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Commercial intruder alarm systems

An intruder alarm system offers 24/7 protection against break-ins. Read on to find out how to keep your business safe

An intruder alarm is a key part of a business security system, offering your premises 24/7 protection against potential break-ins, theft, and other attacks.

There are all sorts of options available to you when it comes to protecting your business. And although you may have already decided that you need an intruder alarm for your business, there are still some important questions to ask: for example, what are the best providers or systems available? And what can you expect the costs to be like?

We’ll provide the information you need to help you decide if an intruder alarm system is right for your business, and if so, which type would be most suitable. We’ll also examine how intruder alarms work, which features to look out for, and how the installation process works, as well as how much to budget.

The best intruder alarms at a glance

Intruder alarmBest forPrice
Verisure 3G Control PanelQuick set-up timesPrices available upon request
Secom Wireless Intruder AlarmRetail businesses£795+
ADT Custom systemsPrices available upon request

To compare quotes for business security, simply fill in the form at the top of the page.

How do intruder alarms work?

Intruder alarms work via a series of sensors and detectors that are connected to a control panel. The connection can either be wired or wireless. The control panel is a key component of the system, as this is how the system is activated and communicates. 

Some alarm systems will be bell-only, meaning they only sound upon activation. Others can be monitored remotely from an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), where the alarm is surveyed and activations can be acted upon externally.

How does an intruder alarm sounder work?

An intruder alarm sounder sends an audio alert when activated. It creates a loud sound, with the aim of disorientating the intruders and alerting others to the disturbance. Additional features – such as lighting – may also be available on some devices.

Keeping sounders visible is another way of sending a warning to would-be intruders. Conversely, depending on the style, they can even blend into the surrounding decor. Note that sounders should be placed away from the control panel – otherwise, intruders could know where the latter is located, and use it to shut off your alarm.

Some key questions to ask when choosing a sounder are:

  • Does it need a power supply, and if so, which voltage?
  • How many speakers does the sounder work with? Just one, or more?
  • Is it compatible with your alarm system?

If you have a wireless security system, sounders that operate wirelessly are also available, as are radio connections. Sounders use batteries to work, usually AA.

What is Piezo technology?

When researching intruder alarm sounders, you’re likely to come across this term. Piezo technology refers to the Piezoelectric Effect – the electrical charge that is created from certain materials when mechanical stress is applied to them.

Mechanical stress means the force put upon an object, such as pressing a button, while the electrical charge is what generates the electrical effects – in this instance, the alarm sounding.

Why is an intruder alarm panel important?

An intruder alarm panel is responsible for controlling the alarm system. It’s also the way through which you activate and deactivate the system, often by entering a series of digits, or by swiping a physical key or fob.

Control panels can vary in complexity, depending on the type of system they are connected to. For example, a simple alarm system covering a home business will provide a different level of security compared to multiple sensors protecting a larger premises.

Control panels may be available as part of a system or kit, or individually. They are also battery-powered, with the batteries needing to be changed every three to five years in general.

Types of intruder alarms

In this section, we detail some of the different types of intruder alarms available, looking at what they do, how they are different from other types, which businesses they’re best suited to, and how much they cost.

Wireless intruder alarms

Offering discreet surveillance that’s easy to install, wireless intruder alarms can be used to protect a variety of business premises. They’re available at a range of price points, depending on your business’ requirements and budget.

Wireless intruder alarms are available as either individual alarms or in packs of multiple alarms. The system might also come with a hub or a central unit.

These alarms are connected via wifi, so a strong and reliable internet connection is required. Some systems may be able to work with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, too.

Generally, wireless alarms are set at a higher price point than wired alarms, due to their increased functionality. Installation tends to take about a day, although this will depend on the size and area of the business being covered. See below for more information about intruder alarm installation.

How do wireless intruder alarms work?

Wireless intruder alarms and their sensors are powered by batteries, which need to be changed approximately every two years. There are several different types of sensors available to be used in alarm systems – for example, sensors that can detect glass breaking, or heat from infrared light (this is known as PIR – see below for more information). When the batteries start to run low, the device can become less responsive, although the control panel will alert you of this.

Since wireless alarms are quicker and easier to install than their wired counterparts (which need to be drilled and fixed into place), they can be set up with less disruption to your business. Plus, wireless systems can be expanded and moved easily – you just have to program and connect a new device into the existing set-up, making them ideal for businesses that need a flexible alarm system, quickly.

What is PIR?

PIR refers to a ‘passive infrared’ sensor – its function is to detect infrared light. It’s possible to get sensors that are pet-friendly, so that the sensors aren’t wrongly activated – ideal if you run a business from home, for example.

What else should you know?

When looking for a wireless intruder alarm, you may see alarms offered with either 433MHz or 868MHz. This refers to the frequency band on which they run.

