How Much Is A Home Security System?

Home security costs don’t always end with the equipment.

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on May 13, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on May 13, 2021

How much does a home security system cost? When buying a home security system, there are a ton of costs to consider beyond the physical components. There are professional monitoring, cloud storage, professional installation, maintenance, permits, and maybe even activation and cancellation fees.

However, with so many options on the market, you can choose to spend as little or as much as you want to. We’ll break down the costs of a home security system and tell you the best ways to save.

Top Home Security Systems Display
Top Home Security Systems

How Much Is A Home Security System?

If we haven’t scared you away, just know that if you want to get the most affordable home security systems available, then you can buy the equipment and be done. With self-monitored systems, you can be your own monitoring team. Let’s talk about equipment costs.

Equipment

We’ve tested out a ton of security systems and security cameras, and as you can see on the chart below, there’s a huge range on their costs. At the least, we bought a $60 kit from Wyze, while we purchased a $900 camera system from Swann.

Depending on whether you have a large or small home, you may be able to get away with spending less than $100 on your home security. And security cameras’ costs vary widely, as well, from $20 to $400 for a single camera. The market is saturated, and we’re here for it.

Security brand Name of system Equipment list Cost (low to high)
Wyze Wyze Sense and Wyze Cam Pan Bridge, 2 contact sensors, motion sensor, camera $60
Minut Point Smart Home Alarm Point (base station with built-in motion, glass break, temperature, humidity, light, mold, noise sensor, and siren) $149
Notion All-In-One Motion detectors, bridge, contact sensor $149
iSmartAlarm Premier Home Security Package Camera, base station, contact sensors, motion sensor $149.99
ADT/Samsung/SmartThings Starter Kit ADT security hub, window and door detectors, motion sensor $200
Swann SWDVK-445802V 2 cameras, 1 TB hard drive $200
Ring Alarm Security Kit Base station, keypad, contact sensors, motion sensors, range extender $239
Fortress S6 Titan 3G/4G WiFi Classic Kit Main panel, entry, motion and glass-break sensors, key fobs, key tags, panic button, siren $269.99
abode Essentials Starter Kit Gateway, entry sensor, motion sensor, key fob $279
abode iota Base station (motion sensor and camera built-in), key fob, entry sensor $299
Lorex 8-channel system 4 outdoor cameras, 1 TB hard drive $319
Cove Custom Touch panel, door sensor, motion sensor, key remote $354
Nest Nest Secure Base station, 2 motion/entry sensors, 2 key fobs $399
Alder Security Base System and cameras Touchscreen control panel, entry sensors, motion sensor, life safety sensors, YI indoor camera, Kami Outdoor Camera $400
Brinks Home Complete with Video Base station, video doorbell, glass break sensor, cellular communicator $500
SimpliSafe Summerfort System Base station, keypad, entry sensors, motion sensors, glass-break sensor, security camera, panic button, key fobs, siren $559
Frontpoint Custom Frontpoint Hub, radio, door/window sensor, motion sensor, glas- break sensor, keypad, keychain remote, video doorbell, smart lock, indoor camera $630
Link Interactive Custom Panel and cellular module, deadbolt, doorbell camera, indoor camera, entry sensors $734
ADT Video Package Keypad, motion entry and glass-break sensors, keyring remote, smart lock, alarm, indoor camera, video doorbell $773
Vivint Basic security system Panel, sensors, lock, video doorbell, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, indoor camera $844
Swann 8-channel system 6 cameras, a 2 TB hard drive $899.99

These days, most security companies offer both packages, customized systems, and add-on equipment, so you can choose whether you want your system to be bare bones, with a few sensors on your ground-level doors and windows, or expansive with everything from smoke alarms to carbon monoxide alarms, in addition to security sensors. If you don’t want to spend anything else besides equipment costs, you can stop reading here and go on with your day. If not, continue with us on your home security journey.

