How Much Does A Home Security System Cost (Installation, Monthly, Etc.)? ADT, Vivint, XFinity, Brinks, SimpliSafe, & More

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Desk with money, finances and home block (caption: How Much Does A Home Security System Cost?)A dependable security system doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. But the initial offer you receive may look sweeter than it is, and may not contain all of what you’ll end up paying out of pocket. In addition to your equipment price or monthly monitoring fee, there are often installation, upgrade, add-on, and other hidden costs you’ll encounter after you sign up.

Our experts compare the top providers and sift through the hidden fees so your wallet won’t be surprised later.

You can choose between DIY and professional installation as well as professional or self-monitored systems to find the right security system for your budget. We’ll help you understand all of the costs (and savings) you’ll incur so you won’t be surprised by your first bill.

Article Overview

Top 3 Home Security Systems & Category Winners

Price isn’t everything. Our experts have reviewed the top home security providers on a number of different criteria: customer service, equipment, technology, ease of use and value and included them in the table below for your convenience. A weighted average score is calculated to arrive at a total score our experts use to rank the companies relative to one another. For a full explanation of our review criteria and how we calculate the final score, we invite you to visit our home security systems guide.

Frontpoint logo small Link Interactive logo SimpliSafe logo Ring logo ADT Logo Vivint Logo
Ranking 1st 2nd 3rd Low Cost, No Contract Professional Install Smart Home
Total Score 4.70 4.18 4.15 4.00 3.30 2.75
Customer Service & Reputation 4.8 4.3 4.5 4.0 2.0 1.0
Equipment 4.8 3.8 3.8 3.3 4.3 4.0
Technology 4.8 4.0 3.5 4.3 3.5 3.0
Value 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.0 3.0 2.0
Ease Of Use 4.8 4.3 4.5 4.5 3.8 3.8
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Costs Associated With Security Systems

Before we go in-depth comparison one systems’ costs to another, we’d like to introduce you to the types of costs you’ll typically encounter.

Equipment

Most companies charge for a starter package, but there are a some (like ADT for example) that don’t charge for the equipment up to a certain limit. Many security companies also offer build-your-own packages à la carte style, so you’re only paying for the devices you want and know you’ll use.

DIY vs Professional Installation

The majority of home security systems today offer DIY (Do It Yourself) installation, which can save you (and the security company) hundreds of dollars on installation fees. However, some companies (like ADT, Vivint and AT&T Digital Life) still require professional installation.

Illustration of hand disarming alarm (caption: Guide To Central Monitoring Stations)Professional installation can get pricey (typically several hundred dollars), while DIY costs only your time (and possibly some aggravation, which is why our experts wrote up a home security installation guide to hopefully minimize those frustrations).

Professional vs Self-Monitoring

We compare professional (a central monitoring station monitors your system for you) vs self-monitoring (you and/or a network of designated contacts is responsible for monitoring your own system). You’ll find more explanation of each item below the table.

Professional Monitoring Self-Monitoring
Typically Less Expensive Checkmark
(But May Include Cloud Storage Fees For Video)
Considered Safer Checkmark
Professionals Monitor Your System 24/7 Checkmark
Responsible For Contacting Authorities Monitoring Station You
Alerts For: Power Outages, Natural Gas Leaks, CO & Smoke, Flooding Checkmark Checkmark
Easier To Move System To New Home Only Frontpoint and Ring Checkmark
  • Typically less expensive – professional monitoring is virtually always more expensive than self-monitoring, because you are paying a monthly fee to have a central monitoring station monitor your system for you.
  • Considered safer – professionally monitored systems are considered safer because a monitoring station can automatically have authorities (police, fire, or ambulance) respond if the system detects an alert (intrusion, smoke, carbon monoxide, panic button, etc.). With a self-monitored system, it’s up to you or your network of designated contacts to alert the authorities when there’s an incident. This could be difficult to impossible if you are asleep or traveling.
  • Easier to move system to new home – self-monitored systems are typically DIY installation via wireless sensors (vs hardwired into your home by a professional installer), which means it’s usually easier to detach and move the sensors to your new home. This is especially useful for renters, as with self-monitored systems you’re not locked into a long-term contract (in the next section you’ll see this is also true for some pro-monitored companies).

Contract Terms

Another element you’ll want to consider is the contract length. If a company requires a three-year contract, that means you’ll be expected to pay for the installation, equipment and monitoring that’s needed for all three years (depending on the company’s cancellation policy, there are some that will offer pro-rated refunds, but not many).

Increasingly (and fortunately for consumers), companies are moving away from the contract model.

