Domestic burglary rates may have declined in recent years, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take home security seriously. Intruder alarms are one of the best forms of defence, but what type of burglar alarm is best for UK homes?
It’s a good question, and the answer will depend greatly on your personal preference. Although there are some differences between the types of alarm available, any is better than none.
The three main types of burglar alarm available in the UK are:
- Bells-Only – Emits a loud siren to alert people nearby
- Dialler – Automatically contacts someone when triggered
- Smart – Managed via an app with notifications on your phone
In most cases, versions are available in wired or wireless formats.
Wireless alarms are easier and often cheaper to install but can be more temperamental as they require a good connection between the receivers. That said, modern wireless alarms are good enough to avoid many of the connection issues seen with older models.
Wired alarms can be more costly and disruptive to install but will generally offer fewer problems on an ongoing basis and do not require batteries to be regularly replaced.
Bells-Only Burglar Alarm
These are the standard kind of domestic burglar alarm that have been extremely popular in the UK for many years.
They use a number of sensors (typically door and window sensors combined with motion sensors) to detect potential break-ins. When a possible intruder is detected, a loud siren is sounded inside and out to deter the criminal and alert anyone who is nearby.
Although still effective, the fact such sirens regularly go off for other reasons (such as power cuts or faults) means they are often ignored by neighbours.
Therefore, depending on the area you live in they may not be the best choice, particularly if you live in a more remote, rural location.
That said, they will still help to deter burglars. Professionally-installed bells-only alarms cost around £500-£1,500 and self-install models cost as little as £200.
Dialler Burglar Alarms
These types of burglar alarm work in a very similar way to bells-only ones but instead of sounding an alert and hoping someone nearby responds, a dialler will actually contact someone.
This could be yourself or a friend or family member as you can have the unit automatically call a number of your choice.
There are also dialler alarms available that will notify a security company or even the police when the siren is triggered. You’ll usually have to pay a monthly fee for such a service and so you’ll need to take that into account.
Dialler alarms offer great peace of mind if you spend a lot of time far from home as you know someone will always be alerted when your siren is triggered. They are also a great choice for those who live in more remote, countryside locations.
Costs of dialler alarms are similar to those of bells-only alarms at around £500-£1,500 for professionally-installed systems or £250 and upwards for self-installed versions. If you would like a monitoring service you’ll be looking at around £15-£25 a month extra.
Smart Home-Security Systems
So-called ‘smart’ home-security systems are the next level up from dialler burglar alarms. They will still alert someone when triggered, but this is usually done via notifications being sent to your mobile phone.
They have the added benefit that they can be turned on and off from your phone. Some can even be linked up with other smart home technology such as CCTV cameras, lights, and so on.
For example, some can be set so that when the siren is triggered, your smart lights are turned on all over the house, giving the intruder a fright!
Most smart home-security systems come with plenty of different components to choose from, including; motion sensors, door and window sensors, panic buttons, video cameras, and so on. That means they are easy to customise to your exact needs.
Costs of smart alarms can get quite high if you want a complex installation with lots of different components. However, for a fairly standard one, you’ll only be looking at £200-£500 for a self-install version. Professionally-installed versions usually start at around £1,000.
Burglar Alarm Maintenance Costs
On top of the cost of buying the equipment and getting it installed, you should also consider the regular maintenance your alarm will need.
Your burglar alarm should not be going off regularly, and that means you won’t always know if it’s working correctly. Having it professionally serviced each year will give you peace of mind that it will work IF it is ever called into action.
Regular servicing will also help to prevent a sudden failure which can lead to it going off repeatedly for no real reason until fixed.
An annual service will cost around £50-£90 depending on the type of alarm. Any additional parts or repairs needed may cost extra.
So, What Type Of Burglar Alarm Is Best?
As we mentioned at the start of the article, which type of burglar alarm you choose will come down to personal preference as much as anything. There is certainly not a specific type that is especially best for the UK, generally, alarms work very much the same no matter which country the property is in.
That said, if you live in a rural area without many neighbours, a bells-only alarm may only have limited effect. Therefore, a dialler or smart alarm is likely to be a better option.
In fact, for most people, we would suggest going with a smart alarm as the technology is truly outstanding and still improving all of the time. The fact you can control it from your phone and customise it to your needs means it tends to be the best choice for most homeowners.
However, if you prefer something simpler, that doesn’t require the latest mobile phone handsets, go for a dialler.
If you’d like more home security tips, check out our guide on how to protect your home from burglars.