Should I use glass break detectors or motion sensors?

Using both glass break sensors and motion sensors enhance a security system's capabilities. However, for budget conscious consumers, we usually suggest using motion sensors before glass break sensors. Reliable security is achievable using door sensors and window sensors and well placed motions.

There are some nuances you should be aware of, though.

While everyone knows that door and window sensors are used to protect doors and windows from intrusion, many people do not know which sensor to use to add an extra layer of protection. Glass break detectors and motion sensors are great additions to a home that is protected by door and window sensors. Because door and window sensors will only activate an alarm if the actual door or window is opened, even a house that has every door and window contacted is still not fully protected. A criminal that shatters a sliding door or window and climbs through the opening would be able to walk freely through your home without ever tripping an alarm. Also, if the intruder were able to cut a hole in your roof and get in through your attic, again no alarm would be activated. These are just two examples of why doors and windows should not be your only means of protection.

Like a door or window sensor, a glass break detector is another type of perimeter protection. A glass break detector uses an audio microphone to pick up the actual frequency of broken glass. If the glass break detector "hears" broken glass, an alarm is activated. Therefore, door and window sensors protect the door or window from being forced open and glass break detectors protect against someone breaking the glass and climbing through the space without actually opening the door or window. If your home has big windows, sliding doors or doors with decorative panes of glass, glass break detectors are a great way to add an extra layer of perimeter protection.

On the other hand, motion sensors are considered interior protection. While door and window sensors and glass break detectors protect against an intruder coming through a door or window, a motion sensor does not care how the intruder got in. As soon as the intruder walks into a room protected by a motion sensor, an alarm is activated. In fact, a home with a few well placed motion sensors may not even need perimeter protection. However, it is always recommended to have both perimeter and interior protection when designing your new security system. While the motion sensors protect against a wider range of intrusion types, they do have some draw backs. For one, when you arm your security system to the stay mode, your motion detectors are normally bypassed and your home would be unprotected. This ensures that you can walk freely throughout your house without activating an alarm. Unfortunately, it leaves your house unprotected at night. Also, with motion sensors, the alarm is not activated until the intruder walks into the motion zone. With glass break detectors and door and window sensors, the alarm is activated as soon as the entry occurs. This may be the difference between an intruder deciding to actually come into your home or not. Finally, if you have cats or large dogs, motion detectors can be problematic due to false alarms.

We hope this information will help you decide the best way to fully protect your property, but if you are still unsure of which sensors to use, please give us a call and one of our security experts would be happy to explain things further.


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Larry, I seriously doubt it. You'll have to look at the specs on the particular glass break sensor, but they usually cover an area of about 25 feet, meaning the glass break will need to be mounted within about 25 feet of the glass to be protected. If all the windows on the back of the house are in the same room, then a single glass break may work, but if they're in different rooms, you'll need at least one glass break per room, regardless of distance.
Will one glass break sensor cover a 2000 sq ft home? My concern is the windows at the back of the house.
It all depends on the noise made by the intrusion. If you are concerned they can get in without making enough noise to trip the glass break (which is possible depending on how they get in), a motion detector would be the right extra layer of protection to use.
Now they use a spark plug or device and a very gentle push or tap to shatter in place tempered glass then slowly push onto carpet or pick out a hole to crawl thru. How can one check glass break? H
I'm not sure I understand your question but as long as the glass shatters and is heard in the room where the glass break is installed, it should pick up the intrusion. If someone is able to get in without actually shattering the glass, then the glass break would not work and something else (a motion detector for instance) would be needed as another layer of protection.
Will glass breaks pick up a tap shatter in place and gently push out glass?
The glass break detector wouldn't detect if the glass is cut without the glass being shattered. You should use motion detectors as another layer of protection if you are concerned about that type of break in.
Isn't it still possible to cut out a piece of glass without breaking it? Would the break sensor detect it?
I don't know of any other glass breaks that would list a smaller size opening but you could certainly check other brands. Obviously, we really only support Honeywell products currently but you can use any wired devices with a Honeywell system. I would assume the 11" square is based on UL testing and that a smaller window may not cause the proper amount of audible frequency to trigger the device. It MAY still work despite the listing.
It looks like all the Honeywell wired glass break detectors claim a minimum glass size of 11" square. Are there alternatives that will work with smaller pane sizes? I have a number of older windows with individual panes as small as 8x10" making up the grid as well as door sidelights with glass around 6x12". A couple of the windows are bay windows, thus fixed and don't open. I'll add motion detectors, but would prefer to keep them off in STAY modes while retaining the perimeter protection of glass breaks.
Thanks!
Yes, glass breaks are armed in Stay and Away mode unlike motion detectors.
If a window glass is broken, will the glass break detector go off even if the alarm system is in stay mode?

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