How Much Does Home Security Cost?
When looking for a home security system, one the most common questions people wonder about is “how much does they cost?” The short answer is, “it depends.”
There are two main financial components of home security: purchase price and ongoing monitoring. Additionally, you should also factor in the cost of tech support and repairs, if they’re not included in the cost of your system. The final consideration is not financial, but rather emotional well being – the cost of peace of mind.
Now, let’s take an in-depth look the long answer of how much home security systems cost.
Monitored vs. Unmonitored Security Systems
There are only two types of home security models: monitored and unmonitored systems. When you think of a burglar alarm, you probably think first of monitored security – a company that guards your home via remote access to your alarm. But recent years have also seen the addition of unmonitored, or do-it-yourself (DIY) systems.
With a monitored security system, you pay a monthly fee ($25+) to an alarm company that provides 24/7 protection against not only break-ins, but also other dangers like smoke, fire, carbon monoxide, flood, and temperatures (like potentially dangerous cold that could freeze your pipes). They also feature special protections against crash and smash, as well as direct-response panic buttons, emergency response, and medical monitoring. Your security company monitors your home for unusual activity, such as an alarm that isn’t deactivated, and calls the police when required. This type of security system requires very little responsibility on your part.
An unmonitored system, on the other hand, is one you police yourself. The upside, of course, is that there is no monthly fee to a security company. However, there is also no alarm company to observe suspicious activity or notify the police of a break-in. Depending on how complex (read: expensive) your system is, it may not include additional protection against fire & smoke, floods, or carbon monoxide, meaning you’ll have to purchase these components separately, at additional cost.
Some of the pricier unmonitored systems can be integrated with your smartphone or accessed online, so you can monitor them when you’re away from home.
However, if you’re on a budget, there are some very reasonably priced systems you can purchase and install yourself.
Cost Winner: The overall cost winner here between monitored and unmonitored is the unmonitored systems.
Wired vs. Wireless Home Security
One of the first decisions you’ll make about home security is whether to install a wired or wireless system.
When you think of an alarm system, you probably think of wired security, with its maze of sensors and cables hardwired into your home’s walls, windows and door frames. Wired systems are usually more expensive than wireless alarms, as they require professional installation ($99+), pricier components, and permanent modifications to your home. Additionally, wired security is more expensive to upgrade, since you’ll need to have the professionals visit again to uninstall old technology and install new components.
From a cost standpoint, wireless home security systems beat wired security hands down. Bargain-basement systems start around $20, although the best wireless burglar alarms can easily run $500+ after you’ve purchased desired add-ons. The real savings of wireless comes with installation – you can do it yourself (DIY) – and upgrades, which are as inexpensive as buying a new component and swapping it for the old. Be aware, however, that wireless systems have range limitations and, unless they are integrated with expensive technologies, may be easier to disarm than their hardwired counterparts.
There are a range of very affordable wireless systems that you can easily install yourself for big cost savings.
Cost Winner: When it comes to affordability, wireless systems are the hands down choice for price-conscious home owners.
Installation Costs of Home Security Systems
The most obvious factor of security system installation costs is whether you’ll DIY or hire a professional. The initial install costs of a hardwired system generally run higher than a wireless system. Unless you’re seriously handy, you’ll need to hire a professional ($200+) with knowledge of electrical wiring and alarm systems to help you install your alarm properly. A DIY wireless system is relatively simple to install yourself, provided you’re willing to read the manual and invest a few hours of your time.
One of the highest rated DIY home security systems on the market now, is the Simplisafe2 Wireless Home Security System.
Note: If you’ve chosen a monitored system, you’ll catch a price break on its installation. Established companies provide installation service for as little as $99, which includes not only the cost of installation but also all system components. This can amount to major savings on your initial investment.
Cost Winner: DIY or Monitored Security Systems
Security experts recommend that you employ back-up security measures at all times. This may include keyless entry systems, video surveillance systems, motion sensor alarms, and other security add-ons. With a monitored system, these additions generally run just a few dollars a month, while unmonitored systems require an investment of $30+ for each additional component.
One popular product that provides great added protection to your home outside of your standard wireless security alarm system is the Skylink Long Range Motion Alert Kit, which is not only incredibly useful but affordable at less than $30.
Cost Winner: Monitored Alarm Systems
Home Security Contracts
When you choose a monitored security system, you will be required to sign a long-term contract/lease with your alarm company. With an unmonitored system, you don’t sign any agreements for long-term protection or equipment rental.
Fortunately, many leading security companies including SimpliSafe and Fortress Security provide unmonitored, no contract options that DIY homeowners can enjoy for their homes without sacrificing any of the most important security features.
Cost Winner: DIY Alarms
Repairs, Tech Support & Warranties
Home security is a long-term commitment to protecting your family, and that means that at some point, a component will break, wear out, or become outdated. Just like you budget for home repairs and car maintenance, so should you take into account the ongoing upkeep and repair costs of your home security system.
When you purchase an unmonitored or DIY alarm, you’re 100% responsible for maintenance, repairs and replacement costs. With a monitored system, however, you generally lease your security equipment. Therefore, many companies warranty your equipment and provide free or reduced-cost technical support, repairs and even equipment replacement. Over the lifetime of your system, you can save significantly with leased equipment on repair and replacement costs.
One of the newest, best-selling, and comprehensive monitored alarm systems on the market include the Funlux 8 Channel Surveillance Camera Kit CCTV Security Camera System, which not only boasts the latest in smartphone technology and memory capacity, but is also beautifully designed to fit into any home.
Savings on Home Insurance
According to the Electronic Security Association (ESA), a monitored home alarm system can net you serious discounts – up to 20% – on your home insurance premiums. In fact, most home insurance companies offer discounts, and while these savings aren’t enough to pay for your system in full, they can significantly defray your installation and monthly costs.
The best way to determine your savings is by calling your home insurance company. Note that an unmonitored, DIY system does not qualify for insurance savings; instead, your alarm company will be required to provide proof of 24/7 monitoring in order to get you an insurance discount.
A popular security system that covers all of the basic security features that most current homeowners look for (ease of setup, night vision, smartphone / Internet viewing access, etc.) that is affordable to boot is the Zmodo PKD-DK4216-500GB 4-Channel Surveillance System. At less than $200, this is a great entry-level system that has all the bells and whistles of more advanced systems.
Cost Winner: Monitored Alarm Systems
Peace of Mind
It’s impossible to put a price on peace of mind, so this element of the decision-making process will influence everyone differently.
DIY systems and unmonitored security offer significant peace of mind – far more than no security at all. These systems sound the alarm if someone breaks through your front door or smashes a window. They can call you via cell phone signal if your alarm has been activated. Some are even accessible via online portals or your smartphone.
Nevertheless, monitored security systems are the indisputable winner of this category. A monitored alarm does everything a DIY system does, and more. In addition to protecting your doors, your windows, your basement – your entire home – a monitored system is just that: monitored. You have a direct connection to a company whose only job is to protect you, your family and your home. Suspicious activity leads to calling the police or the fire company or other emergency officials. Two-way intercoms can provide emergency medical services. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring extends your protection. With monitored security, extra eyes are always looking out for you and your loved ones.
A final security system recommendation that we would hate to leave out is the GE Personal Alarm Kit, which is the least expensive and in some ways most basic security systems that we’ve recommended, but is highly rated and incredibly effective against unwanted intruders.
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