Which Home Security Companies Are Contract Free?

Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, Ring Alarm and Nest Secure all have no-contract options.

Security System Price & Feature Comparisons

Home security app (caption: Home Security Systems Reviews)A good way to get the best bang for your buck is to purchase a starter kit or a bundled package. The beauty of these systems is that you can continually add equipment as your needs and budget grow.

We’ve put together a few tables to help you compare costs. The packages below are listed in order of our rankings in our home security systems reviews.

Companies like Link Interactive offer build-your-own plans, which lets you customize your equipment selection to your home’s specific needs. Other companies offer starter kits (bundled equipment at discounts), but the selection isn’t always great (Nest Secure, for example, only offers one).

Entry-Level Packages (Starter Kits)

Basic packages typically include 4-6 pieces. This is perfect for an apartment or as a starter kit for you to build upon as your budget allows. You’ll want to pay careful attention to other costs, especially monthly monitoring fees.

Company & Package Name Frontpoint Safe Home Starter Protect America Copper SimpliSafe The Essentials ADT Basic Security Vivint SkyControl Starter Kit Brinks Home Complete Ring Alarm 5-Piece Nest Secure Alarm System
Price Per Kit $255.96 Included $259.00 Included $599.99 $499.00 $139.00 $399.99
Installation DIY DIY DIY Professional $99 Professional $49 DIY DIY DIY
Professional or Self-Monitoring Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional Both Both
Contract None 3 Years None 3 Years 3.5-5 Years 3 Years None None or 3 Years
Monthly Monitoring Fee $44.99 $19.99 Landline
$41.99 Broadband or Cellular
$14.99
$24.99 with App Access
$27.99 $29.99 $29 $10 Free Self-Monitoring
$29 No Contract
$19 3-Year Contract
Form of Monitoring Cellular Landline, Broadband & Cellular Cellular Landline Cellular Broadband Broadband Broadband
Total Number of Pieces Included 5 5 6 6 6 5 5 5
Base Station 1 Combination Base & Keypad 1 1 Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad 1 Combination Base & Keypad
Keypad 1 Combination Base & Keypad 1 1 Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad 1 Combination Base & Keypad
Key Fob 1 2
Motion Sensor 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 Combo Motion/Door/Window Sensors
Door/Window Sensor 2 3 3 2 4 3 1 2 Combo Motion/Door/Window Sensors
Range Extender 1
Warranty 3 Years Lifetime 3 Years Lifetime 120 Days 2 Years 1 Year 2 Years

Mid-Size Packages

Mid-size kits are best suited for a medium-sized home. These packages include 7-11 pieces of equipment.

Company & Package Name Frontpoint Safe Home Select Protect America Silver SimpliSafe The Hearth ADT Vivint Video Security AT&T Digital Life Smart Security Brinks Home Complete With Video Ring Alarm 10-Piece
Price Per Kit $383.92 Included $374.00 Included $1,379.95 $549.99 $599.00 $179.00
Installation DIY DIY DIY Professional $199 Professional $199 Professional DIY DIY
Professional or Self Monitoring Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional Professional Both
Contract None 3 Years None 3 Years 3.5-5 Years 2 Years 3 Years None
Monthly Monitoring Fee $44.99 $19.99 Landline
$41.99 Broadband or Cellular
$14.99
$24.99 with App Access
$27.99 $44.99 $39.99 $39 $10
Form of Monitoring Cellular Landline, Broadband & Cellular Cellular Landline Cellular Broadband Broadband Broadband
Total Number of Pieces Included 10 11 9 10 9 9 7 10
Base Station 1 Combination Base & Keypad 1 1 Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad 1
Keypad 1 Combination Base & Keypad 1 1 Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad 1
Key Fob 1 1
Motion Sensor 2 1 1 2 1 1 1 2
Door/Window Sensor 4 9 3 2 4 6 3 5
Range Extender 1
Smoke Detector 1 1 1
Glass Break Sensor 1 1
Siren 1 1 1
Indoor Camera 1 1
Outdoor Camera 1
Video Doorbell 1 1
Warranty 3 Years Lifetime 3 years Lifetime 120 Days Lifetime 1 year

Smart Home Packages

If you’re a high-tech junkie, you’ll likely want to sync smart home devices (like lights, thermostat, door locks, smoke detectors, etc.) to your security system. Video (and accompanying cloud storage) is also included as an option in these higher-level packages. These integrations are usually only available with high-tier plans that range from $40 to $60 or more per month.

