Designed to alert a home, business or property owner as well as the proper authorities in the event of a break-in, a burglar alarm is a useful, and in some cases, vital system to have in place. Burglar alarms are produced by a variety of manufacturers including GE, Honeywell Ademco and DSC. While high-end commercial burglar alarms can cost much more, basic home systems can often be purchased for $350 or less. Burglar alarms come in several varieties including wireless, hardwired and hybrid.
Burglar Alarm Types
Wireless systems rely solely on radio transmissions between components. They are much easier to install but may be subject to interference problems. Hardwired systems require cable from the control panel to each sensor. While the installation is more time consuming, communication is maintained so long as the lines are undamaged. Hybrid systems combine both types in their design.
A burglar alarm works by means of a control panel which distributes power to and receives signals from various sensors. Sensors may be door or window triggers, motion detectors, smoke alarms or other devices. All burglar alarm types feature an initial zone capacity, that is, the number of zones or home areas the system can monitor without expansion. Initial zone capacity can range from 1 to 40. To monitor larger homes, expansion is necessary. The maximum zone capacity is the total number of monitoring points a system can support. Burglar alarms can be as simple as a 1-zone motion detector or a 200-zone, fully-integrated system.
Depending on the alarm, the features will differ. Many hardwired systems are wireless expandable, so you can increase the number of monitored zones without running any more cable. X10 device compatibility is a common feature as are multiple partitions which enable the end user to arm or disarm zones simultaneously. Other features of a burglar alarm may include viewable event log with time/date stamp, programmable user codes to accommodate large staffs, multiple keypad support and a built-in phone line with 2-way communication capability.