Home Security 101: Glass Break Sensors

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Okay, now we’ve covered two of the most common alarm sensors: the wireless door/window sensor and the wireless motion sensor. It’s time to address “Number Three” in any standard intrusion alarm system: the wireless glass break sensor. As was the case in previous posts, we’ll explain how the glass break sensor works, and why it’s an important component of most home alarm systems.

Building Your System from the Bottom Up

Yes, most residential home alarm systems start with door/window sensors and motion sensors, and that’s been true for some time – just about every system includes both of these devices. But we also find more and more customers selecting glass break sensors to enhance a system, as an effective cost-saving device when protecting a group of windows in one room.

And, unlike motions sensors, glass breaks are active in both the “Stay” and “Away” modes. For more detail on that important topic, here’s a link to my post on How to Arm Your Alarm System. Since homeowners are increasingly arming their systems when home at night, and even during the day, glass breaks could help provide you with more peace of mind around the clock.

The Right Design 

Plenty of alarm companies try to fit you into a “one-size-fits-most” solution, instead of customizing your system to your specific needs. The right way to design your system is to consider how your home is laid out, and how you will utilize your protection to fit your lifestyle.

Another thing to bear in mind is that our lives change – and so do our neighborhoods! You may want to add devices to your system to increase your sense of security, or use your system differently – and having a system that is flexible and that grows with you can be a real asset. This is another area where an easily self-installed alarm system offers a definite benefit: allowing you to add any device, at any time, easily and affordably.

How Glass Break Technology Works 

So, how does a glassbreak sensor work? It listens for the specific acoustical frequency that is generated by breaking glass. Glass breaks sensors are active any time your system is armed, so once you turn your system on (even in the “Stay” mode!), you need to remember that accidentally dropping a glass could trigger an alarm.

These sensors generally have a range of 20 feet in any direction. That means one sensor can cover lots of windows in a single room, as long as there are no doors or walls blocking the “sight” of the sensor. 

Where Do You Use Them? 

Clustered window areas like sunrooms and kitchens are a natural spot – and one sensor is great for a room with several windows and a sliding glass door, in case the intruder breaks through the glass door. Other good areas are fixed windows (some of my windows are painted shut!), and vulnerable spots where motion sensors will not be active in the Stay alarm mode.

Wireless glassbreak sensors mount on the wall or ceiling, and don’t have to “point” at the glass they are protecting – they just need a clear “line of sight” to do their thing. Bad guys do break glass, often to reach in, and unlock a window: it’s much more efficient to use a single glass break sensor than place a door/window sensor on every window in a room.

Wireless is the Name of the Game

As I’ve mentioned before, the trend has been toward wireless technology for years. That means no drilling, no running wires, and a faster (and cleaner) installation process. It also means that these sensors are easier to troubleshoot, to adjust, and even to move with you –that is, if you are fortunate enough to have a DIY alarm system. See this previous post for the rundown on why wireless sensor technology is the new norm.

Using the right sensor for each application is where an effective home security system starts – and the best alarm companies are committed to providing you with the protection and peace of mind you deserve: adding one or more wireless glassbreak sensors to your system could be the right call for your home. Now we’re another step closer to designing a complete home security system. There are a few more sensors to cover before we get there, so make sure to join us here for the updates. See you next Monday!

Comments (28)

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  1. Karen

    We have huge thick glass windows – commercial application – some are shatterproof (some sort of safety film on them so they will crack all to pieces but not break) and some are not. Would a glass break sensor work for us??

    • Katie Rynex

      Karen, thanks so much for reaching out! A Glass Break Sensor would not function properly on shatterproof windows, however, would work properly for the glass panel windows that will break. We hope this answers your question and ask that you please let us know if you have any other questions going forward!

  2. william

    Can the glass break sensor also be used as a listening device for conversations?

    • Katie Rynex

      William, the glass break sensors is not built for recording sounds as it can only be triggered by sounds that are in a certain frequency range. Thank you for the great question and we hope this was helpful!

  3. Maddie

    We were planning on applying security film to our rear door that has a large glass opening as an added precaution. Will the application of security film affect the GB sensor’s ability to detect that the glass has broken?

    • Katie Rynex

      Maddie, our glass break sensors detect the high frequencies emitted by broken glass. Adding the film could potentially change this frequency causing the glass break sensor to not “hear” the sound. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  4. Mery

    I have a bird that squaks very loud and it does echo is that going to set off my glass break alarm

  5. Joan

    I recently ordered a glass break sensor for my laundry room which has a large window. I have already installed a sensor on this window. The furnace and central air conditioning are in the laundry room behind louvered doors. The room is less than 100 square feet. Will this work for me?

    • Katie Rynex

      Joan, the Glass Break Sensor should work in your laundry room, however, we recommend that you do not have that sensor armed while you are doing laundry as it may trigger an alarm. We hope this answers your question and ask that you please let us know if you have any other questions!

  6. Joan

    I recently ordered a glass break detector for my laundry room which has a large window. I have already installed a window sensor. There is also the furnace and air conditioning unit in the laundry room inside a louvered door. The room is less than 100 square feet. Will this work for me?

  7. heather

    I have GB protectors and they have gone off twice when not home and no glass broken. I assume it’s my dog barking, but she has a big low bark and barks while we are here… we have had her bark to see if it would go off. Never does. What to do now? They call and I say its proably her. They re-acitvate it at that time. Why have it then Also, it must be awful for her and my cat while it’s going of too! Suggestions?

