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Best Glass Break Sensors (2021)

Glass break sensors provide an additional layer of home security to any alarm system. Here are our picks for the best glass break sensors available to homeowners.

Home Security Adobe Licensed

Nearly all home security systems include motion and entry sensors. However, if the motion sensor is in the wrong place and an intruder breaks the glass to get in, the alarm may not trigger. To close this loophole, many home security companies offer glass break sensors that set off an alarm if a window shatters.

We’ll go over what a glass break sensor is, how it works, and how to install the sensor yourself or have a whole system professionally installed, and then we’ll recommend the best glass break sensors available.

What Is a Glass Break Sensor?

Glass break sensors or detectors are just what they sound like: devices that alert a security system when the glass in a window or door is broken. While some models are triggered by vibration, those are prone to false alarms, so all the detectors considered here are audio sensors.

Benefits of Glass Break Sensors

Here are a few advantages that glass break sensors provide:

  • They don’t require a window or door to open to trigger the alarm
  • They cover sliding glass doors, which aren’t usually compatible with traditional entry sensors
  • They can cover multiple windows and doors
  • They protect valuables like trophy or display cases

How Do Glass Break Sensors Work?

Unlike a door or window entry sensor, which triggers when the two parts of the detector move apart, a glass break sensor monitors audio frequencies. In short, it recognizes the sound of breaking glass.

One sensor can cover multiple square feet of space, so one glass break detector per room is usually sufficient. These detectors are usually installed on walls or ceilings, and they don’t need to be pointed at the window or door to work.

What to Consider Before Buying a Glass Break Sensor

When picking out a glass break sensor, you’ll want to consider some fairly obvious factors like cost and method of placement. You’ll also want to consider the sensitivity settings on the detector. Since these sensors pick up audio frequencies, they may be triggered by a dropped drinking glass or even the sound of glass breaking on TV. Higher-quality sensors will analyze sounds at multiple levels to reduce false alarms.

Before buying a sensor, you should also take your current security system into account. Will the sensor you’re considering integrate smoothly with your existing system? Do you want the sensor to activate its own siren or send a signal to the central system for professional monitoring? Is the sensor resistant to tampering? Is it wired or wireless?

3 Best Glass Break Sensors

Here are our top three picks for the best glass break sensor.

Top 3 Glass Break Sensors

Specifications Vivint Glass Break Detector ADT Glass Break Sensor Honeywell 5853 Wireless Glass Break Detector
Specifications Vivint Glass Break Detector ADT Glass Break Sensor Honeywell 5853 Wireless Glass Break Detector
Price Bundled with package View Pricing Not available through This Old House
Best for Audio sensitivity Full monitoring Self-monitoring
Sensor type Audio, wireless Audio, wireless Audio, wireless
Sensor range 20 feet 25 feet 25 feet
Sensitivity settings 4 4 4
Smart home capability With Vivint system With ADT system None
Installation Professional Professional DIY

Vivint Glass Break Detector

Vivint’s glass break detector comes bundled with the company’s smart home security packages. This sensor is a top-of-the-line model that can detect the initial break of glass along with shattering to reduce false alarms from strong winds or other sounds. Sensitivity settings are easy to change at the push of a button.

ADT Glass Break Sensor

ADT’s glass break detector pairs with the company’s app for a seamlessly integrated home security system. All of ADT’s products come bundled with 24/7 professional monitoring to keep your home safe.

Honeywell 5853 Wireless Glass Break Detector

If you’re looking to self-monitor your home security system—that is, only hear an alarm rather than send a signal to a professional monitoring company—the Honeywell 5853 is an excellent choice. Although it doesn’t pair with smart home devices, it offers similar technology to the above models in terms of range and sensitivity. You can even install the security system yourself.

Home Security Honeywell

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a glass break sensor and a window sensor?

Typically, “window sensor” refers to an entry sensor that triggers an alarm when the window is opened. However, a glass break sensor will send an alert when the window is broken whether or not the window opens.

Do glass break sensors really work?

Enhanced audio technology, battery life, and wireless capabilities mean that today’s glass break sensors are not only incredibly sensitive but discriminating when it comes to identifying the sound of breaking glass.

Can a dog bark set off a glass break sensor?

A dog bark may set off a vibration-based sensor, which must be placed directly on the glass and alert to any strong vibrations. However, audio sensors such as the ones discussed above are tuned specifically to the frequency of glass breaking, so other sounds won’t trigger an alarm.

How can I test a glass break sensor?

Many units have a test mode that only requires a hand clap to ensure that the microphone itself is working. To test that the specific frequency will trigger the system, there are a number of audio and video files of glass breaking that DIY enthusiasts use. However, many people report mixed results when using “canned sounds,” so you may want to purchase a tester or speak to a home security professional.

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