Should I upgrade my alarm system?

Crime is an arms race between criminals and the authorities. Illegal narcotics and online fraud, where criminal gangs invent smart drugs outside the law or find ways to exploit internet technology, tend to be publicized most. However, burglars also come up with new tricks to get into your home, which means that older burglar alarms can become less effective. While any burglar alarm is better than none at all, 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. 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, patented 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 development of motion sensors, infrared technology and mobile capabilities. 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 one of the biggest reasons 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’ floor plans 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 roof light. Homeowners sometimes forget to install shock sensors to these new additions, or their current outdoor motion detector may be blocked.
  • 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 to occur with new systems, which are monitored on a 24-hour basis.
  • Older systems are recognisable. Many burglars learn their weaknesses, or even how to dismantle them altogether. In general, burglars are less likely to be deterred by an older alarm.

So if you have an old alarm system that 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, however 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, specialists can examine the pictures or video footage to establish whether there is a credible threat and dispatch 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 operate them. Verisure systems are linked to an app in your phone, which alerts you instantly if an alarm is triggered, and allows you to see what’s happening on your screen. If your system includes photo detectors, you can even take a picture from your phone.

The apps also work on tablets, or via a web browser, so it’s possible to activate or deactivate an alarm, or see who is on the premises, from virtually anywhere with an internet connection.

PIR motion sensors vs. simple movement sensors

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

  • The microwave sensor detected motion like a speed camera does, by bouncing microwave radiation off objects back onto its sensor. It could detect how fast something was going, and which direction it was moving in.
  • Passive infrared sensors (PIR) detected changes in temperature, which may suggest the warmer presence of a human body.

The problem that each of these sensors had was that they tended to be 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 these, as they can be specifically programmed to detect human-like heat movements.

These are just a few of the many benefits of a new system. The best way to find out how a new burglar alarm system can improve your home security, and be tailored to your specific needs, is to book a consultation with Verisure today.