Don’t leave the stuff in your shed up for grabs. Protect it with our pick of the best shed and garage alarms
We often forget that burglars aren’t only interested in what’s inside our homes; there are some tempting targets outside our main living area. Garages and sheds can contain bikes, power tools, lawn mowers, canoes and camping equipment, while many of us now have outside offices as well, with computers, monitors and printers up for grabs.
We leave these areas alone for long periods, including overnight, yet many of them don’t have effective locks – let alone an alarm. It’s no wonder that we’re always hearing of spates of shed and garage thefts, often involving expensive gear. Doesn’t it make sense to put some security in place?
Padlocks and visible deterrents will get you so far, while security marking your bikes and tools can make them easier to identify and recover, and more difficult for burglars to sell on. Yet nothing beats an alarm, which can both frighten off potential thieves and alert you or your neighbours that something’s amiss.
We’ve reviewed the best ones out there for you, so you can get your stuff protected right away.
READ NEXT: The best home security cameras to buy
Get a free security system quote today
If you’re looking for a complete security package for your home or business, fill in our quick survey below, and we’ll provide a tailor-made quote for externally monitored security that suits you.
How to choose the best alarm for you
Shed and garage alarms scale all the way from budget all-in-one units designed specifically to cover outbuildings, to more sophisticated sensors that work with modern smart security systems. The biggest difference really comes down to how they sound the alarm and whether they also deliver some other kind of alert.
Alarm Only alarms make an unearthly racket unless deactivated within a short period – usually ten to fifteen seconds. They’re usually deactivated by a pin code on the unit or by a remote control fob.
Dialler alarms will also call a phone number when the alarm is triggered, to let you know that something’s up.
Smart alarms and sensors work as part of a smart security system, and can give you an alert via your smartphone. These might also integrate with other security devices, including IP security cameras.
The alarms we’re going to look at are battery-powered and either self-contained or wireless, which makes them a whole lot easier to install.
Can I use an existing security system?
It depends. Smart home systems based on wireless technologies like Z-Wave or Zigbee – or ordinary WiFi have – an obvious problem in that they might not reach out to a shed or garage without. Meanwhile, extending some traditional wired or wireless security systems could be more expensive than it’s worth.
However, there are some security systems that use other wireless technologies and protocols that can reach sheds and garages up to 200m away from the main unit, in which case you can use a door sensor or a motion sensor on your outbuilding and have it working with a main security system in the house.
Motion detector or door/window sensor?
Motion detectors, sometimes called Passive Infrared Sensors (or PIRs), detect the changes in infrared energy that occur when a warm body passes within range of the sensor.
Motion detectors and PIRs are great in that they can cover a big area, including multiple doors and windows, but it’s often hard to get the sensitivity right. If they’re too sensitive, they will activate when something passes by the shed window. If they’re not sensitive enough, they will only detect intruders when they’re nearly close enough to pull the alarm off the wall. The best motion detector systems get the balance right, and will even include ‘pet-safe’ technology so that a dog or cat won’t trigger the alarm, should one get into your shed or garage.
Door and window sensors can be more reliable, but it’s not always possible to fit them to a wooden shed door and doorframe or a garage side door without some modifications.
Is there anything else worth looking out for?
Many of the most affordable shed and garage alarms – particularly those based on motion sensors – integrate the sensor and the siren within one unit. This is fine, as the noise of the alarm going off should be enough to deter most thieves, but there is a risk that the alarm could be pulled from the wall and quickly dismantled or covered before the alarm goes off. With a two-part system, where the sensor and siren are separate, it’s easier to put the siren somewhere less accessible where burglars will struggle to get to it quickly.
It’s also worth checking out how long the alarm delays before going off, and whether there’s any warning pip first. As always, there’s a balance between security and convenience, as a short delay without a warning pip gives any potential burglar less time to locate and deal with the alarm. However, it also makes things challenging for you if you enter the building and fumble for the remote or keypad – or if you wander in without remembering the alarm is armed!
Finally, battery level indicators are a great idea, both on the alarm itself and on any remote keyfobs. Obviously, your alarm won’t be much good once it runs out of juice, but trying to turn off an alarm with a low-battery remote fob isn’t any picnic either. If you use an alarm that comes with more than one remote, try to switch remotes regularly and change the batteries at different times, so that you don’t get stuck with an alarm going off and no remote ready to silence it.
How much do I need to spend?
The cheapest alarm in this roundup is under a tenner, while the most expensive comes in at £270 for a starter kit. You’ll pay more for more sophisticated alarms, greater range or features like smartphone connectivity, but if you just want something that makes a loud noise when someone breaks in through the door, then you can easily find what you need for between £20 and £50.
