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Burglar Alarms: A simple guide to help you make the right choice

Where do I start?

If you're thinking of protecting your home first time or upgrading your existing home alarm system, you might be feeling daunted by number of alarm devices and monitoring services available.

Where do you start in narrowing the options or making a decision?

What do they all do? What's the difference between them?

What does the jargon mean?

Help is at hand!

We're here to explain the options, technologies and benefits.

We'll guide you through the three categories of alarm system

and set out the pros and cons of each, so you're in a good position to make the right decision on a system that meets all of your needs and suits your situation.

Unless you opt for a very basic audible-only system - the kind of thing you can buy off the shelf in a DIY store - you'll need a professional alarm installer to supply, install, set up and maintain your alarm system. We'll give you the information you need to make a good choice and to be able to talk to alarm providers confidently about what they can offer.

Audible-only alarm systems

Best for:

  • A visible deterrent to opportunist thieves
  • Making a noise to scare off an intruder
  • Waking you up if you're at home and someone tries to break in
  • Making neighbours aware of a break-in

These are also known as non-monitored or bells-only alarm systems.

You set your alarm by entering a code or some systems provide one or more fobs to go on your key ring. You swipe them against the control panel instead of typing on the keypad. To deactivate the alarm you enter the code again or swipe the fob.

When the system is activated by an intruder, it will trigger sounders that are mounted inside and on the external walls of your building. A strobe light on the external sounder will flash as well.

To stop the noise and the flashing strobe, someone needs to enter the correct code or swipe the fob. The external sounder will only continue for a maximum of 20 minutes. This limit is to prevent noise pollution – we've all cursed that annoying alarm that doesn't stop in the middle of the night! The internal sounder and outdoor strobe light will continue to flash until the system is turned off.


  • The loud noise and attention it attracts is likely to scare off a chance intruder
  • There's no service charge or running cost once you've bought and installed the system
  • Battery back-up in external sounder means it keeps ringing even if the mains connection is cut


  • This is the bare minimum of protection: if nobody responds to the noise any intruder can carry on intruding!
  • Canny intruders can remove external sounders from the wall and put them in a bucket of water to muffle the sound

Get a quote for an audible-only alarm system

A local NSI/SSAIB approved installer will provide a free no-obligation quotation.

Part 2 »

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