Last Updated on 7 January 2020
We often hear the saying “you get what you pay for,” but is that always the case? When it comes to home security, the price range is rather large, which can make it difficult for anyone to compare all the options. Thanks to the improvements in technology, DIY home security has reduced the costs associated with professionally managed security systems. However, even within the DIY home security market, there are what appears to be hundreds of different security cameras to choose from, many of which carry hidden subscription costs. To help you make sense of it all, our team of security experts break down home security and sharing tips to keep your costs down without sacrificing peace of mind.
Home Security Costs
At a high level, three main factors contribute to the overall cost of a home security system. Each element has a wide price range giving us the ability to customize our security but the variety can also be overwhelming. The main areas which impact how much your home security costs are:
- Equipment – security cameras, video recorder, locks, etc.
- Installation – DIY or professional
- Monitoring fees & maintenance – professional monitoring and upkeep
The physical equipment, specifically the type and number of security cameras and the type of security system you choose, will often accrue the bulk of the upfront costs. However, if you choose a reputable brand, this is an investment for the next few years. To best determine your equipment cost, you need to assess your property’s security needs. Start with a quick home security checklist, which gives you a good idea of how many cameras you’ll need based on how many entry/exit points you have and your current security status. If you’re starting from nothing, you may have to expect a higher equipment cost versus if you’re upgrading an existing camera or two.
So, on average, how much do security cameras & systems cost?
Individual security cameras can range as low as $50 to upwards of $500, while super tech cameras can cost over $1000. To decide what price point works for you, assess the camera features.
- Resolution – usually the top cost driver within a security camera as the higher the resolution, the higher the price. However, the resolution is worth the cost as you want to be able to see the details within your security footage. The average security camera resolution is 1080p full HD, which is an excellent option for most people. If you want a commercial-grade resolution, opt for a 4K ultra HD security camera.
- Warning lights and alarms – prevention is key and opting for cameras that feature sensor security lights or an alarm with siren, helps to protect your home before anything happens.
- Motion detection – a common feature but look for security cameras that use thermal heat sensing and motion detection. While this may seem relatively insignificant, it’s the difference between getting a notification every time a squirrel runs past versus when a plausible security threat is present.
- Audio – select security cameras with audio microphones so you can hear what’s going on and speakers to also potentially talk through the camera to welcome visitors or scare off intruders.
- Remote viewing – another feature that’s worth the cost. After all, you’re installing security cameras to keep your home safe, mainly when you’re not home.
In addition to choosing the type of security camera and how many you need, you’ll also need to decide how you’ll record and store the footage. The type of recorder you need is tied to the type of security camera as many require a recording device, specifically a digital video recorder (DVR) or network video recorder (NVR). In terms of cost, DVRs are usually more affordable but have some limitations. Swann DVRs start from around $200, and NVRs from $500 including security cameras. The price varies based on the number of security cameras that are included.
In terms of equipment cost, it comes down to the number of cameras and the type of recorder. Smart locks, safes, motion sensors, alarms, and sirens are other equipment that can impact your overall security costs.
- Smart locks – A key feature of smart homes and often standard in a modern home, these locks can lock and unlock doors from your phone and allow you to see who’s at your front door from wherever you are. Smart locks can vary in price from as low as $30 to as high as $150 or more.
- Safes – Using home safes to protect your valuables while you are out of town is a good suggestion to feel more secure. Good, cheap safes can be anywhere from $200 to $400. Often you pay more for the added security service and additional features like fire resistance.
- Motion sensors – While motion detection is standard in almost every security camera today, some people choose to install separate motion sensors. While they’re relatively inexpensive, opt for a camera with built-in motion detection.
Home Security System Installation Cost
DIY security systems are designed to be installed within a day or weekend for a more complex system. Some people love the DIY option, whereas others would prefer to pay for professional installation, especially for large multi-camera systems.
- DIY Installation: $0
- Professional Installation: Expect to pay the same value as the system – i.e. if your system cost $100, installation may cost $100 or more.
A critical component of the installation process is where to place security cameras. Planning is the key to installing a robust security system as you need to place and position your cameras for optimal coverage. Professional installation may be worth the cost if you’re limited on time.
Security installation costs come down to the type of security system you choose and personal preference. DVR security systems, require a power and video cable contained within a coaxial cable with BNC connectors to link the cameras to the recorder. As such, the cable is larger and can be more cumbersome to install. NVR security systems are often easier to install, as they only require power over ethernet or PoE cable to run power and video from each camera to the recorder.
Activation Fees & Monthly Monitoring/Storage
Activation Fees – Ensure you don’t exceed your budget when it comes to home security by checking for any hidden activation fees and ongoing storage costs. Activation fees are usually seen within monitored security systems, which also carry monthly fees, contributing to a more costly security system. Avoid activation fees by confirming and reading any contracts before you purchase the system. Fortunately, most DIY security systems don’t include an activation fee.
Monthly Monitoring & Storage – Today, most security camera systems are coupled with a monthly subscription. In many cases, there is not a limited, zero cost option. While these subscription fees are generally not too expensive, around $30 to $50 a month, they can add up. Security Cost Saving Tip: Before you purchase the cameras, confirm if they require a hub to operate. There are numerous benefits to hub-free systems, but most of all, the absence of required monthly fees.
Determining the Total Cost of Home Security
As you can see, there are several variables that go into determining just how much is home security? It ultimately comes down to what you’re looking for in a home security system. If you’re a renter and need a simple, temporary, plug and play security option, one or two wire-free security cameras are all you need. If you have a medium, single-unit home, you may opt for a wireless security system with a mix of indoor and outdoor cameras as well as a smart video doorbell. Large properties often require eight or more security cameras for full coverage.
Average Swann Home Security System Cost
At Swann, we believe in providing affordable home security options for everyone. Whether you need one or 16 security cameras, our focus to give you peace of mind knowing your home and loved ones are safe.
With Swann, you can purchase and install a multi-camera security system for approximately $720. Need to add an additional camera? It’s easy and affordable. Add-on Swann security cameras are around $119. Or opt for a wireless, hub free camera from only $169.
Security Cost Saving Tips:
- A great way to keep costs down is to choose a wire-free security camera that doesn’t require a recorder. You’ll save on the equipment cost but will be limited to storage unless you upgrade your cloud storage options.
- Also, beware, cloud storage can often contribute to steep cost increases, and some brands do not overtly disclose there are cloud storage costs from the outset. At Swann, all our wire-free security cameras include up to two, and sometimes seven, days of cloud security storage for free.
Cost-Benefit Analysis: Why Invest in Home Security?
Chances are most of us think a burglary won’t happen to me, not in my neighborhood. However, the statistics say otherwise. Furthermore, the cost of being proactive is a fraction of the financial impact of a break-in.
- The cost to prevent a break-in by installing a security system: approx. $200
- The average cost of a burglary: $2,416.1
Take the time to assess your property’s vulnerabilities, research the different systems and cameras, and plan. Using these points, you’re sure to find a security system that fits within your budget and that protects your loved ones.