Traditional home security is often aimed at middle to upper income home owners, they ignore renters and neglect to provide affordable solutions to the everyday person who may be most in need of home security.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to installing a home alarm is often not the initial installation or equipment costs, but the recurring monthly fees associated with traditional alarm systems.
What you may not know is that today’s homeowners have a second option in their home security arsenal: DIY security systems.
These systems are similar to what you get from a professional security company bur with two main differences; you install your system (no technician available) and there is no company monitoring of your home’s security.
Although comparing these newer solutions to professionally installed solutions is like comparing apples to oranges but having self monitoring capability is still better than having no security at all.
A self-installable home security system may be all that you and your family actually need.
You'll pay more upfront for DIY, but it's cheaper in the long run
It may be tempting to go with a professionally installed security alarm, since you only have to pay like a $300 installation fee to have everything installed in your home, sensors, alarms, and keypads.
With a DIY setup, though, you have to pay for all the equipment yourself, and that can cost anywhere between hundreds of dollars to over a thousand dollars.
However, when you get someone like a security installer to hook everything up, you’re still paying for the equipment. You’re just doing it over time while they’ve got you locked into a multi-year contract paying for the monitoring service, as well.
In some cases, you'll be paying up to $50 per month for the 24/7 professional monitoring.
You can use a DIY system without professional monitoring
A huge plus with a DIY security system is that you can use it without paying for the monthly professional monthly monitoring fee. After all, you ARE the monitor.
If you have a wireless smart home gateway, you can use it as a security system and even receive alerts on your phone when there is a possible intruder.
Because wireless alarm systems aren't hard-wired into your electrical system, it makes them easier to install, expand, move, upgrade and change.
Wireless DIY system is portable
If you rent or might move in the future, a DIY system is easy to uninstall and take with you to your new location. This is particularly beneficial for renters, who otherwise might not have the option for an alarm system.
This won’t cost you anything extra per month, and it’s a bit of a step up from just being a loud noise machine.
The technology is mostly the same
So a DIY security system is a lot cheaper and more flexible than something you could get from traditional alarm systems, but surely the technology that comes with those professional systems is way better than the DIY stuff, right? Eh, kinda, but not really.
Most security systems utilise a low-power frequency for sensors and other wireless devices in the system to communicate with each other. Usually, companies come up with their own proprietary wireless protocols, but if you use a smart home gateway to build your security system around, then it can use a combination of Z-Wave, ZigBee and Wi-Fi devices.
You might argue that some of these wireless protocols are better than others, and while that may be slightly true, there’s no real huge difference, and they’re all pretty reliable and have excellent range.
On top of that, the sensors, siren and security cameras that come with a DIY system like are no more difficult to install than a traditional alarm system (and it’s really not that difficult in the first place).
All you have to do is peel off the adhesive strips and stick the sensors on your doors, windows, etc. And the process for setting them up on the scene controller is incredibly painless. You definitely don’t need a professional to do it.
Flexibility to configure how you want it
With a DIY security system, you can usually re-configure your equipment or add more as you see fit, without having to hassle with an installer.
Home Automation and security
One of the many advantages of a well planned home automation system is that it can vastly improve the security in your home. Sensors and detection systems can let you know when people are entering or exiting your house, or if it's being broken into. Controls can allow you to remotely allow or prevent access, or to tell who's around (even when you're not).
How can home automation increase security
Home automation's a pretty broad term, and there are countless different ways that any number of technologies can be tied together to improve security around your home.
Access controls, for example, can help to ensure that only the right people can come and go from your house - and that you know who they are and when they've entered and left.
Intrusion detection systems can use any number of different sensor systems to figure out who's where, and whether or not people are trying to enter your home.
And alarm systems can either set off a deterrent alarm, or alert you that there's a problem.
What types of hardware do you use?
An automated security system can be as simple as a DIY exterior light attached to a motion sensor or a remotely controlled gate, all the way up to a fully integrated system using a range of different types of high tech sensors, timers and controls segmented into zones, recorded and monitored offsite - perhaps even with an independently connected panic room.
The amount and type of hardware you use will come down to what you need to achieve, and how much you're willing to spend for it.
Below is a basic rundown of a few of the more fundamental types of hardware used in automated security systems.
Sensors are used to detect changes in the environment around your house. For security purposes, they're normally used to detect when there's something wrong - or more specifically, when someone's either gained entry or is attempting to get into your house. Sensors can be used to detect things like:
- Movement (occupancy sensors, passive infrared / ultrasonic)
- Light (photoresistors etc.)
- Heat (temperature sensors)
- Windows or doors opening / vibration (contact sensors, reed switches)
- Pressure under a floor (pressure transducers, strain gauges etc.)
- Water leaks / flooding
- Smoke / CO2
- Air quality
Cameras are a type of complex sensor too - they can be activated when motion is detected to either record or transmit a picture or video feed. Sensors can be used to initiate some sort of reaction to an unwanted intruder, but they can also improve security by doing things like helping to turn on lights at the front of your home or automatically opening your garage door or front gates when you arrive home.
Whether it's your front door or the back gate, you can set up access to your home to be approved by yourself. Some systems will operate via a remote control, while others can be accessed by a code, or even ask for fingerprint or other biometric recognition (like retinal scans, facial or voice recognition, for example).
Access controls can be used to trigger other parts of your home automation system too. When you enter the house, for example, the system can automatically switch on the right lights and climate control systems for you - or lock your doors and arm certain intrusion sensors when you go to bed.
Alarms and response systems
When a sensor's detected something wrong, it should trigger some kind of reaction. This can be as simple as a light going on (which in itself is a fantastic deterrent), or it can be a sequence of reactions including sending a photo snapshot or live video feed to wherever it's needed, or sending information to a manned security service somewhere.
How secure is your house?
Great technology's fairly inexpensive these days, and without too much effort you can access and scan your home using your own DIY security system even when you're not there.
From an interface on a web page, tablet, or smartphone app. Things like pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras and push notifications can let you 'patrol' your house, and keep an eye on things from anywhere in the world, in realtime.
The purpose of 'automation' is to ensure that your home reacts automatically when it needs to - and there's a great amount of choice in how you choose to set it all up.
Which will you choose?
The DIY home security will be a $1.5 billion market by 2020. Because after all, having a Do-It-Yourself security system as an alternative to professionally installed security is better than having no choice at all.
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