If you’re looking into buying home security, you’ll notice that plenty of companies throw around the terms “DIY” and “professional installation.” Some home security companies allow you to choose from pre established kits and send professionals to install them; others let you customize your starting setup and install the devices yourself. Often systems offer a combination of both. So how do you make sense of all the services on the market?
Generally speaking, pro systems offer larger, predetermined kits to start, and require professional installation. Some also involve contracts or longer-term payment plans. DIY services, on the other hand, generally allow for more customization, both in hardware and monitoring subscription options. You can often customize and install your own system. A true DIY system does not have monthly monitoring or offers monthly monitoring optionally. DIY systems also tend to have no contract or long-term commitments.
DIY vs. professional installation
While most home security companies generally fall into the two categories outlined above, it’s not always so neat. Many DIY systems offer optional professional monitoring add-ons and even professional installation, making them something of a hybrid. On the other hand, more and more professionally installed systems do not require lengthy contracts, and increasingly give customers more control over the devices they get in their setup.
Messiness aside, though, the general categories are still helpful — especially when it comes to price differences. DIY security systems are generally much more easily down-scalable.
A true DIY system allows you to build your kit before purchase. You might add certain devices to a cart right on the website, or select them with a salesperson over the phone. While you can sometimes pay for extra help, you’re pretty much on your own for installation — but the devices are usually fairly pain-free to set up since average customers are the target audience. Such systems include Ring Alarm, SimpliSafe, Abode, Wyze and others.
Other companies that have traditionally required professional installation are offering DIY options, too, these days. Xfinity and Brinks are two examples here. Conversely, even distinctly DIY systems like Ring offer professional help if you don’t want to follow the setup guides online.
An interesting feature of DIY systems is that you can often get professional monitoring as an optional add-on — or you can self-monitor, a more affordable middle way between professional monitoring and nothing.
Professional installation and monitoring
If finding deals and fiddling with your own monitoring system isn’t your cup of tea, professional systems offer something a little more painless. These often come as pre established kits, often offered in tiers. The three-tier approach is common, starting at base systems that give you devices like alarms, door/window sensors and control panels. Higher-tier kits add bells and whistles like smart cameras and connected deadbolts.
An obvious benefit is that these systems take away the headache of setup. The pros set up the system, activate it and show you how to use it. If you want a system that’s highly regimented and easy to understand, alarm installation could be a good choice.
The other big benefit of professionally installed systems is that they generally integrate nicely. Rather than pulling in devices from various brands that may or may not work with your other smart home gadgets or voice assistants of choice, big security systems are made to work consistently and easily across the board.
Home security systems vary greatly depending on what you’re looking for. DIY systems are generally more affordable, customizable and scalable over time. Monitoring is also optional and affordable.
Professionally installed systems are more expensive, but bring more pain-free installation, better support and strong device integration.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to carefully select the plan that is right for your home and budget.