The growing DIY burglar alarm market

There used to be no such thing as DIY burglar alarms, and that was kind of the point. When burglar alarms were professionally installed, tested and monitored, consumers were guaranteed robust home security that was safe in the hands of those who knew best. Yet, with the rise of DIY security systems, this could soon no longer be the case.  

The popularity of the DIY security market has rocketed in recent years, and it shows no signs of stopping.

According to IHS Markit, the smart home security market was worth $920 million in 2017. With the vast majority of smart security devices being DIY models, absolutely anybody should be able to set one up by themselves.

This could be exhilarating news for tech and home security enthusiasts. For the rest of us however, it’s slightly concerning.

The pitfalls of DIY installed burglar alarms

Although most smart security alarms are marketed as being easy to set up, there’s more to installing home security than unboxing and flicking a switch.

As security company Banham note in their article on the risks of DIY burglar alarms, installing home security systems effectively requires professional security industry experience.

One of the major risks of DIY installation is that most people do not have sufficient knowledge of where best to position either the alarm itself, or the sensors. Knowing exactly where they should go requires the experience of a seasoned alarm installer.

If sensors are incorrectly positioned, home security is immediately jeopardised. In contrast, a security system expert would conduct a rigorous survey of a property to ensure that they can make informed decisions about where to place both the alarm and the sensors.

Additionally, when installing an alarm, security experts can show users how to use the system, as well as testing it for them.

Not knowing how to work the technology could lead to issues like accidentally triggering the system, and testing it will guarantee that it is working properly, providing homeowners with peace of mind.

Professional installation also comes with a number of other benefits, like maintenance, monitoring, and repair of the system.

Why are DIY alarms so popular?

Speaking with Consumer Reports, Alex Hawkinson, CEO of Samsung SmartThings, said the reason for the sudden growth was that home security is “something now easily available to everyone.”

Smart security systems are popular because they appear to give users added control over their safety, and therefore greater peace of mind.

Smart alarms can be controlled via smartphones, immediately sending alerts if they are triggered. Owners can remotely set their alarm system if they forget, and can also program it to arm and disarm at predetermined times.

Many of these systems also include cameras that allow users to view HD videos of their property from wherever they are. Some models, such as Google’s Nest, even have facial recognition technology that help it spot intruders, whilst still recognising its owners.

As part of the overall selling point that these systems make buyers’ lives easier, many companies actively emphasise the fact that they can be easily installed without a professional.

This can also save buyers money since they won’t have to splash out on installation costs. Yet, by installing alarms themselves, users may actually be sacrificing their safety instead of protecting it.

Will all burglar alarms become DIY models?

If so, you may have security novices offering you protection. After all, neither Nest nor Google (who acquired Nest) have a background in home security.

This is not necessarily terrible news according to Consumer Reports who say, “inexperience doesn’t necessarily mean a product will perform poorly.” Then again, they also say, “The only way to really know whether these products are good or bad is to test them. “ This is not too reassuring. Home security is not something you trial. It’s not Hello Fresh or Dollar Shave Club. Get it wrong once and you’re in trouble.

The staggering worth of the home security market is only likely to increase, especially with a whole raft of new products being launched by the big guns of the smart technology world in 2018.

So far, Ring have announced a new smart alarm, aptly called the Ring Alarm, to be released in the spring, and Adobe will also launch the Adobe Iota in the coming months.

Alarm systems like these have proven so popular that ADT, an actual security company (one of the biggest alarm companies in the world actually), are losing money because of the new competition.

If this trend continues, traditional alarm firms like these could be out of business. And we might be left fending for ourselves—struggling to install our own alarms manufactured by companies with little security credentials. DIY or not, this state of affairs should be sounding alarm bells.

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