Monitoring

While all of the smart security systems we’ve tested offer self-monitoring, some offer or even require 24/7 professional monitoring, usually for a monthly or yearly fee. Professional monitoring will give you the most protection, as you’ll have a team of people available to respond to alarms and contact emergency services at all times.

Again, monthly fees for professional monitoring vary from just $10 with Ring Alarm, known for its low prices, all the way up to $60 with more traditional companies, like ADT. To save on monitoring, sign up for the longest term length possible, as your monthly rate will most likely be discounted.

Security system Is professional monitoring required? Minimum monthly cost of professional monitoring Minimum yearly cost of professional monitoring
abode X $20 $200
ADT $28.99 $347.88
Alder Security $40 $480
Brinks X $29 N/A
Cove $15 $180
Fortress X $8.95 $107.40
Frontpoint $49.99 $599.88
iSmartAlarm X N/A N/A
Link Interactive X $30.99 $371.88
Lorex X N/A N/A
Minut X N/A N/A
Nest Secure X $19 $228
Notion X N/A N/A
Ring Alarm X $10 $100
Scout X $19.99 $215
SimpliSafe X $14.99 $179.88
Swann X N/A N/A
Vivint X $39.99 $479.88
Wyze X N/A N/A

Backup

Many professionally monitored home security systems also include cellular or landline backup, which will keep you connected to the professional monitoring center in the event of a power outage. However, what do you do if you need a security system but don’t have a landline?

Easy, look for a security system for homes without landlines! As of June 2020, 63 percent of adults and 74 percent of children live in homes without landlines,1 so many companies have taken to making security systems with cellular backup. These systems use the same data your cell phone uses to stay connected, even if your neighborhood is completely blacked out.

Security system Is cellular backup included in the professional monitoring subscription? Minimum cost (per month) Minimum cost (per year)
abode $20 $200
ADT $28.99 $347.88
Alder Security $40 $480
Brinks $29 N/A
Cove $15 $180
Fortress $8.95 $107.40
Frontpoint $49.99 $599.88
iSmartAlarm X N/A N/A
Link Interactive $30.99 $371.88
Lorex X N/A N/A
Minut X N/A N/A
Nest Secure $19 $228
Notion X N/A N/A
Ring Alarm $10 $100
Scout $19.99 $215
SimpliSafe $14.99 $179.88
Swann X N/A N/A
Vivint Free with any system $39.99 $479.88
Wyze X N/A N/A

Installation/Activation

Another potential cost is for professional installation. Old-school companies like ADT and Vivint require professional installation, which typically costs a fee around $100. However, most companies offer free, DIY installation. We’ve also seen the decline in activation fees; at this point, very few companies require them, so you should be able to get started without one.

Smart Home Automation

Most smart home security systems work with voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, allowing us to arm and disarm them with our voices, among other commands. You should also be able to link up your home security system with other IoT devices, such as smart lights. Usually, these features are offered for free, but with certain companies like SimpliSafe, they’re only available with professional monitoring plans. Learn more about SimpliSafe’s pricing.

SimpliSafe Security System
SimpliSafe Security System

Live Streaming

Similarly, most companies let you view your camera’s live footage for free, but some companies offer it only as part of premium subscriptions. Looking at you again, SimpliSafe.

Maintenance

Maintenance is also a cost to consider, the cost of keeping up with your equipment. However, we found that, with rechargeable batteries, we rarely had to replace anything. Plus, with durable equipment, you shouldn’t have to regularly maintain any of your security equipment, even outdoor cameras. In our years of testing our security cameras and systems, we’ve barely had to spend any money on maintenance, so we’d consider these potential costs negligible.

Storage

When it comes to storing your camera’s footage, you could have either cloud storage, local storage, or both. While local storage is free (unless the camera doesn’t come with a micro-SD card), you may or may not have to pay for cloud storage.

