A Comprehensive Guide to Glass Break Sensors

How they work and where to install them.


November 16, 2020

11 How Many Glass Break Sensors Do I Need1

The dream home you just purchased has a professionally installed home security system, you’ve received guidance on how to use it, and it’s connected to your local emergency services offices. You feel like you’re good to go on keeping your family and property safe. But does your system include glass break sensors?

Since 95 percent of all burglaries involve some kind of forced entry, be that kicking in a door or breaking a window with a pry bar, it’s a good idea to have glass break detectors in your home. Properly locating these sensors is key to providing a reliable second layer of home security. While you certainly can install a glass break detector yourself, it’s best to hire a professional who knows where to place your sensors for optimal coverage and security.

What does a glass break sensor do?

Glass break detectors essentially alert you (as well as your alarm company and local authorities) when they pick up the sound of glass breaking in your house. That means, when your security system is armed, if an intruder smashes a window in your backyard in hopes of gaining entry, the glass break sensor will detect that high-pitched sound, set off an alarm, and immediately notify you and authorities of the break-in.

How does a glass break detector work?

Glass break detectors work by sensing specific high-pitched sound frequencies like shattering glass and splintering wood. While it’s uncommon, glass break sensors can sometimes be triggered by noises that may sound like breaking glass — dropping keys on the floor, for example. Once you’ve installed your sensors, you can test their sensitivity, and your senior security consultant can help you make location adjustments if they’re being triggered by everyday sounds such as your television or loud noises in the kitchen.

There are two different types of glass break sensors: acoustic and shock sensors, each with its own features and advantages.

Acoustic glass break sensors

These sensors are triggered by sound wave frequencies and can detect glass breaking from up to 20 feet away. Acoustic sensors have small microphones that listen for the specific frequencies of breaking glass. You will want to place your acoustic glass break detectors around easily accessible windows or glass doors (often on the ground floor) that can give an intruder easy entry into your home.

Shock glass break sensors

This type of sensor detects the vibrations from glass breaking, thus it senses motion more than sound. Installers usually mount shock glass break sensors directly on the window. One disadvantage of shock glass break detectors is that they can set off false alarms, mistaking a slamming door for the vibrations of breaking glass. They also have to be mounted on each window and door you want to secure; you cannot use a single shock sensor for multiple windows as you can with acoustic sensors.

How many glass break sensors do I need?

You don’t necessarily need a glass break sensor for every window on your ground floor. With professional installation, a single acoustic glass break detector can cover several windows and glass doors in a room, maybe even all of them, depending on the room’s size. You will generally want at least one acoustic glass break sensor in each room that is vulnerable to a glass-break entry.

Glass break sensor placement

Where to install a glass break sensor? This is key to effective security. Your Brinks Home™ senior security consultant can ensure you have optimal placement of glass break detectors in your home. Generally, your home security provider will place these sensors on the ceiling or a wall. The main thing is that the glass break detector is within 20 feet of the glass door(s) or window(s) it’s monitoring.

Keep in mind that heavy curtains or blinds can interfere with glass break sensors’ effectiveness because they’ll often muffle the high-pitched sound of glass shattering. If keeping those window coverings in place is important to you, make sure you place that glass break detector closer to the windows than the recommended 20 feet to ensure it will catch the sound of shattering glass, even if it’s behind thick window coverings.

Are you thinking about home security?

Glass break sensors offer an attractive extra layer of security to your home because they will often detect a break-in before an intruder has time to gain entry. If you safeguard your home with glass break sensors, you’re creating an invisible web of extra security around your residence.

Want more peace of mind about your family’s safety and the security of your possessions when you’re not at home? Reach out to a Brinks Home senior security consultant for more details on installing glass break detectors to prevent intruders from getting inside your home.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others.

Share via:

We are not able to service your area yet.

Thank you...

Your request has been submitted.

One of our expert security consultants will be in touch. Together, we'll design a smart home security system to fit your lifestyle.


Interested in a Home Security System?

Complete this form and a Brinks Home™ Security Consultant will reach out regarding building your security system.

...or Call 888.627.3631

By clicking the ‘Submit’ above below, I agree that a Brinks Home specialist may contact me via text messages or phone calls to the phone number provided by me using automated technology about Brinks Home offers. This consent is not required to make a purchase. Your information is collected and used in accordance with our privacy policy. Clicking the button below constitutes your electronic signature.