Several measures of securing your home are more effective—and much less costly—than alarm systems: Secure all doors with good deadbolts; secure all windows that are accessible from the outside; set up lighting systems that deter burglars; and improve your own home security habits.

While an alarm system will also improve the security of your home, it may not be worth the price if—

  • You live in a very low-crime neighborhood.
  • Your house is well-secured physically (with locks and other measures).
  • Someone is almost always at home.
  • Your neighbors keep an eye on your house and call the police if they notice anything suspicious.
  • You possess little of substantial value that could be stolen and have good insurance coverage.
  • You don’t worry much about break-ins.
  • Children, houseguests, or others are likely to frequently trigger false alarms.
  • The hassle of setting the alarm and avoiding false alarms would deter you from using it regularly.

If you decide you want an alarm system, choosing a good installer is essential. Our Ratings Tables will help you find a reliable company. Have several companies come to your home to propose systems and quote prices. Some will be much better than others at designing a system that meets your needs at a reasonable cost. Even for the same basic design, you will find substantial price differences.

Take into account the cost of monitoring. Some installers will lock you into using their monitoring services for several years. Many installers give hefty discounts off equipment and installation costs to customers who sign long-term monitoring contracts.

Read the contract before you sign it. Check especially for what flexibility you'll have to switch monitoring services. Some companies make it very difficult for customers to inexpensively switch monitoring services to another provider by refusing to provide programming codes or refusing to reset systems to their default modes. We advise you to give extra consideration to companies willing to contractually agree to provide programming codes either upfront or if you request them later on.