Alarm System: Review & Recommendations

To feel safe is not always a matter of course. Buying an alarm system can not only give you real security, but also make you feel less afraid. But what kind of alarm system is the right one? What do you need to be aware of? And what are the costs?

In our alarm system test 2020 you can find out all this and much more. We have compiled the most important background information and explain different types of alarm systems. We also provide you with criteria that you should consider when buying.

The most important facts in brief

  • With the help of alarm systems you can secure yourself and your surroundings. They also give you a feeling of security and are irreplaceable for the comprehensive protection of your valuables.
  • Basically one can distinguish between two different types of burglary protection systems: Wired alarm systems, wireless alarm systems.
  • Burglar alarm systems are primarily intended to prevent burglaries and trespassing. When the alarm system is activated, you as the owner of the house and, if necessary, the police will be called immediately.

Alarm system test: Favourites of the editorial staff

  • The best alarm system set
  • The best alarm system with app control
  • The best wireless alarm system

The best alarm system set

With this alarm system set you can easily and quickly turn your house into a fortress. The alarm system comes with an alarm siren, motion alarm, door sensors and remote controls.

In addition, there are many useful extensions, such as smoke detectors, gas detectors or even water detectors. In addition, the set enables easy installation and operation of the alarm system.

The best alarm system with app control

The GSM alarm system Olympia Protect Alarm System Set is quickly installed via plug and play. If required, you can expand the system with additional sensors and contacts.

The complete package includes a motion detector, the mobile phone unit with remote control and numerous sensors for doors and windows. The system can be expanded as required by a total of up to 32 sensors and also an outdoor siren.

Locally, an acoustic siren sounds when the alarm is triggered. In case of power failure, the emergency batteries provide the necessary power supply for the GSM alarm system Olympia Protect Alarm System Set.

The best wireless alarm system

The “Smartvest Wireless Alarm System App – Basic Set” enables a comfortable entry into a modern home with reliable all-round security.

The word “smart” refers not only to the product and the operation via tablet or smartphone – even the installation is very easy thanks to plug and play and pre-programmed components in the set.

The Abus-Smartvest wireless alarm is perfectly suited for indoor use due to its simple system design. In addition to the control panel with app, the basic set offers everything you need for an initial basic security of your home thanks to the opening and motion detector, remote control and the necessary accessories.

In case of an alarm, your Smartvest Alarm will notify you immediately and immediately. E.g. by push message, email or SMS . Alarms can also be transmitted electronically to an emergency call centre.

Advisor: Questions you should deal with before buying an alarm system

What is an alarm system anyway?

As mentioned before, there are different types of alarm systems. In particular, a distinction is made between the types of hazard alarm system and fire alarm system.
In common parlance, however, the former is referred to as an alarm system. These alarm systems are mainly used for the protection of persons and objects and are operated electronically.
Burglar alarm systems are primarily intended to prevent burglary and trespassing. When the alarm system is activated, you as the owner of the house and, if necessary, the police will be notified immediately.
Alarm systems are usually used in combination with terminal devices and dialling devices. A camera, for example, can help to identify possible perpetrators.

Did you know that dogs used to be the alarm system?
Dogs have been guardians of humans for thousands of years. They have excellent hearing and attention at night. In addition, dogs are very good at distinguishing between familiar people and strangers.

Where are alarm systems used?

In the end, alarm systems can be installed wherever a power supply is possible.
Typical places where alarm systems are installed:

Car
Motorcycle
Scooters
Boat
Single family house
Apartments
Building

Nowadays you can find alarm systems already integrated in all vehicles. With real estate, you usually have to take the work into your own hands and take care of it.

Do I really need an alarm system?

According to the news magazine “welt.de”, the number of burglaries for apartments rose from just under 110,000 per year to a total of 152,100 within the years 2005-2015.
Whether you personally need an alarm system, you have to decide yourself. But it is not wrong if you want to worry about your security.
It is not enough to simply install an alarm system. You also have to keep an open eye and know how to handle your alarm system correctly.

