How to Build a Home Security System on a Budget
In an ideal world we would all be able to lock our homes with no chance of unwanted guests entering, but until fairly recently such security was out of reach for most people. Home security systems these days are more affordable and often completely homemade, further removing the barrier to entry.
The best home security systems (opens in a new tab) consist of various smart home devices (opens in a new tab)among the best security cameras (opens in a new tab) to contact sensors and more. They are also very easy to add and expand over time, so if you want more outdoor cameras or a smart lock (opens in a new tab)they are often easy to integrate into your existing system.
If you have an Alexa or Google Assistant speaker in your home, a smart home security system is the way to go. Connecting the two will allow you to receive alerts and give voice commands, which is useful when your hands are not free. The best smart displays (opens in a new tab) will allow you to see a live feed of the chosen area to keep an eye on things.
This article will focus on DIY home security systems that generally do not require professional installation. Not only does this keep costs down, but it also means anyone in any home can install one. First, you need to decide which components you will get the most out of, which will help you choose the best home security system for you.
What do you need?
It might be tempting, but you probably don’t need a 30-piece security set when you live in a two-bedroom house. Home security systems come in different builds, from camera-centric alarms to single-device alarms. If you’re looking for something under $300 / £250 / AU$450 you’ll probably get the basics of a contact sensor, motion sensor, home base and security camera , but it varies.
Security cameras are probably the piece of a DIY system we’re all most familiar with and many people often opt for a single camera over a more elaborate setup. These cameras can be used indoors, outdoors, or both, and it’s usually best to mount them on a wall for the best view.
Motion detectors do what they say on the box and detect when someone or something is moving in an area of the house. This is useful for detecting break-ins when you’re away, and they can often be set to ignore pets.
Attach them to a door or window and you’ll be alerted when they’re open. The devices come in two pieces, one attached to the frame and the other to the window/door itself, so it can tell when these two parts are separated.
Leak detector, glass break detector and smoke detector
Slightly more advanced options, these sensors can be placed in relevant areas to avoid missing plumbing faults, a smoke detector alert, or broken glass.
Keyboard and app
While most modern smart security systems make it easy to use the app for things like silencing alarms and monitoring events, some will also provide a keypad for times when you’re not actively using your phone. .
Many home security systems tuck their siren or alarm into the home base, which should be placed in a convenient location where you’re most likely to hear it (or turn it off in the event of a false alarm) , like the living room.
Are you a tenant or owner?
What you can do with things like outdoor security cameras and smart alarms can differ significantly depending on whether you own your home or rent.
If you don’t have permission from your landlord, you may not want to drill holes in your wall or fix anything permanently. Fortunately, most home security systems can be installed using removable tapes. We recommend checking out what’s included to see if it would work best for you.
Owners, meanwhile, have a bit more choice.
Initial cost or subscription?
While we aim to keep the initial cost of purchasing a security system low, you should also keep an eye out for the hidden subscription costs that often come with these DIY security kits. We’ve outlined the total costs below, with major brands charging between $12.99 and $22 for premium features. So remember that even if you get a good deal on the kit itself, things can still get expensive.
Home security packages for under $300 / £325 / AU$504
Ring Alarm 8-Piece Kit (2nd Generation)
How many pieces? Eight, including a base station, a keypad, four contact sensors, a motion sensor and a range extender.
Does he have a camera? The 8-piece Ring Alarm Kit (2nd Gen) doesn’t include a camera, but you can easily add extras like the Ring Spotlight Cam.
Subscription fees ? Ring Protect Pro gives you professional monitoring with 24/7 access to services like police, fire and medical help.
Total costs – $250 / £180 (for 7 pieces + Ring Indoor Cam) / AU$504 for the kit + $20 / £8 / AU$15 per month for a subscription.
How many pieces? Just one, the camera also functioning as an alarm, motion detector and climate monitor (temperature, humidity and air quality).
Does he have a camera? Yes, the Canary Pro is an indoor camera.
Subscription fees ? $12.99/£7.99 per month or $99/£79 per year for 30 days of video storage, access to emergency services, a security button that automatically sends the police to your location, alerts person, desktop streaming, and incident support.
Total costs – $169/£139 + $99/£79 per year for a subscription. It is not available for purchase in Australia.
Learn more about the Canary Pro Indoor Security Camera (opens in a new tab).
How many pieces? Four, including base station, motion detector, contact sensor and key fob.
Does he have a camera? No, the Abode starter kit does not include a security camera.
Subscription fees ? You will need a subscription to use the Adobe bundle. The standard plan with self-monitoring and home automation costs $6.99/£7.99 per month and the Pro plan with professional monitoring and 7-day video storage costs $21.99/£13.99 per month. Both are out of contract.
Total cost – around $232 (at Amazon) / £295 + $7-$22 / £8-£14 per month for a subscription. It is not available for purchase in Australia.
Learn more about the Adobe Security System Starter Kit (opens in a new tab).
Yale IA-320 Sync Smart Home Alarm
How many pieces? Six, including a base station, two motion detectors, an external siren, a contact sensor and a keypad.
Does he have a camera? No, the Yale 6-piece system does not include a camera, but this can be added separately.
Subscription fees ? Nothing – Yale alarm systems are completely self-monitoring at no additional cost.
Total cost – $270 / £248 on Amazon. It is not available for purchase in Australia.
Learn more about Yale’s Smart Alarm Kits (opens in a new tab).
How many pieces? Nine, including a base station, a keypad, four contact sensors, two motion sensors and a security camera.
Does he have a camera? Yes, the SimpliSafe wireless home security system includes a SimpliCam.
Subscription fees ? A premium subscription at 93c/83p per day gets you guest codes, secret alarms when you need privacy, unlimited video recordings and professional monitoring.
Total cost – $299.99 / £324 (for 7 pieces) on Amazon + around $28 / £25 a month for a subscription. It is not available for purchase in Australia.
Learn more about the SimpliSafe 9 Piece Wireless Home Security System (opens in a new tab).
eufy Security 5 Piece Home Alarm Kit
How many pieces? Five, including a base station, a keyboard, two contact sensors and a motion sensor.
Does he have a camera? No, the eufy Security 5 Piece Home Alarm Kit does not include a camera.
Subscription fees ? Nothing, the eufy system is completely self-monitoring at no additional cost.
Total cost – $130 / £109 / AU$269 at Amazon. It is not available for purchase in Australia.
Learn more about the eufy Security 5 Piece Home Alarm Kit (opens in a new tab).
How many pieces? Four, including a base station/camera, a key fob and two contact sensors.
Does he have a camera? Yes, the base station also functions as an indoor security camera.
Subscription fees ? None.
Total cost – about $139 (on Amazon). It is not available for purchase in the UK or Australia.
Learn more about the Honeywell Home Smart Home Security Starter Kit (opens in a new tab).