Close to a million reported burglaries are reported in the U.S. every year. A statistic which is not easily ignored.
Therefore, many homeowners and renters across the country are naturally inclined to invest in a reliable home security system.
There are countless solutions available today, and it’s vital to find a system that works for your home.
To make the process slightly less overwhelming, we’ll break down all the home security types, costs, and benefits.
How Much Does A Home Security System Cost?
Once you have a clear grasp of the types of home security systems available on the market, you can start budgeting for one.
The prices vary vastly depending on the type, brand, promotions, warranties, and more. But the base cost of a home security system, which includes the equipment and access to the control panel, ranges between $250 and $1,100, with the national average being around $680.
If you choose a company-monitored home security system, you need to pay a monthly fee. That can range between $15-$55, depending on whether you’ve entered into a contract and how long it lasts.
But the average is around $20-$25. Often, the companies will offer discounts if homeowners opt to pay the professional monitoring fee annually.
Additional Cost Considerations
Your home security system can be customized to fit your needs. That means finding the perfect combination of features that fit your budget and offer enough security.
We’ve mentioned that the choice of equipment will affect the base price. A system without surveillance will cost much less than one with sophisticated, high-resolution cameras.
But what you’ll end up paying for your home security system will depend on several other factors.
Security System Installation Cost
The price and difficulty of a home security system installation depend on the type and brand. While wireless systems usually require cost-free DIY installation, it’s different from wired home security systems.
Even the most basic wired installation usually costs around $100 but can range between $600-$1,300 for comprehensive home security plans.
Keep in mind that this process requires drilling and cutting the drywall and ceilings.
When buying a monitored home security system, you also consider the activation fees. That can end up costing between $50-$200, depending on the brand and type of plan.
It’s not uncommon for home security companies to market the “no activation fees” products to attract customers. But not having activation fees doesn’t always mean paying less in the long run.
Sometimes home security systems without activation fees have higher monthly payments or require you to enter a contract.
Termination or cancellation fees are universally dreaded concepts, but if you sign up for a long-term home security contract, it’s something you need to consider.
If you choose to cancel the policy you’ve signed up for, some companies insist you pay a cancellation fee.
In some instances, that can be up to 80% of the monthly charges for the balance of the initial contract.
However, some brands will ask you to pay the remainder of the billing cycle only and forgo any cancellation fees.
When picking a home security system, it’s essential to be mindful of this matter.
Cost of Live Streaming
While it might be implied that you’ll have live camera footage on your mobile device, some companies will charge for this extra service.
This information could be buried in the subscription plan, so make sure you don’t need to pay an extra $10 every month just to have access to live streaming in your home security system.
Some professionally monitored home security systems offer landline and cellular backup, which come in handy when there is a power outage.
With systems that rely on a landline connection, this service typically comes free of charge. However, around 70% of homes these days don’t have a landline, so home security companies use cellular backup.
When the power goes out, these systems switch to mobile data to continue working. This service does cost extra and can range between $10-$40 per month.
Cost of Smart Home Automation
Modern home security systems offer voice assistant functionality. You can use your voice to disarm the system or turn on smart lights, which comes in handy in a potentially dangerous situation.
If you want a home security system that works with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, check whether this service costs extra.
Some brands will only offer this feature in company-monitored subscription plans, which doesn’t work for everyone.
Whichever type of home security system you settle on, the maintenance costs should not be high, and most of them should be free. New versions of monitoring software, for example, are the standard upgrades most companies provide.
The only common maintenance expense is the batteries in some types of equipment. Although most of them come with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, these days, that’s not much of a problem.
However, you also have to think of home security system repair costs if it’s not covered under warranty.
Elements of a Home Security System
We all know that the purpose of a home security system is to alert the residents about break-in attempts and deter burglars from entering the property.
But if you’ve never used a home security system before, you might not know how it works. While the particularities may vary depending on the type and brand you choose, almost all home security systems have several crucial components.
There’s the control panel, surveillance cameras, motion sensors, and door and window sensors. In most cases, these systems will also have loud alarms that notify you and the neighborhood about the potential burglary.
Finally, an incredibly effective element of a home security system is a company-issued yard sign or window sticker that conveys the presence of an alarm system in a home.
Home Security System Types
Regardless of the budget you’re working with, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is to choose a type of home security system for the property.
These days, homeowners have several options and should thoroughly research all the solutions before committing. Here are the four most common types of home security systems and their benefits and drawbacks.
Unmonitored Home Security System
These types of systems are considered “old-school” but are still an excellent choice for many. They contain motion sensors, door and window sensors, smoke detectors, and deafening sirens when the alarm is triggered.
What they don’t have are cameras. Hence, they are unmonitored. Some brands selling unmonitored home security systems allow users to connect the system to smartphones and be notified if the alarm goes off.
One of the most important benefits of the unmonitored system is the price tag, as they come without subscription fees and contracts.
However, the downsides include a lack of communication between law enforcement and ineffectiveness when away from home.
Monitored Home Security System
Unsurprisingly, the monitored home security system is an incredibly popular choice among homeowners and renters.
It has everything the unmonitored system has, plus the video surveillance and optional emergency response from law enforcement.
This type of security system doesn’t only alert to potential burglaries but can effectively protect your home in case of fire or other emergencies.
When shopping for a monitored home security system, you’ll notice two sub-types to consider.
If you want to remotely monitor your home and property and stay on top of what’s going on, the self-monitored system is a great choice.
Equipment-wise, these systems have everything you need, including motion sensors, sirens, cameras, and a designated mobile application that allows you to check whenever you want.
It also alerts you if the home security system picks up any activity around your property. If there’s an incident, the self-monitored system gives you the option to call the police or contact a neighbor to see if they’ve noticed signs of a break-in.