  • No cloud storage: Not all cameras include cloud storage. Fortress, Night Owl and Swann cameras have local storage only, which is ideal for those that don’t want to spend money on cloud storage frees.
  • Free cloud storage: Other options have either free cloud storage or cloud storage bundled with professional monitoring costs.
Security system Is cloud storage included in professional monitoring subscriptions? Local storage Cloud storage in days Monthly cost of cloud storage Yearly cost of cloud storage
Scout X X 14 $0 for the first camera with Always On+ Plan then $2.99, $2.99 for Always On Plan $0, $35.88
abode 3, 14, 90 $0, $10, $20 $0, $96, $200
Link Interactive X N/A: Up to 1,000 or 5,000 clips $0, $5 $0, $60
ADT X X 30 $0 $0
Frontpoint N/A: Up to 1,000 clips $0 $0
iSmartAlarm N/A: Up to 30 10-second clips $0 $0
Lorex X 2 $0 $0
Wyze n/a 14 $0 $0
  • Paid cloud storage: Finally, some companies don’t offer any free cloud storage, only paid options.
Security system Is cloud storage included in professional monitoring subscriptions? Local storage Cloud storage in days Monthly cost of cloud storage Yearly cost of cloud storage
Ring Alarm 60 $3, $10 $30, 100
Nest Secure X X 5, 10, 30 $5, $10, $30 $50, $100, $300
Vivint X 14 $5 per camera $60 per camera
SimpliSafe X 30 $24.99 $299.88
Brinks X N/A: Up to 1,000 clips $39 $468
Lifeshield X 30, 60 Negotiable Negotiable

Taxes

When April comes around, you might wonder, “Can I get a tax deduction for my home security system?” Unless you use your home as your primary, regular place of business, the answer is no, unfortunately. Even if you work from home, there are many restrictions as stipulated by the IRS; read our article on home security tax deductions to see if you can save.

Permits

If you have an audible alarm or professional monitoring, you will probably need a permit for your home security system. In some cases, you may need multiple permits for the fire department, police department, and any electrical work. Be sure to check your local laws before you install your security system, and for the permits themselves, expect to pay around $50 to $100, either one time or recurring.

Did You Know: Localities require alarm permits to reduce the number of false alarms they receive. In 2018, fire departments in the U.S. responded to nearly 3 million false alarms, a 22 percent increase from 2017.2

Contracts And Cancellation Fees

There are few things more universally dreaded than termination fees. If you signed up for a long-term contract, you may have to pay the remainder of your billing cycle, although it’s rare that companies have additional cancellation fees. Whatever you do, read the cancellation policy before you sign up, as you don’t want to be locked into a long-term contract.

Security system Is professional monitoring required? Contract length options Early cancellation fee
abode X Month-to-month or year $0, but no prorated refunds
ADT 3 years 75% of monthly charges for the balance of the initial contract
Brinks X 3 years 80% of monthly charges for the balance of the initial contract
Cove Month to month $0
Frontpoint Month to month $0
iSmartAlarm X N/A N/A
Link Interactive X 1, 2 or 3 years in the initial contract, then can go month to month $0, but must pay remaining terms of the agreement
Lorex X N/A N/A
Minut X N/A N/A
Notion X N/A N/A
Ring Alarm X Month to month $0
Scout X Month to month or year $0
SimpliSafe X Month to month $0
Swann X N/A N/A
Wyze X N/A N/A

Are Home Security Systems Worth It?

Given all of the above costs, you may be looking to jump ship. Are home security systems really effective, and more importantly, are they worth the price?

Do Home Security Systems Deter Crime?

There’s a debate on whether home security deters crime. While there is evidence on both sides, more studies point to the effectiveness of home security systems. A five-year-long study from Rutgers University, for example, found that residential burglar alarm systems decrease crimes, based on data from the Newark Police Department. Not only do security systems guard against burglaries, but they also protect nearby homes.

“Neighborhoods in which burglar alarms were densely installed have fewer incidents of residential burglaries than the neighborhoods with fewer burglar alarms,” said the study’s author Seungmug Lee, Ph.D., who is currently an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Texas at Arlington. “The study credits the alarms with the decrease in burglaries and the city’s overall crime rate.”3

Even though home security is expensive, it has been shown to deter crime without displacing it to your neighbors, creating a safer neighborhood for all.

