Fox Guard Blog Vault

Why are traditional alarm systems so expensive? Do DIY Home Security Systems Really Have No Monthly Fee?

One of the common refrains from potential customers that are interested in purchasing a traditional alarm system is that they are too expensive. When I say too expensive, I really mean two things: 1. The hardware that is needed to install an alarm system can be very pricey, and 2. The total cost of ownership with monthly fees for different levels of service, cost for smart technology connectivity, and the cost for service calls and a service contracts in the event that the system does not work correctly.  These are some of the concerns that potential customers have shared when asked about their hesitancy to get an alarm system.  

diy home security systems no monthly fee

If you were to call up a local or national burglar alarm company they will present you with a package of alarm equipment for your home.  These are called “starter packages.” This usually includes protection for two doors, one motion sensor or glass break sensor, and one keypad.  Most companies will allow you to mix and match the equipment to suit your needs, also, you can build off of that package more equipment to better be able to protect your home and your loved ones. 

Some alarm companies will offer you the starter package for free or as low as ninety-nine dollar professionally installed into your home. They will also offer you a very reasonable monthly charge to provide you and your new alarm system with twenty-four-hour central monitoring.  If you read the fine print on the contract that these alarm companies will require you to sign, you will note a few things. First, you will notice that the equipment that is installed in your home, technically remains the property of the alarm company. Second, you will notice that the alarm company reserves the right to raise the monthly rates for their central monitoring fees as they please.  Thirdly, you will notice that the contract that they are requiring you to sign is at least a three-year and possibly as long as five-year contract. So, you do not actually own the equipment that they are installing in your home, your monthly rates for central monitoring will increase significantly over the length of the contract, and you are locked-in to paying the monthly monitoring fee for the length of the contract, usually three to five years. 

The second reason that many customers of alarm companies are dissatisfied with their service is the total cost of ownership.  When you factor in the cost of the monthly monitoring, the cost for a service contract or the cost of a service call, and the different levels of cost for smart technology connectivity, you start to wonder if it is all indeed worth the cost? The cost of the monitoring as I said earlier usually will go up every three to six months over the life of the contract. 

The alarm company will usually offer what they call a “service contract.” This provides that once the equipment of the alarm system is out of warranty (Almost always ninety days after installation), if something goes wrong, is realized to be defective, or breaks the cost of the technician to come to your home, diagnose, and fix the problem at no cost to you. This is usually a monthly charge that is added on to you monitoring fee.  The amount of the fee for the service contract is directly proportional to the amount of equipment in your alarm system. It can range from eight to twenty-five dollars per month.

The alarm company will try to sell you on a “daily test” signal. For this service, your alarm system will be programmed to run a diagnosis on the major parts of your alarm system and check—in with the monitoring center usually during the wee hours of the overnight period.  This is an important service especially if the equipment of your alarm system included fire protection. The time to find out that your alarm system is not communicating correctly is not when something tragic happens and your home catches fire. The daily test signal service is usually an additional ten to fifteen dollars per month added on to your monitoring fee.

The next level of potential monthly charges for your alarm system is for smart technology connectivity.  With the new components of most alarm systems today, you can control the entire system from your smart device. You have the ability to arm and disarm your system right from your smart device. You can change the keypad code if you feel that is necessary, and even receive e-mail or text notifications each time your alarm system is armed or disarmed. If your alarm system includes security cameras, you can have the ability to pull-up the actual images that your cameras are recording in real time.  You also have the ability to use the connectivity of your alarm system to connect devices in your entire house. You can connect the thermostat, lighting systems, televisions, and music devices to your alarm system. You can create a “smart home” using the connectivity of your alarm system, your home’s wi-fi, and your smart devices.

These technologies are wonderful and can go a long way to making life simpler, but they usually come with additional monthly charges that are added to the cost of your alarm system. Different alarm companies have different pricing structures for these additional services.  Always beware of the national alarm companies in this regard. They are really good at getting in the door and getting the sale. They offer great packages and additional services initially, but when you read the fine print, you will see and experience with them that they will ratchet up the monthly price for their central monitoring and all of the additional services.  

What is the solution?  Do-it-yourself alarm systems.

My recommendation for your solution is to consider a do-it-yourself alarm system.  There are so many resources available in terms of instructions and videos on platforms like youtube.com that can walk you through step-by-step on how to figure out what to alarm components to buy to best meet your security needs, how to install and program the alarm system itself, and how to connect your alarm components to the rest of your home for best total connectivity.  These DIY home security systems no monthly fee unless you decide you'd like to opt into a contracted monitoring company at a much lower price.

Do-it-yourself alarm companies are not trying to sell you equipment at a rate to just cover their costs like an alarm company would. They can usually direct you or lead you to a monitoring company that can provide all of the monitoring needs for you and your family at a significantly lower price.

You may ask how they are able to do this? The monitoring company is not trying to make the money that they lost in the initial installation back in the cost of the monthly monitoring.  They just want the monitoring only, therefore since they usually offer national monitoring, they are able to offer their services at a very reasonable price.   

Thanks for reading. We hope this article has helped you understand why alarm systems often become much more expensive than anticipated and began to show you some of the benefits of a do-it-yourself home security system. 

Would you like to learn more? Contact us today to learn how much do-it-yourself home security can save you.