Pros and Cons of Do-it-yourself security alarm systems
You can’t escape the ads. You can’t go into many stores without seeing one. Do-it-yourself alarm systems are trending. They are not a new invention— ever hear of Radio Shack? You used to be able to buy kits there. Our local Radio Shacks closed, and I don’t know if there are any left anywhere at this point.* The basics of the systems are the same— door switches, motion detectors, sirens/sounders. The new twists are how you control them, the way they look, and how you get a police response from them.
Full disclosure: We just started offering a DIY system, too. So you shouldn’t assume I fall on one side or the other. I see their utility and I see some issues too.
The following is an off the top of my head list of pros and cons. I may elaborate on them in future posts, or on request if you contact me.
Pros of DIY alarms:
easier to follow installation instructions than professional models
auto-arm feature (see below for auto-disarm) is convenient (just make sure it is working how you think it is)
no contract required monitoring (Some DO have contracts. But- we don’t require a contract on our DIY or professionally installed alarms)
easy integration with some desirable features (for some) like thermostats and lights
Cons of DIY alarms:
less adjustable to needs— can’t adjust delay times for instance
may work only with one company or central station
may require sharing more personal data than traditional alarm (trade-off for automatic features)
no local on-site assistance for troubleshooting (exception- we sell DIYs, and we can help on site)
easy to disturb system by moving parts out of range
easy to disrupt video by moving camera/ covering (cameras are not equal to security alarms)
self monitoring means YOU are always on call (some systems allow self monitoring, some don’t)
expected lifespan may be less— professional systems can last for decades
auto arm feature is convenient, but it’s easier to forget the code you will only occasionally need— this can cause false alarms
* Radio Shack was in bankruptcy, but is now out of it and still has an online presence and some plans to re-brand as Radio Shack Express. Which brings the question- what happens to your security system if the company who sold it to you goes out of business? I’ll do another post on this in the future, because it’s complicated.
There is no way I can say DIY is for everyone. If anything, I can just say proceed with caution, read the manuals, and test the system. Test it regularly. Do not assume the system is ok without inspecting it periodically.
Whatever you see advertised that a DIY system can do, a professionally installed system can do as well. So don’t think that you have to sign up for the ones you hear advertised just to get a new function or gadget. Call your current security provider— or call us!