Driveway Alarm

Knowing when someone has entered your property is your first line of defense.  Whether that person is a burglar or just the mailman, a driveway alarm will immediately alert you to their presence.  These handy devices are one of the least expensive and most useful security options available today.

What Are They And How Do They Work?

Even though there are a few different types to choose from all driveway alarm systems use the same basic principles.  These are not alarms which require any codes or that automatically dial a security company or the police. Instead, they rely on one of several types of sensors that are installed near your driveway.  When the sensor is triggered it sends a signal to a linked receiver you keep inside your home and an alarm is sounded.

The type of tone which is emitted and volume of the alarm can be adjusted to suit your preferences and needs. Depending on the brand and model you choose there may be one or two tones while some offer up to thirty. Others may also feature programmable voice messages.

Not all, but the vast majority of units are actually wireless, so the outdoor sensor works on batteries while the indoor receiver can work on both batteries or be plugged into an outlet. Even if the model you are looking at is not specifically advertised as a wireless driveway alarm system it most likely is. Some units are even solar powered so you won’t even have to change batteries every few months.

Driveway Alarm

Each unit has its own has its own maximum effective distance for how far away the receiver can be used and how close or far away the sensor can detect an object.  This will vary, will some are more suited for situations where your driveway is closer to your house others are specifically made to function as long distance driveway alarms.  And while many of these can reach very far distances in general the more obstacles such as walls that the signal has to pass through to reach the receiver the shorter that distance will be.

As an early warning system driveway alarms as a whole offer many benefits such as:

Security Without The Cost

Driveway alarms give you the ability to monitor movement in or out of your property without having to spend thousands of dollars. In fact while some are a few hundred dollars in price a large number are much cheaper.  It depends on what type and brand you choose.  In purchasing one you won’t have to pay any installation fees either since all can be installed easily by you.

Driveway Alarm


They Give You Time

It’s always nice to have a little time before someone is waiting impatiently at your door.  A driveway alarm system will let you use that extra bit of time from when they enter your driveway and the alarm is sounded until they reach your door to get ready, straighten up, grab the pooch, or go out greet them (depending on who it is of course).  Alternatively if it is a criminal your alarm will give you the time to call the police.

No More Missed Packages, Pizzas,  Or Guests

Nothing is more frustrating than missing the delivery man or guests when you were actually home in the first place.  Whether you’re doing in work in a home office on the other side of the house, fixing something in the garage or basement, or just happened to doze off for a quick nap often times it can be difficult to hear someone at the door or outside your house.  A driveway alarm mounted next to the driveway or front walk will let you know it’s time to head for the door.

Excellent For Those Who Are Hard Of Hearing

Since they have multiple volume settings they can be adjusted so that people who are hard of hearing will have no problem knowing someone has arrived as well. For this reason driveway alarm systems are actually a very popular, functional, and much appreciated gift for parents and grandparents who don’t have the hearing they used to.


Driveway Alarm

Types Of Alarms

While they all detect motion there are a few different technologies that can be used to do so. The one you choose will depend on your preferences, location, and exactly what you will use your alarm for.

Infrared Driveway Alarms

This is by far the most common and inexpensive option.  They use what is called PIR or passive infrared sensors.  That means that unlike other types of motion detector sensors they do not send out or emit any type of waves or energy and detect changes in them. Instead they simply determine movement by looking for rapid changes in the amount of infrared energy (heat) they see. For this reason they will pick up the movement not only of cars but humans and animals as well.

Like all other types their sensors can use batteries or solar power while the receiver can use batteries or be plugged into an outlet.  While they are designed for the driveway in mind since they are portable and easily installed just about anywhere these motion sensors can actually amazingly versatile.  From garden sheds or garages that house expensive tools, vehicles, equipment and supplies to the backdoor or yard they can be mounted in almost any location to let you know when someone is trespassing whether day or night.  By using multiple sensors strategically placed around your property you can be alerted when there is any movement anywhere.  Some models allow you to even have different tones for different zones so you can instantly recognize where that movement is.

Driveway Alarm

Some people choose to use infrared driveway alarms inside their homes as well often facing the front door, stairwell, or other choke point in the house where an intruder is likely to pass through. They are turned on after locking up for the night and turned off in the morning. Some models let do this via remote from your bedroom.  Using them inside can also be a really easy way to keep teens from sneaking out, monitor what time they “really,” come home at night, and prevent late night video game sessions on school nights.  Placing a sensor with a view of the stairs usually is the easiest method for accomplishing this, depending on the layout of your house.

