Security by design: Choosing an alarm system to suit your lifestyle

Nowadays, you have loads of choice when it comes to choosing a home alarm system. It’s picking the one that best suits your lifestyle and budget that’s the tricky part. The main decision you need to make is whether to go for a monitored or unmonitored system, and whether you’d prefer it to be wired or wireless.

Unmonitored alarm systems

This type of system is the most popular and affordable alarm system. An unmonitored alarm system you won’t need to pay someone to monitor your security for you. It involves having sensors installed throughout the key areas of your home. If an intruder manages to get past your security gates or burglar bars, as soon as they move through your home they will trigger the invisible beams and a klaxon alarm will go off. Some homeowners also invest in more advanced systems that include motion detectors, panic buttons and spot lamps.

This type of alarm falls under the unmonitored category. This is because, whilst the noise is alarming and may scare off trespassers and alert nearby neighbours, it isn’t directly monitored by a security company. If the potential thief doesn’t get frightened off, or there isn’t anyone nearby to hear the alarm, it won’t offer immediate protection.

Monitored alarm system

While it’s more expensive than the unmonitored alarm system with monthly monitoring fees, this option is more secure. If an intruder triggers any of the detectors, the alarms will alert your security company’s call centre.

The centre will then call your home to ensure it wasn’t an accidental mishap. Anyone who answers will be obliged to answer a security question. If this procedure isn’t followed, they’ll send in their response division to investigate.

Nowadays, there are even apps that you can install on your smartphone which will keep you in the loop regarding the status on your home alarm and security.

Wired alarm system

A hardwired alarm system needs physical wiring in order to transmit information to a control panel. Normally, the wires will be hidden somewhere, like a bedroom cupboard for example. It has a keypad that requires a code for deactivating and activating the alarm system.

The installation process can be a drawback for this type of system because it requires someone to physically fit the wiring into the walls. An electric storm also has a chance of making the device go haywire. On the plus side, it is great for monitoring the activity of doors and windows, and it creates a steady current throughout the house.

Wireless system

The wireless alarm system is the cutting-edge of modern technology, with no tricky wiring requirements or monthly monitoring bills, as well as easy installation. Its design also makes it flexible when it comes to placing the detectors and sensors – although at times they can’t be fitted too closely together. Another advantage is that it’s portable, allowing you to take it to your next home should you decide to move.

This is an expensive system to maintain though, because the batteries need frequent changing. You should also note than electromagnetic interference can disrupt monitoring activities.

With this information in mind, it’s important to choose a system that will best suit your budget and lifestyle. And remember, any security is better than no security.


DesignMind is an on-line market place for South Africans to find inspiring home building and decorating ideas and the suppliers best able to make home improvement dreams a reality.

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