Do Home Alarm Systems Work?

If you live in the U.S. then there is certainly a chance your home could be burglarized. Many people try to decrease this risk by installing a home alarm system. But do home alarms systems actually work? Find out below.

Home Alarm For A House

Home alarms for houses have existed for decades. Newer home alarm sytems are better than ever and offer many useful functions. For example, these can send notifications to your phone or tablet if a motion is detected or a window or door is opened.

Additionally, smart keypad features include quick communication to police, fire, or medical personnel. A 24-hour battery backup will keep the security system operating even during a power outage. When the home alarm goes off, a loud 100+ decibal siren will also sound, scaring away any intruders.

Home Alarms For Small Houses

A home alarm for a small house have capabilities that match those for a large house, and they can be DIY or installed professionally. There are also other options that are less expensive than installing a full home alarm system, and include:

  • Independent window sensors
  • Panic buttons
  • DIY door locks

These capabilities would seem to make a home alarm system very effective in preventing burlgaries.

But Do Home Alarm Systems Work?

Statistics have shown that the vast majority of burglars admit that if they had run into a home alarm system, they would not choose to break into that house. In fact, homes without alarm systems are several times more likely to be burglarized, than those with one.

Window locks and door deadbolts help as well, but including a home security system will deter criminals even more. If your home and possessions are very valuable, getting a home alarm system is worth it.

This is especially true if you take long vacations in the summertime, when most break-ins occur.

A home alarm monitoring service will alert police for you when a break-in occurs, leaving you free to live your life without having to watch your house all the time. Other options include smoke and fire detection, which can also happen when you are away.

Home alarms systems also come with another benefit, and perhaps the most important: the ability to sleep well at night.

Alarm Systems For Apartments

If you live in an apartment, you can have an alarm system installed with many modern safety features that match those on house alarms. These can be either installed and setup by a professional or DIY.

Home Alarms For Apartments

Most home security companies offer alarm systems that give total protection to apartment residents.

Features include:

  • Self-monitoring
  • Wireless operation
  • Smartphone controls
  • Touchscreen panel
  • 24 / 7 monitoring
  • Encrypted sensor signals that protect from hackers.
  • 30-day return policy
  • Fully customizeable
  • 1080p HD indoor and outdoor cameras.
  • Video doorbell
  • Alexa and Google assistant compatible.

Apartment alarm systems can be quite inexpensive as well, falling only in the $100-200 dollar range.

But Do Apartment Alarm Systems Work?

Similar to alarm systems for houses, burglars will most likely leave your apartment alone if they think it has an alarm system activated. Keeping a sticker or sign on or outside your front door will warn any burglar coming along that the apartment is being monitored, and will likely scare them away.

Home Alarms For RVs

RV’s have serve as many people’s homes away from home, which they occupy either part time or fulltime. Being such, this means they have many or all of their positions stored within the RV. Many people venture out of their RV during the day for fun, play or work, leaving it open to being robbed.

The fact is, there is always a chance of being robbed while on the road or having your RV parked, so a security system is may be required to prevent this.

Some options you can get with your RV security system include:

  • Security cameras
  • Motion sensors
  • Lights
  • Panic buttons
  • Tablet and phone monitoring

But Do Home Alarms For RVs Work?

Modern alarm systems for RV’s are very similar to those for homes and apartments. They include features such as tablet and phone compatible sofware tools, DIY installation, and remote or self-monitoring.

Self-monitoring is very useful for RV owners because a remote monitoring service will need to check your location(s) on a recurring basis. This is fine if you are willing to let them, but many people are on the road in their RV’s to get away from being watched all the time and like to keep moving from place to place.

Companies offering RV security systems include:

  • SimpliSafe

Loud Home Alarms – How Loud Are They?

A loud home alarm will shock a burglar and cause them to be afraid of the neighbors and anyone alerted nearby. It can also easily wake up the occupants of the home who can then call the police.

However, if the home alarm trips for a reason not related to a burglarly while the occupants are on vacation, it could very much upset the neighbors. They may have to listen to the alarm going off for days on end.

This is important because the human ear picks easily picks up sound in the 50-60 decibel range. For prespective, here are some recognized sounds and their decibel levels:

  • Normal indoor conversation – 50 to 65 decibels
  • City traffic – 70 to 90 decibels
  • Fireworks – 140+ decibels

A home alarm system can have an alarm sound in the 100+ decibel range. This is enough to alert a burglar and scare them off, but also to harm the ears of neighbors and anyone passing on the street (85 db+).

