How much to fit a burglar alarm? House alarm systems (including wireless alarms) have been popular with British home owners since the 1970s. Even though home burglary numbers have been dropping in recent years, having your home broken into and your valuables stolen is a very real fear for many.
So what is the average burglar alarm installation cost? For the simplest types of alarms you can install yourself, you’ll be looking at spending £125-£300 depending on the number of sensors you choose for your home. Systems that call or message you start at around £175 and range up to £350. Monitored systems can start from £99 and cost between £15-45 a month thereafter.
Why install a burglar alarm?
Quite often, victims of home burglaries will not feel safe in their house any more with many of them putting their home up for sale just to get out of the area. It can ruin people’s lives and the thing that causes the most damage is not the loss of their possessions, as bad as that is, it’s the feeling that because it’s happened once, it might happen again.
We’ve all heard the old saying that people never think about getting a burglar alarm until after they’ve been broken into. There’s a lot of truth in that statement.
There are thousands of companies in the UK that will help you choose the most suitable alarm for your home and install it professionally.
To be put in touch with 3 or 4 of your local and reputable burglar alarm installers, fill out the form below. By getting more than one quote, tradesmen will lower their prices to make sure they get the order. And please remember that our quoting service is free and you’re under no obligation to buy. Plus, for your peace of mind, none of our trusted burglar alarm installation companies employ high-pressure salespeople.
There’s more than one type of burglar alarm to choose from. We’ll look at each in detail and give you ballpark estimates of the cost of buying each system (remember that installation is extra and that’s covered in the next part of this article).
Burglar alarm panel
First off, there’s a “bells-only” burglar alarm. If someone tries to break into your house, a very loud audible siren will start, lasting for around twenty minutes.
You can choose an “alert” burglar alarm. In addition to the loud siren noise, the burglar alarm control panel sends out a message to up to 10 people if it detects a break in. Messages are sent via a landline or a mobile phone SIM card connection. It can either alert you by calling your phone (or the phone of a friend or family member) or it can get in touch with you via an app to your smartphone or tablet. As soon as the first person answers a call or a message, your alarm will stop trying to contact the others on your list.
Last, there are “monitored” burglar alarms. In addition to the ringing noise, a message is sent to a live operator if a break-in is detected with monitored burglar alarms. The monitoring centre members of staff will then either try to phone you.
Between you and the monitoring company, you work out a procedure that could lead to the police being called to attend your property if you do not give out a certain codeword or you do not pick up the phone when dialled. Monitored systems can also call a keyholder you nominate to go to check on your property – this could either be a friend, a family member, or a private manned security firm.
Burglar alarm panels are always hardwired onto your home’s electrical circuit and have back-up batteries in case of power interruption or in the event that someone is trying to cut power to it. If your hard-wired burglar alarm loses power, it will normally set off the siren.
Burglar alarms work by measuring unexpected or unwanted changes.
Let’s say that you set your burglar alarm panel to cover your downstairs once you and your family have gone to bed. No-one should be downstairs from that point. If someone needs to go downstairs, they’ll know to switch the burglar alarm panel off to avoid the alarm sounding which will wake up the rest of the family.
The most common types of detectors are Passive Infrared Detectors (PIRs). They measure temperature within a room. If there is too much deviation in the temperature, it will sound the alarm – that’s because the body heat of a burglar will be a lot higher than the ambient temperature of the room that they’re in.
Less common are magnetic contacts (sometimes called mag-contacts). You attached them to your windows and doors. Whenever a door or window is opened after you’ve turned your burglar alarm panel on, it will break the circuit. When that happens, the alarm goes off.
Wired or wireless
Wireless alarm systems have been around since the 1980s.
Wireless systems either use very weak radio signals or WLAN to connect the burglar alarm to the sensors. The sensors are normally battery-operated and these batteries will last for years. If a battery’s power starts to run low, it will send a message to the burglar alarm panel to alert you of that or it will start flashing a red LED light.
Wired burglar alarm systems, as the name suggests, need electrical wiring to be run between the burglar alarm panel and the sensors.
What are the costs?
If you want a simple bells-only box with 2-3 infrared sensors, prices vary from £125 to £300.
If you want to add an alert system which contacts you and up to 10 others in the event of a break-in, prices will vary between £175 and £350 generally. Please remember that you will incur extra expense with this option if you have to have a landline installed or you have to take out a SIM-only mobile phone contract.
For every additional sensor or keyfob (used to switch the alarm on and off if you’d prefer that instead of a password you type into the control panel), expect to pay between £40 and £110 per item.
Burglar alarm installation cost
Once you have your quote for your security system, the next question will be how much to fit a burglar alarm?
It depends on how many sensors and the types of sensor you have around the home. It will also be influenced, in the case of wired alarms, at the cost of running the cable between the burglar alarm control panel and the sensors. Expect to pay a minimum of £400 to £800 for professional installation.
