Is there anything more frightening to homeowners than the thought of being victimised by burglars? The extent to which we fear these things has fuelled the rise of residential security systems in the UK since the 1970s. Manufacturers and installers continue to sell home security systems irrespective of specific burglary rates.
So, how much does it cost? That depends on what you’re after. Do you want a DIY system with a wireless control panel and a couple of sensors and cameras? You can get very nice entry-level systems for very little money. But maybe you want a more advanced system that comes with professional installation. You will pay more. Or maybe you want a fully comprehensive solution that comes with remote monitoring.
Home security is one of those things that is very hard to pinpoint in terms of cost. There are so many variables in equipment, installation fees, and monitoring fees. Be that as it may, you’ll find some estimated prices in the paragraphs below.
Wireless and Wired Systems
Until about 10 years ago, nearly every residential burglar alarm was a wired system. Every sensor and every camera were wired to both the home’s electrical system and the security system. These days wired systems are quickly fading away in favour of wireless.
A wireless system communicates internally via a home’s wi-fi network. It communicates externally using either the internet or cellular signals. Cameras and sensors run on battery power while control units can be either battery-operated or plugged into a standard outlet.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for the most commonly chosen residential burglar alarms:
- Basic DIY (no monitoring) – £125-£300
- Mid-level with text and e-mail alerts – £175-£350
- Basic with remote monitoring – £99 plus £15-£45 per month in monitoring fees.
These three systems pretty much give you an idea of estimated prices. In case you’re wondering, a basic system with monthly monitoring tends to be less expensive because monitoring companies are giving away the hardware at cost. They make their money on monthly monitoring instead of hardware sales.
What a Basic System Includes
What you get in a basic system again varies by provider. As a general rule, a basic system starts with either a wired or wireless control panel. You also get a sensor for your main door and at least one or two window sensors. Finally, you are likely to get at least one wireless camera.
A lot of people looking for DIY installation choose these kinds of systems because they are relatively cheap and moderately effective. They do not come with monthly professional monitoring as standard, but most will send e-mail alerts or text messages in the event an alarm is triggered.
Many DIY systems can also be accessed remotely. For example, let’s say your burglar alarm includes a wireless camera pointed at your front door. Using your smartphone, you could access images from that camera in real time.
Adding to a Burglar Alarm
All of the components listed earlier make up the basics of a burglar alarm. You can upgrade a basic system to a mid-level system merely by adding more equipment. The place a lot of homeowners start is with additional window sensors.
Keep in mind that burglars like to get in and out as quickly as possible. If they cannot get in through the front door quickly, they will look for an easily accessible window. Subsequently, some homeowners like to put sensors on all first-floor windows.
Adding cameras is another option. Homeowners often choose to mount an external camera to monitor the front door. Another option is to install a video doorbell. Indoors, homeowners seem to like additional cameras for the kitchen or family room, a child’s bedroom, or the back door.
Perhaps the most difficult part of pricing out a burglar alarm is accounting for installation costs. There are obviously no such costs on a DIY system. But if you are looking for professional installation, how much you pay for it depends on exactly what installers have to do.
Wireless systems are cheaper to install because technicians do not have to cut into walls or run wires. If installation is as simple as attaching window sensors and mounting a single camera on the wall, installation costs can be as little as a couple of hundred pounds.
Costs will obviously be higher if multiple cameras have to be installed outdoors or you want a fully wired system instead. The thing to remember is this: installation costs go up as labour increases. Installers tend to work out their rates by the hour, so they will estimate how much labour will be required to install a new system.
Monthly Monitoring Costs
Earlier you read that monthly monitoring can run anywhere from £15-£45 per month. A lot of the price variation relates to the type of monitoring being offered. So once again, you have to look at your needs and preferences.
The cheapest professional monitoring tends to involve a burglar alarm only. If you want to add monitoring for fire, carbon monoxide, flood, and medical emergency, you are going to pay more. That just makes sense. You might also pay more for monitoring from a nationally known company as opposed to a regional or local competitor. You get what you pay for though.
The question a lot of people ask is whether or not monthly monitoring is worth the cost. Well, here’s a secondary question: how concerned are you about being a burglary victim? It turns out that burglars are more intimidated by professionally monitored systems than they are DIY systems with no monitoring. That’s why alarm companies that offer monitoring give customers placards or stickers to put in their windows.
The cost of a burglar alarm is relatively affordable when you compare it to more costly projects like remodelling a bathroom or kitchen. Yet the wide-ranging prices mean you really have to do your homework. Take the time to shop around and make some calls before choosing your alarm system.