How to install a home security system
If you want to protect your home and family in the best possible way, a home security system is something that you can’t afford to not have. The main issue with these systems is the cost, however, as most of the top home security companies will charge you a hefty sum for it. Luckily, you have an alternative. You can learn how to install a home security system on your own. DIY installation is always much cheaper than a professional one, allowing you to acquire higher quality components for the same price. In this article, we will cover the benefits of a DIY home security system as well as how to install it in the easiest possible way.
Why install a home security system on your own?
The main reason why anyone chooses to install anything on their own is that it is cheaper. When it comes to home security systems, the DIY kits are easy-to-use and are rather straightforward. The basic system starts at around $225 and almost tops at about $800. Of course, there is virtually no limit to the components you can add to your system and increase its overall price.
For example, if you want to add heat/smoke detectors, the overall system price rises to about $1,400. While this may sound excessive, it is still half of what you may need to pay if you opt for a professionally-installed system. But to reap the benefits of investing in your home security, you need to spend some money, after all. Installing the system on your own will allow you to either save money or install higher-quality components.
The main difference between a professional system and a DIY one is that the latter does not come with any sort of monitoring service. This is something that you can remedy, however, as you can acquire one on your own for as low as $10 per month if you shop around.
Lastly, learning how to install a home security system can be extremely fun. You will get to spend your day fiddling with all sorts of cool gadgets, connecting them, creating the perfect layout, etc. While most DIY installations last for a day or so, complicated systems can take up your entire week! It is definitely something to consider before you choose to undergo the installation on your own.
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How to install a home security system?
These days, installing a basic home security system is very easy. All you need to do is mount the transmitters at windows and doors and connect a control panel to a power supply and the phone line. Of course, if you are planning on a more elaborate system, installation may require more extensive planning.
You are also going to need the following tools:
- Drill bit set
- Pry bar
- Four-in-one screwdriver
- Cordless drill/driver
You will, of course, need your wireless security system components as well. There are many different types of home security systems and you can choose the one that best fits your unique needs and requirements. Some components may also require specialized tools, too. Always remember to read the installation instructions.
Window transmitters vs. motion sensors
The first choice you will need to make when installing your security system is between window transmitters and motion sensors. The latter is much more cost-effective, but it can cause numerous false alarms. Another key difference is that motion sensors detect burglars after they’ve already entered your home. Window/door transmitters present a more expensive option but they will alert you to any break-in activity immediately. You can, of course, combine the two.
Planning your DIY home security system
Once you make the choice between motion sensors and transmitters, you are going to need to figure out how many of each you need. To do so, you will want to sketch all the doors and windows on the home’s ground level, starting with the front door. A good practice is to sketch in a clockwise direction. Also, don’t forget to include any service doors that you may have, such as the ones usually found in the garage. After that, you will want to count any upper-level openings that someone can reach without a ladder, as burglars rarely use those. Lastly, you will want to include any patio doors on elevated decks.
But burglary is only one aspect that your security system needs to handle. Fire is usually a far greater danger than burglars, so you may want to invest in wireless smoke detectors as well. These detectors will notify your monitoring service of any fires in your home, at which point the service will call for the fire department. The minimum number of smoke detectors on each floor is one, but you may want to install a few of them in larger homes. At the very least, you will want to outfit each hallway that leads to a bedroom and every bedroom with its own smoke detector.
Next up, you will need to decide on your control panel. There are two main types of control panels: A cabinet-style panel, and a self-contained panel. The former consists of a simple keyboard and can be mounted near the phone interface in your home. The latter mounts near the door and is much easier to install. However, the main issue with the self-contained panel is that an intruder can tear off the panel before it finishes relaying the danger to the monitoring service.
Both panel types will require a special RJ31X phone jack to connect to your home’s phone lines. Most homes will have such a jack but there may be a possibility that you will need to install it before the home security system.
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Understanding how your system works
Basically, your home security system works through the transmitters that sense a loss of contact with corresponding magnets. Once the loss of contact is established, the panel will place a call to the monitoring service, who will then notify the fire department or the police. The monitoring service can also contact you directly or anyone that you’ve listed as a “first contact”.
Utilize hidden magnets for a “neater” look
If you choose to use plunger contacts, you may find that they make your windows much harder to open and close. This is one of the reasons why you may want to use “hidden” or recessed magnetic contacts. It is rather easy to install these, too. First, you will want to mark the location on the sash and drill one more hole for the magnet itself. After that, you will want to drill the edge of the side trim, at a small angle. To position the wires, you can use a simple bent coat hanger. By doing so, you will effectively hide both the magnets and the wiring, making it harder for anyone to notice the transmitters from the outside. As an added bonus, the inside of your home will look much neater, too.
You will also need a permit
Most US cities require you to have a permit for DIY home security systems. This permit usually does not cost more than $25 a year. For example, an alarm permit in Washington County costs $20 per year. Before even ordering your DIY home security system, you will want to contact the licensing department. They will provide you with a sticky permit that you can place on a window or near the front door. Failure to do so will have you paying a fine once the police arrive on the scene. Acquiring a permit is quite easy, and you can apply for it online or through US mail.
And a monitoring service
While your home security system does not need to be connected to the monitoring service, it is in your best interest to set up a monitoring plan. Unless you always have someone around the house that can call the police or fire department, investing in a monitoring plan is a very good idea. While you may think that a simple siren may dissuade burglars, the statistics say that is not the case. The burglars know that it usually takes around 3-5 minutes for the neighbors to contact the police department.
A monitoring service notifies the police or fire department almost instantly. The contract will usually cost you around $40 per month. However, in some areas, you can find one for as low as $10 per month. You will, in most cases, need to sign a contract with a minimum duration of 3 years. If your home utilizes a digital phone service, or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), your options may be somewhat limited, as the monitoring company needs to be able to handle those types of calls. Always ask if your system requires any additional equipment or if they are any additional service fees.
Lastly, you will want to place a simple sign that your home is protected by an alarm system. The more signs you post, the higher the chance that burglars will be deterred. You want to make sure that anyone who wants to intrude upon your home knows that it is well-protected.
Learning how to install a home security system presents great savings potential and it can be extremely fun, too! If you want to know about the best individual components and/or the best home security system companies, simply browse the remainder of the home security section of the Consumer Opinion Guide. We will provide you with all the knowledge that you might need to design and install the perfect home security system!