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Confused by burglar alarms? We reveal all..

Confused by burglar alarms? We reveal all..


House alarms are sometimes dismissed by some homeowners because ‘everyone ignores them’ when they go off.

But don’t be fooled. A good alarm is still a powerful burglar deterrent, otherwise home insurers wouldn’t offer the decent discounts they do to those with higher quality ones.

There are a number of factors to think about when installing an alarm system such as would you prefer a simple ‘bells-only’ system, or one of the all-singing and dancing variety which include monitoring and notification?

Here are the different types of systems and what to consider:

Dummy alarm box

A fake alarm box is, of course, the cheapest of all the options, but many professional burglars claim they can spot a fake a mile off.

So if you can’t afford, or simply don’t want the real thing, at least try and put one up that’s as realistic as possible!

Cost: £10 to £30

Bells-only alarms

Alarms which simply set a bell ringing on activation won’t get you a discount on your home cover, but they’re still worth having; after all, thieves probably won’t know if it’s going to alert the police or attract the attention of neighbours.

It’s a relatively cheap option and probably best for those with a strong community or Neighbourhood Watch scheme where they live. However, there’s no option for sending out alerts or warning the police.

Cost: £150 to £250 for a decent system.

Wired alarms

Wired alarms are considered to be the most robust, partly because it’s harder for burglars to disconnect them and also because they don’t rely on batteries which might die or need replacing.

However, in reality, the better systems have back up power sources, whether wired or wireless, and a failing power source shouldn’t be an issue.

They work via electric sensors which run off a central control panel, and you can choose how many rooms and what areas of a home to cover. Wired alarms should ideally be fitted by a registered fitter and can be set up to send alerts (see below).

Cost: £450 for a basic system, thousands for the best. Installation costs come on top.

Wireless alarms

A wireless alarm is pretty much the same as a wired system, but is battery powered rather than connected to a home’s mains power.

As with wired systems, the best offer back up secondary or even tertiary batter power sources which are there to prevent total power failure.

Sensors send signals via radio signals to the central control panel.

Cost: £200 or more. Installation costs on top.

Monitored alarms

The most expensive systems offer the option of paying monthly for an alarm reaction team.

The team will assess the alert they’ve received from the alarm and possibly contact you or a designated person to see if it’s been triggered accidently.

If no one answers, or the monitoring team can see it’s a real alert, the police are notified and, hopefully, attend your home as quickly as possible.

Cost: £20 or more per month for monitoring. Hundreds or even thousands of pounds to purchase, plus fitting costs.

‘Smart’ alarms

The most modern systems are often referred to as ‘smart’. They usually have the same physical components as more traditional alarms, but are also connected to a secure ‘cloud server’ through your internet broadband router, or GPRS signal using the mobile phone network.

This allows a great level of remote control from anywhere in the world and instant communication updating you with what’s going on in your property.

Home alarms and your insurance cover

Insurers sometimes offer reasonable discounts on home insurance premiums if you have a good alarm system.

Typically, the alarm system has to meet certain standards for you to get the discount, and must be certified by an approved organisation. You usually need to buy a system that is either ‘NSI’ or ‘SSAIB’ approved.


Policy Expert

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, so we have a team of experts with a real passion for making sure people get the cover that’s right for them. For more information, you can call our experts on 0330 0600 600 or visit for more ways to reach us.


Published 12th September 2018