Driveway alarms as part of a layered approach to home security. Almost all home security systems, products and strategies start their protection at your front door. There is nothing wrong with this approach, but criminals do not just magically appear out of thin air at your front door. They have to approach your property from somewhere else, either on foot, or in a vehicle.
Driveway alarms allow you to extend your protection from your front door to the point where an intruder first enters your property. What are concentric layers of protection, and how does a driveway alarm fit into this strategy? It may be unsettling for some, but the reality is that just about all locks can be picked, your windows can be smashed, and an alarm system can be disabled.
The guiding logic behind designing a security system in concentric layers, is that it creates multiple opportunities for detecting, delaying, or even preventing a burglary from taking place.The ultimate goal being that the sum of the individual security devices, and strategies, will be greater than the individual parts. A driveway alarm is just one more layer of security that you can add to your home that will make it that much safer.
Driveway alarms come in differing configurations, with some having limited security applications, more useful for safety and convenience only. This article will discuss the features that you should be looking for when shopping for a driveway alarm for security purposes, and how best to utilize them.
The two primary types on the market – Almost all called driveway alarms on the market can be placed into one of two groups. There are the buried cable magnetic probe type, and models that utilize infrared motion sensing technology.
Infrared motion sensing alarm technology
If you are considering a driveway alarm for security purposes, and not just for the ability to detect cars driving onto your property, then you should focus only on the models that utilize some sort of motion sensing infrared technology.
The primary strength of infrared motion sensing driveway alarms is that unlike the models that utilize buried magnetic probes, or pressure sensors, and can only detect cars, motion sensing alarms are able to detect humans as well.
Normally comprised of a base unit that is placed somewhere within the home, and the transmitter that gets mounted on the exterior of the home, these security devices allow you to not only monitor your driveway for visitors, but also to safeguard the entire perimeter of your home.
As good as these products are, they do come with a few weaknesses that you need to be aware of before making a purchase. The first issue is that of the wireless signal transmission range between the exterior sensor and the base unit.
The range of a wireless driveway alarm
Manufacturers of these products love to advertise the transmission distances that these products are capable of. Numbers such as 600ft, 1000ft or more are often mentioned. In the strictest sense of the word, they are not lying when they make such claims, but you need to know where these numbers come from.
When a claim is made that a particular wireless driveway alarm can transmit a signal 1000 feet, you should be aware that this figure probably refers to line of site transmission only. It does not take into account real-life issues such as trees, building or power lines, things that will degrade your wireless signal and have a significant impact on the actual coverage that you will be able to achieve.
Often the solution to this problem can be found by using a little creativity when choosing the locations of the transmitter and the receiver. Always keep in mind that structures, walls, and even trees will have a detrimental effect on the effective signal range of these products.
Dealing with false alarms
Another issue is that of false alarms being caused by roaming household pets, or wildlife on your property. Burglars are not the only animals that love to hang around your property. Depending on where you live you may have to contend with deer, possums, raccoons, and a host of other wildlife.
The solution may be a simple matter of positioning the sensors in a location not frequented by animals, or by adjusting the sensitivity of your driveway alarms so that it excludes the smaller four-legged animals, and focuses only on the larger two-legged variety, and the vehicles they use to get around.
Driveway alarms that use buried cable magnetic sensors
The second group of driveway alarms we will be taking a look at are those that utilize in ground buried magnetic sensors designed to detect passing automobiles. They offer rock solid detection rates, with virtually no false alarms, but they do come up short in one important area. They only detect automobiles and nothing else. You could march an army pass one of theses devices, and it would not trigger an alarm.
It is this inability to sense an intruder entering onto your property on foot that limits these types of devices as an effective home security solution.
Unless you are one hundred percent certain that everyone coming onto your property will be in an automobile, you may want to reconsider installing one.
To be fair, not everyone who is in the market for a driveway alarm, has security in mind. There are those living in rural areas that are simply looking for some way of being alerted when they have a visitor on their property. It is in this type of a situation where these devices shine.
Rural homes are normally serviced by a single road or long driveway, so the question of where and how a visitor will probably enter your property has been answered. False alarms caused by wildlife is also a major issue in a rustic setting when using a device that relies on motion sensing technology.
Since they are only designed to sense cars, driveway alarms that use buried probe magnetic sensors turn what may have been a negative in one situation, into a huge positive for those living in a rural setting.
How to get the most out of your driveway alarms
Wouldn’t it be nice if every criminal who decided to pay your home a visit, would only do so in a car, and utilize your driveway. The problem is that criminals have this annoying habit of being unpredictable. It is because of this that some thought needs to be given when installing your driveway alarm sensors.
Crime statistics tell us that the prime points of entry for a burglar are the front door, followed by the main floor windows, and then your rear door. If you are serious about protecting the exterior of your home, this would mean starting with a standard installation of a sensor that covers your driveway, and continues with more motion sensors to cover the areas approaching your front door, the sides, and the rear of your home.
I personally believe that the manufacturers of these products do customers a disservice by simply calling them driveway alarms. Once you accept that they are essentially exterior motion detectors, and that they can be used for so much more than protecting our driveways, it will open up a whole new world of possibilities.
The ultra rich can afford to have private guards patrol and secure the exterior of their homes, the rest of us will have to rely on less expensive, but equally effective security solutions such as driveway alarms.