Alder is a traditional security company that offers modern security systems. It’s traditional in the sense that it requires a contract and requires customers to phone in to get a quote. But instead of clunky components, Alder offers a touchscreen control panel and sleek-looking sensors installed in a DIY or professional fashion. If you’re wondering what a system like that costs, you came to the right place. We tested Alder ourselves to provide an insider’s look at the company’s equipment and monitoring. Though we can’t give you a price list — you’ll need to call Alder for that as they prefer giving customers a customized quote and prices may vary by region — we can explain how their pricing model works, what the contract entails, and other things you should know before making a call. We have a lot to share, so let’s get to it!
The Best of Alder’s Features
To give you an idea of what to expect from Alder, we listed the five things we liked best about the company and its offerings.
- Free professional or DIY installation — We opted to install Alder ourselves, but they actually offered us free professional installation. We don’t see that kind of offer every day.
- Touchscreen tablet controller — We felt like the Jetsons using Alder thanks to the futuristic, tablet-like control panel. The voice prompts were a nice touch, too!
- 100% cellular with battery backup — Alder wasn’t just wireless; it was cellular, one of the most reliable forms of communication in the alarm industry. Cellular monitoring makes the system impervious to line-cutting and internet downtimes. And during power interruptions, the 24-hour battery backup had our backs.
- Free base system with a three-year contract — We received a touchscreen control panel, two door/window sensors, and a motion sensor. How much did it cost us? Nada. The base system was free. We only paid for the additional equipment we purchased, but more about that later.
- Proprietary equipment — Alder makes its own equipment now, which is awesome! That means their support team and technicians can troubleshoot, maintain, and repair Alder systems faster and more efficiently than anyone else.
This list barely scratches the surface, so if you want a complete evaluation, check out our Alder security system review; it has all the juicy details about our experience with the system.
Is the Equipment Really Free?
About that free equipment that we mentioned, Alder charged us nothing for the base package consisting of a touchscreen control panel, two door/window sensors, and one motion sensor. That’s what we got for signing a three-year monitoring agreement with a $40 monthly fee. Had we agreed to a higher monthly rate, we would have gotten more components. Here are the options:
|Costs & Equipment||Basic||Standard|
|Estimated Monthly Price||$40||$55|
|Touchscreen Control Panel||1||1|
Sounds like a good deal, no? Well, the equipment wasn’t really free. Alder had us sign a contract, which basically meant that the package cost was spread out and added into the monthly fee. That approach is great for those who aren’t ready to spend hundreds on home security equipment at the time of purchase. Without paying anything upfront, we got a basic security system and professional monitoring for a reasonable monthly rate. On the other hand, we did the math and found that it makes more sense for those who have the budget to buy from a company that requires an equipment purchase. Such companies often have lower monthly fees so the savings are greater in the long run. SimpliSafe and Ring Alarm come to mind, as they have exceptionally low rates for professional monitoring at $24.99 and $10 a month, respectively.
Did You Know: Unlike some alarm companies, Alder serves homeowners and renters alike. On top of that, they don’t check credit scores, so Alder is worth considering if you’re having trouble getting approved with other traditional alarm companies.
Other than home security components, Alder offers equipment for medical emergency response and environmental monitoring that promote life safety. Experts agree that the early detection of incidents such as gas leaks, falls, medical emergencies, and fires can save lives1, which is why Alder offers components like medical emergency buttons, smoke alarms, and CO sensors. But what’s the cost? Well, Alder offers such devices as add-ons that must be purchased and paid for upfront. The same goes for security cameras, extra door/window sensors, extra motion sensors, and key remotes. All in all, we spent about $400 on cameras and a smoke alarm.
Once again, we don’t have a price list for you — sorry, Charlie! You can contact Alder if you want to find out — or even haggle — the price of the components you are looking to get. What we do have is a list of the add-on components offered by Alder:
- Extra Door/Window Sensors
- Extra Motion Sensors
- Key Remotes
- Indoor Cameras
- Outdoor Cameras
- Arlo Audio Doorbell
- Smoke Alarms
- CO Detectors
- Medical Buttons
- Yard Signs and Window Stickers
Pro Tip: Before calling Alder to shop, prepare a list of components and devices that you need. Doing so will help you avoid getting upsold by sales reps.
Free Installation: DIY & Professional
After rounding up all the components we needed, we proceeded to the installation. Alder can either be self-installed or installed by a technician. Either way, there’s no installation fee. That offer is hard to come by. Although DIY systems are often free to install, most alarm companies we’ve tested charged a fee for professional installation (Vivint, for example, charges $149 in addition to its pricey equipment and monitoring costs).
Monitoring Costs: Contracts, Policies, and More!
