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How do Glass Break Sensors Work: Everything you Need to Know

Do you worry about someone breaking into your home through a window? If so, you may want to consider installing a glass break sensor. Also called broken window alarms. These devices are designed to detect the sound of breaking glass and trigger an alarm. They can be incredibly useful components to your home security system. Here's a guide to everything you need to know about glass break sensors. How they work, where to place them, and their effectiveness.

broken window

The science behind glass break sensors

Glass break sensors are divided into two different types: acoustic and shock. Their end goal is the same, to set off an alarm when triggered, but they work in different ways.

We are all familiar with the sound of glass shattering and acoustic glass break sensors work by detecting the distinct, specific frequency created when a glass breaks. These sensors can cover more than one window within a single room, and even a sliding glass door since they work from about twenty feet away. The downside to acoustic glass sensors is that they're more susceptible to false alarms because they can be triggered by loud noises or sounds similar to glass breaking.

On the other hand, shock glass break sensors detect the physical vibrations of the glass shattering. They trigger fewer false alarms than acoustic sensors but, since they have to be physically attached to the window or door, you need to buy one to install in every window or glass door you want to protect, which can get expensive.

How many glass break sensors do I need?

Well, in the case of acoustic glass break sensors, this depends on the size of the room. As I mentioned, acoustic sensors have a range of about twenty feet, so, generally, you'll probably need one in every room you'd like to secure, maybe two for a particularly large room. Where they should be installed depends on the layout and placement of your windows, you should place them strategically so they cover as many windows as possible, maybe on the ceiling or on a wall.

If it's a shock glass break sensor, one in every window or glass door you want to be protected. Since each one will detect the vibrations of a specific window. These can be installed by sticking the sensor directly on the (clean) glass about one inch from the corner of the window.

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Should I add glass breaks to my security system?

Maybe, or maybe not. There are fundamental components in a home security system, regardless of the layout or size of your home. But these add up to one or two lines of defense. For example, if you have a window sensor and an intruder breaks the window, it won't trigger the alarm, because the frame would still be in place, and the two parts of the sensor need to be separated for the alarm to be triggered.

A glass break sensor works as an additional line of defense for your family's safety. If an intruder were to open a window, they would trigger the window sensor, if they broke it to gain entry instead, it would trigger the glass break window. Either way, they won't go undetected.

It's not an absolute must in home security, but it can help secure your home. That way, if for whatever reason one sensor doesn't detect an intruder, there's a backup in place.


Glass-Break Detectors: Pros and Cons

A window opening doesn't necessarily indicate illegal entry into your home, but a window breaking very likely does. In fact, 23% of home break ins happen through a window. It guards you against something that, most of the time, would indicate a robbery or an intruder.

On the other hand, they are susceptible to false alarms and, in the case of a particularly aggressive intruder, may not be enough.

Most agree that it's a good idea to have both window sensors and glass break sensors. This way, you overcome the drawbacks of both, since they cover each other's limitations.

Do I need glass break detection devices?

With no glass break sensor, all an intruder needs to do is smash a window, which won't trigger a window sensor since the two pieces won't be separated. Of course, you may have motion detectors, but these are only useful once the intruder is actually inside your home. A glass break sensor provides an additional layer to keep your home and family safe.

How to Set Up Glass Break Sensors

Once you've decided on which kind of sensor you want, it's time to install them:

  1. Think like an intruder. Which windows are more easily accessible from the outside? Usually, these are the windows on the ground floor and basement level. If you have a large tree for example that's near one of your upstairs windows, consider protecting that one as well.
  2. Think about the distribution. If you're using shock sensors it's easy enough, there should be a sensor in every window you want to protect. But if you're using an acoustic sensor it's a little more complicated. Try to place them on a spot where they cover as many windows as possible. Start with rooms that have multiple windows and keep in mind that the range of an acoustic glass break sensor is approximately twenty feet. Don't install it on the same wall as the windows and make sure it's within range of your control panel. If you're not sure about this step, you might want to consider professional installation.
  3. Finally, install your sensors in the chosen locations. Clean and dry the surface you're using beforehand and simply stick them on with the adhesive pad included.

With a glass break sensor, you're one step closer to having your home as safe as possible. They're an excellent addition to your home security system.

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