Shatterproof Glass for Home Security: A Worthwhile Investment?
shatterproof glass in your first-floor windows is one way to deter intruders,
but homeowners should consider all of their options
Most homeowners understand that when it comes to home security, first-floor windows are one of the most vulnerable parts of any house. While most burglars still prefer to enter through a door, windows are their second most common point of entry. Standard window glass can be shattered in seconds, and a dangerous criminal can be inside your home an instant later.
Of course, breaking a window tends to make a lot of noise, a fact which deters some burglars. But while many intruders strive to be quiet and stealthy, others do not. This may be the case if no one is home or if there are few neighbors close by. It’s also important to understand that some criminals can be reckless or even irrational. These individuals may not care who hears them and may even strike while the house is occupied.
Homeowners have multiple options for protecting their windows from such intrusions. One possibility is fortifying these entry points with “shatterproof” glass. It is crucial, though, to understand what protections this glass does and does not offer—and which other security options are available.
several ways to prevent or slow windows from shattering
While people tend to use the term "shatterproof glass" indiscriminately, there are actually several varieties of glass and glass reinforcement that are designed to prevent window breakage. They work in different ways and have different levels of effectiveness. They also vary by price. Let’s take a look at the options:
Protective film reinforces existing window glass
For many homeowners, the simplest window glass reinforcement may be a protective film. This product is offered by multiple manufacturers and can be installed over your existing window glass. This means it will usually be less expensive than completely replacing your windows. Protective film is installed somewhat like an after-market tint on your car’s windshield, with a layer of thin, strong plastic covering the window.
However, protective film doesn’t fully prevent breakage. What it really does is hold the broken pieces in place after something strikes the window. This keeps people nearby from being cut by flying shards and also maintains a tough barrier within the window frame. Even after the glass is broken, it will take some time for the intruder to get through the plastic.
Protective film has the bonus of filtering out harmful UV rays. There are also reflective or tinted varieties that can prevent prowlers from peeping into your home. Despite these advantages, protective film has a few drawbacks. Depending on the installation method, window type, and other variables, a determined intruder may eventually break through the plastic film. While some criminals may be deterred by the time and effort this takes, others may not. Also, ironically, the housebreaker will now be somewhat protected from the hazard of broken glass.
Protective film usually requires professional installation and must be anchored to the window frame, so there is some expense involved. And if the installation is not done carefully, the results can be unsightly.
In short, protective film can discourage or slow down intruders, but it will not “burglar-proof” your windows. It can also be relatively expensive if you have numerous windows to protect.
Tempered glass offers a safer solution, but it does
not lock down a home
Homeowners who want to replace their existing glass with a sturdier (and safer) product might consider using tempered glass. This material is heated and cooled rapidly during the manufacturing process, ultimately making it 3 to 5 times stronger than standard window glass. If something does strike the pane hard enough to break it, it will crumble into pebble-like chunks that are unlikely to cut anyone.
Many local building codes require the use of tempered glass on doors and in high-traffic areas where passersby may stumble into it. As this fact suggests, tempered glass is considered more of a safety precaution than a security measure. It may slow down or discourage many intruders. But if a determined criminal does shatter it, there is no barrier between him and your valuables, or you. Replacing all of your ground floor windows with tempered glass also represents a considerable investment.
Laminated glass protects you with a glass sandwich
Another option is to replace your standard panes with laminated glass. Often referred to as “sandwich glass,” this product is made from two sheets of regular glass with a strong sheet of plastic layered in between them. It works similarly to protective film, holding glass fragments together if the pane is broken. Your car windshield is likely made of laminated glass. Like your windshield, a laminated glass window can also be broken out by a strong enough blow. And, of course, replacing multiple windows usually requires much more of this expensive product than replacing a car windshield.
Plexiglass or polycarbonate windows are a far stronger
but costlier option
When someone uses the term “shatterproof glass,” they are often referring to plexiglass or polycarbonate products. Plexiglass is made from acrylic and is 10-17 times more resistant to breakage than standard glass, depending on thickness. Like the other options we’ve explored, acrylic Is more expensive than standard glass. It is also significantly less scratch-resistant. This may pose a problem if you have pets or small children.
While it is hard to break, acrylic is vulnerable to heat, solvents, warping, and cracking. These issues may not present a security threat but could erode the appearance and clarity of your windows over time.
Polycarbonate windows use another type of “shatterproof glass.” It is even stronger than plexiglass but is usually identical in appearance to standard glass. Polycarbonate sheets, layered with other materials, are used to make the bulletproof glass used in banks and police shields. Unfortunately, this product can be quite a bit more expensive than plexiglass or standard glass. It is also vulnerable to scratching, solvents, and even dents.
glass break sensors are an effective, cost-friendly alternative
As we have seen, none of the types of shatterproof or reinforced glass is a perfect security solution—though some may indeed slow down or deter intruders. All are still vulnerable to breakage or other damage. They can also be prohibitively expensive, especially if you have numerous windows to secure.
One option is to use one of these products only on your most vulnerable windows and secure the rest using another means. Wireless glass break sensors can raise an alarm when a standard glass window breaks. This can scare off an intruder or help police catch him in the act.
Frontpoint Wireless Glass Break Sensors are linked to a central control Hub using Z-Wave technology, a wireless communication protocol that uses less energy than Wi-Fi and has a longer range than Bluetooth. The wireless technology means that installation is fast and easy. No carpentry, wiring, or alterations to your windows or walls are required. Simply stick the device to a surface using the adhesive strip. If you need to move it to another spot or another room, just replace the strip.
When a Frontpoint Glass Break Sensor detects the sound of your window breaking, it activates and signals the Hub. This raises the alarm and, just as importantly, contacts our 24/7 monitoring center. The center will then attempt to contact you and obtain your verbal passcode. If the center can't reach you, or it receives an incorrect code or no code, security professionals will dispatch local first responders to your address. You can also cancel an alarm with a tap on your smartphone if there isn’t a real emergency.
Speaking of false alarms, they are fairly rare when it comes to glass break sensors. If you drop a wine glass or a coffee mug, the sound is not likely to set off the alarm.
Another component specifically designed to protect your windows is the Frontpoint Door/Window Sensor. Like Glass Break Sensors, these mount easily with replaceable adhesive strips. Door/Window Sensors come in two parts. One piece contains an electronic sensor, while the other incorporates a magnet.
You install the sensor portion on your window frame and the magnet portion to your window frame. The two pieces should sit directly across from each other, almost touching. When the system is armed and someone opens the window, the two units will separate, disrupting an electrical circuit and setting off an alarm. Once again, the control center will attempt to contact you for the passcode. Thus, even if you have shatterproof glass installed, a door/window sensor can send an alert and sound an alarm if a thief manages to work open the latch.
Like Frontpoint’s Glass Break Sensors, Door and Window Sensors also easily link to your control Hub. All of these products are designed for out-of-the-box functionality, with no difficult "learning" or coding process. They are also 100 percent reusable and portable. You can rearrange your security set-up with little difficulty and transfer it to a new home when you move.
glass is just one potential part of a full security set-up
Installing shatterproof glass is seldom the universal solution to window-security concerns. It can certainly slow down or even stop a burglar but may not work for determined intruders. It can also be quite expensive when numerous windows are involved. Fortunately, homeowners can augment or replace the shatterproof glass option with cost-effective security products like wireless glass break sensors and door/window sensors.
To learn more about home security components that safeguard your home, check out these blogs:
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