What Type of Contract Length Can I Expect from Security Providers?

When you’re ready to start looking into investing in a security system for your home, you will start to learn the ins and outs of home security system contracts. These contracts are usually long-term but can also be month-to-month, depending on your service and equipment needs. Your home security is crucial to the safety of you, your family, and your possessions, so it’s important to sign on to a security system contract that delivers what you need at a price you can afford.

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Average contract length

Alarm monitoring contracts can last from anywhere from 12 months to 60 months, but the industry standard is about 36 months. The length of the contract can often dictate the amount of your monthly payments, to an extent. The longer you are in the contract for, the lower your monthly fees should be. This is usually because you are spreading out the contract’s initial costs (such as equipment and installation) to be paid over time.

Where your money goes

Besides sustained monitoring service, one of the main reasons you sign a contract with an alarm monitoring company is to subsidize the costs of equipment so the company can recoup its investment of time, equipment, and manpower over time. If these companies didn’t offer these types of contracts, you may be expected to pay for the equipment in one or a few larger lump sums up front.

Your monthly bill is split up into a few different parts. One part of the payment covers the monthly monitoring fees. Another part is the partial reimbursement of the initial investment of equipment and installation, including parts and labor. Another is the potential cost of maintenance for the equipment, which generally lasts the duration of your contract. Another is all of the general office overhead, such as vehicles, computers, staff, phone, rent, lights, and so on. Total them up, and you have your contract’s average monthly payment.

hand with pen signing contract

Month-to-month (no contract)

You can find security companies who will offer you security monitoring without a contract. This is especially true of smaller, local security companies, though larger companies may provide you the same deal. You can pay for the service month-to-month on an as-needed basis, so if you need to suspend service for a few months and reinstate it again later, you can do so freely and easily.

Many security companies are willing to do this; however, the question of equipment still lingers. Because you won’t be locked into paying for the equipment you would lease from the company in a standard long-term contract, the company has no way to recoup equipment and installation costs if you were to cancel the contract after one month. So this usually means two things:

1. You will have to pay for the equipment upfront either all at once or in a few larger payments.

2. You will have to own your equipment already and only need the company to monitor it for you.

In the end, when it comes to contracts, you need to figure out which option is most financially viable for you.

The length of your contract or whether or not you sign up for one at all completely depends on how you want to pay for the equipment (either upfront or over time). Different providers offer different security system contracts and contract lengths, so to compare providers to find one that is right for you, you can use SafeWise’s system finder tool. You can also call 1-800-398-2128 to speak to a SafeWise security specialist for more information and a better understanding of security system contracts.

Compare the best home security systems

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Best overall$599.00
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ProAmazon, Google,
High-end DIY pick$99.00
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Reader favorite$229.00
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Best customer experienceQuote required
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Most experienced $0.00
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ProAmazon, Google,

Info current as of 04/12/21. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

*$0 due up-front with consumer financing.

†No-contract options available with outright equipment purchase.

‡Landline monitoring only. Some restrictions apply. (Full disclaimer)

**With $99 installation charge and new monitoring agreement. Early termination fee applies. See full disclaimer for full offer details, terms, and conditions.

Celeste Tholen
Written by
Celeste Tholen
Celeste has dedicated her decade-long career to reporting and reviews that help people make well-informed decisions. She oversees editorial strategy and production for SafeWise, with a goal to help people find the information they need to make their homes and lives safer. Prior to SafeWise, she worked as an editor and reporter for KSL and Deseret News. She continues to report on local news as a volunteer with the community paper. For the last six years, she’s led a Girl Scout troop, teaching girls about safety and preparing for whatever life throws their way.

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