How Much Does Home Security Cost? What You’re Really Paying For, Explained
Break-ins, catastrophic fires, and home emergencies are events that nobody wants to think about until it’s too late. A good home security system can make those events less likely, and new customization options may mean that peace of mind is more affordable than you expect.
- Typical Range: $284 to $1,089
- National Average: $687
Your home is your sanctuary. Unfortunately, a burglary occurs at a residence in the United States every 13 seconds—that’s 4 per minute and nearly 6,000 per day. Once there’s been an intrusion or a destructive fire in that sanctuary, it can take a long time to feel safe there again. There are a number of steps that renters and homeowners can take to protect their property, such as upgrading door and window security, keeping doors locked, clearing landscape, and lighting up the outdoors, along with keeping smoke and carbon monoxide detectors fitted with new batteries. While those preventative and alert measures are helpful, they won’t do much to protect the property once a determined burglar decides to break in, however. That’s where a good security system comes in: Able to monitor the home for the first signs of an intrusion, provide loud alarm warnings, notify the residents and the police of the crime in progress, and potentially even help identify the criminals, a security system can offer both protection and peace of mind. However, such a system can be a significant investment—home alarm systems with monitoring may require professional installation and equipment and a monthly or annual monitoring fee. These costs can vary depending on region and the level of monitoring and features you choose. The contracts for home security systems can be filled with small print and hidden fees, so knowing your options and what questions to ask can help you build a realistic budget and make the choices that will keep you and your family safe. Whichever level of protection you choose, experts agree: the best home security systems are worth the investment.
Factors in Calculating Home Security Cost
A security system isn’t a one-and-done cost; there are several factors that will be a part of all installations, and others where cost will be determined by your choices, allowing you to control the budget a bit more.
Installation is the labor cost of physically placing security devices and connecting them to the central nerve hub of the system. A basic system installation runs about $300, but more complex systems can cost between $800 and $1,600 for installation, depending on the size and complexity of the system and the layout of your home. More wiring and units will increase the cost of the installation, especially if it’s necessary to cut into walls and ceilings. For this reason, hardwired systems usually cost a bit more at installation than wireless systems. Some monitoring companies send the consumer a package with materials and instructions to install the equipment themselves, saving on installation costs.
A basic home security package will include a central control panel, sensors for windows and doors, motion detectors, a siren, and often a remote keychain fob to activate or deactivate the system when you’re not at the panel. Some companies include the equipment for free if you purchase their monitoring service—but be sure to check and make sure you’re not paying an exorbitant monthly monitoring fee in exchange. The basic equipment set will cost approximately $600. This may be more than the advertised prices: the “startup price” offered by many companies often includes fewer sensors or cameras than you’ll actually need, so be careful about budgeting based on the listed startup price and get a complete estimate instead. The extra sensors required in a large home or a home with extra levels can tack on extra cost, as can additional remotes and motion sensor locations. Add-ons such as glass break sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and cameras can add small or significant cost depending on what you choose. It’s important to see what your contract covers and ask that additional equipment be itemized so you know what you’re getting.
Some security systems are simply sensors connected to an alarm. Monitored systems have a security company “listening” to your system’s sensors at all times, ready to take action if there’s a problem. If you choose a monitored system, you’ll need to know which type of monitoring the security company provides. Landline monitoring has been the standard for years, and it sends the security company information through the existing telephone landlines, generally adding $15 to $30 per month to the security bill. However, as more and more people “cut the cord” and rely on cellular services, GSM chip monitoring through cellular networks has become the default option, costing a bit more at up to $65 per month due to the more expensive equipment that is required. If you have a landline, make sure you inquire as to which type of monitoring will be used—it could save you some money on your monthly bill.
Monitored systems often require an activation fee to cover the costs of connecting your home to the monitoring system. These fees can run up to $200. You’ll need to do your math carefully; often companies advertising “no activation fee” appear to be saving you money, but will tack on extra charges on the monthly bill or charge higher monitoring fees overall, so choosing a company based solely on the absence of an activation fee could end up costing you more in the long run.
