How much to fit a burglar alarm? Although as a general rule if you pay out a lot of money you can expect to have one of the best home alarm systems, this isn’t always the case. A far better solution is when you have the security system designed specifically for your house and neighbourhood.
|Alarm Type & Features
|Simple alarm only system & 2 or 3 infrared sensors||£150 to £350|
|As above with a monitored system. Contacts up to 10 keyholders||£200 to £400||Plus landline or mobile phone charges & callout charges by keyholder|
|Extra sensors or keypad||£50 to £120 each|
A simple burglar alarm system will cost between £150 – £400.
|Type of Alarm system||Cost||Notes|
|Wireless security systems||£500 to £1000 minimum||Plus the cost of wireless technology|
|Wired systems||£500 to £1000 minimum||Plus the cost of purchase & installation of wiring|
|Monitored alarm system||£100 to £200 for basic system||1 alarm panel, 2 sensors, 1 keypad, 1 window/door contact|
|Monitoring alarm system||£20 to £50 per month|
|Police monitoring system||As above plus £400 to £800 minimum|
|Extra sensors & keypads for monitoring system||£50 to £120 each|
A more advanced burglar alarm will cost anywhere from £500 to £1000+
There are many factors that can vary the cost of having an alarm system fitted. Not only whether you have chosen to install a wired system, a monitored alarm or one of the best wireless home security systems but also where you live (London is always more expensive), the accessibility of your home and the size of your house.
If your home is the only one in the area or is one of a very few houses that has a home security system, it tends to stand out and tells anyone casing the area, that in this house there is something worth stealing. You may very well have priceless works of art or the latest in hi-tech equipment in which case, by all means, have a burglar alarm installed. If you are like the rest of us, however, and haven’t got much in the way of sellable items, then spend your money on better window and door locks to prevent the small scale pilferer from breaking and entering in the first place. Also, victims of home burglaries feel that their lives have been ruined by a burglary and that if it has already been done once, there is every chance that it will happen again.
Let’s assume that you have taken the first step of deciding that you want to have a home security system. Firstly, contact three or four local, reputable security companies who will be willing to work with you to find the best security system based on your home’s location, the incidence of burglaries in your area, and what kind of items you own that make an alarm system necessary. Don’t forget to let each company know that you are inviting others to produce house alarm systems costings because they will then be under more pressure to submit a competitive package.
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How Do Burglar Alarm Systems Work?
Unless you want to go in for really expensive, custom designed alarm systems (and for most people, this is not necessary), the usual security systems work by looking out for unexpected changes in the surroundings. Whatever system you decide to have, it will be controlled by a main burglar alarm panel positioned somewhere in the house convenient for you. There will be an on/off keypad next to the external doors and one upstairs. The best way to explain how they work is to imagine different scenarios.
- Let’s imagine that you are going out for the evening and decide to set the alarms. No one will be at home so there should be no movement anywhere. You should set the sensors upstairs and down to scan the main thoroughfares to monitor if there is any movement.
- Let’s imagine that you are going to bed. Everyone is upstairs so there should be no one downstairs. Set the system so that the sensors just scan the downstairs rooms for any movement.
When you leave the building you must activate the system by entering a password into the keypad. There is usually 30 seconds before the alarms activate to allow you to exit the building and lock the door. Similarly, when you come back home and enter the front door, you will have 30 seconds to enter the password on the keypad before the alarm activates.
In scenario No.1 you will be setting the sensors in every room to check for movement. This means that you will not be able to leave any windows open for ventilation in case any curtains move.
In scenario No.2 the only sensors activated are the downstairs detectors. This allows the people upstairs to walk around freely but they must on no account go downstairs unless the system is disarmed.
There are some obvious disadvantages to these scenarios.
- You cannot allow pets to have free run of the house. When you set the alarms they must be shut into a specific room that is not being monitored.
- You may have children that wander around in the night. If you do, downstairs must not be accessible.
- If anyone needs to go downstairs in the night, let’s say for a drink of water, to answer the phone or use a downstairs toilet, then the system must be deactivated each time.
We have already spoken about the sensors, but how do they work? The most common type of sensor is the Passive Infrared Detector (PIR). These measure any change in the average temperature in a room. The sensor is calibrated so small variations are not registered thereby preventing accidental activation that may be caused by bright lights or vibration etc. If there is too much change from the expected temperature or from the expected emissions pattern, the system assumes that there is an intruder in the room resulting in an activated alarm.
