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Alarm system costs

Securing your premises is an essential step for any start-up to take. But what alarm system costs should you consider? Learn what you’ll need to budget for here

Whether you need an intruder alarm with a simple bell device that rings when someone enters your property, or your business requires a more complex system that offers high-level protection, alarm systems are a key part of a start-up’s security plan.

In this article, we’ll provide specific information about the cost of alarm system installation and other fees to factor in when selecting devices that are best for your business.

For a more general overview, read our guide to commercial alarm systems for small businesses.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. What are the different types of alarm systems?
  2. Alarm system costs: A breakdown
  3. Intruder alarm costs
  4. Fire alarm costs
  5. Water detector costs
  6. Alarm system installation costs
  7. Alarm system monitoring costs

You can go to the section you want to learn more about straight away. Or, read the whole article to get an in-depth understanding of security alarm system prices.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to compare quotes for business security now, simply complete the form at the top of the page.

1. What are the different types of alarm systems?

When considering alarm system costs, you’ll first need to decide on the type of device your business requires. Essentially, there are three types to choose from:

Type of alarm What does it offer?
Basic alarms This consists of a bell-only device that makes a loud ringing sound if someone tries to enter your property while the alarm is on. This type of alarm offers a basic level of protection with a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach at a low price point
Alert alarms This type informs your chosen contact(s) via text message or phone call so offers a notification service. As this requires more resource, you can expect this type of system to be in the mid-range price bracket.
Monitored alarms With this option, your alarm is connected to an external monitoring centre with dedicated staff monitoring the systems. It offers real-time coverage and is at the higher end of the price spectrum.

There are some other factors that are likely to affect the cost of alarm system installation for your business.

You can conduct a risk assessment to help you understand the specific security needs of your start-up, including what the potential risks or threats to your property may be. Similarly, take into account the value of the contents of your premises too.

These factors can help the decision-making process to give you an idea of the type of alarm system your business needs, and in turn, how much funds to set aside for it.

Also, additional elements to the security system – such as the type of sensors used and if the device is wired or wireless – can influence what you can expect to pay to protect your premises.
So what do the costs look like? Read on to find out in the next section…

You may also want to consider fire alarms and water detectors as part of your business security system.

2. Alarm system costs: A breakdown

In this section, we’ll look at the details of the cost of alarm system installation. This means thinking about the different factors that go into finding the overall amount your business should budget for.

Security alarm systems prices include multiple aspects, such as:

  • Installation
  • Maintenance/services
  • Alarm system equipment
  • Monitoring packages
  • Size of premises

For example, a start-up in a small coworking office space and a business that’s in a large retail park or warehouse will have different requirements. In turn, the level of protection the alarm would need to offer – and thus the price – is likely to change.

Factors such as how many entry and exit points are needed, the area of the premises, as well as the nature and value of the goods on-site will all affect the type of system required and the cost.

You’ll also need to think about some key questions, as the answers to these will influence the price your business will ultimately pay too. These include:

  • Does your business need an alarm-only package, or will a monitoring service need to be included too?
  • What is the contract price and length? For example, review the monthly price and duration, as well as if any fees apply should you need to break it early.
  • Are the installation and maintenance fees included in the general package price, or do they have to be paid for separately?
  • If opting for a professional installation, will you use a national or local alarm company? Each has their advantages and disadvantages. For example, a national company is likely to have a broader knowledge base. On the other hand, a local company may have inside knowledge that’s specific to your area.

You’ll also need to think about the time involved – whether that’s for your labour if you choose a DIY alarm option, or for the possible disruption to your business for a professional fit-out.

The former option is ‘free’, although you pay with your time away from running your business.

However, this also depends on the type of alarm system you go for, as the more complicated systems are likely to need a specialist to install them.

Plus, you’ll need to factor in additional costs for extra features, such as if you’re adding in CCTV surveillance or smoke detectors.

You should also review the immediate cost, as well as the ongoing monthly charges, to give you a true indication of the total cost.

Factor Cost
Self-installed basic alarm system Around £200; may be lower
Professional alarm system installation £500-£1,000 (depends on security requirements)
Monitoring service £20-£30 per month approximately

If you want to find out more about prices and speak with suppliers, simply complete the form at the top of the page to compare quotes for business security.

As part of planning for the security measures that will protect your start-up, you should also consider cyber security.

3. Intruder alarm costs

Intruder alarm costs are determined by the type of alarm and the size of the premises to be covered, as well as taking into account any additional features or functions (e.g. smoke alarm capability, maintenance services). Costs may also be affected by the time of year – seasonal sales, for example.