You may want to consider having a security system that runs totally wirelessly, and which includes intruder alarms and CCTV cameras. A system that uses a combination of wired and wireless devices may also be more suitable, depending on your business’ requirements.

Wired intruder alarms

In contrast to wireless systems, wired alarms connect via cables. Although an older technology than wireless and once seen as more reliable, there isn’t much difference in terms of reliability between wired and wireless alarms these days.

Wired systems are more visible, although their batteries don’t have to be changed as often. Wired systems are a good choice if you’ll be based in the same location for the long-term or you own the property, because they’re fixed to that specific premises. 

You might also choose a wired system if a wireless system isn’t viable in your location. 

Bell-only intruder alarms

A bell-only alarm alerts that it’s been activated by sounders, and sometimes flashing lights too. It has to be deactivated manually, meaning a passerby has to notice and act on the alarm, or the potential intruders need to be deterred by the sound of the alarm.

This type of alarm offers more basic protection of your property. It could suit your business if you’re based nearby, such as a home-based business. In contrast, a startup in a busy area with lots of people passing by would suit this type of system too.

Monitored intruder alarms

For more advanced property protection, you could consider a monitored alarm system. With the functions of a bell-only alarm, a monitored alarm also offers external monitoring from an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC). The ARC monitors alarm activity, and can forward incidents to the police if necessary.

If your business is frequently empty, or particularly at-risk of break-ins, then a monitored alarm system could offer you additional security. 

Intruder alarm features

There are a number of features that make up an alarm system. Here, we run through some of the most common ones in more detail.

Control panel

The control panel is the centre of an alarm system – it connects all the devices together, and is how the system is turned on or off. 

Sensors/detectors

This is how movement or other activity is noticed if the sensors are activated while the alarm is on, then it will sound, and if a monitoring service is used, then the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) will be alerted too. Sensors are what triggers the alarm to go off in the case of a potential break-in or other unknown activation.

Siren

The sirens sound when the alarm is activated. In a bells-only or audible system, this may be the only alert method. With a monitored service, the sirens will sound and the ARC will also be notified.

Signs

In addition to the alarm system itself, some alarms will also have signs and stickers that you can place around your premises to act as a further deterrent. This is particularly suitable for businesses that have a more covert alarm system, but still want to show people that the property is protected by an alarm.

The best commercial intruder alarm systems

In this section, we profile some of the best alarm systems for business use, looking at the key features, prices, and who each alarm is best suited to.

Verisure 3G Control Panel: Best for quick set-up times

Verisure states that its 3G Control Panel is the first alarm device that’s entirely portable. The device is also permanently linked to the Verisure ARC, allowing for round-the-clock monitoring. 

In addition to its 3G connection, the control panel also has a microphone, both of which allow Verisure to communicate with a premises. With just a touch of a button, the alarm can be activated or deactivated from the panel.

At the centre of the Verisure alarm system, the control panel can connect to sensors and sirens, amongst other devices. Additional elements that can be connected include a smart key reader, a panic button, and a perimeter detector. This allows you to put together a system that matches your startup’s requirements specifically.

There is also the Verisure mobile app, which offers remote access to the system via your phone. This means you can see images and hear audio of your premises while you’re not there.

ProsCons
- Portable alarm panel
- Remote access via app
- Create your own system
- Installed in 24 hours or quicker
- Wireless system only

If you need to install an alarm system quickly in your property, Verisure could be an ideal choice, with its 24 hours or quicker installation times.

Prices are available upon request.

Secom Wireless Intruder Alarm: Best for retail businesses

Offering a system that’s tailored to each business, Secom can cater for small and large businesses. You can expect 24/7 monitoring, and an ARC that’s NSI Gold approved. 

Secom also trains the engineers who install and maintain its alarms. And on top of that, Secom provides a security consultation, free of charge.

The Secom Wireless Intruder Alarm is a Grade 2 system (for low to medium risk; you can read more about risk assessment and grading of intruder alarm systems on the SSAIB site). 

Also, the following features are available with the Secom Wireless Intruder Alarm:

  • Insurance provider-approved installation
  • Secure radio frequency
  • Focused on small commercial premises
  • Option for GPRS signalling
ProsCons
- NSI Gold ARC
- Grade 2 system
- Free security consultation
- Large scale provider that may overwhelm very small or new startups

If you own a retail business, Secom could provide just what you need, as it’s worked with some of the major retail brands in the UK.

Prices from £795+.

ADT: Best for custom systems

Whether you need a monitoring service that notifies the police, private security, or keyholders only, ADT offers an intruder alarm that can be monitored in different ways. It also offers its own Smart Business app, which allows remote access to the system.

An ADT alarm activation can be signalled with either GPRS or phone line monitoring. When an activation is confirmed, ADT has an average response time of 42 seconds. Support is available 24/7, and the company is NSI Gold approved, too.

