Different types of intruder alarm and how to choose the right one for your home

A good alarm will not only detect intruders and inform you when they are attempting to access your premises, but it will prove a strong deterrent too. However, the type of alarm you opt for will ultimately depend on not only the level of security you require and the budget you have to hand, but the level of insurance premium you’ll pay on your home.

Here, we’ll go through the various types and configurations of different alarm systems in an effort to help you select the right one for your situation. Note that most alarms will be triggered by an electrical circuit being broken, and can be either wireless or wired alarms with the former being easier and cheaper to install than the latter, but generally less reliable.

Bells-only – This is an audible solution that will trigger an alarm bell when an intruder is detected – either by motion sensors or by a break-in to the doors and/or windows of the property.

An external alarm that will continue to sound until it is either deactivated or it reaches a set cut-off time, these are perhaps the most common type of intruder alarms on the market. These alarms are typically isolated solutions that are used in low-risk homes, as the police will rarely respond to them unless there is proof of a burglary in progress. They are rarely suitable for commercial premises.

Auto diallers – A middle-ground option between a bells-only and a monitored security system, this will activate a pre-programmed number of your choice when an intruder is detected. This will then play a pre-recorded message or a text message to up to three numbers.

Monitored – These are alarms that have been connected to a monitoring service and are typically the alarms that will ensure a lower premium on your home insurance. With these alarms, once the circuit is cut, a signal will be sent to a remote monitoring centre that will contact either you or the authorities on your behalf.

These remote monitoring alarms are vetted to ensure that false alarms are kept to a minimum, to avoid wasting police time, and can be designed around the needs of your home or business.

Dummy box – The cheapest option, but easily the least effective, this essentially refers to homeowners who decide to ‘fool’ thieves into thinking they have an alarm installed when they don’t. Most ‘professional’ burglars, however, will be able to tell the difference from a mile away.


Key questions you should be asking any security firm that you intend on utilising to install your security system include:-

  • Do you inspect your alarms regularly to make sure they are operating to their fullest potential?
  • Do you operate a monitoring service?
  • Is your equipment up-to-date and reliable and does it meet all modern British standards?
  • Can you conduct a complete and thorough inspection of my property prior to installation?
  • Is the business NSI approved?

A good burglar alarm can be used as a singular security solution, but it is that much more effective when used in tandem with a full home or business security solution that encompasses CCTV cameras, access panels and even (in some cases) perimeter security.

If you’re in the market for a comprehensive security solution, however, the alarm system should always be where you start as it is often the first line of defence when keeping your home or business safe.