Do It Yourself (DIY) installation or Professional installation?

This is the main question everyone ask himself when it comes to decide about a security system installation.

In an article on alarm security systems for business we discussed the DIY vs Pro install and while the concept we treated there can be applied also for home security systems, we want to dig in a little bit more about the differences, the pros and the cons as well as the differences between a DIY installation for DIY security systems and DIY installations for security systems offered by security companies like Protect America, Vivint, ADT and others.

DIY installation for DIY security systems vs DIY installation for professional security systems

While we know the title of this paragraph may sound like a pun, the truth is that this is a point we want to make clear as sometimes customers can get confused on what is the difference between a DIY security system and a DIY security system installation. We are going to break the title of this paragraph so customers can get it right.

DIY installation for DIY security systems

The main difference with what we just talked above is that in this case you will rely on a security company such as Protect America, ADT, etc, but once you select the devices among what they offer on a certain monthly plan (that you will eventually subscribe to), the company sends the elements of the security system to your home and once you receive it you either install it completely by yourself (security systems by Simplisafe or Nest for example are usually extremely easy to install) or you give the company a call and a tech will guide you through the installation (examples of this could be Protect America or FrontPoint among the most famous ones).

Those are clear examples of a Do It Yourself installation of a professional security systems, the company send the devices and you install it.

Which of the two is the best option?

It really depends. As we talked in another article regarding the worth of installing a security system, when you go for a full DIY system you might have more “freedom” at selecting what should and shouldn’t be included in your home security system, and while you can start building from little (maybe just a couple of cameras and a motion sensor) and then add over time more features, the amount of money you will have to put upfront and at once could be higher than if you decide to go for a professional system.

As many companies might offer the chance to pay the equipment on a monthly basis or might include the devices when signing a multiple-year contract, the idea that you will spend less when equipping your home with a DIY security system is not always true. Another pro of relying on a company even when it comes to DIY installation is that most of them offer a lifetime warranty on the equipment.

Of course you need to consider if you are willed to pay a monthly fee or not as if that is not the case you will have to go for a full DIY security system and installation.

We are going to talk in full detail about the pros and cons of DIY and Professional installations below.

DIY installation for DIY security systems

  • You have full control on equipment selection
  • You don’t have to pay a monthly fee
  • You have limited warranty on the equipment you buy
  • You will have to pay all the equipment upfront

DIY installation for professional security systems

  • You can select the equipment among what the company offers
  • You will have to pay a monthly fee
  • You may get lifetime warranty on the equipment you receive (with some security companies and when signing a multi-year contract)
  • You may have some discount on the security equipment (with some companies and when signing a multi-year contract)

DIY installation in professional security systems: pros and cons

When it comes to installing a security system we want to be sure it will work properly and that it’s not going to be invasive. That’s fair, we want to protect our home and we want peace of mind, we do not want to constantly see the different devices of the security system reminding us of the reasons why we have installed them. No doubt a professional can give us that result, but today the installation of security systems equipment can be so simple that we will be able to obtain an optimal result by ourselves or with a follow-up call by a company technician of the company that will be in charge of monitoring our home.

The money factor

Of course money here is the big factor. A professional installation has a cost and it’s not cheap. You can really save quite some money if you go for a DIY. It might happen that a company offers a free installation when signing a multi-year contract but this is not always the case so if you want to save some money, unless you are 100% sure that the installation is covered by the company you are hiring to monitor your place, choose a DIY installation.

Of course all that glitters isn’t gold. Selecting a professional installation sometimes can help you save on equipment. Some companies make the most out of an installation (sometimes it can go up to $300) so they are incentivized to make an offer that will push the client to opt for a professional installation.

The freedom factor

Freedom is also an important factor. Unless you are part of that 10% of the US persons that are self-employed, you are on a strict schedule. Work, kids, social gatherings, etc, usually dictate our agenda so being able to install a security system whenever you want is definitely a plus. Also not having a person coming to your own house is something that many of us appreciate as privacy can be sometimes a concern and letting in a stranger no matter if he/she is coming on behalf of the security company you signed with. Usually installations are outsourced to local installation companies.

