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Top 3 DIY Home Monitoring Tools You Should Be Using

With the current state of affairs, it makes sense to think about looking for a home monitoring system in our current post.

With us being under house arrest (lockdown), some of us are in the fortunate position to have more than one home and have chosen to stay in our most preferred location.

Our other property(s) however, are still assets we want to maintain and look after.

But, we can’t be in two places at once.

It’s in times like these that it makes good sense to have tools or people in place at your other property(s).

You can monitor the property yourself or you could have someone on site.

They can report back to you about the state of your other home and help you manage the property while you’re absent.

Top 3 DIY Home Monitoring Tools

We prefer to do most things ourselves and that’s Ok.

There are numerous DIY Security Kits on the market that make it super easy to install a home monitoring system that you can check on your mobile device from anywhere that you have an internet connection.

No monthly Fees

DIY systems typically have an upfront cost, but the great thing is that there are no additional monthly expenses, unless you decide to go for a package that has add on services like 24/7 monitoring.


The cost of getting professionals to install an alarm system, the alarm system itself and the labor charges that come with it, can go way beyond the budget of an average household.

Not only that, there are monthly fees with most contracts, annual increases and equipment leases that may expire and require upgraded equipment, new licensing, etc.

All of these additional costs can put a severe strain on household incomes, that’s why DIY Home Monitoring Tools have become so popular.

The Top 3 Home Monitoring Tools to Choose From


SimpliSafe has a whole range of systems from a simple front doorbell to a full-fledged 4 bedroom home monitoring system.

They also give you the ability to build your own system or buy refurbished systems at 40% discount. I love the fact that you can custom build your own rig, and customize it for your own needs.

They supply all the equipment you need. No drilling, cabling or anything else needed. Just plug in, attach where necessary, follow the guides and let it do its magic.

The Base station has dual cell and Wi-Fi connections, so that the system can continue to work in the event of a power disruption.

You can choose which package to start with.

You can choose to go with the whole house package, or go with something like a doorbell or a single camera, no matter what your choice, in 6 weeks (Hopefully less), it’ll be on your doorstep, ready to work out the box.

Add extra devices like outdoor cameras, smart locks, or sign up for monitoring services, it’s your choice.

Simplisafe is an excellent place to start in your search for the perfect Home Monitoring System.

iSmartSafe is another range of DIY home security systems you can look at. Their pricing is reasonable and they also have a range of packages to choose from.

You can also extend your system by adding extra sensors, cameras, etc.

The Basic Package

  • All Wireless Sensors

  • Supports both WiFi and Cellular connections. This ensures you’re connected in the event of a power outage. (System automatically switches from WiFi to Cell).

  • Supports monitoring and two-way voice inter-communication

  • Alarm activation text message and phone call alerts (up to 6 phone numbers).

  • Expand System to include up to 100 sensors

The sensors included in the Basic Package allow you to monitor doors, windows or cabinets being opened. The sensors also allow for motion detection in specific areas.

There is a built-in siren.

Receive instant messages if the power is off or if the battery backup is running flat at any time. You’ll also receive notifications when sensor batteries run low.

Control everything remotely with the FREE Apps supplied. Both iOS and Android supported.

Included with this unit are indoor/outdoor cameras. These can be coupled with the whole home automation system.

What is iSmartSafe?

iSmartSafe is a manufacturer that supplies DIY, self-monitored, self-controlled home security systems with no monthly fees and no contracts.

They supply free iPhone and Android apps allowing you to arm and disarm your home monitoring system at any time, from anywhere with an internet connection.

The app allows you to know who is home, when movement takes place (entry, exit and within designated spaces) and see the status report from every sensor and device.

You will receive the instant messages (phone call and text message) when the system sensors detect unauthorized activity.

You can immediately check the app to see what’s happening at your home in real time.

This basic package includes the following:

  • 1 Main Alarm Panel

  • 2 Door Sensors

  • 1 Motion Detector

  • 2 Keychain Remotes

  • 4 Window Sensors

Ring’s security kit combines a few traditional elements of home security with a newer DIY approach that works well if you are comfortable with a classic setup.

The kit comes with a base station, a separate keypad to install on the wall, a contact sensor, a motion detector and range extender (plus compatibility with all other Ring products, specifically their video doorbells and security cameras).

That’s an excellent array of products for a great price, and they are easy to set up and understand even if your experience with home security systems is limited.

The keypad allows you to switch between Away, Home, and Disarmed modes, (like traditional systems, but with useful features like programmable delays for arming), and push notifications for your phone app.

Ring also offers 24/7 professional monitoring and video recording for a fee, with no cancellation fees if you decide to go back to a simpler setup.

