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Home security demystified: How to build a smart DIY system

By Jennifer Tuohy | May 29, 2015
Homeowners and renters can now build and maintain their own custom-designed home security system easily and inexpensively.

Everyone wants their home to be safe and secure, yet only 17% of homeowners own a home security system. Why? Because traditional systems cost hundreds of dollars to install, require long-term contracts and mean a lifetime of monthly fees.  

Today, however, wireless technology has blown the DIY home security space wide open. Homeowners and renters can now build and maintain their own custom-designed home security system easily and inexpensively.

In this guide, we'll discuss the options for DIY home security systems that offer similar — and in some cases, better — functionality to traditional systems, at substantially less cost. From connected cameras to smart sensors and whole home systems (with no monthly fees), to simple all-in-one gadgets, read on to find peace of mind for the right price.

The basic tenets of home security include:

To build your own security system, you need to determine what your needs are and then bring together the right combination of surveillance, sensors and locks to achieve a balance between convenience and security. Some rules of thumb:

  • If you have a large home with lots of access points, consider an expandable home security kit.
  • If you are a renter in a small apartment, a portable all-in-one device will suit your needs best.
  • If you are somewhere in between these two scenarios, then you are a candidate for an "a la carte" security system where you pick and choose different products to custom-design your own home security solution.

Remember, home security is no longer just about awareness of break-ins or house fires. The power of the Internet of Things, combined with the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, means we have access to an unprecedented level of control over our homes. From checking in on the new puppy while at the office, to shutting off the water when a pipe bursts, your home security system can now talk directly to you, cutting out the traditional security system middleman.

+ ALSO What is home automation and how do I get started? +

Even better, you can talk back to it, so you can control your home from anywhere.

Choosing a surveillance system

Security cameras are an essential component to a home security system. Visible cameras deter burglars and recorded footage can help you recover items after a break-in and prosecute the perpetrators. Internet connected cameras let you see both the interior and exterior of your home from anywhere, helping you avert or mitigate disasters and keep an eye on inhabitants, as well as prevent theft.

There are many options when it comes to adding surveillance around your home: from wireless WiFi capable cameras that can be remotely accessed and controlled from your smartphone or tablet, to covert cameras that capture video and images from a hidden location, to complete DVR kits that can handle and record video from several camera locations.


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