DIY home security vs. professionally installed systems: Pros and cons

DIY home security vs. professionally installed systems: Pros and cons
Rear view of teenage girl using smart phone and keypad to unlock house door

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As a homeowner, there’s no shortage of things to worry about: You might have gutters to clean, repairs and renovations to coordinate, pests to keep out, etc. Out of all of these responsibilities and more, your safety is one of the most important issues to tackle. When it comes to protecting your home, you deserve the peace of mind that comes with a reliable home security system.

There are plenty of home security systems to choose from — including professionally installed systems that offer long-term features such as live monitoring — and DIY setups that are more budget-friendly. If you live in an area where frequent break-ins are a concern, you might be ready to invest in a great security system — but if your biggest worry is keeping tabs on pets, visitors or rogue three-legged bears looking for a kitchen to raid, you might not need all those bells and whistles. 

On the fence about whether to go the DIY route, or pay for a professionally installed home security system? We have your back. Below, we break down the pros and cons for each, followed by a list some of the best home security systems of 2023.

Home security: DIY or go with the professionals?

“Selecting a trustworthy home security system requires careful consideration of various factors,” says Toney Greer, CEO and founder of The Royal Society of the United States, a security company. “By recognizing signs that indicate the need for a security system, understanding the pros and cons of DIY versus professionally installed systems, exploring companies in the market, and following tips for selecting a reliable provider, you can make an informed decision.”

If you’re reading about increased crime in your area; own valuable possessions; or are a frequent traveler, it might be time to outfit your home with a security system. Read on for the pros and cons for either home security route, and then stick with us for a breakdown of the best and most reliable companies (and devices) in the market today.

Weighing the pros and cons of professionally installed systems

Let’s start with the heavy hitters of home security. Companies like Vivint, ADT and SimpliSafe offer comprehensive packages that fully arm your home with security devices and all the best services. Some of these companies also offer DIY solutions, which are typically the cheaper option — but you may sacrifice some great features if you go that route.

For example, Greer says, you’ll miss out on expert installation, professional monitoring services for quick emergency responses, integration with smart home devices and the peace of mind that comes with professional equipment maintenance.

Professional installation can save you a lot of time and hassle, especially if you’re looking to rig multiple indoor and outdoor devices. This perk is a bit of a double-edged sword though, given that installation fees typically start in the triple digits and go up from there (we saw an average of $150). 

A monitoring service is another reason to consider pros for home security. Professionally installed services typically come from big companies with a reliable network of professionals who keep tabs on your home all day — if you’re worried about getting caught off-guard with a DIY setup, this is the solution for you. The downside here: this type of service usually requires a multi-year contract, which can cost anywhere from $10 to $60 a month.

Reasons you might consider DIY system installation

“The biggest pro of DIY services, such as Ring and Nest, is the cost savings you receive for installing the system yourself,” says Tim Reinemo, security professional and co-founder of Security Guards Only. “A professionally installed system will cost you more in flat installation rates and also can increase depending on the size of your property and what you want to be secured.”

DIY solutions can be two to three times cheaper than professional security offered by big names like ADT and Vivint. If you know what you need — and what you don’t need — the DIY route may be perfect. 

Security systems that you configure on your own often let you customize a system as you see fit. Want to add in an extra motion sensor or two? Not sure you need a wireless keypad and outdoor cameras? Most DIY solutions let you pick and choose individual devices to easily meet a variety of needs. 

One downside to DIY home security is the lack of features. Devices may be configured to work with other smart devices in your home, but full smart home integration is typically a perk reserved for professionally installed systems.

There is also the possibility that technical troubles could be a much bigger headache with DIY home security systems. After all, you won’t have access to customer service or live monitoring professionals.

Best DIY and professionally installed home security systems of 2023

Regardless of which route you take, there are high quality options from trusted service providers. Here are our picks for the best DIY and professionally installed home security systems.

Read below for some of the top DIY security devices, or skip down a bit to read up on the best professional installation. 

Best DIY services for home security

Save some money by going the DIY route for home protection. Check out the leading cameras, doorbells and DIY systems from trusted names such as Google and SimpliSafe. 

Best security cameras: Google Nest Cam (two-pack)

Google Nest Cam


These indoor and outdoor security cameras offer a DIY home security solution. They can tell the difference between a person, an animal and a vehicle, and send alerts directly to you through the Google Home app. They have 1080p HDR video with night vision and you can see what you missed with three hours of free event video history. You can add a Nest Aware subscription, which is sold separately, for up to 60 days of video history. 

If your Wi-Fi goes down or there’s a power outage, your Nest Cam will store up to an hour of recorded events to keep you in the know. And no need to worry about an outlet — these cameras are battery-powered. 


  • These cameras off high visibility thanks to a 130-degree field of vision.
  • They include up to three hours of free cloud video storage.


  • These cameras do not have an automatic or remote-controlled rotation feature.

Most detailed detection: Google Nest Doorbell

Google Nest Doorbell


Want to know who’s at your door? Add a Google Nest Doorbell to see visitors as they step up. It can also tell the difference between a person, an animal and a vehicle, and send alerts directly to you. There are wireless and wired options, which means you don’t have to worry about recharging any batteries if you don’t want to.

Never miss anything, thank you three hours of free event video history, including two-second previews and five-minute clips of any important activity. Plus, get up to 30 days of event video history and familiar face detection with a Nest Aware subscription ($6 per month or $60 per year) or choose a Nest Aware Plus subscription ($12 per month, $120 per year) for even more benefits, like up to 10 days of continuous video recording. You can use compatible smart devices that work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to stream your live video feed or see and talk to people at your door and use compatible Nest and Amazon Alexa speakers as a doorbell chime.


