Simple to install and just as effective as traditional alarms, here’s our guide to the best wireless security alarms
The world has likely never been safer than it is today – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t secure our homes with one of the best wireless alarm systems. Not when it’s so easy and affordable to do so.
An internet-based security camera, sending notifications to your phone, is the best way to gather evidence after a break-in. But, by then, it’s too late. What you need is a proper alarm that makes a racket as soon as someone breaks in.
There are several solutions to choose from, but most are expensive and require a wired installation. We’ve dug out some far more practical options: wireless alarm systems that send images and videos directly to your phone via Wi-Fi. All you need is a decent signal that reaches all areas of your property – and possibly a screwdriver.
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How to choose the best wireless alarm system for you
How do burglar alarms work?
The best security systems incorporate one or more cameras, a recording facility, a clutch of door and motion sensors and a loud siren box. Some sirens are integrated within the system’s control hub, while others are fixed to an outside wall. Each has its benefits. Internal sirens are often in close proximity to the intruder, which makes staying in the house very uncomfortable; external sirens are better at attracting your neighbours’ attention.
Window and door sensors are the most reliable option when it comes to detecting unauthorised entry as they won’t be triggered unless a window or door is opened. We would suggest fitting them to as many potential entry points as you can.
Motion sensors are also effective at monitoring an empty home, but can easily be triggered by pets, bright sunlight and large insects. That’s why using motion sensors alone isn’t advisable. You will often receive more notifications with a motion sensor than you would from a window sensor – and if you receive too many, it’s tempting to shut down the whole system, which rather misses the point.
Most sensors can trigger a siren. If you decide to head down this route, be careful where you position them. Identify locations where you will minimise the number of false reports to avoid disturbing your neighbours and thoroughly test the system before you leave it for the first time.
How to install your wireless alarm system
Closed-circuit, wired security systems, which don’t require batteries or Wi-Fi, are easier to maintain long-term. This convenience is offset by the fact that they normally require expert installation, metres of cable fixed along your skirting boards and possibly a few holes in your walls for good measure.
Contrast this with a wireless setup. The sensors themselves are all battery-powered and last for ages in normal use. In most cases, the sensors are attached using tough sticky tape, which is so secure it often removes paper or paint if you try to peel it away.
Certain security cameras, such as those from Arlo, give you a choice of mains or battery operation. Opting for batteries gives you total freedom when it comes to positioning each one, just as long as it’s within range of your router. Don’t forget you will need to recharge the batteries every few months, though – and sometimes every few weeks.
Help, my router’s run out of ports!
Many Wi-Fi-enabled devices still require a control hub, which usually connects to your router using an Ethernet cable. If you’ve already connected a voice assistant, smart heating and other wired devices, and run out of ports, don’t panic. With an inexpensive network switch, sometimes sold as an “Ethernet hub”, you can add up to 48 additional ports, each of which will behave as though it was a native part of your router. Netgear produces a reliable and easy-to-use range of switches for both home and office use.
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Best wireless alarm systems you can buy in 2023
1. Yale Sync Smart Home Alarm (Family Kit): Best comprehensive mid-priced wireless sensor system
Price: £245 | Buy now from Toolstation The sensor-based Yale Sync includes a pair of passive infrared motion sensors (PIRs), a single window or door sensor (you can buy more online) and a fixed keypad to arm or disarm the system. If it spots an intruder, the whole house will know about it, courtesy of the 105dB, battery-driven sensor. This is bright yellow and sits on the front of your house to scare away would-be intruders.
The whole system communicates through a bundled Wi-Fi smart hub, which has a whopping 200m range. So far, so good.
Setup takes longer than for any of the others on test, but that’s partly because you need to mount the siren on an outside wall. Setting up the Wi-Fi using the Yale app is relatively fuss-free, but you will need to work through several daunting steps to get everything synced. Our advice is to follow the app’s directions carefully and refer to the, admittedly baffling, pictogram manual.
