A home alarm is a system that guards your home from trespassing, burglary and other kinds of dangers. There are different types of home alarm systems available to choose from, all of them with different operational concepts. However, they are all designed to serve just one purpose; and that is to protect your home. There are electric circuits, motion detectors, infrared alarms and other types that are all quite effective. Read below to find out more about them and see which type might suit you the best.
The first type to discuss is the monitored system, which alerts a central call center if an alarm has been triggered. The call center then checks with the homeowner to see if everything is ok by calling them. Since the call center is alerted of an alarm through the phone wires, a clever burglar may be able to locate the outdoor phone wires if they are exposed and cut them. By doing this, the call center is never alerted and the burglar is free to enter the home.
Remember however, there is always the option of using a cellular or radio back up for a monitored alarm system. Besides the threat of burglars cutting your phone line before they enter your home, the phone service can be disabled for other reasons such as inclement weather, accidents, equipment failures and various other reasons. A back-up system, using either cellular or radio technology, can be used to provide constant monitoring of your service and can even alert the security company when the standard phone system is disabled.
Another disadvantage of having your home alarm system monitored is that even after the alarm has been set off, the burglar still has some time to get into your house, steal some valuables and escape undetected. This can happen because once the alarm has been set off; the security company usually waits for 30 to 45 seconds before contacting the homeowner by phone to receive a previously arranged password. They have to wait this long to allow the homeowner time to deactivate the alarm, if it was a false alarm. If the monitoring company does not receive the correct password, or the phone is not answered, then they would contact the police or some other third party. An experienced thief could easily make off with many valuables in the few minutes it takes for the police to actually arrive.
Another type of home alarm system is the unmonitored system, which makes a loud siren noise both inside and outside of the house when the alarm is triggered. The responsibility to contact the police falls on your neighbors. This type of alarm system may also include flashing lights so people are aware of where the alarm is coming from. The biggest advantage is that you do not have to pay monitoring fees. Another advantage is that burglars often become deterred when the sirens start blaring. Their goal is to get in and get out with some valuables, and of course without being noticed. This is made quite difficult once the alarm has been tripped. The big disadvantage of this type of alarm is that your neighbors must be home and willing to get involved by calling the police.
Another distinction between types of alarm systems is the hard-wired versus the wireless. The wireless home security systems use battery-powered radio transmitters and receivers to connect the various components such as cameras, sensors, motion detectors, sirens, central controllers, smoke and fire detectors, keypads, and even video displays. These types of security systems are usually available at most local hardware stores, or on the internet, and are often designed for a do-it-yourself type of installation.
The basic advantages of wireless security systems are that they are very easy to install and they avoid the expensive and time-consuming task of installing new wires in the walls of existing homes. Wireless systems also enable you to take the system with you when moving to a new location. Some wireless security systems can be set up to call programmed numbers in the event of an alarm, which can save the cost of hiring a professional monitoring service.
Some disadvantages of using wireless alarm systems are the design limitations in the distance allowed between sensors, cameras, and the central control panel. Wireless systems can also be vulnerable to electromagnetic interference in certain locations. Additionally, they also require periodic replacement of batteries, which could be expensive depending on the system.
Hard-wired alarm systems use wires installed inside the walls and crawl spaces to connect the sensors to a central control panel. A hard-wired system design normally uses power from the home electrical wiring as the primary source with a rechargeable battery pack for backup during power outages. The main components of a hard-wired system are similar to a wireless system but without the radio receiver and transmitter components.
The main advantages for a hard-wired alarm system are that they are considered by most contractors to be more reliable than wireless systems. They are usually installed by a professional security system contractor with warranties and maintenance support. They also avoid the problem of electromagnetic interference and radio range limitations inherent in some wireless security systems. Hard-wired components are also much less visible and more aesthetically pleasing than their wireless counterparts.
Some disadvantages of a hard-wired security system are that they are generally more expensive than wireless systems. The hard-wired system remains an integral part of the home, and therefore the components are not capable of being moved to another home when the owner relocates. Problems can also arise in the installation of sensors in certain homes where there are areas that are not accessible for pulling wires inside the walls. In those cases, they often will rely on having a wireless component added to the system.
The electric current home alarm systems are by far the most popular type of home alarms available. They can be placed in entryways all around your home such as the front door, basement door, garage door, and windows too. These alarms will create a steady current to each of the entryways, and if there is an intrusion, it will cause an interruption to the electrical current if someone opens a doorway without disabling the alarm first. Generally, these types of alarms will first make some kind of loud noise, which will hopefully scare of a burglar, or give a warning to the homeowner. This type can also have a silent alarm that will automatically notify the police when an intrusion is detected.
Another great way to keep your house protected is with the use of motion detector alarms. Motion detector alarms work by sending out patterns of light or microwaves of ultrasonic sound into the surroundings of your home. If someone enters a protected area without first disabling the alarm, they will create a disruption in these patterns that will automatically cause the alarm to sound. There are also infrared motion detectors that work by detecting body heat. If there is a significant change in the surrounding temperature in a room, it will trigger the alarm.
Other popular types of home alarms include:
- Panic buttons: they can be manually activated if you detect or suspect an intruder and can be placed near beds or doorways. Sometimes these buttons consist of a wireless unit that can be worn on the body.
- Glass break sensors: these components are placed on windows, which can detect vibrations if the glass is broken.
- Stress sensors: these are placed under rugs, carpets, or floor joists that activate when stepped upon.
When considering a new alarm for your home, be sure to also think about adding some fire alarm components. There are basically two types of smoke detectors available, which include the ionization and the photo-electronic. Ionization units use chemical reactions to detect the presence of smoke and respond best to fast-flaming fires, such as paper. On the other hand, the photo-electronic detectors work best for slower, smoldering fires, which are more common in typical residences. There are also heat detectors available that activate once a room’s temperature reaches a predetermined temperature.
Deciding which type of alarm system is right for your home and family can certainly be a confusing and frustrating task. Remember that the installation of a good residential alarm system that incorporates both burglar and fire alarm components is one of the most prudent steps you can take to help protect your property and your loved ones.