Getting a home security system is a big step toward keeping your home secure and your family safe. After all, one study done by the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at UNC Charlotte suggests that most burglars find out whether a home has an alarm before targeting it, and that at least half of them will change their plans if they discover one.
When you’re beginning to research home security systems, one of the biggest questions you have is probably How much is all this going to cost me?
In the U.S., average security system installation cost is $699, according to HomeAdvisor. Equipment can range from $320 to $1,120. (Yep, that’s a big difference!) Then there’ll be other extras and smart home features you might want, plus monthly monitoring fees, which can vary by company. In other words, our Security Nerds can’t tell you exactly how much a home security system will cost you. But they can tell you which factors could increase your costs and which could save you some cash.
Here’s a breakdown of what to consider when choosing a home security system that fits your budget.
You’ll need to purchase home security equipment
- Many security companies will come with a basic package that will include something like:
- Control panel (a.k.a. keypad)
- Alarm unit (if not contained in the control panel)
- Door and window sensors
- Motion detector
- Key fob
- Yard sign and/or window decals
This basic equipment package could cost around $600, depending on the security company you choose. You may need to add on to the package though, if you have a lot of ground floor windows that need sensors ($15 to $60 each) and/or you have additional areas that should have a motion detector ($30 to $50 each), for example.
If you just moved into a home that already has a security system installed, you may not need to pay for basic equipment, but you may choose a few add-ons.
You may decide to get upgrades or additional features
Now, think about what features you’d want beyond the basic package. These may include additional security functions, as well as smart home features. Here’s an idea of what you might pay for all of these optional add-ons:
- Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: $30 to $50 each
- Glass break sensor: $70
- Extra key fob: $24
- Outdoor camera: $300
- Doorbell camera: $250
- Smart door locks: $180 each
- Smart thermostat $170 each
Once you get an idea of what upgrades are available to you and you indicate which ones you might want with your security system, the home security company can give you a custom quote for all your equipment.
Unless you DIY it, you’ll need to pay for security system installation
Some home security system installations can be DIY—meaning you can handle it yourself and at no cost to you, so long as the DIY kit comes with everything you need to get the job done.
Other systems require professional installation. In that case, security system installation cost can be around $100 to $600.
Make sure you ask about activation fees and hidden costs
You don’t want to be blindsided by an additional cost you didn’t factor into your budget. So ask your potential security company about activation fees. Some have them and some don’t. They can be up to $200, so make sure you cover your bases. There may be other hidden fees as well. Read your contract carefully before signing so you understand all the terms you’re agreeing to.
Monitoring: Is it worth the money?
When people think of home security systems, they usually envision the professionally monitored kind. With monitoring, a security service is alerted when the alarm is set off—whether it’s a door sensor that’s triggered or an add-on such as a smoke detector or glass break sensor—and they can automatically alert emergency services for you. Professional monitoring can run between $10 and $65 per month—in the higher end of this spectrum are security systems that include video surveillance. For many homeowners, monitoring is worth its price tag in peace of mind.
However, some people choose not to pay for monitoring services. This is possible if you’ve done a DIY install and would prefer to just get security and smart home alerts on your smartphone. You would have to do any communication with the fire or police departments yourself in case of emergency. However, you would have no monthly monitoring costs.
So, how much will you spend?
While the average cost is $699, we can’t tell you exactly how much you will spend on your security system, because it depends on the company you choose, how much equipment you need, whether or not you install it yourself or have it professionally installed and if you choose any upgraded features. Spend some time figuring out exactly what you need for your home and how much you want to go DIY vs. professional and then come up with a general budget around how much you are willing to spend per month on your home security system.
Just because the total cost of a home security system is fairly high doesn’t mean you can’t afford it. Often, the equipment, activation and installation costs can be rolled into your monthly payment, so you can put little to no money down and then pay those balances off over the term of your contract, which is commonly around 36 months. These all factor into the total cost of your security system.
Also, check with your homeowner’s insurance company. You maybe able to save up to 20% off your policy if you have a monitored home security system, which may help you recoup some of the costs.
When you get a home security system estimate, it should be clear what your monthly payment will be, and you can decide from there what company and features fit your budget and offer the safety and convenience you want from a home security system.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.