How Much Does An Alarm System Cost For A House?

The cost of a home alarm system depends on its extended options and whether it was installed by a professional or DIY. Additional options that may add to the price include fire, flood, carbon monoxide, and health threat monitoring. These can add to the installation and montly costs, and you may actually not need them.

The average home security system costs between $250 and $900 for the intitial purchase of the alarm equipment, along with installation and activation fees. However, you may be able to have the installation and activation fees waved

A DIY home alarm system will be less expensive but will require more time and effort to setup, and may not include a remote monitoring service.

Initial purchase and setup costs can be somewhat high, but overall the benefits will outweight these costs in the long term.

How Much Does An Alarm System Cost Per Month?

Along with installation costs, a home alarm system may also include monthly fees for monitoring services. These average between $25 to $50 per month and depends on the package. Also, there will likely be a fixed contract included that can last between 12 to 36 months.

These extra monthly fees are the main deterrent to people considering a home alarm system.

Are Home Alarms Worth($) It?

Stastics bear out that it is worth it to get a home alarm system. That being said, the costs associated are generally what prevent people from installing them in their homes. Getting stuck with a long term contract is another fear many people have when getting a home alarm system.

Even with all the costs associated with installing and operating a home security system, the costs incurred from a burglary will likely be far higher. Studies have found that the average burglary ranges from $1500 and $5000+ in stolen goods and property damage. This is higher than the full year cost of a high end home security system.

Fire damage is another financial risk that a home alarm system can help to mitigate by alerting the fire department for you when your system detects it.

Home insurance premiums may also drop somewhat if you install a home alarm system. The home’s market value will also likely increase as well.

Home automation, including controlling lights and temperature, has become available in recent years and it is easy to add an alarm system alongside these.

If a home alarm system is too much for your budget, there are cheaper options that will help deter burglars.

Which Alarm System Is Best For A Home?

You want to get the most effective alarm with enough options included, but this also depends on the size of your house and how much you are willing to pay for them. In the end, it might be worth paying extra to have an alarm system that works.

What Triggers A Burglar Alarm?

A burglar alarm can be triggered in several ways:

  • By detecting movement through its motion detectors.
  • The closed circuit magnetic sensor causes the alarm to switch due to an open window or door.
  • A pressure sensor on a doormat detects the weight of a person or animal.

What Triggers A House Alarm On Accident?

A house alarm can be triggered on accident causing an annoyance to you and your neighbors. These false alarms can be caused by the following situations:

  • Insects passing by the motion sensors.
  • Low batteries
  • Sensors mistaking pets for an intruder.
  • Improper installation of the alarm system.
  • Dusty, smokey air
  • Bumping into an alarm system component.
  • A visitor to the home causing the alarm to go off by mistake.
  • Ageing alarm systems
  • Running tumble dryers or garage equipment
  • Bad storms or other extreme weather events.
  • Earthquakes

Can Burglars Bypass Alarms?

It is possible for a skilled burglar to bypass even the newest home alarm systems. It is no secret to burglars how alarm systems work and the different components they rely on. Generally, low cost basic alarm systems are easier to bypass than the higher end varieties.

To break into a home alarm system, a burglar would:

  • Turn off the home’s power.
  • Cut the phone lines.
  • Quickly smash through the windows and break or disable the alarm.
  • Locate areas that are not monitored by the alarm.

Can Burglars Disable Wireless Alarms?

Wireless alarms are a newer type of alarm system that has become popular with the recent rise of cellular technologies. But can burglars disable wireless alarms? Well they certainly try. This is because burglars are motivated to disable any type of home alarm due to the financial benefits involved.

A way a burglar could disable a wireless home alarm is by using a wireless jammer which is inexpensive. This acts by jamming the radio signal sent by the alarm’s sensors to the control panel. This means the sensors will not be able alert the alarm system that an intruder has passed by or broken into the home.

The burglar can also intercept the sensor data and decipher it, and send only those commands that say ‘everything is fine’ to the control panel. This would render all the sensors in the house useless.

Fortunately, wireless alarms can include encryption that prevents signal jamming. Make sure to only purchase a wireless home alarm system that includes signal encryption and anti-jamming technology.

