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The Truth About Alarm Monitoring Costs [Updated 2018]

Alexandra Curtiss
May 16, 2017

Do they start at $14.99 a month? Nope. There is one reputable large company that starts there and there are downsides to their offering.

Due to the advertising practices of large smart security companies that are great marketers, there's a lot of confusion surrounding the cost of alarm monitoring services.

We went ahead and did all the research for you to save you some time on the phone.

How much does monthly alarm monitoring cost?

Monthly monitoring fees vary significantly, sometimes going up to $60 or even $70 with some national brands. Local alarm companies like us are aware of their crazy high prices, so we give you more features for less money.

We wanted to get you the exact figures according to their salespeople, so we called up the largest national brands and asked them about their pricing. Keep in mind this is without any promotional offers or deals they run every few weeks or so. Typically this involves giving you more free stuff at the expense of a higher monthly fee.

ADT

  • $27.99 Phone Line Only Monitoring
  • $48.99 + Cellular Monitoring, App
  • $57.99 + Cameras

Frontpoint

  • $34.99 Cellular Monitoring
  • $44.99 + Crash & Smash, App
  • $49.99 + Smart Home Automation, Cameras

Alarm New England

  • $24.99 Wi-Fi Monitoring
  • $34.99 + Cellular Monitoring, Crash & Smash, App
  • $44.99 + Smart Home Automation, Cameras

Livewatch (now Brinks Home Security)

  • $34.95 Cellular Monitoring, Crash & Smash , App
  • $39.95 + Smart Home Automation
  • $49.95 + Cameras

SimpliSafe

  • $14.99 Cellular Monitoring
  • $24.99 + App, Cameras

Nest

  • $29 Month To Month Contract, WiFi, Crash & Smash, App, Cameras, Smart Home Automation
  • $39 + Cellular Monitoring
  • $44 + 5 Day Video Storage 
  • (3 Year Contract $19, $29, $34)

Vivint:

  • $49 Cellular Monitoring, Crash & Smash, App
  • $59 + Cameras, Smart Home Automation

Comcast:

  • $24.99 Cellular Monitoring, Crash & Smash, App
  • $34.99 + Cameras

How can some companies charge so much less for alarm monitoring?

There's a little variation between the prices of companies, but for the most part, they are roughly equal.

One of these prices really stands out for being a lot lower than the others.

SimpliSafe. Why is their monitoring fee that low? How are they able to undercut everyone else's monthly monitoring fees?

We investigated and wrote a detailed review of their services for you to understand why their costs are what they are. If you haven’t got time to read our review, the short of it is that they are selling sub-standard equipment in order to price more aggressively then their competitors.

Quality matters when it comes to securing your home and family. It’s also important to get the right system for your home.

What features do you really need in an alarm system?

Try Our Cost Calculator

How the right security system can save you time, money and frustration

Security systems are an investment that lead to savings and less hassle down the line:

  • You will not need — or have to pay for — a landline.

  • You will get a maximum insurance discount because your system is monitored by a UL-listed central station. That means it meets high safety standards and emergency protocols. This knocks off about 10-15% of your home insurance costs. (Source: The New York Times)

  • A premium security company responds quickly, offers high-level support and monitoring, and checks to make sure your system is functioning properly.

  • Tech support is easily available when your alarm is keeping the house up at 2 in the morning. 

central station

Get a Free Cost Estimate

Why are some alarm monitoring services cheaper than others?

  • Cheap monitoring often requires you to pay for a landline you may not need. Cellular alarm monitoring is also safer as an intruder cannot simply cut the communication path or smash your panel and disable your alarm like they can with phone lines or Wi-Fi. 

  • Cheap monitoring doesn't have a smartphone app like Total Connect 2.0 to control your system. If you can't control your security system with your phone, it's probably old, outdated, and does not have advanced features like security camera viewing and home automation.
  • Cheap monitoring doesn't have smart home automation. Cheap monitoring does not include smart home automation. There’s a big benefit to being able to control locks, cameras and thermostats from your smart device.

  • You are going to pay a lot more up front. The economics of subsidized installation/equipment and cheap monitoring just do not work out. Someone who offers very cheap monitoring is likely going to be making all of their margin up front. You'll be overpaying for less quality.

  • The company who sold you the equipment is not actually monitoring it. It’s easy to cut cost when you outsource one of the most important aspects of your home security — the 24-hour monitoring.