The most vital advantages of the self-monitored home security system are the real-time notifications that allow you to react immediately if someone is trespassing. They’re also a fantastic choice for renters, as they can be easily relocated to another property.
On the other hand, they might not be the best choice for those without a stable Wi-Fi connection or those who live in an area with frequent power outages, as they entirely rely on a wireless internet connection.
Those who want to delegate the monitoring responsibility to a professional company are likely to choose a company-monitored home security system.
Typically, this type of system includes everything the self-monitored system features, plus the silent alarm, glass-break sensors, and a built-in trigger that alerts the home security company that there has been a breach.
If you choose a company-monitored home security system, the company will call you every time there is a trigger. They need to make sure it’s not a false alarm.
If that isn’t the case, they’ll dispatch the police or a private security company to your home.
This feature is also the most relevant advantage, as it ensures your home is safe, even if your phone is out of reach.
For some, though, activating the system every night or before leaving the home might seem to be a significant downside.
Wireless Home Security System
In terms of how they’re connected, home security systems can be wireless or wired. Undoubtedly, wireless systems are the go-to option for many, as they’re usually easier to install and uninstall.
They can be easily upgraded, allowing you to connect new devices and sensors. They’re also difficult to disable, as there’s no wire to cut.
Finally, wireless home security systems are effortless to operate as they come with designated apps, wireless key fobs, and other control units.
However, the wireless system can occasionally fail due to interference. If something blocks the signal or the Wi-Fi isn’t working correctly, the system becomes vulnerable.
Also, wireless home security systems require a lot of batteries, which might not be cost-effective.
Wired Home Security System
This is the most complex type of home security system and always requires professional installation. Wired systems rely on low-voltage wiring connected to an alarm panel and offer the best results in terms of responsiveness and trustworthiness.
They are easy to maintain, as there’s no need to replace the batteries or spend time worrying about them. Hard-wired home security systems are usually an excellent solution for larger homes.
They come with more sensors and don’t rely on radio frequencies for communication.
Furthermore, wired security systems typically have more features than any other type and multiple control panels.
However, the price tag makes them a less appealing choice to some homeowners. Wired home security systems are the most expensive option, but they’re still prevalent due to their effectiveness.
Finally, it’s important to note that the best home security systems come with comprehensive warranties, which can impact the overall price.
The coverage ranges anywhere from three months to a lifetime, but many companies offer warranties for the duration of the service agreement.
Is Home Security System Worth It?
There’s no question that installing a home security system is a significant investment, so it’s natural to wonder if it truly keeps you protected.
While no system is 100% foolproof, it’s also true that neighborhoods where home security systems are common are statistically safer. Window and door sensors are incredibly effective in alerting homeowners about a break-in.
If you live in a low-crime area, you might think a home security system is an unnecessary expense. But the additional layer of protection never hurts, especially for families with children.
Apart from protecting your family, possessions, and home in general, these security systems have other benefits.
For example, a self-monitoring home security system with live streaming allows you to check on an elderly member of the family who’s home alone during the day. It can also give you the peace of mind that your pets are safe.
Furthermore, the remote access alerts you when a package has been left on your door and allows you to see if you forgot to close the garage door.
But one of the reasons many people choose to install a home security system is to lower the home insurance premiums.
Keep in mind that most insurance agencies will do their best to avoid covering burglary-related damage and will offer lower premiums for homes with security systems.
Again, home insurance systems can be pricey, especially if you want a top-tier solution. But if you’re losing sleep worrying about safety, they offer a phenomenal return on investment.
Can Renters Install Home Security Systems?
Yes, they can. They might encounter some limitations in terms of the selection, though. For example, some landlords won’t authorize installing a wired home security system as it requires drilling and a generally more invasive setup.
Therefore, a wireless home security system is the best option for renters. It typically requires straightforward DIY installation and can be transferred to another home, should you need to move.
Which Home Security System Is the Best?
We can argue that the best home security systems are also the priciest, as they come with the most features, but not everyone needs them.
Some people are just looking for a simple sound alarm to deter a burglar and wake them up if something happens. If they live in a very low-crime area, they might not see the need to buy expensive home security systems.
On the other hand, those who are frequently away from their home will find the wired, company-monitored systems the best choice for their money.
What Are the Best Home Video Security Brands?
There are many excellent home security brands, and most of them offer a wide range of plans and features.
ADT is one of the oldest and most popular home security companies. Other excellent brands include Vivint Smart Home, SimpliSafe, Abode, Cove, Xfinity, Scout Alarm, Lorex, and Wyze.
Are Video Doorbells a Good Home Security System?
Video doorbells are a popular choice for many homeowners, even though they’re not a comprehensive home security system.
They tell you who is at the front door without having to answer the door or even get close to it, which allows for an enhanced sense of security.
It’s best to use them with other home security systems to achieve better home protection.
Can a Home Security System Be Installed in an Old Home?
Yes, it can be. Even wired security systems can be installed in older homes as they don’t require complicated wiring systems.
Plus, wireless home security systems can be installed in any home with a wireless internet connection.
Do You Need a Permit to Install a Home Security System?
You will likely need a special permit if you choose a home security system with professional monitoring and an audible alarm.
Depending on local laws, you may also require special permits for electrical work, fire, and police departments.
Choosing the Best Home Security System For You
Buying a home security system requires extensive research. At the very least, you’ll need to set aside a couple of hundreds of dollars to get the basic home protection, but in some cases, the equipment alone will cost over $1,000.
You also need to decide if you want to pay monthly fees, backup fees, and what kind of warranty is preferable.
While false alarms may happen occasionally, home security systems are generally a fantastic investment. They can also lower home insurance premiums and increase the overall value of your home.