High-Tech DIY Home Security
Installing your own home security system no longer requires the expertise of a skilled technician. You can still invest in a full-featured system from one of the leading home security firms but you now have more choices when it comes to protecting your home using the latest technology.
Cameras and alarms that are accessed through the internet via your web browser or smart phone are now becoming commonplace and a growing sector in the home security business.
LaserShield sells a kit that costs about $700 and includes a base station, three wireless window and door sensors, a motion detector, two key-fob controllers and a smoke detector. It connects to the company’s monitoring service through your telephone line, although a cellular connectivity solution is also available. Monitoring is about $30 a month, and add-ons include wireless cameras and a “flood detector” to alert you to water in low-lying areas like basements.
Another company, LifeShield, provides approximately the same package for about $300, including eight sensors, a smoke-alarm siren detector, a base station and keychain remote. You can monitor the system yourself for $20 a month online, or you can pay LifeShield to monitor your system for $30 a month. The self-monitoring plan allows you to receive alarms by text message or e-mail, and you can control the security system from any computer connected to the Internet.
For true D.I.Y. security on a budget there is the Q-See Wireless security system, available at sites like Newegg.com for about $60. The kit includes five door sensors, one motion detector and two keychain remotes. Instead of alerting anyone, the Q-See simply sets off a high-pitched alarm, which may be enough to dissuade casual thieves.
Finally, there’s SimpliSafe, a new monitored system that starts at $200 for a portable apartment-dweller’s kit or $300 for a more complete kit with four door sensors, a large panic button and two motion sensors. When you move, you simply remove the sensors and reattach them using double-sided tape. SimpliSafe’s monitoring service is $15 a month and requires no phone line; the system uses a cellular wireless connection to stay in touch with the SimpliSafe monitoring service.
For those looking for video security, each of these kits has a video option. Major manufacturers of Web cams, like Logitech, are also getting into home security with products that will keep an eye on your premises remotely. A new set of Logitech cameras, available in August, will allow you to place cameras indoors and out, and receive e-mail and text messages when something moves in the field of vision.
And a company called Vitamin D has free software that turns any Web cam and some wireless video cameras into a security camera, allowing your stay-at-home computer to act as a home security system, sending e-mail messages when the software detects unusual activity.