In the event that someone tries to break into your house, are you prepared? Are you adequately protecting your valuable from burglary and your family from harm?
There are plenty of companies out there that will gladly sell you a system for a monthly cost that just sounds an alarm and notifies their monitoring staff about it.
But what if you want more than that and you don’t want to pay someone else for in on an ongoing basis. Here are some tips on how to set up your own DIY home security system with more features and no monthly cost.
All of this is based on a home that has a Z-Wave home automation system using a Vera home controller. You can pick one up for pretty cheap.
Also, you might want to check out some of my other home automation guides for some other cool tricks you can do with it.
Turn all front yard lights on at sunset and off at sunrise
Never worry about remembering to turn on your front yard lights at night, and never worry about wasting electricity by leaving them on all day.
This is very simple to set up as long as you have all your exterior lights hooked up to a Z-Wave switch. The Vera has a nice feature in the schedule section of a scene that allows you to set it to activate at sunrise or sunset. It takes care of knowing what time that is depending on the date and geographical location.
Every time the front door opens, take a few photos
The webcam on my main computer happens to be pointed directly at the front door and entryway. If someone were to break it, I would at least want to take some pictures so I can see who it is, or can give it to the police.
But for this case, I’ve actually setup the photos to be taken every time the front door open, regardless of whether or not my security system is armed. It doesn’t take up that much space to take a few photos, and it could come in handy just to keep tabs on who is coming in and out of my house at what times, just in case.
To do this, I setup iSpy. What iSpy does is turn your computer with a USB webcam into a virtual IP camera. I configured web access to my webcam only on my local network in my house and then added the virtual IP camera address into my Vera Z-Wave home controller. In order to add the camera to the Vera, I followed the instructions from this post in the MiCasaVerde forums.
After the camera is configured in the Vera, just go into the settings of the camera and you will see settings for taking pictures when certain sensors are trips.
You can see the collection of photos grouped by days on the calendar by clicking on the “Archive” button on the front of the camera device in Vera’s dashboard.
I also have a camera on my roof pointing to the driveway that gets triggered by a motion sensor by my garage door, and also a camera and motion sensor in my garage. The possibilities for catching the bad guys are endless.
Arm the security system at night
I have a scene in my Vera called “Late Night Arm Doors”. This scene sets all of my exterior door sensors from Bypass to Arm. If they are armed, then tripping one of those sensors activates my alarm scene.
My “arm doors” scene is set on a time schedule where we are not likely to be going in or out. Sometimes, there are exceptions, and for those, I’ve set scene shortcuts on my phone’s home screen using the AutHomationHD app so I can easily arm or disarm my security system.
When my wife and I are both away from home, automatically arm the security system
Now this is one trick I’m particularly proud of. But, before you proceed, make sure you check out my guide on Home Automation Using Tasker and Z-Wave.
So, I have Tasker installed both my phone and my wife’s phone (both Android). We both also have the AutoRemote Tasker plugin installed and configured so that both of our phones can send messages to each other through AutoRemote using Tasker.
Then I set Tasker profiles on both of our phones that detected if the phone is within range of my home’s wi-fi SSD. When my phone detects it is out of range of our home’s wi-fi, it will send a message to my wife’s phone informing it that I am away. When my phone comes into my home’s wi-fi range, it immediately sends a message to my wife’s phone that I am home. My wife’s phone does the same thing sending messages to my phone.
The free version of AutoRemote limits you to messages that are only 2 characters which works fine for this. I set the messages with the person’s first initial followed by either an “h” or an “a” for home or away. So, the messages consist of nh, na, sh, sa.
So, both phones have profiles that receive these possible commands and set one of my Tasker variables to a 1 or 0. Another Tasker profile triggers if it detects that both variables are 0, in which case it uses the AutHomationHD plugin to activate my “arm doors” scene.
Just to make sure that it’s running smoothly, I have the phone set to say “armed” or “disarmed” using text-to-speech whenever either of those Tasker profiles are triggered.
Want some help with all of these Tasker profiles? Share this post with the below buttons to get access to download my exported XML file that you can import right into Tasker. It contains 12 Tasker profiles that you can use to get a head start. It also includes some profiles used for a temporary disarming mechanism.
Thanks for sharing! Here you go! Security.prj.xml
Unzip this file to get to the XML file which you can open using Tasker, then touch and hold on the home icon in Tasker and tap Import.
If any exterior door opens while the security system is armed, sound the alarm
Like I mentioned before, when my “arm doors” scene is active, all of my exterior door sensors are set to arm, so that when triggered, they activate the alarm scene. Here’s what my alarm scene does.
Blast the Z-Wave siren
My Z-Wave siren is one of my favorite Z-Wave device purchases. It is super loud, has a red strobe light on it (though not very bright), and will easily scare off any intruder when that thing sounds off.
In addition to the photos that are already being taken by opening the front door, I also set it so when the alarm goes off, the Vera sends a signal to iSpy to start recording video, and then sends another signal to stop recording after a 30 second delay.
To set those actions, go to the Advanced tab when editing the alarm scene, and if you followed the instructions to setup the iSpy plugin mentioned previously, then you should have the Start Recording and Stop Recording commands available in the drop down when manually adding an action to the scene.
Also, make sure to set the destination folder for your videos to a folder that gets synced to the cloud. I have mine save to my Dropbox folder so within seconds after the video is taken, it has already synced to the cloud, safe from burglary.
Send me a text message
So, what if we’re away from home when the alarm goes off? I want to know immediately, so I can check the photos to know if I need to call 911.
I setup text messaging capability from the Vera by installing the Twilio plugin/app from the MiOS Marketplace. Just sign up with a free Twilio account and configure the plugin to communicate with your account and then you can configure your scene to send you a text message.
Pad lock your breaker panel and/or use a UPS
Always be thinking about ways that someone could break in. Don’t forget that all of this DIY home security required electricity which is easily shut off from the circuit breaker panel. Don’t forget to protect against that circumvention by putting a pad lock on your breaker panel.
You might also want to consider getting a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) and run key electronics like the Vera off of it to prevent a power outage from shutting down your security system.
So, what are you waiting for?
Keep your family and your possessions safe from intruders. Don’t wait until it’s too late.