Cheap Home Security Systems You Can Build on Your Own

Compare the best cheap DIY home security systems to protect your family. Safewise reviews affordable home security options you can install on your own.
Written by | Updated August 2, 2018

Whether you’re a home project master or a DIY novice, we found cheap home security options that don’t require a PhD to install. We know that home security isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor, so we found home alarm systems that are priced between $100 and $500 and don’t require extensive wiring or hours of YouTube videos to set up.

Compare Affordable Home Security System Options

Under $100 Under $200 Under $300 Under $400 Under $500
Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Our Top Pick Fortress Security Store Alarm System DIY Kit Wink Lookout Scout Small Pack SimpliSafe Hearth Package Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack
Professional Monitoring Not available Not available Starting at $9.99/mo. Starting at $14.99/mo. Starting at $19/mo.
Security Camera(s) Add-on Add-on Add-on Add-on Add-on
Remote Access Fortress Total Security app Wink Smart Home app Scout Alarm app SimpliSafe Home Security app Nest app
What’s Included Control panel
Door/window sensors
Motion detectors
Panic alarm
Window/door stickers
Control hub
Door/window sensors
Motion sensor
Control hub
Door panel
Motion sensor
Key fobs
Yard sign
Base station
Wireless keypad
Motion sensor
Entry sensors
Smoke detector
Keychain fob
Nest Guard hub
Nest Detect sensors
Nest Tags


Cheap DIY Alarm Systems: Our Top Picks

Under $100: Fortress Security Store Alarm System Kit

Under $100
product image of fortress security alarm system

Fortress Security System


If you’ve only got a few bucks to spend, you can take some basic steps toward installing an affordable home security system. But it can be hard to know which components deliver the biggest bang for your buck. With the Fortress Alarm System Kit, all of your home security basics are covered—and you can get them all for right around $100.

Our Favorite Feature: Mobile App

Even though this is a cheap alarm system, you still get the added convenience and extra security of a mobile app. This lets you receive alerts if the system detects something, so you can keep tabs on your home’s security no matter where you are.

Biggest Downside: No Professional Monitoring

Professional monitoring is the most secure way to protect your home. But when you’re watching your budget you have to make sacrifices. Because monitoring comes with a monthly fee, that safety perk just isn’t an option for under $100.

Under $200: Wink Lookout

Under $200
product image of Wink Alarm System

Wink Lookout


For those who can splurge just a little bit, you’ll be able to start things out right with an affordable smart hub. The Wink control hub runs the network of connected devices that manages both home security and home automation devices like lights and thermostats. This is an excellent upgrade to get for under $200.

Our Favorite Feature: Control Hub

We were excited to find a cheap home security system that offered a smart hub for under $200. With the Wink Lookout system, you have a solid foundation to build upon if you want to expand your home security system down the road.

Biggest Downside: No Security Cameras

This home security system doesn’t come with any security cameras. In fact, you’ll have to spend around $200 to add a compatible camera to Wink Lookout. Unfortunately, this holds true for every cheap home security system we recommend.

Under $300: Scout Small Pack

Under $300
product image of Scout Security System

Scout Small Pack


Scout offers completely customizable DIY home security, but we recommend the preselected Small Pack because it covers all the basics you need to start protecting your home. We also like that Scout gives you the option of adding professional monitoring to your home security package.

Our Favorite Feature: Cheap Professional Monitoring

Although monitoring isn’t included with the Scout Small Pack, you can add it on for just $9.99 per month—that’s the cheapest security monitoring option we’ve seen. If you’re doing home security on a budget, it’s nice to know you could still afford the extra protection that comes with professional monitoring.

Biggest Downside: Only One Motion Sensor

Scout’s motion sensor detects motion up to 25 feet, but if you have a larger home, one sensor probably won’t be enough to give you the peace of mind you want.

Under $400: SimpliSafe Hearth Package

Under $400
product image of SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe Hearth Package


No one will think you’re skimping on home security when they see this sleek system on the job. There are less expensive SimpliSafe packages, but if you can afford a little more, we like the extras offered in the Hearth Package. For around $375 you get a 105 dB siren and fire protection—which are musts for any home safety plan.

Our Favorite Feature: Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors can save lives, and when they’re part of a security system, they do their job even better. When smoke is detected, this fire alarm triggers your security system alarm as well. This leaves little chance of anyone sleeping through an alert.

Biggest Downside: Limited Home Automation

We love SimpliSafe, but its lack of smart home integration is a big negative. SimpliSafe products work with August smart locks and Nest thermostats, but compatibility with smart hubs like Amazon Echo is still unavailable.

Under $500: Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack

Under $500
product image of Nest Secure System

Nest Starter Pack


Nest is one of the exciting players in the home security and home automation markets. The company started out with smart thermostats and now offers full-blown home security. And this is a brand that’s known for being pricey, so we love that Nest offers a security starter pack for around $500.

Our Favorite Feature: Everything Is Smart

If you geek out over home automation like we do, then you’ll love that every component you get with Nest Secure is smart. That includes the Nest Guard system hub, which is an alarm, motion sensor, and keypad all in one. You also get door and window sensors that are smart and linked up with every other system component.

Biggest Downside: Starter Pack Is Pretty Slim

While you can get started with Nest Secure for under $500, you’re getting a pretty sparse package. Compared to other DIY home security systems, you’re sacrificing extra sensors and features for the Nest name.

