Good news for home alarm DIY’ers: Installing your own home alarm system doesn’t have to be a complicated process!
New technologies allow for lower cost equipment than several years ago, and the ability to use wireless devices eliminates the need for lots of hole drilling and strings of wires running everywhere.
Wireless also makes it easier to “add” components to your main setup later, but I’ve found the best defense against a hair-pulling installation day is to have your ideal home alarm security plan already mapped out, your home alarm system components purchased in advance, and your necessary system installation tools gathered before you start.
Step 1: Create a Home Security Setup Plan
We’ll start at step one, which is to create a home security setup plan. Take a tour of your property and your home, including all exterior buildings such as garages or workshops, and think about which areas you’d like to have monitored or fitted with alarms that will alert you to possible intrusion.
Carry a notepad and write down everything, and once your tour is complete, draw out both a floor plan for your house and a plan of the exterior surroundings.
Mark the placing of each component you wish to install, and make a list of equipment to purchase, such as motion sensitive lights, area motion detectors, smoke and fire alarms, window and door alarms, fire extinguishers, your central monitoring system, etc.
Step 2: Gather Equipment and Materials Needed for Installation
Now that you’ve created an installation plan, it’s time to purchase needed equipment and get all the necessary tools for the job in one place.
It might also be a good idea to send other family members on a shopping expedition the day you plan to install your home alarm system so there will be less chance of being interrupted mid-install.
For a wireless installation, you’ll likely need screwdrivers, drills, a pencil (for marketing holes in mounting plates and the like).
Motion-sensing exterior lights install directly into the same mounting box as regular exterior lights, but if you’re not handy with a wee bit of wiring, you might want to enlist the aid of your electrician buddy for an hour or two.
Step 3: Install Your Security Components
Starting with the interior of your home, install each component, working your way from floor to floor, and then move outside to complete the installation of any exterior components you have chosen.
Here’s an example. Assume you’re protecting a rear family room that has windows and glass sliding doors leading to the backyard. The best place to mount the Passive Infrared Motion Detectors (PIR) would be in the part of the room where the rear wall meets the wall that stems towards the front of the house.
This would create a pattern of protection that would detect an intruder who was breaking through the rear windows or doors.
This placement would offer maximum sensitivity because the intruder would be cross-walking directly through the “spray” of protection.
Step 4: Test Your Installation
No home alarm installation is complete until a final test is made of the equipment, to ensure everything works properly, the way you expect it to. Once all of your components are installed, do a thorough check.
Open windows and doors, turn on surveillance cameras and be sure they’re monitoring the exact areas you wish to monitor. Walk within range of your motion-sensing exterior lights to make sure they switch on as expected.
Then, when your tests are done, give yourself a pat on the back…your home is now safe and secure.
Step 5. Monthly Test of The Alarm System
Also, a simple but critical maintenance task for anyone with a home security system is a monthly test of the alarm system.
Occasionally, the security equipment you count on for protection can fail or experience a malfunction. By testing your alarm system every month, you can catch system glitches before they become a major problem.
- Set up the test with your monitoring station. When you call, you will need to provide your account number and passcode, so have those at hand. Let the representative know you would like to put your system in “test” mode, which will stop the monitoring station from contacting emergency personnel when the alarm is tripped.
- Arm your security system. First, make sure all doors and windows are properly closed and that there won’t be anyone who accidently disrupts a motion detector during the test.
- Trigger the alarm. Each time you test your system, set off the alarm in a different way (opening a door, setting off a motion detector, raising a window).
- Let the alarm go for one full minute. While the alarm sound will not be pleasant, it’s best to have it go for an extended period of time so that your monitoring station can receive the signal.
- After one minute, turn the alarm off and reset it. Go through the normal steps you would take to disarm the system, such as entering your code on the keypad.
- Lastly, talk with your monitoring station. When you call, ask the representative to verify if the monitoring station did or did not receive a signal when you triggered the alarm.
Don’t hesitate to install your own system. But do take the time to understand who you are buying it from. And make sure you understand what to expect when your shipment arrives.
All security providers are not the same. You can purchase spark plugs and hundreds of other engine components from an autoparts store and then figure out how to build a car.
Or you can go to a reputable dealer, buy the car, put the key in the ignition and drive away.
In both cases you purchased the parts. But In the latter case, it was much easier to get where you wanted to go.