While you can’t put a price tag on your safety and peace of mind, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank when it comes to home security. Live monitoring security systems can be a costly investment, with locked-in annual contracts and expensive monthly premiums. For DIY-minded or budget-conscious homeowners, DIY home security systems constitute an effective and inexpensive alternative. The latest DIY alarm systems are smart, affordable and easy to set up.

With a do-it-yourself home security system, you pay for the hardware and install the system yourself. If something triggers the system, it alerts you via text message. Most of these systems, such as SimpliSafe, Iris and Piper, are wireless and come with a mobile app that you can download onto your smartphone and use to control the system remotely. If you prefer to have professionals monitor your DIY security system, you might be looking for something in our other DIY home security review.

DIY Home Security: What to Look For

There is a dizzying array of DIY security systems on the market; which you choose largely depends on how you want to monitor your home and control the system. While pricing may be a strong determinant for budget-conscious shoppers, there are more important factors to consider when shopping for the right DIY system for your home, such as the following features:

Setup & Usability
When it comes to home security systems, effectiveness and reliability shouldn’t equate confusion and complexity. The best DIY systems are easy to set up and offer an intuitive and straightforward user experience. Look for a system that provides plug-and-play devices, clear setup instructions and a user-friendly app that allows you to control the system from your preferred mobile device.

Control & Customization
An appealing benefit of using a DIY wireless security system is that you can tailor it for your specific needs. You can choose the type and number of sensors and cameras that comprise the system. Many systems also let you add additional peripherals to augment the system whenever you want. This is beneficial because you can adapt the system if your family grows, you move into a new home or your security needs change over time.

The best DIY security systems also give you full control via an app. You can download the app onto your smartphone or Wi-Fi-enabled tablet. From there, you can arm and disarm the system, view real-time camera streams and control specific peripherals. Many apps also allow you to upload photos and rename certain sensors (e.g. back door sensor) for a more personalized and intuitive experience.

Service & Support
Look for a system that’s backed by at least a one-year warranty. The warranty should apply both to security systems sold as kits and to devices purchased separately. Additionally, opting for a DIY system without live monitoring doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice customer support. Most systems come with technical support from the manufacturer. If you have an issue with a device or installation questions, you should be able to contact the manufacturer via telephone or email.

Do-it-yourself wireless security systems give you access to an affordable and legitimate security solution. If you’ve never been able to consider a home security system before, a DIY system may be the right option for your home and family.

Fortress Review

If you want a comprehensive DIY security system without the burden of locked-in contracts and monthly fees, the Fortress S02-C wireless security system is an option that you should consider. Users of this system praise its ease of installation and the accuracy and reliability of its supported security devices and peripherals.

The Fortress S02-C is a pet-immune system, which means its motion sensors won’t trigger the alarm if it detects movement of animals under a certain size. This feature is a must if you have pets that move freely throughout your home and could trigger false alarms.

This Fortress system should also be easy to install. Most people claim installation took less than two hours and the manufacturer provides comprehensible instructions and online tutorial videos to ensure a seamless installation of your system.

Some of the security peripherals that come with this system include contact sensors for doors and windows, panic buttons, motion detectors and remote fobs. The security devices do require lead acid batteries that you will have to replace relatively often. Many DIY security systems use lithium batteries, which can have a battery life of several years. Most users do not seem to mind this, but longer-lasting batteries would enhance the system.

Like most DIY home security systems, you can purchase additional accessories to expand this system. Aside from the customization options this provides, it also ensures the system can grow with your needs. For example, you can expand the system if you move into a new, larger home.

A standout feature of this DIY alarm system seems to be its supplementary customer support. Most online customer reviews indicate the support provided by the manufacturer of this DIY security alarm system is stellar. A support rep will walk you through installation if you need assistance. Additionally, the company is known for sending replacement parts with no questions asked.

The Fortress S02-C DIY home alarm is a robust and comprehensive system that may be a good fit for your home. Designed to protect against threats such as fire and burglary, this system is reliable and customizable to fit your specific needs.

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Iris Review

The Iris Safe and Secure kit from home improvement retailer Lowe’s is a DIY security system that is designed to grow with you and your family. The system is just one component of a much larger Iris line, which contains a variety of home security and automation devices. You can optimize the Iris system for your needs.

The Iris Safe and Secure kit comes with a keypad, a motion sensor, a wireless hub and contact sensors. Similar to many do-it-yourself alarm systems, an appealing aspect of Iris is its customizability and options to upgrade. You can start with this kit and expand the system on an as-needed basis with the devices you want.

Most Iris customers report hassle-free installation of this system. The manufacturer claims you can have the system up and running in less than an hour, and most customer reviews seem to back this claim. The DIY alarm system is wireless so installation should be a relatively simple and straightforward process. You connect the central keypad to a power source and then wirelessly connect it to each peripheral device via your home Wi-Fi network.

