DIY Home Security Systems

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Home Security Systems - Triggers

The desire for security, relocation, an attempted or successful break-in, peer pressure, and the desire for an insurance discount are five triggers that can drive people to start looking to install a home security system. Triggers that would make a person decide on a do-it-yourself (DIY) installation rather than a professional one include the prospect of savings, the ease of installation, the prospect of understanding the home security system better, the prospect of fun, the possibility that an installer would damage his or her home, the possibility that an installer would botch the job, and the fear of having an installer enter his or her home.

TRIGGERS DRIVING THE PURCHASE OF A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM

DESIRE FOR SECURITY

  • The desire for security appears to be the most common trigger that can drive people to start looking to install a home security system.
  • Nearly 50% of adults in the United States indicate that they purchased a home security system mainly because they wanted their home to be secure.
  • This percentage is higher among adults aged 55+ (61%) than among adults aged 35 to 54 (54%) or adults aged 18 to 34 (33%).

RELOCATION

  • Moving to a new area appears to be the second most common trigger that can drive people to start looking to install a home security system.
  • Eight percent of adults in the United States indicate that they purchased a home security system mainly because they moved or relocated to a new area.
  • This percentage is higher among adults aged 18 to 34 (14%) than among adults aged 35 to 54 (6%) or adults aged 55+ (4%).

ATTEMPTED BREAK-IN OR SUCCESSFUL BREAK-IN

  • Attempted break-ins or break-ins appear to be the third and fourth most common triggers that can drive people to start looking to install a home security system.
  • Nearly 8% of adults in the United States indicate that they purchased a home security system mainly because "someone unsuccessfully attempted to break into [their] home."
  • This percentage is higher among adults aged 18 to 34 (13%) than among adults aged 35 to 54 (8%) or adults aged 55+ (2%).
  • Around 6% of adults in the United States indicate that they purchased a home security system mainly because "someone broke into [their] home."
  • This percentage is higher among adults aged 18 to 34 (9%) than among adults aged 35 to 54 (5%) or adults aged 55+ (5%).
  • People who have experienced a break-in for the first time react by purchasing a home security system. The percentage of people who do so is higher among people living in condominium units (43.3%) than among people living in houses (40.7%) or in apartments (38.5%).

PEER PRESSURE

  • Peer pressure appears to be the fifth most common trigger that can drive people to start looking to install a home security system.
  • Nearly 6% of adults in the United States indicate that they purchased a home security system mainly because most of their neighbors have one.
  • This percentage is higher among adults aged 18 to 34 (10%) than among adults aged 35 to 54 (5%) or adults aged 55+ (2%).

DESIRE FOR AN INSURANCE DISCOUNT

  • The desire for an insurance discount appears to be the sixth most common trigger that can drive people to start looking to install a home security system.
  • Around 5% of adults in the United States indicate that they purchased a home security system mainly because they "wanted an insurance discount."
  • This percentage is higher among adults aged 18 tot 34 (7%) than among adults aged 35 to 54 (5%) or adults aged 55+ (4%).
  • Home security systems (e.g., monitored alarm systems) can allow homeowners to enjoy a huge discount on home insurance premiums. According to the Electronic Security Association (ESA), discounts of at most 20% are possible.
  • A study found that "home insurance companies are willing to offer a discount on home insurance premiums to homeowners who install home alarm systems because it saves them money in the long run." Home alarm systems protect home insurance companies from costly claims resulting from burglary or fire damages.

TRIGGERS DRIVING THE SELF-INSTALLATION OF A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM

  • The prospect of savings. Around 40% of households self-install a home security system to save money.
  • The ease of installation. Around 35% of households self-install a home security system because installing the system appears easy.
  • The prospect of understanding the system better. Nearly 30% of households self-install a home security system in the hope that they would understand the system better.
  • The prospect of fun. Nearly 30% of households self-install a home security system because they "enjoy doing projects around the house."
  • The possibility that an installer would damage home. Nearly 20% of households self-install a home security system because they are concerned that an installer may damage their home.
  • The possibility that an installer would botch the job. Nearly 20% of households self-install a home security system because they are concerned that an installer would not do the job properly.
  • The fear of having an installer enter home. Around 15% of households self-install a home security system because they do not like having installers in their home.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Home Security Systems - Information and Due Diligence

The base price, the monthly fees, the plan lock, the pros, and the cons are five pieces of information that people in the United States would like to understand before installing a home security system. There are other purchase considerations, but these five pieces of information appear to be the most important ones. Whether a person should take the do-it-youself (DIY) route depends largely on the comfort level and priorities of the customer.

