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Window Alarms 101: Everything You Need to Know

Protect your home from burglars with window alarms. Learn what window alarms are, how they work, the common types available, and how to choose and install them in this comprehensive guide.

These days, when people hear anti-burglary alarms, their minds quickly drift to door alarms.

But with about 25 percent of burglars in the US getting in through windows, window alarms are also an essential anti-burglary system that you should add to your home.

Before you get your next window alarm, you must understand:

  • What they are and how they work
  • The common types of window alarms on the market
  • How to choose one for your home
  • How to get the most from them
  • How to install your window alarm
  • Where to buy high-quality window alarms 

This guide will show you all the important stuff about window alarms and how these devices can drastically improve your home security.

What are Window Alarms?

Window alarms are window-mounted security devices designed to report unauthorized entry through a window.

They consist of a sensor and an alarm unit. The sensor triggers the alarm when a window is opened, broken, or tampered with.

The blaring alarm:

  • Scares intruders away from your property
  • Alerts you and your neighbors that something isn't right
  • Where applicable, informs the cops and monitoring service about the threat

Apart from burglary alerts, window alarms can protect your little ones from domestic accidents. For example, if your kid tries to open a window, the siren will go wild, summoning everyone's attention to the threat and preventing them from toppling over.

Although window alarms are efficient, they often work hand-in-hand with door alarms. Installing only anti-burglary alarms for your windows may not be the wisest security decision, as many burglars can still enter your home through the doors.

Aren't Door and Window Alarms the Same Thing?

Not entirely.

Door and window alarm sensors have a common duty—detecting potential intrusion.

But the main difference is in their placement and purpose

Door alarm sensors are usually placed on the door frame while the magnet sits on the door itself, or vice versa. 

For window alarms, the sensors are installed on the window frame and the magnet on the window itself, or vice versa. Glass break sensors are mounted directly on the glass.

Door alarms detect unwanted entry through doors, while window alarms detect unwanted entry through windows.

Also, since windows have more shapes and sizes than doors, window alarm sensors offer a wider range of flexible designs than door sensors.

Ultimately, door and window alarms are the frontline components of any robust home security system. And if you ask us, the duo always makes a great team.

Common Types of Window Alarms

All window alarms have one primary function—deter unauthorized entry. However, they are categorized differently based on their features and working mechanisms. Let’s examine some of the common categories.

Magnetic Window Alarms

Magnetic window alarms use magnetism to detect when your window is opened.

They consist of two parts:

  • A magnetic contact
  • A sensor

The magnetic contact is usually mounted on the window frame while the sensor sits on the window pane. When the window opens, the magnet-sensor contact breaks, activating the siren.

Over time, older magnetic sensors were becoming inefficient, as intruders could trick the sensor by placing a “third-party” magnet next to it. By that, the sensor “thinks” the magnetic connection is intact and the window is shut. Then the intruder sneaks in without triggering the alarm.

Thankfully, newer models feature smart technology that can detect and trip the alarm at suspicious magnetic forces and other attempted manipulations.

Magnetic contacts are either:

  • Surface-mounted (visibly installed on the door surface), or
  • Concealed (drilled into the window)

Although concealed sensors are generally more expensive than surface-mounted versions, they offer better protection, as their out-of-sight nature makes them difficult to compromise.

Glass Break Window Alarms

These alarms trip at the sound of shattering glasses.

More recent alarms feature smart technology that can pick up little pressure exerted on the window. They work with a built-in microphone-like feature that detects the sound frequency of vibrations (or, in worst cases, glass breaking) from the window.

Since glass break sensors are highly sensitive to vibrations, they may trigger false alarms caused by harmless interference from activities inside or outside your house.

However, products like ADT and Honeywell offer four-level sensitivity settings to reduce the chances of these false alarms. Their standard adjustment levels include maximum, medium, low, and lowest.

With this feature, you can adjust the sensors to activate the siren only when it detects vibration signals up to a certain frequency or volume that signifies a potential break-in.

Wireless Window Alarms

Wireless window alarms use wireless technology to send and receive signals. This means:

  • No wirings
  • Easy DIY installation
  • No extra professional installation fee
  • Swift connectivity with smart home security systems

Besides the ease of installation, wireless connectivity means you can control the alarm through a smartphone app or a dedicated remote control.

These smart features give you total control over your home security without sacrificing convenience.

Wireless alarms are fast dominating the door and window alarms market. For instance, many big home security companies like Frontpoint offer 100% wireless alarms. However, companies like ADT still offer both wireless and hardwired systems.

Hardwired Window Alarms

If wiring and extra professional installation fees are no big deal for you, hardwired window alarms can offer you an extra sense of security over wireless systems.

  • No worries about poor signals or interference
  • No reconnection issues after a router blips
  • No batteries that need recharging or replacing

That said, each type of window alarm has its strengths and weaknesses. The best alarm for your home will depend on your peculiar security needs, budget, and preferences. 

If you need help choosing a hardwired system for your home, consult a security expert for professional advice.

Integrating Window Alarms With Your Home Security System

Most window alarms work with smart technology that can integrate with other smart home devices and send real-time notifications to your smartphone when the sensor detects a security compromise.

This heads-up lets you quickly get to safety or alert relevant security agencies. 

Far from home? You can quickly contact your neighbors to check on your home or call law enforcement.

