A driveway alarm is an effective and affordable way to keep your home and family safe. If you’re a homeowner who wants to protect your property or keep tabs on the young drivers in your life, a driveway alarm (or “driveway alert”) will alert you the moment a vehicle passes the sensor. For independent seniors who may be on a budget, a driveway alarm is a cost-effective first line of defense against intruders.
What is a Driveway Alarm?
Installing a driveway alarm ensures that you will never again be surprised by the arrival of visitors or trespassers. This type of alarm features a monitor that sends out an alert when a vehicle enters the driveway. When the driveway alert’s sensor is triggered, its receiver sounds a beep or chime and/or flashes a light. Some models also alert with a voice message. For people with hearing loss, there are driveway alarms with an optional bell that can be installed indoors or outside.
Two Types of Detection
Some driveway alarms detect just about any kind of movement, including people, vehicles and animals. If you wants to be alerted to all of the action on your driveway, look for a driveway alarm system that uses infrared motion detector sensors or break beam sensors. The other type of driveway alarm detects the movement of vehicles only. This helps to eliminate false alerts for passing people, pets or wild animals. These systems use a metal sensing sensor or a probe that detects the movement of large metal objects like cars and trucks.
Choose a Hard-Wired or Wireless System
Driveway alarms can be hard-wired or wireless. With a wireless system, installation is fast and easy. Hard-wired systems require that a sensor probe be buried in the ground parallel to or under the driveway, along with a wire that connects the probe to a control box located inside the house. Although more difficult to install, hard-wired driveway alarms offer a number of advantages, including reliability and no concerns about interference or range.
Top Four Picks
There are numerous driveway alarms to choose from — here are just four of our favorite models to consider.
The Dakota Alert 2500 Wireless Break Beam Sensor Kit is our top choice of driveway alarms because it uses solar power and detects the movement of people and large animals, in addition to cars and trucks. The break beam sensors are powered by lithium ion batteries that are recharged by the solar panels.
- Simple to install, requires no wiring
- Uses the power of the sun to conserve energy and recycle power
- Detects vehicles, people and large animals
- “Detection immunity” to small animals and small objects such as falling leaves reduces false alarms
- Receiver supports up to four sensors to create up to four zones (additional sensors sold separately)
- Four different alert tones indicate which sensor was activated
- Price: about $270
Safety Technology’s Wireless Alert Series STI-V34150 Wireless Driveway Monitor features a vehicle-monitoring driveway sensor that transmits a signal to the included 4-Channel Voice Receiver, causing the receiver to sound a programmable voice message. The receiver offers ten tones/tunes and 53 selectable words and is available in English or Spanish .
- Will not be triggered by animals, people or shadows
- Weather resistant, battery-powered sensor mounts next to driveway (2 C Alkaline batteries required, not included)
- Easy installation, no difficult underground wiring
- Sensor may be placed up to 1000 feet from the receiver in your home
- Additional sensor will produce a different tone/tune or programmable voice message when triggered.
- Additional sensors may be required for driveways exceeding 12 feet
- Price: Around $170
Chamberlain Wireless Motion Alert System
For homeowners on a budget, the Chamberlain Wireless Motion Alert System is a wise choice for detecting any kind of motion. This inexpensive driveway alarm system has a wireless sensor that uses four AA batteries, and it supports up to four sensors so you can protect your entire yard and monitor activity near your patio, deck, storage shed, farm, office/work site, as well as your driveway.
- Transmits signal to base station up to a half-mile away
- Alerts with light and sound (distinguishable by sensor)
- Detects motion up to 30 feet away with wide 120 degree coverage
- Adjustable sensitivity controls help prevent false alerts
- Weatherproof, portable design for use inside or out
- Easy to install, use, and maintain
- Price: Around $70
Dakota Alert Hard Wired Vehicle Sensor
If you want a driveway alert that detects only the movement of vehicles and doesn’t require batteries, consider a hard-wired driveway alert like the Dakota Alert VS. Hard-wired systems use a metal sensing probe that you bury parallel to or under the driveway to detect the movement of iron or steel objects.
- Very effective for detecting cars and trucks while eliminating false alerts for passing animals or people
- Ideal for locations with deer or other large animals
- Detects metal objects in a 10- to 12-foot radius of the sensor
- Control box plugs into a 110-volt outlet
- Transmitter is easy to hide and can be further camouflaged using the wooden birdhouse facade (sold separately)
- Price: About $155
Learn More About Driveway Alarms
A driveway alarm is a simple and safe solution for protecting the first point of entry to your home or property. You can choose the type of alert you need depending upon what you want to monitor, and most models are reasonably priced and easy to install yourself. If you’d like more information about the many ways you can use driveway alarms to secure your home, business or other property, check out these articles: End Stranger Surprise with a Driveway Alarm and Entry Alerts and Six Things You Can Do With a Driveway Alert.