BACKGROUND

  • U.S. News conducted two national surveys in August 2018 to understand what matters most to owners and shoppers of home security systems. The first one was a survey of home security owners, while the second one was a survey of prospective home security customers.
  • While the pieces of information that buyers are interested in knowing are more than five, the most important considerations are the base price, the monthly fees, the plan lock, the pros, and the cons. These are the criteria that U.S. News used in rating home security systems.
  • Concerns regarding home security systems are a different matter, however. Based on a survey commissioned by PCMag, people have the following concerns regarding home security systems: cost (37%), hacking, cybersecurity risk, and malware (30%), faultiness or false alarms (29%), private data collection (23%), installation difficulties, and "interference with home design" (7%).
  • According to U.S. News, the decision of whether to take the DIY route boils down to the comfort level of the buyer. According to Lee Walters, formerly a security specialist at the FBI, "the DIY customer is the type of person that does DIY for everything in life, not just an alarm system." Dan Roberts, co-founder and chief executive of DIY alarm system provider Scout Alarm, explains that the person who takes the professional installment route is typically someone who has a higher disposable income. For this person, time is more important than money.
  • Once a person has decided to take the DIY installation route, he or she should perform a walk-through of his or her home to evaluate the security risks. According to Roberts, following are the questions that person should ask himself or herself:
    • Which parts of the house can be used as entry points?
    • How many motion detectors, window/door sensors, and indoor/outdoor cameras are needed?
    • Are add-in devices such as smoke alarms, sirens, or glass-break sensors necessary?
  • Once these questions are answered, the person can request for quotes and compare systems in terms of base price, monthly fees, plan lock, pros, and cons.
  • PCMag compared home security systems as well but measured customer satisfaction with the following aspects of the system instead: cost, reliability, services, setup, and features such as smartphone control and motion detection.
  • Meanwhile, SafeWise, which also compares home security systems, notes that the following questions need to be answered before a person goes shopping for a home security system:
    • What should be protected?
    • How should the system be installed?
    • How big is the home?
    • What kind of routine does the family have?
    • What is the budget?

BASE PRICE

  • This is the total base cost of the system's hardware and materials. Hardware and materials include the hub, the keypad, the window/door sensors, the motion sensors, the yard sign, the window decals, and the door sticker.
  • To illustrate, Frontpoint, considered the best DIY home security system by U.S. News, has a base price of $69. This price is inclusive of one hub, one keypad, three window/door sensors, two motion sensors, one yard sign, one window decal, and one door sticker.
  • Consumers would be willing to pay a higher upfront base price (e.g., $500) if doing so would result in lower monthly fees (e.g., $15 per month with no lock-in contract). They do not want free equipment if the consequence is a high monthly fee of $40 per month.

MONTHLY FEES

PLAN LOCK

  • This specifies whether the home security system requires a plan lock-in contract.
  • To illustrate, SimpliSafe does not require any plan lock-in contract, while Link Interactive, in contrast, has 12-month, 24-month, and 36-month contracts on offer.
  • One of the reasons people choose a DIY home security system is "to avoid getting locked into a restrictive, multiyear security monitoring contract."

PROS

CONS

  • These refer to the disadvantages offered by the home security system.
  • To illustrate, Protect America obligates the customer to enter into a three-year contract, and charges extra for environmental and fire monitoring. Its landline package does not come with any home automation or video streaming service.
  • People opting to self-install a home security system are on the lookout for desirable features such as professional monitoring, redundant communications employing both WiFi and cellular services, multiple loud sirens, Zigbee and Z-Wave networking capability, live-feed cameras, secure video storage, and a responsive customer support team.

OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

  • Other important considerations include the equipment warranty period and the return policy.
  • To illustrate, Frontpoint offers an equipment warranty of three years, and its return policy indicates that the system can be returned within "30 days for a full refund."
  • Consumers signing up for longer lock-in contracts can negotiate with the provider and ask for additional benefits such as an extended warranty period.
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Home Security Systems - Insights and Trends

Five trends that prove the hypothesis that people are moving away from expensive professional home security installations to the cheaper do-it-yourself (DIY) options include the rapid growth of the DIY home security system market, the huge increase in smart doorbells, the brand-agnostic tendencies of buyers, the increase in number of and investments in DIY home security startups, and the fact that millennials are purchasing DIY systems more than other generations. A deeper look at these trends is below.

DIY GROWTH

  • According to a Parks Associates study, 52% of households that indicated they are highly likely to buy a residential home security system in the next year "plan to buy a system that is self-installed."
  • Self-installation of home security systems has become a trend because even though professional installation is still the preferred choice, "self-installations continue to experience growth."
  • Dina Abdelrazik, senior analyst at Parks Associates stated that this growth is due primarily to the fact that "self-installed security solutions have the potential to significantly lower the cost of security."
  • DIY systems are projected to "take over 34 percent of the home security market by 2020" and will account for 62% of the market by 2035.
  • Self-installation systems are expected to expand the current market for home security systems from 20-25% of all U.S. households to 25-30% of all U.S. households.

SMART DOORBELLS

  • Smart doorbells like Ring and Nest are on the rise and the majority of these are self-installed, which indicates that more people are moving toward products that do not require a subscription or contract.
  • Smart doorbells are self-monitored by "providing a video feed to the user’s smartphone" and allowing them to see who is at the door without opening it.
  • In 2018, smart doorbells represented a $500 million market, which is "incredible revenue for a device that was only introduced to the market about five years ago."
  • Despite security concerns, home security experts predict that "smart doorbells will continue to experience staggering growth for the foreseeable future."
  • The reason this is a trend is because homeowners are looking to move away from high monitoring fees which have risen from an average of $29 per month in 2014 to $42 per month in 2018.

BRAND AGNOSTIC BUYERS

  • Homeowners are trending toward using multiple brands of products to secure their homes and "want technology that works with several major players."
  • At any given time, homeowners are using "Ring, Lorex, Nest, Wyze, Amazon Cloud Cams, and Arlo cameras" to protect their home and family because "trusting one company with protecting [their] home is not enough."
  • According to John Thompson, Customer Loyalty Manager for Guardian Protection Services, stated that "technologies that transcend platforms and can be used with any system will become the norm."
  • According to SecurityInformed, the "interoperability with other smart security products" is a main driver of the DIY home security segment.
  • Traditional security players are "taking steps to incorporate the sale of adjacent devices into their offerings" because they realize that providing consumers with the "ability to self-install additional smart home devices to existing security systems" is a way for them to compete with the new DIY security systems on the market.
  • This trend shows that people are moving away from professional home security installations to DIY solutions because they want to customize their equipment instead of being required to purchase all equipment from the same company.
  • Since most professionally installed security systems try to lock users into "an ecosystem where if you buy one thing you'll buy a second and a third and keep buying add-ons," homeowners who do not want to be forced to use one brand to protect their home will fuel the expansion of the DIY home security market.
  • In addition, homeowners who have already experienced professional installation and monitoring are "tired of being offered outdated technology, expensive, long-term contracts and complicated systems that require professional technicians for installation and repair."
  • For this reason, they are moving toward systems that are higher quality, easier to install, and are more effective at keeping their homes and families secure.