Yale Sync features full app-based control, a geolocation feature that reminds you to set the alarm when leaving and custom integration with both Amazon Echo and Philips Hue. It will send mobile alerts when the system detects an intruder and fire off the siren if necessary. As its smart hub’s range extends to around 200m, it can also protect outbuildings, but bear in mind that pets and wildlife will trigger false alarms. These can be silenced from the app should a notification pop up when you’re out of the house.
If you’re looking for a complete security system – and one which, according to user reviews, is remarkably reliable – this is the system for you.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: Yes; Motion sensor: Yes; Camera: Optional; Siren: Yes (outdoor); Siren volume: 105dB; Subscription: Free
2. Mînut: Best simple and affordable home-guard system
Price: From £120 | Buy now from Mînut While most wireless alarm systems incorporate door, window and motion sensors and even a camera or two, this ingenious, keenly priced wireless system uses a bank of integrated sensors to detect temperature, motion, sound and humidity in areas up to 25 metres square. Comprising a single white 8.5cm button-shaped unit that you stick on the ceiling or wall, there is arguably no easier home alarm system to install. Simply charge it up, locate it in an area of your choice, download the Mînut app (iOS and Android) and follow the instructions.
From a security point of view, the Mînut will detect the body temperature and motion of anyone passing by and immediately alert the owner via the app. If set, the unit will also activate its loud built-in 85dB siren.
The Mînut also monitors sound levels in the home. If it hears a window break or a sound that carries on for some time, it will send an alert to your phone. It can also detect the sound of any smoke or carbon monoxide alarms nearby that may be out of earshot and send you a warning or sound the siren.
The humidity sensor is quite handy, too, since it constantly monitors the air in the room, notifying the user before the possible onset of mould. Add a nightlight that turns on as you pass by and you have one very clever piece of scientific kit that covers a lot of bases.
The Mînut comes with three levels of subscription – Standard for multiple users, Pro for property management, and Enterprise for tailored solutions.
If you’re in the market for an effective alarm system that’s staggeringly easy to install and use, make this product your first port of call. Aside from providing a decent level of security in the home, it’s also a perfect solution for garages, outhouses, garden cabins and sheds – indeed anywhere within range of your home’s Wi-Fi router.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: No; Motion sensor: Yes; Camera: No; Siren: Yes; Siren volume: 85dB; Subscription: £10/mth, £15/mth
3. Amazon Ring Alarm 5 Piece Kit: Best smart security
Price: £220 | Buy now from Amazon The Amazon Ring Alarm kit is the pinnacle of smart wireless alarm systems. Available as five-, seven-, nine- or ten-piece kits, you can tailor your security setup depending on the size of your home.
The basic five-piece kit comes with the base station, keypad, motion detector, contact sensor and range extender. The larger kits don’t add any new accessories, but increase the number of sensors you receive, with the ten-piece including four contact sensors and three motion detectors.
Smart functionality allows you to receive notifications on your phone whenever someone enters a room, opens a window or sets off the siren. The kit also works with selected Alexa devices to enable voice control of the system and can be combined with other Ring devices, all of which can be controlled via the Ring app.
For an extra £8/mth, there’s the option of joining the Ring Protect Plus plan, which provides 3G backup in case of an internet outage in your home in addition to Assisted Monitoring, which will call three emergency contacts in the event of the alarm going off.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: Yes; Motion sensor: Yes; Camera: Optional; Siren: Yes; Siren volume: 104dB; Subscription: £8/mth
4. Arlo Pro 3: Best camera-based wireless alarm system
Price: £357 | Buy now from Amazon Arlo’s latest camera-based wireless system is exceptional, which is just as well when you consider the price.
The system we received came with an Ethernet-connected base station and pair of battery-powered weatherproof cameras that can be sited anywhere within range of your Wi-Fi connection. The system is also available in camera packs of three and four.
Unlike many rivals, which continuously stream live video, the Arlo camera spends most of its time on standby, watching out for movement. The benefit of this is obvious since it reduces power consumption and goes a long way to helping the batteries keep their charge for a few weeks at a time.
