Cost-Benefit of Home Monitoring Solutions vs. DIY Home Security Systems

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Should you build your own Home Security System?

I’ll tell you why I have a security system. It makes me feel safe; if there was an incident, police or fire personnel would break down my door and come to the rescue. If there was a situation where you couldn’t respond, your home monitoring service would begin the process of calling the help you need on your behalf: Help is on the way. There is value to a service such as this.

It’s your life, it’s your home that are precious to you. Nothing should take that away.

We’re going to talk about the value of current Home Security Systems and how it compares to current smart home automation technology. You may find that there are home security options that are practical and economically viable.

Home Security Systems

Here are a few things about present-day Home Security Systems:

  1. Most of the devices or sensors we thought were special order items from GE or some special manufacturers are now usual devices part of most smart home automation solutions. They are actually quite a bit cheaper now and can run on so many different communication protocols.
  2. The response time of these new devices can provide you almost-instant communication of what’s happening in your house. You can notify a number of people (closest friends, family, neighbors) at the same time. Even if the system went down; you’re in the same boat if you had a home monitoring solution.
  3. Most sites like (which I really appreciate) will work with a home security provider in your area to manage your alarm system online. Some home security hubs that work with are doing the same thing as Nest Secure or Samsung SmartThings Hub: The provided alarm system is acting as a hub too. It’s communicating to the devices or sensors too. It may cost you more to add sensors than buying the sensors yourself now. This alarm hub technology has been working reliably for quite a while now. Now security companies are pushing towards wireless – I wonder why, eh?
  4. What happens when an incident occurs? With the home security provider, there is usually a command center that is monitoring what is going on. This provides tons of value; I mean wouldn’t it be great if someone was ready to call the police or fire department at moments notice if certain conditions were met. Well, now you can do that too with a number of people who can be notified at a moment’s notice. You can use SmartThings or IFTTT to notify anyone you want, at any time, for almost any condition.
  5. There is the cost of the permit: You need a permit in most places in order for the police to know that you’re a registered home security user. The cost of this could be a one-time cost or a yearly subscription.
  6. Most home insurance companies will give you a discount if you subscribe to a monitored security system. Something to think about; This could provide some value to you as well.
  7. Some security system providers will also add cameras or a 12-second snapshot of the entrance. This is usually an extra option and requires your use of your home internet service. It might be a burden on your home internet unless you have your Wi-Fi managed well.

I have a home security system in my home. I’m very happy with the app that is provided, and the response time in case there was an incident. I am locked in for a while – I’m not complaining; I have benefited from a few responses from my home security service provider.

DIY Home Security System

However, I’m starting to look at the sensors and devices I could install myself in case I want to think about releasing myself from the $20 to $45 per month fee to keep my home secure.

Let’s do some math then. I’m making tons of assumptions here. Please follow along with your own numbers.

Assuming you have to pay $45 for a 5-year plan, that includes all the bells and whistles with a security plan (meaning that you can service your devices and have some warranty. That is a total operating cost of $2700 over 5 years. Plus installation – maybe $150, and most plans will ask you if you want water-leak (flood) sensors, or have a direct connection to your smoke-detectors or carbon monoxide detectors. These services usually cost something extra. Let’s say it’s an extra $20 per month for all those. That’s an extra $1200 over 5 years, which totals to $3900 over your 5 year period. With the police permit and installation cost, we are now over $4000 in a 5-year period.

Home Security Cameras

Then there are cameras; I don’t think cameras went mainstream in the security system industry until about 5 years ago. I know there are people all over the city that just keep on continuing their plan every 3 or 5 years that do not have cameras

There are tons of options here, but if you want to think about the cheapest, most practical option for Cameras, you can go to the Wyze Cam. For approx. $40, you can have most of the options you need to keep tabs on your home from the inside. The Wyze Cams can also listen for your existing fire and carbon monoxide detectors – and it will notify you. We’ll add 3 cameras to our Cost-Benefit table below.

Home Security Sensors

You will need to produce the right sensors in your home with the right range and detection. At the same time, these sensors can be used to automate lighting or any other commands when you integrate the sensors into your smart home ecosystem like Google Home, Alexa, SmartThings, or IFTTT. I think I’m going to need 3 door contact sensors, and 4 motion sensors to make a good redundant system. I’m going to add 10 window sensors as well. I’m going to add 4 SmartThings Motion Sensors (which have a temperature) at $25 apiece. Then I’m going to get 3 SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor for $20 each for my doors, then use the Aeotec Door/Window Sensor 7 for my door and window sensors. I need 10 at $40 each. Yes, that’s $400. Remember, we’re being conservative here. I am using my home as an example. You probably don’t need as many. Then I’m going to get the SmartThings Hub for $70. You might think you’ve added a ton of security to your home, but you’ve also started your own home automation. There are tons of value there. I almost forgot the SmartThings water leak sensor (flooding) for $20. Let’s add this to the Cost-Benefit Table below.

I don’t know what the home insurance deduction looks like for you – let’s just leave that out of the equation here. In the meantime, we’re also looking for devices that will be redundant and reliable.

Cost-Benefit Table: Home Security System vs. DIY Home Security System

Home Security
DIY Home
Good plan with
door/window/motion sensors
 $ 2,700 $ 630
Water, Fire, Carbon Monoxide $ 1,200 $ 20
3 Cameras $ 450 $ 120
Installation Fee $ 150
Total$ 4,500$ 770

You Can Build Your Own Custom Home Monitoring Solution

I may have forgotten something; that’s ok. You get the picture. You can do it yourself. Listen, having a home monitoring system is important. This article is here to walk you through the value of your home security system, and what you can do to create your own. There is no price-tag on your safety. There is, however, cost-benefit analysis to figure out what you value and how to understand risk.

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I hope this article has helped you. You may have a number of questions about building your own Home Security Plan. You can reach me (AYL_Alan) or anyone in the community:

In the meantime, you watch Brian from Automate Your Life discuss the differences between Home Security Monitoring vs. Doing It Yourself in the YouTube Video below: Please subscribe!

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