One can clearly see that the number of break-ins per year has decreased, but one should ask oneself why this has happened. One possibility would be that modern alarm systems have scared most burglars away and therefore no break-in has taken place.

Where can you buy alarm systems?

Alarm systems can be purchased either directly from the manufacturer or from an electrical retailer. The method of online shopping has become very widespread in recent years and nowadays offers the possibility of ordering items from the comfort of your own home.
Another possibility for buying is offered by various online portals.
Listed below you will find a number of shops that you can visit to find your product

Amazon
Ebay
Saturn
Media Markt
Conrad
Abus
Reichelt
Bauhaus

All alarm systems that we present to you on our site have a link to at least one of these shops. so you can strike right away when you have found a suitable product that suits you.

What does an alarm system cost?

Alarm systems can be found in different price ranges. Whether you want to have a wireless alarm or a wired system is accordingly decisive.
Simple wireless systems start at a price of 20 Euro per alarm. Very inexpensive, and especially suitable for the normal household. On the other hand, the prices are in a wide range and can be in the three-digit range depending on the quality.
If you decide to use more than one system, the price is

Wired alarm systems are a slightly more expensive option. You can get the products for as little as 150 Euros – but you should note that the installation is not necessarily included. Depending on the manufacturer, the price can go up considerably. You should also pay attention to the quality of the products.

Where should you best install your alarm system?

Since most burglars enter either through the door or the window, it would of course also make sense to place your alarm there.

The alarm systems should secure all inputs and outputs as far as possible. When mounting, make sure that the sensors cover the entire perimeter.

The fire and smoke alarm should at best be mounted on the ceiling, as the smoke spreads upwards. It is best to find a central point in the room so that its sensor can detect as large a radius as possible.

Who can install your alarm system?

As already mentioned, you can easily install the wireless alarm yourself. Just find a spot in your room and install the system.
The smoke detector looks exactly the same. A short manual, included with the product, will help you to install everything yourself.
If you are not able to install the system yourself, there are also specialized electricians you can hire.
With the wired alarm system it gets a bit more complicated. If you are not familiar with this, you should hire a specialist. Just to make sure everything is right at the end of the day.

What should you consider when buying an alarm system?

To help you a little bit when buying your alarm system, we will introduce you in this section what you should pay attention to when looking for your alarm system.
The first thing you need to do is find out what radius the alarm system reaches. If your system contains an indoor and outdoor siren, another question you should ask yourself when buying. If this is not the case, you should consider that this will minimize the effectiveness of the system.
How good is the battery of your wireless alarm and how long is the estimated time until you need to perform maintenance? For the wired version, you should also ask yourself the question regarding energy consumption.

Decision: What types of alarm systems are there and which one is right for you?

Basically one can distinguish between two different types of burglary protection systems:

  • Wired alarm systems
  • Radio alarm systems

In addition, there is another type of alarm system, but it does not serve as protection against burglary:

  • Smoke and fire protection system

Each of these types of alarm systems has different functionalities and therefore its advantages and disadvantages

Depending on which characteristics you personally value highly, you should decide on a different type of burglary protection system.

In the following section we would like to help YOU find the alarm system that is best suited for you.

For this purpose we introduce you to all the above mentioned types of alarm systems and clearly present their advantages and disadvantages.

How does a wired alarm system work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The particular advantage of a wired alarm system is that this product requires no repeated maintenance.

If you would like to install your alarm system just once and no longer need to worry about

There are two options for how a wired alarm system can work:

  • Direct current technology
  • Bus technology

Both methods have the characteristic that the energy supply of the plant is done via a fixed power line.

Advantages

After the installation you do not have to worry about the alarm system anymore
Connection of several alarm systems
Power supply by domestic electricity

Disadvantages

Complex facility
The best thing to do for new buildings
May incur higher costs

With direct current technology, the current flows between two points within the alarm system. This allows the voltage of the device to be measured. As a rule, the alarm system has a stable voltage value. However, if this changes, you will be informed immediately.

