The Best Driveway Alarm

Guardline Professional Grade Wireless Outdoor Driveway Alarm

Our Top Pick for 2016: Guardline Professional Grade Wireless Outdoor Driveway Alarm
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $99.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

A driveway alarm is designed to detect motion from people, vehicles, and animals whenever they enter onto your property. Driveway alarms are available with limited or extended applications. If you decide that you want a high-quality alarm integrated with the latest technology, you can expect to pay well over a hundred dollars. On the flipside, buying a cheaper driveway alarm model may not perform at the same level as the more expensive version. The two components of a driveway alarm system include a plug-in receiver and some type of sensor. The plug-in receiver can be inserted into a standard wall outlet and then mounted with a few screws if desired or placed on a table. When a receiver picks up a transmission from a sensor, the receiver then delivers an activity alert.

Table of contents

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PIR Sensor Is Weatherproof
Easy Installation
Only Detects Vehicles
Detects Motion Up To 30ft Away
Adjustable Volume Control
No False Alarms
Adjustable Sensitivity
30 Ring Tones To Choose From
Easy-to-install Electromagnetic Sensor Wand
Easy To Install, No Wiring Required
Includes One Sensor/one Receiver
Works Up To 400 Ft. Away
Detects Signals From Sensors Up To A 1/2 Mile Away
Long Range Up To 500 Ft
Ideal For Home And Business

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Guardline Professional Grade Wireless Outdoor Driveway Alarm

Guardline Professional Grade Wireless Outdoor Driveway Alarm Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $99.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThe Guardline Wireless Outdoor Driveway Alarm can be powered with an AC adapter or batteries. It is the ideal motion detector for your premises. This alarm set includes an easy-to-program compact receiver and one sensor and produces a high-volume chime along with flashing LED lights whenever the sensor is triggered. The IR sensors on the outdoor motion detector come with a simple install bracket and protective coverings. Additional sensors and receivers can be ordered. This provides you with full detection coverage for your surrounding property and driveway.

The receiver can be programmed to monitor 4 zones using a dozen sensors for each zone. If motion is detected, the light and sound within a tripped zone will go off. When the (4) AA batteries are used, they can last for up to 1 year. An indicator alerts you when the battery is low. The range capability between the receiver and the sensor (can extend up to 40 feet) and depends on your surroundings, but usually spans an area of up to 500 feet. The range can be extended if you order the Guardline signal repeater separately. More than 30 high decibel volume adjustable ringer options are available.
The hood on the wireless motion detector protects against sun, rain, and snow. The receiver includes a 12-volt relay to connect wired external alarms, bells or chimes.

Although the instruction manual for this product is quite thick, the consumer only needs to read a few instructions to actually set the alarm. Once the batteries are installed in the sensor, simply press down the learn button on the receiver, choose a few setting options and gesture in front of the sensor.

You can configure the sensor in a number of ways. Options may include bypassing detection of quick moving objects or using a photo sensor instead of an IR sensor. You can set up a ‘sleep timer’ between chimes so the alarm does not constantly go off. The alarm system can even be installed for up to 60 minutes if you are leaving the house or know someone is coming over.

It appears that the product is handled with pretty good customer service and tech support if you need help setting up your alarm or need help replacing it if it’s been damaged or broken. One huge plus of purchasing this alarm set is that it is backed by a lifetime warranty.

For all practical purposes, the Guardline Driveway Alarm is a very good product to own. However, there are a few issues associated with this model that deserve mentioning. One of the biggest complaints among users is that the audio alert is very loud. However, a knob located on the side of the receiver can be used to adjust the volume.

Some consumers dislike that this alarm is exported from China. The long term durability of the product also seems to be in question since it is made out of plastic. Additionally, the Guardline is a little expensive and there’s no option to select your sensor’s color.

Also, it can take several tries to adjust the unit so that it provides adequate coverage according to the consumer’s needs. One consumer commented that it picks up the motion of a medium-sized animal but not a smaller one. This issue especially proved to be a bit of a nuisance to deal with since squirrels were known to regularly come onto their property.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System

Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System

View it on Amazon for $29.38*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Chamberlain CWA2000 Wireless Motion Alert System includes one sensor, one base receiver, mounting hardware, and non-slip feet. The Chamberlain has a viewing angle of 120 degrees. This alarm is ideal for residential and commercial use. It also can expand using a maximum of 4 sensors. Three additional CWPIR sensors can be purchased at extra cost.

The Chamberlain Motion Sensor requires no wiring to operate and is easy to set up. It features a weatherproof outdoor sensor with adjustable sensitivity control. The base unit can be operated with an AC adapter or with AA batteries and alerts with audio and light to approaching vehicles or passersby. The life of the AA batteries can extend up to 24 months depending on their use.

To summarize how the Chamberlain Motion Sensor works, it uses a passive infra-red (PIR) sensor that detects motion based on the difference in temperature of outside air and a hotter or cooler object. The weatherproof PIR sensor can detect motion from the base unit up to 30 feet and has adjustable sensitivity which can be programmed to disregard movements by small animals. This alarm is great for outdoor locations such as plane hangars, garages, sheds, and patios, to name a few, and has a 880 yards range sensitivity from the base to the sensor.

