How To Make DIY Home Security Systems


Home Security For Creative Types

Home security has evolved from the friendly neighborhood watch, to the dedicated third party monitoring teams, to DIY systems such as Canary or Piper. DIY home security companies encourage homeowners to actively take safety and surveillance into their own hands, and help you put together a custom home security system—all you have to do is pick out which sensors and cameras suits your needs. But what if you can’t find the right device? The simple solution: make your own system from scratch with Raspberry Pi and Arduino.

SEE ALSO: Professional Home Security Installation vs DIY

Raspberry Pi

At $35, Raspberry Pi is a cost-efficient computer that you can plug into a monitor, and program to do whatever you want. This credit card sized computer can do everything a desktop computer can do, and much more. Raspberry Pi can be easily hidden—which makes it perfect for a discreet home security system.

This tiny computer has no planned purpose when it comes out of the box. It’s up to you how you want to program your Raspberry Pi unit. Here are only a few ideas of how you can customize your security setup:

  • Biometric Identification. Code a program that effectively recognizes your face or fingerprint by scanning it. You could incorporate this into locks and cameras to make sure only the people you want to can unlock the door.
  • Humidity Sensor. An avid beer brewer used Raspberry Pi to make a humidity sensor that he could monitor on his phone.


If you like to customize things, then Arduino was meant for you. Arduino targets artists, designers, and curious people who wish to construct interactive products or environments. Purchasing an Arduino starter kit will cost you roughly $80. But unlike Raspberry Pi, Arduino isn’t a computer. It’s a board that can be programmed to work on its own, or in conjunction with another product. That said, you’ll have to hook up Arduino to a computer so you can program it. Here are a few ideas for Arduino home security projects:

  • Humanoid Appliances. You can program your locks and detectors to talk to you.
  • Custom Sensors. One unique designer created a sound sensor to detect loud noises invading his property.
  • Garden Guards. To keep stray animals from trampling or eating your award-winning garden, you can build a smaller home security system just for your garden.

Why Build It Yourself?

Consumers want a product that can think for itself. And in the home security industry, that means a system that can properly assess a situation and respond accordingly and accurately. The ability to do just that is limited, however. For the most part, sensors are sensitive andeasily set off. Pets walking by or smoke from frying some chicken can set off an alarm. This leads to late night sirens, unsuspected visits from the fire department, and panicking for no reason. The solution to overly protective security systems may be artificial intelligence created by a Raspberry Pi or Arduino unit.

Most devices are programmed based on a generalized idea of home life—pets and cooking variables seldom come into consideration at the design level. And if you don’t fit into the average home idealized by home security companies, then you might not find the right device for your special home. Custom programmed locks, lights, sensors, and alarms ensure that your system does everything you want it to. But pursuing a Raspberry Pi or Arduino project isn’t for everyone.

SEE ALSO: SmartThings: Home Security For The Connected Home

Who Are These Products For?

The tinkerers. These products provide cheap alternatives to pricey home security add-ons and devices, but are meant for those who know a thing or two about programming. These products might end up collecting dust in the corner if you don’t know what you’re doing. Most of us aren’t tech savvy. And until the Raspberry Pi generation grows up to program everything and anything, your best bet in finding the perfect home security gadgets is to shop around.

Date of original publication:
Updated on: November 10, 2015

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