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Security Camera Blog

DIY Security Systems Utah

Do It Yourself (DIY) Security Systems And Kits

I believe there is a place for the DIY customer and the professional installation in the market. Some people only want to put one or two cameras to watch a pet or a child.

Some just want a simple camera to watch who is at the front door. Many of these types of projects don’t make sense for the professional to even get involved in. However, if you are planning to put up four or more cameras on a property, then you need to weigh your decision carefully. If you are handy and you want to spend the time and energy putting in your own cameras, then great. You may be a good candidate for a DIY system, if you avoid these BIG mistakes.

1. Don’t just buy a security camera system based on price. Know what you are buying. Technology changes quickly. Many systems are on sale for a reason. The technology may be discontinued or on the way out, the company that supports it may also be going out of business. You get what you pay for in technology like anything else. There are some good kits on the market don’t get me wrong. They are however, not the ones selling for under $800 for eight cameras or more. Cheap camera kits use many tricks to bring the price down. Besides using cheaper cameras, they use proprietary software and equipment. Sometimes these kits use non- standard power, Cat 3 ends, and proprietary software so that the system will only work with cameras provided by the same manufacturer. They can make up some of the lost profit with replacement parts and additional accessories. This can make it more difficult to repair the system over time. We tried to switch out a hard drive on a DVR from a kit at a big box retailer that we were working at and the DVR from the kit wouldn’t take a standard hard drive. We ended up switching out the system for professional equipment instead.

2. Another problem with the cheaper kits is the cheap ready-made cable. It’s hard enough to know which security cameras are the best, and this is one of the advantages and disadvantages of many of the kits. They have ready-made spools of cheap cable in different lengths with the power and video ends already on them. This makes the system a plug and play for installation. That is great. The cable however, is not rated for going in walls and is easily chewed through by mice. The fact that this type of cable has a scent that attracts mice to it makes this a problem. We have had two clients in the past year that installed this type of cable on their house and ended up with a line chewed through completely. It is impossible to splice this type of cable. If you are going to put cable into a wall and seal it, then get professional cable. When we used to install camera kits for people that called, we often sold them professional cable and threw the cheap cable away. If they wanted to upgrade to better cameras later, having professional cable opens options. Understand however, that not all security camera kits are bad. Some of the more expensive kits found online are very close to the same equipment that the professionals install. They still however, give very little flexibility in camera choice.

3. If you are planning to install cameras yourself, understand what will be required BEFORE you purchase them. Many people only manage to set up part of their camera systems. They get the kit home and dive in only to get lost in the middle. Some of the installation can be very easy to understand but some may not. Remember that every location is different and a custom installation. It is impossible for a one size fits all solution to work for every situation without requiring a few unique tweaks from time to time. This is especially true when it comes to networking the cameras for remote access over phones etc.

4. Don’t try to save money buying your own cameras and then paying someone to install them. This is not a DIY project anymore. This is now a project in which you have become a general contractor and you have hired someone else as your subcontractor. You will now be in a position of paying a higher price for labor and still getting stuck holding the bag when something goes wrong. Notice that I used the word “when” and not “if.” With technology, it is always “when.” Even if you are buying professional level cameras, you are better off to purchase the equipment and the installation from one source so that your warranty will be inclusive with the installation.

5. Avoid the temptation to use a local tech savvy kid to put your cameras in because they don’t carry any insurance in case of damage or an accident that might occur on your property during installation. They will also most likely not be around for tech support over the long term. 

6. Are You Capable? There are a lot of handy people that can install their own cameras out of a kit if everything works out as it is supposed to. I run into many people however, that get 90% into their installation and have a problem with one or two cameras. Anyone can be an expert until something goes wrong. Now they have invested hours upon hours running lines, mounting cameras, etc. They don’t want to take the system down and return it. However, they don’t know how to diagnose the problem and repair it. (Or get a replacement for just the part of the system that doesn’t work.) The problem with “All in One” solution is that itis” All in One.” Many people will remember the TV/VCR combo machines that were popular in the early nineties. They were great until either the TV or VCR broke. Then the unit was a pain to deal with. Every week I get calls from people that have purchased a security camera kit from a big box store or online and now they can’t get part of it to work. They don’t want to take it all down and return it because of the time investment they have already laid out. Many of them wish they had called a good professional sooner.

At Dixon Security we are security camera experts. Call us at 801-455-0413 for a FREE on-site evaluation of your video surveillance needs.