DIY Home Security: Do's and Don'ts

By: Kristin Leigh

Updated:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Alan Crenshaw lives in a neighborhood where front yards are marked by signs of traditional home security companies such as ADT and Frase.

Opting for a less conventional choice, Crenshaw purchased Arlo's do-it-yourself system of home security cameras. Customers install and monitor the cameras on their own, using a cellphone APP.

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"Once we've bought the system, there's no monthly fee," Crenshaw told FOX13, explaining why he says the system saves him hundreds of dollars when compared to choices that require contracts.

Simple math shows he's right. 

ADT's starting price is $36.99 per month, according to the company’s website. That adds up to a minimum of about $445 per year. 

The starting cost for one Arlo camera and the needed equipment is $179.99. Customers pay for each additional camera, but there is no contract or monthly fee. 

The base unit for The Ring, another popular DIY system, is $199. There's no monthly fee. 

Of course cost isn't the only factor when home security customers are considering the safety and security of their families. 

Steve Buchanan is an independent contractor who installs every type of security system, from simple DIY cameras to complex systems for large homes and businesses.

"You have to be flexible, because the industry changes every day," Steve Buchanan said. 

Buchanan said home security has the potential to go much further than services provided by DIY kits. Like other companies, his company, Streamline Security, offers 24/7 monitoring, fire and burglary alarms, and calls to police to check on homes when an alarm sounds.

When asked what he thinks of Arlo, Buchanan said, "There's a place in the market for it. For small to medium size residential installations, it's fine."

The home security expert added that customers should consider three things before buying a security system or signing a contract: 

  1. The size of the home: DIY cameras are not ideal for large homes and businesses
  2. The environment: cameras should be weather proofed and properly installed. 
  3. Storage: Consider where the footage will be stored, who's monitoring it, and don't forget about WiFi.

'It's a wireless system," Buchanan said, describing Arlo and systems like it "It's putting a burden on your WiFi network as it's being used. Range of your WiFi network is something to consider also."

Buchanan said Crenshaw's smaller home is the ideal space for a wireless, DIY system.

"Even if we were out of the country, as long as we could access our phones we could check on the house, make sure everything's fine," Crenshaw said, pleased with the hand-held convenience Arlo provides.

For the savings, families across the Mid-South are turning to non-traditional security systems to keep an eye on their homes. 

With scammers and bad security companies knocking on the doors of families everywhere, Buchanan said it's important for customers to do their homework before purchasing any security service. 

He suggested checking with the following:

  1. Verify a company is licensed through the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance
  2. Make sure the company is accredited by your local Better Business Bureau
  3. Check ratings and reviews about the company online, through Google, Facebook pages, etc.

"It's always best to check on the company that you're dealing with," Buchanan said. 

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