Burglar, Security & Intruder Alarm Installation specialists - what you need to know
Burglar alarms and home security
The Metropolitan Police describe having a burglar alarm as “undoubtedly the most effective deterrent against burglary.”
The police also recommend, however, that the physical security of your home isn’t overlooked just because you have a burglar alarm. You should still have sturdy locks on all of your doors and windows, and they should all be locked whenever you leave your home. Your insurance policy might not cover you if they’re not. You can read more about crime prevention in the home here, and if you’re after a locksmith?
The different types of burglar alarm
These alarms make a noise, but don’t contact anyone. The idea is that the noise deters burglars, and alerts neighbours or passers-by who will hopefully act on it. These alarms are great if you know your neighbours well, or if you’re part of a neighbourhood watch scheme.
Dialler burglar alarms
You can set phone numbers which these alarms will dial when triggered. Whether that’s you, your friends, or neighbours. You can usually set between 3 and 10 numbers, which dial in a sequence. If someone’s close enough to deal with it, they have the option to stop the dialler from calling anyone else.
There are two types of dialler. Speech or GSM. Speech diallers will use your landline to phone out. The only downside is that it’s possible for your landline to be cut, plus you actually need to pay for a landline if you don’t already.
GSM uses a mobile network. These can’t be cut, but your mobile reception needs to be reliable, plus you have to get a SIM card, and keep it topped up with credit.
Smart home security systems
These contact you, or any other nominated person (friends, family or neighbours), through a smartphone app. You can also control your alarm from your phone, wherever you are.
The components are varied and versatile, too. In addition to standard motion sensors you can get cameras and smart plugs. The cameras can show you a live view, or can be set to record with the additional purchase of a memory card. Smart plugs let you turn on things like lamps, to make it look as if you’re home. You can do this remotely, or on a timer.
There are a few downsides to consider though.
- Most current smart security systems don’t have any sort of external alarm box, so if a burglar doesn’t know you have an alarm system, it’s not actually a deterrent until they trigger an alarm.
- Most don’t have an external siren either. Internal sirens might not be loud enough for neighbours to do anything about.
- They can be expensive, especially as the basic kits won’t come with absolutely everything you might need or want. Additional sensors or cameras will add to the cost.
- It’s possible that without professional help to install the system, you might not put them in the most effective positions.
Remote signalling alarms
These alarms are connected to monitoring stations run by the security company, and will contact the police directly. They require a monthly contract to pay for the monitoring.
All alarm systems should have two keyholders, who are trained to operate the alarm, and able to attend within 20 minutes. They should also be contactable by telephone, and have their own transport.
The companies who install these alarms need to be registered with the police, and independently inspected to make sure they’re installing alarms under specific British Standards. That’s because the police have shown that 92% of activations in recent years have been false alarms.
Police response times – or whether they respond at all – vary depending on the resources they’ve got available and what other incidents might be taking place at the time.
If the alarm is triggered, a monitoring centre is notified. The monitoring centre alert the police, then try calling your landline to ask for password identification. If this is incorrect or no-one answers, they’ll inform the keyholders.
Overall, these systems give the ultimate peace of mind, but of course the downside is that it has a significant ongoing cost.
Wired vs wireless alarms
Most of these alarms come in wireless, or wired, versions. Wired alarms are more reliable but are more difficult to install as the wires need to be hidden. They’re generally a bit cheaper to buy, but more expensive to install.
Wireless systems look better, and are easier to install, but tend to be more expensive. You’ll also need to replace their batteries periodically to make sure the system is always working. That’s particularly important if you’ve been given lower insurance payments due to having an alarm installed. Lastly, they’re easier to take with you if you move house.
Burglar alarm costs and installation
Due to the amount of variables involved in choosing an alarm system, the price can vary quite significantly. For example, and as we’ve mentioned, wireless systems are more expensive than wired systems, but it also depends on the size of your house. The more rooms, windows and doors you have, the more sensors you’ll need, and the more it’ll cost.
If you want a monitored alarm system then there’ll be a monthly cost involved too. Anywhere from around £30-£100 a month. These need to be installed by the company themselves.
You can buy wireless systems for as little as £150 but unless you have quite a small flat then you’ll almost definitely need more sensors. Some other sets can set you back £300-£400 without installation too. You can install these yourself, but if you want an installer to do it for you then that cost will be in addition. It’s up to you who you want to install it.
Also worth considering is the money you could save on your insurance premiums if you have a burglar alarm installed.
Lastly, installation companies will most likely want to visit your home before they can provide an accurate quote.
The qualifications your tradesperson needs
The National Security Inspectorate (NSI or NACOSS) and the Security Systems Alarm and Inspection Board (SSAIB) are the burglar alarm accreditations you should be looking out for. They check things like an installer’s vehicles and tools, as well as their general competence and financial health.
If you’re getting an alarm with a monitoring contract they should definitely be members of at least one of these organisations, but whatever installer you end up choosing, it’s something you should expect.
Planning permission for skill jobs
Planning permission isn’t normally required for installing a security alarm, but if you live in a listed building or conservation area you should check with your local planning authority.
Insurance for skill work
A quality alarm installer should have specialist insurance to cover their work, including public liability insurance.
Questions you should ask your alarm installer
- Is the company subject to an independent inspection process and if so which organisation?
- Are they accredited with the National Security Inspectorate (NSI or NACOSS), and the Security Alarm and Inspection Board (SSAIB)?
- If the installation is a requirement of your insurance company – is the company acceptable to your insurer? If you’re looking to get cheaper insurance premiums then check with your insurer first that they approve of the alarm and installer.
- If choosing a monitored or remote signaling alarm, ask the company to provide you with a list of police rules for occupiers of the premises. Ask for written confirmation that the alarm and the company are currently acceptable to the local police for the transmission of alarm messages from new installations.
- If a company quotes crime statistics then you can check them at the website for the Office of National Statistics.
- If you’re thinking about moving or extending, check you can move or extend the alarm.
- If you have pets or children, ask your installer about sensors that guard against accidental triggering of the alarm.