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Explanation of Different Alarm Systems

The Metropolitan Police Office says studies have shown that a well-fitted and maintained burglar alarm system makes you less likely to become a victim of burglary. But how do you choose the right one for your home or work place? Below, we will explain the different types of alarm systems and contracts and useful things to consider.

Types of Intruder Alarm Systems

The best type of alarm for your home or work place depends on your personal preferences, budget, its location, its lay-out and what level of protection you require.

A key consideration is what you want to happen when your alarm is activated. Bells-only intruder alarm systems make a noise, but do not contact anyone (such as the police or the premises owner). Speech diallers, a device built inside an alarm, automatically contacts you or other nominated friends, family members or employees when the alarm is triggered. Alternatively, you could take out a monitoring contract, whereby your system is connected to a monitoring station who would take action or call the police if the alarm is activated. Costs vary between the different alarm types; you can contact us to find out more about pricing and getting the best deal to suit your budget.

Wired or Wireless Intruder Alarm Systems

Wireless alarm systems are generally easier to install and can be removed more easily should you move house or premises. They use battery-powered sensors that communicate to the control panel using radio signals. While a wireless alarm system tends to be cheaper to install, the alarm systems themselves can be more expensive. Wired systems are more difficult to install but are generally more reliable than wireless. As the cables need to be hidden, labour costs are higher. However, wireless alarms are less reliable than a wired system. We would recommend a wired system in most circumstances.

Bells-only Intruder Alarms

When a bells-only (also called audible) alarm system is triggered, it makes a loud noise, which will hopefully alert someone in the area to the situation and/or scare off an intruder. However, unlike a monitored alarm system or one with a speech dialler, it won’t automatically contact a named person or the police, so there is no guarantee that anything will be done.
It’s worth thinking about the kind of area you live in before deciding to get a bells-only alarm. Is there an active neighbourhood watch program giving you confidence that someone will call the police? Or perhaps you have friends and relatives who live very close by who you could count on to take action?

Maintaining Your Intruder Alarm

A maintenance contract will highlight and reduce defects. If you get an intruder alarm maintenance contract, your alarm will be inspected once a year (twice a year if you want a monitoring contract) by an engineer coming to your premises and checking over the system. Costs for this vary, depending on the type of signalling and the level of cover.

Having your alarm system maintained can help tackle any problems with false alarms. Many insurance companies offer discounts for having a maintained intruder alarm, for some it is a requirement. It is a requirement if you want a monitored system.

Intruder Alarm Monitoring

There are two options if you would like to have your intruder alarm system monitored so someone will be alerted if it goes off: a speech dialler or a monitoring contract There are two types of monitoring contract: keyholder only and Police response.

With both types, you pay extra per month or annually to have your alarm system monitored, which means the nominated keyholder (which could be a private security company) or the Police will be alerted when the alarm system is activated.

Keyholder Monitoring

Keyholder monitoring is done through the Alarm Receiving Centre(ARC) which will either respond itself when the alarm is triggered, or will contact your nominated keyholders. Nominated keyholders must be within 20 minutes of the premises, be able to drive and have access to the property. It’s your responsibility to keep the ARC up to date with your keyholders details, and suggest alternatives if they are unavailable.

Police Monitoring

In addition to your keyholders being made aware of your alarm being activated, this type of contract means the Police will also be contacted by the Alarm Receiving Centre.

When your alarm system is triggered, two detectors within the property, such as a door contact and a movement sensor, must both have been triggered to warrant police call out. This is to avoid false alarms wasting police time. The Metropolitan Police says that, in recent years, 92 percent of all alarm activations, nationally, have been false alarms.
If your system has three false alarms within a rolling 12 month period, you’re taken off Police response until a clear period of 3 months or possible upgrade of the system is done, until then only your keyholders will be informed of any activations.

Speech Diallers

A speech dialler (also called text alert), is a device connected to your alarm system. The idea is that when the alarm is triggered, the speech dialler will call or text a set of phone numbers of your choice, for example family members or your mobile, until it gets an answer or can leave an automated message. This can be a good alternative to a monitoring contract, as this option does not have monthly fees. ​


Make sure all doors and windows are locked before arming your system.

Make sure anyone that is likely to use your alarm system is fully trained on its use. This includes setting/unsetting and resetting the system in the event of an activation.

Being able to interrogate the event log in the event of a false activation will help determine which detector has been triggered.

Spiders love motion detectors. Keep your detectors free of cobwebs.

Pets also cause false activations. “Pet Safe” detectors can be fitted, but are not infallible. We recommend keeping pets
in a room without a motion detector. Most systems have unused part set functions that could be utilised for this.

Turn off fans and air conditioning systems, many of these can come on automatically while the system is set.

Make sure any heating systems programmed to come on at certain times will not come on while your alarm system is set.

Keep balloons out of rooms with detectors, also keep decorations such as Christmas decorations out of view of motion detectors.

Any building work you have done may change how your system needs to operate including the entry route. Check that any work being done will not affect the operation of your system.

Regular maintenance visits will keep your system running smoothly. Batteries need to be replaced regularly, and engineers will pick up on any defects.