Avoiding false alarms with smart home security

Your alarm going off is the last thing you want to happen. In theory, it should mean there’s an intruder ransacking your home. If it is a false alarm your first reaction is likely to be relief, turning to annoyance if you’ve wasted your own, or your neighbours time, investigating the disturbance. And if you have a professionally monitored alarm subscription and you continually have false alerts then there is a possibility the police will downgrade the speed of the response or even remove you from the response list entirely.

False alarms are certainly not something you want to become a regular occurrence. Apart from the stress and worry, they are a trust-killer.  And when doubt creeps in so can intruders?

Here’s an ex-burglar admitting he stays in the area in case no one pays attention to the false alarm.


Feeling protected is every bit as important as being protected. Here’s our advice on keeping false alarms to a minimum with smart home security systems.

What causes false alarms?

1. Sensors not recognising pets

To rule out furry offenders choose sensors capable of ignoring your pet. In pet-sensitivity mode Boundary motion detection sensors will disregard any animal smaller than 35kg. If your pet is a bigger beast, use partial set to create a pet safe zone where they can pad about freely while you’re out without activating any sensors.  (Partial Set is available on all but our Lite Plan.)

2. Batteries

Low batteries can falsely trigger PIR motion sensors. Most systems will tell you if battery levels are low and it’s a good idea to change them while it’s fresh in your mind. Expect about a year from Boundary sensor battery life. The app will tell you when they need to be changed.

3. Poor Installation

It is best to put sensors in places where there are no rapid changes in temperature e.g not on a bathroom window, above a radiator or in direct sunlight. If you don’t feel confident, go for a pro-install.

4. Leaving windows open

Always make sure all the windows are shut before you leave.  For example,  gusts could blow your curtains around in front of motion sensors. (The Boundary app won’t let you arm the system if a window with a window contact sensor is left open.)

5. Insects

Literally bugs in the system. A common problem with some older traditional systems. Check before you buy to see if the internal housing within the sensor is sealed to prevent insects getting in. It’s far less trouble in the long run to have reliability baked into the design process. 

6. Mail through the door

Mount hall sensors away from your mailbox to avoid enthusiastic deliveries activating your hall sensor. Choosing a system with smart algorithms built in also ensures single activations like this aren’t enough to trigger a false alarm. 

7. Sea air 

If you do live beside the seaside. Check what sort of contacts are on the tamper seal of your external siren. Anything less than gold contacts will corrode over time and once corroded is a known cause of false alarms. (Boundary’s tamper switch is fully hermetically sealed with gold contacts.) 

8. Human error

Such as a failure to enter the code on time.  Give everyone plenty of opportunity to practice using any new smart home security system. For children or guests, why not give them a key fob, easier all round? 

9. Things that go bump

This is the one where you have to think ahead a little. What could suddenly move while you’re out? Helium balloons have been known to deflate and drop to the floor. Flowers in vases to drop a ton of petals. Robotic toys? Precariously placed skateboards?

10. Aging systems

Sometimes with traditional systems you’re reliant on an annual engineer check-up to find out if components are starting to show their age. If you’re worried your system may be past its best, switching to a smart home security system like Boundary means each component self-checks constantly reporting any issues to the app on your smartphone.

11. Tumble dryers

All graded alarm systems are tested for what’s called  ‘immunity to air flow’ i.e gusts of air from a tumble dryer. Choosing sensors designed to meet alarm standards means the reliability is already pre-tested.

12. Storms

For the same reason as above, sudden gusts of strong wind through vents or from down the chimney can trigger a motion sensor. Ensuring any system you go for has smart algorithms means a one-off event like this isn’t enough and only a suspicious pattern of sensor activations will trigger the alarm.

The true test of any smart home security system is minimal false alarms. Boundary has trust wired in with every component designed to meet Grade 2 Alarm Standards, the same reliability rating as traditional wired systems. (Certification pending August 2021.) 

With the added advantage of being able to silence your siren quickly – from anywhere -if indeed it turns out to be a balloon not a burglar.