A home is the ultimate American dream. Nothing feels better than having a place to call home, a place to raise your family and a place where you are secure from all that the world has to throw at you. However, despite the massive benefits a home has to offer, it comes with its own needs such as a security system. Whenever you look at you home and family you think of always coming back at the end of the day to a safe place, and a laughing family. However, hope isn’t a strategy, and the bitter reality is that there are high chances you will be a victim of property crime without a security system.
To paint a more clear picture, back in 2012 there were over eight million property crimes across the country which resulted in the loss of property valued at about $15.5 billion and of the eight million plus crimes, 23.4% were burglaries. So yes, we agree that installing a security system is expensive but not having one will cost you much more.
Security System Benefits
1. Deters Crime and Protects You From Intruders
According to a study by the Rutgers University of Criminal Justice, 31% of burglars will retreat if they encounter a home security system. Additionally, the research also discovered that as the number of security systems increased in an area, crime reduced even for persons who hadn’t installed security systems. Therefore, a home security system not only protects your home and family but your neighbor’s as well.
A home security system also does more to protect you from intruders. According to Simon Hakim and Erwin Blackstone of “Securing Home and Business,” burglars are 2.7 times more likely to target a home without a security than one with a security system. Also, the system will act as an early warning sign of intruders. Burglars may enter your home unaware of the security system, but it helps warn you and thus take the necessary precautions to get your family out of harm’s way and inform the authorities to respond to the threat.
2. Lowers Homeowners Insurance
As highlighted earlier, homeowners will have to incur a hefty fee to put in a security system, but the long-term benefits outweigh the initial installation cost. Lowering the insurance cost is one of the many ways you stand to gain. You may be paying up to 20% more on your insurance if you don’t have a home security system which is an amount you can save by setting up one.
3. Peace of Mind
Thefts have devastating financial consequences, but worse still is the emotional and psychological effect they have on families. Though the economic loss is recoverable, the trauma is a bit difficult to come back from making security systems that much more critical. There is a particular comfort that comes with being able to monitor your home and inform the authorities when assistance is needed.
4. Protects Our Valuables
Throughout our lifetime, we collect a couple of items that hold sentimental value to us, but that aside, they cost us an arm to acquire. Burglars never stop to consider the hassle you had to go through to obtain your valuables and will always target these items. On average, homeowners lose about $1700 worth of valuables in a single burglary.
A home security system will help protect your valuables by first deterring thieves. If this does not work, the early warning signs are enough to have the police respond in time. Finally, video footage can help in the apprehension of intruders as well as recovery of the items lost, as it acts as a record.
General Services Offered by Home Security Companies
Services offered by home security organizations will vary from depending on the company, region, and the kind of structure where the installation is being done: whether commercial or residential as the two have different security requirements.
For residential buildings, most companies offer:
Carbon monoxide safety systems that warn you against a threat from this odorless, silent, but deadly killer disease.
Remote video monitoring to keep your eyes on your home at all times. Whether at work, at a friend’s place, or at the local grocery store seeing as most burglaries ensue when homeowners are away.
Burglar alarm systems which are primary systems to inform you of an intruder in your home.
Fire and life safety systems. As you gathered earlier with the carbon monoxide systems, home security goes beyond theft and also entails protecting your house against fires. These systems will alert you and central station if a blaze is detected. The ideal apparatus to deal with an inferno.
Intercom video and gate systems which protect you from strangers. They allow you to know who you are talking to before you open the door.
Finally, there are the total control systems that allow for more comfortable control of light switches, cameras, thermostats, locks, and alarms.
Commercial building security systems differ with those needed in residential houses for some reasons. First, there is the value of information and commodities that commercial buildings hold and since this value exceeds that of items in residential dwellings, the systems required are more sophisticated. Second, there is the number of people accessing the buildings. As commercial buildings have a massive flow of people, security measures are required to restrict access.
Some of the systems/services that security companies offer for commercial buildings are:
Access Control – Access control systems whether key cards or key fobs control admittance in your facilities. You are therefore able to control the flow of people in your institution.
Commercial Video Surveillance – Monitor your facilities on the inside and outside with systems that transmit data over the internet and cellular.
Commercial Security Systems – Different from residential systems, these consist of fully integrated and remotely accessible solutions that also go beyond the traditional keypad and door sensor.