One More System

Kangaroo 5-piece kit

If you’re looking for a more affordable home security option, seeing these options for $200 to $300 each may feel a little depressing.

Fortunately, there’s a great answer in the market for smaller budgets, too, thanks to Kangaroo’s five-piece security system that’s still under $100.

The system includes a hub with a keypad and siren that also acts as a smoke and carbon monoxide sensor, two motion sensors for guarding entryways, and two “Roo tags,” which are essentially keychain fobs for easy entry.

You manage the system via an app, which includes alerts for motion detection and fires, and there is an option for professional monitoring with a free three-month trial period.

The system also has some nice extras like Alexa compatibility and a pet mode for setting up the system with pets in mind.

What Burglary Taught Us About Home Security

Burglary affects over 2.5 million Americans annually.

To learn more about preventative measures, we sourced information from sites (Safewise) where they surveyed 700 first-time burglary victims.

The interviewers asked questions about the victims’ experience, habits, and households both before and after the break-ins.

Below are some of the most useful and interesting statistics gathered from their surveys.

How Burglars Get In

When burglary victims were asked about the details of the break-in, some similarities stood out.

The results highlight the most vulnerable areas of the home and the time when a break-in is most likely to happen:

  • Most burglaries happen when the weather’s good (Spring/Summer)

  • 70% of the time, no-one’s home

  • Popular entry – back/side door (34%), window (30%), front door (22%).

  • 84% of the time entryways were secure, but were forced open

Impact of Break-ins (Burglary)

If you took the annual total value of goods lost and damage that has to be repaired, it runs into billions of dollars.

Here’s what some victims of break-ins had to say about the impact of the burglary:

  • 77% said stolen property is never recovered

  • 50% said stolen goods had sentimental value (couldn’t be replaced)

  • 90% reported to the police, but only 28% of cases were solved

  • 67% said the matter had a negative emotional impact on them

  • 63% reported continued PTSD afterwards

What Can You Do?

More than half of the people in the above survey didn’t have a home security system at the time of the break-in.

They knew that a system could decrease the risk by more than half. So, the best way to start protecting your home and other assets is by checking for vulnerabilities.

Do regular checks, to identify weaknesses in your security so that you can fix it.

Security System FAQs

What is the difference between landline, broadband, and cellular monitoring?

Landline - this means that the connection between your home and the monitoring center is made through your phone line – in the old days, we had copper phone lines, but these are now being replaced with VOIP which connects over fibre lines.

Broadband means that your connection to the monitoring center is made over a wireless internet connection – typically a tower somewhere is broadcasting a signal and a router in your home receives the signal. The router converts the signal and allows you to access the internet.

Cellular connections to the monitoring center are established through the SIM cards inserted into various devices which then use cellular-modules to access the internet.

A Cell tower close to your home allows for the connection to be made from the cellular module to the signal broadcast into your home.

Is it affordable?

Affordability depends on your budget. You can go for very low range DIY systems but they often don’t come with all the bells and whistles that you might like.

What you should rather do, is start with the base station and the minimum requirements for your situation, for instance:

  • The Base Station

  • Sensor for Front Door

  • Sensor for Back Door

  • 1 x Security Camera in Front Yard

  • 1 x Security Camera in the back Yard

  • Alarm Panel

  • Response in Case of Activation Only Contract

Start with the most basic system that you can afford and with a simple reaction to alarm activation only subscription (trust me, you want this).

Having someone respond if you press a panic button or if you accidentally activate the alarm, gives you a small sense of comfort, knowing that there’s someone there when you need them.

As time progresses, you can slowly add movement sensors, beams, more cameras and continue expanding your security system to include all the things you want in and around your home.

What’s the difference between pro-monitoring and DIY-monitoring?

Pro-monitoring has trained professionals watching your premises 24/7.

The Monitoring center will call you if the alarm is activated and dispatch security officer to your home if necessary.

With DIY-monitoring, you and your family members do all the monitoring.

This could work well if you’re not all living in the same home, but if you’re all in the same house, we recommend switching to pro-monitoring.

Depending on the system you choose - it may or not include motion detectors, security camera and life-saving alerts like a message that your smoke alarm triggered.

Although you can save money with a DIY-monitoring system, it can leave you vulnerable because you’re looking out for yourselves and not trained professionals watching your home 24/7.

What’s the difference between wired and wireless security systems?

A Wireless System uses WiFi or Bluetooth technology between the base station and the various components that make up the system, and the connection to the internet is often wireless too.

A Wired System typically has cable or wire linking all the components back to the base station and there is often a wired connection to the internet.

Which one to choose?

If you’re building a home, you could incorporate a security system in the design using cabled connections to each component, leading back to a central control center.

A Secure home is more appealing to security conscious buyers and a home with a built in security system will have increased market value.

