Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Home Security

No salesmen. No contracts. No hassle. The three most popular brands are covered, those being Honeywell, DSC, and GE Interlogix. These are the very same systems sold by all those three letter alarm companies you see on television. Each brand has it's advantages and disadvantages, but none are a bad choice for a do-it-yourself installation.


I've built the Honeywell portion of the site around the V20P60RFPK kit. This is the ideal kit for a do-it-yourself installation due to it's included 6160RF keypad. The 6160RF is important for two reasons. It's custom alpha keypad allows for menu programming (necessary for setting up your new system) and the built-in wireless receiver enables the use of wireless devices in your system.
Fixed Alpha Display

Custom Alpha Display
w/ RF Receiver

I've focused the DSC portion of the site around the popular DSC PC1616 control panel. Although my how-to's and wiring diagrams are made for the PC1616, they can also be used for the PC1832 and PC1864. The larger panels have a higher hardwire and wireless zone capacity, but their wiring schemes and programming methods are exactly the same.

Make sure to purchase a DSC kit that includes a keypad with an "RFK" suffix, these will have a built-in wireless receiver for wireless device capability. Unlike Honeywell panels, DSC panels can be programmed with any keypad, so a custom alpha display isn't absolutely necessary, but would still be a cool thing to have.
The NetworX line of control panels represent a full-featured security system that uses advanced technology for burglary, fire and environmental detection. A highly flexible security option that is both easy to install and simple to use, NetworX control panels can accommodate smaller residential applications up to the most demanding commercial security needs. The series includes the NX-4, NX-6, NX-8 and NX-8E control panels.

Note: Of the three brands covered on the site, the GE how-to pages are the least refined as of now. Both the Honeywell and DSC areas have been through three to four re-writes to better streamline their information, the GE area has useful information but is still a little rough.
Site Summary

A professional security system is a great addition to any property, but the only way to get one without signing a long term contract is to do it yourself. The biggest problem do-it-yourselfers face when tackling a home security project is that professional systems are designed to be installed by professional installers, meaning that there is no technical support from alarm system manufacturers to Joe Public installing his first alarm system, technical support is provided to licensed security companies only. No worries, by using the information on this site you'll be able to install your system like a pro.

The site covers the three most popular security manufacturers, Honeywell, DSC, and GE / Interlogix. Each manufacturer's area begins with an overview of how to wire devices to the control panel. Device wiring tutorials include:

  • How to wire the AC transformer
  • How to wire security system siren (s)
  • How to wire security system keypad (s)
  • How to wire detection devices like door / window contacts, motion detectors, glass breakage detectors
  • How to wire smoke detectors
  • How to wire the telephone connection (optional in a diy system)
The second phase of alarm installation is the initial power up of the system. Each brand has it's quirks that aren't clearly discussed in the factory provided installation manual. Topics covered include:

  • How to prepare the system for first time power up
  • How to address and enable keypads and wireless receivers
Once the system is powered up you'll need to program it. Anyone who's ever tried to program a professional security system can tell you that there are literally hundreds of programming options. The good news is that the vast majority of the options can (and should) be left at their factory settings. The programming tutorials are designed to tell you exactly what you need to change in the program and why you need to change them. Topics covered include:

  • Optional changes like delay times, installer codes, and siren timeout
  • Mandatory changes like zone definitions and system options
Wireless devices are an important part of most professional security systems installed today. Alarm companies have learned that drilling wire holes is labor intensive and potentially expensive while wireless devices can be installed in minutes, and they usually provide better aesthetics. The wireless programming guides cover:

  • How to install a wireless door contact
  • How to install a wireless window contact
  • How to install a wireless motion detector
  • How to install a wireless glass breakage detector
  • How to install a wireless smoke detector
  • How to install a wireless keyfob
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