Published on August 28th, 2011 | by securityguy0
How do burglar alarms work?
Do cheap burglar alarms work well? That question has most probably crossed your mind if you’re reading this. The answer depends on the type of burglar alarm you have (or plan on buying) and on the intellectual properties of the particular criminal who may have a desire to enter your home.
The simple rule is: the cheaper, the higher the chance of failure. Yes, the alarm will work when your dog activates it accidentally but it will most probably not work when someone enters your hose with the desire to steal something.
and the answer is… YES! They do. You already know that, the question is which work best and which underperform under certain conditions. Education is always good! When searching for burglar alarms on AliExpress, look for kits with positive reviews and also look for the ones with the most sales (there’s a filter for that).
Types of burglar alarms
They are best divided by the type of the sensor used:
- Passive infrared detectors – most commonly used, cheapest and easiest to bypass. Good to have, but not much secure.
- Ultrasonic detectors - if you can, get one of these. They’re using the Dopler effect to detect motion and are very difficult to bypass.
- Microwave detectors - due to the high risk of false alarms these are often combined with passive infrared detectors. If you don’t like false alarms, don’t get one.
- Photo-electric beams – bypassing these is explained on this site and thus – not recommended for home use. You’ve seen them in the movies – they get bypassed there like a … child’s play. Of course it’s not as easy in real life, but hey, why risk your security?
- Glass break detectors - you can’t break a glass without triggering one of these in most cases. If you can, get these on the first floors of your property. They definitely do work.
- Smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide detectors - these are used to protect you from risks of human stupidity or the nature – sure, they may work if a burglar decides to light a cigarette or light your house on fire to wipe his tracks – but that’s rarely the case.
- Vibration (shaker) or inertia sensors - you will most likely not need one, as it’s used in military installations and such. Used to detect structure attacks – such as a broken barrier, etc. They definitely do work, but are not used for burglar protection.
- Passive magnetic field detection – low false alarm rate and high sensitivity causing this alarm to be one of the most effective out there.
- E-field – don’t even consider buying this one for your house. It DOES NOT WORK! I mean, really – with the high chance of false alarms and high cost, it’s illogical to get one unless you’re very very paranoid.
- Microwave barriers – cheap, easy to install and really hard to bypass. But it’s sensitive to weather conditions and not really useful in the winter.
- Microphonic systems – you will need it if you have a chainwire fence… not likely. Cheap but prone to false alarms too.
- Taut wire fence systems - does work but it’s very expensive and complex in operation. Not recommended for your average home.
- Fibre optic cable - I’m not even considering to review this one. Expensive and has a very high rate of false alarms!
Besides these, integration with cctv cameras is usually a must, as well as wireless security systems usually bound with some kind of mobile network via a sim card and a mobile phone-like device. Glass break detectors are a must if you live on the first floor – get the most reliable you can buy. Complete intruder alarm kits are available all over the net too – just search for them and you’ll find them.
Just getting a detection tool won’t give you security. You might also employ some type of an access control system – regular keys are old school – RFID has it’s own vulnerabilities, but there are other electronic access devices available, look around as I will write about them soon. Fire alarms are important too – what use is there for a burglar alarm if your property turns to ashes?
You better have several different burglar detection systems installed and couple them with a really good siren – the louder, the better. Thieves love covert operations and get really freaked out by the sound of a loud siren – so get one, power it independently so it would work even if they cut the power to your house and be safe.
Alarms do work as long as you make sure they are power independent and difficult to notice – you should not advertise the presence of detection systems unless you want them to come prepared exactly for your protections – the less the burglars know, the higher the chance of failure for them and the higher security you get.
Do cheap burglar alarms work?
It really does matter what type your burglar alarm is. Try not to be cheap on this one – as it’s not about your valuables when someone breaks into your house. I’ve been through that and I know how it feels – you feel as if your house has been raped, literally – and you feel everything being ‘dirty’ and touched by someone else – trust me, in such a case you would give anything to prevent what happened.. but it’s already done and there is no going back. You will have to deal with being robbed and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
The best you can do is prepare yourself in advance – find out what the weaknesses of your house/business are and then improve them with appropriate protection. If you have windows on the first floor it really makes no sense in buying a $10 000 door security – as all it takes is to break your window, and your door security is gone. Same goes for the alarm systems you install – make sure they are independent and really, really difficult to bypass. Think of it as if you were a thief – would you notice there is an alarm installed and could you research online on how to bypass it? If you can, then probably every regular thief can, too. And you should not allow that to happen!
Burglar alarms work only when their owner/installer has a head on their shoulders and knows how to use it. They also work best when nobody knows about them except for their owner – especially the horn / siren types.
I entered an office (legally and with a permission once) – but forgot to turn off the alarm. The sound of the siren blew my mind off – and literally caused me to run out of the building immediately – as it was unbearable and I couldn’t stand the extremely loud sound of it. There was no way I could stay there and steal something, for example – it was physically impossible. Yes, sure – the thief might be “hungry” enough and still have the nerve to steal something – but you have decreased the chances of that happening at all if you’ve installed a tremendously loud siren.
Burglar alarms function best when there is an owner who is concerned with their use and their usability, or usefulness – someone, who is not afraid to invest a couple hundred dollars more into a security system which would be difficult to notice and bypass, thus difficult to overcome.
I will probably post some burglar alarms reviews on this site in the future – in the meantime, feel free to leave your comments below!
- How an alarm works
- Bypass glass break sensors
- Bypass photoelectric alarms
- Bypass motion sensor alarms
- Alarm Master Controls
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