If you move a lot and want to take the system with you wherever you go, the wireless option makes more sense.

It’s also a great way to save money – you buy it once and keep it forever.

The other great thing about the wireless system - no cables, drilling, fiddling, positioning, messing with settings, etc, are necessary

Do I get a discount on homeowners insurance?

It varies from Company to Company, but the majority will give you up to 15% discount for having a home security system installed.

If you add up your savings over a 5 – 10 year period, you will probably notice that your home security system could pay for itself over and over again.

Just remember – some things like sentimental items cannot be replaced, ever. Not to mention the cost and emotional trauma that is caused due to break-ins and theft.

Taking the latter into consideration – a home security system is imperative.

Quick tip – when looking for a system to install, make sure that you get some kind of validation document, to verify that the system was installed by professionals.

If you don’t you might have problems with the Insurance Company.

Ideally, you could speak to them and ask them for recommended suppliers if that helps your case.

Can I install a security system if I rent property?

Speak to your landlord. Typically there shouldn’t be a problem at all. The wireless systems out there that don’t require any drilling etc, make for a quick and easy install with no structural damage whatsoever.

Will I be stuck in a contract?

Read the fine print. In the past, you had no option but to settle for 1 – 5 year contracts.

These days however, you can find month to month contracts.

Get familiar with each and every word in your agreement so that you’re fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into, before you sign that contract.

What’s the difference between home security and home automation?

Home security encompasses all the tools that’s necessary to keep you and your home safe – think cameras, alarms, fire sensors, water sensors, burglar alarms, motion sensors, window sensors, etc.

Home automation uses connected devices to automate mundane activities like locking the doors, turning on the lights, closing curtains, turning up the thermostat, or starting the coffee.

Combined - home security and automation may help you better manage your home’s energy efficiency, monitor your cameras, chat to people in your home and remotely activate/de-activate your alarm.

What makes a home security system smart?

Your old alarm system just sat there, static, doing nothing but making a noise with the siren and alerting the reaction Center if the alarm triggered and was active.

A smart system on the other hand has components that communicate with each other and adjust their communication and activity based on your habits and routines.

The other great thing about smart systems is that you’re able to manage them from anywhere, whereas the older systems could only be controlled in the location where they were installed.

What are smart sensors?

Let’s face it, there are many threats to our existence, beyond intruders. There are lots, but here are a few important ones:

  • Smoke from Fires

  • Heat

  • Water

  • Gas

  • Freezing Temperatures

  • High Velocity Winds

Why have I mentioned these? Well, most of the newer alarm or home security systems today, are fitted with the ability to receive information from extra sensors.

These sensors have built in mechanisms that can detect changes in the atmosphere around them and send data to the base stations in your home.

Various sensors have been made to detect just about anything from heat to water, freezing temperatures, water levels, various gases, wind speeds, etc.

The data received from these sensors are decoded and the relevant pre-programmed action is taken:

  • Alarm activates – Different alarms for different situations

  • Alerts via SMs, email and phone calls

  • Data sent to Home Automation System

  • Home automation system acts on commands

  • Data sent to Monitoring Centers

  • Data sent to fire stations

  • Data shared with relevant weather services

These sensors can save time and save your life, because they’re quicker to react and send a distress signal, than you can. Before you know what’s going on, help will probably be knocking on the front door.

What is DIY home security?

DIY home security means that you take full responsibility for your own safety. All you’re doing is using technology to send you the alerts, but you take the relevant action.

You install, you react and you inform security services.

There are loads of security Companies out there that supply everything you need.

Our suggestion to you would be to DIY, but have a small subscription for people to respond to your home in the event of an alarm activation.

A little peace of mind is priceless. Having someone respond when you press a panic button is comforting to know.

When to go with a pros?

It depends on the situation. Sometimes you don’t have a choice, especially if you have a high risk business and your insurer insists on a specific type of installation.

Like I said - it depends.

Most of the time a DIY installation will be adequate. But, check with your insurer and make sure to do as they say, otherwise you could end up in the creek without a paddle.


We’ve covered a few home security systems.

Judging by the answers given by the victims of break-ins, it seems that prevention or deterrence is much better than a reactive stance when it comes to your security.

The costs alone pale in comparison to the potential loss you could suffer if you take no steps to try secure your property.

Add the expense to your budget as a necessity for your own peace of mind.

If you have any questions or need any advice, we’re in St Petersberg, Florida and we serve the Tampa Bay Area.

Ge tin touch with us, we’d love to recommend a home security solution for your property.

Not only will we help you monitor your home, we’ll do actual visits to your premises to make sure everything is as it “seems”.

Don’t forget to grab our home close up Checklist.

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