A home security system is designed to monitor your home and alert you if someone enters your property. The cost of a home security system is worth the investment — the best systems do more than keep intruders out of your home. 

When considering the cost of a home alarm system, consider the value of monitoring when your packages have been delivered to avoid theft or see when someone approaches your home through your doorbell. If the system detects a water leak or smoke before it causes too much damage, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. 

Add home automation functionality, and you’ll be able to remotely open and close your doors, turn your lights off and on and check-in through your security cameras to see how your family or your pets are doing. When asking yourself, “how much does a home security system cost” the conveniences and peace of mind are priceless.  

In concrete terms, how much is a security system? The best home security system packages start at $200. Read on for more information on the cost of home security systems.

What you need to know before getting a home security system 

There are some key factors to consider when comparing home security systems.  They are:

  • Equipment included
  • Compatibility  
  • Contracts and commitments
  • Monthly monitoring fees

Equipment included

Take a closer look at the number of items a home security package includes. Some essential items include a central unit with a built-in keypad that serves as the brains of the system. Other items in the security equipment package are window and door sensors, a motion detector, and at least one camera. Decals and signs are also useful to alert thieves or intruders that your home is monitored and deter them. 

Compatibility  

A system that works with devices and equipment from other companies can expand the function of your home security system. You may not need more than the basic package right now if you’re renting, but what happens if you purchase a home and move one day? Having the option of adding other equipment could extend your current home security system’s usefulness, so you don’t have to buy a new one in the future.

Contracts and commitments

Look for a home security system with no long-term contracts. If you change your mind or move, you don’t want to have to deal with cancellation fees or penalties to get out of the commitment.

Monthly monitoring fees

Many home security systems allow you to remotely monitor your home by viewing what’s going on in your house through the smartphone app that’s linked to the system’s cameras. Viewing what’s going on in your home while you’re away adds a layer of safety, but it’s not a complete security option. 

That’s where monthly monitoring comes in. Paying for 24/7 professional monthly monitoring expands your home’s security by outsourcing professionals to watch over your home. Before you sign up, compare monthly monitoring fees between providers. They can vary $5 or more between monitoring services for the same level of service.

Home security costs to consider

Buying a home security equipment package isn’t your only expense. Depending on the company you purchase the system from, there may be additional fees. Here’s a closer look at home security costs:

Professional installation — $79 to $199

Most wireless home security systems are pretty simple to install yourself, even though there may be times when you’d prefer a professional to come and set yours up. You may be unsure of how to get your system running or may get stuck setting up the equipment. In addition, if you’re not tech-savvy, getting all the equipment properly linked and functioning may be tricky. That’s where a professional installation technician comes in handy. The fee may be worth the savings in time and headaches.

Monthly monitoring fees — $10 to $63

Not every home security system requires a professional monitoring service, but it’s a good idea if you travel often or prefer to have your home protected 24/7. Monitoring fees can vary greatly. Basic monthly fees include 24/7 monitoring and dispatch of first responders. More expensive monthly monitoring fees usually include watching over other security equipment such as environmental sensors that notify the service if there’s a water leak, or CO2 or smoke detectors.

Cancellation fees — up to 75% of the monthly service charges left

RRead the fine print before you sign up for service with a security system provider. Most don’t require you to commit to a contract, which could save you money on cancellation fees. If you’ve chosen a company that is willing to provide you equipment with no upfront costs, you’ll likely have to agree to a monitoring service for several years to pay back the equipment’s cost.

If the home security company you choose requires you to sign a contract for a certain length, it’ll likely charge a cancellation fee if you decide to terminate the services before the contract ends. The cancellation fees are usually based on the amount of time you have left on your contract, with the highest fee costing you 3/4 of the time left on your contract.

Add-on devices/services

Costs vary for additional services and devices. You may want to budget for the following add-ons:

Service calls/maintenance fees

If you don’t have a premium monitoring plan or additional equipment insurance, most companies will charge you $25 to $50 to take a look at what’s wrong.

How to get the most for your money in a home security system 

Not sure about whether you should go with an out-of-the-box or professionally installed home security system? Consider these ideas to make the most of your home security system investment.

DIY

Many wireless DIY systems are very simple to set up and come ready right out of the box. There’s not much guesswork involved — all you need to do is choose from the two to three packages most home security providers offer. Basic home security packages cost between $199 and $599. The one drawback is that you’ll have to pay for the equipment upfront, but you won’t be locked into a long-term contract. In addition, you’ll save money on installation fees if you don’t mind installing the system yourself.

To expand on a basic DIY home security system, choose one that’s compatible with other types of equipment, such as light sensors, water or smoke detectors or smart locks. Even if you don’t think you’d like to pay for professional monitoring, choose a company with low monthly security monitoring fees, just in case you change your mind.

Professional home alarm systems

A professional home alarm system may not come with large upfront equipment costs. The equipment’s price is typically factored into your monthly monitoring service or can be financed and added to your monthly monitoring bill. Expect to pay between $35 and $63 per month for monitoring. You’ll have the support of security professionals who can help you design the best security system for your needs and install it. Depending on the provider, your service may come with free installation or cost up to $199.

It’s likely you’ll have to sign a contract of three years or more to pay back the equipment fees. Before you sign, make sure that you’re comfortable with the length of the agreement. Check if there are any fees for moving the service and the cancellation cost if you move to an area the company does not cover. 

Are home security systems worth the expense?

Home security systems are worth the expense for several reasons. Although they come with costs, they improve the chances that your home will be safe from intruders. Merely displaying the decal outside that a security system protects your home may deter thieves.

Besides the security aspects, a home security system allows you to check in on what’s going in your home by remotely viewing the security cameras, which could also be useful to check in on roommates or pets. In addition, most home and renters insurance policies will give you a discount if you have a home security system installed, which could offset some of the cost of the equipment or monitoring fee.

A home security system is also a gateway to home automation. You can add accessories, such as light switches to turn lights off and on remotely or a smart door lock. A smart door lock could come in handy to remotely open or close your door using your smartphone if you’ve lost your keys or live with friends or family who forget to lock the door before they leave.

The Bottom Line

Home security systems are a great addition to your home. If you like the idea of automating some home features or checking in from work to see if packages are waiting at your door, a DIY system may be all you need. For more robust protection and around-the-clock monitoring, a professionally-monitored home security system could provide the safety and peace of mind that you’re looking for.

About the Authors

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a home and personal finance writer with a degree in International Business and Journalism from American University. She’s written about internet and TV for MYMOVE, Freshome and Safety.com.