The Chamberlain offers a significant advantage with its purchase if you need to quickly target a specific area of activity on your property. Each sensor has its own distinct sound, which allows you to easily detect which one was activated. Several base stations can be programmed to give off a designated number of beeps for different locations, such as four beeps for the swimming pool, three beeps for the shed, two beeps for the garage or one beep for the patio, for example.

If you want to be alerted to the presence of humans or animals, the Chamberlain Motion Sensor works effectively. The alarm is not triggered in windy conditions and is backed by a manufacturer that provides great customer service and domestic shipping.

Unfortunately, if you want to be notified in regards to approaching vehicles, this motion sensor unit will have its limitations. This is because the exterior of the vehicle usually matches the temperature of the outside air (especially on snowy, cold, rainy days) making it less detectable. Moreover, when the sensor is placed relatively far from the base, it is more likely for you to miss a light signal.

Some consumers find the sound of this alarm annoying. Aside from being able to put it on the mute setting, the sound of the other three settings can’t be changed. There are also a few complaints that a heavy network of trees located in the middle of the sensors and receiver unit causes the alarm not to trigger off. It is possible to not hear the equipment beep from a very long distance or over heavy background noise. Research of the Chamberlain indicates that vehicle detection can be hampered during bad weather.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Mighty Mule Wireless Driveway Alarm

Mighty Mule Wireless Driveway Alarm

View it on Amazon for $59.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe Mighty Mule is an electromagnetic sensor wand configured to detect the arrival and departure of vehicles in your driveway. It will not give off false alarms due to movement of animal or child activity. The easy-to-install wand picks up large metal objects moving within a 3 ft. to 12 ft. radius.

The outdoor transmitter digitally communicates to an internal base station up to 400 ft. away and sounds a pleasant chime. It is important for you to install the batteries into the transmitter near the installation site so that the sensor can “adapt” to its surroundings. As an added tip, the unit may not function properly if the batteries are installed inside your living space.

The Mighty Mule can even be used for ATVs, RVs, motorcycles, and stationary boats. Two AA batteries are needed to activate the transmitter. The product is made in China. Low battery indicator on both the indoor receiver and transmitter. A stake is included in this kit to easily bury the sensor wand in close proximity to your driveway.

It appears that the Mighty Mule stands up well when exposed to inclement weather. One customer commented that their sensor unit had been covered in snow several times without it malfunctioning. The Mighty Mule FM231 responds to changes in magnetic fields which eliminates motion from people, animals or non-metal objects rolling on the ground.

When installed in the proper environment, this product works relatively well, but has specific limitations. Although tech support is available with this product, many consumers do not like the fact that the Mighty Mule only has a one-year warranty. If the product stops working after this time, it will not be covered for repairs or replacement.

This specific unit’s PVC pipe extends nearly 30 inches off the ground and can shift around a lot under strong winds. This action can fool the sensor into thinking that something metallic was moving past it. The Mighty Mule can give off many false positives, making you think a vehicle is approaching when it is not. One consumer claimed that this electromagnetic sensor does not work over 100 feet, which may be a factor if someone has a very long driveway.

Another complaint is that the chime of the receiver chime is too faint. It can only be heard if you are in the same room without background noise. Of all the downsides mentioned, this one has the potential of you missing an alert giving off by a possible break-in or home invasion.

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): 1byone Wireless Driveway Alert

1byone Wireless Driveway Alert

View it on Amazon for $28.99*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe biggest purchasing appeal of this unit is that it perfectly combines the function of a driveway alert with a doorbell. Installation of this product is a breeze and requires no wiring with easy-to follow instructions.

The 1byone uses a Passive Infrared (PIR) sensor that detects heat from humans and cars and other hot objects moving at noticeable speed. This will activate the transmitter and dispatch a digital signal to the receiver. The sound produced is a 120-decibel alert if the motion is picked up within a radius of 20 feet.

The transmitter requires 3 x 1.5V AAA batteries and contains a passive infrared PIR sensor. In order for the transmitter to work properly, it should be placed outdoors where it will have a clear visibility of the driveway. The Receiver is powered by an AC 110-120V 60Hz adapter and mounts inside your living space or other location; it contains a LED light and a speaker to let alert you when the outdoor unit detects motion.

This alarm has a 300 foot range of operation in the presence of an open field between the primary chime unit and sensor. It features a blue LED light and a three-level volume adjustment including 36 melody options. The chime and sensor share a unique security code that blocks interference with your neighbor’s chimes.

The 1byone Wireless Driveway Alarm has high sensitivity to moving objects. It is the perfect product in commercial settings whenever someone enters the building or turns into a rural driveway. There are a range of available alert setting options available to program the receiver which can be adjusted for maximum volume. The 1byone Wireless is weatherproof and appears to have good battery life. Many users observe that the transmitter maintains a consistent line of sight with the receiver even at 200 feet away. Two sensors function with one receiver which allows you the option to monitor two locations at once.

