functionality, expansion, monitoring, etc.
  • System expandability allows users to continue to add on new devices and sensors as needed
  • Plug-and-play technology allows for fast and easy installation without the necessity of advanced technical knowledge
  • Privacy for homeowners concerned about being monitored 24/7
  • Remote access capabilities with web or smartphone apps
  • Mobility between different households or offices
  • Customizable to allow for new devices and capabilities to be added in order to suit specific needs rather than pre-designed security packages

DIY home security systems can include any feature or functions that a homeowner or renter wants to include. Of course, the standard features will generally include control panels, indoor and outdoor security cameras, window and door sensors, and door locks, but may also expand to include more advanced devices such as hidden camera doorbells, smart thermostats, and sensors to identify nearly any home safety concern from frozen pipes to floods. While many complete home security systems also offer elements of home automation, a DIY system provides an added level of flexibility for homeowners who want to add additional devices and sensors as they are needed.

Checking reviews of systems to identify what other users consider to be strengths or weaknesses about the system can be helpful, but as a user you do have to consider that all users of DIY security systems have different goals. One reviewer who is a better candidate for a monitored security system may consider a DIY system to be “too complicated” while a tech-savvy user may find that same system to be more simplistic than they would prefer. One of the biggest benefits of using a DIY home security system is the ability to customize the programs and components to suit you, making your system as comprehensive or as simple as you prefer.


DIY Self-Installed Security Systems

For users looking to harness the features of both complete installed home security systems and fully DIY security systems, a DIY self-installed system could be exactly what you need. DIY self-installed systems are completely customizable to your needs like other DIY systems, but also offer some of the added benefits of complete installed systems. Some of the main benefits include monitoring and cellular communication to ensure that your home and family are always protected.


Comparison of Features and Benefits

Complete installed home security systems, DIY self-installed systems, and fully DIY systems each boast their own benefits. Below is a comparison of the different features a user can expect from these three security systems:

Complete Home Security SystemDIY Self-Installed Security SystemFully DIY Systems
More costly option More affordable Most affordable
Fully monitored by a call center which will notify you and police, if necessary Fully monitored by a call center which will notify you and police, if necessary Does not offer monitoring services, making homeowners responsible for contacting police
Monthly fees or memberships pay for 24/7 monitoring 24/7 monitoring, for an additional fee or included in the cost No monitoring means no fees or memberships required
False alarms may incur fees False alarms will never incur fees False alarms will never incur fees
Cannot be relocated without an installer Easy relocation to another home or business space Easy relocation to another home or business space
Continues working during a power outage or internet service interruption; notifications will still be sent and received Continues working during a power outage or internet service interruption; notifications will still be sent and received If it runs on electricity or WiFi, it may not function in the event of a power outage; notifications may not be sent or received without communication 
Professional installation and setup will incur additional fees Easy professional or independent installation and setup Easy professional or independent installation and setup
Cannot customize system beyond what the provider offers; not compatible with third party devices Completely custom system, with addition of modules that are your own choice Completely custom system, with addition of modules that are your own choice 
Monitored systems handle notifications and police calls when a burglary, unauthorized entrance, fire, etc. is detected Monitored systems handle notifications and police calls when a burglary, unauthorized entrance, fire, etc. is detected  Missing a notification could mean a burglar gets away with robbing your house or an emergency is not dealt with in a timely manner
Usually has a remote view app available Usually has a remote view app available Usually has a remote view app available
Some companies may not install on a rental property Can be installed privately whether you own or rent your home Can be installed privately whether you own or rent your home
Available for a variety of home sizes Available for a variety of home sizes, but additional equipment may be required for larger May not work as well with larger homes and properties

Making Your Choice

DIY systems and professionally installed systems are both unique, boasting their own special features and benefits, as well as their own shortcomings. While installed systems offer the added benefit of complete monitoring and professional installation, a DIY system allows users to maintain complete control over their own household security and automation. When a user is looking for the best of both worlds, a DIY self-installed system may be the best choice. Understanding how the differences between these three types of systems match up with your personal needs will help you to determine which style of home security is best suited for you.

Published January 9th, 2021