Company & Package Name Frontpoint Safe Home Preferred SimpliSafe The Keep Vivint Smart Complete AT&T Digital Life Smart Security & Automation
Price Per Kit $479.90 $443.00 $1,789.92 $549.99
Installation DIY DIY Professional $199 Professional $99.99
Professional or Self-Monitoring Professional Professional Professional Professional
Contract None None 3.5-5 Years 2 Years
Monthly Monitoring Fee $49.99 $24.99 $44.99 $54.99
Form of Monitoring Cellular Cellular Cellular Broadband
Total Number of Pieces Included 12 11 12 14
Base Station 1 1 Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad
Keypad 1 1 Combination Base & Keypad Combination Base & Keypad
Key Fob 1
Motion Sensor 2 2 1 1
Door/Window Sensor 5 5 4 9
Glass Break Sensor 1
Smoke Detector 1
Siren 1
Garage Door Controller/Sensor 1
Smart Door Lock 1 1
Smart Thermostat 1
Doorbell Camera 1
Indoor Camera 1 1 1
Outdoor Camera 1 1
Warranty 3 Years 3 Years 120 Days Lifetime

Price-Per-Equipment Comparison

Below are the prices for each piece of equipment by provider. This is helpful if you want to add on equipment to a starter package, or simply want to total up what your ideal system might cost. Some companies do not openly share equipment prices, so we were unable to include them in the table.

Frontpoint SimpliSafe Link Interactive Vivint AT&T DIgital Life Brinks Nest Secure Ring Alarm
Indoor Camera $99.99 $99.99 $129 $199.99 $249.99 $199 $199 $60
Outdoor Camera $167.50 $199 $299.99 $199.99 $299 $199 $100
Video Doorbell $149.99 $169 $175 $249.99 $199 $229< $199
Keypad $49.99 $69.99 $41 $69.99 $112 $50
Key Fob $19.99 $24.99 $24-$26 $34.99 $29 $25
Motion Sensor $29.99 $29.99 $50 $69.99 $19.99 $78 $49 $30
Door/Window Sensor $19.99 $14.99 $22-$24 $34.99 $9.99-$19.99 $29 $49 $20
Glass Break Sensor $44.99 $34.99 $69 $69.99 $29.99 $79
Freeze Sensor $29.99 $66 $69.99 $49 $39 $35
Water/Flood Sensor $24.99 $19.99 $48 $69.99 $49 $35
Siren $59.99 $43-$64 $49.99 $30
Range Extender $26 $69 $25
Panic Button $19.99 $19.99 $29 $34.99 $35
Smoke & CO Listener $35
Smoke Detector $44.99 $29.99 $66 $69.99 $39.99 $79 $119.99
CO Detector $69.99 $49.99 $80 $69.99 $39.99 $79 $119.99
Smart Door Lock $149.99 $99.00 $204 $179.99 $279.99
Smart Thermostat $199.99 $118 $169.99 $89.99 $169.99

More Ways To Secure Your Home

With the advent of DIY and smart systems, having a traditional home security system and paying a monthly fee isn’t completely necessary, if you’re willing to do some of the work yourself. Given the amount of security equipment out there, you have affordable options that when implemented with thought, could be just as (or more) useful as an entry-level whole-home system.

Don’t worry, our experts are here with their step-by-step guides to help you along the way, and there’s a comment section on every page where you can ask anything we may have failed to address.

Indoor & Outdoor Security Cameras

Man setting up an Arlo security camera outside (Caption: Best WiFi Security Camera)Indoor and outdoor WiFi security cameras have live-streaming capabilities, so you can keep an eye on your home from your computer or smartphone. Many also have two-way audio, motion-detected recording and other features to enhance your home’s safety.

Read our best indoor security camera reviews to learn more about these multi-use wireless cameras.

Doorbell Cameras

Want to keep an eye on your front porch when you’re not at home? Or catch those pesky porch pirates on video? Doorbell video cameras are a popular way to go.

Read our doorbell camera reviews, which includes pros and cons, features, pricing and more.

Home Security Systems 101 Guide

Cartoon of a burglar about to break into a home (caption: Home Security 101: Getting Started)If you want to compare home security solutions on a larger variety of factors including customer service and reputation, equipment, technology, value and ease of use, be sure to read our experts’ comprehensive coverage of the best home security systems. And if you’re strictly concerned about cost, our experts have compiled a list of the top 6 least expensive systems.

Confused by some of the jargon in this article or want to learn more about how home security systems work? Our experts have put together a comprehensive guide that explains everything from how motion sensors work to the best places to install them in our home security 101 guide. And it there’s anything that still doesn’t make sense, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comments. Our readers and experts are more than happy to assist!

What features are must-haves for your home security needs?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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