    • Valerie Saponara

      Heather, I’ve heard of this exact situation before and it is most likely your dog. The difference here is that when you’re at home, generally dogs bark or growl but rarely whine. We have found that it is very difficult for dogs to set this alarm off, however, they are capable of whining at a certain pitch and hitting that frequency. If your dog whines even once or twice within a certain distance of that sensor when you’re not home, that could be what is setting that sensor off. I would suggest keeping your dog in another part of the home that is about 40 ft away from that sensor. I don’t have tips on how to get a dog to stop whining or whimpering, but if you think this is something that can’t be fixed, please give our Support Team a call to let them know and we can see if switching out that sensor for another is an option for you!

  8. Angela

    I have a large window in my laundry room…would the washing machine set off the glass break sensor? Also…I noticed it says not to install in small rooms, what is the reason for this?

    • Valerie Saponara

      Angela, that glass break sensor is always listening for a very specific frequency that paneled glass breaking can make. That being said, no your washing machine cannot set this sensor off. We urge our customers to put that glass break sensor in open rooms because we want to avoid echos and noises sounding louder than they are. Let me know if you have any further questions!

  9. Cynthia

    We are having trouble with our motion sensor in our den – we believe it might be getting set off by the mailman walking by our large bay window. We are considering a glass break sensor instead, but are concerned about loud noises setting it off, such as music or our smoke alarm (which tends to go off when we broil things). Is this something we need to be worried about?

    • Valerie Saponara

      Cynthia, great question. No you should not be concerned about loud noises setting that glass-break sensor off because it will only go off if it detects the sound of paneled glass breaking. You could technically drop a ceramic mug on the floor and this sensor would still not go off. It can only detect specific frequencies so you don’t have to worry about loud music or your smoke alarm sounding. Hope this helps answer your question!

  10. Toniann

    Is it possible to test a glass break sensor without breaking a window?

    • Valerie Saponara

      Toniann, yes it is! Just clap your hands a couple times in front of your glass break sensor, and you should see a little red light flash every time you clap. This means the sensor can hear you and is working properly. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      • dre

        I have a glass break sensor for my basement. Testing the sensor involves clapping your hands in front of it and if the red light goes on it works. That test did not seem very reliable to me, so while on the phone with customer service during set up, I asked to test sensor on a real window break. We have replaced half of our windows and still have the old ones. I broke 8 panes of glass, moved the control panel and the sensor to every position the tech could come up with and yet the alarm never went off. A new sensor was sent and I tried that one as well while on the phone and still the alarm never went off. Frontpoint is giving a lot of people a false sense of security with the hand clapping test. They further explained that the GE equipment sensors are tested with a GE glass break simulator and they work in that scenario. Why does my alarm not respond to actual glass from a real window? Both techs basically said to give up and use motion sensors instead. Do they know something I should know?

        • Katie Rynex

          Dre, thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. As our equipment is manufactured by GE, we definitely stand behind its functionality and ability to alert when needed. We definitely would like to make sure that we can have all of your equipment working in optimum efficiency so we will have one of our Support Supervisors reach out to you so that they may assist. Thank you again for sharing your experience and we look forward to speaking with you soon.

  11. Kate

    About a week ago I installed glass break sensors in my home. Last night, the one in my bedroom beeped 3 times in a row. This 3 beep sequence went off about 3 times during the night. The alarm was not triggered and no glass was broken. There were raccoons going through my trash last night, but if they broke glass, why would the system just beep 3 times and not trigger the alarm? It sounded as if the beeping was coming directly from the sensor and not the control panel, but I was sleeping so I’m not entirely sure about this.

    • Valerie Saponara

      Kate, thank you for letting us know about the beeping you’re hearing. We see that you’ve recently been contacted by one of our Support Specialists regarding these beeps and they are ready to take a look into your system and find out what is going on there. Please take a look at that email and/or voice-mail when you have a second!

  12. Monica

    I recently installed window break sensor and always wondered if they worked. Unknowingly, I tested them out one day when I was putting glass dishes away in my kitchen. The loud clinking of the dishes set off the alarm. The sensor works… just don’t put away dishes when your house is armed!

  13. Monica

    I recently installed window break sensor and always wondered if they worked. Unknowingly, I tested them out one day when I was putting glass dishes away in my kitchen. The loud clinking of the dishes set off the alarm. The sensor works… just don’t put away dishes when your house is armed!

  14. Chuck Renner

    When you say the glass break listens for a specific acoustical frequency, are you saying it
    is not a ‘frequency range’?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Chuck – Great question. The sensor actually looks for a specific frequency, but there are several it looks for – as opposed to a range. What makes the sensor so reliable is that it also uses amplitude, duration and the several individual frequencies in a combination before triggering an alarm. Thanks again.

  15. Chuck Renner

    When you say the glass break listens for a specific acoustical frequency, are you saying it
    is not a ‘frequency range’?

    • Peter M. Rogers

      Chuck – Great question. The sensor actually looks for a specific frequency, but there are several it looks for – as opposed to a range. What makes the sensor so reliable is that it also uses amplitude, duration and the several individual frequencies in a combination before triggering an alarm. Thanks again.

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