INCREASE IN DIY HOME SECURITY SYSTEM STARTUPS

  • While Nest and SimpliSafe are the two DIY home security systems that dominate the market, they are expensive, and smaller DIY home security startups are looking to disrupt the sector, by "working toward affordability and easier adoption for the not-so-tech-savvy."
  • Ten of the most promising DIY home security startups have raised $174.3 million in funding through May 2019.
  • Kangaroo, a "13-month-old hubless home security system company" has recently raised $10.26 million in Series A funding. This company offers a low-cost monthly monitoring plan, but there is also a self-monitoring option as well. Since the system simply connects via WiFi, it can easily be installed by the homeowner, who then avoids expensive installation fees.
  • Cove is another DIY home security system startup that "takes an average of 27 minutes to install."
  • Cove also allows homeowners to "test and maintain their system easily to avoid paying for professional maintenance and repair."
  • This trend proves that people are moving away from professional home security options to DIY options because startups that focus on this niche are not only receiving funding, but are also providing products targeted toward homeowners who want to install their security products themselves.

MILLENNIALS

  • The average age of a first-time home buyer in the United States is 32, which means that most new homeowners are millennials.
  • "DIYers are more likely to be millennials" due to the amount of time they spend watching television and videos on digital devices.
  • Peter Katsingris, senior vice president of insights at Nielsen, stated that "the technology and the choices it provides make DIY a realistic option for people," so the more they are exposed to DIY-related content, the more convinced they are that DIY is a viable option.
  • MarketWatch indicates that millennials "are a significant factor backing the market of Smart Home Security" in North America because they are tech savvy and willing to install these systems themselves to avoid the high costs of professionally installed systems.
  • AG Monitoring notes that "the majority of security system buyers are now millennials, and they are perhaps the most mobile generation to date, and they want their devices to work alongside their voice automated devices."
  • By combining the facts that millennials are the most likely age group to buy new homes, they are the most likely generation to be DIYers, and they represent the majority of security system buyers, it is clear that millennials are driving the DIY home security market.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To identify five trends that can prove the hypothesis that people are moving away from professionally-installed home security systems and choosing cheaper DIY options instead, we began by searching official market research reports from companies like Parks Associates, Market Watch, Nielsen, Pew Research, and others. This allowed us to identify the rapid growth trend of DIY systems, which shows that the market share for DIY systems is increasing. We also found evidence in these reports that millennials are driving growth across all segments of home security systems, but especially in the DIY category since millennials are more likely than other generations to choose DIY options.

We then turned to industry publications such as SecuritySales, AG Monitoring, SDM Magazine, Guardian Protection, and others to identify other trends that can prove the hypothesis. Through these sources, we found that an increase in smart doorbells, which are almost always self-installed, shows that consumers are choosing products that they can install themselves. This also led to the discovery that people are looking for the ability to customize their systems, which means they want to combine different security brands rather than be tied to a professionally-installed system that requires they stick with a single brand. Self-installation is typically required for systems that combine brands, so we made the assumption that the desire to personalize their home security systems is driving the switch to DIY options.

Finally, we found several articles from media sources such as Crunchbase, Inc., and Forbes that indicated that there has recently been an increase in the number of DIY home security startups and in the amount invested in these startups, which hints that more people are seeking DIY solutions in this market. Our reasoning is that the only reason startups join a market is because there has been a need for a solution. Therefore, as more people are seeking DIY home security products at reasonable prices, more startups are entering the fray to meet the demand.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Home Security Systems - Demographics

Research shows that there have been no publicly-published research studies done on the demographics of Americans who install their own security systems, or of American who own security products in general. Despite this, we were able to compile a strong set of statistics on those who are most likely to self-install security systems. These include younger individuals with mid-range incomes, those who have children at home, those who rent rather than own their homes, and those who live in more-metropolitan areas.

AGE

  • According to a 2019 survey, for home-monitored (and likely self-installed) security systems, approximately 17% in the 18-to-24 age group own them, while 16% in both the 35-to-54 age group and those over 55 own them. Of the 18.2% of American who use video cameras or video doorbells only, about 20% of those 18 to 54 used these products.
  • Statista notes that for 2018, 28.23% of those aged 30-to-49 years, 23.18% of those aged 50-to-64 years, and 20.54% of those aged 18-to-29 years had home security installed, though this includes both professional and self-installed systems.
  • Younger generations are more likely to own security devices, and “especially less expensive DIY options like smart locks and self-monitored systems”. Those in older age groups, and especially those in the 55+ group, feel safer in their homes and are less likely to purchase home-safety equipment, which “might come as a surprise to those who assume home security is exclusively for the affluent or well-established.”
  • Some 61% of those in the 55+ age group added security products to help them (and their families) feel safer, while 54% in the 35-to-54 age group did so, and 33% of those in the 18-to-34 age group did so.
  • Some 14% of Americans aged 18 to 34 installed a security product when they moved to a new area, while 13% did after experiencing an unsuccessful break-in attempt. For the 25 to-54 age group, those numbers are about half, and for the 55+ group, the numbers are again halved.

