Intruder alarms

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.

But what exactly is an intruder alarm? How do they work? And what are their main features?

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.

This article will cover:

  1. What are wireless intruder alarms?
  2. What is an intruder alarm panel?
  3. How does an intruder alarm sounder work?
  4. Intruder alarm installation: What do you need to know?

Click on the links above to be taken straight to that section.

Or, read the whole article to gain a detailed understanding of the intruder alarm process, from choosing a device to having it installed.

Alternatively, to compare quotes for business security straight away, simply complete the form at the top of the page.


1. What are 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 cameras, 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 they 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.

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.

What is PIR?

PIR stands for ‘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.


2. What is an intruder alarm panel?

An intruder alarm panel controls the alarm system. You can activate and deactivate the system by entering a series of digits, or by swiping a physical key or fob.

How complex the control panel is will depend on the type of system that it’s connected to – for example, a simple alarm system covering a home business will provide a different a 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.


3. 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.

Intruder alarm sounders can be installed easily, and are powered by batteries (usually AA). They can be a working part of a security system, although it’s also possible to have a fake sounder – much like how it’s possible to have a dummy CCTV camera.

Often available in a range of styles – such as red or white plastic, as well as transparent (so the wiring can be seen) – sounders are another way of sending a deterrent 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 it’s located.

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 available. Radio connections are also a possibility. Sounders use batteries to work (usually AA).

What is Piezo technology?

When researching intruder alarm sounders, you’re likely to come across this term. It 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, and the electrical charge is what generates the electrical effects – in this instance, the alarm sounding.



4. Intruder alarm installation: What do you need to know?

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

However, the type of installation method is likely to be determined by the type of alarm used. Some alarms must be installed by professionals, while others are easy enough to be 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 – the control panel, sensors and sounders, for example – will be connected.

In the UK, the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) is the certifying body for security systems, while the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is the certifying body for the fire and security industries.

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

What are the next steps?

This article has covered how intruder alarm systems work, including the difference between wired and wireless models. We’ve also looked at what some of the key parts do, such as the panel and sounder, and offered advice on how to go about installing an intruder alarm.

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

If you’re ready to compare quotes for business security now, fill in the form at the top of the page.