top of page
  • Writer's pictureHolly Stuart

How do burglar alarms work? | A comprehensive guide.

Imagine this: you're tucked up in bed at night, when suddenly you hear the sound of glass shattering. Your heart races as you realise that someone has broken into your house. In moments like these, having a reliable burglar alarm system can make all the difference.

Burglar alarms play a crucial role in deterring burglars and protecting your home from unwanted intrusion. Visible alarm systems (ie ones that include an illuminated bell box on the exterior of the property) act as a powerful deterrent, making potential burglars think twice before targeting your home.

With an effective burglar alarm system in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is secure, even when you're away. With a loud siren that scares off intruders, these alarm systems provide an added layer of protection for your loved ones and belongings.

So, how do burglar alarms work?

How Do Burglar Alarms Work?

Sensors Detecting Unauthorised Entry or Movement

a display of home security products by HKC including a wireless touchscreen keypad, PIR camera sensors and perimeter protection shock sensors

Most burglar alarms work by utilising internal sensors to detect any unauthorised entry or movement within a protected area. These sensors are strategically placed in key locations throughout the premises to ensure comprehensive coverage. There are various types of sensors used in burglar alarm systems, each serving a specific purpose.

One common type of sensor is the internal motion detector, also known as Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors. PIR sensors detect changes in infrared radiation caused by moving objects within their field of view. When an intruder enters the protected area, the PIR sensor detects their presence and triggers the alarm system.

There is also a version of a PIR available with a built in camera. This camera is ONLY activated when the alarm is set AND when the PIR is triggered by an intruder. Upon detection, the PIR camera will capture a series of images and send them straight to your phone!

Another type of sensor used is door/window contacts. These contacts consist of two parts: one attached to the door or window frame and another attached to the corresponding door or window itself. When the door or window is opened while the alarm system is armed, these contacts separate, completing a circuit and triggering the alarm.

In our opinion at Midland Alarm Services, the most VITAL form of home security is perimeter protection shock sensors - as this is what stops the burglar BEFORE they get into your home!

These shock sensors look similar to door contacts and are placed on your most vulnerable entry points (often back windows and patio doors for example). These sensors detect vibration; both gross (eg an attempted forced entry of a door/ window) or a build up of vibration (eg someone continuously tampering with a lock).

Activation Triggers Loud Sirens or Alerts

Once a sensor detects unauthorised entry or movement, it sends a signal to the control panel of the burglar alarm system. The control panel then activates an audible alert, such as a loud siren to notify homeowners and deter burglars. This loud noise serves as an immediate deterrent and draws attention from both residents and neighbours.

In addition to audible alerts, modern burglar alarm systems like the one we offer, often include visual deterrents such as bell boxes mounted on external walls. These bell boxes prominently display that the property is protected by an alarm system, acting as a visible warning sign for potential burglars and sounding a siren as well as the control panel.

Effectiveness and Worthiness of Burglar Alarms

Reduced burglary rates with alarm systems

Installing a burglar alarm system can significantly reduce the risk of burglary in your home or business. Statistics have shown that properties equipped with alarm systems are less likely to be targeted by criminals. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, around 60% of convicted burglars stated that they would avoid homes with alarm systems. This indicates that having an alarm system acts as a deterrent and makes your property less appealing to potential intruders.

Added value to homes with reliable security measures in place

In addition to deterring potential intruders, installing a burglar alarm system can increase the value and appeal of your property. Potential buyers are often willing to pay more for homes that already have reliable security measures in place. A study conducted by researchers at Loughborough University found that properties with burglar alarms were perceived as more secure and desirable, leading to higher selling prices compared to similar properties without alarms.

Minimising false alarms

While burglar alarms are effective in protecting your property, false alarms can sometimes be a concern. False alarms occur when the alarm is triggered due to non-threatening factors such as pets, accidental activation, or technical malfunctions. However, advancements in technology have greatly reduced false alarms over time. Modern burglar alarms use sophisticated sensors and algorithms to distinguish between genuine threats and false triggers, minimising inconvenience for homeowners and reducing unnecessary police callouts.

