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MCFP > Monitored Alarm Systems  > How to Choose the Best Type of Intruder Alarm

How to Choose the Best Type of Intruder Alarm

With over 260,000 intruder break-ins and burglaries recorded in 2020/21 alone across England and Wales, it’s never been more important to ramp up your home security system. Burglars had a tough time over the lockdowns considering that more people were home and on alert to signs of an intruder; but with more and more people returning to work each day, our homes and businesses are becoming increasingly at risk of break-ins. Here at MCFP, we specialise in protecting residential and commercial properties – whether that be from fires or burglars. In this blog, we will walk you through the different types of intruder alarms and security systems on the market today, and offer helpful tips on how to select the best alarms for your building.

Different Types of Intruder Alarms

Before moving on to our helpful tips, it’s essential to get to know the different types of alarms and security systems that are on offer to you, along with their pros and cons. This will help you make an informed decision about which alarm system might be most suited to your needs and desires. For reference, most alarm systems consist of motion sensors/detectors, sounder alarms, a central control panel, a keypad and batteries as standard. Here at MCFP, we can install multiple types of intruder alarms as well as conduct vital maintenance and assess your property to give you an idea of the best security system for your home and/or workplace.

Bells-only Alarms

These are your very standard, most widely used burglar alarms in the UK. They will sound a loud siren whenever the sensor detects an intruder or unusual activity as a way to alert you (and your neighbours!) to a potential break-in; hence the name ‘bells-only’. The siren will typically last for about 20 minutes or until disarmed at the central keypad or control panel.

  • Loud siren alerts you and your neighbours to a potential home security risk which can act as a deterrent to a burglar.
  • Typically the cheapest and easiest alarms to install.
  • Power cuts or unintentional triggering of the sensors (e.g. by your pets, children or yourself simply forgetting that the alarm is actively monitoring your premises) can result in frustrating false alarms.
  • If you are not home, you are relying on your neighbours to respond to the siren and call the police. Due to the high rates of false alarms in these alarms, many neighbours tend to ignore these alarms, which puts your building and possessions at risk.

Monitored Alarms

As the name suggests, these alarms take security one step further by automatically connecting your alarm system to a dedicated alarm monitoring company. Should the detectors sense an intruder, the system will automatically connect your alarm to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) as well as sound a loud siren. Alarm Receiving Centres are manned by security experts 24/7. Should your burglar alarm come through to their monitoring centre, one of the operators will call your home to check whether everything is alright. They will also ask for a password. In the event that their call goes unanswered or an incorrect password is given, the monitoring agent will call you (or any other nominated person or keyholder) to alert you to a potential security risk at your premises. They may also alert the police.

  • Someone is monitoring your work and/or home security at all times, whether you are at the premises or not.
  • Can help minimise the noise disruption caused by false alarms as you can immediately notify your alarm monitoring company to disarm the alarm system.
  • Monitoring contracts add an extra monthly cost on top of the price of installing your actual alarm system. It’s important to consider whether your budget can stretch this far.

Wired Alarms

These alarm systems consist of a series of sensors, monitors and detectors wired together using a network of cables and wires.

  • Typically require less maintenance than other alarm systems (such as wireless alarms) because they have less reliance on batteries.
  • Due to the extensive network of wiring, these alarm systems need to be installed by a certified and trained technician. This, unsurprisingly, can rack up the costs of installing these types of burglar alarms.
  • They are less flexible. For example, if you want to add extra sensors or detectors to your alarm system, it involves a long process and requires paying for a certified technician to come to your home/workplace. You also could not take this burglar alarm with you if you moved home.

Wireless Alarms

The exact opposite of the above – these intruder alarms are completely wireless and battery-operated. The detectors, monitors and sensors within the security system are connected to each other via Wi-Fi or radio frequency.

  • Typically easier and cheaper to install due to them not requiring any tricky wiring. You could even potentially install it yourself!
  • Adding additional sensors or detectors is easier with wireless burglar alarms – you simply need to connect each one to your Wi-Fi or radio network and you’re good to go. This is good for adding the latest new devices to your system.
  • Upkeep of wireless home security systems can be expensive as the devices require their batteries to be regularly changed.
  • Electrical interference, weakened/disrupted signal or network outages can result in these burglar alarms becoming ineffective or triggering false alarms. For that reason, they’re not great in places that are prone to network or signal issues.

Smart Home Security Systems

Smart alarms encompass features of monitored alarms and can come wired or wireless. Within the system there can be multiple devices connected, such as security lights, CCTV security cameras, siren alarms, motion detectors, sensors and monitors. In the event of an intrusion, these burglar alarms protect your premises by automatically triggering the activation of these security devices. For example, a siren to alert you/your neighbours, floodlights to deter an intruder or CCTV cameras to instantly record footage. This flurry of motion can be a great deterrent against a property invasion. You can also program these home security systems to send a notification to your phone warning you that there may be a security risk at your home or workplace.

