What Should I Consider When Buying a Burglar Alarm?

J. Beam
J. Beam
A home security system should feature a control panel that allows homeowners to monitor all entrance ways.
A home security system should feature a control panel that allows homeowners to monitor all entrance ways.

Home security is an important factor for many homeowners, and there are many security measures a homeowner can take. From trimming bushes back to installing deadbolt locks and motion sensing lights, there are numerous things homeowners can do to protect their home from would-be intruders. One of the most secure measures a homeowner can take is to install a burglar alarm system.

There are two basic types of burglar alarm systems you can purchase for installation. All burglar alarm systems are designed to achieve the same purpose – to thwart a break-in attempt. Some burglar alarm systems are wired to all potential entries into the home, including doors and windows. Others only detect entry from primary doors. The level of security you prefer for your home is a matter of choice, but the basic decision to make is whether or not you want the burglar alarm to be monitored by an outside source.

You can install a burglar alarm that only sets off an alarm inside the home when unauthorized entry is detected, or you can have an alarm system that is also connected to a monitoring service. In many cases, a loud audible alarm is enough to deter a potential criminal. However, services that monitor home security systems automatically dispatch police, fire and rescue upon detection of a security breach. Depending on the system, an alarm monitored by a security company may be either silent or audible.

When choosing a burglar alarm, consider what you hope to achieve. If you live in an area with high crime rates or in a rural area with few or no neighbors, or if you travel frequently, you may want to consider a monitoring service. If you live in an apartment building or a suburban neighborhood where a neighborhood watch is effective, you may feel secure with an audible home-wired system.

Before you decide which type of burglar alarm is right for your home, consult with a security company to discuss your options. Make sure to consider what the system monitors, how easy it is for those living with you to work the system, and how much it will cost. Monitored alarm systems are usually on par with other burglar alarm systems as far as installation cost is concerned, but there is also a monthly monitoring fee involved. Also, check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to see which discounts might apply to which systems.

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Discussion Comments


Cost is a big concern when buying burglar alarms. Security devices like this can do a lot to prevent crime but they can only do so much. No matter how strong your system is you will never be fully safe from crime.

Lots of alarm companies will try to pile on lots of bells and whistles that make you feel more secure and which run the price up. In most cases these are completely unnecessary. They will not keep you safer and they are just designed to sound secure.

Get a simple system and then think hard about what extra features you need. It is way to easy to build an imaginary fortress.


I own a warehouse and we have had a lot of security issues over the years. One thing I've found when shopping for a new burglar alarm is that you have to consider how easy it is to disable, for both you and for the burglar.

I had a system once that projected the alarm from a speaker that was only 8 feet off the ground. Someone broke in, set off the alarm and was then able to smash it up to get it to stop. No one noticed the alarm and I had to pay for a new system in addition to what the guy stole. I was steamed for weeks about that one.

make sure that any system you buy is hard to be muffled. It needs to either directly alert the police or raise such a racket so quickly that it can't be missed. Otherwise it is just waiting to get broken.


One thing to consider that the don't usually tell you about is how annoying the alarm sounds. You will likely end up hearing it a lot more times on accident than when there is an actual burglar there.

I am speaking from experience. My husband and I had a burglar alarm installed in a house that we had built and never tested it out. When we first moved in and inevitably set it off we were shocked to find that it was a sound effects medley. You have probably heard it before, it shows up on a lot of burglar alarms. It had a machine gun sound, a bomb drop sound and lots of other really annoying loops.

Needless to say it drove us crazy and we had it changed as soon as we could. It probably would have scared away a burglar but it might have stolen out sanity.

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    • A home security system should feature a control panel that allows homeowners to monitor all entrance ways.
      A home security system should feature a control panel that allows homeowners to monitor all entrance ways.