How to choose the best burglar alarm system for you

When choosing a burglar alarm system, there’s a tonne of different things to consider, from whether you want a wired or wireless system (or even a hybrid system) through to whether you want your intruder alarm system to be monitored or bells-only.

Here’s some tips on how to choose the best alarm system for your home or business:

What are your security objectives?

Everyone’s needs are different when it comes to home security.  At AMCO, when we’re designing alarm systems, we make sure we consider the following factors so that the system ultimately best fits your situation:

  • The type, size and shape of your property (inc do you own / rent)
  • The area you live in (is urban or country?  Does it have a high crime rate?)
  • Your family circumstance / set-up (including pets)
  • Your daily movement / activities linked to the property
  • The level of security you require
  • The types of equipment you’re comfortable with (e.g. are you happy having internal cameras, are you OK with smart locks, would you prefer wired or wireless)
  • Do you want it to integrate into other ‘smart home’ technologies
  • Your budget (what value you put on your home / family security)
 
To design the best security system it’s important to think about these factors and build a system that works for your specific situation.

 

Wired vs Wireless burglar alarm systems

20 years ago when AMCO first started out in the security industry there was only one type of alarm system: the wired alarm.  Fast forward 20 years and now wireless technology has improved significantly, meaning that it’s no longer necessary to have to install a fully wired system.  That said, choosing a wireless system isn’t a no-brainer, as wireless systems still have their drawbacks and aren’t suitable for all situations.

 
Here’s an overview of the positives and negatives of each type of system:

Wireless

- Strength: quicker and easier to install (N.B. most wireless systems do have some element of wiring involved e.g. in most cases the control panel and sometimes the keypad are wired, and then the sensors are wireless).

- Weakness: comparatively unreliable, with faults usually linked to batteries failing.  (N.B. batteries normally last 12 to 24 months, but some fail more quickly used / activated frequently).

 

Wired

- Strength: very reliable and robust.  Rarely go wrong.

- Weakness: require hard-wiring into your property, meaning you will have wires across your property (N.B. in most cases wires can be hidden, however in most cases you will be able to see some of the wires).

 
There is also a less well-known but good compromise between the two, which is a ‘hybrid system’ - which mixes wired and wireless technology.  Arguably the hybrid system is the best option, as it brings together the best of both worlds.
 
The two biggest balancing considerations with the wired / wireless argument is very much ‘ease of installation’ over ‘reliability’.  Arguably reliability is the most important aspect to consider, especially as security systems should be fail-safe, working in the in-frequent occasions you really need it to work.

 

Monitored alarm or bells-only alarm system

In the past, most burglar alarms were only ‘bells only’ systems: that is, when the alarm is activated, a bell is activated outside the property to bring attention to the burglary.  Due to the relatively high occurrence of false-alarms, and the annoying nature of a bell ringing on a street, bells-only systems have become less effective and increasingly less popular, and have been over-taken in popularity by monitored alarms.

 
Monitored alarms are security systems that are connected to an ‘alarm monitoring service’, meaning that whenever the alarm is activated instead of a bell ringing outside the property, the alarm automatically connects to ‘monitoring station’ who can then respond accordingly e.g. by calling emergency services in the case of an emergency, or calling your key-holders in the case of a suspected false alarm.
 
A quick comparison of the benefits of the two is as follows:
 

Bells-only

- Positive: generally cheaper, no ongoing monitoring cost
- Negative: not at all effective as a security system as people ignore alarm bells
 

Monitored alarm

- Positive: as a rule highly effective as you’re guaranteed a response to the alarm activation every time
- Negative: generally more expensive than bells-only systems and require a monthly monitoring fee

 

Different types of alarm monitoring

There are in general x3 typical types of alarm monitoring response you can choose in a system.  These are:

- Auto-dialler: the most common type of monitoring is ‘auto-dialler response’, where the alarm automatically calls / sends an SMS to you or a key-holder - this provides limited but useful level of response.

- Telephone call-back response: this is a slightly more robust version of monitoring than ‘auto-dialler’ as instead of a bot automatically calling a series of pre-programmed telephone numbers (as in the auto-dialler instance), ‘call back’ monitoring involves a human controller in a monitoring station calling your key contacts in the occurrence of an alarm activation.

- Immediate audio-response: the most sophisticated type is ‘immediate audio-response’ where a speaker/microphone installed the property allows a human controller in the monitoring station to immediately listen and talk into the property and respond appropriately (e.g. call the emergency services if necessary).

 

AMCO’s recommendation for the best alarm system

Considering all of the above factors is extremely important.  The most important part of an alarm we’d focus on when choosing an alarm system is the alarm monitoring type - as alarm monitoring provides the best way to get a response in an emergency scenario.

AMCO specialise in ‘immediate audio-response’ alarm monitoring, what we’d regard as the Rolls Royce of alarm monitoring as our monitoring staff an immediate verify if there’s an emergency situation and call in the relevant emergency services.

The following video interview is a great example of the best alarm system on the market working in action . . .