If you have a monitored alarm system, you cannot fit this yourself – it will have to be done by the company installing the system. A typical monitored alarm system costs between £100 and £200 for installation (one burglar alarm panel, two sensors, a keyfob to turn the alarm off and on, and a window/door contact) and between £15 and £45 a month for monitoring.
Setting up a police monitoring service normally costs extra at installation and can add up between £300 and £700 to the original installation price. If you want to add extra sensors and keyfobs, budget between £40 and £110 per item.
Many installers genuinely believe that monitoring offers the best solution for homeowners so please expect to be quoted on this type of system more than others.
An added benefit of that is you could have a lower upfront cost for the equipment and the installation because your installer will receive a thank-you payment from the monitoring company for introducing you to them.
While you’re here, you can get 3-4 quotes from trusted local tradesman who are experts at installing burglar alarms. They’ll help you decide which system is best for your circumstances and they’ll be able to advice you on where you should put the sensors. Just fill out the form above – the service is free and there’s no obligation to buy from any of our tradespeople.
Burglar alarm FAQ
Can I fit a burglar alarm myself?
You can fit any alarm yourself with the exception of a monitored system.
You will need to be confident with DIY in general to do this. There will be, depending on your level of experience, up to a day’s work involved for a standard-sized home.
However, please be careful when hardwiring the burglar alarm panel into your electrics system.
Other than the danger involved in doing it yourself, it may be better to get an expert in. According to the Guardian newspaper (link here), police worry that DIY alarm systems aren’t as dependable as alarm systems that have been installed by a trade professional and monitored by a trusted company.
What are the disadvantages of a burglar alarm?
Other than the expense and time involved in installing an alarm, certain types of system present different disadvantages.
If you have a “bells-only alarm”, the system will not message you or a monitoring service if someone breaks in. In addition, their deterrence effect is debatable. A burglar will normally know the comings and goings of the people living in the house they want to burgle and they’ll know if you’re on holiday. If no-one is notified and your neighbours don’t react to your alarm going off, you may think it’s not that much use.
If you have an “alert” alarm, you will have to make sure that either you have a landline or you live in an area with strong mobile phone reception for the burglar alarm control panel to try to communicate with the up to 10 people who they system could notify that there is a robbery in progress. There is also the possibility that, if a break-in happens at the dead of night, no-one will be available or awake to take your call.
If you have a “monitored” system, there will be a monthly fee that you pay for the service. The company providing the monitoring do not have a contract with your local police force – that means that, in the event of a break-in, the police may not even visit your property. This is particularly so if, for whatever reason, you have a lot of false alarms that are reported to the police.
Many people prefer the convenience of wireless systems however they are often more expensive to buy and install because of the most advanced technology and design used in them.
Will I need planning permission for a burglar alarm?
It is very unlikely. However, if you live in a listed building or within a conservation area, it’s always wise to check with your local planning and heritage teams to get their feedback before you do anything.
Can pets set off my burglar alarm?
Yes they can but there are a couple of clever solutions you might want to ask your installer about.
If you have a small pet (cat, small dog, rabbit, etc) who is not prone to jumping on furniture or worktops, you can ask your installer to include pet-friendly PIRs on your system. This doesn’t monitor body heat right to the ground so it’s not able to see your cat curling up in front of the fire for a sleep.
If you do have pets that like to climb on things or you have a very big dog, ask your installer about installing window and door sensors instead.
Should my burglar alarm installer belong to any professional body or have any particular qualifications?
We recommend that you work with professionals who belong to these organisations:
Where can I buy a burglar alarm from?
If you want to install a system yourself, there are many places on the high street and online which can sell you a variety of different systems including the control panels, sensors, and keyfobs.
If you want someone else to install the system for you, there are thousands of companies in the UK who will do this. You will end up paying more than a system you install yourself but you will benefit from peace of mind that it’s been done by a professional.
Who can I get to install my burglar alarm?
There are two types of companies which generally install burglar alarms:
- Specialist home security companies
- Local electrical contractors
Before I get a burglar alarm, what should I ask my installer?
Remember that your burglar alarm system is an investment in you, your home, and your family’s safety. You should make sure that you ask the following:
- Which company do you use for your monitoring and how quick are they at responding?
- Are you sure the layout of sensors you’ve planned will really keep me as safe as possible?
- How long will it take to have it installed once I’ve ordered it?
- How many alarms have you installed in the local area? Can I speak with some of your existing customers?
- How long have you been trading? or if it’s a brand new company How long have you been fitting alarms for?
- What happens if the alarm is triggered off by my pets even though you don’t think it will be?
- If my alarm breaks down, how quickly can you fix it and how much would it cost?
- Who looks after my system if you cease trading?
Remember that your gut feeling is normally right. If you like the person you’re speaking with, you are happy that all of your security needs are met by their plan, and you feel that they care about their customers’ senses of happiness and wellbeing, that might be the person you want to work with on your security now and in the future.