Which Home Security System?
Many home owners, like you, require a home security system but don't know where to start.
Choosing the right alarm system for your home and your budget is no easy task – there's a huge range of systems available and you are entering into a world filled with jargon.
Our Home Security System Guide cuts out the jargon and provides all the information needed to make a cost effective decision before you buy.
DIY Alarm or Professional Installation
If you are a DIY enthusiast, notice I said enthusiast and not expert, there are some self-install DIY alarm options for you. We will look at DIY alarms in more detail but for now, bear in mind they exist, are simple to install and can save you a lot of money.
However, if you require an alarm system which is connected to the police, you will need to opt for a professional installation by an alarm company regulated by an independent body, such as the NSI or SSAIB. More details on monitored alarms coming up.
A professional alarm installation will begin with an on-site survey carried out by a surveyor from your chosen alarm company(s). The surveyor will assess your security vulnerabilities and design a home security system to meet with your exact requirements. The site survey is free of charge and will form the basis of a quotation.
I would recommend getting at least 3 quotes from regulated alarm companies to give you a fair price comparison.
National or Local Alarm Company
This can sometimes be a difficult decision as you may feel more assured opting for a branded national installer but this assurance may come at a price.
The big national security brands include Chubb, ADT and Dyno-Secure (part of British Gas). Read our online burglar alarm reviews before deciding which national company is right for you and your budget.
Ask friends, relatives and neighbours if their alarm is provided by a local alarm company. If so, are they happy with the service? Is the alarm easy to use? Do they get false alarms? If you do chose a local alarm company, be sure to check the following points:
- Are they approved by an independent body such as the National Security Inspectorate (NSI)?
- How much do they charge for maintenance and monitoring?
- Are they happy to give you customer testimonials?
- Are they available 24/7, 365 days a year?
Wireless Alarm or Hard Wired Alarm
Wireless alarms are easier and less disruptive to install. There's no need to lift carpets to run cables under floor boards, move furniture or drill holes through walls. This generally reduces the installation cost compared to a hard wired system. Wireless alarms are also portable, so can be removed temporarily for decorating or permanently if you decide to move home.
The only wire free alarm system which conforms both to British Standards and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Intruder Alarm Policy is a BS 6799 Class VI alarm. This type is typically more expensive than its hard-wired counterpart but is a requirement for police monitoring.
Hard wired alarm systems are generally considered more robust, reliable and require less maintenance. A hard wired alarm system would usually be installed by a professional to hide the cables, thus increasing the installation cost.
The installation of a hard wired alarm system should meet with British Standard 4737/BS EN 50131 and conform to the ACPO Intruder Alarm Policy. Ensure this is documented in your quotation should your chosen alarm company suggest a wired home alarm system.
Bells Only Alarm or Monitored Alarm System
A bells-only alarm, or audible alarm, does no more than activate an external siren should the alarm be activated. This is the cheapest and most popular option for the average home security system. Think carefully about this choice; Consider how you react when hearing an alarm in your street? If you live in a busy neighbourhood which operates a neighbourhood watch scheme, a bells only alarm system may suffice. If you live in a more remote location, would anyone hear or notice your alarm ringing?
In the case of a bells only alarm activation, Police would only respond if a 3rd party, such as a neighbour or passer-by, witnessed and confirmed an actual break-in.
Let's not forget, any home burglar alarm is a visual deterent and is better than no alarm at all.
A monitored alarm is connected to an alarm receiving centre (ARC). The alarm panel will communicate with the ARC in the event of alarm activation. The ARC will then notify either the appropriate key-holders for the property or the police, depending on the arrangement and other factors. An annual fee is charged for alarm monitoring, this is typically paid directly to the alarm company.
Home security alarms requiring police response must meet certain standards including installation of a graded alarm system installed to British and European Standards and an annual maintenance contract from an approved alarm company. If the police were called to 2 false alarms in a rolling 12 month period the response will be downgraded to a lower level of police response. If further false activations occur the police response will be revoked. To prevent this eventuality, ARC's are required to receive two alarm events within a certain timeframe to initiate a Police response.
Burglar Alarm Costs
If you're looking for a cost estimate for a professionally installed alarm system, try our burglar alarm cost calculator now.