How Silent Alarms Work

Silent alarms aren't just for bank robberies. Increasingly, they're an attractive option for home security systems. Home owners are learning that supplementing traditional audible alarms with a silent alarm option can increase home security.

Traditionally, home security systems have offered loud, audible alarms that are designed to encourage burglars to flee before neighbors or law enforcement arrive. But some home owners prefer to use a silent alarm that notifies the authorities without alerting any burglars in the home.

The Details of Silent Alarms

Using silent alarm monitoring, you'll have the option to press a panic button to activate the alarm. You may also have a duress code that you can enter. When a silent alarm is tripped, your home security provider will be alerted to the emergency event in your home, and the authorities will be notified and sent to your home.

When using a panic button or duress code, home security systems do not require a follow up phone call or other confirmation to determine whether or not there is a true emergency: you've already told them that's the case. Instead of calling your phone first, your home security monitoring station will immediately pass the alert on to the authorities, saving you valuable moments.

With today's wireless home security options, a panic button can be set up practically anywhere in your home, including in your bedroom. Or, with some systems, you may be able to send out a silent alarm using your smart phone.

Why Some Home Owners Prefer Silent Alarms

Loud, blaring alarms presumably have burglars running out the door as soon as they begin. Of course, this may only scare off amateur burglars, leaving more seasoned pros undeterred -- and potentially more aggressive. And by the time a burglar has fled, they may have already gotten away with stealing valuable items. The alarm can in effect tell a burglar when it's safe to continue looting and when it's time to go. And even worse, you may have few options for finding them and recovering your items once they've gone.

With a silent alarm, a burglar is more likely to stick around -- and this can be a good or a bad thing. If you're home at the time of the burglary, this can be dangerous, as the longer a burglar is in your home, the more of a risk of injury or death you have. But a silent alarm can give burglars a false sense of security, encouraging them to stay and giving authorities more time to arrive at your home to catch them in the act.

Silent alarms also have the advantage of avoiding disabling of the home security system by the burglar. Many burglars have gotten wise to how home security systems work, and they've learned that audible alerts may depend on a confirmation call, or they can disable the system before a follow up signal is sent.

Another advantage of silent alarms: if you've been found by a burglar and he or she has instructed you to turn off your alarm, you can turn off the siren, but use a duress code to alert the authorities. This is an option that can keep you safe during a dangerous situation. Ultimately, a silent alarm can get you help faster if you're in a dangerous, life threatening situation.

Using Both Audible and Silent Alarms

Ideally, a home security system will prevent a burglar from entering your home at all. But if he or she is able to gain access to your home, it's best for them to flee quickly before they are able to take extensive property, cause damage, or inflict injury or death on residents, and a loud, annoying alarm that attracts attention encourages this.

An audible alarm is the best defense for scaring burglars off, but when used in conjunction with a silent alarm, your home will be safer. Having both a silent alarm and an audible alarm gives you options, allowing you to send a duress code if a burglar has disabled your audible alarm, and making it possible for you to press a panic button for help if the burglar has somehow been able to bypass your home security system to gain access to your home.

Photo by Flickr user wackystuff