  • It features up to three hours of free event video history with the wireless option or 24/7 continuous video recording with the wired Nest Doorbell.
  • The “Familiar Faces” feature lets you “train” Google Nest through the app to recognize and remember friends, family and visitors.
  • It can easily integrate with other Google Nest products such as the Google Echo and Nest Hub.


  • Some customers report Wi-Fi connectivity issues.
  • The night vision feature is unimpressive compared to competitor systems.

Google Nest Doorbell (wired), $159 (reduced from $180)

Best starter package: The Foundation by SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe logo


Build your own home security system one piece at a time with this security package by SimpliSafe. This system comes with a base station, entry sensor, motion sensor and keypad. This base offering typically sells for $250, which is still friendlier to your budget than most professional systems. However, you also have the freedom to customize your package and add additional sensors or other items as needed.

These entry sensors come equipped with a backup battery in case of a power outage. All included products also include built-in Wi-Fi and cellular services, which means you won’t be caught off guard should one go down.

The Foundation security package by SimpliSafe is currently on sale for 20% off. Plus, it comes with two additional perks: one free wireless indoor security camera (a $140 deal) and one free month of 24/7 Fast Protect monitoring. If $200 sounds better than $250 (it sure does to us), then don’t miss out.


  • The base package comes with security essentials at a fraction of the price of professionally installed services.
  • Setup is quick and easy — products can be placed and configured within minutes of leaving the box.
  • Backup Wi-Fi and cell services help to keep your security up and running in most scenarios.


  • Some customers report camera malfunction in extreme cold temperatures (below 20 degrees Fahrenheit) .

Best professionally installed home security systems

If you want something a step above the offerings of DIY home security, put your trust in one of the top rated security system providers below.

Largest home security network: ADT

ADT starter bundle


One of the most recognizable names in the world of home security is ADT. Although the company offers DIY options through the ADT Self Setup package (to avoid installation fees that typically cost around $150), ADT offers homeowners the chance to have a suite of installed security features tailored specifically for to their home. 

Total prices start at around $600 for equipment plus professional installation. Live monitoring services can add on an additional $46 per month. You can access this through the ADT Control App (formerly ADT Pulse) — not to be confused with the ADT+ App, which allows users to configure different ADT products (ideal for DIY installation).

The base package comes with an impressive list of security products: a digital panel, multiple contact and motion sensors, outdoor and indoor cameras and video doorbells. Users also have access to 24/7 live customer support.


  • This company is backed by more than 150 years of experience in the world of home security.
  • The user-friendly ADT Control App makes configuration and live monitoring super easy.
  • ADT products can work with a number of third-party products (Alexa, Google Assistant) for seamless smart home integration.


  • Its installation fees typically cost around $150.
  • A contract is required to set up ADT monitoring; terms are usually three years but can last as long as five.

Best home integration: Xfinity

Xfinity home security package


This home security system by Comcast is perfect for homeowners less interested in a separate security system and more into full smart home integration. No, this doesn’t mean connecting your outdoor security camera to your toaster or microwave. Instead, this means having multiple services (phone, internet, home security) installed and managed by the same company. 

This kind of convenience, when tacked onto the time and effort saved by letting professionals handle installation, makes Xfinity Home by Comcast a great choice for home security.

Base prices for the Xfinity Home bundle start at around $360. It includes one touchscreen controller, three door and window sensors (as well as one pet-friendly sensor), battery and cellular system backup, and a yard sign to let the neighborhood know your home is protected. You can also add additional devices of opt for the Complete or Ultimate Home System kits ($480 and $600, respectively), which come with additions such as a wireless keypad and more sensors.


  • It offers easy integration with other Comcast devices and services.
  • You can receive professional monitoring and installation services from trusted home security experts.
  • The brand’s base kit prices are cheaper than other professionally installed services, making for a good middle ground between DIY and professionally installed systems (budget-wise).


  • Full smart home integration means you may be pushed to bundle security, internet, phone and TV services when making a purchase.
  • Wireless cameras are not included.

How to decide between professional services or DIY for your home security needs

“When it comes to security, you really do get what you pay for,” Reinemo says.

“Professional installation and outsourcing your monitoring will likely provide you with the best security in a logistical sense, as you are likely not going to be able to monitor and react efficiently to every notification that comes to your mobile device.”

It’s important to assess your home security needs before committing to a particular product or service. Professionally installed systems can be especially taxing on your personal finances thanks to installation fees and monthly charges for things like live monitoring services.

The price tag that comes with [professionally installed systems] makes sense,” Reinemo continues. “However, if your main goal is to self-monitor for things other than security, such as your children coming and going and deliveries, a DIY security system may be all you need.”

How we compared the best home security services and companies

After comparing DIY home security solutions to systems that need to be installed by professionals, we used the following criteria to cut through the clutter and pick the absolute best home security solutions for 2023:

  • Device options: We looked for home security options, bundles and service plans that offered a variety of devices such as cameras, keypads and monitoring devices to cover your every home security need.
  • Customer reviews: We paid attention to customer reviews to ensure our recommendations were the best of the best.
  • Expert recommendations: We spoke with experts in home security, tech and real estate to get insights on some of the best home security solutions out there.
  • Your needs: While picking out DIY and professionally installed home security systems, we paid attention to which ones were budget-friendly and which offered customizable packages.

Read more about how we review products

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