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Home Security System Installation: Professional vs. DIY

Both professional and DIY home security installations have their pros and cons. Read our summary of both installation methods to decide which one is right for you.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 06/13/2024

If you’ve decided to purchase a security system for your home but are weighing your installation options, we are here to help. We created an in-depth guide to professional and DIY home security system installations, breaking down the benefits and drawbacks of each. We discuss our tips on how to choose a home security system and lay out our recommendations for the best professional installation and the best DIY home security systems.

Professional Installation

We recommend professional installation for customers who lack technical expertise, time, and energy. However, it comes with drawbacks like costly installation fees and long-term contracts. Below, we weigh the pros and cons of professional installation.

Pros and Cons of Professional Installation

Expertise of trained professionals
In-person tutorials and troubleshooting
Upfront equipment costs are lower
Installation fee is typically $99–$199
Not on your schedule
Typically requires long-term contracts

Benefits of Professional Installation

Drawbacks of Professional Installation

The primary benefits of professional installation are that it comes with technical expertise and requires no work on your part. As long as you are comfortable with an installation specialist entering your home, professional installation might be the way to go.

  • Expertise: If you choose professional installation, an expert will be on hand to set up your security cameras, door/window sensors, motion detectors, and any additional equipment you select. It may look easy to install yourself, but without home security knowledge, you could install your system in a way that creates blind spots and leaves your home vulnerable. With professional installation, an expert will conduct a security assessment, walk you through the ins and outs of your system, troubleshoot equipment problems, and allow you to ask questions in real time.
  • Same-day installation: Certain home security system providers offer same-day installation.
  • Lower equipment costs: Some companies require professional installation, while others give you the choice of professional or DIY installation. While professional installation often comes with a long-term contract, the commitment can mean lower upfront equipment costs.
  • Wiring: If you have a wired security system, its installation can require more work than setting up a wireless system. If you aren’t comfortable drilling holes into your own walls or dealing with electrical alarm systems, having a professional expert install your system might be a good option.

There are some negatives to consider when choosing professional installation, including the cost, lack of scheduling flexibility, and long-term contracts.

  • Fees: Professional installation generally ranges between $120 and $600* beyond the cost of equipment and monthly monitoring. If a home security system is already testing your budget, DIY installation might be a better option.
  • Scheduling conflicts: You can work with your home security provider to choose the best time for an expert to begin installation. However, there’s no guarantee that they will be available at a time that’s ideal for you.
  • Contracts: Professional installation typically requires a long-term contract of at least one year, with some agreements spanning three years. This could be a major drawback for customers who prefer flexibility or live in an apartment.

*Cost data provided by Angi.

DIY Installation

If you’re handy, tech-savvy, and want to avoid installation fees and having to work around an installer’s schedule, DIY system installation could be a solid choice for you. Just like professional installation, there are benefits and drawbacks to DIY installation.

Pros and Cons of DIY Installation

No installation fee
Done on your schedule
Potentially contract-free
Takes time and energy
Upfront equipment costs might be higher

Benefits of DIY Installation

Drawbacks of DIY Installation

The primary benefit of DIY installation is that it’s budget-friendly. Additionally, if you enjoy working on projects for your home, this could be a good option for you. Keep in mind that home security service providers try to make DIY installation as easy as possible with adhesive sensors and freestanding equipment.

  • No fees: With the cost of equipment and monthly monitoring, home security systems can be expensive. DIY installation could be worth it if you can save $120–$600.
  • On your schedule: Why work around someone else’s schedule when you can plan your own time to install your equipment? With DIY installation, you don’t have to worry about carving out time to accommodate a home security expert.
  • Contract-free: Instead of locking yourself into a long-term contract, most providers that offer DIY installation let you operate your system on a month-to-month basis. This could be especially helpful if you have a wired system and plan to move.

You should also keep in mind that there are some drawbacks to DIY installation. You should examine each to make the right choice for your home.

  • Effort: DIY installation requires time, effort, and energy that you might not have to spare. It can seem like an uphill battle compared to relaxing while someone else does the work for you.
  • Lack of expertise: Your home security system should come with a manual and links to online tutorials. However, if you’re not tech savvy, you might end up setting the system up incorrectly. Additionally, you might not know the best locations to set up your sensors. For the most reliable protection, it could be best to go with professional installation.
  • Higher equipment costs: If you opt for professional installation, the upfront equipment costs are typically lower because with DIY installation you buy all of your equipment at once. However, some companies like Frontpoint offer financing plans.

How To Choose a Home Security System

Now that we’ve broken down the pros and cons of professional vs. DIY installation, it’s time to consider the factors that go into choosing the best home security system for you.

Packages and equipment: Home security providers vary in the home security packages and equipment they offer. Investigate the exact equipment you want before purchasing a system.
Cost: You’ll want to make sure that the cost of equipment, monthly monitoring service, and professional installation are within your budget.
Reputation: Some companies have better reputations than others. You won’t want to work with a company that has a track record of disappointing customer service. Talking to friends and family and reading reviews on top home security systems can help you learn about a company’s reputation.
Smart home integration: If you enjoy using smart home devices and want to sync technology like your Nest thermostat with your home security system, look for offerings that support smart home integration.

The Best Home Security Systems

Our top three choices for the best security systems are:

  • ADT: As our top choice for a home security system, ADT has more than 140 years of industry experience, the largest network of professional monitoring centers, and a six-month money-back guarantee.
  • SimpliSafe: This user-friendly provider offers straightforward, peel-and-stick installation. It also doesn’t require a contract and uses equipment with a battery life that can last more than 10 years.
  • Vivint: Our choice for the “Best Smart Home Integration” offers in-house professional monitoring, a customizable system, and integration with devices like Amazon Alexa and Philips Hue smart lights.

Our Conclusion

There’s no right or wrong answer if you’re wondering whether it’s better to install a home security system yourself or rely on a professional to do the job. You’ll enjoy no installation fees, have a flexible schedule, and could have no contract if you install a system yourself. However, you’ll need to have some tech skills, and upfront fees could be higher. As for enlisting a professional, you’ll benefit from the technician’s experience and in-person tutorials, and upfront costs may be lower. But keep in mind that installation fees may be high and you might have to enter into a long-term contract.

Whichever option is best for you, we recommend you look into at least three different home security system providers to see which one best fits your unique needs and budget.

FAQ About Professional vs. DIY Home Security System Installation

How much does it cost to have a security system installed?

The cost of installation is usually between $120 and $600, but if you purchase equipment upfront, that cost may be factored in as well.

Can I install my own security system?

Yes. Many providers offer a convenient DIY installation option that lets you put up peel-and-stick sensors and devices.

Is Ring better than ADT?

Although both Ring and ADT are quality home security providers, ADT is our top choice for a home security system. The provider has more than 140 years of industry experience, offers a money-back guarantee, and operates the largest network of professional monitoring centers in the U.S.

Does SimpliSafe work when the internet is down?

SimpliSafe uses cellular networks and doesn’t rely on an internet connection to run its system. Additionally, if there’s a power outage, the system’s rechargeable back-up battery will keep the system running for up to 24 hours.

Our Rating Methodology

We back up our home security recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. Our research includes analyzing product specifications, reviewing service and plan information, speaking with customer service representatives, and analyzing customer reviews. We then score the provider against our review standards for system options, special features, installation options, connectivity and smart-home automation features, pricing, contract terms, warranty, usability, availability of a trial period, and trustworthiness to arrive at a final score out of 100.

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