DIY vs monitored alarms – which is best?

A red-stone villa with double garage and well-tended garden.

“Life is full of choices – bus or train, going out or staying in, Eastenders or Coronation Street. Picking a home security alarm is no different: which should you go for – DIY or monitored?

There are many factors to consider and like most things, each has its pros and cons. After all, an option that works for one person may not necessarily work for the next.

So how do you pick which is right for you?

Here at Boundary, we are currently creating an alarm that encompasses the best of both. But until then, we’ve pulled together a simple breakdown of each option so that you can feel more confident and informed when choosing your alarm.

The DIY Alarm System

As its name suggests, DIY systems give consumers the freedom to install the hardware themselves, and monitor their alarm via intuitive apps available on tablets and smartphones.

A big attraction for DIY systems is that they are a more affordable option for consumers, and because they are ‘self-monitoring’, they don’t require costly subscription, installation or maintenance fees.

But while DIY alarms are more flexible and cost effective, it does mean forfeiting police response.

An alarm can only provide a police response based on three key requirements:

  • It meets regulations set by the British and European Standards
  • It’s professionally installed by a qualified engineer
  • The provider is certified by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB)

It is worth keeping in mind that not being rigged up to police response does not mean that you cannot contact them should your alarm be triggered.

If your alarm is activated, a DIY alarm will alert you via a push notification. You can then contact the police to request that they attend your property to investigate, but only provided that someone at the scene can confirm that a crime is in progress or has taken place.

The Monitored System

It goes without saying that a monitored alarm gives consumers peace of mind and a greater sense of security. It will come as a comfort to know that an alarm has met stringent regulations and has a direct link to the police, especially if you are away from home – a time when you are utterly helpless in the event of a burglary.

So how does the police response work? It’s pretty simple. When two or more sensors are triggered one after the other, an alert is sent to a receiving centre. Operators then verify the alarm and contact the police, summoning them to the property to inspect. This is categorised as a level 1 response and is subject to availability. Unlike DIY systems, police will attend a property without the need for someone to be at the scene to confirm the crime.

You might be wondering why police response can only be activated on alarms that are professionally installed. It’s to reduce false alarms and prevent wasting police time. With each install, engineers have to evaluate where best to place sensors to catch burglars but also ensure they aren’t too easily activated. Even the heat from a radiator can trigger a sensor!

As well as peace of mind, monitored alarms come with a valuable service. For example, providers must carry out annual maintenance checks to ensure that systems are still operating well and aren’t hindered by things like dust build up, low batteries or sensors that are no longer in the best locations.

So there we have it – a break down of what DIY and monitored systems have to offer. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. It has to come down to personal preference, but if you are still undecided then don’t fear. We’re in the throes of creating a home security system that offers all the benefits of monitored and DIY services. Yes, we really mean that.