Less common these days are magnetic contacts, but they still have their uses. Magnets are attached to all external windows and doors while the magnetic detector is fitted to the corresponding frame. When the system is activated, the sensor registers the magnetic field. If any doors or windows are opened, the magnetic field ceases to be detected and the alarms are activated.
Different Types Of Home Security Systems On The Market
House security systems or burglar alarms, as they are commonly known are growing as one of the ‘must-haves’ of today’s home accessories. But why is that? With rising crime figures and reduced police presence, householders do not feel safe in their own homes and look for reassurance that their pride and joy will not be burgled. Before anyone decides on whether to pay out for the installation of a house alarm system they must consider one simple question. “Have I actually got anything worth securing?”.
We have already talked about the different ways that movement can be detected but haven’t yet touched on how the signals are transmitted from sensors to the control panel. The two methods of communication are
- Wireless home security systems – The sensors are completely independent wireless transmitters using low power radio signals, WLAN or Bluetooth to communicate their status to the receiver in the main control box. Don’t forget that access keypads can also be linked to the wireless burglar alarm control panel too.
- Wired security systems – The sensors and keypads are connected to the control box using individual wires.
Both of these systems have disadvantages and advantages and ideally, it needs a professional security company to decide which ones are the best for your application.
Wireless home alarm systems are especially useful because they communicate with the main control box wirelessly. This means that you don’t have either obtrusive surface mounted wiring or an upheaval when the wiring is hidden in the walls. Apart from this, other advantages include.
- Each individual detector is independent of the others.
- A burglar cannot cut wires disabling multiple sensors.
- The sensors can be fitted temporarily in certain locations.
- The sensors don’t need mains power.
- They are more convenient.
- Can be fitted as a DIY project.
Even with the best wireless security system, there are disadvantages.
- Individual sensor batteries may reach the end of their life without the householder being aware of it.
- They are more expensive to buy, because of the advanced technology.
- Depending on the layout and construction material of your house, there may be WiFi dead spots where the signal is particularly weak.
Monitored vs. Unmonitored Security Systems
There is one thing that plagues both wired and wireless home alarms and it doesn’t matter if you have one of the best security systems or one of the cheapest and that is whether anyone will respond to your alarm. You will have paid out a lot of money to have fitted the best home security system that you can afford and you will want something in return for the investment. If you live miles from anyone else or if your neighbours don’t hear your alarm then you may as well not have one fitted. The answer to this is to have what is called a ‘monitored security system’. This means that if your alarm activates, a message is sent over the phone network either to a keyholder or to the police to inform them that the alarm has activated. Additionally, you may or may not have an audible alarm activated at the same time. In theory, if the alarm sounds then any potential burglars should run away, whereas if the alarm is silent, the police will have a chance to apprehend the burglars before they have finished their raid. You hope!
That’s the theory, in practice, however, if your system is prone to false alarms and the alarm goes through to the police, the alarms will eventually be ignored and you may as well not have a security system. Similarly, if you have a keyholder on the other end of the phone, they may be asleep or the phone signal may be inoperative. Monitored systems work better if the alarms are protecting a commercial building or if the owner is wealthy. In both cases, a keyholder or the police can be paid to respond to alarms, even false ones.
DIY or Contractor?
Home burglar alarms are made to be modular so that as long as you have bought the main alarm panel large enough for all the accessories you can build your home system as large as you wish. All that is required is to buy enough sensors and keypads to suit your property. Because the system is so modular they are fairly easy to install not just by a contractor but also by a person with reasonable DIY skills. Monitored systems, however, are the only type that must be fitted by an alarm specialist.
Although wired systems are more difficult to install than wireless systems, they are also usually cheaper to buy. As long as you follow a few simple rules relating to the siting of sensors, wireless detectors are just a matter of fitting them to the wall in the correct position whereas wired systems need channelling and trunking to hide the cable runs between sensors, keypads and the control box.
Having said all this, if you are unsure as to what you are doing you should contact a specialist contractor for the design and installation of your system.
If you have many items to protect in your home, by all means, have an alarm system installed, otherwise, it might be better to improve the locks on doors and windows instead.