Installation and activation fees
Companies with professional installation charge extra for the service. Professional installation can be worth it if you don’t have time or the skill to install equipment and manage integrations. Your installer can walk you through your system and answer questions while there. Plus, pros will often give you a free security consultation identifying vulnerabilities on your property, like a sliding door that may need additional security.
ADT and Vivint charge the same price to install equipment until you get into the higher-level packages. ADT home security packages with lots of equipment and connective devices cost more to install.
By installing your own equipment, you can often save money and avoid the hassle of inviting a stranger into your home. Plus, installation is usually simple. Many companies send you stickers to install your system, so you don’t need much beyond a screwdriver to pop the back off of some battery chambers.
Frontpoint, SimpliSafe, Cove, and Link Interactive don’t charge activation or installation fees.
Monthly monitoring costs
Monitoring costs often depend on your system’s features, like mobile access, smart home control, or video cameras. But it can also depend on how many pieces of equipment you purchase or the type of alarm monitoring connection you want.
Vivint includes mobile app access with every plan—something few top competitors do. It loads its higher-tier plans with extra features like smart home tech and video monitoring. Those come at a cost: for example, if you opt for video monitoring, you’ll have to pay an extra $5 a month for every additional camera you add to your plan.
SimpliSafe and Ring keep monthly prices down by limiting the features they offer. Both are solid, basic security systems, but we don’t recommend them for smart home integration.
ADT offers the cheapest landline monitoring plan on our list. We recommend landline only if you live in an area without a reliable cellular connection because cellular service is more reliable and less susceptible to tampering. But if you need a landline connection, we highly recommend this ADT monitoring plan.