When reviewing intruder alarm costs, there are several factors to take into consideration, including:

  • Alarm type – wired and wireless alarms are offered at different price points
  • VAT – check whether the prices given are inclusive or exclusive of VAT, if applicable for your business
  • Extra charges – additional fobs or keys for the alarm, as well as fire alarm feature, are two examples of ways in which the price could increase
  • Exit fees – if your alarm service is contracted, be aware that there could be exit fees if you decide to finish the service before the set date

Be sure to check what equipment is included – does the package have everything you need to set up an intruder alarm or will some elements need to be added separately? Plus, are any additional or exclusive features available?

Also, consider what type of alarm provider would best suit your business’ needs – a small, local company or a big, national provider?

Here is a rough guide to the costs of different types of alarms.

Alarm type Cost
Basic £75-£150
Mid-range £300-£500
Advanced £500-£1,500+

A monitored wireless alarm is likely to cost around £100-£200, so may fall into the basic or mid-range brackets, depending on its features, while an auto-dialler alarm is usually priced about £200-£300. You can expect to pay in the region of £150 for a smart alarm, and £250 to have it installed professionally.

Note that the costs for the basic and mid-range alarms vary according to the features they have, and are offered on the basis that they will be self-installed. The higher end of the advanced price range is likely to require professional installation. The size of the premises will also influence what equipment and installation method is required.

In addition to the cost of the alarm itself, you should also factor in the cost of a maintenance contract in case of repairs and servicing – it could cost £80 a year, as one example.

Learn more about intruder alarms here.

4. Fire alarm costs

When assessing how much it will cost you to install a fire alarm system in your business, you should consider the following points, as these are all likely to influence prices:

  • The size of the business – how much area needs to be covered will determine the type of fire alarm your business needs and the price
  • How complex the system needs to be – a home office and a warehouse, for example, are likely to have different needs
  • The type of connection – new or rewired systems should be installed by a professional, whereas some battery powered alarms may be suitable for self-installation
  • How much time it will take to install – whether you intend to fit the alarm yourself or it requires a professional to do it, assess if the installation time will have an impact on your business
  • Additional costs – check if site visits and assessments are included or if they incur an extra charge

Fire alarms costs can be separated into the costs for the materials and the cost of installation. Within that, installation has two options: install the fire alarm yourself or hire a professional company to do it. If you hire a tradesperson, you’re likely to be charged an hourly or daily rate for their labour time and then for the materials, if they source them.

Here we give you an idea into the amount of you can expect to pay for different types of fire alarms, as well as the costs involved for materials and installation, plus how long it may take.

Alarm type Materials cost Self-installation may be possible Professional installation cost and time
Battery powered £25-£60 Yes £100-£300, up to two hours
Wired alarm £120 No £160-£450; up to half a day

Smart alarms (those that connect with apps or devices or that offer other tech features) are likely to be situated at the higher end of the price ranges provided.

Similarly, whether the alarms are interconnected or not will also affect where they fall along the spectrum of costs.

Also, bear in mind that a large commercial premises with a fire alarm system which includes multiple zones and detectors could take up to a week to install with materials and labour costing £1000+ respectively.

In general, you can expect to pay between £2,000-£5,000 for a fire alarm system for a commercial premises.

This depends on the type of business, as well as how many call points, detectors, sounders, and sirens are needed in the system. The type of smoke alarm required (such as ionisation or optical, for example) will also contribute to the total costs.

To get more information that’s relevant to your specific business’ needs, fill in the form at the top of the page to compare quotes for business security.

Be sure to check if the prices are inclusive or exclusive of VAT, if applicable for your business.

Some examples of commercial premises that may need to install fire alarms with varying needs (and therefore prices) include:

  • A landlord installing a system in a shared house
  • A bar or pub
  • An office
  • A hotel

Note that you’ll also need to factor in costs to service and maintain the fire alarm, if you opt for a fire alarm provided by a professional company. This is charged on a rate that depends on the number of devices in the system, and it may take place once or twice a year.

The maintenance and service visits for a fire alarm system with up to 20 devices could cost around £125-£150, as an example. While this number of devices is likely to apply for most small businesses, you can expect the price to increase the more devices there are in the system.

Discover the different types of fire alarms here.

5. Water detector costs

In the table below, you can get a rough idea of the different types of water detectors and how much it may cost.

Type of water detector Approximate costs
Basic – sound alert when sensors detect water £5-£20 for the device; self-install
Smart – connects to wifi and sends text/email alerts £20-£75 for the device; self-install
Advanced – more complex system Variable, as based on business’ requirements; professional installation

At the higher end of the smart water detector price point, there may also be the option to use it via an app, as well as additional features such as humidity or temperature detection too. Some may also be able to connect with smart home devices, like Alexa.

