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

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 system, your home security system will likely need 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.

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.

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.

Compare the best home security systems

Best for
Lowest monitoring price
Starter equipment price
Contract required
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Learn more
Read review
Best overall$599.00
Icon Yes  LightNo *
ProAmazon, Google,
Budget pick$245.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google
Most experienced $0.00
Icon No  LightYes
ProAmazon, Google,
Best customer experienceQuote required
Icon Yes  LightNo *
High-end DIY pick$129.00
Icon Yes  LightNo
DIYAmazon, Google,

Info current as of 09/22/2021. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
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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 everyone 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 holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. In her free time, she volunteers at the local botanical garden and writers for the community newspaper.

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