Should I upgrade my alarm system?

Crime is an arms race between criminals and the authorities. It’s most obvious in areas like illegal narcotics and online fraud, where criminal gangs invent smart drugs outside the law or find ways to exploit internet technology.

Burglary is the same. There are all sorts of new tricks that professional burglars can use to get into your home which mean that older burglar alarms can become less effective. While any burglar alarm is better than none at all, it’s also true to say that the latest systems are generally more likely to deter or detect a burglary.

History of burglar alarms

Guard dogs have been used since pre-history, and the Romans even used geese to alert them to intruders, while the ancient pharaohs came up with some intricate ways to stop the pyramids from being robbed. The modern burglar alarm dates back to the mid-19th century when Augustus Russell Pope, a vicar from Massachusetts, came up with a patent for a battery-powered device that would set a bell ringing if a window was opened.

Old alarm system

Since then, alarm systems have improved with the invention and improvement of motion sensors, infrared technology and mobile technology. Wireless burglar alarms have arrived, and they promise to make homes more secure than they have ever been before.

Why old burglar alarm systems need updating

The arms race between burglars and householders is part of the reason for upgrading a burglar alarm. Thieves now use metal detectors, drones and Google Earth to scope out properties that they think are worth breaking into. It’s also easier than ever to establish the layout of a property using estate agents’ floorplans and pictures, which can remain online long after the house or apartment has changed hands.

old burglar alarm

But there are other reasons to consider improving your burglar alarm system:

  • Changes to the house can create security issues, such as the addition of a conservatory, a kitchen extension or a new rooflight.
  • Wired systems are vulnerable to being cut, and there is evidence that burglars routinely cut the power to homes they intend to break into.
  • False alarms are less likely with new systems which are monitored on a 24-hour basis.
  • Older systems are recognisable and burglars are less likely to be deterred by an older alarm.

So if you have an old alarm system and feel this no longer meets your needs, here are some of the features you should explore.

Wireless alarm

A wireless alarm system consists of anti-intruder measures which are linked together using 3G cellular technology similar to that used in mobile phones. Things like photo detectors, surveillance cameras, perimeter detectors and shock sensor detectors are all connected to a control panel which can be used to monitor the information they provide.

Burglar alarm upgrade underway

This creates all sort of advantages over a traditional wired system.

  • Sensor location is not compromised by considerations about where to trail wires
  • The components are easy to install and replace with newer technology when it becomes available
  • The sensors are battery powered so will continue to work with power loss
  • They require less maintenance than wired systems

Monitored alarm systems

Security companies have been able to monitor alarm systems remotely for a number of years using fixed line telephone systems. But they have the same vulnerabilities as wired alarm systems – burglars can cut the line.

Modern monitoring systems use all the power of modern technology. For example, Verisure’s Guard Response system starts with a 24-hour monitoring centre which analyses data received from your burglar alarm system. If a sensor is triggered, operatives can examine the pictures or video footage to establish whether there is a credible threat and despatch a guard response team to the premises. There is less likelihood of a false alarm being raised, which makes the system more effective.

App monitored alarm

Perhaps the most significant advance in burglar alarm system technology is the use of smartphones to control them. Verisure systems are linked to an app in your phone so that if there are any alerts you can instantly see on your screen what is happening.

The apps also work on tablets, or via a web browser, so it’s possible to activate or deactivate an alarm or see who has come in and out of the building.

PIR motion sensors vs. simple movement sensors

The earliest types of sensor operated in one of two ways:

  • The microwave sensor detects motion like a speed camera does, by bouncing microwave radiation off objects back onto its sensor. It can detect how fast something is going, and which direction it’s moving in.
  • Passive infrared sensors (PIR) detect changes in temperature. The skin temperature of a body is much hotter than the background.

The problem that each of these sensors had was that they were a crude measure of the environment. Early PIRs and microwave sensors might not tell the difference between a cat and a human. Dual sensors, like Verisure’s Perimeter Detector, are much better at distinguishing those things because they can be programmed to only detect something in body temperature range which moves the same way a person does.

The best way to find out how a new burglar alarm system could improve the levels of security at your home is to book a security review of your home. Why not do that now – give Verisure a call today.