The Iris system allows you to monitor your home on your smartphone, computer or tablet. Some people lament that the Iris website and app that you use to monitor the system aren’t as intuitive or easy to navigate as those of competing systems.

Another common complaint of this DIY home security system is that it only allows one user account; you have to pay extra for accounts on additional mobile devices. This could be problematic for some families, such as a husband and wife who both want to be able to access and control the system. However, this likely isn’t going to be a deal breaker for all potential buyers.

The Iris Safe and Secure kit is a great starter kit for DIY home security. The ability to upgrade and customize the system whenever you want gives the Iris the flexibility and convenience typical of DIY security systems. It has a few minor drawbacks but it is a good option to consider in your search for the perfect do-it-yourself home security system.

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iSmartAlarm Review

At a fraction of the cost of fee-based security systems, iSmartAlarm is an efficient alternative for homeowners on a budget. Even if money isn’t a concern, it’s worth looking into this DIY home security system; it is highly intelligent, economical and reliable.

You can set up and control the iSmartAlarm system using its free app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices. Mobile accessibility is one of the biggest selling points of DIY alarm systems. iSmartAlarm is praised for its intuitiveness, navigational ease and complete customizability of the system.

Another positive feature of iSmartAlarm is the system’s design. Each device is sleek looking and has clean, unobtrusive lines. Much like its name, the glossy white of the system’s components mimics the design of Apple products. While the aesthetics of a local home security system should be secondary to its functionality, design is still an important element to consider, and iSmartAlarm satisfactorily delivers in this regard.

You can build this DIY security system a la carte, selecting the devices that best serve your needs. For example, a motion sensor can alert you to intruders, and the iCamera provides real-time monitoring that you can view on your mobile device. The iCube is the system’s “brain,” connecting all of the devices and bridging them with the app. The company claims the system is infinitely expandable, so theoretically you could connect as many peripherals as you want.

Installation of the system isn't too difficult, but you may encounter some hiccups when first installing the camera. These issues are minor and the system should work fine once these are addressed.

Although the iSmartAlarm system doesn’t support live monitoring, it doesn’t mean you’re on your own should you run into any issues with the system. The company offers a number of technical support resources including an online FAQs section, video tutorials and a support ticket system. The company is extremely helpful and responsive to all inquiries.

iSmartAlarm allows you to control your security system in the palm of your hand. Despite a few installation issues, this DIY home alarm and security system offers comprehensive protection that you will find easy to customize and control.

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Piper Review

The Piper is a sleek and modern DIY home security system ideal for minimalists. The system differs from conventional DIY alarm systems with its all-in-one device. Most systems are composed of individual accessories and peripherals, but the Piper is a camera, motion detector, siren and environmental sensors combined in a single, compact package. Thus, the Piper is an excellent choice if you’re seeking value and a minimalist approach to DIY home security.

Piper works by connecting to your smartphone and home Wi-Fi network. You control the system using the Piper app, which is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You can opt to receive notifications of security events by phone, email, text message or a combination of all three.

Users of this DIY security system seem most impressed with the multi-functionality of the Piper device. Its built-in camera has a 180-degree lens and 1080p recording capability. Its environmental sensors can detect motion and changes in temperature, humidity, light and sound. It also has a loud 105-decibel siren that will sound if the system is armed and triggered.

The video and recording function of this unit seems particularly useful. You can view live video streams on your phone, which is ideal if you have caretakers in your home when you are not there. If the system is triggered when you are away, Piper automatically records a 25-second video clip that is streamed to the app.

A single device may seem inadequate to secure an entire house but you can extend the security of this system by pairing multiple Piper devices for use in different rooms or designated zones in your home. The manufacturer even sells a house kit with multiple Piper devices. You can also augment your system with Z-Wave accessories, such as window and door sensors, range extenders and a smart switch that enables you to control lights and appliances remotely.

Piper provides excellent value in DIY home security, particularly for smaller homes and apartments. It offers a much more conservative and stark approach compared to a la carte security systems, but its multi-functionality and sleek design outshine much of the competition.

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SecurityMan Review

When it comes to DIY home security systems, expandability and ease of use seem to be top priorities for homeowners. The SecurityMan Air-AlarmIIE is one system that handily exceeds expectations in regard to both of these, according to online customer reviews. Whether you want to secure an apartment rental or your single-family home, this DIY home alarm is one option to consider.

SecurityMan touts this system as a comprehensive security solution that requires a minimum investment. Most reviews of the system that we came across seem to support this claim. The system is competitively priced, as are its wide array of additional security devices that you can add individually to the system. Plus, the absence of a contract for professional monitoring means there are no steep monthly fees associated with this system.

