A Guide to Pool Alarms Types: How to Keep Your Pool Area Safe

In this guide, you will learn more about the different types of pool alarms available and how they function. You will also learn about ways to keep your pool area safe and how to prevent tragedy. Read more here.

On a hot summer day, nothing beats a leisurely day by the pool to wind down. On the other hand, children and other guests may get injuries or even fall into the water if you are not careful. One of your top priorities must be the safety of your pool.

By preparing ahead and guarding your pool meticulously, you may avoid most water-related accidents. Whether you’re concerned about accidents, drowning, or other potential dangers, following a few basic procedures will help keep your pool area secure.

In this article, we dive into types of security pool alarm systems that can help improve the safety of your pool.

How Pool Alarms Can Improve Safety

A pool alarm positioned on the side of swimming pool

Even the most conscientious pool owners require help to make their swimming pool safe for children and dogs. Let’s face it: small children and your four-legged buddies occasionally require additional supervision to keep them safe.

That is why the addition of a pool alarm is a wise decision to improve the security of the pool. These gadgets can alert you quickly if there is any unusual activity in or near your swimming pool or spa.

There are four categories of pool alarms that you can choose to watch over your swimming pool. They can be hooked up to a wall, fence, pool gate, or door; put on a pool to detect surface breaches; installed underwater with motion detectors; or worn by a child as a bracelet (or on the collar of a dog).

Alarm Type 1: Entry-Point Mounted Alarms

An alarm control panel attached to the wall

These sensors are attached to the wall, fence, gate, door, windows, or garage door that leads to your backyard pool, and triggers when specific types of motion are detected.

Some of these pool devices use infrared beams to detect water movements. Others sound off when a magnetic connection is broken, such as when someone is opening the door. In either case, hearing the alert indicates that an unexpected guest has entered the pool area.

Most homes with larger pools have walls or fences to prevent unwanted entrance. In some countries, pools are generally on a vast lot, where the nearest neighbors are acres away. In this situation, properties don’t need barriers or a basic split-rail fence that a kid or adult may easily climb over.

Some pool owners install an alarm on the gate of their backyard fence to keep their children and pets safe. Another popular alternative is in the door to their house that leads to the backyard. And some put these motion detectors on their windows and garage doors.

These mounted alarms benefit from providing “early warning,” meaning that the alarm will sound as soon as someone approaches the pool. This additional warning time may prove lifesaving in some situations.

Similarly, there may be occasions when small children are playing inside your home—but decide to venture into the backyard independently. When an alarm is installed on the door to your backyard, it will ring upon opening, alerting you that the kids are on their way to the pool.

One advantage of these alarms is they are affordable, ranging at least $50 for a good one.

Alarm Type 2: Pool-Surface-Action Alarms

A Pool Surface Action Alarm by the Pool

Surface-action pool alarms are controlled by a sensor device that communicates with a wireless receiver. When the electronic sensor detects movement on the water’s surface, it signals the alarm system, which sounds an alarm.

You can typically install surface action alarms in the poolside along the deck’s perimeter coping. There are varieties of models you can choose from depending on your preference. One example pool owners use is an L-shaped device. It’s easy to set up: submerge it in pool water while the other end is set to alarm on top of your deck.

These sensing systems alert you if a person—or a pet—enters or falls into the pool water. Most of them have adjustable sensitivity level features, allowing you to set up how large or tiny a splash will trigger the pool alarm. If a false alert occurs, such as when the wind blows the plastic table, you can easily manually switch off the alarm system.

Adjustability is an essential feature for pool alarms. You may have a little pet weighing approximately 15 pounds and wish the alarm to ring if it accidentally goes into the water. Moreover, you do not want the pool alarm to sound because of severe rain, powerful wind gusts, or leaves flying into the pool.

While these are suitable pool safety devices, they do not give the same level of response time as those wall/door//fence or gate alarms. When the surface-action gadget in your pool deactivates, it shows that someone has already contacted the water.

With these various factors, the type of pool you have, and the location, you may determine that installing different alarm models around your pool could be highly beneficial. For example, you can use a gate-mounted alarm with a surface-action unit, only for about $200.

Alarm Type 3: Pool Underwater Motion Detectors

A man underwater and pool motion detectors

“Sub-surface” alarms need a solar grid you can install underneath the water surface to detect changes in pressure. This then sends a signal to the alarm system to detect abnormal activity, such as drowning.

Important: “According to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in five drowning deaths in the United States is a child under the age of 14.” – Day Marketing

These motion detectors use sonar technology, so they are more effective at preventing false alarms than surface-action ones. They are super sensitive. They can detect small bodies weighing 15 pounds.

Most of these pool alarms re-arm themselves automatically after the water has calmed. So you might want to deactivate your pool alarm when someone is using it for the day. Some pool alarms feature a key or let you do it by entering a passcode. If you have kids, make sure to keep the keys from them safely.

You may also look for a handy house remote that comes with this model. A remote makes it easy and fast to deactivate the device when someone is using the pool. 

When choosing a pool alarm with a remote receiver, consider the transmission range. You might believe that a long-range is better than a small range. But consider that using a short-range remote receiver compels you to walk near the pool, allowing you to survey the area before you can switch off the alarm. 

Subsurface pool alarms available on the market can range from about $300 to $700.

Alarm Type 4: Personal Immersion Detectors

Immersion detectors are pool alarms to track children and pets getting into pools. 

Personal Immersion Detectors have two components. The first option is having your kid wear a bracelet. You can also buy a collar for your water-loving pup.

The second unit is base control, meaning you plug it into a wall outlet inside your home through a USB wire or an adapter.

This collar and wristband have an electronic sensor inside that signals to the base unit. When the gadget is activated, and the alarm sounds off, your child or pet has entered the pool.

Your kid has to wear the wristband for this alarm to function well, or your pup may need to wear the collar. Remove them before they enter your pool.

Important note: The wristband only triggers the alarm when your child wearing it enters the pool. The alarm won't go when any other kids without the wristband enter the pool.

This reason alone makes the wristband alarm a suitable alternative or backup device, but not necessarily your main alarm system.

Some pool owners opt to purchase a pair of base stations, one inside the house and the other for the backyard. One base station and wristband can cost you around $250. Remember you can purchase multiple wristbands and base stations.

Local Rules Regarding Pool Security

Before purchasing a pool alarm, it’s an excellent idea to research the safety standards in your area. The laws governing pool safety differ from state to state and from municipality to municipality.

Most municipalities require that some perimeter fencing surrounds a pool and that the fence has a self-closing, self-latching gate at least 54 inches above the ground.

On our website, you will find great articles about pools. You may be surprised at how easy it is to maintain a swimming pool. Here are a few tips to help you get started. Happy Swimming!

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About the author

Ruben Anderson

I consider myself a pool and gadget geek. On thepoolpassion.com I review anything techie that helps me run a pool more effectively and efficiently.

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