Choosing a burglar alarm

According to research, burglars tend to avoid homes with a burglar alarm fitted, with 60% claiming they'd be discouraged to target a house if a system is in place - a good sign that they are worth the investment.

Burglar alarm systems are an effective means of adding another layer of protection to your property, which may help you avoid making a claim on your home insurance.

There's a large number of different burglar alarms available, so to help you work out which is best suited to your needs, we’ve created a rundown of the different types to look out for:

1. Bells only

A bells only system is a standard alarm system that simply creates a loud noise to act as a deterrent, in the hope that it may scare criminals away whilst attracting the attention of your neighbours. Unlike a speech dialler or monitored alarm, nobody is contacted if it’s activated.

2. Wireless and wired alarms

Burglar climbing a wall

When choosing an alarm for your home, one thing to consider is whether to go for one that’s linked to your home electricity supply, or if a standalone wireless burglar alarm system is better.

Wireless alarms are popular as they tend to look more attractive, are easier to install, and can even be removed and taken to a new home in the event that you move house .

Wireless systems can be vulnerable to interference - a bit like Wi-Fi routers or mobile phones - which can result in them responding unpredictably, such as triggering a false alarm. However, these instances tend to be rare. One of the advantages of installing a wired alarm system is that they don’t have this issue.

3. Speech dialler

Put simply, a speech dialler alarm automatically contacts your nominated friends and family, with a pre-recorded message when the alarm is triggered in the event of a burglary attempt. The pre-recorded message explains what has happened and what you’d like them to do. Whoever answers the call will be given the option to stop the next person in the list from being called by simply pressing a key or entering a code.

4. Monitored alarms

Man with headset

A monitored system usually requires an annual subscription to be paid to a specialist company, who are contacted in the event of the alarm being activated.

The 24 hour monitoring service will ensure that you and your nominated friends and family will be contacted, with the company sending out their own representative if nobody is available to check on the property.

ADT and Chubb are among the well-recognised companies offering this service, while a survey of Which? members taken in July and October 2015 showed that local independent firms also rate highly for the quality of their products.

Monitoring services tend to be linked to local police forces, who will be called to visit your home if alarm sensors both outside and inside the property are activated. However, police monitoring tends to work on a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ basis, with forces refusing to respond to calls following a trio of false alarms.

Insurers may rate differently for DIY alarms, and those installed and maintained by a company approved by NSI or SSAIB.

5. Buying and installing your alarm

Who should install my alarm?

While many wireless alarms now come with easy to follow instructions, turning to a professional fitter could offer greater peace of mind. Using a professional firm usually means you will benefit from a home security system tailored to your specific needs, giving you the confidence that your system is the best one for you.

It’s a good idea to seek quotes from different installers in your area, and compare their recommendations and prices. Be sure to check with your insurer to ensure you're compliant with their terms before fitting any alarms in your home.

How much should I expect to spend?

The costs of an alarm can vary from around £45 for a wired control panel, to more than £200-plus for a wireless one. In addition to this, you’ll also need a series of sensors or detectors for each part of the house you want your alarm to cover, priced anywhere between £7 and £45 each.

If you do opt to go for a professional installation, a Which? survey estimates the cost at around £550 for a wired system, and £705 for wireless.


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