Security Tip

Don't overdo your audio alarm or siren.

Burglars have been known to trip alarms and then sit back and wait to see if the alarm shuts down or if the police or a security agency respond.






Site Map




Home Burglar Alarms:

Putting The Pieces Together


Whether you're ready to install that DIY home security system, or you're still making comparisons before you buy, a basic understanding of components and how home burglar alarms work will make your task much easier.

As you have probably noticed, the variety of home security alarm manufacturers, equipment components, styles, and the levels of sophistication is extensive.

Most people are aware that there are two basic alarm technologies: wired and wireless. Each has its' own advantages and disadvantages, and each is a good security solution in the right setting.

And you can choose between home burglar alarms that are remotely monitored by a professional security company, or by you on a remote PC, or one that only sounds an alert and isn't remotely monitored at all.

But let's keep to our guiding principle of 'Simplified Home Security'. Despite the selection, it's important to remember that all alarm systems have very similar designs, and share common operational principles.

Standard home burglar alarms are comprised of these key components:

Master Control Panel
This is the brains of the system. This main processing unit receives information from the alarm sensors and/or keypad, and activates a response such as turning on lights or signaling a monitoring service company.

Be sure to select an alarm control panel with enough capacity to handle all the sensors and zones you install now and those you may add in the future. The control panel should include a backup battery to power the system for several hours in case your electricity goes out.

The keypad is the security system's command center. From it, you control the system's function-arming and disarming, and reviewing past alarm activity. Most keypads have numbered buttons, and a digital display panel. Some even speak with an electronic voice.

To operate the alarm keypad, you enter a code, then follow the instructions on the display. Keypads on most home burglar alarms also have a panic button that can sound an alert or to send an emergency signal to a monitoring company.

The keypad should be installed just inside your most frequently used door. And if budget allows, consider adding a second keypad in the master bedroom, or at the back door

Sensors are a vital part of most home burgler alarms. The best security systems use passive infrared (also called PIR)motion sensors. This type detects body heat, so mount it where anyone entering the room will cross the sensor's field. Most rooms can be covered by a single sensor.

If your pets have a free run of the house, choose one of the pet-immune motion sensors. And since PIR sensors detect rapid changes in temperature, direct them away from heater vents, wood stoves, and sun-heated windows as their temperature changes can set off false alarms.

There are a variety of other sensors for home burglar alarms to fit almost any situation.

Window and door sensors use magnetic contacts. A break in the magnetic contact trips the security alarm when the door or window is opened. Some are concealed within the door or window frames. Others are small devices that mount right on the door or window frame surface.

A determined intruder can get around a door or window sensor by breaking out the glass and crawling through-without actually opening anything. Acoustic glass break sensors will, however, activate the alarm when they "hear" the unique sound frequencies generated by breaking glass.

Driveway sensors have become an especially popular add-on to home burglar alarms, and are used to trigger an alarm or turn on a flood light when movement is detected in the driveway or yard.

Sirens and Strobes
When an intruder alarm is tripped, there are two basic response options. Either notification is sent to a 3rd party monitoring service that then notifies the home owner and or the police. Or the security system triggers some kind of bell, siren, or strobe.

Sirens are usually mounted on an interior wall, but some are designed for exterior use to alert the neighbors and discourage the intruder before entering premises.

Strobe lights are another option that you can install to alert you, the neighbors, and the police of a break-in. Mounted on the front of the house, the strobe flashes brightly during an alarm, discouraging the intruder, and making it easy for the police to find the right house.

Remember that almost all home burglar alarms consist of these 4 main components: control panel, keypad, sensors, and a warning function or device. Don't let all the variations complicate your choice.

So when it's time to evaluate home burglar alarms, the best advice is to keep it as simple as possible. Start by thinking about the 4 basic types of home alarm systems. And keep it small by looking at just the 4 components above to provide protection for a few critical areas. Then grow your system over time.


For More Information

Before you begin buying equipment, get familiar with the general types of home security alarms. You can also learn more about specific components like alarm control panels, and security alarm keypads.