At Midland Alarm Services, we offer solutions to combat this such as pet-sensitive PIRs and we can even adjust the sensitivity of other sensors and detectors to suit your home’s needs where necessary. Plus, with our remote monitoring app you are always in full control of your alarm system as you’ll be notified instantly of any activity AND you can remotely set/ unset your system on-the-go.

Taking immediate action against intruders

When a burglar alarm is triggered, it produces a loud and attention-grabbing sound. This serves two purposes: alerting the occupants of the property and deterring the intruder from continuing their criminal activity. The loud noise acts as an immediate warning to people inside the premises, allowing them to take necessary action such as calling the authorities or seeking safety. Simultaneously, the sound can startle and scare off the intruder, preventing them from causing further harm or stealing valuable items.

Peace of mind for homeowners and businesses

Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of having a burglar alarm system is the peace of mind it provides. Knowing that your property is equipped with a reliable security system can alleviate worries about potential break-ins. Whether you are at home or away, you can have confidence in knowing that your alarm system is actively protecting your valuables and loved ones.

Burglar alarms are not just a sound; they represent a sense of security, reduced burglary rates, increased property value and appeal, and immediate action against intruders. Although we may be biased, investing in an alarm system is undoubtedly worthwhile for both homeowners and businesses looking to protect their assets.

Comprehensive Guide to Home Alarm Systems

Exploring Different Types of Home Security Options Available

burglar alarm bell box with midland alarm services logo

Investing in a reliable burglar alarm system is a wise decision. With the increasing prevalence of burglaries and break-ins, having an effective home security system can provide you with peace of mind. But with so many options available, how do burglar alarms work and which one should you choose? Let's explore the different types of home security options available.

  • Wired Alarm Systems: These systems are hardwired into your home's electrical circuitry and typically require professional installation. They consist of sensors placed on doors, windows, and other entry points that trigger an alert when breached. The signals are sent through wires to a control panel, which then activates the alarm.

  • Wireless Alarm Systems: As the name suggests, these systems operate wirelessly using radio frequency technology. They offer easy installation without the need for drilling or running cables throughout your home. Wireless alarm systems usually come with sensors, a control panel, and remote key fobs for arming and disarming.

  • Smart Home Security Systems: With advancements in technology, smart home security systems have gained popularity. These systems utilise wireless connectivity and allow you to monitor and control your alarm system remotely using smartphone apps.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Alarm System for Your Needs

Selecting the right alarm system for your home requires careful consideration of various factors. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Budget: Determine how much you're willing to invest in a burglar alarm system as prices can vary significantly depending on features and capabilities.

  2. Size of Property: Consider the size of your property and whether you need additional sensors or cameras to cover all entry points effectively. A good security consultant like our very own Mick will assist and guide you with this.

  3. Monitoring Options: Decide whether you want professional monitoring services or prefer self-monitoring, where alerts are sent directly to your smartphone.

  4. Ease of Use: Look for an alarm system that is user-friendly and easy to operate, especially if you have family members who may need to arm or disarm the system.

Types and Components of Burglar Alarm Systems

Wireless vs Wired Alarm Systems

Wireless and wired alarm systems are the two main types of burglar alarm systems available. Each has its own set of pros and cons to consider.


  • Easy installation: Since they don't require any wiring, wireless alarm systems can be installed quickly and easily.

  • Flexibility: Wireless systems can be easily expanded or relocated without the need for extensive rewiring.

  • Aesthetically pleasing: Without visible wires, wireless alarms offer a cleaner and more discreet appearance.


  • Battery maintenance: The sensors in wireless systems require more regular battery changes or recharging.

  • Signal interference: In rare cases, wireless alarms may experience signal interference from other electronic devices.

Wired alarm systems:


  • Reliability: Wired alarms are known for their stability and consistent performance since they rely on physical connections rather than wireless signals.

  • No battery concerns: Unlike wireless systems, wired alarms do not rely on batteries, eliminating the need for regular maintenance.


  • Installation complexity: Wired alarm systems require professional installation due to the wiring involved, which can increase costs due to the time it takes.

