A security system can help protect your home, family, and valuables from burglars. But is it worth the expense? Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of home security costs to find out when a price becomes a good value.
Pricing out a home security system can be complicated and confusing. Even when the prices are displayed on the provider’s website, you have to wonder, What is this going to cost me? Because, let’s face it, the home security industry is not known for its transparency. Those advertised deals are meant to look big and shiny, but knowing what costs to look for can go a long way in bypassing the smoke and mirrors.
Let’s break down those costs and see how those advertised deals work and what you can expect to get for your money.
The average upfront cost of a home security system ranges between $250 and $1,500+. These costs include equipment, installation, and activation fees, and are one-time, upfront charges.
Purchasing your security equipment is just the beginning. We recommend a monitored security system because it truly is the best way to protect your home. The average monthly cost for home security monitoring services is $30/month ($360/year). Monitoring prices can be as low as $9.99/month ($120/year) for essential monitoring and upwards of $100/month ($1,200 annually) for more premium services.
Substantial home security costs to consider
Nothing’s worse than cracking open your first bill and finding unexpected charges attached. Suddenly, all the warm feelings you had at the sign-up turn into a fiery rage, ruining your home security experience from the start. You can avoid having a similar negative experience by understanding the different costs you may encounter. Get familiar with these four types of expenses so you can avoid unnecessary charges.
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What you need to know before getting a home security system
There are some key factors to consider when comparing home security systems. They are:
- Equipment included
- Contracts and commitments
- Monthly monitoring fees
- And more.
A system that works with devices and equipment from other companies can expand the function of your home security system. You may not need more than the basic package right now if you’re renting, but what happens if you purchase a home and move one day? Having the option of adding other equipment could extend your current home security system’s usefulness, so you don’t have to buy a new one in the future.
Contracts and commitments
Look for a home security system with no long-term contracts. If you change your mind or move, you don’t want to deal with cancellation fees or penalties to get out of the commitment.
The equipment costs make up the bulk of your upfront charges. Depending on the system and the equipment you choose, the price can vary drastically. Some companies will advertise “new-customer equipment pricing”, where you can get up to $1,500 worth of “free” equipment upfront. It sounds like a great deal, but make sure to read the fine print on these types of offers because “free” is seldom accessible. Let’s zoom in on the fine print:
* 60-month monitoring agreement (48 months in AR, MI, WI, or CA total fees from $2,927.52) at minimum $60.99/month. Up to $199 activation fee may apply, homeownership, and satisfactory credit history required. …Taxes and permit fees may apply. Additional equipment may be added for a fee, and alternative packages are available.
Notice all the extra “fees” that may apply. Also, to qualify for this offer, you have to sign up for one of the more expensive monthly service plans at $60.99/month. The $1,500 of “free” equipment gets paid for in your monthly payment. The savings upfront is friendly, but “free” is still not free.
An activation fee is one of those hidden fees you don’t hear about until you’re already on the hook. Though this is a one-time charge, it can put some dents in your wallet. Activation fees range between $0 and $199, and it’s important to know that it is a separate charge from the installation fee.
Make sure not only to ask but READ the contract before you sign to see if there is an activation fee. Many customer complaints come from verbal agreements not being fulfilled because they are not found in the contract.
Some companies charge a separate installation fee to set up their equipment in your home. The truth is, professional installation isn’t unnecessary. Advances in security technology make it super easy to install your home security system yourself. We have assembled a list of providers who offer DIY security equipment so you can skip these fees:
- Link Interactive
- Protect America
- Nest Secure
Monitoring costs per month
This monthly charge is for the service of having your home monitored 24/7 by an external monitoring centre. This cost is based on the monitoring plan and equipment you chose during signup.
Most companies are pretty straightforward with their monitoring package pricing. Some companies, however, set a base monitoring price and adjust it (add to it) depending on the specific equipment you have monitored.
For instance, let’s say your base monitoring price is $42.99/month; if you add monitored security cameras to your system, it can tack on $15/month. Additional charges are added for each monitored smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector (generally around $2 per smoke and $6 per carbon monoxide detector). This brings your monthly monitoring cost to $65.99/month.
Make sure to READ the contract to see whether additional monthly costs apply to monitor the equipment you have selected before you sign up.
Check out Security Systems’ range of high-end security access control systems installation for your home or office protection needs.
Unmonitored Home Security System
These are not monitored by a security service. They are typically DIY installations that alert the homeowner to an event through a smartphone app. Since there is no monitoring, there is no monthly service fee.
The biggest drawback is that they aren’t monitored, requiring you to alert the authorities when a break-in or another event occurs. A monitored security system is typically recommended, but these are still better than no system at all.
Is that a deal?
Like most businesses, home security companies market their lowest possible prices. We want you to understand the pros and cons of specific deals. You might pay less upfront, but you could end up paying more in the long run.
How exactly are companies lowering their costs on expensive security equipment, and who is it benefiting, you or the company? Home security companies lower their system prices in a few different ways:
- Entry-level pricing. The advertised price generally represents the lowest service provided by the company. For example: promotes their lowest monthly package at $19.99/month. But the low cost comes with a significant catch. The Copper package is a LANDLINE based service. Not only are landline security systems easily compromised, but more and more people are also cutting their landlines altogether. A cellular monitoring system provides more security than a landline, and isn’t that the point? You should price your system for cellular monitoring, which can cost more but is worth the upgrade.
