Doorbell cameras are homeowners’ most common home security solution installed, and according to professionals, it’s the easiest to self-install.
Improper camera angles (25%), improper device placement (24%), lack of planning (20%), and ignoring user manuals (20%) are the most common home security self-installation mistakes.
Homeowners who made mistakes while self-installing their home security features spent an average of $188 to fix it.
Outdoor cameras (17%), doorbell cameras (16%), and smart locks (15%) are the most common home security features homeowners want to self-install.
The DIY wave has reshaped how homeowners approach security, with many now opting to set up their own cameras, sensors, and smart locks.
While this self-reliance offers a sense of empowerment, it also brings its own set of challenges. Motivated by this trend, we’ve created a data-driven tool to guide you through the intricacies of DIY versus professional home security installations.
We offer a detailed comparison with real-world data to help you make an informed choice about the best home security system for you.
DIY vs. professional: Making a decision
To help you decide on whether to go the DIY route or opt for professional installation, we created a specialized calculator that provides personalized insights.
Our calculator uses survey data from homeowners with DIY or professionally installed security features and from contractors experienced in home security installations. Add your location, home size, and desired security features.
The tool then presents a split-pane output: The left side estimates the potential costs and time for professional installation, while the right side does the same for DIY, adding a difficulty rating according to contractors. Note that these cost estimates focus solely on labor, not the devices.
DIY and professional installation: Key differences
You have two choices when securing your home: do-it-yourself (DIY) or professional installation. Both have their merits, but they also come with distinct differences that could make one a better fit for you than the other. Let’s break it down:
Generally more budget-friendly upfront, but may require additional purchases over time.
Higher initial cost, often with monthly fees, but usually includes maintenance and support.
You’re the installer, which means you decide where everything goes. It’s more time-consuming but also more customizable.
An expert sets everything up, ensuring optimal placement and functionality. It’s hands-off for you but less customizable.
Typically self-monitored through an app. You’ll get alerts but must contact authorities yourself.
It usually comes with 24/7 professional monitoring services that can contact authorities on your behalf.
Easier to modify, expand, or move the system yourself.
Changes or expansions often require another visit from a technician.
Generally relies on customer service hotlines or online guides.
Direct support from the company, often including regular maintenance checks.
It may offer integration with other smart home devices, but you can set it up.
Systems often include smart home integration, set up by the installer for optimal performance.
It’s as reliable as your installation skills and the quality of your chosen products.
Generally more reliable due to expert installation and higher-grade equipment.
Choosing between DIY and professional installation ultimately depends on what you value more: the hands-on involvement and lower costs of DIY or the ease and reliability of a professionally installed system.
Benefits of DIY installation
While the DIY approach to home security may not be for everyone, it does offer some compelling advantages. Let’s explore some key benefits that make DIY installation an attractive option for many homeowners.
One of the most appealing aspects of DIY home security systems is their cost-effectiveness. Traditional, professionally installed systems often incur hefty installation fees and may require long-term contracts.
So, how much does installation for a home security system cost? Getting your home security system installed by a professional typically costs between $99 and $199.
In contrast, DIY systems usually have a lower upfront cost, no installation fee, and offer the flexibility of month-to-month monitoring subscriptions. This makes it a budget-friendly option for those conscious of their spending.
Another significant benefit of DIY home security systems is their level of customizability. Unlike traditional systems, which may come with a predetermined set of components, DIY systems allow you to pick and choose the devices that best suit your needs.
Whether you want a simple camera setup or a more complex system with motion sensors and smart home integrations, the choice is yours. This level of customization ensures that your smart home security system meets your specific requirements.
DIY systems often come with self-monitoring options. You can watch your home through a smartphone app, receiving alerts and notifications directly.
Self-monitoring gives you the power to respond to incidents in real time, whether contacting authorities or disarming a false home alarm. It adds an extra layer of control and immediacy that professionally monitored systems may not provide.
DIY home security systems offer cost-effectiveness, customizability, and self-monitoring options, making them a viable choice for many. However, you’ll want to consider these benefits in the context of your own needs and limitations, which our comprehensive tool can help you do.
Challenges of DIY installation
While DIY home security systems offer several advantages, they can also have some challenges. These challenges can range from the time you’ll need to invest to the stress of ensuring everything works as it should.
