DIY Home Security FAQ and Definitions

What’s so great about a DIY home security system?

A DIY security system puts your home’s security in your hands. You aren’t relying on an expensive professional installation and monitoring agency that honestly won’t keep your home any safer than a DIY system well. You’ll be able to customize the security system for your home and lifestyle.


Do I need to know a lot about technology to set up a DIY home security system?

No! That’s another one of the great things about a DIY home security system. A lot of devices are plug-and-play; they will work right out of the box. Others require very minimal setup and many companies provide DIY videos on their websites. If necessary, call the manufacturer’s customer service- a lot of them are very helpful since they know that people might have trouble with their product.


Can wireless security cameras be stolen? Can wireless security systems be circumvented?

Every security system has its weaknesses.Some wireless security cameras are more physically secure than others and can be bolted down or otherwise locked firmly into place. Camouflaging your wireless security cameras is a good option to help prevent theft and you can find a lot of specially designed products to help you die them well.

If a thief knows what they are doing and what wireless security system you’re using, they can circumvent it. This is true for all security systems, DIY or professionally installed, self-monitored or monitored by a service, wired or wireless. For wireless systems, sometimes this circumvention is as simple as pulling an electrical plug, while others require specialized devices. A good strategy is to place a sticker in your window for a different security system than the one you have.

Do wireless security cameras transmit a quality picture?

Modern technology means that most wireless security cameras have just a good a picture as a wired security camera, including their night vision. The model of camera you choose and the strength of your Wi-Fi signal can make a significant impact on your wireless security camera’s picture.

Does video resolution make a difference?

Yes. Never get a camera that captures anything at less than 720p. Higher resolution means you’ll get better detail. You’ll be able to zoom in and possibly identify facial featured or other important information. 

How many cameras and/or motion sensors should I buy?

This will depend on your home and what kind of monitoring you want or need. Many systems sell different packs of devices. Plan your security system out before you start spending money to get the best bang for your buck.


What is self-monitoring?

Self-monitoring means that you are the one monitoring and responding to your security system. You’re the one who views the video feed, you’re the one who calls the authorities, and you’re the one who resolves issues. Many professionally installed security systems are monitored by the company’s alert center, who will take care of a lot of this stuff for you. Several DIY systems also offer this option. However, this service can be expensive and an accidentally tripped alarm can be a headache to resolve.


Do security apps alert you when anything happens?

Yes. You usually have to allow it to alert you on your device’s settings.


Is the app included with a DIY security system compatible with iOS/Android/PC/etc?

This will depend upon your security system and you should check before you purchase an app-compatible DIY security system. Most systems offer their app for all mobile devices, but some do not offer support for PC. More and more wireless security systems are compatible with Amazon’s Alexa and other similar devices.


Is it possible to turn a DIY security system off at certain times?

Few systems offer 24/7 recording. Most will only record when something happens, like when a camera’s motion detector is tripped. Some do not record at all and only provide a live audio/video feed to an app or computer. Most systems allow for you to adjust the settings around your lifestyle and activity periods.


Why do I want to store recordings?

A live feed only system is often cheaper, but being able to store video/audio recordings means you’ll have evidence to help investigate anything that happens. A lot of people are very happy with having a live feed only wireless security system. Other people consider it a necessity.


Can I mix and match brands?

This depends on the protocols of your security system. Some security systems are meant to be used together only with devices from their own brand. You can often control all elements of these single-brand systems through one app, program, or website. It may not be the most budget-friendly option or the right one for your situation, however.


What is a smart home?

DIY security systems are often considered a key part of a smart home. A DIY security system does not automatically make your home a smart home, however. Smart homes are homes with a lot of systems, like the alarm, thermostat, and sometimes large appliances, all linked on Wi-Fi and usually controlled by a computer or single app. These systems are often designed to work together. A smart thermostat may start blowing fans if the smart smoke detector goes off, for instance.

Some other important DIY security system terms

Wireless– wireless devices don’t rely on wires to connect them to a computer network. Typically this means they have Wi-Fi capability. However, some security systems have an onboard recording system instead.

NVR– Network Video Recorder. This device stores recorded video. The video files are encoded and processed at the cameras. They are sent to the NVR for storage and viewing.

DVR– Digital Video Recorder. This device stores recorded video. Images captured by the camera are sent to the DVR, where they are encoded, processed, and stored.

IP– Internet Protocol. This is the way that information is sent between any two computers (including the small computers in security cameras and other devices) on a network.

Weatherized– weatherized devices are designed to hold up under a variety of weather conditions, including rain, ice, cold temperature, and hot temperature.

Power supply– this is the device that converts electric current to the correct current, voltage, and frequency that the device requires. You see this on laptops and computer as well as some DIY security system devices. Some wireless security devices have these integrated into their systems, others do not need them, and still others use internal batteries.