Let’s face it, crime is on the rise. According to the website, Policy Advice, there are almost three burglaries every minute in the USA, equating to approximately 2.5 million per year. Most of these are opportunity-based theft, meaning they are not planned ahead of time. While many of us do a variety of things to protect our home or office, we often neglect the need or use of a driveway alert kit to provide an extra layer of protection. By monitoring traffic and movement in and out of our driveway, we may get a few extra seconds of advance warning that someone unwanted has entered our property.
In addition to physical security, driveway sensors may provide a layer of benefit for businesses as well. At our offices, we have placed driveway sensors, such as the ERA-DSTX that shoot across entrances to our parking lot. This gives us advanced warning when customers arrive, but also alerts us to deliver trucks so we never miss anything important.
This is an in-depth series of articles to help consumers choose the top driveway alarm system offered at 1800doorbell.com. In the first article, we will review the basics of driveway alarms, what they are, how they work, and the major components of each. The series culminates with recommendations with an overall top choice based on the type of sensor.
Choosing a Driveway Alert Kit
When it comes to choosing a driveway alert kit, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, consider the size of your driveway and the range you’ll need the sensor to cover. While the length of your driveway is important, the terrain and any obstacles are also very important. If you have a lot of trees or bushes, for example, you’ll need a sensor with a longer range so that it can still detect people or animals walking by.
You’ll also want to think about how you want to be alerted when someone or something is near your driveway. Chime sound, flashing light, siren, etc. Choose the method that works best for you and your lifestyle.
Think about what kind of alerts you’d like to receive – visual, auditory, or both. Finally, decide whether you’d prefer a wired or wireless system.
Finally, consider the price of the driveway alert kit. While you may be tempted to choose the cheapest option, keep in mind that cheaper options may not always be the best in terms of quality and performance. It’s important to find a balance between price and quality to get the best product for you. So take some time to consider all of your options before making a decision. The right drive way alert kit will give you peace of mind and help keep your home safe.
What is a driveway alarm?
A driveway alarm is a system that helps to alert you when someone or something enters your driveway. It can be used as a security measure to deter burglars or intruders, or simply to let you know when someone has arrived. There are many different types of driveway alarms available on the market, so it is important to choose one that best suits your needs.
In years past, wireless alerts have gotten a bad rap. In most cases this is because of the wireless range we will discuss below. Things have changed over the last 5-10 years and the systems have improved dramatically as the wireless transmission range has improved while keeping power consumption low.
Wireless products also provide much more versatility. Many of the models on 1800doorbell.com are robust enough to allow you to add different sensor and transmitter types such as push buttons, door alert contacts, motion alert sensors, and more to your kit, as well as additional receivers.
Because of the flexibility, expandability, and increase reliability as technology has improved, we always recommend wireless kits to our customers. We stand by these recommendations by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee on top of the manufacturer’s warranty.
What are the Components of a Driveway Monitoring Kit?
In most cases, a drive way monitoring system consists of two major components. First is the sensor. This is the unit that will detect an object entering the driveway. Since are talking about wireless alert kits in this article, we will also refer to these sensors as transmitters as they will transmit a radio signal from the sensor to the receiving chime unit.
The second component is the chime or receiver. This is the unit that will be placed in your home, office, or shop. It will “listen” for the driveway motion sensor/transmitter to send a signal indicating that someone has arrived and then emit a sound letting you know someone is there. When triggered, it will play some sort of alerting signal, a chime sound in most cases.
What are the different types of driveway alarm Sensors?
When we talk about the types of driveway alarms, we will be discussing the type of sensor or transmitter the driveway alarm kit will use. Much of this will be based on what you want to monitor. There are four main types of driveway alarm sensors we will discuss in this article.
Passive Infrared Driveway Motion Alert Sensors (PIR):
These types of driveway alarm sensors (we often refer to them as driveway motion alerts) are the most common. They work by detecting a change in infrared radiation. Infrared driveway sensors use infrared technology to detect heat emitted by vehicles (animals too). These types of driveway sensors are mounted on a post or wall along the driveway and point across the driveway to shoot a narrow, invisible beam.
They are similar to a door motion sensor you would find in your home alarm system, with the exception that a driveway motion sensor has to be outdoor rated and will typically shoot a more narrow beam across the monitored zone. You don’t want a very wide beam as it tends to pick up false positives more than a narrow beam would.
These types of sensors can be used to detect both people and animals, so depending on your use, terrain, and monitoring objective, that’s a pro or a con. These types of sensors tend to be the most cost-effective form of driveway alarm sensors.
Magnetometer Probe Driveway Alert Sensors:
A magnetometer probe driveway sensor uses a magnetic field to detect vehicles. These types of driveway sensors have a sensing probe that is buried in the ground along or under the driveway.
This probe emits a magnetic field, and as a car drives over the probe, the magnetic field is disturbed and sends a signal to the transmitter which then sends an alert.