READ NEXT: The best video doorbells to buy
The best garage and shed alarms you can buy in 2023
1. Yale Intruder Alarm Starter Kit: Best garage and shed alarm you can buy
Price when reviewed: £130 | Check price at Currys Yale is to burglar alarms what Hoover is to vacuum cleaners, so you won’t be surprised to learn that the level of detail on this alarm is impressive – and yet it’s simple to install and use. It works like a traditional burglar alarm in that you set it by typing in the four-digit code and disarm it the same way – or by using the contactless tag. And if you want, it can alert you on your phone when triggered.
It’s got a 200m range, so you can protect your shed(s) and other outbuildings all at the same time and the part-arming feature lets you choose specific zones that you want to alarm. Truth is, this is good enough to be used as a house alarm – and many people do just that – but it’s great for outbuildings too, with a nice big Yale sign that you can put up on your exterior wall to show passers-by that you’ve taken security seriously.
Key specs – Zone control: Yes; Phone call alerts: Yes; Battery-powered or wired: Wired panel, wireless sensors; Volume level: 100dB
2. Kingavon BB-DC102 Motion Sensor Alarm: Best alarm for under £10
Price when reviewed: £6.99 | Check price at Amazon This is cheap – seriously cheap – yet it comes with two remote controls and does its job of making a loud (110 dB) noise if movement is detected from within six metres of your garage or shed. It’s a doddle to install, using the fixings and mounting bracket included and you can it to the exact angle to suit you. You’ll need to buy the four AA batteries for the main unit, although they do include on 12v battery for a remote control, which has a five metre range.
It’s not going to set the world on fire with pioneering features and attention to detail, but it’s simple to set up and loud – what more can you ask for at under a tenner?
Key specs – Zone control: No; Phone call alerts: No; Battery-powered or wired: Battery; Volume level: 110dB
There’s nothing flashy about Yale’s entry-level shed and garage alarm, but it’s easy to fit and thoroughly effective. Fit it to the wall or place it on a shelf and it will activate when detecting movement from anywhere within 12m. Once that happens you’ve got 10 seconds to enter the four-digit pin code, or face 100dB worth of earache.
We would recommend wall-mounting it to make it more awkward to remove in a hurry, particularly as the beep, once armed, makes it easier to track down. Still, the earful once it goes off should be enough to deter most intruders, and it’s good to see a low battery indicator, warning you when it’s time to replace the four AA cells.
Key specs – Zone control: No; Phone call alerts: No; Battery-powered or wired: Battery; Volume level: 100dB
4. Defender Shock Contact Alarm: Best simple door alarm
Price when reviewed: £15 | Check price at Amazon Alarms don’t get much simpler than this basic but effective door alarm. Attach the main unit to the door and the sensor to the frame, and the alarm triggers as soon as they’re separated. What’s more, the alarm also includes a shock sensor, which activates then any powerful vibration is detected, which should deter thieves bashing through the door. Once triggered, you’ve got 15 seconds to key in the four-digit code, or you’re looking at a 130dB earful. The main unit also has a small solar panel which can double the 18-month battery life (provided it gets enough sunlight to work with).
You might want to screw this one to your door and doorframe rather than rely on the adhesive pads supplied, but this one’s easy to fit, easy to use, hassle-free and noisy when you need it. What more could you want from a cheap shed alarm?
Key specs – Zone control: No; Phone call alerts: No; Battery-powered or wired: Battery; Volume level: 130dB
5. Yale IA-320 Sync Smart Home Alarm: Best smart alarm system
Price when reviewed: £199 | Check price at Amazon Yale’s smart alarm starter pack is a great entry-level home alarm, but with a range of up to 200m you can also connect sensors in the shed or garage. The basic pack includes a smart hub and control unit, the siren, two motion detectors, a window/door sensor and a wireless keypad, but you can also get add-on sensors and accessories, including a pet-safe motion detector and a wireless key fob to disarm the alarm. It will also work with Yale’s own smart locks if you have those installed as well.
The big advantage here is that you can manage and monitor the system from Yale’s smartphone app, allowing you to arm and disarm the alarm through your phone or use geo-fencing to arm and disarm it automatically. You can also control it using Alexa or a Google Nest Home device, and it will even integrate with Philips Hue lightbulbs to make it look like you’re in while you’re out. It’s overkill as a garage alarm, but as a smart security system that can reach a shed or garage, it makes a lot of sense.
Key specs – Zone control: Yes; Phone call alerts: Notifications, SMS and email alerts; Battery-powered or wired: Battery; Volume level: 100dB