When you pull this system out of the box, the sensors included with the SecurityMan Air-AlarmIIE are already paired to the control panel. This should make for an easy and quick installation. It also makes this DIY security system a good option if you are reluctant to attempt installing a home security system on your own.

Despite its widely reported ease of use, it’s still possible that you could run into installation or technical issues. Fortunately, the manufacturer provides technical support via email. The SecurityMan website also hosts an array of informative FAQs and detailed product manuals. Both of these online resources have information pertaining specifically to the Air-AlarmIIE system.

One of the best things about this do-it-yourself security system is it supports up to 60 security devices, ranging from motion sensors to smoke detectors. Most homeowners aren’t likely to need this many sensors, but having that option gives the Air-AlarmIIE unparalleled versatility and it ensures the system can expand as much as you may need in the future.

Few DIY alarm systems have the expandability that the SecurityMan Air-AlarmIIE system boasts. Its impressive growth capacity makes the system ideal for homes of all sizes. If you are looking for an expandable DIY home security system that will undoubtedly fit your budget, we would recommend starting your search with the SecurityMan Air-AlarmIIE.

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SimpliSafe Review

SimpliSafe is a DIY security system that provides the building blocks you need to construct your ideal home security solution. The system is totally wireless and constitutes an easy and simplified way to secure your home. SimpliSafe is more expensive than other DIY alarm systems, and certain features require monthly fees. However, the system’s overall cost offers versatility and ease of use.

SimpliSafe offers five different packages ranging in price and peripherals. The Classic Package is a 10-piece system that includes a base station, wireless keypad and eight different sensors and detectors. None of the packages include cameras, a peripheral that seems to be a staple of most DIY home security systems. Regardless, SimpliSafe’s wide variety of other devices, which include motion sensors and smoke detectors, should provide ample protection. You can expand your system to include up to 41 devices.

The SimpliSafe system arrives preprogrammed from the manufacturer, and the plug-and-play devices are easy to set up. The base station, or the brains of the system, must be plugged in but has a backup battery in case it ever loses power. It communicates with the rest of the wireless devices and walks you through the initial setup and system test. Installation of the entire system should only take a few minutes. As for the peripheral devices, they run on lithium batteries, which can last up to five years. Each device has an adhesive backing and a pull-tab to activate the battery. It is simple to remove the backing and the pull-tab to place and activate the device.

With SimpliSafe, you can use the DIY alarm system as a fee-free local alarm or you can pay a monthly fee for the company’s 24-hour live monitoring service. You also pay monthly if you want to control the system from your smartphone or receive notifications via email and text message. The monthly fees for this system can add up if you want to unlock its full functionality. However, the wide range of capabilities comes with no contracts, which means you can add or drop any of the optional features whenever you want.

For a do-it-yourself home security system, SimpliSafe can be pricey, but its versatility allows you to grow the system with your needs. Additionally, you’d be hard-pressed to find a system that is more intuitive or easier to set up than SimpliSafe.

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SkyLink Review

SkyLink is a manufacturer of residential security systems. The SC-1000 is a DIY home security system from the company’s popular SC-series of wireless alarm systems. If you’re seeking an all-inclusive security system that works right out of the box, you should consider this DIY solution.

The SC-1000 is a complete wireless alarm system. This means it comes with all the components you need to secure your home including a control panel, sensors and a keychain remote. In addition to the SC-1000, SkyLink offers two other starter kits to choose from; the SC-1000 comes with the most peripherals of all three kits. You can further customize the system by purchasing additional devices to add to the system. This DIY home alarm can support up to 30 peripheral devices.

One of the reasons this system appeals to homeowners looking for DIY home security is that it is economical. This security system has a lower price tag than many comparable systems but is no less functional or effective, according to users.

With this DIY security system, you simply plug in the control panel and follow the step-by-step instructions to wirelessly connect each peripheral device. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a security system that is more intuitive or easier to install than this one.

A minor complaint shared among many users is that when the system is triggered, its remote dialer can take several seconds to call the numbers preprogrammed into the system. However, this isn’t something that is unique to this system, and it doesn’t seem to be a big issue for most users. You can add up to nine different phone numbers and record a 40-second voice message that will play.

An important feature of DIY home alarms is the ability to create zones. Zones are divided sections of your home, each with its own set of peripherals. The main advantage of having zones is you can disable one zone while arming the others. Furthermore, if something triggers the system, you can tell exactly which zone the threat originated from. The SC-1000 system allows you to specify up to four zones in your home, giving you more intuitive use of and greater control over your system.

The SkyLink SC-1000 home alarm system is an excellent choice if you want a security system that you can monitor yourself. With its plug-and-play operation and affordable price tag, it will likely be an effective and invaluable solution in protecting your home and family.