It's even more rewarding if you subscribe to a monitoring service. The home security service provider will act swiftly to protect your home, whether you're home or away.

Synchronizing with a smart home security system also comes in handy when your kids are alone at home. For instance, you'll get a notification on your smartphone when your rebellious teen tries to slip out through the bedroom window.

And with your smart home automation, you'll get your thermostat to auto-adjust when the windows are left ajar, thereby saving energy costs.

Choosing the Right Window Alarm (Factors to Consider)

When choosing window alarms, watch out for these factors:


Window alarm sensors are relatively affordable. You'll get decent options for as low as $10, while high-end models cost between $20 and $30 per unit. Brand, quality, and features are typical factors responsible for these price differences.

Take time to compare products, matching the price tags against product features to see which offers the best value for money.

Depending on the size of your home, you may need multiple sensors to cover all hot spots. You may need to adjust your budget for enough sensors to cover every potential entry point to your home. That means if you have five burglary-prone windows, you may spend between $50 to $150 to secure those vulnerable areas.

Power Source/Battery Life

As mentioned, window alarms are wireless or hardwired into your home's electrical system.

While wireless alarms are usually battery-powered, wired systems feed off a central control hub. It's your call to pick one that best suits your needs and budget.

However, insist on a product with long-lasting battery life if you prefer a wireless alarm.


The louder your alarms, the less attractive your home is to criminals.

Blaring alarms send intruders to their hills and alert your neighborhood or local law enforcement authorities to a potential crime.

Super loud alarms, between 85 and 120 dB, are your best bet. This category guarantees sirens that can echo around large properties and even travel far into the neighborhood.

ADT and Vivint are trusted door alarm brands that deliver such super loud sirens.

Ease of Installation

Some window alarms require professional installation; others are specially designed for easy DIY installation. 

So, consider the installation process and decide whether you are comfortable installing it yourself or prefer to hire a professional.

For instance, some products may be cheap but require extra fees for professional installation. In contrast, some more expensive products are dead easy to install.

Home Security System Integration

Do you have an existing home security system, or plan to have one soon? 

If yes, consider a smart window alarm compatible with your system for extra protection and convenience.

SimpliSafe and Xfinity entry sensors are good recommendations in this category. 

Sensitivity Level

Make sure your alarm is sensitive enough to detect unwanted entry attempts but not hypersensitive that it disturbs the neighborhood with false alarms.

Choose a product with adjustable sensitivity. This way, you can modify the sensitivity based on your security needs.

Step-by-Step Window Alarms DIY Installation Guide

To install window alarms, follow these quick, easy steps:

  1. Decide the windows to secure: If you're not securing all your windows (perhaps due to low budget), leave out those visible from the street or those farther from the ground. Hidden and ground-floor windows are burglars' soft targets.
  2. Read the user's manual carefully: Each product has different installation methods. So, follow the instructions in your manufacturer’s guide to ensure the alarm works properly. A poorly-installed alarm is as good as no alarm.
  3. Clean the installation area: Ensure the window and frame are clean, dry, and dirt-free. Remove anything that’ll make the sensor or magnet not stick well on the window or frame. 
  4. Mount the alarm: Most wireless alarms come with adhesive or double-sided tape. Use them to mount the sensor on the window frame and the magnet on the pane. Mount the sensor and magnet close to each other—about an inch apart. Also, ensure the placement doesn't obstruct the window's normal closing and opening.
  5. Test the alarm: Once you install the sensor and magnet, test the alarm and all its features to ensure the sensors/magnet are firmly attached and the alarm system is working correctly.

These steps are mainly for wireless window alarms. Unless you’re tech-savvy, you may need professional installation if you buy a hardwired alarm system.

Quick Tips for Using Window Alarms Effectively

Window alarms can enhance your home security system, but they may fail to detect intrusion if they are not at their best performance. Use these tips to ensure your window alarms work well:

  • Install alarms on all accessible windows, especially ground-floor windows and basement windows.
  • Test your alarms regularly for issues or malfunctions that could make a break-in undetected.
  • Experiment with the sensitivity settings to find the right balance between detecting unwanted entry attempts and avoiding false alarms.
  • Consider integrating the sensor with your home security system to monitor your windows remotely and receive real-time alerts when you're away from home.
  • Place alarm signs or stickers at visible locations, such as on your windows or near entry points, to inform would-be intruders of your home security system.
  • For battery-powered systems, replace batteries regularly. Weak or dead batteries can cause the alarms to fail when needed.

Where to Buy Window Alarms

Here are some of the best places to buy your window alarms:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • ADT
  • SimpliSafe

Compare prices and features to see which system works best for your needs. 

But most importantly, check customer reviews for other users’ experiences with the product. This provides you with first-hand information on the alarm’s strengths and weaknesses to make a well-informed decision for your home security.

Complement Your Home Security With Window Alarms

Window alarms work with door alarms to deter unauthorized entry into your home.

Enabled by magnetic sensors, window alarms detect and scream when they pick up:

  • Movement
  • Pressure
  • Vibrations
  • Sound of shattering glasses 

Remember, window alarms are as essential as door alarms. So, invest in both.

But before you settle for any product, compare the different types and their features. Find one that offers the best value for your money. 

The best window alarm for you will depend on your:

  • Peculiar security needs
  • Lifestyle preferences
  • Budget

If you need further advice or guidance, discuss with our home security expert to guide you on the best window alarm for your home.

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