Which Security System for your Property & Budget?
Many home and business owners require a home security system but don't know where to start. Choosing the right security system for your property and budget is no easy task – there's a broad range of systems available and you are entering into a world filled with technical jargon. Our Simple Guide to Burglar Alarms cuts out the jargon and provides all the information needed to make a cost effective decision before you buy.
National or Local
Should you choose a national brand or a local alarm company? What are the benefit of each?
Wireless or Wired
Wireless alarm systems have evolved over recent years but is wireless right for you?
DIY Alarm or Professionally Installed
If you're 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 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 here.
A professional alarm installation should always begin with a site survey carried out by a surveyor from your chosen alarm companies. 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, takes around 30 minutes and will form the basis of a quotation.
We would recommend getting 2 or 3 quotes from regulated alarm companies to give you a fair price comparison. We can help with that.
National or Local Alarm Company
National Alarm Companies
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 larger national security brands include Chubb, ADT, Verisure, Secom and Dyno-Secure (part of British Gas, now G4S). Read our online burglar alarm reviews before deciding which alarm company is the best choice for you and your budget.
If you decide on a national brand, get in touch today as we can pass on some great discounts.
Local Alarm Companies
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 National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Security System Policy, formally known as ACPO, is a BS 6799 Class VI alarm. This type of wireless alarm is typically more expensive than its hard-wired counterpart but is a requirement for police monitoring.
Hard Wired Alarms
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 NPCC Security Systems Policy. Ensure this is documented in your quotation should your chosen alarm company suggest a wired home alarm system.
Read more about the differences between a wireless and hard wired alarms here.
Bells Only Alarm or Monitored Alarm System
Bells Only Alarms
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?
Check out our recent survey results on how people react to bells-only alarms.
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.
Monitored Alarm Systems
A monitored home alarm system 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 with 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.
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