Monitoring plans come in a variety of levels. Self-monitoring systems essentially allow the user to connect to the system with a smartphone and store video from monitoring cameras in a cloud system for a short amount of time. Basic professional monitoring includes 24/7 monitoring of the door and window sensors and notification of local authorities in the event of an alert. More elaborate monitoring may include observation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms, and water leak sensors. Some plans also monitor for medical emergencies. These features will add to the monthly cost. Finally, higher-level plans may include live video monitoring and home automation capability, which will raise the monthly charges significantly. Talk to your preferred provider about options, and choose the best home security system that meets your needs: If you’re concerned about home security cost, remember there’s no reason to pay for features you can’t or won’t use and tailor your plan level accordingly.
Maintenance costs on a home security system shouldn’t be a major cost for the most part. You’ll need to replace the batteries in the fobs and backups in the panels from time to time—lithium-ion batteries are long lasting, but they can be pricey, so this cost will depend on how many you have. While hardwired systems require less maintenance overall, wireless systems will require a bit more of a maintenance time commitment, as the user may occasionally need to update the software that supports the system. The only significant charges for maintenance can come if the system breaks down or is damaged and requires a service visit. Some companies include service calls in their contracts, while others will cover the visits for a year or two and then charge for them after that warranty period. Check your contract for specifics on this policy before you sign.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Once your security system is installed, there are still several additional costs to incorporate into your budget. From patching up the walls to adding features that enhance the effectiveness and convenience of the system, these are other options beyond the basic installation to think about.
If you’ve been considering adding smart features to your home but have been overwhelmed by the prospect of figuring it out yourself, a home security system installation might be the ideal time to think about it. Smart lighting and door locks are often included in higher-tier packages, but these may be available as an add-on to lower-priced packages as well and will allow you to turn lights on and off and lock or unlock doors with a smartphone app (or a phone call to your provider), adjust your thermostats, and coordinate with digital home assistants. These systems can also be set up to notify you through your phone in case of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm or water leak. The security company handles the setup—all you have to do is log on. Installation of smart-home automation can cost between $700 and $5,000 to install, depending on how many automation points you select. Adding these features a la carte to an existing plan can add between $15 and $100 apiece to your monthly fee, depending on complexity and the base package you’ve already selected.
Wired vs. Wireless Home Security
Wired home security costs less to install, but it may require digging into your walls—panels and sensors must be connected to each other using wires run through walls and behind trim, requiring careful placement and additional materials. Even then, some wires may still be visible snaking along your windowsills. Some wired systems can use wireless components in areas where wiring is difficult, and most of these systems can be reverted to unmonitored security systems that can dial 911. Wired systems are generally much harder for even the tech-savvy to hack into.
Wireless systems don’t require the same level of finesse in their installation, but they’ll cost more in monthly fees as a result of the more costly equipment necessary to monitor the system. Technology upgrades may mean more frequent replacement and maintenance of the wireless components. And wireless systems can be vulnerable to hardware failure, hacking, and poor cell reception. They require battery backup to run during a power outage. On the upside, wireless systems easily connect with home automation systems and offer control panels that can be accessed from a smartphone or a website, and they permit easy reassignment of sensors and cameras without rerouting wires around the home.
This choice may not be yours to make; if you no longer have a landline running to your home, wireless will be the only option. If you do have a landline, your provider may offer you the option, and you’ll need to consider the pros and cons of each style.
Cutting into the walls to conceal the wires and junction boxes necessary for a wired system will inevitably mean some repair is necessary. Drywall repairs can cost between $75 and $350, and you’ll need to prime and paint the repair to match your existing decor as well.
Upgraded Equipment: Sirens, Motion Sensors, and More
Adding on to the basic security package will obviously add costs. How much you want to upgrade—and which components you choose—will determine your final equipment costs. Not all of these upgrades are necessary or relevant to your home security system, but some of them might add just the right additional peace of mind. Motion sensors can add $20 to $200 apiece depending on the location and type of sensor, while floodlights to illuminate whatever is moving add $25 to $275. Adding door and window alarm sensors beyond those included in your package can result in an additional $25 to $300 charge. While most, if not all monitored systems include a silent alarm that notifies the monitoring company, you may want to consider adding an audible siren to your system to scare off an intruder immediately, which will cost between $25 and $200. Many residents like the idea of a panic button they can use to summon help in a medical emergency, which can add $20 to $40. Finally, some residents want a single central control panel that allows them to adjust and maintain their system—an addition of $50 to $400, depending on the complexity of the panel and system.
