A burglar alarm can deter intruders, so if you are considering one, it is important that you choose one suitable for your needs. There are many alarms available and they vary in cost and performance. Some systems you can fit yourself and others are more sophisticated systems which need to be installed by professionals. Low-cost alarms can be less reliable and through false alarms be a nuisance to both you and your neighbours.
There are two types of alarm:
A bell or siren sounds but the police will only respond if someone confirms suspicious activity or someone has been seen breaking into your house.
When the alarm is activated, it alerts a monitoring station to whom you pay an annual or monthly fee. They can check why the alarm has activated and notify the police or a nominated keyholder.
Alarms should meet the appropriate British Standard (BS4737 for wired alarms or BS6799 for wire-free alarms) or European Standard (EN50131-1)
Alarms should be regularly maintained – most contain a battery back up which operates if the mains supply fails, and these should be replaced every five years
Alarm bells or sirens must cut off after 20 minutes
You should test your alarm at least once a month
Get at least three quotes and specialist advice from companies that supply alarms. Use companies registered with either the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB); both of these bodies advertise in Yellow Pages and have websites which can signpost you to accredited companies in this area.
Remember, an alarm that is not fitted properly can create problems in itself. Don't fit an alarm yourself unless you have the electrical knowledge and practical skills to do so, it could end up costing you more.