What Additional Fees or Charges Will I Need to Keep in Mind with Security Systems?

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When considering home security systems, you may find yourself asking a common question: how much is it going to cost me? Unfortunately, there isn’t one set fee that all companies abide by.

Home security costs can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars after you account for all of the equipment, installation, and monitoring fees. That’s a pretty substantial range, meaning you should be able to find a system at a price point that works for you.

When setting your budget and looking for systems within your price range, consider these common (and not-so-common) home security costs you may encounter.

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Common expenses in a home security system

In most cases, you'll pay for monitoring and equipment for your system. Security companies will charge up front fees or combine them into a monthly price as part of a financing plan.

Monthly monitoring fee

You’ll have to pay a monthly charge for 24/7 professional monitoring by a monitoring center, in addition to the standard one-time costs. This monthly fee varies depending on the level of service and the number of equipment pieces you have connected.

For example, if you have only a few door and window sensors, an alarm system may cost as little as $5 per month. But you’ll likely pay more for a security camera, mobile app, and smart home features.

In general, a DIY security system has a lower monthly cost and doesn't require a long-term contract. You can also skip the monthly monitoring fee if you're willing to self-monitor the system.

Home security hub

Whether you choose a wired or wireless security system, it needs a central control station where you can set and disarm your alarm.

A hub usually comes for free or at a discount in standard equipment packages, along with various detectors and sensors, but you’ll still want to check out the price in the plan breakdown.

Add-on equipment

Most home security companies offer advanced security tools that work with the control station, including security cameras, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and motion sensors. A few of these devices may be included in the plan you choose, but if you want more advanced security, you should budget for some extra items.

While adding a small motion sensor may not come with significant additional fees, adding cameras or smart devices can add a substantial amount to your total security equipment cost.

Uncommon expenses in a home security system

As security systems increasingly move toward a DIY installation model, installation and activation fees are going the way of the dinosaurs—at least with national companies. But you're still likely to encounter these fees with a local alarm company and some of the professionally-installed national brands.

Installation fee

Depending on the type of home security system and additional technology you choose, you may need to pay for a professional to install your system. Currently, Vivint and ADT are the only major brands that require installation fees, though some DIY brands offer optional installation services.

These home security companies offer professional installation for flat rate—often around $200—when you purchase a system. To reduce or eliminate the installation cost, you can install a DIY home security system yourself or hire a third-party professional installer who charges a lower hourly rate.

Activation fee

Don’t let an activation fee catch you by surprise. This fee is usually separate from an installation fee or the cost of the home security system. Often found in the fine print, an activation fee is a one-time charge you pay up front to activate your home alarm system.

This fee generally ranges anywhere from $25 to $100. Before signing a contract, confirm with the home security company whether there’s an activation fee, how much it will add to your bill, and if it’s negotiable. Most national security companies don't charge activation fees anymore.

Service fee

Professionally installed security systems aren't designed for homeowners to troubleshoot themselves. If your security system stops working, you're expected to call the company. They'll send out a technician at your expense. Vivint's service calls cost $49 and ADT's can top $100.

Hopefully, the issue is easy to fix or is covered by the brand's equipment warranty so you don't get hit with additional charges.

Transfer fee

Let's say you sell your home and leave behind a perfectly good hardwired security system. The home buyers want to keep the system up and running, so you need to transfer the account to them. 

Easy? Sure. Free? Not always. Vivint, for example, charges a $99 transfer fee.

Moving fee

DIY security systems don't charge moving fees. In fact, some supply free moving kits to help you re-install devices in your new home. Talk about service.

But it's just not that straightforward with a hardwired system. You'll need one technician to remove the system in your old home and another to re-install it. Those service calls cost money. Some security companies skip the removal process and expect you to just buy a new control panel.

Expect to pay around $150 in security system moving fees—or more if you have a lot of hardwired equipment to deal with.

Cancellation fee

You're never penalized above and beyond your initial contract terms just for canceling a security system. But you do have to fork over most of what you owe on the remaining contract. Be aware of this possibility before signing a security contract. Read our guide to cancellation policies and fees to learn what to expect from popular security brands.

Video: Must-Ask Questions for Home Security Contracts

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Final word

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all these security system fees, but some may be negotiable or included in a home security company’s special offer. If you’re ready to explore your home security system options, check out our guide to choosing a home security system.

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Cathy Habas
Written by
Cathy Habas
With over eight years of experience as a content writer, Cathy has a knack for untangling complex information. Her natural curiosity and ability to empathize help Cathy offer insightful, friendly advice. She believes in empowering readers who may not feel confident about a purchase, project, or topic. Cathy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University Southeast and began her professional writing career immediately after graduation. She is a certified Safe Sleep Ambassador and has contributed to sites like Safety.com, Reviews.com, Hunker, and Thumbtack. Cathy’s pride and joy is her Appaloosa “Chacos.” She also likes to crochet while watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix.

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