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Home Security Cost
- A basic, wired, install-it-yourself home security system starts around $50-$300, depending on the number and type of sensors and controls. Components for a similar wireless system run $250-$750 or more with options such as the ability to call and control the system remotely, digital voice alarm messages or having the system dial your cell phone whenever the alarm is triggered. Prices go up as you add fire detectors and other components into the system.
- A security company will either sell you the components to install a system yourself or install them for you with prices ranging from free if you sign up for monthly monitoring (paying the first and last month fees on a two- to four-year contract) to $100-$1,500 or more, depending on the number and type of sensors and the features chosen. Monitoring fees range from $8-$40 or more monthly, or $95-$480 each year.
Related articles: Homeowner’s Insurance. Car Alarm Installation
What should be included:
- An alarm system is basically a low-voltage electrical circuit that triggers a warning when a door or window is opened, window glass is broken or motion is detected in a specific area. The alarm can be a siren, lights and/or an automatic signal/call to a monitoring company.
- A standard security system includes a control panel, keypad, siren, motion detector(s), and door and window contacts. Optional items include glass break detectors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, panic buttons, pressure mats for under rugs, closed circuit television and a back-up power supply.
- State Farm Insurance provides a basic overview of security alarm systems [1 ] and SafeMart.com discusses choosing between hard-wired and wireless systems [2 ] .
- Which types of sensors (contact, motion, glass breaking) are used and where they are installed can be crucial to how well a home alarm system works. Installing sensors on every door and window can be expensive; some systems installed for “free” with a monthly monitoring contract include only a few sensors.
- A monitoring system will notify the closest police department if the alarm is triggered, and usually try to also contact the homeowner. Depending on the system chosen, some companies dispatch fire or medical assistance when appropriate. Monitoring companies can be local or nationally based with a distant call center.
- Many cities or counties require an annual alarm permit with a minimal fee of $5-$50. Some also charge service fees for false alarms; usually the first incident or two is free, and then the cost can be $10-$200 or more for each false alarm, depending on how many occur.
- The components of wireless systems require batteries, which will need to be replaced by you or possibly by the alarm company at an extra charge. Ask about what’s included and consider using rechargeable batteries to cut costs.
- Most homeowners insurance policies offer a discount of 2-20 percent if you install a home security system.
Shopping for home security:
- Ask your homeowners insurance company if it recommends specific companies or installers. Referrals are also available through the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association [3 ]. AlarmSystemReviews.com provides an alphabetical list of national monitoring companies [4 ] and the town of Scottsdale, Arizona offers a detailed consumer guide for choosing a home alarm [5 ] .
- Check for any complaints with the Better Business Bureau [6 ]. Get written quotes from at least three firms, making sure it’s clear what is and isn’t included and the specific equipment used. Ask how long it will take to install the system, what the average response time is to an alarm and how the company screens its employees. Call your local police department and find out how long it usually takes them to respond to a home security system alarm, and if they have any statistics on the local false alarm rate for the various monitoring companies.
- Look for a monthly monitoring service that doesn’t require a long contract. If signing a contract, watch for an automatic renewal clause or other features that can lock you into high monthly fees.