The Benefits of Contact Sensors in Your Home Security System
Ring contact sensor on door
Home Security

The Benefits of Contact Sensors in Your Home Security System

By Ring on April 19, 2023

If you're in the market for a DIY security system, you'll likely find that contact sensors come with nearly every kit, regardless of brand or size. Learn more about why contact sensors are included in most modern home security systems and how they help provide you with an extra layer of protection.

Understanding How Contact Sensors Work

First things first — before we dive into learning more about contact sensors, let’s get a better understanding of how they work.

The most common type of contact sensor has two distinct parts: a reed switch and a magnet. If someone opens a door or window when your alarm is armed, for example, the two parts separate, breaking the circuit that triggers your alarm system and will send a signal to the control box. If you subscribe to Ring’s professional monitoring services, the center is notified immediately.

The Difference Between Window and Door Contact Sensors

Window and door sensors work in similar ways. Many security providers offer a single model that can be used for both, while others have slightly different options. Door sensors are typically attached to the door frame and the door itself, with a sensor on each side. Window sensors usually consist of two parts as well; one part of the sensor is placed on the window frame, and the other is installed on the pane.

Common Types of Door Sensors for Alarm Systems

You can use contact sensors to secure practically any type of door in your home — but some doors require a specific type of sensor:

  • Surface-mount door sensors are the most common because they’re compatible with most door types. Surface-mount sensors work by attaching the magnetic component to your door or frame and the reed switch to the opposite side. If a door opens, the components separate, and the alarm system is triggered.
  • Rollerball door sensors can expand your security system if you have recessed doors in your home. Unlike surface-mount sensors that detect when a door opens, rollerball sensors detect when a door closes, depressing the ball once the door meets the hinge and triggering the alarm.
  • Garage door sensors are similar to surface-mount sensors, but the difference is that sensors for garage doors include larger magnets that keep the reed switch and magnet far enough apart to prevent false alarms.
  • Pull-apart sensors are typically used on emergency exit doors meant to remain closed most of the time. The magnetic sensor attaches to the end of a wire that’s inserted into a hollow tube. If the door opens, the magnet is pulled out of the tube and notifies the alarm system.
  • Choosing Where to Place Door Sensors

    While you can install sensors on nearly any kind of door, it’s a good idea to start with your home’s most visible entry point — the front door. Once it’s secure, you can place sensors on all of your ground-floor doors, since they’re the most vulnerable to unwanted visitors. As your needs change, you can add more sensors in additional locations to enhance your home security system.

    Where to Install Window Sensors

    Like doors on your home’s ground floor, windows on the lower level are also the easiest entry point to access, so it’s a good idea to start there and work your way up. Window contact sensors only work on windows that open, so don’t worry about installing sensors on any non-opening windows. If you’re concerned about leaving them vulnerable to an unwanted visitor, you can secure and monitor non-opening windows in your home with glass break sensors.

    Other Benefits of Contact Sensors

    Contact sensors are a great way to protect your home, but that's not all they can do!

    Secure Easily Accessible Items and Valuables

    Sensors can also be used to secure storage spaces such as cabinets and jewelry boxes. By placing a sensor on the access points to these items, can help you track if anyone is getting into them without your permission. If someone tries to access your valuables, you’ll be notified.1

    Keep an Eye on Entry Points of Your Home

    Ring Alarm Contact Sensors provide an extra layer of security, allowing you to know when a door or window is opened so you can take action. You can set up real time notifications to get sent to your phone from the Ring app, in addition to being able to hear the contact censor chirp.2 Our sensors can easily be mounted to any door or window frame in your home for an easy DIY installation process.

    A Unique Window Sensor Accessory

    Contact sensors that come with Ring Alarm Kits can be used on windows and doors, but we also offer a separate accessory specifically designed to enhance the way you secure the windows in your home. Leave sliding doors and windows cracked open for ventilation and still have security with the Ring Open Window Magnet for Ring Alarm. It allows you to install an additional contact point that easily mounts to any window frame, so you can feel secure even when the windows are open.

    Now that you have a better understanding of how contact sensors work together with your security system, you’re better equipped to help keep your home, family, and neighborhood safe.

    1 Ring Alarm and all Ring Alarm accessories require a subscription for digital notifications, in-app features, digital arming/disarming, and integration with other Ring, Echo, and third party products. Subscription sold separately. View for pricing and details.

    2 Depending on kit purchased, subscription may be required for in-app features and digital notifications.

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