barrier bars for finished basement?

Our alarm installer is recommending barrier bars for our finished basement windows. He says they are superior to typical window sensors for basement windows, but it is a finished basement so we'd rather not have an ugly white bar across our window. If it truly is superior for that purpose, however, we'll accept it.

Any opinions?

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what kind of windows are they? How big? some types of basement windows are harder to efficiently contact.

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Opinions ? Ok.....

It's possible that your installer couldn't properly install conventional contacts due to the construction of the window itself. Some types of window construction don't lend themselves very well to installing conventional contacts. In that case, the "barrier bar" arrangement would at least provide some protection to this high risk point of entry.

Of course, they don't offer the same real protection as a proper set of commercially available steel window bars (with a lock built in) since they do nothing to actually prevent young thieves from entering. Best would be both; a real physical barrier PLUS the electronic protection.

If you don't like the look or presence of a physical barrier, then they are certainly better than no contact at all !! Don't forget to ensure there is a company decal on the windows as well warning of the presence of a monitored alarm. Should you choose some form of bar arrangement, you can also put up blinds which cover their presence from inside view.

Oftimes, the price of increased security is a bit more inconvenience.....

R.H.Campbell Home Security Metal Products Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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They slide open horizontally, about 1 foot high x 3 feet wide. Typical small basement windows.


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What kind of barrier bars is he installing, and where are the windows located? I figure if they're well hidden (not visible from the street or the neighbours house, a perp would have plenty of time to work the bars loose.

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sell and distribute window bars that are tied in to your alarm system. They're very easy to remove (lift and pull) in the event you have to escape a fire, but they'll also activate your system's siren. The alternative is custom fitted security screens (also discussed on their website).

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Frank Olson

Barrier bars do offer a couple of advantages over magnetic switches. First the obvious -- there is a deterrent effect because from the outside they look like real bars. Barrier bars are also handy if you occasionally need to leave the basement windows open, for example if the cellar becomes damp after a heavy rain.

You can hide the bar behind a curtain if you like. I've even installed them inside the hem of a curtain a few times. If you place them just right it's almost impossible to slip over the curtain without dislodging the barrier bar and triggering the alarm yet the bar is completely hidden from view -- inside or out.

Years ago we used to foil residential basement windows. You've probably seen strips of metal tape on the glass of commercial properties from time to time. The foil was a great deterrent and if installed properly, an effective means of detection. The problem was foiling is a time-consuming job which requires a bit of skill and patience. With the growth of mass-market alarm dealers that skill and the time it took to learn it gradually went the way of the dodo. These days you can't even buy UL-listed alarm foil any more. Barrier bars were developed in part as a quick and easy replacement for foil.

Another alternative to barrier bars is to use magnetic contacts to detect the window opening and install acoustic glass break detectors to detect shattering. Depending on the layout and makeup of the rooms, this may or may not be suitable for your basement. Acoustic glass breaks work well in moderately reflective rooms -- that is, rooms with tile, wood or short-nap carpeting. They won't work reliably through heavy drapes but that's not usually an issue in a basement. They protect one room per detector and the coverage is typically a 25' radius from the sensor to the glass. This varies, depending on the brand and the size/type of window, though most any window big enough to climb through is also big enough to be heard by the sensor at its rated range.

You've chosen to have a professionally installed system. That's fine. The fact that your installer is offering to protect the basement windows indicates he's probably planning to do a thorough job. This would qualify as a good thing.

Regardless who is installing the system, you may find it handy to review some of the different types of protection that are available. You can browse our website to learn about the different systems, sensor options, etc. I have information on over 30,000 security and home electronics products, most likely including the system you're technician has designed for you.

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