Alarm Monitoring Costs: A Complete Breakdown (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 is the alarm monitoring monthly fee? 

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 national brands and asked them about their pricing.

Let's break it down:

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

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. What's the deal with that?

We investigated and wrote a detailed review of their services for you to understand why their costs are aggressively undercutting the competition.

We care about service and longevity. As such, we recommend you considering your total spend with a firm before making a decision.

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. This is usually 10-15% of your insurance cost. (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

Why are some alarm monitoring services cheaper than others?

  • Cheap monitoring is often tied to a phone line which requires you to pay for a land line. Cellular alarm monitoring is also safer as an intruder cannot simply cut the communication path like they can with phone lines. 

  • Cheap monitoring doesn't have a smartphone app like Total Connect 2.0 to control your system.

Further Reading: How Total Connect 2.0 Can Protect Your Home and Simplify Your Life

  • Cheap monitoring doesn't have smart home automation. Many of our customers love locks, lights, cameras, and thermostats and the time/money savings those technologies offer. 

  • 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 and the best DIY home security system need not be expensive. 

  • Your company is not actually monitoring your system. It is easy to cheap out when you do not have to do the work to actually provide the service. The pitfall here? You can be one of millions in a monitoring farm and your security company and their outsourced resource can point fingers when something goes wrong. 

  • 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. 

Here are some key areas of cost savings that will offset the investment in a high quality service: 

  • You will not have to pay for a phone line. 

  • You will get a maximum insurance discount because your system is monitored by a UL-approved central station. This is usually 10-20%.

  • How much is your time worth? 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 quality people who are paid well. 

Self-Monitored Systems vs. Alarm Monitoring Services

We might be a company that provides alarm monitoring services, but it would be silly to say that self-monitored systems don't work. For some people, they do.
 
 
Self-monitored systems offer individuals with a way to feel more secure in their homes. 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.
 
But self-monitored users pay a price you can't measure in dollars.
 
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?
 

1. Your Personal Safety

Think about circumstances during which your security system will be activated.
 
Either A.) you are inside the home or business and someone is breaking in, or B.) you are away from your property and someone is breaking in.
 
If you're at home, you want the police to arrive as fast as humanly possible. If you are in an emergency situation, it may not be possible to call them. The thief (or worse) is not going to twiddle his thumbs while you pull up 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 during your scuba lesson? 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, 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 right 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 occurance. 
 

3. 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 or add new devices? Move your system from one property to another? 

If you have an old technology graveyard at your house like I do, it can be painful to see those wasted dollars taking up junk drawer space. Having a customer-focused firm supporting your technology will save a lot of time and headaches over time that quickly offset the monthly monitoring fee.  
 
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.
 
We would do anything it took to keep our families safe and preserve their physical and emotional well-being, and the cost of a few Starbucks runs a month is a small price to pay to make that happen.

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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