Do It Yourself Home Security Alarms

By Ryan Bauer

  • Overview

    Most commercial alarm systems cost hundreds of dollars to install and require a monthly fee for monitoring. Sometimes the installation cost can be fully or partially waived, but then you must enter into a contract that requires you to pay for up to several years of monitoring service, even if you move. Do-it-yourself installation kits can be purchased for under $100, and can be installed in as little as a few hours. Most of these kits are wireless, making installation very simple. Also, if the power is cut, the alarm will still function. The only downside is you must regularly go through and replace the batteries on all of the components to ensure the system remains functional.
    An example of a keypad from an alarm system
    • Step 1

      Find a convenient location in your home to mount the keypad. Remember that the alarm must be disabled within a small window of time from entering the home, generally 30 seconds or less, to prevent the alarm from sounding. Depending on the kit you're using, these pads either mount on the wall with self-adhesive strips, or screw into place using the included screws. Follow the instructions for proper mounting techniques. Put the batteries in the keypad but don't turn it on until the sensors are installed.
    • Step 2

      Install the sensors on the doors and windows. These consist of two parts, one that mounts on the frame and another that mounts on the door or window itself. When the two halves are separated, the keypad is alerted, and the alarm goes off. Before adhering or screwing the sensors into place, insert their batteries to activate them. These will either be standard sizes such as double-A or triple-A, or they may be "watch battery" style.

    • Step 3

      Mount any additional sensors that came with the kit. Two common accessory sensors are motion detectors to place in hallways and living areas, and glass-break sensors to place across from glass doors and large windows. As before, install the batteries for these and attach them to the wall, directly below the ceiling, pointing at the area that needs covered.
    • Step 4

      Turn the keypad on. It will greet you with an introductory window on its screen, asking you to create a 4-digit code. Do not use the last digits of your phone number, your house number or even your birth year. Also avoid using a simple series of numbers such as "1234."
    • Step 5

      There are two methods of arming it. The first is a perimeter mode, where only the exterior door, window and glass-break sensors are enabled, which is usually used at night. The alarm will go off if a window or door is opened or broken, but won't go off if someone walks through the house to get a drink of water. The other mode is for complete protection when nobody is home, which enables the motion detectors as well.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Wireless home-alarm installation kit
    • Basic hand tools
    • Tip: Mark a date on your calendar every few months to go through and replace all the batteries in the alarm system.
    • Tip: Remember to install sensors on the doors to the garage and basement, if there is a possibility of those areas getting broken into.
    • Warning:
    • These alarm systems are designed to alert you to a break-in while you're home, and to scare off the intruder. They do not alert the authorities or emergency services of an attempted intrusion.

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