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Find out about the different types of burglar alarms, with advice on how to choose between them.
You're less likely to become a victim of burglary if you have a well-fitted and maintained burglar alarm system, according to London's Metropolitan Police, and a Which? survey of ex-burglars. The best type of alarm for your home depends on your personal preferences, your budget, where you live, what your home is like and what level of protection you need.
A key consideration is what you would prefer to happen when your alarm goes off. Bells-only alarms make a noise, but don't contact anyone (such as the police or the homeowner). A speech dialler system meanwhile, automatically contacts you or other nominated friends and family when the alarm is triggered. Alternatively, you could get a monitoring contract, whereby you would pay a company monthly or annually to take action or call the police if the alarm goes off.
Costs vary between the different alarm types; you can visit our page on burglar alarm costs to find out more about pricing and getting the best deal, with insider tips from installers.
Wireless or wired burglar alarm?
Alarms can be either wired or wireless. Wireless alarms look nicer, are generally easier to install and can be removed more easily if you move house. They use battery-powered sensors that communicate with a control panel using radio signals. While this type of alarm tends to be cheaper to install professionally, or can be fitted yourself, the alarms themselves can be more expensive. Wired systems usually need to be installed by a professional, as the wires will need to be hidden, so labour costs are higher.
Bells-only burglar alarm
When a bells-only (also called audible) alarm is triggered, it makes a loud noise, which will hopefully alert someone in the area to the situation and/or scare off an intruder. However, unlike a monitored alarm or one with a speech dialler, it won't automatically contact a named person or the police, so there is no guarantee that anything will be done. 46% of Which? members who have a burglar alarm have a bells-only one. It's worth thinking about the kind of area you live in before deciding to get a bells-only alarm. Is there an active neighbourhood watch giving you confidence that someone will call the police? Or perhaps you have friends and relatives who live very close by who you could count on to take action ?
You can install one of these alarms yourself, or you can pay a one-off fee to have it installed by a professional.
Speech dialler A speech dialler (also called text alert), is a device built into or connected to a wired or wireless alarm. The idea is that when the alarm goes off, the speech dialler will call or text a set of phone numbers of your choice, for example family members or your mobile, until it gets an answer or can leave an automated message. This can be a good alternative to a professional monitoring service (see below), as a professional service involves monthly fees.
Speech diallers are usally free as they ara built into the alarm, so they just need to be activated or connected to the phone line.