Ring Doorbell
Ring Video Doorbell

Average Losses From Burglaries

Of course, home security systems are only worth it if they cost less than the cost of a burglary, but how much do people lose, on average? According to the FBI’s latest data, the average loss from a burglary is $2,316,4 pretty pricey. And some things can’t be monetized, like the emotional toll of home burglaries.5 Whether it’s monetary or emotional, home burglaries will cost you.

Pros and Cons of Home Security Systems

But we weren’t satisfied with just one study, so we looked into many other studies to show us the true pros and cons of home security systems.

Pros
  • Safety: Other studies have confirmed the Rutgers study’s findings. A University of North Carolina Charlotte study found that most burglars enter homes through doors and windows that were either open, or that they forced open.6 Window sensors are an affordable and easy way to prevent this type of entry, or at the very least, to alert you if any doors or windows are opened when your system is armed. Another study from the U.S. Department of Justice echoed this sentiment, finding that about 70 percent of burglars enter by damaging or removing doors.7 Again, door sensors don’t cost much, along with motion sensors, glass-break sensors, and video doorbells, outdoor cameras and indoor cameras, if you want to supplement with additional equipment. A la carte equipment is a great way to make your home safer without breaking the bank.
  • Homeowners insurance discounts: We’ll discuss this later, but if you’re a homeowner, buying a home security system could get you a discount on your homeowners insurance.
  • Prevents crimes: Security systems don’t just let you know when crimes occur. They also can prevent crimes from happening in the first place. The same UNC study of over 400 convicted burglars found that, if they discovered an alarm on-site, 60 percent would choose another home. Even if they found alarms mid-burglary, 50 percent would leave immediately.

No matter if they find them before or after the burglary, it’s no surprise that burglars are less likely to choose and rob homes with alarm systems.

Cons
  • Costs: Especially if you choose a system with a professional monitoring service and/or installation, your costs could be considerable, both in terms of equipment and monthly fees.
  • False alarms: No security system is perfect, and many suffer from false alarms, whether it be from low batteries, faulty equipment, or simply human error. Some localities charge homes for false alarms, so it’s important to take some preventative measures.

TIP: To reduce false alarms, install your high-quality system correctly, require dual verification through two-way audio, and keep all software and hardware updated.8

How To Save On Home Security

Despite the mounting costs, there are ways to save on home security, and boy, have we got ideas.

Deals, Deals, Deals

Discounts and deals occur year-round and on sales holidays like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Prime Day. We obsess over all home security camera and system deals, and we’ve linked to them below for your saving pleasure.

Long-Term Contracts

As we mentioned earlier, you can save money on professional monitoring by signing a contract for a long time period; of course, if you ever want to get out of it, take cancellation fees into consideration.

DIY Installation

Another way to save money is to install your security system yourself, which shouldn’t be too hard, especially if it’s a wireless security system. Protect your home with the best DIY home security systems.

Abode iota Components
abode iota Components

Self-Monitoring

You can avoid monthly fees completely by self-monitoring your system. Look into the best security systems with no contracts, the best security systems with no monthly fees, and the best self-monitored security systems.

Home Insurance Discounts

If you own a home, you could save two to 10 percent off your homeowners insurance premiums by buying a home security system.9

Financing Options

If the upfront costs of a home security system are too much, many companies have financing options. Take Frontpoint’s costs if you pay through Bread, for example.

Component Price of component The Safehouse The Bunker The Fortress
Frontpoint hub and keypad $304.98 1 1 1
Door and window sensor(s) $32.99 2 3 6
Motion detector $64.99 1 1 2
Yard sign $0.00 1 1 1
Door decal $0.00 1 1 1
Window decal $0.00 3 3 3
Indoor camera $99.99 0 1 1
Smoke and heat sensor $64.99 0 1 1
Doorbell camera $0.00 1 1 1
Total monthly cost with 25% discount N/A $326.96 $475.44 $598.41
Total monthly cost with 25% discount and 36-month financing through Bread N/A $9.08 $13.21 $16.62

Of course, in this case, you’ll have to sign up for three years to do the financing option, but this will differ on a home security company-by-company basis.