  • Allow you to connect a range of smart devices to ramp up your work or home security system.
  • Provide 24/7 monitoring and protection of your property.
  • Can alert you to a potential break-in regardless of whether you are at the property or not, allowing you to put in place appropriate security methods such as calling for a police response.
  • May require a subscription fee.
  • Smart devices may be more expensive.

Dialler Burglar Alarm

These burglar alarms work like a bells-only alarm, but with the additional feature of automatically notifying you (or a nominated person/keyholder) in the event that the alarm is triggered. Most of these intruder alarms will allow you to program between three to ten numbers and rank them in order of priority to call in the event of a security risk.

  • Offers the benefit of a bells-only alarm siren with the addition of notifying you about the intruder alert. This is great if you can’t rely on neighbours to look out for your property or you are away from the property.
  • Having a list of numbers to call is useful if you are away from the area or abroad and cannot check on the premises – someone else likely can.
  • If you are unable to attend to the property, can you trust the nominated people on your call list to do so? What about if they are unavailable as well and cannot get to the property? This is something to consider.

Top 8 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Next Security System

1. Budget

How far your budget can stretch will determine which alarm system you can feasibly install within your property. As well as the initial purchase cost, make sure to also account for:

  • Installation costs (some alarms, such as wired alarms, will require an expert to install them)
  • Maintenance
  • Upkeep (such as replacing batteries)
  • Training (to properly use and disarm the burglar alarm)

2. Risk Assessment

This is particularly important for commercial properties. Your premises should always undergo a risk assessment for many purposes; from detecting potential vulnerabilities to burglars to identifying fire safety risks. Once you have completed a risk assessment of your property, you can weigh up what type of devices and security systems you need within your building’s intruder alarm setup to sufficiently protect your premises and possessions.

3. Location

Estate agents are right about one thing – it’s all about location, location, location. Can you rely on your neighbours to alert you or the police if your alarm siren goes off? Do you live in an area with a high level of crime? Is your area remote or built-up? All of these features will impact both the level of security you need and the type of burglar alarm system that is most suited to your premises.

4. Size

A one-bedroom apartment will be suited to different types of alarms compared to a 100,000 square feet warehouse. This, to an extent, boils down to the level of security required and the value of the property’s contents (as discussed further below), but property size is another crucial factor. It may not be feasible (or budget-friendly) to install a wired system in a large space. However, larger areas can also impair the efficiency of wireless alarm systems due to the signal being blocked or not reaching far enough between each sensor or detector.

5. How Often is The Building Vacant?

This includes pets. Pets are one of the most common reasons for home security systems having false alarms. This is due to most detectors and sensors not being able to distinguish between animal and human activities. If you want to save yourself the time and hassle of dealing with false alarms, you should definitely invest in a system that won’t trigger a false alarm should your beloved cockapoo decide to jump on the sofa! False alarms are frustrating for you and your neighbours, but infinitely more for the police officers who are called out to them. Some local authorities can ban your property from intruder alarm call-outs should your system trigger too many false alarms. Therefore, you definitely want to consider this when installing your new burglar alarm.

Equally, your building’s security needs are different if someone is often home versus if it is left vacant for long periods of time. With many people working from home nowadays, might it be time to consider a different alarm system? Empty offices may need to ramp up their intruder alarms while homeowners may wish to save money by simplifying their home security.

6. Value of Contents

Although we all consider our possessions to be of incredible value to us, when it comes to security, we have to think about these things from a pragmatic and financial standpoint. The contents of a standard domestic home will have a very different price tag compared to a designer jewellery store on Oxford Street, for example. When deciding on your next burglar alarm, make sure to install a system that properly reflects the value of the property and the possessions you’re trying to protect. After all, most people would rather be safe than sorry.

7. Insurance Requirements

This is most important for businesses to consider (but should definitely be part of the decision-making process for homeowners too). In most cases, insurers will require you to have appropriate security systems in place before a burglary in order to pay out on any claims resulting from a break-in. The type of intruder alarm system that should be installed on a commercial property is graded 1-4 depending on the severity of risk posed by the premises.

8. Accredited Engineers

Should your alarm system need to be installed by an engineer, it is always imperative to ensure that the installation is carried out by National Security Inspectorate (NSI) accredited technicians. Luckily, all of our MCFP technicians are NSI Gold accredited, so you can be confident that any installations or maintenance completed by us will be of the highest quality. Furthermore, having an accredited engineer install your security system may also be a requirement within your insurance policy, so it’s definitely worth checking this before you fit your new system.

CCTV: Ramping up Your Security System

As well as installing top-class monitors and movement detectors into your burglar alarm system, adding CCTV into the mix is a fantastic way to maximise your business’ and home’s security. Not only is it a powerful deterrent against criminals of any kind, but in the unfortunate event that a burglary does take place on your premises, footage taken from your security cameras can be the difference between finding and prosecuting the intruder(s) or living with the worry that they will return.

As well as providing expert intruder alarm installation, our skilled technicians can also install CCTV systems in your home or workplace.

If you’d like more information about the intruder alarm and CCTV installations that our talented team of technicians can offer, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team here at MCFP.

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