So you’re considering protecting your home and family with an updated security system—perhaps you’re upgrading an old system, or you’re starting from scratch.
Either way, it’s important to understand how to tailor a home security system to your needs and avoid unnecessary hidden fees that some alarm companies will attempt to slip into their contracts.
Home security costs vary depending on three factors: the size of your property, the number of entry points, and the functionality you want from the system.
Some people just want basic burglar alarm monitoring, smoke and carbon dioxide detection, and flood protection. Others want their system to offer more advanced functionality by tying it in with their security cameras, a smart lock, and smart lighting control.
In general, the most expensive parts of any home security system are the security cameras. If you're on a tight budget, we recommend starting with a basic alarm system that's easy to upgrade and adding on cameras later.
The cost of a home security system consists of four main expenses: the upfront equipment cost, installation, the monthly monitoring fee, and an activation fee.
Upfront costs vary somewhat between companies, but once you factor in all expenses, fees, and maintenance and add on the cost of monitoring for the duration of the contract, you often end up with a drastically different idea of which companies are most expensive.
Equipment costs for a home security system depend on the size of your property, the number of entrances, and the occupants.
Alarm system equipment prices start at around $300 on the lower end for a basic alarm system designed for a small home or apartment. For larger properties, expect closer to $1,000, especially if you need the system to be professionally installed.
When you factor in security cameras and home automation, these feature-rich smart home security systems can be upward of $2,000 to $3,000.
Keep in mind that hardwired security systems can be cheaper on a per-part basis compared to some modern wireless security systems, but your total bill will be much higher. Wired systems require that you hire an electrician to drill into your walls and ceilings to lay wires.
Here’s the equipment you can find in your average residential wireless alarm system, followed by price ranges for each item:
Prices vary between brands. If these prices sound like they're outside your budget, don't worry—you can still get the protection you need. Just don't buy the whole thing at once; much like computers, you can save a lot of money by getting a more basic product first and upgrading later.
Keep in mind that you may not need to buy new equipment at all. Many local security providers like Alarm New England are able to reuse most, if not all, of your existing security system. Switching to a local alarm monitoring company generally saves you money and eliminates the frustration that customers often face when trying to get ahold of a live person at a large corporation.
Plus, even if you want to replace your security system altogether for something more up-to-date, we make that process simple and help you save money by offering you a free video doorbell camera with any security system. To access that deal, design a system with us using our online tool or with one of our sales reps over the phone.
When we talk about reliability, hardware quality is certainly a factor. Monitoring, however, is the defining characteristic of a reliable home security system. Alarm monitoring ensures your security system achieves its primary goal: getting a fast emergency response to your house during a crisis.
Monthly monitoring fees vary depending on geography. Some monitoring centers must follow more stringent legal requirements, which also factors into the cost. But watch out for cheap monitoring that aren’t as effective or safe for you or your home.
Cheap monitoring is often tied to a phone line, which requires you to pay for a landline. Unless you still use a landline, that’s another monthly bill you’ll have to pay. Cellular alarm monitoring is safer as an intruder cannot simply cut the communication path like they can with phone lines.
Cheap monitoring services lack smartphone integration through an app like Total Connect 2.0 to control your system, and they often don’t offer smart home automation. If you want the convenience of electronic locks, automated lights, smart thermostats, and the time and money savings those technologies offer, you need to have a system that allows for smart home automation.
When it comes to a home security monitoring service, you get what you pay for. A company cannot offer both cheap equipment and low monitoring costs without losing money or cutting costs from crucial areas like customer service. An alarm company like this is not actually monitoring your system.
While it’s tempting to buy into a $10 monthly monitoring service, you’re likely being tossed into a monitoring “farm” and your security company is outsourcing the service to a third party. This creates an accountability problem in terms of who is in charge and responsible for your safety.
Often with these companies, the price increases year after year. Your entry-level price can rise dramatically in years two and three of your contract, and there is nothing you can do about it.
Cheap monitoring means customer service is poor or nonexistent. Your time is worth a significant amount of money. Don’t let it go to waste on people who aren’t truly invested in your safety or providing a positive customer experience. The consequences are waiting weeks for service, long hold times, and an inability to get the same person on the phone twice.
Smartphone apps typically cost money because they allow you to control your smart home remotely and provide cloud storage for your video cameras.
Depending on how much storage you need, the video storage subscription fee can be between $5 to $30 a month. The more cloud storage you need and the longer you want to keep your historical data, the more it'll cost you.
Very few customers get value out of the 30-day video history, so we recommend you start out small and work your way up if you find yourself wanting more storage space.
If you can, download your videos onto a hard drive instead of paying for longer-term storage.
Activation fees are just one of the many hidden fees that some security companies will sneak into their contracts.
It might only be a one-time fee, but it can be significant. Some security companies think that customers are already so committed to the sale at this point that they won't back out, so they're willing to pay another hundred dollars just to be done with the process.
Note: This does not include the cost of installation!
Carefully read your contract before you sign it to make sure there is no mention of such a fee in the fine print.
If you need help setting up your home security system or don’t have the time to do it yourself, local alarm companies like us are glad to help. Keep in mind that professional installation, when done by qualified, background-checked technicians, won't be free.
To avoid this fee, install the system yourself. Don't worry if you're not tech-savvy; Alarm New England can help walk you through the process! Our DIY solution is perfect for smaller homes or apartments, regardless of whether you're in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island.
False alarms are a serious concern because they drain police resources and limit the ability of police to respond to genuine emergencies happening at the same time.
A 2007 report by the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing stated that law enforcement agents respond to about 36 million activated alarms each year, costing nearly $2 billion. And most alarm calls—between 94 and 98 percent—are false.
Police will fine people whose faulty security systems result in frequent false alarms. Over 3,000 municipalities around the country levy fines for unneeded police dispatches. The first offense either results in a warning or a small $25 to $35 fee, but if your alarm system repeatedly malfunctions and goes off when it's not supposed to, you may have to cough up several hundreds of dollars.
The high penalties associated with faulty home security systems are another reason why you don't want to go for cheap equipment or monitoring services: You end up paying more in the long run.
Knowing the hidden fees and costs that come with installing a home security system in 2019 will save you money—and it just might keep you safer, too. Remember, when it comes to home monitoring providers, you get what you pay for.
Do the research to find out exactly what type of system and monitoring makes sense for your family, then find a trustworthy home security provider that will be upfront about costs and fees and will keep your family and home safe.
Secure your home or business in Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island today with Alarm New England and we'll find a security solution that best meets your needs.
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