Home Security System Installation Cost
Home security systems can be a minefield to navigate given the large number of options available in the market. From wired to wireless alarm systems, monitored and unmonitored, and the necessary equipment fee. However, worry not as we have extensively covered all these costs.
First, let’s look at the various categories of security systems.
Hardwired Systems vs. Wireless Systems
Of the two, wired systems are more expensive to install but have much lower maintenance costs. For a wired apparatus, expect to pay between $800 and $1600 for installation as it requires drilling holes and setting up wires. Other than the components, you also have to engage the services of a handyman. Other than that, their upgrade cost is even higher, and there are limited as they have many immobile components. Conversely, wireless systems will cost much less going for as little as $20. However, top of the range wireless machines will set you $500+ after you have purchased the desired add-ons. Wireless equipment trump wired apparatus as they have little to no installation cost. You can even DIY or hire a handy person for one hour. Also, the cost of upgrading a wireless system beats that of updating a wired contraption hands down as all you got to do, is replace some of the components.
Monitored vs. Unmonitored Security Systems
Monitored security is where you employ the services of an alarm company to keep an eye on your home remotely. Their services range from, inspecting your house temperature to ensure it’s optimum not to damage components such as pipes, monitoring the alarm systems, the carbon monoxide levels in your house and informing the authorities in case of burglaries and thefts.
Unmonitored security is more of DIY, and you have to police your own home. Though it has no cost, there are some services you don’t gain.
When using monitored security, two connection options are available; using a landline for connection or a GSM chip. If you choose to connect via a landline, expect to pay $15 to $30 per month and $40 to $60 per month if you want to communicate via a GSM chip.
|Wired Systems||1 house||$800||$1600
|Via Landline||1 house||$15||$30
|Via GSM Chip||1 house||$40||$60
1. Cost to Install a Security System
Most American homeowners report paying about $600 to $800 to have security systems set up. The average was $729, but these prices can vary depending on the sophistication, number of windows and doors, as well as the number of cameras you want to be installed in your home. These aspects make the cost go as high as $2000, while you can have security for $75 but one without all the flourishes.
For $729 you have a primary system that comprises of a central control panel, window sensors, a loud siren and a remote keychain fob. However, these are just the necessary components, but you will need more money to cover your entire house.
- Extra door and window sensors. The primary security set only comes with two or three door and window sensors. These are few as the average American home has eight windows. You will, therefore, have to spend some more money to purchase these items. One sensor will set you back $15 to $60.
- Cameras – If you desire live video footage, you will have to spend between $100 and $300 for a single camera.
- Motion detectors will cost you between $30 and $50.
- Fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors will set you back on average $40.
- Expect to pay between $30 and $300 for smart home upgrades.
- Finally, security lighting is also bound to increase the cost of your system.
|Basic Security System||Qty||Min||Max ||Average
|Window and Door Sensors||1||$15||$60||
|Fire, smoke and CO Detectors||1||$40
|Smart Home Upgrades||1||$30||$300||
2. Cost to Install Security Cameras
When it comes to home security, nothing beats cameras because you can monitor the events in your home. To put in security cameras, expect a fee of between $741 and $2149, with most American homeowners reporting an expense of about $1450 to set up their security cameras.
Two factors influence the cost of camera installation. First, is whether they are wired or wireless, and the other is whether they are internet protocol or closed circuit television (CCTV). The camera type as well will affect the price.
To put in wired camera systems, you will incur between $150 and $200 per camera because you will have to drill holes, put in wires, and engage the services of a home builder to repair the walls. Despite the high costs, the pros overshadow the shortcomings. First, this system cannot be hacked or jammed remotely and has higher resolution compared to the wireless counterparts which will cost you around $100 for installation. Wireless cameras are the best to DIY for $0 and $100 for professional work. They can be moved quickly, and maintenance costs are low. However, they suffer from signal interference, can be hacked remotely and have a lesser resolution, unlike the wired cameras.
Also known as internet protocol, IP cameras connect to the internet and are often wireless. If you are looking to put in IP security, expect to pay between $60 and $300 per camera. Features such as high definition and the storage footage influence the price. Their key benefit is that they store the footage digitally. However, they are easy to hack and susceptible to internet outages.
These systems work independent of the internet and store the footage in a location. They wired, and factors such as storage and resolution determine their price. Expect to pay between $70 and $300 for installation.
Type of Cameras
There are various types of camera systems. Some are designed to deter property crimes, and others are stealthier to catch a burglar in the act. Choose one that’s in line with your budget and meets your requirements.
