Graded vs ungraded security alarms

Grades are important – they let us know how qualified something is and whether or not we should trust an individual, a business or a product with our money. When it comes to your home security intruder alarms, it’s even more vital to ensure you’re getting quality service from a quality product and, while unbiased reviews can certainly help, a verified grading from a respected standards body is always going to hold more weight.

You can spend all the time in the world researching specs, features and prices but if an arm system is ungraded then you might want to think twice before investing in it.


What do alarm grades mean?

In the UK, all alarm gradings are made by the UK and European Standards on intruder alarms (EN 50131). It’s graded on the ability of the alarm to reliably recognise genuine break-ins and the regularity of false alarms.

Generally speaking, a graded intruder alarm is going to offer you better performance than an ungraded alarm. This is because the components used are generally cheaper. Indeed, many notable companies like Ring are not graded and this is true of most alarms you can install yourself.


What are the different grades?

There are 4 grades defined by the EN 50131 standard. Note that the vast majority of home security systems are grade 1 or 2, with grades 3 and 4 generally used in more industrial situations.

Grade 1 – A basic system protecting the most obvious entry point. Only suitable for homes in low-risk areas housing little value.

Grade 2 – A system that can reliably protect all core entry points and can comfortably resist criminals with a working knowledge of alarm systems. The standard for home security.

Grade 3 – A more sophisticated intruder alarm system suited to larger commercial properties.

Grade 4 – A top-end alarm system that would be found typically in banks, museums and other high-value properties.


How does an alarm get graded?

Alarms will first be graded based on their core feature sets – how fast they arm and disarm and send notifications, etc. They will also ensure the sensors are operational and functional and that the alarm’s signalling is accurate. Anti-tampering tests and environmental tests will then check the durability of the alarm and the grading process will finish by checking the power supply and battery backup as well as the volume, duration and ability to withstand tampering of the siren.


The benefits of a graded alarm

  • A graded alarm has been designed to minimise false alarms caused by insects, pests, and other rogue items such as footballs and flying debris.
  • The components of a graded system are going to meet a higher technical standard and will be designed to last for years rather than months.
  • Graded alarms are generally not vulnerable to smash and crash burglaries where the criminal has up to a minute to find and destroy the alarm before it activates.
  • 24/7 monitoring is available for most graded systems.
  • Your home insurance premiums are going to be reduced significantly if you have a grade home alarm system installed.

The only reason not to go for a graded alarm is the slightly elevated cost. But how much is the safety and security of your family worth to you?