One of the most significant challenges of DIY installation is the time commitment involved. Unlike professional installations, which can be typically completed in hours, setting up a DIY system can take considerably longer, especially for those new to the process. Reading manuals, watching tutorial videos, and the installation can consume a large chunk of your day or even your weekend.
Potential for errors
Another challenge is the potential for errors during installation. While professional installers have the experience and expertise to avoid common pitfalls, DIYers may not be as fortunate.
According to our survey, the most common DIY mistakes include improper camera angles (25%), improper device placement (24%), and lack of planning (20%). These errors can sometimes be costly to fix, with homeowners spending an average of $188 to correct them.
Don’t underestimate the stress associated with DIY installation. The pressure to get everything right and the time and effort involved can make the process stressful for many people. This is especially true if you encounter problems or setbacks, which can lead to frustration and a sense of being overwhelmed.
In fact, 1 in 4 homeowners have suffered an injury when self-installing home security features, according to our survey.
Benefits of professional installation
While DIY home security systems have merits, professionally installed systems also have distinct advantages. These benefits often extend beyond the hardware and into service and ongoing support.
One of the most significant benefits of a professional home security system installation is the peace of mind it offers. Knowing that your system has been set up by experts who understand the intricacies of security can be incredibly reassuring. This sense of assurance is one of the key reasons many homeowners opt for professional installation over DIY options.
Efficiency is another area where professional installation shines. Unlike DIY installations, which can take up a considerable amount of time and may involve trial and error, professional setups are generally quick and streamlined.
Technicians have the experience to optimize the placement of outdoor and indoor cameras, entry sensors, motion detectors, and other components so your system is as effective as possible. According to our survey data, only 7.6% of homeowners with their home security feature installed found any fault in the installation.
One of the most distinguishing features of professionally installed systems is the option for professional monitoring services. With monitored home security systems, a dedicated monitoring service continuously monitors your property.
Costs and commitments of professional installation
While the benefits of professional installation are numerous, consider the associated costs and commitments. These factors can vary depending on the provider and the complexity of the system you choose. We explore some key financial aspects to be aware of when opting for a professionally installed home security system.
Professional installations often come with an initial fee that covers the cost of the hardware and the labor involved in setting it up.
If professional installation appeals to you but you’re concerned about the upfront costs, consider Vivint. We include professional installation in your smart home package purchase. This eliminates the need to worry about separate installation fees, ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the system’s complexity. It’s a win-win situation — advanced security features and expert setup without the added stress of additional costs.
Monthly monitoring fees
Another ongoing expense is the monthly monitoring fee. Most professional home security companies offer a monitoring service that keeps an eye on your property 24/7.
These services usually come with a monthly fee, which can vary widely depending on the level of service you opt for. When considering a professionally installed system, factor this recurring cost into your budget.
Many professional installations have a warranty covering the hardware and the installation process. This warranty can provide additional financial security, ensuring that any malfunctions or issues within a specified period are addressed without additional costs.
The length and terms of the warranty can vary, so read the fine print and ask questions if you have them to understand what is and isn’t covered.
Other factors to consider when choosing DIY or professional
Choosing between a DIY and professionally installed home security system is a decision that should meet your specific needs and circumstances. Several factors can influence this choice, and understanding these can help you make a more informed decision.
Home size and location
The size and location of your home can impact your choice between DIY and professional systems. For instance, larger homes with multiple entry points may benefit from the comprehensive coverage offered by professional systems. On the other hand, smaller homes or apartments might find DIY systems to be more than adequate.
Your specific security objectives can play a big role in your decision regarding what you want to protect. Maybe you’re most concerned about break-ins, or you’re worried about environmental hazards like carbon monoxide.
Professionally installed systems often offer a broader range of monitoring services, which could be a deciding factor if you’re looking for comprehensive coverage.
Which home security devices are easiest to install?
If you’re leaning toward a DIY approach, you’re probably wondering which devices are the easiest to install. Or maybe you’re considering professional installation but want to know what experts deem as “easy” installations.
Below, you’ll find a table that ranks the most common home security features based on two key metrics:
The percentage of homeowners who successfully self-installed each feature.