Dummy Camera – These are designed to deter crime by giving the impression of a surveillance system. They will cost you $15 each.
Hidden cameras – designed to fit in anywhere, they are used mainly indoors thanks to their small size which makes them hard to spot. One camera will set you back $100 to $150.
Dome – Mostly installed on ceilings and give an extensive field of view. They will also set you back a good $100 to $150
Box – These large cameras are used outside to not only deter crime but also to record any crime that might occur. They are standalone and cost $100.
|Wired Installation Cost||1 Camera||$150||$200||
|Wireless Camera Installation Cost||1 Camera||$0||$100||
|Types of Cameras||
3. Fire Protection and Prevention Security Systems
Burglars aren’t the only threat to your valuables and peace of mind. Fires also can wreak havoc if not prevented. A small blaze can turn into a giant inferno in less than 30 seconds and statistically, there are over one million residential fires in the USA annually with 50%+ of these being as a result of everyday activities making fire protection and prevention security systems all the more critical.
A typical fire protection system consisting of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a fire extinguisher, heat sensors and a retardant blanket will set you back $510. However, you can get fire protection apparatus for as low as $245 albeit without the rug and the heat sensors, or for as high as $9210 which includes all the above equipment plus a sprinkler system and a chimney cap.
Fire Protection Technologies
A couple of factors will influence the system you install in your house. First, there is the size of your home. For small apartments, smoke and CO detectors will do while you need fire sprinklers for bigger houses. Other factors that determine the suitability of fire apparatuses is your home structure and your existing systems. Finally, there is some equipment you can choose from to safeguard your home and family from infernos. Be sure to pick the one that you prefer and that fits your budget.
Fire Sprinkler Equipment
Fire sprinkler technology has been around for some years, albeit in commercial buildings. Homeowners have not realized the immense benefits of putting in a home sprinkler system. First, a 2002 to 2006 study by NFPA discovered that there was 32% less property damage, 100% less death and 57% fewer injuries in houses equipped with both smoke detectors and smoke detectors. Also, a single sprinkler head can put out 80 to 90% of fires.
As for installation costs, it would be by far cheaper to set sprinkler systems during home construction as they will only set you back $1 for every square foot. However, you can still install them in existing houses though for a more substantial fee of $5 to $6 for every square foot. Such a price sounds costly, but worth it given the safety sprinklers provide and that you will pay 8% less insurance premium for your home.
Smoke detectors will set you back $55 for a pack of six and are a must-have in every home. For a more realistic picture, 70% of fire-related deaths occur in homes without smoke detectors. Smoke detectors are an early warning system and will inform you when a fire breaks out. In conclusion, they should be hardwired into every room in your home for efficacy.
Heat sensors should be installed alongside smoke detectors and expose fast burning flames. Some fires burn very hotly very quickly before they can produce any smoke for the smoke detectors to notice. In this case, the heat sensors will alert you, the fire department or your alarm monitoring company. A heat sensor that also incorporates a smoke sensor and allows oversight will cost you $55 to $65.
There are some add-ons you can incorporate into your home for efficiency. First, there are the smoke alarms for the deaf. Sound smoke alarms are of no use to the deaf as they can’t hear them. Individuals with hearing challenges are advised to install smoke detectors specifically designed for them which flash bright lights whenever the go off. Expect to pay $80 for these sensors.
Next, we have the smoke masks and fire evacuation hoods which prevent breathing in toxic fumes. A fire evacuation hood typically costs $60. Finally, a thermal imaging detector will set you back between $500 and $4000 depending on the size, scope, and range. A thermal sensor helps you locate your children, pets, and to avoid the flames.
|Fire Protection Technologies||Qty||Min||Max||Avg
|Basic Fire Protection Setup ||1 house||$245||$9210||$510
|If installed during construction||1 Sq. Ft.||$1
|If put in after construction||1 Sq. Ft.||$5||$6||
|Smoke Alarms for the Deaf||1||$80
|Fire Evacuation Hoods||1||$60
|Thermal Imaging Detector||1||$500||$4000||
4. Driveway/Security Gate
Last security system to consider is driveway gates. The size, type, material, customization, and automation all influence the price of these gates. However, before we get into this, it’s important to note that gates increase the security in your home and subsequently reducing your insurance premium.