  • Limited flexibility: Once installed, it's more challenging to modify or relocate a wired system compared to a wireless one. You also have less customisation options such as adding shock sensors and door contacts.

Advanced Features of Burglar Alarm Systems

Modern burglar alarm systems often come equipped with advanced features that enhance security and convenience:

  1. Remote monitoring: With remote monitoring capabilities, homeowners can receive real-time notifications on their smartphones or other devices when an alarm is triggered. This allows for immediate action to be taken, even if they are away from home.

  2. Smartphone integration: Many alarm systems now offer smartphone apps that allow users to control and monitor their alarms remotely. This includes arming or disarming the system, checking sensor status, and receiving alerts.

  3. Remote Support: Some remote monitoring plans such as our SecureComm App allow your alarm system to be technically supported by your provider. Our customers love the convenience of us being able to remotely dial in and fix any technical issues that may occur without them having to wait in for an engineer to arrive.

Installation and Optimisation of Burglar Alarms

Professional Installation Benefits for Optimal Performance

Midland Alarm Services professional burglar alarm installation team

To ensure the effectiveness of intruder alarm systems, it is highly recommended to opt for professional installation. While some may consider a DIY or budget approach to save costs, professional installation offers several benefits that are worth considering:

  • Expertise: Professional security consultants have the knowledge and experience to design and install an intruder alarm system tailored to your specific needs. They understand the intricacies involved in setting up control panels, switches, and sensors throughout your building or business premises.

  • Efficiency: A professionally installed intruder alarm system ensures that all components are correctly connected and functioning optimally. This reduces the risk of false alarms or malfunctions that can compromise the security of your property.

  • Peace of mind: By entrusting the installation to professionals, you can rest assured that every aspect of your intruder alarm system has been expertly handled. This allows you to focus on other important matters while knowing that your property is adequately protected against burglary.

Placement Considerations for Sensors Throughout the House

Careful consideration is crucial. Each sensor should be strategically positioned to maximise coverage and minimise blind spots. Here's why involving a professional security consultant can be beneficial:

  • Comprehensive assessment: A security consultant will conduct a thorough assessment of your property, taking into account factors such as layout, entry points (such as doors and windows), vulnerable areas, and potential hiding spots for burglars. Based on this evaluation, they can recommend optimal sensor placement.

  • Customised solutions: Every home is unique in terms of its layout and potential vulnerabilities. A professional security consultant will take these factors into account when designing an intruder alarm system specifically tailored to your property's needs. They will identify key areas where sensors should be placed for maximum effectiveness.

  • Avoiding common mistakes: Without professional guidance, it's easy to make mistakes when positioning sensors. Placing them too close to windows or in areas prone to false triggers can lead to unnecessary alarms. A security consultant will help you avoid these pitfalls and ensure that sensors are placed strategically for reliable detection.

Regular Maintenance Tips to Ensure Continued Functionality

Once your intruder alarm system is installed, regular maintenance is essential to ensure its continued functionality. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Test regularly: Regularly test your intruder alarm system by activating it and ensuring that all components function as intended. This includes checking the control panel, sensors, and any connected devices such as cameras or lights.

  • Keep sensors clean: Dust and debris can interfere with sensor performance. Clean the sensors periodically using a soft cloth or brush to remove any buildup that may affect their sensitivity. If you have a touchscreen keypad, also make sure this is kept clean as a build up of dirty fingerprints can interfere with its sensitivity.

  • Update access codes: If your intruder alarm system uses access codes, consider updating them regularly for added security. Change codes whenever there is a change in personnel who have access to the system.

  • Battery replacement and servicing: We recommend having your alarm serviced every year by a professional. They will make sure that everything is running as it should be and often will replace any batteries that need replacing.

By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure that your intruder alarm system remains in optimal working condition, providing you with peace of mind against potential burglaries.

Enhancing Security with perimeter protection sensors

Perimeter Protection - Your First Line Of Defence For Your Home

burglar attempting to pick a lock outside a home

Perimeter protection sensors play a crucial role in enhancing the security of your premises. Unlike regular internal sensors that are designed to detect motion inside the property, perimeter protection sensors are designed to detect and deter intruders before they even breach the threshold.