Emergency Response Plan
What will happen if your home security company senses an emergency or intrusion? All monitored plans include the notification of first responders, but many plans offer some customization of the response plan for an additional fee. Would you like the company to text you to confirm that you have not accidentally triggered the system yourself before calling authorities? That can be added to the plan. If you’d like the company to form different action plans based on what the alert is—for example, to call or text you about a water leak or carbon monoxide level before or instead of calling authorities, that provision can be built into your plan. Customized response plans, which are more likely to be available with higher-tier monthly packages, can cost an extra $30 to $300.
Weary of constantly responding to false alarms, many communities require a permit and fee before installing a home security system. The permit gives the local government the right to inspect the installation of the system and be certain it meets their criteria, and will usually mean that in the case of a false alarm you won’t be charged. Without a permit in an area that requires them, you can be assessed a hefty fine for false alarms that require police or fire departments to respond.
Home Security Cost by Month For Popular Providers
There are hundreds, even thousands of home security professionals spread across the country. In some markets, using a local company may get you a better deal, but there’s a certain comfort in hiring a large company that has a smooth and efficient setup already in place with years of experience. To offer a general idea of how much costs can vary among the larger providers, both for professionally installed and monitored and DIY setups, here’s a brief comparison of services and costs among some of the most familiar. Prices are subject to change, as these services can offer discounts and promotions that reduce the initial cost.
SimpliSafe Monthly Cost
While SimpliSafe charges a relatively high startup fee of $229 or higher, depending on the package, the monthly monitoring fees are lower than many companies, starting at $14.99 for a self-monitor plan with an audible alarm or $24.99 for a plan with smart integration and professional monitoring. SimpliSafe does not have contract length requirements and therefore no termination fees. Homeowners can expect to install the equipment themselves. View SimpliSafe systems, products, and packages.
Vivint offers full-spectrum protection, including vehicle and garage door coverage along with full automation and compatibility with third-party equipment. The equipment costs are higher than some companies charge, starting at $599, but they offer 42- and 60-month financing with no required upfront charge. Monthly fees begin at $29.99, and there is no contract term lock. The installation is professionally done, including setup and compatibility checks with your home Wi-Fi and any third-party systems already in place. Check out Vivint products.
Deep Sentinel Cost
Deep Sentinel takes a different approach to home security: Users purchase a kit that includes a hub, mounting hardware, a yard sign, and self-installed cameras, then download an app. The cameras will notify the app when someone approaches the home or door—but they will also notify live attendants standing by in the Deep Sentinel call center. Two-way voice transmission allows the guard monitoring the system to interact with suspicious persons, telling potential thieves that they are on video and that the police are on the way, and allowing the guards to provide information that proves they can see the person. Kits are available with one camera ($399), three cameras ($699), or six cameras ($1,149) or a build-your-own combination. Monitoring is a comparably steep $60 per month for the one-camera kit, $100 per month for the three-camera kit, and $160 for the six-camera kit. The monitoring charges are higher than other companies, but the higher rate covers the personal attention to your cameras provided by human monitors or “guards” instead of AI, along with their guarantee of a 30-second response to attempted robbery or burglary of home or car, violent behavior, package theft, and suspicious behavior, and a response within 60 seconds to people standing at doors, customer requests to test the system or to confirm package delivery, or people on the property who are nonthreatening. Try Deep Sentinel risk-free for 30 days.
Frontpoint Security Cost
Offering five different packages ranging from $319 to $599, Frontpoint offers a wide range of DIY-installed equipment and nearly limitless a la carte add-ons, priced individually to allow users to build a fully custom system. Monthly fees begin at $44 for a simple monitoring service and range to $49 for live video streaming and home automation. Shop Frontpoint products.