A working wireless alarm system will be able to detect an intruder and then alert the occupants with a loud noise. It will also communicate the breach to the remote monitoring service that will automatically contact the police for you.

Can You Have An Alarm System Without A Landline?

Every year, more households rely entirely on wireless communications instead of using a landline based phone or internet connection. Because of this, home security companies have adapted their offerings to include wireless monitoring. Over time, this service has become more in demand, and not just to serve as a backup if the power or phone lines go out.

Today’s home alarm systems use cell towers or local cellular transmitters installed on the property to provide security monitoring. This means, a house does not need a land-line based internet connection for the alarm system to fully work.

If a home already has a landline, this will continue to work fine, but is no longer required.

Do You Need Internet For Home Alarm System?

A land-line based internet connection in your home will help to have a fully monitored home. It allows the monitoring service to be easily setup and recieve data from the alarm system equipment in your home.

However, newer home alarm systems no longer will require a land-line based internet connection because these have migrated to using wireless technologies. This all depends on which alarm system you choose and from which provider.

Can Wireless Home Alarms Be Hacked?

Yes, wireless home alarms are vulnerable to being hacked. This is because even the best security systems have weaknesses that skilled hackers can exploit. This mostly depends on the kind of security system it is and whether it has strong encryption capabilities.

Wireless home alarms are of two types: Wifi or Bluetooth enabled. A hacker can break into a home with a wireless alarm system using the following means:

  • Intecepting signals
  • Exploiting software flaws
  • Phyiscally tampering with the security devices.

Many older or cheaper home alarm systems can be hacked quite easily by a criminal that knows how. The alarm system’s signals can be intercepted by the burglar if they are not encrypted. Once they get access to this data, they can copy it, gain access to your security cameras, and find out which doors or windows are open or unlocked.

A burglar does need to get within 10-20 feet of most homes to hack into their alarm system.

Are Wireless Home Alarms Reliable?

Wireless home alarms have a certain ammount of reliability due to the fact they do not need a physical phone line, or rely on a ulitity power supply due to running on batteries.

This can also make them less reliable because batteries eventually run out, and wi-fi signals can be intercepted or have glitches. However, newer wireless systems have improved encryption that prevents hacking. Large homes especially face reliability issues using wireless alarm systems because the range of the devices is limited to 500 feet, meaning more devices are needed. Hardwired systems will not have these issues.

However, a hard-wired alarm system can be disabled by a burglar cutting the phone or power lines, or a power outage causing it to shut off. Wireless alarm sytems, on the other hand, are battery powered and rely on cellular technology to send and recieve signals.

Setting A Home Alarm

Setting a home alarm properly has a big effect on whether it will work or not. This is typically done through a remote control panel located near the front door or central walkway of the house.

To set the alarm as well as disable it, you will need to enter a security code when entering the home. There is time limit window to do this, being usualy 30-60 seconds upon entering the house, so it must be done quickly.

Activating the alarm is best done by the last person leaving the home, or when everyone in the house goes to sleep.

However, you don’t want to set off the alarm on accident, so where you place your motion detectors will matter, especially at night. Pets can set off a house alarm, so make sure to angle them to not pick up motion below a certain height.

Does A Power Outage Affect A Home Alarm System?

Old home alarm systems that rely on utility power can be affected by a power outage. This would make your house an easy target for burglars if it happens when you are away. However, newer home alarm systems come with battery backups in case the power goes out, and can keep the system running for several hours or even days.

If you have a wireless alarm system, check to see if it has a battery backup. If you are looking to buy a home alarm system, make sure it comes with batteries that keep the system running during a power outage. Systems with larger batteries will likely last longer, but if you often trip the sensors on accident, the battery will run out of juice faster.

What If The Internet Goes Down Due To A Power Outage?

If you have an alarm system connected by a land-line, then a power outage will not affect the system. If you have battery backups installed, then the system can continue to relay communication to the monitoring service.

If you use a landline internet connection, a power outage could turn off your router, which means the alarm system will not be able to relay information to the monitoring station. For these types of alarm systes, it is best to have a good sized battery backup so the internet connection stays on.

The key to deciding on which type of burglar deterrence you want is to decide on what your security goals are. There are many options available, with a range of costs associated, that can keep your home and family safe.

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Nick Klamecki, Author
About Nick Klamecki, Author

Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use. Learn more about Nick here or connect with him on LinkedIn | Medium