When you’re looking for a driveway alarm you want to find something that will work regardless of the weather, and that won’t be going off constantly at the movement of a wild animal or pet. It can be hard to find a balance between safety and overdoing it. Luckily for you, we are here to help!

We know that finding the right alarm for your family, your housing situation, and your lifestyle can be difficult, so we are here to give you all of the information you need to help you make a well-informed choice about the best driveway alarm for your needs.

In this article we will go over some basics of driveway alarm systems, what to look for when purchasing a driveway alarm, how to install these alarms, and what features you may want to add on to your basic system. After that we will give you our top picks so that you can decide which one fits best with your lifestyle.

What is a Driveway Alarm and How Does it Work?

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a driveway alarm, it’s basically just what it sounds like: a device that alerts homeowners to unexpected people or vehicles entering their property via driveway via motion detecting technology.

These devices were invented with long driveways in mind, like those that often occur out in suburban areas. Quite often driveway alarms are integrated into other security systems, but they are sold separately as well, and many homeowners only employ driveway alarms rather than an entire security system.

So how do driveway alarms work? There are two main components to any driveway alarm: the transmitter and the receiver. Although elaborate systems may contain more than one transmitter, at least one must exist in each alarm for it to work properly. You will only ever have one receiver.

The transmitter typically runs on battery power and is placed along your driveway, while the receiver is kept in your home and runs on electrical power. When the transmitter senses movement, it transmits a signal to the receiver, which will notify you via lights, sounds, or both.

There are a couple of different types of driveway alarms on the market, the main categories are wireless or hard wired and detection. Detection alarms will detect every movement from animals to people to vehicles, so they can be a great asset or a major pain. We will get into more details on the reasons for that later on.

How to Install a Driveway Alarm

Most homeowners who don’t have their driveway alarms integrated into their full security systems choose to install these alarms themselves. Because of that, it is important to know how to install your alarm to get the best use of it, and to not end up over-detecting objects in your drive.

Every system you buy will come with detailed instructions on frequency to use, number of feet that can be between the transmitter and receiver, and other crucial information, so the first step is always going to be to thoroughly read the instructions that come with your device. Do not read as you go for the first time.

For our example, we will use an alarm with a 600ft range. You’ll want to start by setting up the transmitter or sensor by opening up the cover and installing the correct size battery, typically a 9-volt. After that, you will set the frequency by using what’s called a “dip switch.” This is also inside the front cover.

Next, you will want to adjust the sensitivity using the dial inside of the unit. This dial is usually located in the same area that the battery and “dip switch” are located, so it should not be hard to find. You’ll want to decide at this point whether you’d like to just be alerted when cars come into your drive or people as well.

Once you’ve chosen your sensitivity, close the cover and you are ready to set up the receiver. To begin setting up the receiver, you will likely need to remove the front cover using a screwdriver. Once the cover is removed, you will want to set the frequency to match the transmitter using the “dip switches” inside the unit.

Finally, replace the front cover of the receiver, and you’re ready to go install your alarm. Installation will be different depending on which type of alarm you received. For this example, we will discuss how to install an alarm with hose.

You will first want to lay the hose across the driveway at the point you would like to be alerted. Then connect your hose to your transmitter box and mount it at four to six feet off of the ground.

Once the sensor/transmitter is in place, you should plug in your receiver, turn it on, adjust the sound, and test it to ensure that the sound is at the proper level and that the receiver is working properly.  If all seems to be in working order, you will want to send someone out to test the alarm by coming into the drive in a vehicle.

If everything is in working order, you are all done! Congratulations, you have officially installed your first driveway alarm.

How to Hide a Driveway Alarm

So, you’ve gotten your alarm installed, but you’re still not feeling safe. After all, you have a pretty obvious box mounted at around eye level just to the side of your drive. How can you hide your alarm while still ensuring that the sensors work properly and you’re getting alerted each time that a trespasser is near?

There are a few tried and true techniques for hiding a driveway alarm. One clever way would be to install a “birdhouse” around your sensor to distract intruders from noticing the sensor box. Another technique is to simply buy a product that comes camouflaged to begin with and is ready to be hidden upon installation.

A third way to ensure your alarm is well hidden is to choose a location that is more discreet. If you have trees lining your driveway, it might be a good idea to install the alarm so that the sensor will be beside a large tree in a spot that is difficult to see as you enter the drive.

Depending on which alarm you choose and how it needs to be mounted or installed, any one of these ways of hiding your alarm could work for you. The important thing is that you work with your new alarm system, not against it, when trying to draw attention away from its existence on your property.

Other Features to Consider in a Driveway Alarm

We’ve already discussed some features of alarms and ways in which they can be used, but we think it’s important to dig into what aspects are good for some individuals over others and how each available feature helps or hinders your alarm experience.

Wired vs. Wireless Alarms

Wired alarm systems are also known as buried systems because the wires that connect the sensor or transmitter to the receiver are buried under your driveway so that they aren’t visible to those passing by or pulling in. Often these types of alarms will require professional help to install, and do require digging into your driveway.

Wired alarms work similarly to on-road systems that notice when a car has pulled up to change the traffic light. They are based more on weight than on sensing a physical object, so they are nice for people who live in rural areas that don’t want to know every time a deer crosses the driveway.

The major upside to wired alarms is the lack of signal interruption and lack of maintenance that they require year-to-year. The down side is a fairly high cost, a need to have help installing, and that you will either need to work from a smaller range or spend some extra money to wire and extra long driveway close to the road.

Wireless systems are by far the more popular route these days. With these devices you will have the sensor, the transmitter (often a part of the sensor) and the receiver, but the receiver will be the only object that is plugged in to run off of electricity. The other pieces are battery powered.

