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Budget Friendly Home Security Systems

Home security is a serious concern for families living in high-crime areas, but conventional protection systems may cost more than the families that need them can afford. Here are some reasonably priced ways to protect your family and possessions.



America's crime rates are holding near 20-year lows[1], but many low-income families still live in high-risk neighborhoods. Those living in some of Chicago's Northeastern region, for example, may experience more crime than those living in the south central parts of the city.[2] Security systems are an effective deterrent to crime: studies indicate that a protected house is 60% less likely to suffer a burglary.[3] Unfortunately, protection is expensive, and many of those who live in high-risk neighborhoods cannot afford high-end protection packages that cost $600 to $1200 to install.[4] Many choose to take the risk and hope that they never experience a burglary.

New technology is changing the home protection game. Many products can now operate as "do-it-yourself" projects, at a cost well below the branded home security providers. Companies such as Ring, Canary, Arlo and even Netgear are making products that anyone with a little bit of free time and an internet connection can install and use themselves.

The new technology is also making branded products with remote monitoring more affordable, as companies introduce cheaper offerings to compete with the new DIY packages. Whether you choose to do it yourself or go with a monitored product, you will have great options. You will also gain insurance benefits by simply having protection installed.

Insurance Benefits
Many homeowners don't realize that purchasing a security package can lower their homeowner's insurance premiums. Most companies that offer homeowners insurance will offer discounts of up to 20% for customers with a monitored system. Note that these differ from self-monitored or unmonitored products, in that they use a third party to monitor your home, and often include fire and flood monitoring.

Some insurance companies offer discounts for unmonitored or self-monitored products, which alert you or sound an audible alarm when someone triggers the system. Discounts for unmonitored or self-monitored systems will be significantly lower than those for monitored systems, but you will still want to consider any available discount in your cost assessment.

Here are three of the best DIY, self-monitored home protection products, and one traditional monitored security provider that you may want to consider if you prefer to have a professionally monitored package. There are many other options available, and this is only a starting point: we encourage you to investigate others.

DIY Security
You can use these options to create your protection system. These will require a high-speed internet connection, a smartphone for monitoring and a little bit of technical ability, but they do not require a monthly subscription fee.

Canary
Canary is one of many companies offering DIY products. They are relatively inexpensive, and you get to choose between two solid devices. Canary offers indoor/outdoor cameras an all-in-one device that even includes night vision and an audible sensor. The regular Canary device has a wide 140-degree angle of vision.

Each Canary all-in-one costs $199, and you can monitor it at no cost. You can also add in monthly subscription services that raise the ante a bit on what you're getting, including adding more online data storage for your recorded videos and $1,000 insurance deductibles in case you do have a break-in. For smaller houses and apartments, you can easily use the canary to cover all entrances. For a large residence, you may need to purchase more than one device. The all-in-one sells for $349 for a two-pack, offering a discount over just one.

Arlo
Arlo is a solid option for anyone that is serious about protection but also wants to save a good deal of money. This new company sells a wide range of camera options, all with a base device that interacts with the cameras. A starter package will only set you back $449, including three indoor/outdoor cameras that are all completely wireless. Arlo includes 7-days free cloud storage, so you'll be able to watch what goes on for all three cameras for up to 7 days.

Each camera has technology that makes the DIY process viable. That includes night vision, motion detection, and motion alerts that get sent to your connected mobile devices. All of this comes without the need to purchase any monthly monitoring plans. The system supports up to five cameras at no additional charge, although if you want to add more cameras or want increased cloud storage for your videos, that will cost an extra $99 a year. Even when combined with the purchase price of the equipment, a yearly plan plus the equipment is still far less than a monitored system from an established company.

Buddy FLARE
One of the newest DIY cameras on the market, the Buddy FLARE is an unusual device. It is a single wall-mounted camera. The product has no outdoor option, but what you get is extremely powerful and packed full of features, while retaining a reasonable price.

The camera includes two-way audio, night vision, motion detection, tamper sensor, a rechargeable battery, and wi-fi connection. The product ships from Europe and costs around $425. The add-on systems bring the FLARE to life. For monthly fees around $5 each, you can add to what you can switch on a 4G chip so the FLARE can keep operating if your internet goes down. You can send police to your house if a trigger occurs, send yourself text messages in the case of a trigger event, and add more cloud storage for your videos.

The FLARE is also highly intelligent. It can arm itself in your absence, or arm based on your commands through a mobile device. The device can even play sounds that make it seem like someone is home if its sensors are triggered.

Even with additional features added for a monthly fee, the Buddy FLARE is a reasonably priced option for low-income families.

Traditional Security Companies
Traditional companies are always going to be more expensive than DIY options, even if only in the long run. Read contracts carefully. Some companies use sneaky wording that may go unrecognized and lock you in for longer terms than you expect. Still, some services can save you money, as long as you keep an eye on the bill.

Protect America
This company has a good reputation with relatively inexpensive monitoring plans. If you keep it simple with Protect America, you can save quite a bit of money. The least expensive plan costs only $19.99 a month ($239 a year), with the cost of the equipment rolled into your monthly fee. If you only go with the most basic equipment plan, you may be able to scrape by spending less than $500 a year on your plan. Be sure to check potential savings on your insurance, which may make pricing more competitive.

Security systems are not cheap, and even a good DIY product will be a significant expense. The average property loss in a burglary in the US is $2,251, though, and that is something to consider.[5] There is never a good time to have to replace valued property, and protection can prevent a traumatic and potentially life-threatening criminal encounter.