Using one in the driveway of a business is a smart idea as well. Of course since they work indoors too by mounting one on the wall of a business busy employees or owners who may be somewhere else in the shop will quickly know it’s time to head to the front and attend to a customer’s needs.  This can also cut down on theft and customer loss since there will always be someone to greet them.

Driveway Alarm

Because infrared detects rapid changes in heat, sensors will be triggered by animals. If this is something you want to avoid be sure to mount your sensors higher up and facing an area where there will be as little traffic by nature or pets as possible. You may also want to consider a magnetic unit.

While many homeowners setup their system so that it purposely does not get set off by critters like squirrels, birds, or chipmunks  by installing them near your garden or garbage cans they  be used to catch pesky wildlife in the act of searching for leftovers or using your garden as a buffet.  Many pet owners install them above their dog or cat door so that they will be aware when they come inside for the night. Alternatively they can be used as to let you know when your naughty pet has gotten into a room or area that they should not be in or when the neighbor’s pets have gotten into your yard. The ability to detect critters and humans plus the fact that they can be portable when using batteries means infrared units can be employed when camping or traveling too.

Like with all types of security equipment purchasing from a reliable brand is always smart since your safety may depend on the quality of your unit.  Dakota, 1byone, Swann, and Chamberlain driveway alarm systems are all top-notch.  Optex is another very highly trusted company. Guardline driveway alarms too are a phenomenal brand particularly if you are looking to use an unlimited number of sensors to make sure your entire property is being monitored.

Driveway Alarm


Magnetic Driveway Alarms

Different from infrared units these use an electromagnetic sensor buried underground that is connected to a transmitter above. When a car enters through the sensor’s electromagnetic field the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver and the alarm is sounded.  The sensor’s electromagnetic field detects large metallic objects so these systems can only be set off by vehicles not humans, animals, or other moving non-metallic objects.

Magnetic types can make a better choice than infrared for some situations.  For example, if you have children or pets that play in the area the unit is installed an infrared driveway alarm would constantly be set off and could get pretty annoying very quickly. Many models make excellent long range driveway alarms since they can transmit to receiver up to a thousand feet away. Also for those who live in more rural areas you won’t have to deal with frequent  late night alarms from the local wildlife passing through, or false alarms activated by  trees blowing in the wind which can many times also be the case with infrared.

Driveway Alarm

Yet another reason many homeowners choose to go with a magnetic unit is that they are usually more discreet.  You won’t see any flashing lights on these and most visitors will have no clue it’s even there, which if you are using it for security is obviously very important.  Of course magnetic driveway alarms are not just ideal for the driveways of homes but for businesses too. Businesses which may have you working in another room, a studio, garage, or shop, while you are waiting for customers are all good candidates for one.

As with other types the transmitters use batteries but can also be solar powered.  Be sure to remember not to bury your sensor near any large metallic objects and not so close to the road that it may pick up vehicles which are only passing.  There are a few very reliable brands that always get very high ratings and reviews.  Mighty Mule, Safety Technology International, and Dakota driveway alarms are all well-known consumer favorites.

Driveway Alarm

Reflective Beam Sensors

Other than infrared and magnetic systems there is one more option that you could use.  Reflective beam sensors while not always marketed specifically as driveway alarms since they have many other uses, can also get the job done.   This type has a transmitter which emits an infrared beam to a reflector on the other side of your driveway that in turn reflects it back. This beams is invisible to the naked eye of course and if is broken by a vehicle, human, or animal passing through it can be used to sound an alarm. These too can be solar powered.

Different from other types, these sometimes are wireless and sometimes not, it simply depends on the one you choose.  Also because they can be used for other tasks such as a parking indicator, or a sensor to open gates or garages they may not include a speaker with a chime as not everyone purchasing one will be using it for this purpose.  However this gives you the option of hooking them up to doorbells, outdoor lights, speakers and more.  With even minimal skills these can therefore make a fantastic DIY driveway alarm that you attach to the method of alert you choose. Dakota and Seco-Larm are two of the best brands for this variety.

Driveway Alarm

Choosing the best driveway alarm for your home or business is pretty simple. Pick the technology which most suits your needs and location, and be sure to stick to top brands. By doing so you will be ensuring that you and your family will be quickly alerted and have the time to respond accordingly whenever you have guests, both wanted and unwanted.

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