October 2022

From cats and dogs, to rabbits, hamsters and reptiles, the UK are infatuated with four-legged companions. With an estimated 62% of UK households owning a pet between 2021/2022, its safe to say that we are pet-mad as a nation. But how many security providers take our furry (and not-so-furry) friends into consideration when designing intruder alarms, and, how important is it to consider pets when designing bespoke systems? Afterall, they are part of the household too…

How can pets affect intruder alarms?

In 2020, it was found that pets were responsible for a fifth of false alarms being raised in the UK. Most intruder alarms use standard passive infrared (PIR) detectors. These alert the main control panel when any motion is detected in the form of changes in heat energy. As they are unable to differentiate between human, animal or object, pet owners can be left in a predicament. When a false alarm is raised, it not only causes fear and anxiety for people in the home, but it can also lead to disturbances to neighbours… repeated false alarms being raised in the midnight hours would be enough to drive anyone up the wall!

What are PIRs and how do they work?

When designing bespoke intruder alarm systems to accommodate for four-legged friends, passive infra-red (PIR) monitor sensors can be used within pet-friendly homes dependent on the size, number and activity level of the pets. PIRs detect the movement of heat energy, and constantly check for differences in the thermal levels of the room. In an empty environment, the thermal energy levels should remain relatively stable and do not change rapidly. When a person or object enter the room, the sensors pick the movement up as a change in the environment and therefore trigger the alarm.

PIRs that incorporate pet lenses can be used in the system design: these aim to ignore any changes at floor level but they do have limits: they would be ineffective for homes with larger dogs or pets that jump onto furniture or counter tops such as cats. These can also still be triggered in homes with multiple smaller dogs as the congregation of heat energy in a small space would alert the system. In simpler terms, small pets such as small dogs and less active cats tend to not emit enough infra-red energy to trigger a PIR system that is configured to be pet friendly.

If you’re interested in learning more about how PIRs work, we go into much more detail here.

Do PIRs work for larger pets?

In short, no - PIRS aren’t as effective for those of us with pets that exceed the 35kg weight limit - owners may find that will find that a system solely passive infra-red system doesn’t work for them. But just because you have a larger pet, doesn’t mean you should forgo having an intruder alarm installed to protect your home. Other methods for securing homes with larger pets include devices such as door and window sensors, which work by using a reed switch and magnet that will only activate the alarm once they lose close proximity to each other.

You could also think about incorporating an external alarm system too!

What about pets without fur?

When is comes to fish, reptiles and amphibians, the temperatures in tanks and terrariums tend to stay stable which means these are much less likely to have an impact on PIRs. Birds on the other hand can trigger PIRs even if they are in a cage or aviary – we would recommend using door or window contacts rather than a PIR in that particular room.

Already have an alarm system?

Depending on what is already in place, a system may be altered to accommodate your new pet. We would recommend talking to your alarm company about what would work best. If you are moving home, ask about how the alarm system in your new property is configured – the Sellers might have pet but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the alarm is set up for one.

How can Lynx help?

At Lynx Fire and Security, we have over 30 years expertise on designing, installing and maintaining bespoke intruder alarm systems that accommodate the needs and movements of our beloved four-legged friends. To discover more about how we can help, why not get in contact with us by filling out our online form, or calling 0800 998 1303 to speak to a member of our team.

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