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Which Is Better for Home Security: Professional or DIY Installation?
Is a professionally installed home security system or a DIY one better?
We say this a lot, and we probably sound like a broken record (or a more modern equivalent—maybe a YouTube video stuck on repeat?), but what's "better" in home security depends entirely on your needs.
Professional installation is the better choice if you:
- Want to save time
- Don't feel comfortable DIYing it
- Have cash to spare
- Can work around technicians' flighty schedules
DIY installation will suit your needs a lot better if you:
- Have the time and tools on your hands
- Love to do home improvement projects
- Want to save money
- Prefer not to wait on others
Professionally installed security systems
Professional installation is a fixture of traditional security systems. A professionally installed system is often (but not always) old school. That means more expensive and hardwired into your walls, with longer contracts, higher monitoring prices, and fewer opportunities for self-monitoring.
Because professionally installed systems are more complicated to install, and because you’re dropping enough money to cover the cost, the security company sends a technician out to your place to install everything. And we can’t lie: the convenience is niiiice.
For national security providers, the DIY craze has taken over, and the pro install model is slowly dying off. But there are a few providers still going strong! (Professional installation is also thriving in the local security provider scene, should you choose that route.)
Here are some of the best security systems with professional installation.
Data effective 09/21/2022. Offers subject to change.
The professional installation experience
We've sat through a professional installation experience and also read about other customer experiences. Here’s what we expect you can expect.
You won’t get an exact installation time, just a window of time. For instance, you might be assigned the 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. window. That means the technician might show up anytime after eight but before noon.
Sounds easy enough, right? But if the technician runs behind, you might get bumped to the 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. window. Or, if things really don’t go as planned, you could get pushed to a later date altogether.
That’s no biggie if you have a flexible schedule. But if you have to take time off work to meet the technician, it becomes more of an issue.
Once the technician arrives, they’ll unpack the equipment, go over the installation plan and contract with you, and get to work. In some cases, they might ask you about your installation preferences (like where you want cameras). If they don’t ask, but you have a strong opinion, make sure to share before they get started.
The technician usually won’t need anything else from you until the installation is complete, so you should be free to do whatever while they work. However, you should plan on hanging around the house—depending on security company policies, the technician may have to leave if you aren’t there.
After the equipment is installed, the technician will show you how it works. In our experience, this quick demo isn’t sufficient to get a grasp on things. You'll probably want to try it again later to ensure you understand.
Professional monitoring vs. self-monitoring
Professional monitoring means that someone besides you has eyes on your home security system. That’s in contrast to self-monitoring, which relies on you to notify the police if something goes wrong.
You can usually get professional monitoring with a DIY home security system, but it’s rare to get self-monitoring with a professionally installed system.
To learn more, read What Is Home Security Monitoring?
DIY security systems
DIY is the new horizon for security. It cuts out a professional installer in favor of—well—you. Congrats; you’re responsible for getting the equipment connected and in its place.
DIY means "Do It Yourself," but you don't actually have to do it yourself. You might be able to find a tech-savvy friend or neighbor to install your system for you for a reasonable price.
But the benefits of DIY outweigh the weirdness of installing it yourself. DIY systems are usually cheaper and contract-free, with wireless connections and more opportunities for self-monitoring and smart home customization.
And the best part of DIY home security is that you get hands on with your new system. It’s easy to quickly learn how everything works as you set it all up, and you won’t have to wait on anyone else’s schedule or expertise.
A DIY security system used to be a novelty, but nowadays, they’re everywhere.
|$3.99–$20.00/mo.||DIY||View on Amazon|
Data effective 09/21/2022. Offers subject to change.
The DIY installation experience
We’ve installed a few different DIY systems, and here’s how it usually goes.
With DIY, you buy all the equipment at a retail store or through the mail. You’ll unpack your system, read the instructions, and follow them as you install everything.
DIY systems are designed to be super user-friendly, so in most cases, you can get everything sorted in an hour or so. Some DIY equipment is even what we call “peel and stick”: it comes with an adhesive already applied for an incredibly effortless installation.
If you run into problems at any time, DIY security companies provide resources and sometimes even live help to walk you through the process. But TBH, not all of these resources are created equal. The quality of support you get depends on your service’s customer experience strategy.