- Reducing the upfront costs for customers who sign a monthly monitoring contract. This is great for people who want an affordable home security option but can’t afford the high upfront costs of installation, activation, and equipment purchasing. The upfront costs are essentially spread out over the contract’s life, increasing your monthly payment slightly but saving you from paying these charges in a lump sum.
- You were offering DIY home alarm systems. By setting up and installing the system yourself, not only are you bypassing these upfront charges, but you’ll also usually pay a smaller monitoring fee, keeping your monthly payment lower.
What do I get for my money?
Every home security service is a bit different, but what they all have in common is that they provide peace of mind. For a complete cost breakdown of equipment and services,
Value over cost
So far, we have focused on the cost of a home security system, which can be calculated in simple dollars and cents, but other factors contribute to a system’s value. Often, spending a little bit more will get you a more excellent overall value. Here are some questions to keep in mind when considering the value of your home security system:
The functionality of the equipment—Does it work frequently or adequately break down? How well does it keep you safe? Look for features like geofencing, home automation, etc.
Amount of equipment you receive—Are you paying a lot for only a few sensors and cameras?
Customer service—How easy is the company to work with? Do they maintain your system?
Bells and whistles—What cool, cutting-edge technology are you getting with it?
What if I Want Smart Home Security?
Smart home security is all the rage these days because it brings convenience to the homeowner. Most intelligent home security systems use Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave or Zigbee technology to arm or disarm your alarm panel efficiently. They can also use this technology to give you the power to lock or unlock your front door from anywhere. Many families are also drawn to intelligent home security because it provides real-time alerts on their mobile phones or smart devices. This keeps them up to date on activities happening in and around their home.
Pricing for intelligent home security varies for each company. The level of smart home integration you want for your home also plays a significant role in pricing. Ask questions of your desired intelligent home security provider so that you know what you can expect to pay.
If you are looking for an exact price of how much it will cost you to have a home security system installed, you’ll need to speak with a qualified home security specialist. The size of your home, the type of system you want to be installed, and professional or DIY installation will all affect your overall cost.
Is a security system worth the cost?
Let’s look at some statistics:
- A burglary occurs approximately once every 15 seconds.
- The average loss per burglary in the United States is $2,230.
- Homes without security systems are 300% more likely to be burglarized.
- It’s estimated that only 72.4% of burglaries are reported to the police.
If you already know which company you’d prefer to use, make sure to dig through the different features each package provides. For some companies, the difference between having access to crucial home automation features can be as little as $5 per month.
Is professional monitoring worth it?
The value of your security system comes from the monitoring service. Although having a non-monitored system is better than nothing, we strongly recommend going with a monitored system.
With a professionally monitored security system, you are paying for someone to respond in an emergency. You want your home to be protected 24/7, but unfortunately, humans are not 24/7 creatures. We go to meetings. We go to the movies. We sleep. In other words, we can’t constantly check for system notifications.
If you miss an alert, it could spell disaster for your home. A monitored system covers you around the clock and alerts the authorities on your behalf if an alarm is triggered. Let the security company monitor your system for you to live your life knowing your home is safe.
Other common features
- Duress signals: You can enter a code into your system when you are under duress. This alerts the monitoring centre that you need immediate help but cannot be contacted (armed burglary in progress, etc.).
- Medical alert monitoring: Pendants are worn around the neck or wrist to signal a monitoring agent to dispatch an ambulance.
- Guidance: Monitoring agents are trained to offer advice in an emergency. Self-monitored systems can only notify you if a sensor is triggered.
- Emergency response plans: You can customise your emergency response plan, which allows you to choose to immediately notify authorities or contact a third party relative or individual.
Costs vary for additional services and devices. You may want to budget for the following add-ons:
- Smoke detector: $119 and up.
- Outdoor video camera: $229 to $399.
- Smart lock: $99 to $279.
- Glass break sensors: $35 to $56.
- Water leak sensors: $70 to $79.
Service calls/maintenance fees
If you don’t have a premium monitoring plan or additional equipment insurance, most companies will charge you $25 to $50 to look at what’s wrong.
GSM Chip Monitored Service
Most monitoring services now offer wireless monitoring over cellular networks through a GSM chip located in the central control panel for a similar price of $10 to $65 per month. Since the components cost more, wireless monitoring is often more expensive. Cellular systems have quickly become the dominant type in the market. They are easier to install – no searching for a landline plug. However, they can suffer from both signal interference and hacking.
Other Services and Fees
It’s worth repeating: read your contract in detail. Most security companies follow basic advertising principles, offering their least expensive package to grab buyers’ attention. But the basic setup may not be the best system for your home. You’ll need to look at the upgrades and add-ons and weigh the cost with safety. With additional equipment and services come higher fees – not always immediately visible.
Taxes and permits
You should expect to pay local and state taxes (sales or service) for your equipment and monitoring. The exact tax amount varies by location, so look for this line item on account statements to find out what you pay.
Do I need to pay for an alarm permit?
Much like taxes, alarm permits vary from place to place. For example don’t need a license, but residents pay $17 each year. The idea behind permits is to reduce false alarms that divert city resources.
Permit or not, you might be on the hook for fines if your security system causes too many false alarms. A false alarm fine typically ranges from $50 to $500 depending on the city and the number of instances in a calendar year.
A home security system can cost hundreds of pounds – but it could save you thousands in stolen items and emotional trauma. And thankfully, there are plenty of cheaper options to choose from when you’re making this crucial decision about your security.
You should now be fully prepared to protect your home and the people you love, giving you peace of mind – and making your life significantly better if you buy suitable intelligent devices for you.
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