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Swann Review

Swann is a well-known and reputable brand in the security industry. The manufacturer provides a wide range of security products including cameras, DVRs and DIY security system kits. The Swann SW347-WA2 is one such kit, providing everything you need in a complete start-up security system.

This DIY home alarm system comes with a control panel, motion sensors and window or door sensors. The manufacturer touts it as a closed system, meaning you don’t have to subscribe with a security company and pay monthly fees for live monitoring. Rather, the DIY home security system allows you to self-monitor your home using the included devices.

A feature of this system universally liked by customers is the volume of its alarm. When the system is armed and triggered by a security event, the alarm will sound. Users claim the alarm is extremely loud, which can help deter skittish thieves and alert you and potentially neighbors of an intruder.

Be aware that this inexpensive system does not have remote capabilities. Unlike the best DIY alarm systems, this Swann system doesn’t have an app that enables you to control the system from a smartphone or tablet, or be notified of a security event when you are away from home. The simplistic system is designed to simply sound the alarm when triggered.

Given its simplistic functionality, the Swann SW347-WA2 is an excellent choice for use in condos and townhomes. It’s also a good option if you are renting an apartment because it does not require any rewiring in order to work.

Most users of this system report an easy and quick installation. You simply hang the keypad and sensors, plug them in and program. The kit includes extensive instructions to help you program the control panel and connect it to each security peripheral. Another bonus of this DIY home alarm is that it comes with security decals that you can place in a window or your front yard. These may further deter potential intruders.

The Swann SW347-WA2 is a simple DIY home security system. Although it lacks mobile accessibility through an app, users appreciate the system’s basic but effective alarm that can warn you of intruders.

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Tattletale Review

When it comes to DIY security systems, few systems boast the portability and plug-and-play operability of the Tattletale. A completely wireless system, the Tattletale appeals to renters, owners of small homes and even college students in dorms.

The maker of the Tattletale claims the system is so easy to use, you can have it up and running in less than a minute. Most users of the system support this claim, reporting a simple and hassle-free installation process. You plug the small plastic box into a standard wall outlet and enter some basic information to activate the system. Programming additional sensors takes a little more time but doing so is just as effortless.

As is the case with many of the best DIY home security systems, this system can be upgraded and customized to fit your security needs. You begin with the portable control unit and from there, you can choose the additional security devices you want. These devices include smoke, motion, window and door sensors. Every Tattletale also comes with a key fob that allows you to arm and disarm the system, and set off the panic mode.

This security device enables you to receive email and text message notifications if the system is triggered. Customers seem to especially like that you can choose up to five different people to also receive notifications. This feature is particularly beneficial in situations where you may be incapacitated.

Another apparent standout feature of this DIY alarm system is its supplementary help and support. The manufacturer provides a wide range of support resources that can help you take full advantage of this system. For instance, the Tattletale website hosts programming instructions, installation guides and user forums. It also has a variety of video tutorials that provide visual instruction on how to set up your system. Customers who ran into installation and technical issues with the system report customer service agents that were responsive and helpful in addressing and rectifying these problems.

If you are looking for a DIY security system but are overwhelmed with the sheer number of options out there, the Tattletale DIY security system is a good place to start. Its plug-and-play operation, flexible sensor integration and system notifications are all hallmarks of an effective do-it-yourself alarm system.

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Viper Home Review

Viper Home is an impressive contender in the saturated market of DIY home security systems. This alarm system contains everything you need to secure your home in a convenient start-up package. In addition, the Viper Home system boasts a smart design and, according to most users, consistent and reliable performance.

The starter kit of this system comes with a smart control hub, a motion detector and a sensor that can be placed on a door or window. Like most DIY security systems, this one allows you to purchase additional devices a la carte, including cameras and sirens. This gives you the flexibility to expand the system on an as-needed basis. Keep in mind that if you use a camera, you have to pay a monthly fee if you want to take advantage of the system’s live video feed.

An appealing feature of the Viper system is you can broaden its functionality to include home automation and vehicle security. This means you can use the system to secure your home and automate lighting and thermostats in addition to securing your home – all through the convenient Viper app.

Consistent performance is a vital aspect of any DIY home alarm and if online reviews are any indication, Viper Home doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The system has earned a solid reputation for its reliability, sending notifications whenever a security event occurs while the system is armed. Its motion sensor also has an effective range of nearly 40 feet.

Aside from its touted reliability, users of this do-it-yourself alarm system also praise its modern yet unobtrusive design. When it comes to a wireless alarm system, you want devices that are inconspicuous and easily blend in with the surroundings. The components of Viper Home do just that and enable you to place them nearly anywhere in your home without calling attention to them.

Expandability, effectiveness and convenience are all hallmarks of top-notch DIY home alarms, and it seems as though the Viper Home excels in each of these areas. The system also enables you to control and monitor your home security system from a mobile app.

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