The amount of space you have affects the kind of gate you install. Nonetheless, there are primarily two types of gates available; sliding and swing gates. Sliding gates cost between $2250 and $4000 and are great if you have limited space. The hefty price is because they are often automated. Swing gates, on the other hand, are low-cost going for about $800 to $1600, but require more space to open.
There are a variety of gates but largely depend on the width of your driveway and the size of vehicles going through. The height as well will influence the price. However, gates are in two custom heights; 6’ and 8’ ft. The height difference causes a 20% price variation.
As for width, a 16’ long gate will set you back between $1200 and $2000, with a 14’ gate going for $900 to $1800. The cheapest is a 10’ barrier which will cost you between $700 and $1350.
The last factor to take into consideration while installing security gates is the materials used to manufacture these gates. Chain link gates are the cheapest and will only cost you about $150 to $500 but lack the visual appeal and are much weaker. Steel gates, on the contrary, have the visual appeal and are sturdy but the price tag is quite hefty. Putting in one will set you back between $800 and $4000.
|14 Ft. ||1||$900||$1700
|16 Ft. ||1||$1200||$2000
How to Find a Good Security Company
When it comes to home safety, you want only the best for you and your family. There is, therefore, no room for error and to get the best service, you have to start with hiring the best contractor available.
Referrals are unsurpassed when it comes to getting a competent home security company. Ask for references from trustworthy neighbors, friends, and family members who have security systems. Their experiences and insights about different groups will give a good starting point. Also, make sure to ask if they can use the company again and why?
Before engaging the services of any security company, always make sure to ascertain that their employees are certified as trained workers are efficient and often deliver higher quality work than their new counterparts. The employees should have certification from the electronic security association (ESA) and the National Training School (NTS).
Look into the history of a home security company before you engage their services. First, ask how long the company has been around and under what names. Older institutions are often better as they have streamlined their services. Also, an organization that is willing to reveal their past shows that they have nothing to hide and believe in their work. Secondly, there are some resources you can to find out the history of an institution. Angie’s list is one notable company where past customers review firms they have hired. Read through the reviews and pay close attention to the negative remarks. They might highlight some red flags. Finally, there is the Better Business Bureau, which just like Angie’s List keeps track of a company’s work history.
Licenses and Insurance
Some states require that all security system contractors be licensed. Make it a habit of asking potential companies for permits. Additionally making sure that an institution carries the necessary insurance documents will protect you from any losses that occur on your property, injuries, and damages. Always ascertain that a contractor has general liability coverage, workers compensation cover, and professional liability cover.
Meet with the Potential Companies
After you have narrowed down to three likely contractors, schedule a meeting with each for you to get a feel of the institution. Make sure to ask for the name of the representative you will be meeting and ask for identification once you meet.
Meeting with prospective companies will help you gauge their professionalism and trustworthiness. Avoid any institution whose representative speaks in general terms. Proficient workers will always address the issues laid out. Also, avoid contractors who are late to meetings without apologies.
The last thing you should do before you hire a contractor is to make sure that you have your agreement in writing. A contract will protect you and the company as well. Ensure it covers all the work to be done, stipulated time frame, and the agreed payment schedule.
DIY Security System Installation vs. Hiring a Pro
A home has to have a security system, but it’s up to you whether a professional installs it or you do it yourself. Both have their cons and pros.
First, DIY will save you a ton of money. The fee for hiring a handy person to install your alarm system is $65 to $85. This is money you can save if you set up the system yourself. If you are dealing with a wireless network, it will be quite straightforward since there are no tools required. However, it will be a bit trickier if you are dealing with wired equipment. Some knowledge is needed to put in wired systems effectively.
Also, DIY gives you control over your schedule and adjustment. Unlike hiring a pro, you can put in your security equipment at your convenience. You also have control over where you install the equipment. Employing an expert takes this away from you.
Conversely, engaging the services of an expert has its pros as well. A professional brings about a level of expertise that DIY doesn’t. Albeit for a fee, you are assured of quality work and value for your money if you engage the services of a professional.
Additionally, apparatuses put in by pros are warrantied unlike those which you DIY as they can’t ascertain the quality of work done. Also, most companies offer discount incentives if you purchase their system and pay for installation as well. Finally, you should hire a professional to maintain the resale value of your home. Most buyers are convinced that a piece of property is a good investment if they can see all the necessary paperwork including the setting up and maintenance of your security system.
How to Avoid Home Security Scams
Home security is a legit industry but one that is marred by fraudsters. Like most other industries, there are companies in the home security business to make a quick buck and are not concerned about your security. They will use strong-arm tactics to retrofit your home with inferior products that leave you vulnerable to burglars.
