To make your home even more secure, fit a burglar alarm.
With a wireless alarm system, the various movement detectors and door/window contacts transmit signals to the control panel using radio waves, which greatly speeds up the installation; a typical system will take some three or four hours to fit. However, with most, there is still some wiring to do – linking the external alarm to the control panel, for example, and providing a mains power supply. You can simply plug or wire the alarm into a power socket, but if your house has a residual current device (RCD) protecting it’s power-circuit wiring, you should take the alarms power supply from its own five-amp fuseway in the consumer unit to avoid the slight chance of a tripped off RCD cutting off the supply and draining the alarm batteries.
- The main components of a typical system are:
- The main control panel (which usually has a backup battery)
- An internal sounder
- An external bell, often incorporating a flashing strobe light and in some cases a backup battery
- Interior movement detectors
- Door/window contacts
- Panic buttons, which allow you to set off the alarm immediately, even if the system is not itself armed, if an intruder barges past you as you open the front door, or if you hear suspicious noises downstairs during the night. Most panic buttons are shielded to prevent their accidental operation and need a key to switch them off once they have been activated.
Most wireless alarm kits contain only the bare essentials – enough to protect a flat or a very small house. However, this type of system does have one big advantage over wired systems: you can take it with you when you move house. You may also be able to use it to protect garages and garden sheds.
Other features to check when choosing a system include the number of separate control zones it offers to enable you, for instance, to move around upstairs while the ground floor is alarmed, how long a period you have to leave the house after setting the alarm and how quickly you have to deactivate it on your return. Look, too, for the presence of features designed to prevent tampering with the external bell, for example, to cut off the external bell after a preset time and to reset the system automatically after the alarm has sounded. Most systems have a beeper to remind you that the alarm is on when you come home.
Most manufacturers also offer additional options. Including glass break detectors, remote control units, autodiallers (these call a preset telephone number if the alarm is triggered) and smoke detectors.
The most difficult part of fitting a wireless alarm is ensuring that the movement detectors cover as much as possible of the room in which they are installed. Set them in position and test the efficiency with just the internal sounder connected to avoid unduly annoying your neighbours. When citing detectors, try to avoid obvious obstructions to the viewing angle. Do not use them in rooms containing a real fire unless you can screen it from view when you go out; moving flames can trigger the detector. Test the system at least once a year by simulating a break-in and checking the operation of movement detectors.
If you install a wireless system and live near public services that use radio communication systems – police, fire or ambulance station or an airport, for example – check with the kit manufacturer about the possibility of radio-frequency interference.
Also, remember to tell your local authority’s environmental health department that you have installed an alarm, so they know whom to contact in the event of a real or false alarm. If possible, appoint a trusted neighbour as a keyholder. Make sure the keyholder knows how to deactivate the alarm and, if necessary how to reset it.
Wired alarm systems consist of broadly the same components and offer many of the same features as wireless ones, with the obvious difference that everything is linked by slim wires instead of radio waves, so they cost less; another advantage is that the at any additional components are also much cheaper to buy and than their wireless equivalents. However, the installation can be very time consuming – especially if you want to conceal the wiring everywhere – although it is not difficult so long as you follow the instructions carefully. Allow about a full working day for installation – more if you want contacts on all your windows and doors.
As with wireless alarm systems, you should inform your the environmental health department of your local authority, and appoint someone to act as keyholder if you are unavailable in the event of a real or false alarm. Test the system at least annually.
Alarms For Outbuildings
If you store tools, ladders and the like in a garage or outbuilding, protecting them with their own burglar alarm will give you both peace of mind and also an early warning that an intruder is about. Unless you have a wireless alarm system that can be extended to cover outbuildings, you will need a separate alarm.
Several manufacturers now offer small battery powered alarms which can be attached to the garage and shed doors, and which emit a piercing sound when triggered. Some are key operated; others are operated by entering a code on a keypad.
You could in theory also use one or more of these door alarms as a rudimentary alarm system for your home. The sound of the alarm will act as a valuable burglar deterrent if you are out, and you will give you extra night – time security when everyone is asleep.
For more information or advice on securing your home or business call our office on 0330 121 1234