Last Updated on 20 September 2023
When shopping for home security systems, one of the first decisions to make is whether to choose a DIY home security system or a traditional, professionally-installed and monitored system. There are pros and cons to both, but ultimately, the best option for you depends on your security needs. Our security experts will explain the benefits of DIY home security versus professionally-monitored systems, helping you to make the best choice for your home.
As the name implies, with a do it yourself (DIY) home security system, you’ll be responsible for everything from start to finish. You purchase, install, and monitor your security cameras yourself.
In contrast, professionally installed and monitored security systems are entirely taken care of by others – from installation to monitoring. It’s worth noting that there are hybrid models, which may be especially attractive if you need help with installation but not monitoring.
Security Installation – Professional Installation or Do It Yourself?
At its core, DIY versus professional security system 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, it 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 the 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, if you end up moving, you may have to pay for moving and installing your equipment onto your 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 means you’ll have to monitor your security feed for yourself. Today, most security systems include a smartphone app – like the Swann Security app – allowing you to receive real-time security alerts and check in on your property remotely. The security system will send an alert whenever it detects something abnormal. Due to advances in camera technology, such as infrared heat sensors, alerts are now more accurate (depending on the security cameras you install). Before these advances, alerts were triggered by movement alone, which meant that things like a cat running by, or even a tree moving in the wind, resulted in false alarms.
These days, the best self-monitored home security systems allow multiple users (like family members or nannies) to keep an eye on things from their smartphone, receiving notifications if an incident occurs. Someone will have to determine if the warning is serious and, if so, contact the appropriate authorities. You can also monitor multiple properties (think home and business or a vacation house) within the same app. As with installation, self-monitoring is the more cost-effective option.
Professionally Monitored home security includes 24/7 monitoring of your home security. Professional monitoring requires monthly fees, adding recurring costs to your system. However, this comes with one major advantage that’s hard to monetize – peace of mind. Because of this, Swann offers professional monitoring services in select locations. Instead of worrying about your security status, our remote monitoring center will immediately respond to any alerts. To verify if the warning is legitimate, the user will be contacted immediately. If the user can’t be reached, the service will dispatch for authorities automatically. Whether you can be contacted or not, someone will be watching your property.
Hybrid Options – Combining Pros of DIY & Professional Systems
You can also find hybrid models readily available today, especially when it comes to installation. For many, the installation can be the hardest part of managing a system. But, by outsourcing your installation under a hybrid model, you won’t have to worry about setting anything up. Most DIY security companies can help you find professional installers in your area.
Although you can pair 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. This means you’ll likely need to purchase the third-party’s security system to get access to these services. Therefore, it’s critical to decide whether or not you want 24/7 security monitoring before you decide on a system.
DIY Home Security vs. Professional, Monitored Security Systems: Pros and Cons
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 have grown quite common and have become much easier to install.
Because the mere presence of security cameras is proven to deter burglars, having a self-monitored DIY security system may be sufficient for your needs. It’s possible to set up one of these systems with professional help, even without paying the ongoing monthly fees associated with monitored security systems. However, for the ultimate peace-of-mind, it may make sense for you to opt for a system with 24/7 professional monitoring.
DIY Security Pros:
- Lower cost – No installation cost or ongoing monthly fees for monitoring
- On Your Time – No 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 is your responsibility
- Have to learn the system yourself
Professionally Monitored Security Systems Pros:
- Professional expertise & peace of mind – You’ll know that a professional set it up for you correctly
- No work for you
Professionally Monitored Security Systems Cons:
- Installation fees
- Monitoring fees
- 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 a security system, the next step is to choose what type of security cameras to use.