Before we get to features, let's talk about installation. You can buy the best alarm in the world, but if it's not properly installed it will invariably let you down. Consumers should always look for a sign at their installing dealer that says MECP Certified. That means that installers working at that store are Mobile Electronics Certified Professionals.
Now that you've found an MECP certified installer, what features are you looking for? Let's first talk about security features, and then convenience features, because today's full-featured "car alarm" has both. For security, let's first talk about sensors. You need a good shock/impact sensor. Besides sounding the alarm if a thief opens a door or your trunk, you want the system to detect a sharp impact, which is the job of the shock sensor. You'll want a "dual stage" shock sensor, which discriminates between a light impact (which typically provokes chirps or a voice command to stand back) and a heavy impact, which triggers the full wrath of the siren. These are some additional sensors you might want to add to your system:
- An audio sensor, to detect breaking glass
- A "radar" or field disturbance sensor, especially if you have a convertible or a pickup truck
- A motion sensor, to detect jacking or towing and a closed loop sensor, to protect a trailer, boat or bicycles
One other feature you may want to look for is transmitter range. Many transmitters have range of 100 feet or less, but systems with superheterodyne receivers, like Directed's Super HF (SHF) systems, offer range of up to a full quarter mile!
Now let's talk about convenience, because the sky's the limit! Almost anything electrical in the car can be rigged to perform by remote control from the little transmitter on your keychain. Here are 3 of them:
- Remote Start. Starts your engine with the push of a button, to warm up the engine and interior in the winter, or to run your air conditioner in the summer.
- Remote Power Windows. A nice convenience feature. When the system arms, it automatically rolls your windows up. You can also roll them down or vent them by remote control.
- Trunk Pop. Open your trunk with the push of a button.