Xfinity Home Security Cost
Xfinity offers their Home Security and Home Security Plus plans for $30 and $40 per month, respectively. A professional will install your equipment, with costs starting at $360. There is no contract (unless you are adding the plan to an existing Xfinity subscription, in which case the costs will be discounted by bundling your home security system with your phone, cable, and internet, but you may be locked into a contract period). The equipment includes a lifetime warranty (with the exception of cameras) and is proprietary and difficult to hack. It can be integrated with multiple digital home assistant systems for true home automation.
Eufy Security Camera Cost
Designed to be a fully self-monitoring system, Eufy is a self-installed set of equipment with no monthly fees. Users purchase the cameras and sensors they need from Eufy’s online store, download a free app, and connect the devices to the app for complete control over the system. Eufy’s equipment options include a range of battery-powered and solar-powered interior and exterior cameras in the $200 to $400 range, video doorbells, smart floodlights, smart locks, and a bundled alarm system with two entry sensors, a motion sensor, a keypad, and a hub that works with all Eufy accessories for $159 (note that additional sensors are $19 or $29, depending on what kind, so determine how many windows and doors you’ll need to buy extras for when totaling the equipment cost). Recently Eufy has added an option to subscribe to their professional monitoring program: The Plus Plan costs $9.99 per month or $99 per year, and it includes Tap to Dispatch (a panic button through the app), 24-hour Monitoring and Dispatch, and Custom Monitoring Settings. Thus the system has multiple options and gives users the freedom to decide if they prefer a fully developed self-monitoring system or a professionally monitored system and the ability to switch back and forth as they choose. View Eufy products and plans.
Scout Alarm Monthly Cost
Scout is a fully wireless, DIY installation, customizable alarm system. Customers choose a Hub that plugs into a router. The Hub costs $120 with no long-term contract and includes smart-home integration, self-monitoring or an optional 24/7 police dispatch system, and a 105-decibel siren to deter intruders. Sensors are purchased separately and are priced by item, including door and window sensors, glass break sensors, water sensors, cameras, locks, panic buttons, and chemical sensors, ranging from $5 to $250 each. Packs are available that provide significant savings. The self-monitoring plan, Always On, costs $9.99 per month, while the Always On Plus plan provides 24/7 professional monitoring for $19.99 per month. Build your own Scout Alarm system.
Link Interactive Cost
Standard, Gold, and Elite plans simplify Link’s offerings. All three plans provide professional monitoring on a cellular system and two-way voice to monitor keypads for immediate response in an emergency. The Gold plan adds home automation, and the Elite plan includes HD video monitoring and analytics. The plans price out at $30.99 per month for the Standard, $39.99 per month for the Gold, and $44.99 for the Elite plan. Installation is DIY (but simple), and payment for the equipment, which varies based on the number of sensors you need, can be spread over 12 to 46 months. If you pay for the equipment upfront, there is no contract lock; but if you’ve financed, you’re under contract until you’ve completed payment. Find the Link Interactive plan that’s right for you.
Ring Security System Cost
Ring starts at $199 for a package of DIY-installation equipment and monitoring that starts at $3 per month. Professional installation is available for an additional fee, and financing for equipment can be spread over 3-, 6-, or 12-month periods. Self-monitoring is available via a smartphone app. Notably, Ring is owned by Amazon, so home automation options are available through integration with Alexa. Protect your home with Ring Security.
Canary Security Monthly Cost
Canary is a camera-based system with three different camera monitoring options: the View ($99), the Flex ($199), and the Pro ($169). All feature HD quality and night vision, while the Pro adds a built-in siren and monitoring of the area around the camera. The View and Pro are indoor cameras, while Flex can be used indoors or outdoors. Their single cloud monitoring service costs $9.99 per month or $99 for the year. This provides 30 days of video history, two-way conversation with the monitor, video downloads, and an alarm button. The free Basic plan is a leaner package without two-way talk or custom modes, and only one day of video history. The system is installed by the customer, but 24-hour phone support is provided to assist. The Canary system integrates with all digital home assistant platforms for a smart-home experience and voice commands. View Canary Security products and services.
