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Your guide to DIY home security systems


Craig Johnson,

Everyone likes to feel safe and the security of yourself and your family probably ranks pretty high on the list that are important to you in life. In most places, the days of leaving your house unlocked while you’re away are long gone.

With that in mind, homeowners can spend a pretty penny on the latest technology related to home security. Driven by electronic innovations, the global home security market is surging well past $100 billion, according to market watchers, with no sign of slowing down.

But what about a regular Joe who wants to upgrade past the traditional deadbolt lock? There are a number of security systems on the market right now that homeowners can install themselves without breaking the bank.

Home security means different things to different people — it could be a motion-detecting lights, surveillance cameras or a plethora of “smart home” options from door-bell cameras to facial scanners. The question is what do you need to feel protected and have peace of mind?

Here are some affordable DIY security systems


The Nest Cam Indoor security camera is designed to be your remote eyes when you’re away from the home.

Its bread-and-butter feature is 24/7 live streaming camera in 1080p HD, ideal for TV or mobile phone playback. It comes with a magnetic stand and is all controllable from an app. From anywhere. Cost: Starting at $499.


This no-frills security system offers a tiered system that caters to millennials on the go as well as seniors who are home around the clock. Ooma’s base plan, called the Home Monitoring Plan, gives homeowners one sensor for free or unlimited sensors around the home for $5.99 a month. Premier customers can use the service at no additional cost with telephone protections as well. Premier cost: $9.99 a month.


Video doorbell maker Ring has launched a comprehensive home security system called Protect, which comes with a hardware portfolio that would make Lego proud. Tech website The Verge describes it like this: “The base unit costs only $199 and includes a single door/window sensor and a motion detector. Additional door/window sensors will sell for $20, and additional motion sensors will sell for $30. That means you could outfit 10 windows and five rooms for the price of just getting started with Nest’s system. Starting cost: $199


Marketed as “the fastest-growing home security company in the nation,” SimpliSafe offers 24/7 professional monitoring without the excessive fees tacked on by third-party vendors. The service also has an attractive price point that gives homeowners peace of mind while never locking them into a long-term contract. Cost: $14.99/month.

Other home security systems that money expert Clark Howard has highlighted are:


“The Arlo is a wireless camera system for indoor or outdoor use. And get this: It requires no electrical hookup! It uses lithium batteries instead, just like electric cars do,” Clark says. “With prices starting at $179, these things aren’t exactly cheap… but it can definitely be worth the money depending on your needs.”

Beware of home-security ripoffs

“Unsavory players in the home security field have come up with a new way to rip you off,” Clark says. “Here’s how it plays: When you sign a contract, you’re not given a physical copy. What happens instead is you sign on a tablet or smartphone. The terms and conditions are in tiny type and you sign with either your finger or a stylus.”

While it’s difficult for anyone to read a lengthy contract, especially on the spot, Clark advises that homeowners at least skip past the legalese and read the part about what you’re agreeing to at what price and for how long.

In other words, before you secure anything else, secure your wallet. Happy home protection!

RELATED: How to shop for a home burglar system

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