  • The price increases year after year. Your entry level price can rise dramatically in years 2 and 3 of the contract and there is nothing you can do about it. ADT and Xfinity customers commonly cite this as the top reason for why they leave, along with poor service.

  • They promise more than they deliver. There is nothing more annoying than a security system that fails to fulfill its promises to you. Waiting weeks for service, long hold times, an inability to get the same person on the phone twice. Quality customer service requires local people who care about protecting their community.

ADT vs. Simplisafe vs. Vivint vs. Xfinity

Self-Monitored Systems vs. Alarm Monitoring Services

While we feel home security monitoring is a critical piece of securing your home and family, some opt for self-monitoring systems.

Here are some points to understand about each before you decide.
 
 
Generally, self-monitored systems do not require high-end hardware and there's no subscription fee for a monitoring service, so it's good for keeping costs low.
 
The potential cost of self-monitoring
 
Joel Matlin from Toronto found this out the hard way when men tried to break into his home late at 4:30 AM while he was away in Florida. As usual, he turned his phone off before he went to sleep. When the suspicious individuals appeared outside his Toronto house, Matlin's exterior cameras attempted to notify him through his phone, but to no avail.
 
When the men kicked in his front door, the alarm went off, alerting Matlin's step-son Robbie who was sleeping in the home at the time. He ran downstairs to confront them, and fortunately they fled without harming him or taking any property. 
 
downsides of self-monitoring diy home security systems
 
The hardware system worked perfectly, but the self-monitoring system failed. Matlin was asleep and unable to respond to the emergency.
 
Had Matlin gone with an alarm monitoring system, the alerts would have gone to a monitoring station instead of his powered-off smartphone, enabling the police to arrive on the scene within minutes.
 
Sure, you may save a few bucks, not paying that subscription fee. But what hidden costs are you really paying?
 

The Hidden Costs of Self Monitoring

1. Your Personal Safety

It’s important to think about the circumstances that will trigger your security system.
 
There are two scenarios. A.) You are inside the home or business during the intrusion. B.) You are not home when the break-in occurs.
 
If you're at home, you want the police to arrive as fast as possible. If you are in an emergency situation, it may not be possible to call them. The intruder is not going to wait for you to open your app and signal the police.
 
In scenario B, you're not home. Are you on vacation? Do you have a good connection to WiFi or data? What if the break in occurs while you're scuba diving in Cancun? Are you going to be tied to your mobile device 24/7 from work, vacation, meetings, in the movies, commuting time? 

Even if you do get the alert and are in a position to respond, you certainly do not want to return to your business or home and put yourself in danger.
 
What about your smoke and heat detectors? What if there is an emergency and you are not able to monitor the system?
 
With a UL-approved central station, you ensure that you, your family, your home or your business are protected - 24/7/365.  
 

2. Delayed Response Time

A security system is only as good the response it generates. If you are outside of the town your property is in and you call 911, you will not get the local dispatch. You'll have to be transferred to the right person, and those precious seconds can feel like an eternity.

Do you have the correct number to call?

In the case of an active intrusion, every single second counts. If your thief is even a little savvy, they can often break in and smash your control panel before you get the activation.
 
Crash and smash technology paired with a professional monitoring station will prevent this common occurrence. 
 

3. Reliable Customer Service & Tech Support

Have you ever bought new technology and at some point in its lifespan it stops working? 

What if your system starts having false alarms and you need to figure out what is wrong so you do not get fined by your local police

Who are you going to call for help when you want to upgrade your system, add new devices, or move your system from one property to another?

If you have an older security system in your home and its in decent shape, you can consider moving your monitoring to a more reliable company.

Although many companies will try to force you to buy their proprietary equipment, there are companies that are more customer-focused that will help you keep your system and secure better monitoring and service.
 
A high quality, UL-approved central station will charge you between $25-$50 dollars per month. This is likely a third of your cable bill, a fraction of your family plan.
 
Schedule a time to talk with us to talk about how you can switch alarm monitoring providers and lower your monthly fees.

Download the Ultimate Guide to Home Security and learn:

  • Top 5 misconceptions about home security
  • How to assess vulnerabilities in your home
  • Why home security is about more than preventing burglaries
  • Cutting-edge security equipment: how home security has changed
  • Monitored vs. Self-Monitored Systems
  • Local vs. National Security Companies

... and more!

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