I’ll cut right to the chase: I’ve been pondering wireless alarm systems lately. Ever since my 99 capacities post on Detect, Deter, and Deny Intruders a few weeks back I’ve been thinking that an alarm system is a potential prep item that I’ve overlooked. Sure, we talk about alarm systems as being something you can and should use when times are “normal,” but I don’t see anyone discussing them in a SHTF scenario.
Maybe that’s because it’s a usless prep but maybe not. And, yes, I recognize there are more primitive alarm systems we might utilize such as the beer can tripwire alarm but I say we should utilize technology whenever and wherever we can… it’s kind of like one of those force multipliers Rawles talks so fondly of.
The thing is, my general experience with alarm systems is a throw-back to when I was a latchkey kid and everything was hard wired and needed to be professionally installed. Apparently, the times they are a changin’ and now they have DIY wireless alarm systems that might rival what you can pay to have installed. To be clear, I haven’t yet purchased a wireless alarm system and I’m still not sure if it’s a brilliant idea or not, but let me throw a few things at you…
First, it’s supposed to be a DIY project. Reading some of the various wireless alarm system reviews suggest it’s not that difficult to install but there are a few things to pay attention to; the bottom line is to read the manual thoroughly–for whatever system you purchase–and follow the instructions… yes, guys, that means you. 😉
Second, they’re relatively inexpensive. It seems I can purchase a complete system for around $200, such as the following. Per the description, the system includes 10 door/windows sensors, 3 motion sensors, a siren, 3 remote controllers and more:
That said, there are some systems out there that are quite a bit less expensive but only include a few sensors which I doubt would do much good for any typical home. As for the above reference system, I’m really only interested in the door/window sensors and motion sensors.
No Grid Power
Third, because it’s wireless, that means it runs on batteries–at least the sensors do–which means you don’t need grid power to work the alarm system. Unfortunately, the sensors use an A23 battery (which is about 1/2 the size of a AAA battery) so you would need to stock up on them if you intend to use the system for REALLY long periods of time. Of course, I’m willing to be the batteries last for a long time as it is, since I doubt the manufacturer expects people to be changing batteries every month or two.
The only major problem I see is that you would also need to power the siren and main unit using a small off-grid system. A bit of research on the PiSector website indicates that the base unit draws very little current but needs 220 volts–maybe just for the siren?–so I’m not entirely sure how all that would work for an off-grid setup. I’m sure someone with some electrical knowledge could enlighten me.
Benefits for “Normal” Times
Well, you could use this just like any other alarm system. In fact, these systems can be programmed to call your cell phone (or other numbers) in the event a sensor gets triggered.
Now, What Can You do With The System in a SHTF Scenario?
Well, the fact that most people’s homes are way too large to be watched at all times makes utilizing an alarm system such as this one plausible. Think about your house. How many exterior doors and windows are there? Probably dozens. It might stand to reason that, in a true SHTF scenario, you would cordon off most of the house and choose to occupy one or two main rooms to conserve resources and maybe for defense. That being the case, you would then want to be able to “keep watch” on the unused parts of the house.
For example, let’s say you have a house with a basement. You choose to occupy the basement and leave the upstairs un-guarded. In this case you could use an alarm system to alert you to intruders. You could use the door/window sensors to monitor the upstairs windows and doors and even place the motion sensors strategically upstairs as additional early-warning devices.
I briefly considered placing the motion sensors strategically outside but I feared too many false alarms. If they were adjustable then maybe this would be a viable option but nothing I’ve read says these sensors can be adjusted to be more or less sensitive to motion. If they were, I would probably attempt to use them outside as even earlier warning devices.
Of course, you could also use the alarm as intended to better secure the area you’re actually inhabiting. In addition, you might be able to use it to secure other structures on your property such as a shed or RV.
I’m also thinking that perhaps you could use the alarm system without connecting the siren. Though I can’t tell for sure, it seems like the unit will indicate if a “zone” or alarm has been triggered. If so, you could then have someone designated to monitor the base unit at night while others are sleeping and be able to respond to a perceived threat without an intruder being aware that they’ve been detected. Sure, it might only be a few to several seconds warning but I’d rather have that than no warning at all.
Now, perhaps an alarm system wouldn’t matter if you’ve properly boarded up windows with plywood or security bars and done something similar to your doors. But, I would suspect you could find good use for it in some manner.
So, what do you think? Useful or not?