Burglar alarm, DIY wireless -- recommendations or advice anyone?

We want to install a burglar alarm in our house and because of thick walls, delicate wallpaper and other difficulties with cabling we really want to use a wireless system.

I have had quotes which were mind-boggling (over 5,000 euros) and I know I could have bought the same equipment for about 700 euros, but the additional concern is that being in the middle of the countryside it could be hours for a technician to turn up if we have a technical problem, and all the while it would be very annoying for our neighbours! By using an alarm company we would also would not have the main password to over-ride or change/add to the installation, so I could see it being a saga of call-outs and maintenance contracts draining funds over the years.

In fact, our neighbour (now retired) was an electrical engineer with EDF all his life, and fitted a wireless system (Diagral) in his own house years ago. He's very happy to help fit a system as we would then have the "engineer's password" and would have full control. And in case anyone wonders that we might be mad to consider this he has been a brilliant neighbour for 20 years during all our absences overseas, dealing with problems on our behalf etc and we would not worry in the least.

Has anyone installed a system which they would recommend for simplicity and reliability?



That's an amazing price!! A wee bit different from 5,000 euros....???!!!!

Brian, I particularly agree with your last sentiment!!

Granted it was a professional alarm company, with 3 offices (still, the nearest to us would still be over 30mins away), but when I queried the first quote (just infra-reds, one telecommande, 1 simple flashing siren and the control panel -- other telecommandes etc would be extra), they changed the equipment from Daitem to Visonic and the price went down to 3,600 euros. I have since priced the Visonic equipment to buy, and the whole lot would be around £300 including VAT [and trade price would be less], so even with installation taking up a day (including travel) they are still making a massive profit. After that, the price for an annual maintenance contract was about 900......so I could just see the whole thing becoming a money pit!

Basically, I agree with Robert: crime is really low in France! Now. Wait till austerity is biting and more companies are closing down.... When we are at home, then also the two nice dogs are in house and garden, but then they are with us when we travel. So, I can not explain here a guide, it would also help the bad guy...

Against burglars here a simple system: motion detection, some cameras (as you also use for your computer), but also at least one camera outside the house to capture the vehicle in which your goods will be transported. Registration plates are really good. All this parts you connect to an old stable x386 (minimum Pentium 4 for video) desktop with an uninterruptible power supply which is supplied by a solar cell. If you then connect all to your router, then you can watch live on your smart-phone your "visitors". Make sure nothing of this equipment is visible!! (also no cams & cabling)

I have deliberately not a loud alarm but everything would be recorded. You should not connect teargas cartridges, - the visitor might get angry and sets your house on fire, but you should leave some things of value where the camera can capture the face of the intruder. However, - if you can not install this yourself costs are ca 3000 - 5000. DIY maximum is 1000. But if I would install this as a company I would be liable if it does not work, this are all this admin fees that are driving the price for such system over the roof.

I did wonder about just putting up a box -- discourages a lot of 'cruising' thieves, I think. We're in the Ain region, north of Lyon. Interested also to see Brian English's reply re diy systems -- if he were closer I would employ him!

The more I think about it the more I wondered about using the Diagral which our neighbour has -- sold by Castorama since about 15 years ago, so I guess they have found it to be a good system for customers.

The Visonic system I liked has mains for the control panel with battery backup, and I can order a generous supply of extra batteries at the same time. The siren problem would be immediately less annoying because - having installed the system ourselves - we would have the "installer's password" rather than waiting for a technician.

And basically, as I put in my reply to Robert, as we're going overseas it's very much going to be our neighbour's concern so.....once again, we perhaps should go for the Diagral system he already has, even though it's more expensive than similar ones I've seen.

Just put a box up then and try to make sure it's the same make as your neighbours ;P Save you a fortune...

Where about's are you in France?

Understand your point, and if we were still living in France full time then I wouldn't worry either, however we are moving to work overseas again for 3-5 years, and it was the neighbours who brought up the suggestion -- I think their idea is that if it's obvious that both houses have an alarm then thieves would be discouraged from targeting either of the houses. One side of our house is accessible (with a car) without being seen at all, and this clearly worried them. We have tried to reduce this by now having a solid, locked gate on that side so that the only other access is from the back, which our neighbours overlook.

In 20 years we have only once had a theft, and it would seem that was from amateurs who stole a mini-stereo from our conservatory, but I've heard of a few problems in the area now (garden furniture disappearing, one garage broken into), and one house in the nearby village was ransacked two months ago. Plus my best friend in the village had a theft of all her jewellery about 3 years ago.

Kate, I think you would be mad NOT to use this guy. He's done it before & clearly has a lifetime's experience. I'd need a lot of persuading to use anything other than the brand he knows.

What you should be doing is trying to work out what the future gotcha's might be. As an example, if the system has a battery backup, how do you (a) source; & (b) fit a replacement battery. (Rechargeable batteries generally only last 2 - 3 years unless they are very, very good, such as those used on Velux solar-charged external blinds, & even they don't last for ever.) You've already alluded to the problem of a continuous siren, so you need to be sure you understand how to fix such a problem. What tests should you be carrying out on a regular basis? Also make sure that you write down as much as possible, so that you'll still be able to understand it in, say, 2 years time. Hopefully your Good Samaritan neighbour will still be around, but I'm sure you'd rather not bother him if you're able to fix a problem yourselves.

Best of luck with it.

This is going to sound cheeky I know. But why do you feel the need for a burglar alarm? I only ask because I have been amazed at how careful many of my neighbours are when it comes to light fingered possibilities....

It wouldn't have occurred to me previously because in my experience theft's/crime is very low in France. Please feel free to correct me. If I am proved wrong I would certainly not consider staying....one more nail in the coffin "so's to speak"

We asked our electrician about a fire alarm and he also quoted high because all the systems in France have to be installed by an electrician and conform etc. which will also apply to a burglar alarm I found a wireless system on the internet from the UK and told him about it. He said good idea. We will be doing that!