When a camera’s motion sensor is triggered, it starts recording before sending a notification to your phone. All captured footage is automatically saved to Arlo’s free cloud servers, from which it can be retrieved over the next seven days. If you wish to take advantage of everything this system has to offer – including delivery package detection – you will need to pay for either a Premier or Elite subscription. Otherwise the free subscription is perfectly acceptable for most users.
With this new model you can also configure a series of detection zones – which reduces the likelihood of pets triggering an alert – and set it to turn on the camera’s bright LED light whenever it detects movement nearby. For added security, each camera also comes with its own built-in siren. Granted, the siren is low in volume but in the dead of night it should be loud enough to scare off an intruder. You can also nominate a neighbour who will receive an alert on their phone.
The Arlo Pro 3 cameras are beautifully designed, weatherproof and small enough to remain discreet. However, they should be mounted well out of arm’s reach because they are very expensive to replace. The cameras offer very sharp 1080p and 2K streaming with pinch-to-zoom, automatic night vision, three fields of view – 110, 125 and 160 degrees – and even two-way voice communication.
If you’re after an extremely practical and easy-to-install security camera system with siren and cloud storage capabilities – and you have the financial clout – then the Arlo Pro 3 is the bee’s knees.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: No; Motion sensor: Yes (on camera); Camera: Yes; Siren: Yes (on camera); Siren volume: Not stated; Subscription: Free, £8 and £12/mth
5. SimpliSafe – The Windsor: Best complete security system for peace of mind
Price: £490 | Buy now from SimpliSafe Available in six differently priced kits (from Starter to Build My System), this commendable app-connected wireless home security system provides full protection on many fronts. Depending on what package you choose, it’s capable of covering a multitude of emergency situations, including smoke, flooding, freezing and breaking glass detection.
We received a custom pack replete with a full gamut of sensors and even a panic button, but we will concentrate on the Windsor kit, which comes with SimpliSafe’s attractive-looking Base Station (with built-in 95dB alarm), a SimpliCam camera monitor, a backlit keypad, a key fob that can activate or deactivate the system from a keyring (you’re given 60 seconds to leave the premises), five entry sensors, two motion sensors and a 105dB auxiliary siren to scare the bejeesus out of intruders.
SimpliSafe’s Motion Sensor is cleverly configured to pick up the unique heat signatures of humans so it should theoretically ignore pets. The SimpliCam, meanwhile, provides a 120-degree field of view, although its resolution is just 720p. It does, however, feature motion detection and night vision.
Setting up the SimpliSafe system is refreshingly easy: just plug in the Base Station, place it on a table and reach for the battery-powered keypad, which lets you connect the Base Station to your Wi-Fi and set up each sensor in turn via a single tap of a button. Now place the camera and the battery-powered window, door and motion sensors in strategic areas around the home and you’re all set. The accompanying Android/iOS app is really comprehensive and allows you to receive alerts and make further adjustments to the system.
For complete peace of mind, you’re invited at check out to opt for a monthly contract-free subscription, which connects your home to a monitoring service and, if required, the police. At £13/mth, the Pro subscription is great value and provides 24/7 live alarm monitoring by a professional security company, even if your internet is down. The Pro Premium (£20/mth), meanwhile, turns the home into Fort Knox with full professional monitoring, unlimited camera recording and even police dispatch. The first month is free for both subscriptions.
If you’re in the market for a comprehensive wireless home security system that can be easily tailored to your needs, put this one near the top of your shopping list. It’s easy to install, seemingly very reliable and a doddle to use.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: Yes; Motion sensor: Yes; Camera: Yes; Siren: Yes (two indoor units); Siren volume: 95dB and 105dB; Subscription: £13 and £20/mth
6. Netatmo Smart Alarm System: Best camera and sensor system with face recognition
Price: £320 | Buy now from Netatmo This smart wireless home security camera system is made up of three separate packages – camera, three sensors and a siren – so you can purchase the items individually or go for the full monty. The camera is one of the prettiest looking on the market and it’s smart, too, because it features face recognition. This means it recognises familiar faces and doesn’t send off an email or text alert every time it spots something moving in front of its sensor. It takes a few days for the system to learn individual faces but thereafter it works surprisingly well and really does reduce the chances of annoying false positive notifications every time someone in the household walks by.
