The home security company whose representative just knocked on your door will always tell you that investing in their service and equipment is well worth it. Same thing for the DIY home security company that advertises on TV. It is in their best interests to tell you that what they offer is worth buying. But is it?
Maybe. But then again, maybe not.
Failing to give a definitive answer is not a cop-out. Rather, it is an admission that there is no one answer for every situation. To determine whether or not a home security system is worth the investment, you have to determine what it is you are thinking of buying, how much you intend to spend, and what you hope to accomplish.
Home Security and Burglaries
A good place to start is the ‘why’ of installing a home security system. For some people, it is all about protection against burglars. They have heard about burglaries in the neighborhood and they have no intention of being the next victim. So off they go to the hardware store in search of a DIY system.
If burglary is your main concern, investing in a home security system might be your best move. Research into the habits of real life burglars suggest that as many as 60% of them purposely avoid homes they know are protected by monitored home security. They would rather hit less secure targets.
This makes sense given the nature of how burglaries go down. Burglars get in and out within minutes. The last thing they want to do is leave evidence that could lead to their arrest. Security systems, particularly those with video cameras, provide the evidence burglars hate so much. It makes sense to avoid houses with security systems.
Other Property Crimes
Along the same lines are other property crimes like porch piracy and stealing items out of parked cars. There are people who install security cameras specifically for this reason. They might install a video doorbell to keep an eye on the porch and a second camera that gives a clear view of the driveway.
This type of security can be just as much of a deterrent to property crimes outside the home. Of course, perpetrators have to know they are being surveilled or they will not be scared away. A yard placard or window sign takes care of that problem.
Wired vs. Wireless Systems
Assuming you determine you want a home security system to prevent burglary and other property crimes, the next thing to consider is the type of system you want. A wired system offers the best possible protection against unauthorized entry, fire and carbon monoxide, and even flood. But wired systems are also quite expensive thanks to the labor involved.
Wireless systems tend to be cheaper across the board. They can be installed easily and without the need for home construction. Furthermore, they rely on wi-fi and cellular signals rather than landline cable or telephone. But wireless systems can be breached more easily and rendered ineffective if wi-fi or cellular signals go out.
Spending a lot of money on a wired system may not be worth it to you. Your security needs might not warrant such a significant investment. On the other hand, a wireless system might be more in line with your budget. Spending a few hundred dollars on a decent system makes the idea more attractive to you.
Professional vs. DIY Installation
The cost factor also comes into play in deciding whether you want professional installation or a DIY package. Professional installation is part of the deal for some companies like Vivint. Technicians install the system, test it to make sure it is working, and teach customers how to use the equipment. Other companies charge for professional installation. It really just depends on the provider.
DIY systems are installed by the customer. Installation is not necessarily difficult, but you do have to know the basics of routers, wi-fi, etc. Then there is the time put into researching the best locations for video cameras, window and door sensors, etc.
The general rule is that DIY systems cost less. Professionally installed systems, even when installation is promoted as being free, tend to come with a higher price tag. The trade-off is that you are guaranteed a system that works out of the box and will be maintained by your provider.
Professional vs. DIY Monitoring
Believe it or not, we’re still not done yet. Another cost to consider is that of monitoring. It doesn’t make sense to install a home security system and not monitor it around the clock. You basically have two monitoring options: professional and DIY.
The former involves connecting your security system to a remote monitoring center staffed by trained professionals. In today’s wireless world, connections can be made via cellular signals or the internet.
You pay a monthly monitoring fee for this sort of arrangement. In exchange, you get remote monitoring professionals keeping an eye on your home and alerting both you and the authorities in the event of an emergency. If you do not want to pay for such a service, you can always monitor the system yourself.
How does DIY monitoring work? By setting up your system to send you alerts when your system is triggered. The alerts can be sent via text message, your email account, a phone-based app, or any combination thereof. It is up to you to decide what to do when an alert comes in.
Home Security on a Budget
If you determine that a home security system is worth the investment, understand that you can put together an exceptionally good package on a budget. You do not have to spend thousands of dollars to secure your home against burglary, fire, and other threats.
The key is to shop around and read plenty of reviews. Do your homework so that you will not be disappointed later on. The more you know going in, the better your chances of ending up with a security system with which you are happy.