The percentage of professionals who consider the installation of each feature to be “easy.”
Homeowners who went the DIY route were just as likely to rate their installation as “high quality” as those who opted for professional installation.
Half of the DIYers reported frequently checking on their installation post-setup.
A mere 7.6% of homeowners who chose professional installation found fault in the work done.
This data offers valuable insights into the ease of installation for various home security features, whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or prefer to leave it to the pros.
DIY vs. professional: Comparing security products and devices
So, you’re torn between going DIY or calling in the pros for your home security setup. This section sheds light on the pros of professional installation across various security gadgets. We want you to have all the facts so you can make the best choice for your home.
Have you ever thought about the best spots to place your security cameras? A pro installer thinks about this all the time. They’ll consider things like blind spots and the perfect height for maximum coverage for both indoor and outdoor cameras.
If you’re into smart home devices, you’ve probably heard about smart thermostats. You could install one, but a pro can integrate it seamlessly into your heating and cooling systems. The result? Better energy efficiency and potential cost savings.
Video doorbells are becoming a staple in modern homes. While DIY options are available and often suitable for renters, professional installation ensures that the doorbell camera is correctly aligned and integrated with your home’s existing wiring and security system.
Smart locks offer various features, from mobile app control to keypads and Wi-Fi connectivity. Professional installation ensures the lock fits correctly, enhancing its functionality and security.
When it comes to safety, you don’t want to take chances. DIY smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are available, but a professionally installed system ensures they’re placed where they’ll be most effective, adding an extra layer of safety to your home.
Upcoming trends: Top home security features homeowners plan to self-install
As we wrap up our comprehensive look at DIY vs. professional home security installations, let’s take a moment to peek into the future. What are homeowners planning to tackle themselves in the coming months?
According to our data, outdoor cameras (17%), doorbell cameras (16%), and smart locks (15%) are the most desired features for DIY installation.
This data not only gives us a glimpse into what’s catching the eyes of DIY enthusiasts but also offers valuable insights for those considering professional installation. Knowing what others are planning can help you make a more informed decision about your own home security needs.
A closer look at the stats:
Generational preferences. Gen X homeowners are particularly keen on installing doorbell cameras, with 26% expressing interest. On the other hand, baby boomers are most interested in smart locks at 18%.
Financial and home size factors. On average, homeowners looking to go the DIY route by year’s end have an income of around $83,000 and live in homes averaging 2,500 square feet.
Get free professional installation with Vivint security systems
Take advantage of this opportunity to enhance your home’s security with the expertise that comes from professional installation. Take the first step toward a safer, smarter home today with Vivint security services and free installation.
For this study, we surveyed 958 homeowners and renters who have at least one home security device installed in their home, either done by themselves or by hiring a contractor. Additionally, we surveyed 186 contractors with experience installing home security devices. The tool leverages data collected from these surveys along with accounting for the average rate of a home security contractor in every state and city (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Fair use statement
Feel free to use any of the information you learned here for non-commercial purposes only! Just make sure to include a link back to his page when doing so.
Get a free quote today.
A Vivint Smart Home Pro will contact you within 24 hours. Or skip the form and call now: 844.481.8630.
Qualifying system purchase requires minimum $599.99 expenditure on equipment after all discounts have been applied, professional installation, and execution of Vivint monitoring services agreement. Click here for monthly service plan prices. DIY system purchases and reactivations of previously-installed systems not eligible for offer. Offer not available in all states or provinces. Equipment purchase may be financed separately subject to an agreement with one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Monthly $1.48 cellular network maintenance fee applies. Taxes and local permit fees may apply.
Third-Party Financing Options Available
Financing eligibility and terms subject to credit approval by one of Vivint's third-party financing partners. Qualified customers may finance equipment purchase at 0% APR for up to 60 months. Month-to-month service agreement available when equipment is purchased upfront.
Vivint Systems & Services
System supports up to six cameras subject to sufficient WiFi speeds. Without a Vivint services plan, product and system functionality is limited (including loss of remote connectivity). Speak to a Vivint representative at the phone number in this offer for complete equipment, services, and package details, including pricing and financing details. Products and services in Louisiana provided by Vivint Louisiana Commercial Certificate #58280. See Vivint license numbers here.