Having a smart home security system is becoming increasingly popular as it allows you to monitor your home remotely and receive notifications if any suspicious activity occurs. However, professionally installed systems can be expensive. Luckily, with a Raspberry Pi and some basic components, I was able to create my own effective DIY system on a budget. In this article, I will walk through the entire process so you can secure your home without breaking the bank.

Choosing the Right Raspberry Pi Model

The first step is selecting which Raspberry Pi model you want to use. I chose the Raspberry Pi 4 since it has enough processing power and ram to handle a security system. The Raspberry Pi Zero could also work for simpler setups.

I recommend getting a Raspberry Pi kit that includes the board, case, power supply, and microSD card. Having these core components in one kit is cheaper and more convenient than buying them separately.

Setting Up the Operating System

With the Raspberry Pi in hand, you need to install and configure the operating system on the microSD card. I prefer Raspberry Pi OS because it is free, optimized for the Pi hardware, and has lots of included software.

Use the Raspberry Pi Imager to flash the OS image onto the microSD card. Then, with the card inserted into the Pi, boot it up and walk through the initial setup prompts like changing the default password and enabling SSH.

Adding a Camera Module

To function as a security camera, your Raspberry Pi needs a camera module. I bought the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 which connects directly to the Pi board. There are also many USB webcams that will work.

Attach the camera module and enable it in Raspberry Pi OS by running sudo raspi-config. Now you can capture images and video streams with simple commands like raspistill and raspivid.

Motion Detection Software

To serve as an automated security system, the Raspberry Pi needs software to detect motion and trigger alerts. I installed MotionEyeOS which is a Linux distribution specifically for video surveillance and motion detection.

After flashing MotionEyeOS onto a microSD card, boot up the Pi and access the web interface at http://your_ip:8081. From here, you can configure motion zones and actions like sending you an email with images when motion is detected.

Live Video Streaming

To be able to monitor your home remotely, you need to be able to stream live video from the camera. The easiest way is to use a service like Twitch which is designed for streaming from a Raspberry Pi.

Install the Twitch streaming software on your Pi, obtain a Twitch account and stream key, then start streaming with a simple command. You can now watch your live video feed on any device.

Remote Access with a VPN

Since your home network is likely behind a router, you'll need a VPN server on the Raspberry Pi to access it remotely. I installed PiVPN which handles VPN capabilities.

With port forwarding configured on your router, you can connect to your Pi VPN from anywhere and access the MotionEyeOS dashboard or Twitch streams. A VPN also keeps your connection secure.

Expanding the System Over Time

A benefit of a DIY system is that you can easily expand it by adding new components. For example, you can install Raspberry Pi security cameras in multiple rooms for full home coverage. Or add door/window sensors that integrate with Home Assistant which can trigger actions when they detect an opening. The possibilities are endless.


Building my own Raspberry Pi security system was an enjoyable weekend project that resulted in a capable system comparable to professional setups. For under $100 in components, I can monitor my home anywhere and receive instant notifications if something seems off. With a little technical know-how, you can securely automate your home without expensive commercial products.