Magnet probe driveway sensors are less likely to generate false positives than other types of driveway alerts since it takes a physical object like a car to disturb the magnetic field and trigger an alert. For some, a downside to this type of sensor is that it won’t detect people, animals, etc. These types of sensors tend to be more costly than PIR sensors.
Hose-Style, Pneumatic “Rubber Hose” Driveway Alarm Sensors:
The best way to think of these sensor types is the type of “ding” bell sound you hear when approaching the drive through at a dry cleaner or old-time gas station. These systems have a rubber hose that stretches across the driveway. When a car, truck, or other heavy item rolls over the hose, the change in air pressure inside the hose triggers the sensor to transmit to a receiver.
In most cases, these products have a simple bell on the end that emits a ding sound. However, as will show later, there are now wireless products that give you the best of both worlds, a rubber hose sensor that transmits a radio signal to a remote chime location.
As you are about to see, there are a lot of driveway alert kits on the market. With all these choices it can be confusing and challenging to choose the right one for your needs. This guide will explain the different types available, how they operate, and considerations for making your decision.
Photoelectric Beam Driveway Alarms:
A photoelectric beam driveway alarm uses an infrared light beam to detect movement. This beam shoots across the driveway to another photoelectric sensor or commonly some type of reflector.
When a car, truck, or person breaks the beam by passing between the two elements, it triggers the sensor which sends an alert to the receiver..
Along with rubber hose driveway alarms, these were the first types of sensors on the market. Over the years, these types of “break-beam” alerts have evolved and are much more robust than ones of years past.
Driveway Alarm Receivers:
There are some core features almost all receivers will have, with some having a little more robust offering than others. A great thing about drive way alarm receivers is the ability to add additional receivers to your kit.
All the wireless kits featured on 1800doorbell feature 1 x sensor/transmitter and 1 x receiver). In almost all cases you can add additional receivers from the same brand model line to place receivers throughout your home, office, shop, or warehouse.
The two big differences are plugin receivers versus battery-operated receivers and some that have both options. Below are the three different ERA receivers currently offered on 1800doorbell.com. The receiver on the left is the ERA-DCRX which is a plugin receiver using the supplied cord. In the middle is the ERA-RXPG plugin receiver that plugs directly into a standard wall outlet. On the right is the ERA-VPRX portable door chime receiver with rechargeable batteries and an included charger.
Plugin receivers will plug into a standard wall outlet. As the name entails, battery operated receivers are powered by batteries.
At 1800doorbell.com, we also have some battery operated receivers that are battery powered with the ability to plug them in as well.
An example of this is the ERA-VPRX. This is a portable driveway alarm receiver that uses rechargeable batteries with a 6-7 day standby time. Included with the kit is a wall charger that charges the included battery pack while allowing the receiver to continue to function.
The ERA-DCRX is a desktop receiver with a plug-in transformer, while the ERA-RXPG plugs directly into a standard wall outlet.
The Range of Wireless Driveway Alert Kits:
When we discuss range, it is important to note we are referring to the “line of sight.” This is a distance calculated by math using the electrical components in the transmitter and receiver. Understand that in the real world, a variety of factors will reduce the actual transmission range of alerting kit.
Terrain, interference, and building materials will reduce the overall transmission range of the driveway alarm kit. Where and how you mount the sensor/transmitter, where in your home or office you place the receiver, and what is in between your receiver and transmitter will all play a major role.
For example, we carry the LRA-DR100 Driveway Alarm kit with a range of up to 1,000 ft. While this is a much longer range than you get with some lessor brands, we would not recommend this product for a large office with concrete construction. But if you have an average size home, it will work perfectly fine.
The MURS-BS-KIT is one of the longest-range monitoring kits on the market today with a LOS (line-of-sight) range of several miles. There are some situations where we would 100% recommend this product, like a home with an extremely long driveway, but for an average size home, it’s overkill. It’s much more expensive than the LRA-DR1000 and has a shorter battery life. But when you need something over an extremely long distance, it’s the go-to kit.
Then there are several models and brands that sit somewhere in the middle. We will discuss all of these models a little further down the page.
Driveway Monitoring Kits Features
Finally, the features you need are another deciding factor. Do you need a driveway monitor that will also work as an intruder alert?
In our recommendations below we will cover the features of the specific model, but here we will list some basic to consider
- Wireless range – discussed above, this is the line of sight range of the product
- Alert sensor type
- Battery-powered or plugin
- Can you add more sensors & receivers to the kit
- Volume, volume control
- Visual indicators such as a flashing light, led, or even a strobe
- Outputs: For example, in the Safeguard Supply ERA-DSDCR kit, the receiver features 4 x 12V DC outputs. This allows you to add strobe lights, sirens, fire alarm bells, and buzzers to the receiver to provide visual indicators as well as increase the volume output of the receiver.
- Can the unit integrate with other devices? Both the ERA-DCRX ( the receiver in the ERA-DSDCR kit) and the Dakota Alert RE-4K-PLUS have a C-FORM relay for integration into other devices.
Our Driveway Alert Kit Recommendations
In our next article, we are going to recommend a driveway alarm kit for each sensor type, with a top recommendation. Stay tuned!