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.

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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.

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