The quickness factor

On top of all this the “quickness” factor will be on your side if you don’t need a professional installation as companies are usually able to deliver the equipment in 48/72 hours. On the other hand, if you opt for a professional installation you will need to schedule a visit and as you might know, the technician can take even a week (or more) to come to your home.

The “professional eye” factor

Among the cons this is probably the most relevant. No matter how skilled you are, you are not a professional so what you think might be the best place to position a security device is not actually the most suitable. They make a living out of that and you don’t. A true professional has the eye to understand the benefits of installing a device in a certain place or another of the house even if for you it might not have sense. If you are not sure of what is the best way to assemble a security system a DIY installation might not be the best option for you.

PROS AND CONS: DIY INSTALLATION

PROS

  • Save money on installation
  • No need to change your daily schedule
  • No need to let a stranger in
  • Receive the equipment quickly at home

CONS

  • Equipment can have a higher cost
  • A professional knows where to install the devices in order to obtain the best result
  • Scheduling an appointment can take sometimes even a week or more

Professional installation in professional security systems: pros and cons

The “professional eye” factor

While we briefly treated this factor above but in this section we want to mention it again with a little more detail.

When you decide to install a professional security system it’s because without doubt you have realized that there are potential dangers for the security of your house and that of your loved ones. That’s why when you get the equipment you already have an idea of which are the spaces of the house that you should secure as strong as you can. The thing here is that “you might have some idea” on where the devices should be positioned but while you do have “some idea”, a true expert will know exactly what you need and where. Sometimes the “professional eye” can even help you save some money as where you see the need for, let’s say, five motion sensors, the expert is comfortable with the idea of installing just two in proper spaces. Where you might find yourself installing window sensors, the professional might be able to suggest the installation of a glass breaking sensor and so on. The “professional eye” will definitely help you improve the security of the space you want to monitor.

The time saving factor

Yes, it’s true that as we said before, when you schedule an appointment you have, on one hand, the disadvantage of having to change your usual schedule so you can attend the visit of the professional installer, and on the other, you might have to wait maybe a week or more for the system you’ve hired to be installed. But what if you are not in a hurry and you can clear your schedule relatively easily? In this case you will save quite some time as the time it will take for the pro to install your security system properly will be way shorter than the time it would take you to do the job. On top of this you will have that time available to do something else instead of wasting your time on the phone with a tech while he tries to explain how to perform the DIY installation of the security system.

The money factor

While professional installations have a cost that round $300, it’s also true that some home security companies will compensate this by giving you free equipment. It can also happen that a company will offer you the possibility of a free installation when you sign a multi-year contract with them so if professional installation is a must, we recommend to check or ask with a representative of the companies you are interested in if there is any active offer that will help you reduce the cost of the professional installation.

PROS AND CONS: PROFESSIONAL INSTALLATION

PROS

  • You may save money on equipment
  • A professional knows where to install the devices in order to obtain the best result
  • The professional installer will make the system work faster in less time than you would need for the system to be ready

CONS

  • Equipment can have a higher cos
  • You will need to adjust your schedule in order to receive the professional installer
  • scheduling an appointment can take sometimes even a week or more

The final decision, DIY or Pro?

At the end of the day what will really make the decision to shift toward DIY or Pro will be your familiarity with technology, the dimension of the space you want to monitor and how much money are you willing to put upfront.

If you have a very large house you will probably need a professional to take care of every detail no matter how familiar with technology you might be. In this case you know also that going pro will may help you save some money on the equipment as the company will be very interested in signing a good/big customer.

If you are looking to secure an apartment, probably DIY will suit you better as the job that should be needed to be done should be quick and not very problematic.

In case you need to secure a home (up to 3/3) or a small business, the decision of going DIY or Pro will be influenced mostly by your tech knowledge and the offers that a security company may be able to offer.

Finally if money isn’t a problem and you want to have full control of the situation, with $700/$1000 you should be able to get yourself a really nice security system by going DIY and later sign a contract with a company that is willing/able to monitor the property directly from the system you installed.

The decision will be different for each one of you, be always sure to contemplate both options and have all the cards on the table as installing a security system is something that requires patiences and most of all the will to put the safety of your beloved ones and property above everything else.