Security System Installation: Professional vs. DIY

We run down the pros and cons of professional and DIY installation—and pick the best security company for each.
Written by | Updated August 21, 2019
Best Professional Installation
Vivint logo
  • In-home security consultation
  • Hands-on security system training
  • In-home security consultation
  • Hands-on security system training
Best DIY Installation
Frontpoint logo
  • Pre-programmed equipment
  • Fast (30–60 minute) installation
  • Pre-programmed equipment
  • Fast (30–60 minute) installation

Go Professional or DIY?

All security systems need to be installed, but it’s up to you whether professional installation or DIY installation is your best fit. 

Here are some signs that professional installation might be right for you.

  • You want an extensive system with multiple door and window sensors, indoor security cameras, and outdoor cameras.
  • You don’t mind scheduling time with an installer.
  • You have room in your budget for installation fees.
  • You’re not into DIY.

Here are some signs that DIY installation might be right for you.

  • You want a simple system with a few window and door sensors and maybe one indoor security camera.
  • You don’t want a stranger in your home.
  • You don’t want to pay extra for installation.
  • You’re totally into DIY.

Obviously, those statements are just the tip of the iceberg, and both methods have their pros and cons. Generally, DIY installation is cheaper, but professional installation is easier. Most professionally installed systems require professional monitoring and may come with contracts, whereas it’s easier to find a DIY installed system with no contracts and optional monitoring. 

To help you make the best choice for your life, we take a deeper look at the ins and outs of both types of security system installation.


Professional Installation

Pros

  • No toolbelt required
  • Security assessment included
  • System tutorial provided

Cons

  • Installation fees
  • Time commitment
  • May not work for renters

The best part of professional installation is that you get to sit back and relax while someone installs your home security system. You won’t need to worry about whether or not you did it wrong or spend time listening to automated directions or reading a pamphlet. 

You’ll need to clear time to be home during the install, but you can get other things done during this time and leave the work up to the professionals.

Another reason to choose professional alarm installation is that you benefit from a professional’s experience. If you go it alone with DIY, there’s a chance you might miss something. Something like placing a motion sensor too high can result in missed movement—and you might not realize every security vulnerability in your home.

Pro Tip: Depending on where you live, some companies can come to your home the same day you call, so you could get a professionally installed security system faster than a DIY system.

A lack of security expertise could cost you a lot more time and effort or worse, lead to an undetected break-in. An installer can make sure your equipment is set up correctly, walk you through the ins and outs of your system, and make suggestions for how to best secure your home.

Although professional installation has its perks, it’s not without drawbacks. If a technician has to come out to install your system, it’ll cost you. You can expect to pay an installation or activation fee that could range from $99 to around $500, depending on the security company and the type of equipment you’re having installed. 

It can also be inconvenient to schedule a time to be home when an installer is available. You’ll save time by not having to install your home security system, but you’ll still have to make time to be home when the technician comes. If you’re busy, clearing your schedule to get your equipment installed could be a pain.

Compare Companies That Provide Professional Installation

Brand
Installation Fees
Lowest Monthly Monitoring Cost
Contract Required
Learn More
Vivint Smart Home logo ADT logo blue brinks home security logo
$99 Starting at $99 Varies
$29.99 $27.99 $29.00
No* Yes No*
View Packages View Packages View Packages

Data effective 07/10/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.

*No-contract options available from Vivint with up-front equipment purchase. Month-to-month monitoring available from Brinks with Nest security equipment.

Why Vivint is Our Best Professional Installation Home Security System

vivint indoor camera, keyfob, control panel, keypad

Vivint is a leader when it comes to both home security and smart home technology. The benefits of a professionally installed Vivint security system include full customization, a free in-home security consultation, and a personalized walk-through of how your system works. After a Vivint system is installed in your home, you’ll know exactly how it works, the ways it protects your home, and what to do if something scary happens. 

We also like that Vivint includes home automation as a core element of its home security platform. Almost all Vivint equipment is created in-house, and the Vivint mobile app is designed to control both your security system and your smart home devices—from your video doorbell and smart locks to your smart thermostat.

