The Complete Guide to DIY Home Security

No one wants to think of their home being targeted by criminals, but as much as you don’t want to think that you could be a victim, the potential price for failing to secure your home isn’t worth the risk. Spending a little time and investing in security measures is well worth it to get that peace of mind. Thanks to smart home technology, installing your own DIY security system makes this process easier and more affordable than conventional home security systems.

Why Go DIY for Home Security?

The “smart” features of our phones and tablets are no longer limited to mobile devices. They’re now in our homes in the form of voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, and home security systems that you install yourself and then monitor with your mobile device. (Some of these DIY home security systems also offer monitoring services, if you’d prefer to go that route.) Unlike professionally-installed systems, most DIY brands don’t require lengthy contracts for monitoring. This is just one example of how home security systems that you install yourself are more affordable and offer more flexibility than traditional options

How to Get Started with DIY Home Security

There are several brands on the market offering home security systems you can install yourself. Most include the same basic features (some type of main hub, door and window sensors, and usually a key fob to access the system) as well as optional add-on features, like doorbell video. The first thing to think about is which features are most important to you, and how those factor into your budget. If cameras are essential, then you may want to go with a system that has them already included.

You may also want to consider these other features that vary from one brand to another:

  • Backup capability, including cellular and power outage backups
  • Detection of environmental hazards, such as smoke, carbon monoxide, flood, and freeze conditions
  • Interaction with other smart home technologies, such as voice assistants and programmable lights and thermostats

Once you pick a system, getting it installed is pretty simple. Even though any quality system will come with instructions that walk you through installation, there are a few key tips that are good to keep in mind.

  • The first step is to find a spot for your hub. Some systems will connect to your router with a wire, while others connect through your home’s WiFi. Either way, placing the hub close to your router will make sure it gets the best signal strength.
  • The next step is to download the system’s mobile app on any devices you plan on using it with.
  • Once you have the basics set up, you can place the motion sensors on doors and windows. You should have a sensor on every exterior door and window that a criminal could potentially access. Take a good look around the outside of your home, and don’t forget higher windows that could be accessed through an upper level deck or other structure.
  • If you’re also using video cameras, the most important locations for them are the front door, back door, any windows on the first floor, and the driveway/garage doors. Your cameras should come with instructions that help you aim them to get the right focus. It’s also a good idea to mount cameras high enough so that burglars can’t damage or steal them.
  • The last part of your installation will be any additional features, like video doorbells or glass-break sensors.
  • If you decide to use a professional monitoring service, it’s worth factoring this into your budget early on, because the monthly fees for monitoring vary among different brands.

Keep Your Home from Being a Target

Installing a home security system is a precaution to keep you safe in the event that your home is ever targeted, but of course, we all hope that never happens. It’s just as important to make your home unattractive to criminals so that you are less likely to be targeted in the first place.

  • Secure all entry points – While movies and TV add drama with burglars smashing in windows, it’s far more common for criminals to simply walk in. Of course, your doors and windows should always be locked, and the quality of the locks is also important. Upgrade exterior door locks to sturdy deadbolts so that they can’t be easily kicked open. Don’t overlook sliding glass doors, either. In addition to using the lock, you can secure sliding doors further by placing a broom handle in the track.
  • Use landscaping strategically – The way your yard is landscaped can either help or hinder would-be burglars. For example, a tall hedge or fence around your property makes it harder for criminals to get in. Gravel paths that are noisy and thorny bushes close to entryways are also good deterrents. At the same time, you don’t want thick shrubbery too close to your home, because it provides an excellent hiding spot.
  • Remove helpful tools – Keep ladders and tools that could help criminals enter your home locked away where they can’t be accessed.
  • Get a large dog – This may sound cliche, but data shows that criminals are less likely to target a home with a dog. You don’t need a “guard dog.” The deterrent is in a large dog’s bark, not his bite. Having a dog isn’t a guarantee that your home won’t be targeted, but it may make a difference.
  • Take extra travel precautions – You want to be especially cautious about protecting your home when you go out of town. The trick is to avoid having it seem like no one is home. Setting timers for lights and sources of sound (like a radio or TV) is one way to give the indication that people are around. It’s also a good idea to stop mail and newspaper delivery, or ask a neighbor to pick it up for you. In fact, neighbors can be one of your best lines of defense when it comes to home security. Having neighbors who watch out for each other generates a buzz that no criminal would want. While it’s good to confide in a trusted neighbor or friend to keep an eye on your house, you don’t want to broadcast that you’re going out of town. This means waiting until after you return to post about your vacation on social media.

Because criminals will always be out there, it’s your job to make sure your home isn’t an easy target. The good news for homeowners is that these security measures are easy and affordable. Reducing your risk of becoming a victim is an investment in your safety that will pay off for years to come.