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We also look at whether the equipment in each system's starter kit requires additional tools such as screwdrivers and batteries. Finally, we time how long it takes to set up each component. We found Scout Alarm, SimpliSafe and abode easier to set up than most other DIY security systems. How much do DIY security systems cost?There are three costs you can expect with most DIY security systems: equipment, access fees and professional security monitoring. You can expect to spend an average of $250 on equipment, though this goes up as you buy more sensors. Access fees are sometimes required to unlock all or part of a system's self monitoring features for about $10 a month. With regards to professional monitoring, you can expect to pay between $15 and $30 a month for the service, which generally covers any access fees as well. This is lower than the $37 average on traditional security systems and doesn't require a contract; not all DIY security systems have professional monitoring. What equipment should you get?Begin with a starter kit that covers your basic DIY home security needs such as the number of motion detectors and entry sensors for your home's size. From there, you can choose other devices to enhance the surveillance around your home. Most of the systems we tested sell add ons to boost your security beyond the basics.

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For example, you can create rules to have the lights turn on when motion is detected, have your doors unlock when a smoke alarm goes off, and have a camera begin recording when a sensor is triggered. Some systems store recorded video locally on an SD card or a solid state drive, while others offer cloud storage. Locally stored video is a good choice for do it yourselfers on a budget, but you have to be careful not to overwrite video you may need later. Cloud storage makes it easy to store and access recorded video, but it can cost hundreds of dollars per year depending on your subscription. Some systems offer both cloud storage and local storage, and some provide a dedicated storage drive that gives you DVR capabilities with time lapse recording, which makes it easy to find a video event that took place at a specific point in time. All of the systems we've tested feature an app that lets you use your smartphone as your command center to arm and disarm the system, create rules, add and delete components, and receive push notifications when alarms are triggered.