How Much Does a Security System Cost?

Updated by Alexia on

A security system can help protect your home, family, and valuables from burglars. But is a burglar alarm worth the expense? Let's dig into the nitty-gritty of home security costs to find out when a price becomes a good value.

Cost of home security system

* Based on the combined average cost of a control panel, keypad, two motion detectors, and six entry sensors.
† Assumes two-year battery life and lithium-ion batteries at $2.00 each for sensors listed above.

How much does home security monitoring cost?

Professional monitoring is a worthwhile companion for your home security system since it mobilizes people when your alarm goes off. These professionals can send emergency responders directly to your home, which is especially crucial if you're unable to call 911 yourself.

From a cost perspective, the monitoring fee is the most expensive part of most security systems, costing an average of $31.65 a month across the 170 national and local security providers we've researched over the past two years.

In general, a monitored system that costs less than average is a good value because you won't find many contracts, but you will pay more up front for equipment.

Is home security monitoring a good value?

Because there's such a wide variety of monitoring plans out there, we think it's likely that you'll find one that's a great value for your needs.

As with any service, value depends on how you compare plans. If you're comparing plans from a single alarm company, a general rule of thumb is that more expensive monitoring comes with more features, like smart home devices and security cameras.

But when you compare plans from multiple companies, a different correlation appears: higher costs usually mean a better warranty and better equipment.

The core of every professional monitoring plan is essentially the same: 24/7 monitoring of your home. Whether you choose a particular brand, device, or feature ultimately depends on your personal preferences and budget.

What are the long-term costs of security monitoring?

Because monitoring is a monthly fee, it adds up over time, like a cell phone plan.

Here's a quick reference of expenses based on several price points to help you visualize the cumulative cost of home security monitoring:

Monthly price $10/mo. $20/mo. $30/mo. $40/mo. $50/mo. $60/mo.
1 year $120 $240 $360 $480 $600 $720
2 year $240 $480 $720 $960 $1,200 $1,440
3 year $360 $720 $1,080 $1,440 $1,800 $2,160
4 year $480 $960 $1,440 $1,920 $2,400 $2,880
5 year $600 $1,200 $1,800 $2,400 $3,000 $3,600


How much does it cost to cancel your home security plan?

The contract lays out what you owe if you cancel early, usually a percentage of your monthly monitoring payments. Here's a quick list of termination fees from some major providers in North America:

  • ADT: 75%
  • Alder: 90%
  • Brinks: 100%
  • Cox Homelife: 50%
  • Link Interactive: 75%
  • Vivint: 100%

Except for Alder and Vivint, all of the providers above sell contract-free options as well:

  • ADT: Blue by ADT
  • Brinks: Google Nest Secure (uses Brinks' monitoring)
  • Cox Homelife: Contact the company to arrange a no-contract plan
  • Link Interactive: Contact the company to arrange a no-contract plan

Historically, the biggest complaint about the cost of alarm monitoring is canceling it. While there are a ton of no-contract DIY security systems that don't charge you a dime to cancel, you should always be ready to thumb through a contract if you choose professional installation.

A contract isn't always a deal-breaker

If you plan to use a home security system for longer than a particular brand's contract, you won't have trouble switching later. Most contracts roll over to a monthly payment after ending. Still, always check with your provider to make sure it doesn't renew for a longer term.

If you plan to use a home security system for longer than a particular brand's contract, you won't have trouble switching later. Most contracts roll over to a monthly payment after ending. Still, always check with your provider to make sure it doesn't renew for a longer term.

Check out our guide to professional and DIY installation to learn more about how each type of system approaches contracts and monitoring.

How much does it cost to get a security system installed?

Here's the good news—most national security companies, including Ring Alarm and SimpliSafe, don't charge for installation and activation. This is because customers install and activate the equipment themselves. 

While a few companies charge for these services, the typical home security installation cost is surprisingly small compared to long-term monitoring costs: usually between $99 and $199. The benefit of the higher price is that experienced technicians can install equipment quickly and correctly while you kick back with a good book.

How much does home security equipment cost?

Security equipment is the second biggest expense in a home alarm system and the highest up-front cost. Unlike monitoring, the equipment cost goes up as home sizes increase (at least if you want the same level of coverage).

While we don't have complete equipment costs for local security companies, we do have them for 13 national providers:

Equipment type Average cost Lowest price Highest price
Contact sensor $28.00 $8.99 $61.00
Motion detector $40.07 $29.99 $100.00
Glass break sensor $61.35 $20.99 $100.00
Smoke detector $69.00 $29.99 $119.00
Carbon monoxide detector $119.18 $40.00 $119.00
Panic button $24.14 $19.99 $35.00
Key fob $21.11 $4.99 $34.99
Indoor security camera $163.70 $40.00 $300.00
Outdoor security camera $174.10 $80.00 $399.00
Video doorbell camera $168.14 $99.00 $249.99


Info current as of 08/05/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Not every security company sells every device type listed above.

As you can see from the table above, a lot of home security equipment is affordable. The price bumps come when security companies sell complex devices or just mark up the price for a greater profit. On top of that, some security cameras require an additional subscription to store video clips on the cloud.

If you want to save money on your security system, we recommend skipping its security cameras, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors in favor of stand-alone retail versions. They won't talk to your system but are a good compromise that can cut down on short- and long-term costs.

Which equipment is "essential" for a home security system?

For most systems, there are three essential security devices:

  • The base station connects the system to monitoring services. It may or may not require an additional keypad or control panel. Companies usually include this in a starter kit, accounting for around $126 of a kit's price on average.
  • Contact sensors (entry sensors) detect when someone enters through a door or window. Most starter kits include at least one or two of these, with larger kits including many more. These are generally affordable, costing around $28 each.
  • Motion sensors are the second line of defense inside the house and are handy when someone manages to bypass an entry sensor through a broken window. Most equipment packages include up to two motion sensors, costing around $40 each.

Anything beyond the intrusion detection devices above isn't strictly necessary for a security system but adds a new way to detect different environmental hazards.

Should I finance my equipment costs?

It depends on whether you want a slightly bigger monthly bill or an up-front bill that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Many security companies offer financing to help cover the large up-front costs of equipment. Financing plans raise your monthly monitoring fee but can help folks with limited funds.

They generally require a credit check and are more likely to saddle you with a contract, so you should study the terms carefully before committing to one.

How much does it cost to maintain a security system?

Maintaining a security system doesn't usually cost much more than the price of a few replacement batteries every year or two. Even if your sensors use expensive batteries, you typically won't spend more than $10 a year on maintenance.

What if a security device breaks?

Faulty devices generally fall under the warranty, which lasts as little as one year or as long as you pay for professional monitoring (lifetime warranty), depending on the brand. The warranty will cover some or all of the replacement costs.

ADT charges mandatory fees to cover equipment and in-house service calls, but this is relatively rare in the security industry. ADT's fee is part of the monitoring contract and changes based on the value of the equipment in your home. Another notable example is Vivint, which charges for individual service calls if you don't subscribe to a premium service plan.

Do I have to pay taxes or permit fees for my security system?

You should expect to pay local and state taxes (sales or service) for your equipment and monitoring. The exact tax amount varies by location, so look out for this line item on account statements to find out what you pay.

Do I need to pay for an alarm permit?

Much like taxes, alarm permits vary from place to place. For example, folks in New York City don't need a permit, but Phoenix residents pay $17 each year. The idea behind permits is to reduce false alarms that divert city resources.

Permit or not, you might be on the hook for fines if your security system causes too many false alarms. A false alarm fine typically ranges from $50 to $500 depending on the city and the number of instances in a calendar year.

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