More Cheap DIY Security Options

If you’re not ready for a full-on home security system, you can start small. The security products highlighted below can stand alone or work as part of a larger security system. For those looking to dip their toes into home security, these home security gadgets are a great place to start.

Product Best For Pros Cons Where to Find It
Ring Wi-Fi Video Doorbell Seeing who’s at the door from anywhere
  • Two-way talk
  • Motion detection
  • Compatibility with Alexa
  • Poor audio quality
Check Price on Amazon
Arlo Wireless HD Security Camera Watching the inside and outside of your home
  • Quick setup
  • Small and easy to hide
  • Great night vision video
  • Required Arlo base station
Check Price on Amazon
SABRE Shed and Garage Security Alarm Keeping intruders out of outside structures
  • Easy installation
  • Ear-piercing siren (120 dB)
  • Keypad lock
  • Removable batteries
Check Price on Amazon
Litom Outdoor Motion Sensor Solar Lights Scaring away prowlers
  • Super bright wattage
  • Price tag under $60 for a 4-pack
  • Easy installation
  • Smaller size than expected
Check Price on Amazon

Things to Consider in a DIY Home Security System

Today’s DIY home security systems are straightforward, wireless, and able to integrate home automation in unprecedented ways that even novices can manage. They also work whether you own your home or you’re renting. Before you decide which do-it-yourself security system is the right choice, here’s a look at how a home alarm system works and which components make the biggest difference during a break-in.

How Do Home Security Systems Work?

Home security systems generally have two main features: surveillance devices and sensors that trigger alarms. These include various components like security cameras, alarms, motion sensors, and door or window sensors that are connected through a central hub so users can control the alarm system and respond to incidents.

Compatible Devices That Communicate Wirelessly

While you could have these elements hardwired to a phone line or cable connection, that’s an old-school approach that can be easily sidestepped by thieves. One strategic cut and your alarm system is off-line and your home exposed, especially if you’ve opted to forego professional monitoring. To prevent that, we focus on affordable components and systems that allow homeowners to connect and monitor wirelessly.


A professional monitoring service is both the advantage and disadvantage of DIY home security systems. While it’s cheaper to self-monitor and manage the components yourself, this method also puts you in charge of responding to incidents. Rather than automatically deploying police to your home, your security system will simply alert you and allow you to decide whether to act. If a burglar is trying to break in, delays in responsiveness can have a big effect on property loss and damage.

While you might start out monitoring your own security system, we recommend looking into professional monitoring at some point for more convenient management of alerts and alarms. Some security companies insist that you use their brand devices to sign up for their monitoring services, but a few support customers who buy and install their own devices.

Use our interactive tool to discover which providers support monitoring of existing and DIY systems.

Components of a Home Security System

What goes into a security system? The perfect recipe for protecting your home depends on balancing how much you can invest with the level of protection you need. At a minimum, you want to choose devices that are multifunctional, wireless, able to communicate well with each other, and flexible enough to expand the system affordably. You’ll see some variation of the following components in our recommended packages.

Control Panel or Hub
This device acts like the brain or command center of your home security system, receiving signals from various components and providing alerts and status updates.

Door and Window Sensors
These relatively inexpensive sensors can be attached to doors and windows to detect disruption, breakage, or vibration if someone attempts to enter your home.

Security Cameras
Both indoor and outdoor cameras can be incorporated into a home security system to provide surveillance on the property and alert you to intruders.

Motion Sensors
Motion detection sensors alert the system to suspicious movements and can be used to confirm activity from other security devices.

Siren or Alarm
These devices are typically rigged to emit a high-pitched, ear-splitting noise to alert you to danger and scare away potential thieves.

Yard Signs and Stickers
Sometimes it’s simply the evidence of a system, provided by signs and stickers, that effectively discourages a robbery.

Monitoring Services
Professional security companies provide 24/7 monitoring services so that they can keep tabs on your security system, disable false alarms, and deploy police to your home quickly during an incident.

Key Fobs
These convenient little gems attach to your keychain and allow you to disarm or engage the system remotely, much like a garage door opener.

Integrated App
You’ll need a place to view updates from your hub and manage cameras, alarms, and other connected devices. Most security device manufacturers have an app that allows you to do this and syncs with your mobile device.

Concerned about the Expertise Required or the Hassle of Installing a System on Your Own?

If you don’t feel like dragging out the ol’ tool box, don’t stress. You can still find affordable home security that comes with professional installation. Many providers offer professional installation along with plenty of help and support. Check out our best home security systems to find one with professional installation that still fits in your budget.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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  • Joan Smith

    You should have also mentioned Kangaroo motion sensors, they are just right for DIY security systems. And the pricing is way below the average, you can literally stick these at every room of your house for under $200.

    • Scott T.

      Thanks for the feedback! I’d say the Wink Lookout is still the better option for under $200 though. The biggest reason being the Wink Lookout lets you add smart home devices (lights, thermostat, etc.), and the Kangaroo motion sensors are… well, just motion sensors.

      Do you have the Kangaroo motion sensors yourself? If so, what has been your experience?

      • Joan Smith

        I don’t have their sensors yet, just doing my research to decide which systems are the most budget-friendly and judging by the info on their website and a couple of reviews I saw – it looks simple, but effective. Would love to see you include them to the comparison too!

        • Scott T.

          Will do. We’ll be updating our motion sensors guide soon.

          Also, last I checked, Kangaroo has a monthly fee of $5. I’m sure the fee is to support the Kangaroo app, but if you’re looking for just motion sensors, there are plenty you can find for a one-time purchase.