A Look at Standalone Window & Door Alarms

How good are standalone door and window alarms?

They’re a good intermediate step for those not ready for a home security system.

Here’s what I thought of two I tried out. Maybe it’ll help you know what to look for.

What I bought:

  • A Doberman brand glass vibration sensor (the SE-0106 Ultra-Slim Window Alert)
  • A Doberman brand door & window magnetic sensor (that detects when a door/window is opened) (the SE-0101, Door & Window Defender)

A couple of things you should know:

  • The door & window sensor has a chime function as well as an alarm
  • The door & window sensor also detects vibrations
  • The Window Alert sensor is a vibration sensor only

Both mount with adhesive. Even well into a New England winter here in Boston, both are still hanging, even though they’re mounted to a cold, steel door and cold window glass.

Both come with batteries which are not activated, so that the batteries donʼt get drained by the electronics while sitting on the store shelf—nice!

Sensors as an intermediate home security solution

So how well do these work as an intermediate step toward better security?

One of the ways you might imagine using a door sensor is that it would go off if someone broke open the door while you’re gone.

But if you activate the door sensor alarm, it’ll go off when you open the door to leave!

You could live with it but this would be annoying and will drain the batteries quickly.

Another option is to activate the alarm after you’ve opened the door and then close the door behind you. Smartly, this sensor was designed so that you can switch the sensor into alarm mode with the door open and the alarm won’t immediately sound—the door first has to have been closed.

The alarm will still sound upon your return—more drained batteries, more annoyance, and probably some being quite startled.

This combination door & windows sensor also includes a vibration sensor which is helpful when the sensor is used on a window.

But I found it to be a problem when used on a door. I was easily able to set the alarm off just by knocking on the door!

What about the window vibration sensor?

This sensor is not designed to detect if a window is being opened, only vibration, which you’ll get vibration if the glass is broken.

Unfortunately, in my case, I was able to also get enough vibration to set off the alarm by closing the window (a common occurrence) and also by knocking on the glass (which may be not quite as common).

How well can these window & door alarms protect you?

Some other things I noticed:

  • The chime on the door & window alarm is loud, probably the loudest chime you’ll ever hear
  • The sirens stop and reset after 20 seconds
  • Because there’s no delay on the door alarm, you can’t activate it and then leave without setting off the alarm.
  • If you put either sensor on a window next to your bed, count on it waking you up if it goes off in the middle of the night. You may then die from fright, but you’ll definitely first be woken up!
  • I simply attached the window vibration sensor, activated it and closed the blinds. I wonder whether I’ll be diligent to check it periodically to make sure the battery is healthy. This is a habit I’ll have to work on and you may too.
  • After accidentally opening my door with the sensor armed and setting off the alarm a few times, nearly scaring me to death, I found myself not activating it as often as I should. I haven’t activated it yet even once when leaving the home, knowing that the alarm will sound when I get back. I question its usefulness on a frequently-used entrance door.

So that’s my take on these sensors. I think I want to try out some others for comparison. How would you use or rely on sensors like these? Do you think you’d ever use them in place of a security system?


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