The three smart door and window sensors, meanwhile, are sensitive enough to detect even the smallest of vibrations – like someone testing a window frame – before alerting the user or sounding the siren. And speaking of sirens, this one makes an almighty 110dB racket whenever either the camera or sensors are triggered. Further functionality includes automatic arming and disarming every time you leave and return.
It must be said that the Netatmo is a bit fiddly to set up and the app is quite complicated to get a handle on, but in the main this is an effective system that’s a wee bit smarter than much of the opposition. It’s also mercifully free of any subscription charges.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: Yes; Motion sensor: Yes (on Camera); Camera: Yes; Siren: Yes; Siren volume: 110dB; Subscription: Not required
7. Somfy One+ Alarm System: Bestt all-in-one alarm system
Price: £338 | Buy now from Amazon This camera-based alarm system is a doddle to install. It provides 24-hour video surveillance and full app control from wherever you are. Of its two available configurations, we would recommend the One+, which comes with six-hour battery backup in case of power cuts, a special door sensor that detects a forced entry rather than casual opening and a key fob to silence the siren. The fob can also arm or disarm the system without recourse to the app.
Granted, the app takes a while to get used to and isn’t as comprehensive as Arlo’s, but you can at least set the wide-angle camera’s video resolution (it’s 1080p, so go for Full HD if it’s plugged into the mains) and select non-trigger zones using a series of tiny squares. The app also has a panic button to manually activate the alarm. The siren isn’t an ear-splitter, but it will be enough to scare whoever sets it off and it has an anti-tamper mechanism, so will sound if the camera is moved.
The camera housing is very attractive and sports a mechanical shutter, which closes when you disarm the system. This is a neat way of signalling to friends and family that they’re not being spied on. Somfy One+ works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Nest, although for some reason the option to connect our Nest Protect smoke alarm was greyed out and unavailable.
If you’re seeking a no-frills all-in-one security system, the Somfy One+ is an extremely capable – albeit pricey – option that’s easy to use and, we hope, a highly effective solution for keeping undesirables at bay.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: Yes; Motion sensor: No; Camera: Yes; Siren: Yes (indoor); Siren volume: 90dB; Subscription: Not required
8. Hive Window/Door Sensor + Motion Sensor: Best cheap sensor-based system
Price: £28 each | Buy now from Amazon If you already have a Hive-operated central heating system – or any other Hive-activated devices – this is unquestionably the easiest and cheapest way to add a touch of security to your home. If you don’t have a Hive system, you will need to purchase a Hive hub, which retails for £60.
Hive provides two types of security sensor: one for windows and doors, and a motion sensor for mounting on a wall. They’re each bought individually or in packs of three or five and run on a single CR123A battery. This should last several months. The sensors are easy to fit and set up, but it took a while for the Hive hub to locate the door sensor in our tests. The door also needed to be flush with the frame for the magnetic connection between the sensor’s components to align. It’s best to fit the part of the sensor holding the battery on the frame and the magnetic strip on the door or window. If you do it the other way, slamming the door or window can be enough to pop off the cover of the main unit, at which point the battery falls out.
Once in situ, the Hive sensor sends alerts to your phone every time a door or window is opened and closed but, lacking a siren, it can’t do much to scare away intruders. If you have a Hive lighting system, you can set it to turn on the lights when you open the door.
The infrared indoor motion detector is a bit more fiddly to set up, as it needs to be sited away from both direct sunlight and anywhere pets might pass by. The sensor has a range of around 5m, a vertical field of view of 82 degrees and a horizontal field of view of 94 degrees.
This setup isn’t as efficient as a proper siren alarm system such as the Yale Sync Smart, but it’s perfectly adequate if you only want to receive an alert if someone enters the house. In that respect, it’s the best budget buy.
Key specs – Window/door sensor: Yes; Motion sensor: Yes; Camera: Optional; Siren: No; Siren volume: N/A; Subscription: Not required