Often, these companies are from out of state and use college kids as salespersons. The kids move from door to door and are so good they can sell you the world. This marketing tactic should raise some red flags.
Save for avoiding door to door salespersons; there are some ways to prevent home security scams.
It pays to do your homework. Often, homeowners have fallen victim to home security scams since they did not look into the company they were hiring. There are tons of reputable home security organizations which you can find with a bit of inquiry.
Check a company’s Better Business Bureau rating and their online reviews. Avoid any company with poor reviews and run away from those without an online presence.
Avoid out of state companies
Most fraudulent companies are from out of state. As illustrated earlier, they will use college kids to make sales, and this should be the first sign of a scam. These companies operate during the summer, when kids are on break, fit several homes with inferior products only to change their names later on and repeat the cycle the following year.
Ask for identification
A common scam in the home security industry is companies impersonating other home security companies. A salesperson will show up at your door and say he is from the local institution you have a contract with and needs to do some upgrades.
Homeowners often sign these papers which leaves them with two bills. Asking for identification will go a long way in preventing such scams. Always note the sales rep’s name, licensing number, and company. Don’t work with them if he/she lacks the information or is hesitant to provide it.
Too good to be true
If the offer sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Most out of state companies will provide you with security for astonishingly low prices. Often, these are awful products that will leave your home vulnerable. Also, they might offer long-term contracts but be wary of these as they might have high monthly premiums.
High-pressure sales is another standard way how con artists defraud homeowners. Scare tactics are quite useful as homeowners will sign contracts without going through the fine print. Avoid companies that insist that your area is seeing an increase in break-ins. Sales reps might also say that your homeowner’s association president sent them. Make it a point to confirm with your HOA president before allowing any changes.
Read the fine print
“The devil is in the details” goes the adage. Ascertain that all the promises made by the salesperson are included in the contract and ask questions where you don’t understand. Finally, ensure you have gone through the agreement before you sign it. Also, have your lawyer take a look at the papers for any pitfalls.
Don’t sign on the spot
Pretty straightforward right?. Con artists will use limited time offers, and today only discounts to endear you to sign an agreement without going through it. Never sign a contract until you have done your research as this will save you a ton of money down the road.
10 Questions to Ask Your Home Security Provider
1. What brand equipment do they carry?
Shop around to figure out the best equipment available. The idea here is to make sure your preferred contractor works only with the best material. Good security systems should allow remote access, have video service and incorporate notifications via email or text.
2. How long have you been in business?
Here you are looking for a company that has been around for a while. Older organizations have more experience than newer companies. You can, therefore, rest assured of quality work.
Security is a crucial concern for most homeowners and so, you ought to work with a company that checks on their systems regularly. You are assured that your system is always working as expected.
4. Is your company associated with any recognized security association?
There are several local and national industry organizations. One such recognized group is the national burglar and fire alarm association. Any proficient security company should be a member of one such team. Always call the association to ascertain the membership.
5. How do you ensure client safety?
This is an open-ended question and will tell you a lot about a company. Any reputable home security should work to protect the client not only after installation of the equipment but during setup as well. The company you engage should have errors and omission insurance to cover for professional mistakes, provide a written agreement on what to expect, use certified personnel only and conduct background checks on their employees.
6. Will I be able to identify your employees?
Since you are allowing people into your home, the least you can do is to make sure you can identify the people working in your house. A proficient will ensure his/her workers are uniformed.
7. What is your average alarm response time?
Any proficient company should respond to an alarm within 60 seconds. Any longer than that and the damage might be irreparable.
8. Can you provide proof of your alarm system to my insurance company?
Homeowners with home security systems pay much fewer insurance premiums unlike those who haven’t put in safety measures. Your security provider should, therefore, be in a position to provide proof to your insurance company for you to get these discounts.
9. What happens if I move out of my home?
If you plan on moving out of your home in a few years, you might want to take it up with your security provider before they install your system. You don’t want to be paying bills years after moving out.
10. What happens if I need help with my alarm after hours?
Most security companies provide around the clock assistance with your equipment. However, there are some which don’t, and it’s better to find out in advance.
If you answer these ten question, you are well on your way to getting a credible security provider. Otherwise, that’s it for home security. Ensure you get a good system though we would advise a combination of several. Finally, tell us what you think in the comment section below.