Additionally, all alarm systems (if there are several) can be connected to each other.

If you just want to install your alarm system once and don’t want to worry about anything else, this type of alarm system may be interesting for you.

The bus technology is characterized by the fact that all detectors are connected via a cable with pairs of wires. One wire serves as a data line and the other as a power supply for terminal devices. Settings of the system(s) are mainly made via PC.

Since the installation of wire-bound systems is somewhat more complicated due to cable laying, this method should be used for new buildings.

How do wireless alarm systems work and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The function of the radio system is the same as for the system with bus technology. An important difference is that the cable is replaced by radio.

The biggest advantage is that the system can be easily installed by the user. The power supply is provided by an inserted battery, which should have a function duration of one year.

Advantages

Controllable from afar
Self installable
Easy to install

Disadvantages

Own power supply
Easy to manipulate

Wireless alarm systems are ideal for the ordinary household, as the system is easy to install. However, when using such systems you should also keep in mind that you are also responsible for the maintenance of the alarms.

If you are not at home, the alarm system is also very easy to control remotely, as it can be operated via radio, for example, using an app on your smartphone. In case of an alarm you will be notified immediately.

How do smoke and fire protection systems work and what are their advantages?

As mentioned before, smoke and fire protection systems do not belong to the category of burglary protection. However, this type is the most widespread and important type of alarm system.

Smoke and fire protection systems have the function of detecting fires or the spread of smoke at an early stage and informing you about it.

The aim of such an alarm system is to avoid smoke poisoning and to fight against house fire preventively.

The advantages of such a system are as follows:

  • Fire detection
  • Easy to install
  • Prevention of potential damage

The most common type of smoke and fire detectors are the optical smoke detectors. These work with infrared light sensors. Normally the air in the room does not reflect light, but if there is smoke in the air, it is detected by the LED chamber of the smoke detector and the alarm is activated.

Purchase criteria: With these factors you can compare and evaluate alarm systems

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate alarm systems. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Type of alarm system
  • The field of application
  • Radio range
  • Type of notification
  • Integration of a siren
  • Emergency power supply

In the following paragraphs you can read what the individual purchase criteria are and how you can classify them.

Type of alarm system

The type of alarm system, i.e. whether wireless, wired or even simple opening detector, has already been discussed in detail above. Nevertheless, we would like to remind you at this point that the type of alarm system is probably the most important criterion when buying such a device, because it has a significant influence on the final result.

So first ask yourself what kind of alarm system you want. If it is a new building you should consider a wired system. If you want to install and control your own alarm system, the wireless alarm would be a more exciting option for you.

Field of application

An alarm system had several modes of operation. Depending on whether you live in a detached house or an apartment building, the factor of the area of application should play a big role.  Since with a single-family house also a higher security around the house would be advisable, you should install a system with exterior and interior function.

Here it applies that most alarm systems are made for the interior. If your property is a single-family home, you should make sure that you can install your systems outside when you buy.

Basically, an alarm system that can cover all areas also increases your security. But this fact normally also has higher costs.

Radio range

The radio range indicates the maximum possible distance between two radio components (e.g. between the control unit and one of the motion detectors). The radio range can vary depending on whether the components are installed inside or outside the house.

Depending on whether you want to have the alarm system installed in a small apartment, a detached house of a villa or a huge business, the range of the radio plays a big role.

If you live in an apartment of up to 150 square meters, you would be fully equipped with an alarm system with a range of 50 meters.  However, if the alarm system is to be installed in a larger building, this range would not be sufficient.

On average, wireless alarms have a range of 100 metres. This is of course also dependent on the manufacturer.

Type of notification

Since the alarm system notifies you every time anomalies occur, you should also think about how best to reach you and how the news will be seen by you most quickly.

In addition to the siren, many models have a so-called “silent alarm”, which means that you receive a call or a notification is sent to a specified phone number and/or e-mail address.

Nowadays you can almost always connect your alarm system to your mobile phone. Depending on the alarm system you get notifications via calls, voice messages, SMS, push notifications or even emails.

