Amp Up Your Home Security with This (Affordable) No-Frills Device
See how this system of outdoor motion sensors can provide a sense of security—and just the heads-up you need to welcome an early or unexpected guest, whether it's a delivery driver coming up the driveway or a stranger lurking around your home.
I absolutely love tech gadgets for our home. Most recently, I set up a super simple security/notification system, the Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm to watch over several areas around the house and to let us know if someone was on the property. In case you’re unfamiliar, driveway alarms are notification devices designed to detect people or vehicles as they cross through sensory zones and alert you when someone is approaching. I chose not to set my zones up across our short driveway, since we park our vehicles there, but rather in a few other specific areas I wanted to monitor.
There are all sorts of security alarms on the market. Some are pretty expensive and involved, using cameras, interconnected data cables, or magnetic sensory loops embedded in the ground. Some connect to external monitoring companies or through a smart home system for monitoring via the internet.
Personally, I’ve become uneasy with the idea of some of the smart home stuff lately. I know it’s inevitable; heck, I can literally have our refrigerator brew a cup of coffee while laying in bed with my smartphone. But it’s the voice-activated, always-listening big-brother thing that bugs me. It’s creepy that all conversations within earshot can be cataloged in the digital vaults of mega-corporations with unknown motives. Well, maybe it’s not that bad, but I’m just not sure I’m ready to go fully smart home quite yet. The Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm seemed to tick the right boxes.
A SIMPLER, MORE SECURE OPTION
I wanted something easy, secure, and wireless for my project since I’ve never been a fan of crawling through the attic, drilling holes to fish wires down walls, or digging trenches across my yard.
Guardline is a wireless, premium DIY motion sensor alert system designed to notify users when a person or vehicle approaches the home. While more robust security systems defend your home, Guardline set out to provide an alert notification, just like a doorbell anywhere on your property, to give you that extra time you need before someone—a delivery driver, an early guest, or a total stranger—appeared at the door.
To do so, it doesn’t need to connect to the internet or share private info. It’s a one time purchase, with no monthly subscription fees. It’s high-tech, but simple and expandable up to four zones with as many as 16 sensors. Its sensor range is versatile enough to provide alert for anything from a detached garage or workshop, around a pool gate, or sections of property without a clear line of sight on from a home. And it’s easy to install, too: I had my three sensors mounted and working perfectly within about 30 minutes.
SETTING UP SECURITY ZONES
Since I was not going to set up my system to monitor the driveway, I established my three zones at the front of the house. Each would play a unique notification sound inside the house when they sensed someone.
ZONE 1: The Front Door.
We don’t have a doorbell, and we’ve never really missed having one. But we do get a fair amount of deliveries, and an alert when those get dropped would be great. I chose a barking dog sound for this zone.
ZONE 2: The Side Yard Gate.
Around the corner from the front door, on the other side of the garage where we can’t see it, is a gate to the narrow, alley-like side yard leading back towards the swimming pool. We also get packages dropped over here from time to time, but, beyond a delivery, there’s no good reason someone would be skulking around over there. If someone was slipping around the house, the alert would sound like bubbling water.
ZONE 3: The Garage Door.
Our garage is my workshop, filled with my tools and stuff. I love to work with the door open, especially in late fall through early spring, when Arizona temperatures are pretty great. However, when I need to run into the house or I’m going back and forth to work on a project outside of the garage, someone could easily slip in there and help themselves to my beloved tools. So an alert for this zone would play the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme, to let me know there were some… raiders.
INSTALLING THE WIRELESS SECURITY SENSORS
The basic Guardline kit comes with a sensor and the base unit, but you can buy extra sensors.
- Each sensor operates on four AA batteries located underneath its weatherproof cover. There are some DIP switches inside to adjust various settings, although I didn’t have to adjust anything. There are also wiring contacts to control auxiliary items. These are here in both normally-open and normally-closed configurations to control a 12-volt device when the sensor triggers.
- The base unit can be powered either by four AAA batteries or a plug-in, AC power cord. The battery backup is super handy for walking around and testing the sensors, and it would even allow for coverage when power is out! The receiver needs to be plugged in for regular use, though.
The instructions were easy to follow. I connected three sensors and assigned each one of them to its own zone. Each zone got that unique audible alert melody of my choice—simple melodies and tones as well as some really fun stuff (like the Raiders theme)—so we’d know exactly which sensor was sending the alert.
At the Side Yard Gate
Our gate does take a bit of effort to open, which is good as a first defense for stopping neighborhood kids from getting into trouble with the pool. Still, I can reach over and slide the latch, which means others can do the same. The sensor would go on the block wall just inside the gate so that it would shoot its invisible beam across the opening and snag anyone that passed through before they could even see it was there.
I used a masonry bit and hammer-drill mode to pop four 1/4” holes into the block fence. (A regular drill and a masonry bit works, too; it just takes a little longer without hammer mode.) The Guardline sensors come with plastic masonry anchor sleeves and mounting screws, which I installed next. The sensor is then hooked to the mounting plate on a ball-swivel so it’s easy to move out of the way to get to the screws.
The Phoenix sun is a heartless monster in the summertime. I snapped the included weather hood on top to protect the lens from the elements, then angled the sensor slightly towards the gate opening.
At the Garage Door
The next one got installed up high, on the back side of the fascia board overlooking the garage at a sharp side angle. Since it was mounting to wood this time, I pre-drilled some small holes and attached the back plate of the sensor to the wood using the included screws. This one would always be out of the sun, so I didn’t include the shield.
The instructions suggest mounting the sensor about three feet off the ground to avoid critters setting it off. That’s a great idea for our fenced-in side yard. It’s also fine where normal people, bunnies, and an occasional cat might stroll by. I know better. In our yard, there are things in the night. Horrible things, like El Chupacabra, the legendary creature of folklore. “Up high” was also a convenient location because I didn’t have a good spot to mount it. So, I angled two of the sensors to look down from above and keeping their field of view tight to areas where the big creatures probably don’t hunt in the deep, dark night. Therefore, the third sensor…
At the Front Door
Someone approaching the front door can’t even see it unless they are walking backward and looking upwards. I set it at an angle to be triggered when someone was about four feet from reaching the front door.
It’s also screwed directly to the wooden fascia board and doesn’t need the shield.
TESTING OUT AND LIVING WITH THE NEW ALARMS
I strolled around with the receiver in hand to see exactly when I’d get picked up by the sensors. I tried to sneak past them without getting caught. Moving fast, skipping, spinning, or slowly tiptoeing like a member of the Scooby Doo gang after a crook, I had no luck; the sensors nailed me every single time.
Here’s a video walk of three locations to get a sense of how they work and hear the of the fun sounds I chose as alerts.
We’ve had the system up for a few months now. We love the confirmation that someone is at the front door rather than wondering if we heard a knock for package delivery!
At one point, I think my wife was ready to kill me when I was unloading a truck full of lumber into the garage. She was sitting in the living room reading (where I placed the base unit) when the Guardline and I treated her to an extended concert consisting of an exclusive loop of the Indiana Jones theme song. Now when I do in-and-out garage stuff, I simply hit the pause button before I start.
Overall, this really is a cool system. It’s a super simple and quick install. It’s smart, but not “too smart.” It’s not going to share your info with the dark data banks of the world, but it will provide you with the intel you need to maintain a secure home.
A version of this article first appeared on AZ DIY Guy. This content is paid advertising created in partnership with Guardline. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.