That said, Vivint is on the pricier side of home security. That investment makes sense when you’re building your dream home or upgrading your forever home—but it can be a bitter pill to swallow if you’re just starting out or if you rent your home.

More Pro Installation Options 

If you’re set on having a professional install your home security system, but still haven’t decided on a security system company, we’ve got full reviews and head-to-head comparisons to help you narrow down your choices. Plus, see how they all line up on our list of the best home security systems.


DIY Installation

Pros

  • No extra fees
  • No wires (perfect for renters)
  • No strangers in your home

Cons

  • You do the work
  • No professional expertise
  • Higher up-front costs

Doing it yourself means saving money. If you’re a handy person, this shouldn’t be too difficult—but the type of system you pick can make it more challenging. If you go for a wireless package, you won’t need to drill holes or bring out the heavy tools. If you choose a hardwired system, it might be a bit trickier.

We also like that DIY means you don’t have to work around a technician’s schedule. If you’re a night owl, you can install your system in the middle of the night, or opt for early morning if you’re up with the birds. DIY installation is 100% on your schedule—and it comes with the bonus of not inviting a stranger into your home. 

With most do-it-yourself home security companies, you own your security equipment from the start. This can mean a bigger up-front expense, but it also means it’s easy to take your system with you if you move. Equipment ownership, combined with the wireless design of most DIY home security systems, makes it the best home security solution for renters.

Best of all, DIY alarm installation is easier than you might think. Even though professional installation requires no work on your part, the “work” required for most do-it-yourself installations is minimal. Most customers, especially those from FrontPoint and SimpliSafe, report easy setup that takes less than an hour.

Self-install alarm systems are usually completely wireless, so you don’t have to be handy with tools. And because the components come standard with adhesive backing, all you have to do is put your sensors and control panel in place and activate the system. 

Pro Tip: DIY doesn’t mean you’re all alone—if you run into trouble, most companies with DIY installation will provide guidance from a technician over the phone or online.

But DIY installation isn’t perfect for every situation. You’re probably not a security expert, and that means you may struggle to know if you’re setting up your equipment correctly. And even though you can live-chat or talk to a professional over the phone, they can’t see the inside of your home and may not be able to make specific recommendations that an in-person professional installer could. 

DIY home security systems come with the risks of improper equipment placement and the chance that you might miss a security vulnerability a pro would catch. 

Compare Companies That Provide DIY Installation

Brand
Lowest Monthly Monitoring Cost
Starter Kit Equipment Prices
Contract Required
Learn More
Frontpoint logo logo of simplisafe home security Link Interactive logo protect america logo
$34.99 $14.99 $30.99 $19.99
$99* $229 Custom Custom
Yes No No** Yes
View Packages View Packages View Packages View Packages

Data effective 07/10/2019. Offers and availability subject to change.
*On approved credit.
**No-contract options available with up-front equipment purchase.

Why Frontpoint is Our Best DIY Installation Home Security System

Frontpoint Home Security System

Frontpoint was one of the first companies to make DIY home security easy for the average bear. Frontpoint has fine-tuned its DIY installation process over the years based on real customer feedback and experiences. The results are a security system that arrives pre-programmed and a guided installation process that gets your house or apartment secured in under an hour (usually).

We also like that Frontpoint continues to be a customer favorite. We’ve visited with Frontpoint repeatedly to share our readers’ insights, requests, and dislikes. That means we’ve seen first-hand the efforts this company puts forth to make improvements and adjustments—without waiting years to act.

But Frontpoint isn’t going to be your cheapest DIY home security option. Its monitoring starts a little bit higher, and it requires a long-term contract. But those higher fees help absorb some of the equipment costs, and that makes your up-front out-of-pocket expense less than some other companies. If you’re looking for a DIY security system with first-class service and a few more years of experience than other companies (like SimpliSafe), then Frontpoint is your best bet.

More DIY Installation Options

If you’re in love with the idea of DIY installation but aren’t sure which security system you want to go with, here’s a look at some other DIY home security companies. And you can see how they all stack up in our breakdown of the best DIY install alarm systems.

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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