Depending on the system, you could get a water detector that connects with your intruder alarm or fire alarm, if they are all from the same provider and can be connected, such as via an app.

The type and number of sensors can affect the price too, as budget water detectors often have three sensors, while more advanced devices may use a cable sensor.

While it’s possible to use a basic water detector, there are several other features that may be useful to consider for your business, and that may affect the price. For example:

  • Rustproof design
  • Alerts e.g. buzzing, alarm
  • Wired or wireless
  • Smart detectors for text or email notifications
  • Detect humidity and temperatures changes, as well as water

Additionally, the questions below may help you understand what the total water detectors costs may be:

  • How much power does it consume? The lower the power consumption level, the less impact on your business electricity bills
  • Is the battery included in the price of the device? Not all water detector costs include this, especially the budget options. In addition, assess the battery’s lifetime and how frequently it needs to be replaced?
  • Is a hub necessary? Some smart water detectors require a hub or gateway to connect it to the router, whereas some can connect directly to the router. If a separate hub is required, then factor in the costs for this too
  • Where can it be placed? The cheaper options may be more limited on where they can be placed, such as only on a wall or a particular type of surface
  • How long does it take to set up? A wireless water detector may be ready to use, and so only requires minimal time away from your business to set it up

It’s also wise to consider what support, if any, is provided.

Some other options to consider include single use water detectors and more complex commercial water detector systems from a professional company.

Single use water detectors are designed to be placed in the relevant area and may have a certain lifetime with a built-in battery. The detector works within this timeframe until a water leak is detected, and then a new one is required.

More complex systems for businesses from a commercial water detector company are likely to have a cable, a sensor (or multiple sensors), and a control panel.

Find out more about water detectors here.

6. Alarm system installation costs

You can either install an alarm system yourself or use a professional company.

Some factors that may determine which installation method is best suited to your business include:

  • The size of your business premises – smaller areas with simple requirements lend themselves to self-installation, whereas bigger premises with more complex needs tend to require professional installation
  • The type of alarm – wired alarms are likely to need a professional to install them, due to the structural and electrical work involved, whereas a wireless alarm may only need to be connected to the internet
  • The type of contract – if you opt for an ongoing contracted service, such as monitoring or maintenance of the alarms, then this may influence if you can install the alarm yourself or if the company needs to do it

Here we provide an idea as to what you can expect to pay for the cost of alarm system installation.

Alarm type Self-installation cost Professional installation cost
Basic (e.g. a bell-only device) £70-£300 £200-£350; a wired bell-only alarm may cost around £400
Mid-range (e.g. an auto-dialler or telecommunicating alarm) £175-£300 £300-£400
Advanced (e.g. a smart alarm) £150 £250-£400
Bespoke (e.g. a custom-made device/system) N/A Variable, depending on your business’ requirements

  • For a basic alarm that you install yourself, the lower end of the price range will be a simple alarm, while the higher end is likely to be a more sophisticated device, with an app or a smart alarm, for example
  • Professional installation without an ongoing contract may be higher, depending on the alarm and business type – £800+, for example
  • Note that the greater the number of sensors, the higher the price is likely to be

7. Alarm system monitoring costs

If you opt for a monitoring service, this is often charged on a monthly basis. There are several factors that are likely to influence the monitored alarm systems monthly cost. These include:

  • Alarm type – the number of sensors and the way in which the alarm is connected (wired or wireless) may also alter the monthly costs
  • Police response – if the monitoring service includes police response to any call-outs or activations, then you can expect the price to increase

Here is a guide to approximate monthly monitoring costs.

Type of service Set-up costs Monthly charges
Monitored alarm £100 £15-£45
Monitored wireless alarm £100-£200 £15-£45
Police response £400-£700 £30-£45

Note that the monthly charges may be affected by the set contract length (e.g. 12, 24, or 36 months). The lower the monthly price, the longer the contract is likely to be, whereas higher monthly costs may be offset by a shorter contract.

For example, monthly alarm costs for a basic alarm service could be under £20, while a mid-range range alarm service could be around £25-£35. A more advanced system could be £40+ a month, also depending on the contract lengths.

If you already have an alarm installed, it may also be possible to get a monitored service only contract.

What are the next steps?

At this point, you’ve learned more about the types of alarm systems available to your small business, as well as what you can expect to pay for them.

From here, for further information, you should speak with suppliers – Startups.co.uk can help with this too. Just fill in the form at the top of the page – it’s free, easy and quick.

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