How can you build your own Burglar Alarm?

Using a burglar alarm on your premises considerably decreases the risk of burglary. There are many types of home burglar alarm systems, each with different models and features as well as technical specifications. The start-up cost for these devices is generally over $100 and they come with various components and capacities.

Using homemade products is a great method of reducing the costs. We can make up our own alarm system by purchasing the necessary parts and putting them together. Purchasing all the necessary components and putting them together at home makes the same alarm system cheaper.

Basic Parts of Burglar Alarm System

To build a homemade burglar alarm, quite a few components are required. These can be broken into two groups;

1.) Main parts: Parts that are needed for the system to function such as the sensor, control unit and keypad.

2.) Miscellaneous parts such as a screwdriver, pliers, soldering machine, multimeter, screws, and cable for mounting the parts of the house alarm system.

Let’s take a look at the parts mentioned above in more detail.

Keypad or Switches: Keypad or switches are the most important components of the alarm system; these are needed for turning the system on or off, or to adjust various settings. You can buy branded keypads from as little as $30. Examples are 2GIG-PAD1, DSC PK5501ENG, NX-124E.


Main Control Unit: This is the most expensive part of the whole system. With prices starting at $70, the main control units are priced according to their capacities as well as additional features.

Motion Detectors: These are also obviously an important part of the system. These convey motion detection to control unit from a specific region (bedroom, living room, etc.). There are models with various capacities and features. You must use at least one for each room. Starting at $10, motion detectors are a basic component for the homemade alarm system.

Cables: Motion sensors, main control unit, battery, door and window sensors, and keypad are connected to each other with the cables. You need to have different length cables to connect all the sensors.

Telephone Auto Dialer: This is an optional component, calling the phone pre-programmed, if the alarm goes off when you are not at home. Starting at $30, telephone auto dialers can end up being very expensive.

Sirens: This component is also optional. It can be used on the system, if you want the alarm to produce a loud sound inside or outside of the house in the event of a burglary. Starting at $15, sirens have models with higher prices based upon their volume levels and technical features.


Door and Windows Sensors: Sensors are the components that are activated immediately when the doors or windows are forced, or if the burglar tries to enter into the house from these areas. If you want your alarm system to be more comprehensive, you can buy sensors, starting at $10, for each window and door of your house.

Research Details and Calculations

Before installing the alarm system you should do some calculations and make some decisions on a couple of things. Let’s look into them in a bit of detail:

1.) The Number of Rooms or areas to Use: The most important variable that we have to know is the number of rooms and spaces. You should buy the parts after you calculate and decide in which rooms and on what windows you are going to use motion sensors and where to install the main system. Do not forget that you should use at least one sensor for each room and window.

2.) Size of the Rooms: After you count the number of the rooms, you should calculate the size of the rooms so that you know how many motion sensors are required for each room.

Room Size for Alarm Systems

3.) Location of Sensors: You should know where to put the sensors in a room. Motion sensors can scan specific areas according to their capacities so they are generally located on the corner of the rooms to ensure they scan as much of the room as possible. Keep in mind that you have to use more than one motion sensor if the room is square or rectangle. The location of the sensors is important because it defines how long the cables to use should be.

4.) The Location of the Main Control Unit: All the sensors, the keypad, battery and other components are connected to the main control unit so this should be located in a place where potential burglars cannot easily find, and it should also be a pretty central point for the cables.

5.) Fragile Zones: You can use more or stronger motion sensors in rooms with valuables. Although optional, it is recommended for homemade burglar alarm systems.

6.) The Capacity of the System: In light of the above mentioned information, the number of sensors and additional components to be used is calculated. The capacity of the main control unit is defined according to this calculation. The capacity of the main control system is generally preferred to be higher than this calculated value.

Before Setting Up a Burglar Alarm System

Before purchasing all the necessary equipment after the calculations, there are some things that you should know:

a.) Quality of Parts: The quality of the parts you should use is quite important. For example, a sensor you would like to buy for a room of 256 ft2 should scan all around the room. With a sensor of low quality with an inefficient scan, your system cannot work as required.


b.) Price Details: Although it may seem cheaper, homemade burglar alarms have some disadvantages. Examples are: the difficulties incurred during the installation, the high prices of the equipment when purchased individually, visual problems and functionality related problems due to the wrong setup.

c.) Parts Compatibility: Ensure that the components you buy for the alarm correspond with each other. You can choose the parts of the same brand or you can buy these parts if you know the features of the main control unit. For example, if your system works with 12V battery, buying a 6V battery would be folly; or you cannot connect a motion detector with 3 pins to a control unit with 2 pins.

d.) Cable Length: Make sure the cables you will use to connect parts altogether are long enough. Cables lose their ability of transmission and may sometimes have wrong transmissions when they are more than 30m – 98ft. For this reason the location of the main control unit is very important.

e.) Sensor Positions: We told you about how important the mounting position is. Another important issue is the special mounting of these sensors so as to prevent them from shutting down when opened from the back. Window and door entrances are the very first places the sensor must scan. Some advanced sensors have case temper protection and in the event of any interference, the automatic warning system activates.

Steps to Building your own Burglar Alarm

After you buy all the components, do the necessary calculations and preparing all the other devices, you are ready for the set-up.

  • Step 1: Firstly, the motion sensors are mounted to the places specified beforehand according to the calculations.
  • Step 2: If there are any window/door sensors, they are mounted. Incomplete or bad mounting prevents the parts from functioning. In these cases the alarms will not work.
  • Step 3: The main control unit is mounted as described earlier in the article. A metal box with a lock would maintain safety of the control unit.
  • Step 4: The battery system is mounted in accordance with the control unit. It is very important that you have a battery system. With this system the alarm unit still functions in the event of power-cuts. As the battery is heavy, you can mount it in a different location to the control unit, or put it in the control unit box which is mounted appropriately.
  • Step 5: The keypad is mounted on the control panel.
  • Step 6: The motion sensors and the control unit are connected to each other. It is important that the cables do not interfere with the surrounding decor. If possible, run the cables through the walls which is advantageous in terms of both security and visual quality.
  • Step 7: After you are finished with the cables, review all the sensors, cables and screws. If there any wrong connections, they should be corrected. It is suggested that you use a multi-meter while you are checking the missing connections.
  • Step 8: The system should be activated and checked to see if it’s functioning properly. If there are no problems, the sensors on the windows and doors are checked one by one. In case of any problems the connections need to be checked again.
  • Step 9: The auto dialer and other extra modules are connected to the system and checked if they are functioning properly.
  • Step 10: The battery is tested by cutting the electricity.
  • Step 11: A few days are needed for checking the whole system.

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