Written by: Aaron Hall | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
The rapid growth of the home security industry means that more options are becoming available to homeowners every day for protecting your property. One debate is whether or not to go with a professionally-monitored and installed home security system or go the do-it-yourself route. Here are the pros and cons of each system:
The unmonitored DIY system
If you didn't already know, DIY stands for "do it yourself." This means when it comes to setup and installation, you're on your own. These have become popular in recent years because the cost is all up front — mostly for equipment such as video cameras and control panels. With this, you can avoid the monthly fees that come with a professionally monitored system and pay one fee outright. You can purchase these systems at just about any major hardware store and spend a weekend installing them. They might even have features that will send video feed or push notifications to your smart phone in the event of a break-in.
Another plus for these systems is that you can place the security cameras precisely where you choose. Maybe you only have one room of memorabilia or collectibles that you'd like to keep an eye on. If that were the case, a DIY system might be very tempting. Having the freedom of placing the cameras and door monitors exactly where you want might be a major plus to some, especially those that are handy and feel confident installing these systems on their own.
With that said, it shouldn't be surprising that the one thing missing from a DIY home security system is the middle man. When you hire someone to perform a professional installation, you know it's being installed for optimum performance. However, this may come as a major inconvenience to you. The installers will likely be drilling holes through your walls for security cameras, switching out your locks, and generally making a lot of noise. Scheduling an installation time might also be a hassle.
The professionally installed and monitored system
A professionally installed system would be installed by a crew of in-house, certified technicians with experience and expertise. These technicians are intimately familiar with the equipment and can show you how to properly operate it. The system might even have smart home features like automatic thermostats or remote door locks.
The biggest turn-off for most people is the monthly monitoring fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars per year. However, it's not uncommon to find home security monitoring contracts that run for as little as $20/month. Some of these companies will even offer free equipment when you sign the contract, which usually runs for at least three years on average. When you get ready to sign for that monitoring service, be sure you can make the monthly payments for an extended period of time.
With a professionally-monitored system, you also have a connection to your local police and you're not responsible for repairs if something goes wrong with your system. The police connection is arguably one of the most important features of a home security system. If something trips the alarm to the room with your prized stamp collection, the police will be notified immediately through and can rush to your home even if you're on vacation or away for the night. Many systems will also have an extended warranty that will entitle you to a free repair if something goes wrong. That's one less weight on your shoulder.
So with both of these options, what's to be done? Here's a suggestion:
The best of both worlds
Did you know that there are professionally monitored home security companies that offer DIY packages as well? It's true! Many top rated companies in the home security industry are taking action to put the installation in the hands of the consumer to provide more freedom. This way, the home security system is also easier to disassemble and reinstall if you move to a different location. But remember to take a good look at the contract — some fees may apply depending on the company.
With these systems, you get rid of the middle man while still enjoying the amenities of a professionally-monitored system, such as police correspondence and smart home features. Some of these smart home features can be tethered to your Amazon Echo or Google Home devices to allow for voice control on features such as door locks, thermostat regulation, and lighting controls. Of course, these features are more common among professionally installed systems but aren't unheard of among DIY systems.
If you've found yourself at this point, you're likely considering the purchase of a home security system. The best thing you can do is take a look at top rated companies and see what companies have the features and price tags that fit your needs. Less than the price of a cable TV subscription, home security is likely more affordable than you thought. Take a look at the best of the best and see what's right for you.