Home Security Systems: How Much Should They Cost?
At Billy.com, we know that the cost of a home security system is not always straightforward. In fact, various security companies may advertise deals from time to time that seem too good to be true. You’re right to approach such “bargains” with caution. Let us help you find the right security system for your budget.
At the same time, factors such as the complexity of your security needs are part of your home security cost. Your neighbor may have paid only a few hundred dollars, but that may have been for upfront charges and for a relatively basic system. If you want multiple cameras covering a large property plus monitoring, your costs will be higher. Here’s the scoop on the various costs that go into an alarm system and what you should expect for your money.
Different Types of Home Security Costs
First, you have upfront costs such as installation, equipment and activation. These tend to be one-and-done charges. You pay them once and do not have to worry about paying them again. The cost here could be anywhere from $250 to $1,500—even more sometimes. The complexity of your equipment and how much equipment you require are big reasons for the huge pricing range.
As with many things, pay attention to the fine print. Security companies may try to lure you in with a fantastic deal on equipment, but after you read the fine print, it does not sound as fabulous. Here are a few examples of what you might be required to do to qualify for a bargain:
- Sign up for an above-average service plan or monitoring plan (like $62 a month)
- Be locked into a contract for as long as 48 months to 60 months
- Pass scrutiny on your finances and credit history
- Pay extra fees
If you wanted that specific monitoring plan anyway, this deal could be a true bargain. Otherwise, you could end up paying more than seems fair.
As for installation fees, you may be able to skip them by doing installation yourself. Many home security systems are easy to set up, and many people with little technical or installation experience can do it. Companies such as Abode, Protect America, Nest Secure, Scout, SimpliSafe and Link Interactive sell security equipment that customers can install themselves.
Then there are activation fees. Believe it or not, some companies don’t even list them in purchase contracts. These fees can truly come as a surprise and run as high as $200.
Next, you might opt for security monitoring. Basic monitoring can be as low as $120 a year ($9.99 monthly). On the other end of the spectrum, intensive monitoring may run you $1,200 a year ($100 monthly). The middle ground is about $360 a year ($30 monthly).
Typically, the security company charges you a base rate for monitoring, for example, $29.99 a month. However, if you have another camera you want monitored as well as a carbon monoxide detector and smoke detector, you will be charged a little extra for each device. Carbon monoxide detectors tend to be about $6 a month and smoke detectors $2. An additional camera could be $10 to $20.
Be sure you understand what you are getting with your monitoring. Read your contract before you sign on the bottom line so you’re aware of the various potential charges. Also, it’s a good idea to browse the websites of the companies whose products you are considering. Get insight into how they hire and train their call operators so you know you are getting quality monitoring that is worth your money.
Is Monitoring Necessary for Your Home Security System?
Often, the true cost of your alarm system comes down to how well it works, whether it works as promised and what its purpose is. We’ll address the latter point first. People get home security systems for various reasons. Some examples include the following:
- To keep an eye on children home alone after school
- To make sure pets at home are OK
- To monitor elderly relatives
- To catch package thieves
- To prevent break-ins
- To keep people and the home safe from fires and gas leaks
- To control the home’s energy use
- For peace of mind, especially for people who travel often
- For home automation services/for a “smart house”
Depending on the reason you want security, a monthly monitoring plan may not be necessary. Even without monitoring, many systems will send a real-time alert to your phone when something happens and capture images or video of the event.
However, with monitoring, you are covered if you miss an alert. A third party monitoring your system will alert the proper authorities if an alarm is triggered. These are other good reasons to get monitoring:
- The overall emergency response is likely to be quicker.
- You can design a custom emergency response plan.
- A monitoring agent will be able to help you in case of emergency.
- A monitoring agent can contact emergency services in case of a medical crisis such as a fall triggering a bracelet alert.
- You can enter a duress code into your system that lets monitoring agents know something is happening but you cannot be contacted.
In general, we do recommend that you sign up for monitoring services. That way, you don’t have to be glued to your phone. You can rest easy knowing that someone is always available to contact emergency services if the need arises.
Functionality of the Home Security System
Your home security costs may end up higher overall if you purchase inexpensive equipment that has to be replaced every year versus if you buy something more expensive that lasts much longer. Look at the durability of your equipment, what you are getting for the price, how well the equipment and plan mesh with the reason you’re getting security and the tech tricks you’re getting with the system. For instance, if you don’t care about having a smart home, you might end up overpaying for features you won’t use.
Also, remember customer service. What exactly will the security company do for you? How can representatives be contacted? How responsive are they?
Home Security Deals May not be Deals
As touched on earlier, approach so-called deals with caution. For example, an incredibly low price may represent a bare-bones setup that doesn’t meet your needs. In fact, some deals are for landline security systems only. Many people no longer have landlines, and cellular monitoring provides more flexibility.
A company may also advertise a deal on installation. What the company may fail to mention is that its equipment can easily be installed by the average person. (Of course, this is not always true, especially for complex setups, so use your judgment.)
Another thing worth mentioning: You may not have the funds upfront to pay for everything you want in your security system. Some companies offer deals in which you pay monthly for everything over a certain number of contract years. These monthly payments can cost you a bit more in the big picture, but the upside is that you can get a nice security system without needing to fork over money upfront.
The True Cost
The reality is that homes without security systems are more likely to be broken into, and a burglary can cost you thousands of dollars. An alarm system can be a wise investment for you and your family. Get a home security quote today at Billy.com.