Additionally, alarms can be integrated with CCTV cameras, access control, and smoke detectors to create a total security system. Fog systems and panic buttons, amongst others, can be added into the systems as well.

Pros Cons
- NSI Gold organisation
- Choose between police, private security, or keyholder response
- Option to integrate with other elements of security systems
- Could be too much choice for small businesses needing only a basic system

If your business needs an alarm system that can be connected with other security systems, then ADT could be a good fit.

Prices are available upon request.For more information about alarms for your startup, visit our page on commercial alarm systems for small businesses.

Tips for choosing the right intruder alarm system for you

Here, we share some top tips to help you select the best alarm system for your business.

  • Think about flexibility – consider how your startup’s size, nature, and potential expansion will influence security requirements, and select a system that can develop and grow as your business does
  • Assess providers – when reviewing potential suppliers, look out for accreditations from leading certifying bodies in the UK, such as the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB)
  • Match the system to your startup – consider the features needed, as well as if a monitoring service is required, based on the level of security your premises requires
  • Calculate a budget – knowing how much you can afford to spend on a security system will help you understand what types of alarms are available to you, thinking about both upfront and ongoing costs e.g. installation and maintenance

Intruder alarm installation

When it comes to installing an intruder alarm, you essentially have two options: do it yourself, or hire a professional.

However, the method of installation you go with is likely to be determined by the type of alarm used. Some alarms must be installed by professionals, while others are easy enough to set up with a ‘DIY’ approach.

If you opt for professional installation, some questions to consider include:

  • Does the company meet British and international standards?
  • Has the company been approved by a registered body? e.g. NSI or SSAIB
  • Do they provide an assessment of your site?
  • What post-installation support do they provide?

A site assessment should cover important elements of installing your intruder alarm system, such as the location(s) to be covered, as well as how the main components – i.e. the control panel, sensors, and sounders – will be connected.

In the UK, two of the leading certifying bodies for the security services/systems and fire safety/detection industries are the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) and the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).

Depending on the type of alarm, you may be able to install it yourself. Some key points to consider are:

  • Equipment – check if you need any special equipment or tools to set up the system
  • Timeframe – assess the length of time you’ll need to allocate for installation

Intruder alarm installation costs

In general, commercial intruder alarms are offered on a quote by quote basis, so prices depend on each business’ specific requirements. Costs will depend on the level of system your business requires, as well as the features needed, such as monitored response or other security elements.

However, as a rough guide, you could expect prices to start from £700 for installation of a commercial monitored system. 

For more information, read our guide to alarm systems costs.

Intruder alarm maintenance

Intruder alarms need to be maintained, whether that’s by the same company that installed the system or a different provider. Alarms should be maintained once a year, although monitored systems will need at least two services a year. 

Servicing alarms includes checking that the equipment is working properly, and that all necessary connections are in place. Often, maintenance can be conducted as a one-off visit, or as part of an ongoing maintenance contract. 

It’s important to ensure that your alarms are always working. Maintenance visits can help you find out if there are any potential issues with your system, as well as help you avoid any false alarms.

Intruder alarm maintenance costs

How much it will cost to maintain your alarm system depends on the type of device, as well as the complexity of the system. Fees will also differ depending on if you have a maintenance contract, or use one-off call-outs instead.

A one-off maintenance visit could cost in the region of £75-£120, with additional fees for VAT and parts (if relevant).

Maintenance contracts often depend on the alarms, and so tend to be offered on a quote by quote basis. Generally, these contracts are paid on a monthly or yearly basis. Annual fees could be in the region of £95-£155, depending on the level of maintenance cover selected.

Next steps: Compare commercial intruder alarm systems

From reading this article, you’ve learned more about the world of commercial intruder alarm systems. We’ve looked at what some of the key parts of alarm systems do, such as the panel and sounder, and why they’re important. We’ve also offered advice on how to go about installing, and budgeting for, an intruder alarm.

Next, visit our alarm systems costs page for more details about pricing. Or, to learn more about other aspects of business security systems, read our articles on fire alarms and water detectors.

Alternatively, for more information – and to compare quotes for business security based on your specific business requirements – simply complete the form at the top of the page.

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Scarlett Cook attends and reports on many industry events for Startups.co.uk, particularly those relating to communication, equality and diversity in entrepreneurship.

Since joining the team in 2018, she has developed our telephone systems and business mobiles topics as well as ‘how to’ guides, with her work having been referenced by brands such as Hiscox. Previously, she has written for audiences across the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Scarlett Cook
Scarlett Cook

Scarlett writes about a wide range of topics on the site, from business security to digital marketing and EPOS systems. She can also be found writing about diversity and sustainability in business, as well as managing the Just Started profiles.

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