Electronic alarms or security systems? Both, but chosen carefully!

Alarm systems for the home complete with control unit, sensors, dialler and siren can be found in supermarkets or on the Internet for just a few dozen euros. Rather than invest in mechanical safety systems, is it not easier to rely on one of these electronic alarms?

The question is legitimate, but the answer is twofold. On the one hand, electronic and mechanical protection systems have different functions, so one does not replace the other, but they actually complement each other. On the other hand, one cannot think of buying and installing a cheap electronic alarm system which is truly effective.

Think both about when you are out and when you are at home

An alarm programmed to protect items when you are out is different from one designed to protect not only items but also people who are in the house.

lockpicking

If you simply want to protect items when you are not present, the system can consist merely of sensors which “monitor” the rooms in which the most valuable items are found (often just the bedroom where jewellery and cash are kept) and various sirens to scare aware any thieves.

However, if the requirement is to also (and especially!) protect people who are present in the house, the situation is reversed. In this case, the system must consist of many sensors which monitor all possible accesses, starting with those furthest away, so that they trip in time. You also need a system that can alert occupants in real time, rather than scare the intruder, especially if they have already entered the house. A scared thief can in fact become dangerous and the situation could deteriorate, resulting in consequences more serious than a theft.

The Viro MAC alarm applied to various access points to the house.

The Viro MAC alarm applied to various access points to the house.

Electronic alarms do not replace mechanical protection systems

For someone who is present in the house, the best protection system is mechanical, because it slows down the intrusion, physically trying to prevent it.  Also, tampering with mechanical systems is normally noisy, which may in itself be sufficient to warn the occupants.

The single most effective solution is provided by an electronic alarm system which warns of the attempted intrusion in real time, combined with a mechanical protection system which slows down the entrance, so that the occupants realise what’s happening and can take the necessary countermeasures.

Example of “Universal Bar" mechanical protection system applied to a wooden door.

Example of “Universal Bar” mechanical protection system applied to a wooden door.

Too many alarms are risky

Having an alarm that sounds too often, and is too loud, is more harmful than not having one at all, just as in the story of Peter who continued to cry out “Wolf!” until no one believed him anymore. A system that generates repeated false alarms soon becomes unbelievable, and ends up being ignored, if not even deactivated. At this point it would have been better not to have installed any alarm: the same result, but with less effort!

A good alarm system must therefore be designed and set up in a strategic manner, not only so that it trips when needed, but also so that it does not trip when not needed.

Conclusions

Alarm systems are complex solutions which require detailed design, careful selection of the devices and precise installation. In the next blog we will see which features to look for in the various components of a typical alarm system.

Re-read blog: How to defend against the 3 methods most commonly used by burglars to enter our homes

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