Burglar Alarm Buying Guide

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Burglar Alarm Buying Guide

People wanting to install burglar alarms do so for various reasons. While some have a burglar alarm installed after being robbed or burgled, others choose to do so before they encounter such an incident. In either case, doing so is certainly not out of place. The topmost reason that people look at buying and installing burglar alarms is the security aspect, and that doing so can help lower premiums towards home insurance certainly helps.

Data shows that burglaries within the United Kingdom fell considerably between 1996 and 2008, but the trend seems to have reversed post-recession. The United Kingdom, from July to September 2008, witnessed a four per cent increase in burglaries. As per most recent figures, one burglary takes place every 40 seconds. It is data such as this that leads people to think about installing burglar systems.

Burglar alarms, also commonly referred to as security systems, security alarms, and intrusion detection systems, are widely available, and buyers have various options to consider in shops as well as online shopping portals, like eBay. As a result, a buyer should know just what to look for when it comes to aspects like the different types of burglar systems, the level of protection they provide, as well as their different prices.

Different Types of Burglar Alarms

When buying a burglar alarm, one has scores of options, and these options vary in accordance to facets like wireless and hardwired alternatives, monitored and bells-only alternatives, speech dialing alternatives, those that come with guaranteed police response, as well as dummy models.

Wireless vs. Hardwired Burglar Alarms

Although wireless burglar alarms were looked upon as less reliable until some time ago, this has changed owing to relevant technological advancements in this realm. The fact that they require little in terms of installation has helped in the surge of their popularity. As opposed to wireless alarms, hardwired burglar alarms require cables running through a given structure, all of which link to a centralised control panel. People looking for a high-level of security are those who tend to favour hardwired alternatives.

Monitored vs. Unmonitored

When it comes to choosing between monitored and unmonitored burglar alarms, buyers should know that they have the option to look for both wireless as well as hardwired alternatives.

Commonly referred to as bells-only burglar alarms, the unmonitored variants work in activating a siren or a bell as, and when, the alarm is triggered. This is loud enough for burglars to hear, and often works as enough motivation for them to scamper for cover. However, these alternatives do not necessarily result in response from anyone in particular, an example being that not too many neighbours think about getting up and seeing what is happening when a burglar alarm sounds.

Monitored burglar alarms, on the other hand, as the name implies, are monitored by an external agency, wherein the alarm in question stays connected to the alarm receiving centre through a telephone line. As, and when, such an alarm is activated, the unit makes a call to the receiving centre notifying it of the same, and suitable action follows.

Monitored security systems are normally more expensive than bells-only alternatives, and this is because the system remains connected to the receiving centre around the clock. In addition to installation costs, a buyer would also have to bear some kind of a monthly or yearly fee.

The typical immediate response provided with such systems can vary from provider to provider. For instance, when the receiving centre is notified of a breach, a representative may call the home in question and ask for a previously decided upon password. In the event that the phone is not answered or the password provided is incorrect, either the police or the nominee is notified without delay.

Speech Dialers

Speech-dialing burglar alarms, or auto dialers, give users the ability to record a message into the unit’s inbuilt recorder. Connected to the home’s phone line, an auto-dialing burglar alarm calls pre-fed numbers and plays a recorded message whenever it senses a breach. Auto-dialers are cheaper in comparison to monitored alternatives, but more expensive than bells-only models.

Police Response

If one is prepared to pay extra, one can even look for burglar alarm systems that are linked to the local law enforcement agency. However, just the alarm sounding does not translate into prompt response as these calls are normally graded by the person receiving the call at the given receiving centre. For example, if there is good indication of someone being present within the premises, it qualifies as high priority. The problem with this is that if a property results in three false alarms within a 12-month period, the police cease to respond in all further instances of the alarm sounding. In Scotland, this limit stands at four false alarms in a 12-month period. While a user would have to pay a monthly or annual fee to the service provider, the police are also known to charge a one-time registration fee.

