You're home alone. Your gate creeks, bushes rustle, and your porch squeaks. Are you in danger?
The only way to be sure is to grab one of the best driveway alarms you can find.
That way, instead of wondering if someone is creeping up your driveway, you'll know when the alarm sounds. More than anything, you'll be buying yourself valuable time on the rare occasion that you, god forbid, need it.
What makes a good driveway alarm, how do they work, and what are the best alarms for you to choose between right now? Let's dive into the answers you need.
Safety 101: How Driveway Alarms Work
Most of the alarms that you'll run into will be made of three main components. Those components are a sensor, a transmitter/alarm, and a receiver.
Your system's sensor will continuously monitor a signal of some kind.
That signal could be an infrared beam (most systems use this), a magnetic connection, or a mechanical connection. If the link that the sensor, well, senses, is broken, it will send an SOS to the transmitter.
The transmitter's only job is to convey the information your sensor generates to the receiver you have on your house.
Depending on your kit, the transmitter will either broadcast a continuous "okay" message that gets interrupted or a single "SOS" message. An emergency signal from the sensor triggers both events.
Your receiver lives inside of your house and should always have an unobstructed view of the transmitter for the clearest signal. Once your receiver either receives an SOS or stops receiving an all-clear, it will sound an alarm.
What Features Should You Look for In the Best Driveway Alarms?
When you're choosing security equipment for your home, you need to be extra careful that you're picking out items that will help you in the long run. With that in mind, consider the following when you pick out your new kit.
The Range of Your Sensor
Depending on the equipment you use, you'll be able to cover different amounts of square footage. If you have a wide driveway, you need to make sure that your sensor will cover it. Otherwise, your alarm won't work.
The Sensor's Sensitivity
Depending on the sensor you have, you might only detect larger objects like vehicles and large animals (like bears). If you need a sensor specifically for people, then you'll want to look for a setup with high sensitivity.
The Transmitter's Transmission Power
Your location can significantly affect the system you're able to use. For example, if you live in Western Washington, transmission strength is going to be very important.
If you live in Kansas, then you probably won't have to worry about it.
The Range of Your Transmitter
Most of the time, you won't have to worry about your transmitter's range. It's typical for transmitters to deliver accurate results from up to 500 feet away. For 80% of driveways, that's more than enough.
Living in the countryside? Measure that driveway!
Is the system you're buying into expandable?
Many aren't, and you want to make sure you're buying into a system that is. Even if it's a little more expensive, buying into an expandable system will save you from having to refit your entire home security system years down the road.
The Fun Stuff (Bonus Features)
Depending on how much you spend and the system you buy into, you'll get more bang for your buck. Bells and whistles like volume, alarm type, and connectivity with smart devices are all things you can start looking for as your price point increases.
The Best Driveway Alarm Systems Money Can Buy
Here are the three systems we think you should consider when you're protecting your house. These systems range in price, feature set, and utility, so there should be something for everyone!
1st Place: The DCMA - 4000 Dakota Driveway Alarm
This alarm ticks all the boxes (at a reasonable price too—only $100).
To start off our best-of-list, this alarm uses infrared tech over a max distance of 80 feet to see potentially unwanted entry into your home. This alarm is perfect for heavy underbrush or long driveways because it transmits a strong that reaches over 4,000 feet away (all on one 9 volt battery!).
One of the two receivers this alarm talks to will then send one of two different chiming sounds to the alarm system inside your home.
The best part? This system is expandable and is often paired with the RC 16 ut 4000 wireless doorbell.
2nd Place: Dakota Alert BBA-4000 Driveway Alarm
The BBT is a little more expensive than the DCMA, but it's for a very good reason.
Instead of requiring external power, the BBT is completely solar. So, for $150 more than its younger brother (~$250 USD), you get an identical system that requires next to no maintenance. If you have the time to do a 10 second clean of the solar panels on the infrared sensors/transmitters, then you have enough time to keep this system operating continuously and flawlessly for decades.
Better yet, the installation is a breeze. Just apply with double-sided tape, or hang the units from a nail, and you're good to go!
We recommend this product for warehouses, trucking companies, lumber yards, or any other space that needs a bullet-proof, easy-to-use solution with a reasonable transmission range.
3rd Place: The DWA-3 Driveway Alarm
Does your house have an unconventional driveway? Do you need a more subtle solution than two giant sensors/transmitters on either side of the pavement? We recommend the DWA-3.
The DWA-3 is unique in its sensing strategy. Instead of relying on an infrared beam like 90% of the driveway alarms out there, the DWA-3 sounds the alarm when metal passes overhead. We believe that this high-tech and discrete solution more than justifies the $295 USD price tag.
The only downside? The DWA-3's transmission range is only 500 feet. That range makes this driveway alarm solution perfect for homeowners and not so great for factories and warehouses.
So, while this may be the best metal detecting driveway alarm systems out right now, its slightly limited range relegates it to our third place slot.
What's The Best Driveway Alarm System for You?
Your final decision will ultimately come down to the features you want and the budget you have. We hope that we've given you enough information to make that decision in an informed way!
If you have any questions about our choices for the best driveway alarms or about finding a home security system in general, we would love to talk. Feel free to reach out at any time!