Security Systems for Small Business Owners: Professional Install or DIY?

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Business owners are often faced with a key decision when considering a security system: should they opt for a professional installation or go the DIY route? Both options come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks, and the best choice for your small business depends on various factors such as budget, technical expertise and specific security needs.

Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of both types of security system installation. For more information on security systems in general, visit our list of the best home security systems of 2024.

Security system installation options for small business owners

For small business owners, ensuring the safety and security of their premises is paramount. A robust security system not only protects your assets but can also provide peace of mind.

What is DIY installation?

DIY or “do-it-yourself” in the context of security systems refers to the practice of installing and setting up security equipment without the help of industry professionals. This usually involves purchasing security cameras, motion sensors and other necessary components by yourself. The home or business owner then follows the provided instructions to install and configure the system.

For more on DIY installation of security systems, visit our list of the best DIY home security systems of 2024.

What is professional installation?

Professional installation involves hiring a security company like ADT or Vivint to install and configure your security system. This service typically includes an initial consultation to assess your home or business’s security needs, followed by the installation of the system by trained technicians. This option often comes with a service contract for ongoing support and maintenance.

DIY vs professional system installation at a glance

As a rule of thumb, professional installation is the more practical alternative for small businesses. Many business owners already have their hands full with everyday tasks and activities, which makes the added convenience of having your system installed and set up by professionals all the more valuable.

DIY still has its place in physical storefronts, however, especially in smaller ones that can be fully covered by less equipment overall. DIY installation is also a more worthwhile alternative if you already have the technical expertise to install and configure your own equipment without much issue.

DIY Installation Pros & Cons

Pros

Affordability: A lower initial cost makes DIY more suitable for small businesses with limited budgets.

Control: Clients have complete control over the installation process and how the system is configured.

Flexibility: There are often no binding service contracts, and customers can install and modify their system without relying on external schedules.

Cons

Time Investment: Installation requires you to to set time aside, which could detract from other business activities.

Potential for Errors: Business owners without the level of technical know-how to properly install and set up their gear might make mistakes that lead to security vulnerabilities.

Limited Support: Typically limited to online or phone support, which may not be sufficient for complex issues.

Professional Installation Pros & Cons

Pros

Convenience: Professionals handle the entire installation process, saving clients time and effort.

Expertise: Trained technicians ensure the system is properly set up and configured, minimizing the risk of errors.

Ongoing Support: Clients have access to comprehensive technical support and maintenance services.

Cons

Higher Cost: Professional systems are more expensive upfront due to equipment and labor costs, installation fees and monthly fees from long-term contracts.

Scheduling: Installation, maintenance and upgrades depend on the availability of company technicians, which may cause delays.

Less Control: Clients have less direct control over the system configuration and installation process.

Comparing DIY and professional installation of security systems

DIY installation is a more budget-friendly option that allows for flexibility and personal control over the setup process. Professional installation provides a hassle-free experience with trained technicians who minimize potential risks by ensuring equipment is properly set up.

While DIY systems are cost-effective, they demand a significant time investment and can result in mistakes or security gaps if not done correctly. Many business owners prefer the peace of mind and reliability that comes with professionally installed systems because of this.

Cost

Cost is a significant factor for many small business owners when choosing between DIY and professional installation. DIY systems typically have a lower upfront cost, as you only pay for the equipment you will be using.

Professional security solutions require a higher initial investment to cover the cost of equipment and labor. However, this type of installation often comes with comprehensive service packages that cover installation, maintenance and monitoring, which can be more cost-effective in the long run.

Ease of installation

DIY installation requires that business owners be comfortable with tools and are able to follow detailed instructions. While many DIY systems are designed to be user-friendly, they still require time and effort to install correctly.

Professional installations are handled entirely by trained technicians. This option is ideal for business owners who prefer a hassle-free experience and want to ensure that their security system is installed correctly and efficiently.

Customization

When it comes to customization, both professional and DIY installation have distinct advantages. Professional installation typically offers greater customization within a given brand. Companies can tailor fit the system to the specific needs of your business, whether you need advanced surveillance, access control or integrated alarm systems.

DIY systems generally win out when it comes to flexibility because users don’t need to work under any restriction placed by a security company. However, you may ultimately find their customization lacking depending on the security kit you purchase and its compatibility with other devices.

Maintenance and upgrades

With DIY security systems, the responsibility for the equipment’s upkeep falls on the business owner. This can be time-consuming and may lead to additional costs if professional help is needed for troubleshooting or repairs.

Professional installation often includes maintenance services, ensuring that the system remains in optimal condition. Your security company can also recommend and implement new technologies as they become available.

Technical support

DIY systems generally offer support through online resources, phone calls or live chat. This can be sufficient for minor issues, though more complex problems might require professional help.

Professional installation comes with robust technical support, including on-site assistance. This ensures that any issues are promptly addressed, minimizing downtime and ensuring the security system functions correctly.

FAQs About Professional Install vs. DIY for Small Business Owners

Are DIY security systems reliable for small businesses?

Many DIY security systems are reliable and offer advanced features. A properly set up DIY system can be just as secure as a professionally installed one. However, as with any DIY project, it will require regular maintenance by the business owner, who will also have to do self-monitoring.

Is professional monitoring worth the extra cost for small businesses?

Professional monitoring can be highly valuable for small businesses, providing 24/7 surveillance and quick response to security incidents. This added layer of security and peace of mind might justify the extra cost for businesses with valuable assets or those located in a high-risk area.

Can I upgrade a DIY system to a professional one?

Many DIY security systems can be upgraded with additional components or professional monitoring services as needed. The extent of what you can upgrade and how depends on the specific system you choose.

What happens if my DIY system malfunctions?

If a DIY system malfunctions, the business owner is responsible for troubleshooting the issue themselves or contacting the system's customer support. Support is generally available via the manufacturer's customer service. In some cases, professional assistance may be necessary, which could result in additional costs.

What level of expertise is required for DIY installation?

The level of expertise required to install a security system by yourself varies based on its complexity and components. To set up a simple DIY system, you may only need basic technical and networking skills. This includes familiarity with using tools such as screwdrivers, drills and mounting equipment and knowledge of Wi-Fi setups and troubleshooting.

More complex systems with a number of components -- window sensors, outdoor cameras, motion detectors, smart locks - might require you to learn about tricky device configuration options and have an understanding of electrical work for wiring purposes.

Summary of Professional Install vs. DIY for Small Business Owners

Choosing between DIY and professional installation for your small business security system depends on your specific needs, budget and preferences.

Businesses with small physical premises and on a tighter budget may prefer to get a DIY system. On the other hand, business owners that lack the ability or knowledge to set up their own system or simply want to skip the hassle of doing so may want to get their system professionally installed.

Both installation options have their merits, and understanding their differences can help you make an informed decision to best protect your business.