INCOME LEVEL

  • Two thirds, or 33% of those polled stated that they didn’t own a home security system because they couldn’t afford the monitoring services (or the products), while 20.3% believe their neighborhoods are safe enough.
  • Despite the initial and on-going costs of these systems, they are more affordable now than they ever have been, and there are systems/products for every budget. Additionally, the discounts provided by home insurance companies on these systems can offset some of the cost.
  • Since home burglaries are 6% more likely to occur between 6am and 6pm, those with installed system (self or professional) are more likely to work during the day in hopes of keeping their properties safe while they are at work.

MARITAL/FAMILY STATUS

  • Half, or 47% of those polled in 2019 by Security.com with some type of security installed were not parents, while 48% had children under the age of 18 living at home. Interestingly, 55% of those with children over 18 living at home had security products installed.

REGIONAL/OTHER DEMOGRAPHICS

  • Since larger cities and metropolitan areas experience significantly more burglaries-per-person than less-populated areas, individuals living in these areas are more likely to install (or have installed) a security system. Suburban homes are 50% more likely to experience a burglary than any other type of home.
  • Burglary rates are much higher in the summer and lowest during the coldest months, so Americans who are thinking of installing the systems may be more likely to purchase during the warmest months when their properties are more likely to be targeted.

GENERAL STATISTICS

  • Approximately 38% of those in the US own a home security product, which could include everything from a simple doorbell camera to a hard-wired full-home security set-up. Notably, 49% of US residents polled by LivSecure stated that “they are open to installing their own home-security system”.
  • Nearly half of those polled by Safety.com stated they installed home security products to feel safer and add more security. 18.2% of Americans polled in 2019 had video cameras or video doorbells as security measures.
  • Statistics from Security.com show that 16.2% had professionally-monitored (and therefore professionally installed) systems, while only 8.1% had a self-monitored (and therefore likely self-installed) system. This is likely because “private surveillance cameras are more affordable, easier to install, and more readily available than ever”.
  • Since the rates of burglaries for rental homes are going up, and people who rent are more likely to be burglarized than those who own their homes, renters might be more likely to purchase and/or install security products.
  • Of the burglaries that happen while someone is home, those most likely to experience a home invasion are single females, American Indians or Alaskan natives, or those who own/rent a home that are young (like 18 years old or so). These individuals may be more likely to self-install security products, especially if their incomes are high enough.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We began our research by looking for statistics on self-installed home security products to see what people were buying and who was buying them. We found a variety of information on the types of systems that people purchased, and the reasons for purchasing them, but very little demographic information on who was buying them. Sites like Safewise provided great information on the overall industry, but nothing related to who bought these systems or who preferred to install them themselves. We were able to find one report from Compendium that was promising, but the information was very dated, so it was not useful.

We then looked for specifics on anyone who purchases any type of security system whether it is the self-install type or the pro-install type. Again, we found a wide variety of statistics related to burglaries and why people should invest in a security system, but not much related to demographics. One report from StatisticBrain may have all the information needde, but it’s behind a paywall, so the information could not be accessed.

We continued our search, this time looking for any statistics on people who use home security products and devices, not just those who purchase them. Again, this search provided us with the same types of statistics on burglaries, home invasions, and professionally-installed security systems, but not much related to the direct ask. It does not appear that this information is tracked or recorded by any of the major research organizations or by those within the industry. As such, we have provided all publicly-available statistics related to the demographics of those who might self-install their own home security.

Sources
Sources