These wireless sensors are fitted to the most vulnerable entry points of your home ie windows and patio doors. Any detection of tampering either by a build up of vibration (for example if someone was trying to pick a lock) or gross impact (like forced entry) - the alarm would sound immediately.

This means that you are protecting your home from the outside rather than just the inside. If a burglar hears a loud alarm sounding as soon as they’ve tried to tamper with a door, they are far less likely to persist!

The benefits of self monitored (remote monitored) alarm systems via a mobile app

In today's fast-paced world, convenience is key. And self-monitored alarm systems that can be accessed through mobile apps offer a whole new level of convenience. Let's explore the benefits of these remote monitored systems and how they work.

Convenience Provided by Remote Access Through Mobile Apps

With self-monitored alarm systems, you no longer have to rely on a third-party monitoring service or be tied to your home to keep an eye on your security. By using a mobile app, you can conveniently access and control your alarm system from anywhere at any time. Whether you're at work, on holiday, or simply out running errands, having remote access gives you peace of mind knowing that you're still in control.

Real-Time Notifications on Any Suspicious Activity or Alarms Triggered

remote monitored burglar alarm mobile phone app

One of the greatest advantages of self-monitored alarm systems is the ability to receive real-time notifications on any suspicious activity or alarms triggered at your property. As soon as an event occurs, such as a door opening or motion detected in a particular area, you'll receive an instant notification on your mobile device. This allows for immediate action and response, ensuring that you can address any potential threats promptly.

Ability to Remotely Arm/Disarm the System While Away from Home

Gone are the days when you had to rush back home because you forgot to set your alarm system before leaving. With remote-monitored systems, you have the flexibility to arm or disarm your system while away from home. Whether it's letting in a trusted visitor or disarming the system for maintenance purposes, this feature provides convenience and eliminates unnecessary stress.

Sequential Verification if Zones Are Triggered

Another significant advantage of self-monitored alarm systems is sequential verification if zones are triggered. This means that when an alarm is triggered, the system will first verify if it's a false alarm by checking other sensors in that particular zone. For example, if a motion sensor is triggered in the living room, the system will check if the door sensor leading to that area was also triggered. This verification process helps minimise false alarms and ensures that you receive accurate information about potential security breaches. If you have one of our image verification PIR cameras, a snapshot of the scene will be sent to your mobile if that particular zone is triggered too.

Request a free no obligation quote from Midland Alarm Services

If you got this far, thank you for reading and we hope you found this comprehensive guide to burglar alarms helpful! By now, you have gained a solid understanding of how these systems work, their effectiveness in protecting your home, and the different types and components available.

Now that you're armed with this knowledge, it's time to take action to secure your home. At Midland Alarm Services, we are committed to providing top-notch security solutions tailored to your specific needs. Whether you're looking for a basic alarm system or advanced perimeter protection sensors, our team of experts are here to help.

To request a free no obligation quote today cal 02476403527 or click here, pop in your details and we will be in touch shortly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to install a burglar alarm system?

The installation time for a burglar alarm system varies depending on the complexity of the setup and the size of your property. On average, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day. Our experienced technicians will assess your requirements during an initial consultation and provide an estimated installation timeframe.

Can I monitor my burglar alarm system remotely?

Yes! When you get set up with a new burglar alarm system we can get you set up with our remote monitoring mobile app straight away. This allows you to keep an eye on your home's security status even when you're away. Our team can guide you through setting up remote monitoring for added peace of mind.

Are wireless burglar alarms as effective as wired ones?

Wireless burglar alarms have come a long way in terms of reliability and effectiveness. They offer the advantage of easy installation without the need for extensive wiring. You also have much more flexibilty with customisation options for additional sensors.

Do burglar alarms require regular maintenance?

Yes, regular maintenance is essential to ensure that your burglar alarm system functions optimally. We offer maintenance packages that include routine inspections, battery replacements, and software updates to keep your system in top shape.

We hope these FAQs have provided further clarity on burglar alarms and their installation. If you have any more questions or would like to request a quote, don't hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team at Midland Alarm Services.


bottom of page