What To Look For In A Home Security System

So you’ve decided that a home security system is worth your while, and now it’s time to pick a system. There are a ton of factors to consider in that buying process, including the following:

  • DIY vs. professional installation: First, decide if you want DIY vs. professional installation. Again, to save money, go with DIY over systems that require professional installation.
  • Wired vs. wireless: Especially if you’re doing a DIY installation, you may want a wireless vs. a wired home security system. However, wired systems have the advantage of having no batteries to replace, although they may not work in a power outage if you lack backup.
  • Monitored vs. unmonitored: Decide whether you want self-monitoring, professional monitoring, or both.
  • Apps: Look for systems with apps that have ratings of at least three stars on either the Google Play or App stores.
  • Trustworthy company: Check into the company’s background. Do they have a history of spying on customers, data breaches, or hacks? Security systems can be hacked, so it’s important to do your research.
  • Equipment options: Before you start looking, make a list of the equipment you think you’ll need for your home, and then look for companies with comprehensive and affordable options.
  • Pricing: Of course, pricing must be taken into consideration, from equipment to monitoring to storage and everything in between.
  • Smart home integrations: Those that already use Alexa or Google Assistant in their homes will want home security systems that do, too, allowing for convenient home automation and voice commands.
  • Backup: If you have a wired security system, you’ll want either cellular or landline backup to keep your system on in a power outage.
  • Contracts: Many people want flexibility in their home security, and if that’s the case, choose a system with month-to-month contracts. Others may want to benefit from the discounts of long-term contracts, which can be up to three years long.
  • Customer support: The company should have myriad ways to reach customer support, including phone, email, and live chat, plus good reviews from real customers like us.
  • Warranty: Look for an equipment warranty of at least a year, if not longer.
  • Return policy: This one’s really important. Make sure the company offers a reasonable return policy, and take any cancellation fees into account as well.
  • Moving policy: If you move, can you take your system with you? If it’s professionally installed, will you have to pay a fee again? These are both important questions to ask yourself if you’re not in your forever home.

Recap

With customizable home security kits, you can spend anywhere from $20 to thousands of dollars on your home security system. The truth is that there are systems of all shapes and sizes, from security systems for apartments to security systems for large homes. And with optional professional installation and monitoring, the costs of home security are really up to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve been known to ramble on, especially when the topic of home security arises, so it’s not surprising that we’re not quite finished.

Citations
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January-June 2020.
    cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/wireless202102-508.pdf

  2. Statista. (2019). Number of false fire alarms responded by U.S. fire departments in 2018, by type of false alarm.
    statista.com/statistics/376692/number-of-false-fire-alarms-in-the-us-by-type/

  3. Rutgers. (2009). Rutgers Study Finds Alarm Systems Are Valuable Crime Fighting Tool.
    rutgers.edu/news/rutgers-study-finds-alarm-systems-are-valuable-crime-fighting-tool

  4. FBI. (2021). Burglary.
    ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/burglary

  5. Psychology Today. (2016). Beating the Burglary Blues.
    psychologytoday.com/us/articles/199605/beating-the-burglary-blues

  6. UNC Charlotte. (2020). Through the eyes of a burglar: Study provides insights on habits and motivations, importance of security.
    news.uncc.edu/news-events/news-releases/study-provides-insights-habits-and-motivations-burglars

  7. U.S. Department of Justice. (2010). Victimization During Household Burglary.
    bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vdhb.pdf?kbid=62750

  8. Cleveland County. (2020). The 6 Most Common Causes of False Alarms.
    clevelandcounty.com/sheriffs_office/documents/how_reduce_false_alarms.pdf

  9. Policy Genius. (2020). How much can you save on home insurance with a security system?
    policygenius.com/homeowners-insurance/how-much-can-you-save-on-home-insurance-with-a-security-system/