How to Buy a Home Alarm System

Two Methods:Wired vs. Wireless Home Alarm SystemsHome Alarm System Options

A home alarm system connects to sensors that trigger when someone enters through windows and doors. It may also connect to a monitoring service, through either the phone line or a cell phone. Although there are wired and wireless systems, the key components to consider when you buy a home alarm system are the same.

Method 1
Wired vs. Wireless Home Alarm Systems

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    Assess the benefits and drawbacks of wired versus wireless.
    • Wired home alarm systems are more reliable than wireless, which operate on battery power. For example, a wireless security camera may only be able to operate for up to 24 hours before the battery power runs out.
    • Wired alarm system can connect to a monitoring service through the home's phone line, while a wireless system must be compatible with a cell phone to be connected to a monitoring service.
    • Wireless alarm systems can only be armed with a remote device, which can be stolen or misplaced. A wired system has keypads installed inside the entrances, which require entering a code to disarm the system. If the keypad is equipped with a 2-way intercom, your monitoring system can directly communicate with you that way.
    • Wireless alarm systems with a repeater unit can have a transmission range that includes outlying buildings.
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    Compare the cost to buy and install a home alarm.
    • Wired home alarm systems cost less but are difficult to install if the home isn't prewired.
    • Wireless home alarm systems are more expensive to buy but are something a homeowner can install in a matter of hours.

Method 2
Home Alarm System Options

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    Look at security options for doors and windows.
    • The typical sensor on a window or door is a magnetic switch in the frame. The circuit is broken when the window or door is opened, which triggers an alarm. The downside is all windows must be closed to set the alarm.
    • Heat and motion detectors, also called passive infrared (PIR) detectors, are installed high on the wall. They can be positioned above doors and windows, or aimed at an entrance door from across the room.
    • Audio discriminators can be used by windows and glass doors. They sense acoustic shock waves from breaking glass and trigger the alarm.
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    Pick the types of audio and visual alerts. These act as a deterrent as well as signal occupants and neighbors about a possible intrusion.
    • You can have a bell installed that emits a sound when a window or door is opened. This sound can also be a helpful in alerting parents, should a child unexpectedly open a door.
    • A horn is usually installed in the attic or outside as a loud alert to occupants and neighbors.
    • Homes with someone who is hearing impaired can have flashing strobe lights installed throughout the home. Strobe lights can also be installed outside.
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    Consider a panic button. This handheld device is available for wired or wireless systems to trigger the alarm even when it's not set. It can be kept by the bedside or anywhere in the home.
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    Add a video camera and monitor at the front door. If you want several video cameras, you'll need a complex closed circuit TV to monitor them. Digital recorders can also be installed.
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    Opt for fire protection. If smoke detectors are connected to the home alarm system, your monitoring service will be notified if a smoke alarm is triggered. However, there's usually an additional monthly fee for fire monitoring, and false alarms can result in fines from local municipalities up to several hundred dollars.


  • If you have pets roaming around the house when the alarm is armed, you can have a high and low infrared beam installed that must be broken simultaneously to trigger the alarm. It's unlikely that pets would trigger this type of set up, but it's possible with multiple pets.
  • Be aware that you may need to register your alarm system with your city.
  • False alarms can result in a fine from your local government. Most false alarms are caused by human error, a bad power source, pets, unsecured entries, or poor installation of equipment.

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Categories: Home Security