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Home Security Resources

Monitored vs. DIY Home Security Systems

A home is a safe haven that protects your family and your belongings, and is one of the largest investments that you may ever make. Installing a home security system is one of the smartest steps homeowners can take to make sure it is protected. While their scale and scope can vary greatly, homeowners can break down home security systems into two main types—DIY home security systems and monitored home security systems. In this guide, we compare the two types of security systems and discuss their pros and cons. Modernize is here to help you choose the system that works best for your home and needs.

Table of Contents

Pros and Cons of DIY Home Security Systems

A DIY security system is exactly as the name suggests—a system that homeowners install and (typically) manage themselves.

1. Cost

One of the main reasons homeowners opt for a DIY system is cost. Since this type of system can be installed at will, it allows homeowners to purchase and install equipment as needed. This allows homeowners to avoid or delay making a larger investment that comes with a professionally monitored home security system. This also makes for flexibility, if you move often or plan to move in the near future.

Typically, a base rate DIY home security system can be purchased through a company like SimpliSafe or Ring for between $200 and $250.

These base kits often include a station, keypad, one sensor, and one camera—though larger packages can be purchased for DIYers with greater needs. Homeowners might also be able to find single cameras for as little as $100 online.

2. Features

If a system is truly DIY, it does not have a monthly monitoring service, which means a security professional is not there to help in the case of an incident. It will also be free of a contract or long-term commitment.

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But that is not to say these robust security features are not available as optional add-ons. Most companies can provide 24/7 video monitoring or other perks commonly seen in monitored security systems for added fees. For example, Ring offers monitoring services for single cameras for as little as $30 per year, and multi-cam monitoring for $100 per year.

3. Wireless Range of Service

Beyond cost, a key consideration when opting for a DIY security system is understanding its wireless system capabilities. Often, DIY security systems need to be within range of the hub station or the keypad’s built-in wireless network, if available. Alternately, these systems can be connected by your home’s Wi-Fi.

This means that DIY systems are most appropriate for smaller homes or homeowners looking to monitor smaller areas—such as the front door only. This is not to say that larger homes can’t benefit from these systems. But you’ll need to ensure your home’s wireless network has enough range to support them.

4. Technology

This leads to perhaps the biggest deciding factor in whether or not to select a DIY security system: Your tech-savviness.

While some self-monitoring companies offer professional installation for a fee, true DIY security systems are fully set up by the homeowner. If you are uncomfortable with technology or concerned with your ability to properly install equipment around tricky areas like windows, you might be better off opting for a professional home security system.

Pros and Cons of Monitored Home Security Systems

Just because you are able to install a DIY security system does not necessarily mean it is the best option for your home. For homeowners with a larger space or more intricate security needs, opting for professional installation is a sure bet to get the job done right.

1. Customized Security

Even if your home is smaller or you reside in a condo or apartment, there are advantages to a monitored home security system. For example, a pro installer can custom tailor a system that meets the specific needs of your home and family. This can also allow for easier integration into other home security features like smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, flood detectors, thermostats, and other smart devices.


2. Cost

Monitored home security systems often cost between $200 and $600 to install one time, then $30 to $40 per month for ongoing monitoring services.

Since these security systems are professionally monitored, they often come with a higher monthly rate compared to DIY security systems. For example, ADT, Brinks, and XFINITY offer 24/7 monitoring starting at $30–$40/month.

These companies typically charge installation and activation fees as well. However, some home security companies like Vivint and others occasionally run promo codes to provide these services at a discounted or complimentary rate.

While professional monitoring security systems are often more costly, they provide pain-free installation, trusted support, and robust device integration.

3. Better Security and Peace of Mind

If you have a DIY security system in your home, it means you will be able to self-monitoring dangerous activity and risks to your home. However, if an incident or emergency occurs, you will be on your own to address the issue yourself. Using a professionally monitored home security system ensures a professional will be there to step in and help when you need it the most. For many homeowners and families, this extra layer of security and peace of mind is well-worth the low monthly cost.

Choosing and Installing a Home Security System

We recommend exploring the top security systems on the market today and comparing their offerings to get started choosing the best system for your home.

If you are ready to take your home security to the next level, the pros at Modernize can connect you with a trusted contractor in your area to get your project underway.

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