Burglar Alarm Screens Tutorial

By: Ari Erenthal, Published on Mar 14, 2017

Many residential alarm subscribers arm their alarms before going to bed at night. Wiring window screens allow these subscribers to leave their windows open while still being protected. In this guide, we will examine alarm screens, including:

  • Non-alarm screen construction
  • Alarm screen construction
  • Fabricating vs outsourcing alarm screens
  • Sales / customers benefits of alarm screens

Non-Alarm Screen Construction

Most window screens are made of aluminum mesh mounted in a metal frame and held in place with a rubber gasket called a spline.

Metal frames are widely available at home improvement stores in various lengths, which can then be cut to create a frame of the exact dimensions of a customer's window. Frames are usually sold in 7' or 8' (2.1 to 2.4) lengths, usually for less than $10. Splines are sold in 100' and 300' (30.5 and 91.4m) lengths, usually for ~$8 for the 100' and $20 for the 300' rolls. 

Custom window screens are very simple to build, and can be built quickly and cheaply. The only tools required are a pair of scissors, a rubber mallet, a hacksaw with a metal blade, and a tool with a circular blade used to press the spline into the frame and crimp the mesh. 

The following video shows how to build an ordinary screen: 

Alarm Screens

Alarm screens have a thin wire woven into the mesh and an ordinary Form A reed switch concealed in the frame. Opposite the reed switch is a lead, protected by a grommet, terminated with a plug, wired into the reed. Mounting a magnet to the window frame closes the reed switch, and the plug is wired into a wire running to the panel. Removing the screen will cause the plug to become unplugged or for the reed to move away from the magnet, either of which will cause the circuit to open and zone to alarm. 

Alarm screens can be furnished in two ways: build them oneself or order them from specialty suppliers.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

If a customer already has window frames, an installer can remove the splines, remove the mesh, replace it with alarm mesh, and wire in the reed switch and pull the plug through grommeted hole. An experienced technician can complete five or six screens an hour this way. 

Alternatively, this can be ordered from specialty suppliers. Standard sized alarm screens can be found online for ~$50 for small to ~$80 for large ones. Custom screens for nonstandard window sizes and shapes must be disassembled and shipped, which can often run up to ~$150 for large sizes. Some screen services offer wholesale prices and drop-off services.

Installers who regularly sell alarm screens and have a workshop can make more money and reuse customer screens, which is a benefit with custom sized windows. 

Sales / Customer Benefits

Providers can increase sales and improve customer satisfaction by properly positioning and offering alarm screens. This helps customers that either value fresh air or do not want pay for running air conditioning at night when they are home. 

Most customers may not want to spend the money to alarm every screen in their home. Therefore, we recommend alarm companies offer alarm screens as an optional add-on, allowing customers to choose specific screens to alarm. Kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms are all commonly chosen, as customers are more likely to want ventilation in those rooms.  

Alarm screens are typically one of the higher-margin add-ons and can increase profitability for the installation.

Comments (12) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Smoke Detectors Guide on Jul 06, 2017
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors add a life-safety component to burglar alarm systems. As intrusion detection sensors are used to...
Glass Break Sensor Tutorial on Mar 21, 2017
Burglars often break glass windows to get into a house. Using glass break detectors in conjunction with alarm contacts is a good way to protect the...
Alarm Panic Switches Tutorial on Mar 16, 2017
Panic switches allow silently triggering an alarm system when it is otherwise disarmed. In this tutorial we explain and contrast the 7 most common...
Burglar Alarm Zoning Guide on Apr 28, 2017
The function of an alarm panel is to gather information from sensors and respond to this information by triggering actions. While it is possible to...
Arming States For Burglar Alarms on May 04, 2017
Burglar alarms give the user the ability to choose how much of their alarm is active at any time. Activating alarm sensors on windows and...
Door Closer Startup Lifedoor Aims To Prevent Fire Deaths on Jan 24, 2018
A startup named Lifedoor has a device with one basic function: Close doors during a fire. Closing doors is so powerful, UL and FDNY Fire Chiefs say...
Genetec Kiwi Intrusion Detector Analytics Tested on Nov 27, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Intrusion Detection analytics into Security Center, aiming to simplify deployment compared to separate camera...
Batteries For Alarm Systems Tutorial on Jul 11, 2017
Alarm systems use backup batteries in order to continue working if an intruder attempts to disable the alarm by cutting power to the building. In...
Safes And Vaults Alarm Sensors on Jul 07, 2017
Vaults and safes are designed to protect valuables by enclosing them in steel or concrete boxes with thick doors and strong locks. However, any...
Alarm Motion Detector Tutorial on Mar 06, 2017
Sensors designed to detect movement are a good way to protect large, open areas. In this tutorial, we examine motion detectors,...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Avigilon ACC Cloud Tested on Jul 08, 2020
Avigilon merged Blue and ACC, adding VSaaS features to its on-premise VMS, offering remote video and health monitoring that was previously limited...
The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020, with Congress members and activists speaking out against it while video...
Sperry West / Alibaba Tablet Temperature Measurement Tested on Jul 07, 2020
In April, we ordered a ~$500 temperature tablet from Alibaba. We set it to the side while doing 18 other temperature screening tests but, after...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of security systems integrators shows weak sales, opposition to...
Video Surveillance 101 Book Released on Jul 07, 2020
IPVM's unique introduction to video surveillance series is now available as a 145-page eBook. Designed for managers, salespeople, and engineers new...
Startup Duranc Presents AI VSaaS on Jul 06, 2020
Duranc presented its system at the May 2020 IPVM Startups show. A 30-minute video from Duranc including IPVM Q&A Background on the...
Low Voltage Nation Wants to "Help You Carve Out A Fulfilling Career" Interviewed on Jul 06, 2020
It is difficult to make your way in this industry as there is little formal schooling. However, one person, Blake Urmos, the Founder of Low Voltage...
The Next Hot Fever Detection Trend - $100 Wall-Mounted Units on Jul 06, 2020
The first wave of the booming fever detecting market was $10,000+ cameras, now interest for ~$2,000 tablets is high and the next big thing may be...
Cisco Meraki Unlocks IP Cameras With RTSP Tested on Jul 06, 2020
Meraki opened up its cameras to 3rd party NVRs/VMSes by offering RTSP streaming because of "the need to solve a business problem". We tested...