For Alder customers, a huge part of the cost goes to the professional monitoring service. The monthly fee for that service is about $40 to $60 depending on the features, but there’s a lock-in period — otherwise known as a monitoring contract — that lasts for at least three years. During that period, canceling the service will incur an early termination fee equivalent to 90% of the contract balance.
Just looking at the numbers made our heads spin, but we soldiered through and made this chart as a sample. Note that this is only an estimate based on the quote Alder gave us. Alder sales reps give customized quotes, so actual prices and fees may vary depending on where you live and whether or not Alder is running promotions at the time of your purchase.
|Estimated Monthly Rate||$40||$50||$60|
|Key Features||Basic Home Security||Advanced Home Security + Life Safety||Advanced Home Security & Life Safety + Video|
|Total Cost in 1 Year||$480||$600||$720|
|Total Cost in 3 Years||$1,440||$1,800||$2,160|
|Early Termination Fee if canceled after 6 months||$1,080||$1,350||$1,620|
|Early Termination Fee if canceled after 12 months||$864||$1,080||$1,296|
|Early Termination Fee if canceled after 18 months||$648||$810||$972|
|Early Termination Fee if canceled after 24 months||$432||$540||$648|
As you can see, the early termination fee can be pretty high, so it’s best to sign with Alder only if you’re sure you can finish the contract. Fortunately, Alder has a couple of customer-friendly policies that can lessen the burden.
First, there’s a 30-day, money-back guarantee. All customers have 30 days to cancel after activating their systems. Alder will refund all payments made and cancel the contract without termination fees, provided that the customer can return all the equipment, including accessories, manuals, and boxes. The customer will shoulder the return shipping costs.
Second, Alder has a price-lock guarantee that locks in the rate once you sign the contract. This policy takes away Alder’s right to increase the rate for the first three years. Once the contract expires, though, Alder will once again be free to increase their rates as they like.
Hot Tip: It’s always a good idea to read contracts thoroughly before signing them. If you have any questions about Alder, don’t hesitate to clarify things with your sales rep.
Does Alder Integrate Well With Others?
As part of our value assessment of Alder, we also looked at all the possible integrations of Alder with third-party smart home and security voice assistants and brands. After some searching, we only found one: Alexa.2 With the Alexa integration, we checked up on our security system status using our voice and an Alexa-enabled smart speaker, specifically our Echo Dot with Clock. We also armed Alder using voice commands. Other than that, Alder didn’t offer any other smart home integrations.
That wasn’t always the case, though. In previous years, Alder offered a touchscreen control panel made by 2Gig. That control panel connected to Z-Wave3 smart home devices, so home automation was very much a possibility back then. But with Alder’s switch to using proprietary equipment, most home automation features were scrapped, at least for now.
Is Alder Better Than Others?
Finally, let’s look at how Alder compares to the competition. Although most security systems seem alike on the surface, we know for a fact that each system is unique. For Alder, its uniqueness is thanks to the company’s fast response rate. According to them, in 2017, they recorded an average response time of 3.4 seconds. That’s more than three times faster than the likes of ADT and Vivint that typically take 15 to 30 seconds to respond, based on our experience.
When it comes to technology, though, Alder is still a long way from becoming the best. Alder’s lineup of security sensors, life safety sensors, cameras, and medical emergency buttons is meek in comparison to ADT’s well-developed product line. And in the smart home vertical, Vivint is way ahead. Although Vivint uses proprietary equipment like Alder, they offer a smart thermostat, and their systems work with the two most popular voice assistants, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Plus, we were able to use a lot more commands to control Vivint with our voices than we could with Alder.
Still, Alder does a lot of the little things right. The system itself is simple, which is more than can be said for ADT and Vivint. Alder also doesn’t have installation fees, while ADT and Vivint both require professional installation with fees of around $100 or more, depending on how well you negotiate. These small things make Alder a formidable rival to both ADT, Vivint, and other traditional alarm companies. And if the last five years are any indication, Alder will likely become a force to be reckoned with. They were named one of the fastest-growing companies4 in the state of Utah in 2016, after all.
So What’s the Bottom Line?
Alder is a simple system thanks to its easy setup process and touchscreen controller, but it’s also fast and reliable because of their exceptional response rate and cellular backup. Plus, we appreciated their lack of upfront costs and willingness to serve homeowners and renters regardless of their credit scores. With that being said, Alder does have some shortcomings. Our biggest concerns are Alder’s limited equipment options and lack of rich smart home features. The long-term contracts and cancellation fees were quite off-putting as well. But if you could live with those things, Alder is surely a strong candidate to protect your home.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). (2019). Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires.
Amazon. (2020). Alder: Alexa Skills. amazon.com/Alder/dp/B07D41H56T
Z-Wave Alliance. (2020). The Internet of Things Is Powered by Z-Wave.
Utah Business. (2016). Utah Business Honors Utah’s Fastest-Growing Companies.