DIY Home Security vs. Professionally Installed Systems: Which Is Best for You?

If you are wanting into shopping for residence safety, you may discover that loads of firms throw across the phrases “DIY” and “skilled set up.” Some home security firms permit you to select from established kits and ship professionals to put in them whereas others allow you to customise your beginning setup and set up the gadgets your self. Often techniques provide a mix of each. So how do you make sense of all of the companies available on the market?

Generally talking, skilled techniques provide bigger, predetermined kits to start out, and require skilled set up. Some additionally contain contracts or longer-term cost plans. DIY companies, alternatively, usually permit for extra customization, each in {hardware} and monitoring subscription choices. You can usually customise and set up your individual system. A real DIY system doesn’t have month-to-month monitoring or affords month-to-month monitoring optionally. DIY systems additionally are inclined to don’t have any contract or long-term commitments.

Which option you choose will rely on a variety of components, together with your funds, want for comfort, familiarity with good residence tech and time. Let’s have a look at these variations in additional depth and allow you to determine which is correct for you.

Read additionally: Best Home Security Systems for Renters


Even DIY techniques are more and more providing monitoring of varied sorts.

Chris Monroe/CNET

DIY vs. skilled set up 

While most residence safety firms usually fall into the 2 classes I’ve outlined above, it isn’t at all times so neat. Many DIY techniques provide optionally available skilled monitoring add-ons and even skilled set up, making them one thing of a hybrid. On the opposite hand, increasingly more professionally put in techniques don’t require prolonged contracts, and more and more give prospects extra management over the gadgets they get of their setup.

Messiness apart, although, the overall classes are nonetheless useful — particularly relating to value variations. DIY safety techniques are usually far more simply down-scalable. If you’ve gotten a small residence or condominium, techniques like Ring Alarm, SimpliSafe and Abode will make far more sense than an expert system, simply from a price perspective.

DIY companies

A real DIY system means that you can construct your equipment earlier than buy. You may add sure gadgets to a cart proper on the web site, or choose them with a salesman over the telephone. While you possibly can typically pay for further assist, you are just about by yourself for set up — however the gadgets are normally pretty pain-free to arrange since common prospects are the target market. Such techniques embrace Ring Alarm, SimpliSafe, Abode, Wyze and others.

Other firms which have historically required skilled set up are providing DIY choices, too, lately. Xfinity and Brinks are two examples right here. Conversely, even distinctly DIY techniques like Ring provide skilled assist should you do not need to comply with the setup guides on-line.  

simplisafe 8 piece home security system

SimpliSafe is without doubt one of the hottest DIY techniques available on the market.

Chris Monroe/CNET

An attention-grabbing characteristic of DIY techniques is that you may usually get skilled monitoring as an optionally available add-on — or you possibly can self-monitor, a extra reasonably priced center manner between skilled monitoring and nothing. Different firms provide totally different costs: Ring Alarm allows you to self-monitor for $30 a 12 months, for occasion, but in addition affords 24/7 skilled monitoring for $100 a 12 months.

These subscriptions are optionally available, with no long-term contracts or cancellation charges. DIY techniques additionally are usually very reasonably priced for residence monitoring. Wyze affords an optionally available $5-a-month plan for 24/7 residence monitoring — an impressively low cost plan that may name you if the system will get tripped and make contact with emergency companies if unable to succeed in you.

DIY choices usually give further methods to save lots of, too. For occasion, SimpliSafe means that you can save 25% by buying refurbished gadgets immediately from the corporate. If you do not want the newest and biggest, and are on a funds, a refurbished gadget can provide you first rate residence monitoring. Additional add-ons may also allow you to each customise your system and carry on funds. Wyze additionally has a $1.25 per digicam monthly Cam Plus subscription program that unlocks options like particular person detection and bundle detection.      

Professional set up and monitoring 

If discovering offers and fidgeting with your individual monitoring system is not your cup of tea, skilled techniques provide one thing just a little extra painless. These usually come as preestablished kits, usually supplied in tiers. The three-tier method is frequent, beginning at base techniques that offer you gadgets like alarms, door/window sensors and management panels. Higher-tier kits add bells and whistles like good cameras and related deadbolts.

An apparent profit is that these techniques take away the headache of setup. One system we lately reviewed positively, Vivint, often runs promo codes for free skilled set up (listed at a $199 worth) and a $0 activation payment. The execs arrange the system, activate it and present you the right way to use it. If you need a system that is extremely regimented and straightforward to grasp, an possibility like this could possibly be a sensible choice.

vivint 2021 home security system

We lately reviewed Vivint Home Security and had been impressed with its integrations, even with third-party gadgets from Kwikset and Chamberlain.

David Priest/CNET

The different large good thing about professionally put in techniques is that they typically combine properly. Rather than pulling in gadgets from numerous manufacturers that will or might not work along with your different good residence devices or voice assistants of selection, large safety techniques are made to work constantly and simply throughout the board. In our expertise, that integration has been spectacular — particularly from firms akin to Vivint and Comcast.

