This post was originally published on November 6, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your current system or have a new one installed, there are a few different types of home alarm solutions to consider.
To help you choose the best option for your home, we explain the common types of alarm systems and how they operate.
1. Electric Current Alarm System
Electric current systems are your most basic monitoring tool, in that they only monitor entry points like doors and windows, and are often installed when a home is being built. With these systems, a low-voltage electrical circuit flows between two points. If doors and/or windows are shut, the current flows easily. But, if they are opened, the circuit is disrupted, and an audible beep is triggered.
2. Wired Alarm System
A wired security system relies on your landline phone connection to transmit signals to a monitoring center. While it supports basic monitoring capabilities, there is a threat of physical onsite wires being cut or destroyed, rendering the system ineffective. For this reason, cellular backup is recommended to prevent weather or other landline interference.
3. Wireless Home Alarm System
Wireless home alarm systems are exactly what they suggest—security systems without wires. These alarm systems typically use a control panel and a series of sensors that are connected with built in radio frequency transmitters.
Once your alarm system is triggered, a signal is transmitted to the control panel and the alarm is activated. Some benefits of wireless systems are that they allow for remote system management through your mobile device, and integrate with other smart home functionality like lights, video surveillance and thermostats.
4. Unmonitored Home Alarm System
Unmonitored systems, also known as “local” alarms, rely on you or someone near your home to alert the authorities of an emergency. With an unmonitored system, audible and visual alarms are triggered whenever your system is tripped.
Unmonitored systems are typically a less expensive option compared to monitored systems. However, unmonitored systems don’t provide the same level of protection, as they do not notify a monitoring center of your emergency for subsequent first responder dispatch. Even if the alarm sends an alert directly to your phone, you may be unable to respond if you have bad cell reception or are away from your device.
5. Monitored Home Alarm System
Having a trusted professional looking out for you is always comforting. A monitored home alarm system helps ensure that authorities are notified quickly in event of a break-in 24/7/365. This is because monitored alarm systems alert both the homeowner and monitoring center operators when an alarm is triggered.
Depending on the type of system you have in place, the alarm can be triggered by opening an entry way, movement in the house via motion sensors, a loud sound via auditory sensors, or manually. The monitoring center will then verify the alarm, and dispatch emergency services if needed.