An annoying aspect of this product’s high sensitivity to motion, is that it may constantly cause the alarm to sound off. Based on the circumstances or area, this driveway alarm may not work as well from very long distances or when set in close proximity with another object. This device occasionally sounds a false alarm due to small animals being mistaken for an intruder. Fahrenheit temperatures of 40 degrees and lower can impact the 1byone’s performance.


Pre-purchase considerations

Transmission Range

A driveway alarm is a less expensive product to use to alert you to anyone or anything entering your property. However, some driveway alarms may perform poorly or not at all when used to detect activity from a longer distance. This is especially the case for rural consumers who generally need motion detection for more than 100 feet away. Find a driveway alarm that provides the appropriate range of transmission by calculating the distance between the indoor unit and the outdoor sensor (including a wall in between) the two.

There are different types of sensors available on the market that you can use for your driveway alarm system: motion, beam, hose or probe. A motion sensor uses beams (passive infrared) to detect movement of humans and transports. A reflected beam sensor detects vehicles or people passing through the PIR beam between the sensors. A hose sensor is placed across your car port and detects vehicles as the wheels roll over it. Lastly, a probe sensor is a tube made of plastic that is placed underground alongside your car port which detects passing transports. Make sure to determine how many sensors your driveway needs. After carefully calculating your driveway’s dimensions, you may need to purchase more than two sensors.

Wireless or Magnetic

A key feature to consider when buying a driveway alarm system is determining which alarm configuration will work best in your residential or commercial setting. For example, wireless driveway alarms used in most single residential applications will respond to the movement of any object. They are not the best option in settings where high traffic around your property comes on a regular basis.

If you would prefer not to deal with the occurrence of annoying false alarms, use wireless driveway system in a more controlled environment. Wireless driveway alarm systems are affected by weather conditions or signal interference, such as when lawn decorations or a network of trees are present between the two components. Getting an effective wireless motion detector with an alarm can be purchased at a reasonable price. The biggest challenge with their function is the occurrence of ongoing false alarms.

On the other hand, magnetic driveway alarm systems perform based on changes to the magnetic field of the Earth. Their high magnetic sensitivity allows them to reliably detect small magnetic shifts, even when there is a long distance between the sensor and the metal object. These alarms are used solely for vehicle and other large metal object detection.

Weather-Resistance

Alarm systems that are poorly manufactured or constructed using cheaper materials will surely affect the way your alarm performs over time. It’s important to find a driveway alarm that can reasonably handle every day wear and tear. This is especially necessary if you live in an area with high winds, freezing temperatures, regular rainfall or snowfall, you will need to find a driveway alarm system that is durable enough to withstand constant battering from these elements.

As a tip, always use fresh, high-quality batteries in the outdoor unit. If the location of a driveway alarm will expose it to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, it is highly recommended to use lithium batteries for the sensors since alkaline batteries freeze at about 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Visible or Camouflage

There are several highly-effective driveway alarms available to the market. However, they may be designed in such a way where an intruder could bypass the sensors once he or she sees them. If you would prefer to own an alarm system that allows you to hide the sensors, choosing pressure hoses or magnetic metal sensors is your best choice. In cases where weather conditions are extreme, a rubber pressure hose will be affected by extreme cold and heavy snowfall.

Underground alarm systems provide more performance agility with their use because they are more robust and can provide additional functions other than creating an alert chime. An alarm system of this nature can be programmed to execute tasks at certain times, such as turning on yard lights as you pull up into the driveway. Buried systems can also communicate with mobile devices in the form of text alerts, for example. A buried system more precision with its operation, since it accurately analyzes the dimensions of objects passing by and only triggers off for something larger, such as a vehicle.

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

It takes less than a minute to break into a home. It can be nerve-racking constantly investigating noises you hear in the day or night. Driveway alarms make it easier to monitor your property and are a proactive security measure if your driveway is located several feet hundred from your house. Determining how much to pay for a specific driveway alarm model will depend on how you will benefit from its use long term. Finding a driveway alarm system that is easy to install is very attractive feature worth considering.

If you live in a patio apartment or in a basement, you especially need to be alerted to anyone approaching your property since these are both ideal locations where intruders can easily break in. Aside from alerting you to an intruder, driveway alarms can keep you from missing a package delivery or when guests or customers arrive to your door. The biggest hurdle to overcome when using a wireless driveway alarm is properly adjusting the sensitivity level so that the alarm doesn’t disturb you or others every time the sensor detects motion.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Cathy MacDowell, Best Driveway Alarms — Get Alerts When Guests or Intruders Arrive, DIYcontrols.com BLOG, February 11, 2016
  2. Eric Franklin, Smart Ways to Secure Your Home, CNet, March 24, 2014
  3. Paul F. P. Pogue, Should I Install a Driveway Alarm?, Angie’s List, April 8, 2015
  4. Paul Pogue, Should You Install a Driveway Alarm System?, Tribune News Service, July 5, 2015
  • Todd Charney

    Is there a sensor that can determine when a car is entering the driveway but will not go off when it leaves? I don’t want the sensor to go off everytime I leave my house.

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