Furthermore, totally different tiered techniques may also have a big selection of advantages. For occasion, Cove has free tools upgrades on its Plus program. If you want with the ability to select between tiers that provide totally different companies, and people higher-tiered plans match into your funds, it pays to go searching at totally different organized plans and packages for essentially the most options that you may afford. 

Feature comparisons 

Below we’ll have a look at options which are frequent in DIY {and professional} safety. These ought to offer you an thought of which method is likely to be greatest for you.

24/7 monitoring 

This is a characteristic you may see throughout the entire essential skilled companies — and more and more at DIY ones, too. Different companies can have sure options, like good cameras being set as much as detect pets, packages and folks. You can usually get customized alerts for what’s going on in your home, from smoke detection to sure varieties of objects noticed, like packages. Wyze stands out for monitoring as a consequence of its reasonably priced and customizable $1.25 monthly possibility that permits for particular person and bundle detection.   

While DIY techniques permit for self-monitoring, the place you get alerts and native sirens, most professionally put in techniques solely provide skilled monitoring subscriptions. With these pricier subscriptions come extra assist — usually together with always-staffed assist facilities to assist monitor and relay info to authorities in case of emergency.

Plans and contracts 

Monitoring plans usually embrace a month-to-month payment on high of the tools bought, once more no matter which system you choose for. Depending on what’s included, you may pay something from round $5 monthly to $100 or extra. Xfinity stands out as a novel selection, because it means that you can bundle residence safety monitoring with TV and web.

Car keys laying on a table

Many DIY techniques permit you to select from all kinds of gadgets that match along with your routines — akin to this key fob from Abode, which helps you to arm or disarm the safety system as you get into the automotive.

David Priest/CNET


This refers to how effectively the service allows you to arrange your individual residence system. If you need a extremely structured professional system, this characteristic may not be of significance to you. If you’ve gotten a particular funds and targets, it may well assist to discover a DIY possibility that means that you can construct your individual equipment proper within the checkout part of the web site, based mostly on which gadgets you want. Ring, Abode and SimpliSafe stand out on this class, since you should purchase particular person gadgets as wanted to construct and later broaden your equipment.  


Price might be affected by what’s monitored round your property and what number of gadgets you’ve gotten in your bundle. DIY packages will usually value much less each for their {hardware} and monitoring subscriptions. That stated, professionally put in techniques usually have their set up prices constructed into the pricing — so it isn’t merely wasted cash.   

Customer assist and warranties 

It’s additionally essential to contemplate warranties and different assist options for prospects. Brinks Home stands out for its two-year guarantee, the place the corporate replaces something that breaks throughout the first two years. If you do not just like the Brinks system, you may as well return it within the first 30 days for a refund. Many skilled and DIY techniques provide related assist, although you may must test for the specifics of your decisions, as they fluctuate.

Home safety techniques in contrast

Our Picks Comcast Xfinity Ring Alarm Pro SimpliSafe (6-piece set) Vivint Smart Home Wyze Home Monitoring
System Price $360 $300 $275 $500 $133
Monitoring Price $30/month $20/month $15/month $30-$45/month $5/month
Starter Equipment 1x touchscreen controller, 3x door/window sensors, 1x pet-friendly movement sensor, battery and mobile system backup, Xfinity Home Security yard signal Eero Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, door/window sensors, movement detectors, a keypad, a siren and optionally available skilled monitoring subscriptions 1 base station, 1 keypad, 1 movement sensor, 3 entry sensors 1 Hub, 2 door window sensors, a movement detector, a flood sensor v3 digicam, two door/window sensors, a movement detector, a keypad and the Sense Hub
Contract Required? No No No No No
Setup Professional set up Professional set up DIY set up Professional set up DIY set up
Extra Features Integration with a big and rising record of third-party gadgets, versatile pricing Cellular-powered backup Wi-Fi, community safety monitoring, native processing, storage for your entire Ring gadgets and integration with Alexa’s Guard Plus service Customizable system, built-in Wi-Fi and mobile, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Customizable system, integration with many third-party gadgets, integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Z-Wave gadgets Customizable system, integration with many third-party gadgets, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Review Score 8 9 8.5 7.7 8.4

How CNET checks residence safety techniques

Hands-on testing is core to our evaluations of any residence safety merchandise. When it involves residence safety techniques — each DIY and professionally put in — we pay particular consideration to the person expertise, the promised options, reliability and total worth together with a number of different parts. We do the testing in an actual residence atmosphere over the course of at the very least a full week. If you need to learn extra about our assessment course of, try our in-depth article on how we test residence safety techniques and companies.


Home safety techniques fluctuate enormously relying on what you are wanting for. DIY techniques are usually extra reasonably priced, customizable and scalable over time. Monitoring can be optionally available and reasonably priced. 

Professionally put in techniques are dearer, however deliver extra pain-free set up, higher assist and powerful gadget integration.

Whichever possibility you select, be sure you fastidiously choose the plan that’s proper for your property and funds.

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