Do you have an alarm system installed in your home?
According to a recent survey of 2,000 homeowners, only a quarter of UK homes have a security alarm fitted.
Combine this with the fact that Neighbourhood Watch reports a 30% rise in domestic burglary in recent years, and you can see why it’s well worth considering installing a home alarm system to protect your property, belongings and family members.
If you’re thinking about installing a home alarm system, it’s a good idea to do some research before diving into the products available. Identifying your requirements before you start will help to ensure you choose a system that’s well-suited to your property, needs and budget.
What to look for in a home alarm system
Here are six areas you should consider when choosing a home alarm system.
Burglar alarm, or home security system?
When choosing an alarm system, it’s important to understand the difference between burglar alarms and home security systems. They aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Think of a burglar alarm as your entry-level option, which provides vital protection against intruders entering your home. Burglar alarms usually consist of sensors at vulnerable entry points such as doors and windows. Don’t forget the garden and other outdoor areas either: you may well have valuable items in a shed or garage that you need to protect.
Home security systems go a step further, offering protection against other threats to your property. This can include fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, surveillance cameras and devices that protect specific items in your home. You can even choose a system that is connected directly to a response centre, where security experts will be on-hand 24-7 to help you handle an emergency situation.
Which option you go for will obviously be heavily influenced by the level of security you’re looking to achieve, as well as your budget.
A reputable provider
Your home alarm system will be performing a crucial role in the protection of your property and belongings, so you don’t want to take a chance when it comes to the provider.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions during the quote process. This will help both you and the provider to understand your needs clearly, and also ensure you get an accurate quote.
When you’re researching alarm companies, here are some questions you should be asking:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have a good knowledge of modern alarm systems and recent developments in the industry?
- Do they have any customer testimonials or reviews?
- Will they visit your home to assess your security requirements and provide a detailed quote?
- If you’re interested in a system with a monitoring location, how far away is this?
- What do they offer in terms of product support and aftersales service?
Ease of installation
Having a home alarm system installed can cause damage to walls and paintwork, so it’s worth thinking about just how much redecorating you’re prepared to do before choosing your system.
Alarm systems that have each sensor physically wired into the system will have the most impact on your decor. If you’re in the middle of major renovations this probably won’t be an issue, but if you’d prefer to keep the impact to a minimum, it’s well worth exploring wireless alarm systems.
A wireless alarm system works in the same way as a traditional wired system, but the sensors communicate with the main alarm panel wirelessly. This means that installation is much less intrusive, with each sensor simply requiring a wall attachment.
Your alarm installer should be able to assess your property and give you a clear indication of the amount of disruption required. Make sure you ask this question during the quote process.
Ease of use
Think about who is going to be operating your alarm system. Do you have older children or elderly relatives who would benefit from a simple entrance process? Would it be useful to have smart keys for each user, so you can keep track of their whereabouts? What about a mobile panic button that will activate the alarm which you can keep in, for example, a bedroom?
The other thing to consider is the most sensible location for the main alarm control panel. This is usually close to the main entrance to your property, allowing you to deactivate the alarm quickly upon entry.
Battery backup during power cuts
Power cuts happen. So you need to make sure that your alarm system can cope with a loss of mains power.
With traditional home alarm systems that are powered by mains electricity, check that there is a battery backup in place which will take over in the event of a power cut.
Solar-powered systems are an alternative way to provide power backup, and also a great option if you’re looking for a more environmentally-friendly system.
Before you start your search for a home alarm system, it’s worth checking your home insurance policy. Many policy providers offer a reduction on insurance premiums when a property has an alarm system installed. There may be specific features that your alarm system needs to have, so make sure you identify these before making any decisions.
What would be top of your list to consider when choosing a home alarm system?