September 11, 2020
DIY enthusiasts may be thinking about building a home security system with Raspberry Pi, putting together everything from motion sensors to cameras. With the cost of a Raspberry Pi microcomputer ranging anywhere from $5 for the most basic Raspberry Pi Zero, up to $35 for a Pi 3 Model B+, DIY builders could be tempted to put an entire home security system together based on this affordable price.
Adding wireless capabilities into a Raspberry Pi security system makes the project into an Internet of Things (IoT) system. The project can build in PIR (passive infrared) sensors which can detect radiation inside your home. The PIR sensor will let the Raspberry Pi controller know if someone has entered a room, and the controller could notify you by text or email. All of these features of a Raspberry Pi home security system are interesting. Here are three things you might not have thought of if you’re considering building this type of security system and installing it in your house.
You’re not at home you’re at work. In the event of a break-in all the Raspberry Pi system does is notify you something has triggered a motion detector. The camera may or may not send a useful image. Even if it does, you could be busy at work, away from your phone, or otherwise unable to see any image.
Even if you see your Raspberry Pi home security system’s message immediately, you may not be able to notify authorities or get home in time to prevent a break-in. A burglary takes between 90 seconds and 10 minutes, and most burglars don’t take more than 60 seconds getting into a home.
If you’re not at home, most police departments will regard your call notifying them that your Raspberry Pi DIY home security system has detected an intruder as a “non-emergency” call. Some cities average 20 minutes or less for non-emergency response times. The average emergency response time is 11 minutes.
Burglars take less than 10 minutes to break in and remove electronics, money, and valuables. This is faster than even top average police burglary response times
Cities like Detroit and New Orleans have much longer non-emergency response times — in some cases up to an hour. You could miss your Raspberry Pi’s alert of an intruder for a few minutes, make a call to your local police when you see it, and the burglar could have up to an hour to remove anything they wants from your property.
Raspberry Pi equipment is affordable, starting at $5 for the lowest-cost credit card-sized microcomputer. Added items like Pi Cameras and controllers can start in the $5 to $6 range as well.
Higher-performance equipment costs more
Each component has a limited warranty
Warranties are issued by resellers, not Raspberry Pi
Not all components have a warranty
Higher-performance equipment can cost $30 to $50 per component (camera, Wi-Fi)
These are just a few of the reasons why monitored home security is better than an unmonitored system, even one that you build and program yourself. With a monitored home security system, someone is there 24/7 if there is an emergency, and they can dispatch first responders, whether you are home or away.
Krista Bruton is a DFW-based writer who covers smart home security and consumer protection.
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