Wireless systems are easy to install, as we showed you earlier, they have no wires to add cost or worry to your project, and they can be used on a larger range than many wired systems. Unfortunately, these systems do run on batteries, which will cost you some extra money, and can experience radio interference or weakened signals.

Based on the pros and cons we’ve talked about here, we hope you’re getting a good idea of which type of system might work well for you, but let’s talk about some other features that will help you decide.

Types of Sensors

There are four primary sensor types most often used in driveway alarms. Those are ultrasonic, microwave, passive IR and tomographic. Ultrasonic is the most common sensor you will find in these types of alarms because of their optimal sensitivity level. Microwaves are often a bit too sensitive, which can cause false alarms.

Tomographic sensors work best in high-traffic spots like cities or busy suburban streets, while passive IR sensors are more energy efficient than the rest and use heat signals to detect motion, making them the least prone to false alarms.

If you find an alarm that you like, but it has a sensor you aren’t fond of, some companies allow you to choose an alternate sensor. If they do not, remember that you can almost always turn up or down the sensitivity to make even the trickiest sensor work for you. 

Best Driveway Alarm Reviews

Now that we’ve gotten you up to speed on all there is to know about driveway alarms, let’s take a look at some of our favorites. We’ve split these up into some “best of” categories so that you can most easily see which our favorite is for your personal needs.


1. Best Budget Driveway Alarm


About: The award for driveway alarm on a budget goes to the Chamberlain Wireless Driveway Alarm. Although the price tag is lower than most of the alarms we’ve seen, the quality is still there. Chamberlain is a leading manufacturer of driveway alarms, which can be comforting when picking out your first alarm.

This system is lacking in added features, but the single receiver and sensor do the trick, and you are able to add an additional four sensors if needed. The receiver will alert you with light and sound if the sensors detect action, which is another great feature.

Pros

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    Customizable sound 
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    Versatility with sensors and receivers 
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    Lifetime warranty 

Cons

  • Malfunctions in direct sunlight 
  • Small red LED light on sensor, need to tape over it to hide sensor 

2. Best Budget Driveway Alarm 


About: The award for driveway alarm on a budget goes to the Chamberlain Wireless Driveway Alarm. Although the price tag is lower than most of the alarms we’ve seen, the quality is still there. 

Chamberlain CWPIR Weatherproof Outdoor and Alert System


Chamberlain is a leading manufacturer of driveway alarms, which can be comforting when picking out your first alarm.

This system is lacking in added features, but the single receiver and sensor do the trick, and you are able to add an additional four sensors if needed. The receiver will alert you with light and sound if the sensors detect action, which is another great feature.

Pros

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    Inexpensive 
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    No frills, just solid workability 
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    Sound and light alerting 

Cons

  • No way to change alert tone 
  • Only four sensors possible to add on 

3. Best Long-Range Driveway Alarm 


About: Far and away our favorite long-range driveway alarm is the Dakota DCMA2500, which sends its signal up to a half a mile from sensor to receiver. It features an infra-red driveway sensor that can detect movement up to eighty feet away and comes standard with four optional alert chimes for your customization. 

In addition, you can add unlimited sensors per zone to help monitor movement even more closely. The Dakota also features reminder lights and beeps that will activate every 15 minutes to ensure you know that something was moving on your property.

Finally, this model comes with the option of being purchased as a birdhouse disguise so you won’t have to worry about hiding your sensors from prying eyes. Simply select the disguise at checkout when purchasing online, and you will have a hidden alarm that works hard to keep you in the know.

Pros

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    Volume and chime control 
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    LED reminder lights 
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    Half-mile sensor range 

Cons

  • Casing not very durable 
  • Doesn’t work well in low temperatures 

4. Best Magnetic Driveway Alarm 


About: Another Dakota alarm has made the list, this time the DCPA2500 or Dakota Alert 2500’ Magnetic Probe Driveway Alarm System is in the spotlight. This alarm system is fantastic because the magnetic probe stops false alarms caused by animals and focuses your alerts solely on vehicles instead. 

The range on this bad boy is a half a mile from transmitter to receiver. The transmitter is attached to the probe with a fifty-foot wire and is then mounted on a tree or post. The probe can detect vehicles about ten-feet out and the batteries last for about a year before needing to be replaced.

Pros

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    Customizable alert chimes and volume 
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    No risk of false alarms from animals 
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    Long battery life in normal temperatures

Cons

  • Cannot detect people coming into drive 
  • May require tearing up parts of driveway to install 

5. Best Driveway Alarm with Camera  


About: Although finding a driveway alarm that comes with a camera in the kit is hard to come by, the best alarm we have found to integrate a camera with is the Hosmart Rechargeable Driveway Alarm Wireless Sensor System.

This system comes ready for whatever weather you can throw at it, and is easy to use with a camera.

Hosmart is another name that has been in the security game for a long time, so they are a trusted brand for driveway alarms. In addition, the kit for this specific alarm is easy to install, has a long range, and works with almost any wireless camera setup, so you can integrate the systems to work together and help keep you safe.

Pros

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    Half-mile range 
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    Weatherproofed 
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    Easy to install and integrate with cameras 

Cons

  • Cannot change alarm tones for different zones 
  • Does not come standard with a camera 

Final Thoughts on Wireless Driveway Alarms

We’ve talked about some awesome alarms today to help you feel safe in your home, regardless of the setting. Our overall favorite is the Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm because of its long range, huge list of features, and versatility.

It is a great product for those of you who have extra long driveways or even added tree coverage between where the receiver will be in your home and where the sensor and transmitter are placed.

In addition to the features, this unit is also easy to install and is extremely durable.

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