What defines cheap home security systems?
It should be apparent that cheap can mean different things to different people, depending on exactly what your requirements for a home security system are.
For this article, we’ll be focusing on cheapest home security systems in the sense of cost. We recognize that value can be subjective and depends on your needs, so we’ll leave that assessment up to you and just supply the information you need to decide on a home security system. To many people, cheap is a derogatory term that describes systems that are unreliable or won’t be expected to work in a couple of years. Just know that is not the context we intend in this article.
Maybe we’ll address that some other time.
It’s also worth noting that we’re only addressing alarm systems here. If you’re looking for other cheap ideas to improve your home’s security, take a look at one of our previous articles:
- Save Big with 30+ DIY Home Security Tips
- Do It Yourself Home Security for Under $100
- How to Get Out of a Security System Contract
If you’re still here, we’re going to spotlight a few cheap home security systems that have the following features:
- Low upfront costs
- Low maintenance and monitoring fees
- Low overall costs
Cheapest Home Security Systems: Low Upfront Costs
Ahh, the mythical “free home security system” is tempting isn’t it. Just make sure you won’t be paying for it in spades down the road.
If you don’t have a lot of money saved to put towards buying equipment and having it installed but have a pressing security need, alarm systems with very low upfront costs will be very attractive to you. Generally, these are security systems that offer a do it yourself or DIY installation. But, the list isn’t just limited to the newer alarm companies.
Because of pressure from early adopters of the DIY movement like Frontpoint, many of the big alarm companies now offer that option as well. Usually, a low (or free) equipment and installation cost will be accompanied by a higher monthly cost and a contract that allows that company to recover its initial costs. It’s a little like a layaway plan. You pay a little each month, yet you get to install the alarm system immediately. It isn’t very different than HP losing money on subsidized printers and then making their money back on ink cartridges that cost half as much as the original printer.
Here’s how to find systems with low upfront costs:
- Open up our comparison tool to compare home security systems.
- Under the Minimum Kit Cost heading, click on the down arrow (triangle) to sort by the cost of the system. (GET SCREENSHOT)
- Then, review the list of cheap home security systems that also have $0 Installation Cost.
- Open another tab/page to see home security sensors and home automation features of the systems you are interested in to see if they meet your needs.
Here’s a video for those of you that don’t like reading directions.
As of right now, that gives you a list of 4 companies that offer $0 installation costs and $0 equipment costs. Of course, while these are technically free home security systems out of the gate, they will recoup their costs via a lengthy contract and higher monthly fees. After all, no product is truly free.
- Alarm Force
- Protect America
Use the Equipment Key below the table and the Minimum Kit Contents row to see what you get with your system. Then, you can get an idea of what the total cost of the system is using our calculator.
Of course, the costs listed come with the caveat that any add-ons to your system hardware may cost more, depending on the terms offered by the company. Sometimes, you can agree to a longer contract term or higher monthly fees to offset additional equipment. Visit the web sites of the systems that you are interested in to get the latest sales and special offers.
Cheapest Home Security Systems: No Maintenance Fees
If you have plenty of cash to buy the system outright and want to avoid long-term maintenance fees, you can quickly find the best security system for you too.
Here’s how to find cheap home security systems with low recurring fees:
- Open up our tool to compare home security systems.
- Use the drop down menu that says “Monitoring” to select whether you want a professional (“Pro”) call center to monitor your alarm or “DIY” alarm monitoring.
- Under the Min. Monitoring Cost heading, click on the down arrow (triangle) to sort by the monthly cost of the system.
- Open another tab to review the home security sensors and home automation features of the systems you are interested in to see if they meet your needs.
Again, here’s a video showing you what to do:
For DIY monitoring, that gives you at least 11 systems from 10 manufacturers, including
For Pro monitoring, you get a list of 4 companies with offerings under $20 per month:
- Alarm Grid
- Protect America
Again, use the Equipment Key below the table and the Minimum Kit Contents row to see what you get with your system.
Home Security Systems with the Lowest Overall Costs
Some of you are still wondering what the bottom line is. The short answer is, “I can’t tell you what system will be the cheapest for you to own.” That depends on several factors such as if you can install a system yourself, how long you plan to own and use the system, and how often you move. To make that easier for you to figure out, we’ve created a calculator that takes several inputs and gives you an idea of the cost of the system over its lifetime.
Here’s an example, let’s pick ADT since it is free to get started and compare it to Alarm Grid. Our hypothetical homeowner, Lucy, plans to keep the same system for 10 years and never move. She also wants professional monitoring for peace of mind and to take advantage of an insurance discount for having a professionally monitored home security system.
So, taking that approach and reviewing the costs, we can determine that for Lucy, the cheapest home security systems (not just cameras) will offer DIY monitoring and installation such as
- Skylink – $110
- Insteon – $120
- Iris – $180
- SmartThings – $200
- iSmartAlarm – $200
Hopefully, this gives you an idea how you can use the tools on our site to find the best security system for you (if you’re looking for more options, you can also read our post about wireless security cameras). Let us know how it works out for you in the comments below.
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Hi, I’m Jody. I graduated with honors with a Masters of Science in Computer Engineering and have over 15 years of experience working as an engineer with electronics products. I’m a lifelong learner and tinkerer and enjoy automating things around the house so I can solve bigger problems than getting out of bed to check if the garage door is closed . . . like too little sleep!