If you spend most of your time at your computer or at work without carrying your mobile phone with you, email notification would be the most appropriate way to notify you. If you have your mobile phone with you all the time, calls, voicemail and SMS would be the better option.

Integrated siren

A siren with a volume of approx. 90 dB is similar to a running diesel engine. If the volume is around 120 dB, the alarm siren is about as loud as a chain saw.

When buying an alarm system you should consider two factors with regard to the siren:
Is a siren included in the set? And if so, how loud is the siren?

Not all alarm systems have an integrated siren, in case you don’t have one, you have to buy an external siren, whereby you also have to consider if it is compatible with your alarm system.

Nowadays many alarm systems have the option of manually adjusting the volume of the siren.

Emergency power supply

Most radio systems have an internal power supply in the form of batteries or accumulators.

Here you should consider how long a battery or a battery of this type lasts, of course.

Some of these alarm systems have the function of letting you know when the battery is low so that you can carry out maintenance and keep your alarm system happily taking care of your safety

It is important that your alarm system, if it is not a wired alarm system, has a battery life of c.a. one year.

Opening detectors also either have integrated batteries or can at best be connected to a nearby socket.

Home & SmartConsumer portal

Always trust in independent testing institutes such as Stiftung-Warentest for test seals. For alarm systems that should be installed by a specialist, customers can use the VdS certification classes and EN standards as test standards.
Logically, the higher the class or degree, the greater the values to be protected and the more expensive the alarm system.
The following VdS classes are available:
VdS-Home is for alarm systems in private homes. VdS class A offers good protection even against experienced burglars. VdS classes B and C are more suitable for companies that focus on medium or higher protection against burglary.
A similar classification applies to the EN values. The higher the grade, the higher the risk assessed.
(Source: homeandsmart.de)

Trivia: Worth knowing facts about alarm systems

Who is actually the inventor of the alarm system?

Augustus Russell Pope ( 1819) is considered the inventor of the burglary protection system. He patented his idea on 21 June 1853 until it was bought by Edwin Holmes, an American businessman, for a whopping 1500 dollars in 1857.

Pope got the idea for the alarm system because of his home town Sommerville in Boston. Back then, people there already used the barking of their dogs and the chattering of their geese to prevent burglars from entering the

The history of the alarm system

The prototype of our current alarm system

The prototype of the alarm system reacted to the closing of an electrical circuit: doors and windows were connected as independent units by means of a parallel circuit. If the door or one of the windows was opened and the circuit closed, the sudden flow of current caused a magnet in the system to vibrate.

The resulting electromagnetic oscillations were transferred to a hammer, which then struck a brass bell. What was special about Pope’s invention was that the alarm could not be switched off by simply closing a window or door. A switch spring mounted in the wall above the door kept the electric circuit disconnected even in this case, so that the bell continued to ring.

The marketing at that time

It did not take Holmes much imagination to use this patent to build a central station. To route the cables of his clients’ alarm systems across the city to his office, Holmes moved his office to the top floor of a downtown building. Soon his customers included famous jewelry stores such as Tiffany or Lord & Taylor.

However, the greatest coup for the company was achieved by his son Edwin T. Holmes. He came up with the idea of using the unused telephone lines of the Boston shops at night for their alarm systems. After this system had been crowned with success in Boston, Holmes established close contacts with the telephone company and soon afterwards was granted the exclusive right to use the New York telephone network with its already well-connected lines for his alarm systems.

And today?

The twentieth century also brought important developments in alarm technology: after the Calahan type emergency call boxes became more affordable after the Second World War, more and more switching points could be used for medical services, police and fire brigades, thus improving the security of the population across the board. In the 1970s, technicians integrated the first motion detectors into their alarm systems.

The 80s and 90s were characterized above all by increasing democratization, making alarm systems increasingly the standard in building security. Finally, the first wireless radio alarm systems came onto the market and revolutionised alarm technology in practical terms as well – the previously unavoidable tangle of cables had finally come to an end.