How Does Smart Burglar Alarm Systems Work?

How do smart burglar alarm systems work

Any smart burglar alarm system offer components that work together in a seamless environment and can be manipulated with smart phones using custom settings.

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How smart burglar alarms communicate

Bridging the gap between your phone and alarm

Alarm systems are the mainstay for home security nowadays. Gone are the days when you could simply lock your doors and sleep peacefully at night – not having to think about every single thing you own while you lay in bed. Crime rates have gone high exponentially, and that is because, in this modern world, burglars are adopting modern tactics as well, much like a microorganism gaining resistance to a certain type of antibiotic. Alarm systems keep your house safe while you sleep or when you’re away – it’s like owning a watchdog, just virtual and one that doesn’t keep you up all night.

Alarm systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most alarm systems work by detecting a breach in the security, sending the report to a Central Monitoring Station (CMS), and, at the same time, alerting you so that you know when it’s time to act.

The signal breach and the subsequent report is sent to the monitoring station, and ultimately to your phone app as well, via four major types of communication:

  • Traditional phone lines – like the landlines in your house.
  • Cellular signals – like the signals used by your mobile phone when you’re texting someone
  • VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) – sending analog audio signals via the internet
  • And the Internet – the good old DSL, wired, or wireless internet connection in your home.

All of these communication methods have their pros and cons – but security companies weigh these against each other to identify which method holds authority over the authors.

Understanding a smart burglar alarm

The anatomy of your smart burglar alarm

Coming to these modes of communication, first, it is imperative to understand what do we mean by these communications? And what exactly do they communicate? A simple way to visualize the work of an alarm system is to systemically go through the components which make up an alarm system. Any alarm system consists of these basic components:

  • A control panel – the mastermind of the system, much like a CPU to your computer setup.
  • A set of cameras – these can record and live stream both, depending on the type used.
  • Door and window sensors – these detect a breach when windows and doors are opened.
  • Motion sensors – These detect movement in open spaces.
  • An alarm/siren – to startle the burglar and to alert you as well.

The sensors used are the main tools that set off the alarm cascade. These are placed in a way that completes the circuit. Whenever there is a breach in the circuit, the sensors alert the control panel. Control panel, in turn, analyses the signal and sends out different commands to multiple components.

It is here that these signals take their respective routes through different media discussed above which will be covered in detail as we move along.

These signals are sent to a central monitoring station (which is basically the backend of the security company that sold you the alarm), as well as your mobile device, and in some cases can also alert the local authorities – for example, the police or the fire department. The whole system sounds very intricate but it is rather simple if you break it down: A stimulus – a signal through a specified route – and an output, it’s that simple.

Burglar alarm installation cost

Find out more about the installation process, and the costs, by visiting our guide for burglar alarm installation.

 The routes are taken by the signal generated - How and where does the signal travel?

Coming back to the routes a signal can take, as mentioned above, there are basically 4 ways through which a signal is transmitted. A wired smart burglar alarm system’ control panel – as the name suggests – uses wire to communicate with the CMS. These are generally copper wires used by your good old fashioned landline phone. If you own a landline you’ll have a better understanding of this system. This system is reliable as the wiring is usually not susceptible to power outages. These also work fine under mild to moderate haphazard weather conditions. However, these systems are on their way to become outdated because of their drawbacks.

Consider this: a burglar creeps up onto your house and cuts the phone line, and all your security is rendered helpless. Your alarm might still go off – but the signal cannot be sent to the CMS and, thus, there won’t be the kind of outcome you expected.

Other systems include using the internet and the VoIP routes for signal communication. Using a burglar alarm kit with an internet module installed is a great way to ensure your control over your security system from wherever you are!

A VoIP essentially sends voice signals to the CMS by turning them into digital signals. Both these systems are great but not without their drawbacks. An internet enabled alarm system is helpless against power outages and bad internet reception of course, and most companies providing the VoIP system compress the signal being transmitted which can be troublesome unless you have a dedicated channel.

An alarm using cellular technology to send signals is a better way to ensure the quality of signal transmission and, in turn, the effectiveness of your security system. Cellular signals used here are analogous to the ones used by your cell phone when you text someone. These are immune to power outages as the wireless alarm system usually has its own battery and the cellular signals can still be transmitted.

Many modern smart burglar alarm systems send their signals via cellular communication because of its reliability and speed. Smart Burglar alarms using this technology are immune to line-cuts and power outages and thus prove to be very reliable, albeit not without their cons. Signal transmission through the cellular networks can be disrupted by jammers which leaves a potential opening for the opportunists. These signals can also be disrupted by your electrical appliances using radio waves such as your microwave oven or your television set.

So many options - What to choose?

All these modes of communication are used in alarm systems of the modern world, with some prevailing over others. And they all provide a means for you to stay updated by connecting your alarm module to your phone. However, they all have different ways and fulfill slightly different criteria, thus, one should be meticulous of their specific needs when choosing an alarm system for their homes.


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