Home Automation Basics: DIY vs. DIFM

Here is a picture of the back of my main rack. As you can see, that is a lot of wiring. Before you make the choice of DIY, make sure you know what you are doing.

The final article in our series on home automation is how to choose between Do It Yourself or Do It For Me. (If you missed my first two posts, check out “What Can Be Automated?” and “Terms You Should Know.”) This decision should not be taken lightly as the bigger your system gets, the more complicated it gets. However, you can also save a lot by DIYing — if you know what you are doing. So, here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding between DIY and DIFM.

  • How much money and time can you spend? Most home automation set-ups are scalable. This means you can add one light here, then a thermostat there, then a camera elsewhere. If you are not in a hurry, this is a great option and you can DIY all you like. However, if you hire someone to do it in segments, you will pay a lot more due to the extra service calls. If you are in a hurry, then DIY requires a significant investment in time. And it’s not just installation time — unless you know exactly what you are doing, you will need to do a lot of research and reading on what to buy and how to install, whereas a DIFM contractor can have it done in a much shorter time.
  • How much money do you want to spend? Home automation gear has made some significant advances but it still can add up quickly. Hacked solutions like arduinos allow you to experiment but might not be as reliable if you are inexperienced. They are fairly inexpensive, which is a bonus, and buying gear on the Internet either new or used can save you a lot of money. You just will need to do the proper research to install correctly. Installers charge a premium but will pair this with expertise and long-term service.
  • Are the systems proprietary? Some popular systems like Control 4 and Crestron do not allow direct sales to a consumer. You can find them on auction sites but you might be biting off more than you can chew. Documentation is limited and often very technical. So if you go these routes, you’ll need to go DIFM.

55 Responses

  1. I think that home automation, do it for me is better since it is important that the system works correctly. So professional services maybe necessary. anuncios de acompanhantes no rio de janeiro

  2. I have been looking for a new house to purchase in Livingston Parish LA and finding many smart houses. All sorts of timers and sensors to save a person on energy. Solar panels and instant hot water heaters are becoming something many new houses have. Automatic shades over the windows open and then close when the sun is or not shining. I am amazed at what I see. A lot has changed over the past 10 years.Natural gas generators for whole house electric is everywhere. I live in SE Louisiana and no more power outages when the hurricanes come through!!!


About Nick Britsky 


I am a digital account executive by day and seeker of new skills by night. Maker Faires are my passion, and I have built projects ranging from giant Twinkie cars ...

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