Cove Security Cost
Instead of selling customers on base packages and piecemeal additions, Cove takes a different approach: A short questionnaire about your residence and needs lands customers on a recommendation page with the recommended products, individual prices, and explanations of what’s necessary and what’s optional. The equipment costs start at $229 and up, depending on what you choose, and monthly fees begin at $14.99 and range up to $25 per month, depending on how long you’d like video monitoring stored and whether you want the system integrated with digital home assistants. The equipment is often discounted, so it’s worth checking periodically for sales. Find the Cove solution that’s right for you.
Brinks Home Security Monthly Cost
Brinks offers customers a choice: You can have the equipment professionally installed for a fee, or the company will send you a box of equipment with instructions to install yourself. Their base cost is $199 for setup of the wireless system, and then a $39 monthly fee to monitor, with higher costs for some upgraded services. This is based on a 3-year contract for services, which may incur a cancellation fee if you exit early.
ADT Home Security Cost
ADT’s equipment is professionally installed; while there’s no startup cost, the $28.99 and up monthly cost is contingent on a 36-month contract with steep fees for early termination to recoup the cost of the installation and equipment. That said, the range of the monthly charge slides based on the equipment that their installer recommends and the customer chooses based on Secure, Smart, and Complete monitoring plans. Many customization options allow you to build exactly the package you want. View ADT products and services.
Abode Home Security Cost
Abode provides an Essentials Starter Kit-Basic for $229 that includes a range of equipment including a loud outdoor siren and a strobe light. A recommended wireless keypad adds $99 to the equipment cost. These are paired with a free self-monitoring plan, a $6 per month Standard Plan for cell phone backup, or a Pro Plan for $19.80 per month for 30 days of media storage. There is no contract, but Abode offers flexible plans for professional monitoring, including 3- and 7-day periods for when you’re out of town. It’s designed to work with most third-party equipment as well, allowing the homeowner to put together the system they want and run it all through one service.
Do I Need a Home Security System?
Home alarm systems can give you peace of mind—feeling like someone has your back and can get assistance to you and your home more quickly than you can yourself goes a long way to helping you feel secure in your home. Even in low-crime areas, the extra layer of security can feel good. There are other concrete reasons to consider installing a security system, both personal and financial.
Far more important than any possessions, the safety and security of the family living inside a home warrants the best protection possible. A home security system can help monitor elderly family members who live alone for prompt response to medical emergencies, or allow parents to leave older children home without worrying that they’ll forget to lock the door. The consistent monitoring means you won’t have to worry about waking to a fully involved fire or home invasion with no warning.
Burglars want a quick, easy run in and out of your home with enough time to grab valuables, cash, and electronics. Alarm systems provide signage that tells criminals that the residence isn’t an unprotected target and may deter them, and if they do choose to break in, gives an audible reason for the intruder to leave as quickly as possible, protecting the property that you’ve worked hard to own.
Increased Home Value
Many home buyers who are about to spend their life’s savings on a new home will see the existence of a modern security system as an added bonus, knowing they won’t have to scrape up the extra money to install one to protect their new investment, and may pay more for a home that is already protected. In the event that a buyer doesn’t want to use the system, you can deactivate it after the sale and leave them the option of reactivating it if they choose.
Remote Access and Monitoring
How far are you usually into a road trip when you start to wonder if you closed the garage door? Did you lock the front door after you ran back in for your sweater? What if you forgot to turn off the coffeepot and there’s a fire? Remote access to your system via a smartphone app or program can prevent you from worrying away your vacation or having to make embarrassing phone calls to neighbors to ask them to check. Remote access to cameras on your system can let you know when packages have arrived on your doorstep. For residents who travel frequently, just keeping an eye on their home from afar—and knowing that the system is as well—can make travel less stressful, and lets them turn the lights on before they return to their secure home.
Lower Home Insurance
Homeowners and renters insurance companies don’t want to pay out for a forced-entry burglary. If your home is broken into, they’ll have to cover lost valuables, door and window replacement, damages inside, and potentially cleanup costs. Therefore, many insurance providers offer financial incentives on your policy rates if a security system is in place, often ramping up the savings for more elaborate security plans. You may save as much as 20 percent on your premiums.
