How much does a security alarm cost?

ALASDAIR DUNCAN
If you are concerned about break-ins at your home, or if you just want the peace of mind of knowing that you have an added layer of security, a home alarm system can be one option.

How much do home alarm systems typically cost, what levels of protection are available and what components are included?

How does a home alarm system work?

A home alarm system is a series of devices that you can install to warn you about intruders in your home. It typically comprises components including motion and heat sensors, a control panel (that can be used to arm or disarm the system and monitor activity in the home), door and window sensors and a high-decibel alarm. 

Some home alarm systems will connect to your phone and notify you of activity in the house while you are out. Some will also operate on a ‘back-to-base’ system, where a security company will be alerted to activity in your home, and depending on the situation, may be able to deploy a guard to the property to monitor it. 

Some more basic home alarm systems operate on the basis of a high-decibel alarm, which is intended to notify anyone within earshot (such as neighbours) of activity in the property, and potentially frighten intruders away. 

How much does a home alarm system cost?

The price of a home security alarm system in Australia can vary from between several hundred to several thousand dollars, but based on a survey of costs from Australian home repairs marketplaces and security providers, you may expect to pay around $2,000 on average. 

Jim’s Security says a professional alarm system can cost anywhere between $600 and $2,000. According to online job marketplace Oneflare, a home alarm system can range in price between $300 and $4,000, while hipages says the average cost can range from $150 up to $2,800. 

In general terms, it is important to remember that a home security alarm system is not a one-size-fits-all purchase with a fixed price, but it is instead a collection of components that will need to suit the size of your house and your needs, and can be tailored and customised with more basic or elaborate components. 

What factors affect the cost of a security alarm?

According to Jim’s Security, there are seven key factors that will determine the price of a home alarm system, related to installation as well as ongoing costs. These factors are the number of zones you need to monitor, the type of detection devices you choose, whether you opt for a wired or wireless system, the complexity of the installation, the type of monitoring, whether you choose a keypad or touch screen panel, and the communication device used by the system.  

The number of zones in the house

A zone refers to an area of the house that a security sensor will monitor, generally a particular room such as a kitchen, garage or entrance hallway. The size of your house and the number of zones you want to be monitored will be a factor in determining price. 

The more zones you wish to monitor in your property, the greater the expense is likely to be. This is because a property with more zones to monitor will require more detection devices, which in turn will likely mean higher hardware and installation costs. 

The type of detection devices

A detection device is the component of an alarm system that senses movement in your home, and these range in price depending on the level of sensor you require. According to Jim’s Security, a standard Passive Infrared Sensor (POR) which tracks body heat and movement may be the most cost effective option for home security. 

A microwave sensor, which measures the reflections from a moving object, may be more expensive, and dual technology motion sensors, that do both, are more expensive again. Pet-friendly sensors are among the more expensive options, but prices will vary depending on the size of your pet.  

‘Reed switches’, which trigger if a window or door is opened, are relatively cost-effective, while glass break detectors, which monitor vibration and shock waves associated with glass shattering, are more expensive. Jim’s Security notes that while reed switches are cheaper, you may need more of them for a home security system.  

Whether the system is wired or wireless

Wired and wireless systems tend to be comparable in cost, so Jim’s Security says the main difference between them comes down to ease of installation. If you are building a new house or have easy access to running cables, then it may be easier to install a wired system, whereas if installing cable presents a logistical challenge, a wireless system may be preferable. Installation costs for either a wired or wireless system will depend on the time required to install the system, and the cost of materials such as cabling.  

The complexity of the installation

The construction of your home can affect installation costs, based on how easy or challenging it is to install a security system. For example, Jim’s Security says that if you are installing a wired security system, a house with larger ceiling and wall cavities will allow easier access to installers, and can potentially cut installation costs. Likewise, installations on a single-storey home tend to be less expensive than those for homes that are two or more storeys, thanks to ease of access. 

The type of monitoring 

There are three standard types of monitoring for alarm systems: unmonitored and self-monitored systems and back-to-base systems. An unmonitored system, which is the cheapest kind, will not send an alert, and will therefore rely on somebody nearby hearing the alarm system activate, and then contacting authorities. 

A self-monitored system will send alerts to you via a platform like a mobile app, and is more secure, but will still rely on you receiving the alert and contacting authorities  Back-to-base systems, while they are the most expensive, will alert both you and a central monitoring service, who will send out a guard or contact authorities if they cannot reach you. 

The type of keypad 

The two main options you might have for a keypad are usually a numeric panel or a touchscreen. Touchscreens generally have a sleeker design than numeric panels, and can offer more options for customisation, but this means they tend to be more expensive. It is also worth noting that, the more zones you wish to protect in your home, the larger and more complex the keypad may need to be, which can also increase costs.  

The communication device

At present, according to Jim’s Security, there are two main types of communication device types available for home security systems. The first of these is a system that operates on mobile phones using 3G, 4G or 5G technology. This is the type of communication device that is required if you want to use back-to-base monitoring. 

The other available option is a mobile that connects to an existing home internet system, and while this option is similar in price to one that operates on mobile phones, it generally has no ongoing costs. A potential downside is the fact that this type of setup can be impacted by problems with your internet connection, so may be less reliable than the alternative. 

Can a security system reduce the cost of home insurance?

According to Smart Security, installing a comprehensive home security system can lower the cost of your insurance premiums, as insurance providers may feel more confident in the safety of your home. Smart Security says that a comprehensive system can lower the cost of your premiums by up to 20%, although you will need to check with your individual insurance provider if you can save on premiums by having one installed. 

AAMI also says that having a home security system installed can make the claims process easier, should you need to make one. They say that sending a video of footage recorded during an incident at your home can help substantiate your insurance claim, should you need to make one.

Cover image source: Daniel Jedzura/Shutterstock.com


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