A wide variety of do-it-yourself (DIY) home alarm systems have become available to consumers in the last several years. There are several important factors to consider before purchasing a home alarm system. These include the level and types of protection needed, the cost of such systems, the installation involved, and whether to choose a system that is monitored or unmonitored.
Some home alarm devices that serve a single purpose can be purchased for very little money, such as a motion detector attached to a front door. More sophisticated systems offer multiple protections and can cost hundreds of dollars. Many companies offer a DIY home alarm system starter kit. These usually include basic services and allow the homeowner to add other protection products over time. Starter kits generally include fire and carbon monoxide detectors, door and window contacts, and motion detectors. Door and window contacts can trigger the alarm system when a window or door is opened, and motion detectors trigger an alarm when movement is detected in the house. Other add-on products include glass breakage sensors, video surveillance cameras, and intercoms systems.
An important consideration in choosing a DIY home alarm system is the installation involved. A hardwired system is wired directly into the home's electrical power source and is generally considered the most reliable type of home alarm. These systems generally have back up batteries in case the power goes out. Hardwired systems tend to cost more and take longer to install. Although most DIY home alarm systems come with step-by-step instructions, installing a hardwired security system requires some knowledge in electrical wiring and the use of power tools.
A wireless DIY home alarm system may be much easier for the average homeowner to install and generally costs less. Wireless security systems typically run on battery power. When installing a wireless system, regular battery replacement is necessary to keep the system functioning.
A DIY home alarm system can be monitored or unmonitored. A monitored home alarm system is typically connected to a central reporting station. A company can monitor the alarm system and notify local emergency personnel in an emergency. These companies typically charge a monthly fee and often require a long-term contract. An unmonitored system is another option. Some of these systems simply sound an alarm in the event of an emergency. Others may contain a direct-dial option, with the phone numbers for local emergency personnel pre-programmed into the system. When the home alarm system is triggered, it automatically dials the numbers.
Some companies also offer hybrid systems, which are a combination of hardwired and wireless systems. There are also several high-tech home alarm options available that allow the homeowner to monitor their home from a remote location using a cell phone or a laptop. Before purchasing a home alarm system, it’s important for homeowners to check with local regulatory codes and homeowner's associations for requirements or restrictions to any home alarm system installed.