Dummy Alarms

Dummy burglar alarms can work as deterrents, given that they are spotted by probable intruders. Burglars, as is common knowledge, tend to steer clear from homes that have visible home security systems, and favour ones that display no such signs. Consequently, a dummy alarm that is installed in plain view can be a cheap and successful way of keeping burglars at bay.

Video Door Entry

Not quite an alarm system, video door entry systems also work in providing some level of security, and these standalone units are used to manage calls between entry points to somewhere within a given home, office, or commercial establishment. These units provide people indoors the ability to identify visitors and this, in turn, gives them the ability to restrict entry of anyone who may seem suspicious.

Sensor Devices

All types of burglar alarms rely on some kind of sensing capability, and this can include the ability to sense noise, vibrations, smoke, heat, and movement. Different burglar alarms may include different types of sensors, depending upon the needs of the consumer.

Magnetic Switch Sensors

A number of basic burglar alarms come with magnetic switch sensors. These sensors rely on pieces of magnets to complete given circuits, and when these circuits are broken, they result in the sounding of alarms. For example, a magnetic switch sensor could be placed at a window, and when the window is forcefully opened, the circuit is broken and the alarm is sounded.

These switches provide affordable and fairly effective solutions, are quite popular owing to their affordability factor, and are ideal to be used with doors as well as windows. The following table illustrates other sensor types typically used by burglar alarms.

Sensor Type

Technology Used

PIR (Passive Infrared)

Heat detection

Glass Break

Seismic glass break detectors


Photoelectric beams


Electromagnetic field generation

Fibre Optic Cables

Light Detection


Radio frequency transmission


As one can see, there are different types of technologies that are put to use when making burglar systems. The burglar alarm consumers should opt for depends upon their needs and budgetary constraints.

The Price Factor

As previously mentioned, how much consumers wish to spend on a burglar alarm largely depends upon the burglar alarm type and its purpose. For instance, a dummy burglar alarm can be purchased rather inexpensively, and a DIY burglar alarm set, which comprises a couple of magnetic contacts along with a couple of motion detectors should be available for an affordable price.

On the other hand, if one is looking at a high-end monitored burglar alarm system that comes with the latest technology coupled with police response, one can expect to spend much more, and this does not necessarily include ongoing monthly or yearly payments to stay within a given contract.

While customers have the option of getting estimates over the phone, when it comes to high-end burglar alarms, getting a prior home inspection is always suggested, as this results in a more accurate quote. When buying a burglar alarm, and then having it installed, receiving quotes from multiple sources is suggested as not everybody charges the same for installing burglar alarms. Asking for a written estimate in advance is also suggested as this can help avoid unforeseen costs.

Buying Burglar Alarms on eBay

The popular online shopping portal, eBay, is a good place to look for burglar alarms, and this is simply because of the wide variety of alternatives on offer. The variety on offer through eBay includes dummy burglar alarms, hardwired and wireless alternatives, door and window sensors, motion-activated burglar alarms, auto dialers, single room burglar alarm systems, as well as those designed for large homes.

Buying through eBay gives buyers the opportunity to browse through products sold by different sellers, and this gives them the ability to look for similar products that are priced differently. In addition to providing users a choice between different sellers, eBay also provides buyers with the ability to look through the offerings of different brands, making the search even more competitive.

Looking for burglar alarms on eBay is fairly straightforward; users can use the search option, which is made available on every page, and they can also use eBay’s comprehensive menu system to get what they want.


Buying and installing a new burglar alarm requires one to address various aspects, and this includes understanding just what is on offer. Establishing one’s needs at the very onset is suggested as this tends to prevent overspending, and the same is suggested when it comes to fixing a budget. Establishing just what level of protection is sought should help in deciding upon the type of burglar alarm one should opt for and this includes choosing from different types of alarm systems as well as types of sensors.

Compromising on quality is not at all suggested, especially if one is looking for a high-level of protection, and this is because cheaper alternatives are not very difficult to bypass. After all, a good burglar alarm can go a long way in providing safety as well as peace of mind, and this fact is not lost on the scores of people who already use dependable burglar alarm systems.

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