Burglar alarms: are they effective and should you get one?

5 minute read

Person entering a code to activate the burglar alarm and protect their home

Burglar alarms can be found in homes across the UK. It’s thought that they will significantly reduce the chance of your home being burgled, but is this necessarily the case? Below, you can find out more about how they work and whether they’re effective to help you decide whether you need one.

How do burglar alarms work?

Burglar alarm systems work by sounding an alarm when movement is sensed inside your home while the alarm is set and active. These systems contain lots of sensors that can detect motion, alerting you or your neighbours to a potential intruder. The sensors should be located in areas where people are more likely to try to enter your home, such as by the back door, windows or conservatory. Additional technology can be added to the system, such as sensors that trigger the alarm when a window is opened.

It’s thought that the alarm system will put burglars off attempting to get inside a property, as it will arouse the attention of you and your neighbours. When you have an alarm system installed, it’s important to ensure that the alarm box is visible from the front of your home, making it clear that you do have a working alarm.


Should I get a burglar alarm?

Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own home, so it’s important that you put some measures in place to make this a reality. Whether you choose to install security lighting, purchase a mobile phone or invest in some security equipment, such as a burglar alarm, the investment would be worthwhile.

While considering whether you should get an alarm or not, you should do your research and check out some reputable alarm companies before making a purchase. You should avoid purchasing any alarm systems that are being sold by cold callers or sellers knocking at your door.

Before deciding on whether you should get a burglar alarm, you need to find out if they’re effective at deterring intruders.


Are burglar alarms effective?

There has been plenty of discussion around whether burglar alarms can actually prevent a burglar from entering your home, or at least reduce the risk of this happening.

It has been argued that were a burglar to come upon a house with an alarm installed and one without, they would be more likely to choose the one without, as it’s a safer option and they’re less likely to be found out. This is when an alarm could be beneficial.

However, it’s also been discussed that many burglars aren’t afraid of house alarms as most people tend to ignore them. Security Alarms conducted a survey and asked 1,000 of their website visitors what they do when they hear a neighbour’s house alarm going off. Of the 1,000 surveyed, a significant 42 per cent of respondents said they would look out of the window to see what was happening or if there’s a problem. Around 19 per cent said they would go and investigate but 33 per cent would do nothing. Only 6 per cent of people would call the police. It’s still reassuring that nearly half of people would look to see what was happening. It’s likely that, if they did see anything suspicious, they would alert the police, and this demonstrates that house alarms can still do their job effectively.

They are even more effective when used alongside other security measures, such as CCTV, security lights and timed internal lights that make it seem like someone is at home, so maybe you could look into having these installed too. A burglar alarm could also be more effective if it’s directly linked to a security centre that can monitor your alarm 24/7 and will be alerted if it is activated.


Does a burglar alarm affect home insurance?

The cost of your home insurance is determined by risk - the more risky a home is to insure, the higher the premium. Therefore, some insurance providers offer a discount for those who have a working burglar alarm installed, or you may find that the insurance is cheaper with an alarm than without.

Some providers are fussy about the type of alarm that you have installed, and you may only receive a discount if you have one that’s approved by the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board or that was installed by an approved installer who’s part of the National Security Inspectorate. Some insurance providers may not offer a discount at all.

Should you have a burglar alarm installed, and you declared it to your provider, but it was not active when a burglary occurred, your insurance provider may choose not to pay out, should you make a claim. You must check your policy for details around what would happen in this instance. This is why it’s important to set the alarm whenever the property is empty or when everyone is in bed. Most alarm systems have zoning capabilities, which means you can set the alarm in certain rooms but not others, or choose to only alarm downstairs and not upstairs.


How often should burglar alarms be serviced?

A working alarm system is imperative to reduce the risk of your home being burgled and contents stolen, therefore, you should have your alarm serviced at least once a year by a professional. They will come out and test the system, ensuring that all the sensors are working correctly. The engineer will also check for signs of damp that can damage the alarm, ensure that all the fuses are still working and check your alarm log. An alarm log stores data such as any malfunctions and when the alarm has sounded. This information could be useful when determining what to check in your alarm system. For battery-powered alarms, you may wish to get them serviced twice a year, as the batteries can eventually run flat.

These checks are important as any faults can be identified quickly and resolved. Otherwise, you may be left without a working alarm for some time before someone can look at it and fix the issue. Having your alarm regularly serviced could also may be a requirement as part of your home insurance policy.