Identifying ways to stretch our budgets has never been more timely. Home security systems are one area consumers can save some money when choosing a self-monitoring system over a monitored system. The top monitoring companies charge a minimum of $30.00 up to $60.00 per month or higher. With rising costs to consumers affecting practically every category due to the current state of the world, a monthly expense like that might better serve another area of a family’s budget. Just keep in mind there will be an initial investment in security equipment.
What’s good about DIY home security
A self-monitoring home security system allows you to keep an eye on your home or business at all times via apps on smartphones, tablets, or computers. See and speak to whoever’s on your doorstep, thanks to two-way communication audio. Check-in on pets when you’re away at work using the convenient smartphone app. Look in on vacation properties any time, anywhere. Protect your toys like boats, jet skis, and ATVs. Those looking for simple installation might consider wireless security cameras systems. There are plenty of wired options for do-it-yourselfers that have the know-how for those types of installations.
What’s easy in home security
If you already own a smartphone (IOS 10.00 or newer Android 5.0 or newer) and have internet – you are well on your way to DIY home security monitoring. Laptops and PCs with Windows 10 or higher will also be compatible.
Good quality, security equipment is readily available for purchase at places like Best Buy, The Source, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, and Amazon.ca, and the selections and price ranges are huge. Doorbell cams start as low as $59.00 and full security systems with two or more cams and hard drives for recorded video storage start around $250.00. Another option: internet providers like Telus and Shaw also offer monthly self-monitoring plans (three-year and five-year contract terms) and include security cameras (rental and charge per camera) in the price for home and business. Installation is not included, and depending on how many cameras you need, this option could become expensive.
And good news for condo and apartment dwellers. Doorbell cameras are available that don’t require wired installation- they work with any door with a peephole! They are powered by rechargeable batteries and are Wi-Fi/Bluetooth enabled. Renters can simply install and uninstall and take the device with them whenever they move out.
For small places: Ring door view cam
Installation of this type of camera is quite easy for condos, apartments, small business offices: just remove the front door peephole and install. Ring’s Door View Cam offers a rechargeable battery and other convenient features:
- 080p HD video doorbell allows you to see, hear, and speak to visitors from anywhere.
- See who’s there with a built-in peephole and privacy cover.
- Connect to select Alexa-enabled devices to launch video at the sound of your voice.
- Check-in on your home at any time with on-demand video from Live View.
- Includes Theft Protection (Amazon): if your Door View Cam gets stolen.
- Add a Ring Chime Pro for those times you may not hear a knock at the door, or for those that are hard of hearing.
- Add Ring Protect Plan and store your recordings in Amazon’s cloud for $5.00 per device or $15.00 per month per household.
For larger spaces: Eufycam 2 Wireless Security System w/storage
Another wireless option for easy camera installation: one camera for the front door and another to install elsewhere on your property.
- Two, high res 1080p, weather-proof cameras record ultra-wide, crystal clear video including low light conditions.
- Mic/speakers supports two-way communication.
- Motion-activated design with human detection technology quickly alerts you with mobile alarm notifications whenever there’s a suspicious activity.
- Local storage of 16GB eMMC offers storing your footage for up to 1 year without any additional monthly fees.
- Compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa for smart home integration and effortless voice control over your home security.
For BIG spaces: Lorex 16-Channel Fusion NVR System with 4K (8MP) IP Cameras
Lorex offers a powerful, expanding, self-monitoring system ideal for business and commercial properties.
- 16-channel Network Video Recorder (NVR).
- 4K bullet security cameras with Color Night Vision plus long-range Infrared night vision that records crisp black and white video footage up to 130ft (40m) away and up to 90ft (27m) in complete darkness.
- Add up to two Wi-Fi devices to open channels, as well as accessory alarm sensors.
Special note: Devices reliant on Wi-Fi may need a boost to perform at their best, depending on how far away they are located from the Wi-Fi modem in your home or business. This is easily remedied with the purchase of a Wi-Fi extender (as little as $29.99) to strengthen the signal in out-of-range areas within the dwelling.
Protecting you and your security system from…yourself
People have run into trouble because they didn’t correctly set up the equipment. Protecting your own property/ privacy and the privacy of others is your responsibility first and foremost. Here’s where some people made mistakes during setup and the consequences of such mistakes.
Oops – don’t live stream your private life
It’s been well-documented that some websites exist solely for the purpose of live streaming security cameras from around the world. And if you don’t set up your cameras with a new, secure password, your living room, backyard, or front door footage just might wind up streaming for anyone to see. How is this done? The websites find cameras that are operating under the default login credentials because the owners failed to change the login settings during set-up. Please be thorough and follow every step of the setup instructions.
Uh oh – beware of hackers and thiefs
Several years ago, CBC’s Marketplace put self-monitoring security systems to the test on a family’s home. A team of ethical hackers went to work in a van parked near the home. In less than two hours, they accessed the home’s Wi-Fi network once they figured out the password. The home’s thermostat had the same password as the Wi-Fi, so they gained control of that. Then they sent a phishing email that fooled the homeowner into sharing the login information to the home’s smart hub, and voila, they were able to unlock the front door. The hub’s password also worked with the Nest cameras the family had installed, and now the hackers could see inside the home. It’s highly recommended for everyone to use a password management application that adds another layer of security to your devices and the accounts accessing those devices. We recently wrote about password managers here.
Sued by the next-door neighbour
A plumber in Oxfordshire, England was just trying to protect his property. He experienced an attempted burglary at his home which spurred him into purchasing doorbell cameras for the front and rear of his property. Once his neighbour learned of the camera, things became dicey. She eventually moved away, sued the plumber, and won a £100,000 judgment (approx. $166,000 CAD).
Judge Melissa Clarke said the video images and audio files that the Ring doorbell and cameras captured of the neighbour, Dr. Mary Fairhurst, were her personal data. The ruling stated that the devices’ ability to capture conversations at ranges of between 40ft and 68ft (12m-20m) away was excessive. – Guardian.com
Please adjust all available settings your DIY home security systems on your devices to avoid invading others’ privacy.
As you can see, human error can play the biggest role in compromising a self-monitored security system. But, when installed and set up correctly, self-monitoring security systems offer wonderful security benefits and peace of mind for homeowners, renters, and businesses. Planning to get started? Always check in first with your trusted Reliance Insurance broker for advice and the potential premium discounts that could be available to you.
Resources for home security
The pros and cons of company monitored and self monitored home security systems
Ring Door View Cam
Video: set up a Door View Cam
CBC: Private moments captured, streamed on website
CBC Marketplace: Smart home hacking
The Guardian: Court rules user broke the law
Monitored home security review