Purchasing a home security system sounds expensive, but is it really? The right home security system will depend on the size of your home, as well as your wants, needs, and budget. For smaller spaces with less equipment, you can secure your home for a couple hundred dollars and $10 or less per month in ongoing fees, whereas a more extensive home security system could cost up to a thousand dollars or more. Read on to find out what to consider when purchasing a home security system, including the cost of equipment, monthly monitoring fees, and tips to save some cash along the way.
What to consider before buying
The main factors in figuring costs include deciding on a couple of key points:
- How much equipment you need: Think about how many doors and windows are on your main floor, plus any parts of your home that specifically need to be monitored (like a backyard, garage, or front porch). The bigger the home, the more equipment you’ll need.
- What types of equipment to purchase: You have options for how to monitor the various parts of your home. For example, instead of putting a window sensor on every window in a room, maybe a motion sensor for the whole room would make more sense.
- Whether to monitor your system yourself (DIY monitoring) or pay for professional monitoring: There are advantages to both types of monitoring, so take into account your preferences, budget, and availability to respond to an emergency.
- Whether to install the system yourself or pay for professional installation: Are you comfortable with potentially complicated installations? If not, you’ll want to plan on paying for someone else to do the installation, or specifically look for equipment that’s meant to be self-installed.
- Any extras or add-on features, like video cloud storage or home automation devices: If being able to access past video footage is a priority for you, or if you are excited to control your security system through a smart speaker, plan on paying a bit more to add those devices and features to your system.
All of these factors will play a part in determining your overall home security costs as you consider what your goals are for securing your home. The best home security system is one that meets your needs and fits in your budget, so take time to consider the big picture and figure out what you actually want before you start shopping.
What to plan for
Once you have an idea of what you want and need, you can dig into the specifics. There are two main costs associated with a home security system: the equipment cost and the monthly monitoring cost. Both vary widely from company to company, so we checked with more than a dozen of the most popular and highly ranked home security system companies (with both professional monitoring and DIY monitoring) and here’s what we found.
The price for individual pieces of security equipment varies depending on what it is and which company you are using. For example, a motion detector may cost anywhere from $9 (Wyze) to $55 (Link Interactive). Camera prices change based on whether they can be used indoors (less expensive) or outdoors (more expensive) or both. And some companies offer systems built around a hub or touchscreen, which adds to the total cost of equipment.
Here is a quick look at general ranges for equipment pricing:
- Security system hub or touchscreen panel: $30–$400
- Door/window sensors: $15–$40
- Motion detectors: $9–$55
- Glass break sensors: $30–$70
- Indoor camera: $30–$120
- Outdoor camera: $140–$300
- Video doorbell: $50–$200
- Smart door lock: $75–$205
Many home security companies offer packages or bundles of security equipment, which can give you a slight discount. On average, most of the basic security bundles cost between $200 and $300 and include three to five pieces of equipment; however, few of these basic packages include cameras or video doorbells, so you will almost certainly spend more if you want any kind of video monitoring.
If these numbers feel overwhelming, don’t despair! Most security companies have financing options available that allow you to pay for the equipment over time by adding an equipment fee to your monthly costs. Financing the security equipment this way usually requires a multi-year contract, so keep that in mind.
- For a small apartment with minimal equipment, your equipment could cost as little as $100 to $200.
- For larger homes with more extensive systems, or if you add in home automation devices, you could easily spend $500, $700, $1000, or more on equipment alone.
Monthly monitoring costs
Once you know what kind of security equipment you need, you have to decide whether to monitor it yourself for alerts, problems, or emergencies, or have a professional monitoring company keep tabs on your system for you.
DIY monitoring can be free, but more and more, security companies charge a small monthly fee for features like video storage, better quality alerts, or access to the company app. Monthly fees can cost between $1.99 and $10 per month. Anything more expensive tends to include professional monitoring (in addition to the upgraded features).
Professional monitoring costs vary quite a bit. On average, most companies charge between $20 and $40 per month for monitoring services, often with tiers or packages to choose from that go up in price as you add things like backup cellular service, home automation connection, video monitoring, or additional cloud storage. Some of the bigger companies, such as Frontpoint and ADT, start at $50 and go up as you add more services and features.
One thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are only a starting baseline; if you decide to pay for your security equipment over time, those payments will be added to your monthly amount.
- DIY monitoring can be free or it can cost up to $10 per month.
- Professional monitoring starts at $20 per month and goes up to $60 per month (or more) as you increase features and services.
A lot of companies make their equipment easy to self-install, but others require professional installation and setup. The installation fees vary depending on the types of equipment needing to be installed and, for some companies like Brinks Home, on your location and the local equipment dealer. Because of these factors, it’s difficult to nail down an exact amount, but plan on at least $99 or more for installation.
Some companies may also charge a one-time activation fee to connect your system to theirs. We found that $99 was pretty typical for this fee, so be sure to ask about it before you sign off on anything.
Home automation devices, such as smart door locks, smart thermostats, smart lights and plugs, garage controllers, and voice-control speakers, can be integrated into your home security system, but it’s generally considered something extra beyond basic home security. As such, you won’t find many home automation devices included in security equipment kits, and adding devices like these that require additional connectivity may even increase your monthly monitoring costs as well, depending on the company.
Discounts and promotions
Even after you’ve decided on what kinds of security equipment you need and what kind of monitoring you want, it’s tricky to guess exactly how much it will cost because the majority of home security companies have deals or promotions on equipment and/or monitoring. Sometimes it’s free equipment when you sign up with a monitoring contract; sometimes it’s a temporary website-wide sale; sometimes it’s free or discounted monitoring for a set number of months. There is a lot of variation from company to company, which means a lot of opportunity to save some cash, so be sure to ask about any discounts available to you, whether you’re a new customer or switching services.
One way you may be able to offset the ongoing monthly fees is to find out if your security system qualifies you for a discount on your homeowners' insurance. Check with both your insurance provider and your security company to find out what is required to claim that discount.
The bottom line about the bottom line
Calculating the cost of a home security system is not a simple formula, but we hope you understand better what to factor in and what to expect. For money-saving tips, check out some ways to cut down the costs of a home security system.
Kate Herrick is a freelance writer with a decade of experience, and whose goal is to create clear, useful, and informative writing, no matter the topic. When it comes to home security, Kate has researched and written about everything from professional companies and the latest home automation to fire safety, online safeguards, and personal security. When not at the computer, she is either reading or trying to keep up with her four crazy kids.
Eric Paulsen is a writer, editor, and strategist who has been creating content in the B2B, healthcare, FinTech, home security, and government sectors for more than five years. He holds an MFA in creative writing and lets everyone in his life hang that over his head. When he doesn’t have his hands deep in some piece of content, he’s either watching baseball or praying for the offseason to end quickly.