Last Updated on 30 July 2020
One of the first decisions people face when choosing to invest in a home security system is if they want a traditional professionally installed and monitored system or a DIY home security system. There are pros and cons to both, but ultimately it depends on your security needs. Our security experts explain the differences between unmonitored home security systems and professionally monitored ones to help you make the best choice.
As the name implies, with a DIY home security system, you will be responsible for everything from start to finish. You purchase, install, and monitor your security cameras and system.
In comparison, with professionally installed and monitored security systems, everything from installation to monitoring is taken care of by a company. It’s worth noting that there are hybrid models, in particular, if you know you’ll need help with installation.
Security Installation – Professional Installation or Do It Yourself?
At the core, installation comes down to cost and convenience, both with pros and cons.
DIY Security Installation – Is considerably more cost efficient than having your security system professionally installed. You will also be able to install your system right when you receive your equipment, rather than having to schedule an installation appointment. As you’re installing the system yourself, you can also customize your system to fit your needs whereas professional installation will follow standard setup practices.
A drawback to self-installation is lack of expertise. While DIY security systems have become much easier to install, if you install the system incorrectly, this could compromise your security. Additionally, it may take you longer to install the system as this isn’t something you do every day, so it will involve a little bit of trial and error.
Professional Installation – Is usually the easier option, as you don’t need to worry about running cables, how to best position the cameras, and correct setup – the professionals take care of everything for you. However, professional installation comes with a much higher cost and may also include activation fees. Professional installation also requires scheduling an appointment and being home for the installation appointment. Another drawback to professional installation is that you may need to pay to move and install security equipment if you move to a new property.
Monitoring – DIY & Free or Professional with Monthly Fees?
Beyond installation, you’ll need to decide whether you want your home security system professionally monitored or if you will handle the monitoring on your own.
Unmonitored home security – If you choose DIY home security you will also monitor your security feed. Today, most security systems include a smartphone app which allows you to check in on your property remotely and also receive real-time security alerts. The security system will send an alert whenever it detects something abnormal. Due to advances in technology and the use of Infrared heat sensors, alerts are much more accurate (depending on the security cameras you install). Previously, alerts would be triggered by a movement which, in theory, is great, but you don’t want to be alerted every time a tree moves in the wind or a dog or cat runs by. These days monitoring can be a shared experience. Multiple users (e.g. family members) can keep an eye on things and receive notifications if an incident occurs. Someone will have to determine if the warning is something serious and contact the appropriate authorities yourself. You can also monitor multiple properties (think home and business or vacation house) within the same app. As with installation, self-monitoring is the more cost-effective option.
Monitored home security – includes 24/7 monitoring of your home security by a company. The most significant difference compared to unmonitored home security systems, is the monthly fee and contract required for professional security monitoring. However, this is also a core advantage of the monitored system – peace of mind. Instead of you worrying about your security status, a remote monitoring center will immediately respond to any alerts. To verify if the warning is legitimate, the service will call the user first to check, but if the user can’t be reached, the service will dispatch for authorities automatically. As such, whether you can be contacted or not, someone will be watching your property.
Hybrid Options – Combining Pros of DIY & Professional Systems
In today’s world of convenience, you can find hybrid models, especially for installation. For many, the installation can be the hardest part but is a worry easily rendered obsolete with professional installation. Most DIY security companies can help you find professional installers in your area. Although you can easily get the benefits of professional installation with the cost savings of an unmonitored, DIY security system, not all monitored security systems can be used with third-party equipment, and you’ll likely need to purchase their security system. As such, deciding if you want 24/7 professional monitoring or not early on is essential.
Summary – DIY Home Security vs. Monitored Security Systems
Adding a home security system doesn’t necessarily mean you need a team of professionals to install it or continuously monitor your home. Modern DIY home security systems are more common and have become much easier to install. Furthermore, as the presence of security cameras is a proven deterrent to burglars, having a professional help set up your security system can alleviate any stress and burden, without the ongoing monthly fees associated with monitored security systems.
DIY Security Pros:
- Lower cost – No installation cost or ongoing monthly fees for monitoring
- On Your Time – Don’t need to schedule an appointment
- Customizable – You can adjust your system how you want it
DIY Security Cons:
- You do the work – installation and monitoring
- Have to learn the system yourself
Professionally Monitored Security Systems Pros:
- Professional expertise & peace of mind – knowing a professional set it up for you correctly
- No work for you
Professionally Monitored Security Systems Cons:
- Installation fees
- Monthly monitoring fees and a contract – can be up to 3 years
- Standard system setup
- Appointment required for installation
Choosing between the two main types of security systems can be a difficult choice, but will often come down to budget and personal preference. Once you’ve decided on the security system the next step is to choose what type of security cameras to use.