Home Security Cost: DIY Home Security vs. Installing a Home Security System
With the advent of commercially available security doorbells and cameras, it’s reasonable to question whether you really need a professionally installed home security system. For some people, a camera that connects to their smartphone may be sufficient. But that means the residents are on call for every emergency—the smartphone won’t be able to call the police or fire department without input from the owner. It is possible to install a DIY wired alarm system with a siren, but again, help can only arrive if someone manually calls for it. Systems that include monitoring, whether they include installation or send you a package with instructions to mount your own devices, offer more complete protection, raise a home’s value, and save money on insurance costs, so if the cost is what’s standing in the way of installing a monitored system, it’s worth a call to get estimates for installation and monitoring from several providers. You may find that the outlay isn’t as much as you thought it might be and that the peace of mind is worth the expense.
How to Save Money on Home Security
Investing in a home security system isn’t low-cost, but the benefits often outweigh the costs. That said, there are a number of ways you can reduce the total expense of the installation and monitoring.
- Consider placing monitors only on doors and windows that are likely to be accessed; less equipment means lower cost. If all of your second floor windows would require a tall ladder to reach, it’s not unreasonable to skip placing sensors there.
- It’s generally advised to add monitoring to your package. While it may seem like a good idea to skip it to save money, a monitored service can respond more quickly and effectively to any threats and will cost much less in the long run than the price of recovering after a fire or break-in.
- If monitoring is absolutely outside your budget, make sure the system you’ve chosen has ample notification systems so that you can stay on top of what’s going on at home wherever you are.
- Conversely, read your contract carefully and don’t purchase upgrades that you don’t need. If you only want to have one light on a timer, don’t upgrade to the smart-home monitoring package—just buy a timer. Think about what you’ll really need to feel safe, and pay only for the package that you require.
Questions to Ask About Home Security Cost
Like any professionals, home security companies should be carefully vetted before you hire one, and you should plan to seek more than one consultation before choosing. In order to feel secure, you’re offering this company quite a lot of information and access to personal space, so it’s extra-important that you are comfortable with the company, its policies, and its employees. Some questions you’ll need answers to include:
- Do you belong to a recognized security association?
- How long have you been in business? Are you licensed?
- I’m giving you access to monitor my home. What measures have you taken to protect my safety from bad actors within your company?
- What is your response time?
- What kind of warranty do you provide for equipment and service lapses?
- If I move and need to transfer service, is there a fee involved?
- What kind of early termination fees do you charge? Are there exemptions to the fees, such as sale of the property?
With so many options flooding the market and so many decisions to make, choosing a home security system can seem like an insurmountable pile of options. These are some basic questions that consumers new to home security often ask and their answers to get you started.
Q. What does a home security system do?
Home security systems can be basic alarms that set off a siren if someone opens or breaks a door or window, or they can be a sophisticated system integrated into your home that provides control over lights, locks, and temperature and calls the correct authorities on your behalf in any emergency. Most people choose something in between these two extremes. A home security system’s job is to deter criminals, notify you or the authorities should a break-in occur, and in some systems, monitor for other activity, including disasters and medical emergencies. Their goal is to protect you and your family from threats and offer peace of mind.
Q. Do all security cameras recognize faces?
No. In fact, almost none of them do without extensive training, and most currently available models aren’t equipped to do that. On some very high-tier packages, you may receive a camera that you can “introduce” to your relatives and the home’s residents, so instead of getting an alert that someone tried to break in through the back door, you’ll be alerted that a family member got frustrated that their key wouldn’t work and angrily shook the door handle. For the most part, though, this technology just hasn’t caught up yet to the home security industry in a way that is useful and affordable to install.
Q. What is the annual maintenance fee for home security?
Most packages do not include a maintenance fee. Rather, the companies will build basic maintenance into their premiums, which is why it’s important to check your contract and see what’s included. Basic maintenance will include replacing batteries in sensors from time to time (A DIY job, costing around $10 per year) and occasional software upgrades for wireless systems. In the event that your system fails or is damaged, your contract will tell you what the period is during which repairs are free and, after that time has passed, how much you can expect a service call to cost. If this information is not in your contract, ask for it to be included before you sign.