Three Letters Re: Advice on Driveway Alarms for Retreat Security

Mr. Rawles,
We’ve been using the Dakota Alert driveway alarm for years. We use the model with the underground sensor that will only go off when a metal object comes near it such as a large (or even small) vehicle. The advantage of this is it has absolutely no false alarms. When the receiver says a car is coming down our (long) driveway, then a car is coming. There is nothing worse than an alarm that gives false alarm all the time and you no longer can trust it. The infrared driveway alarms that I’ve tried do this especially if you live in an area with lots of game running around such as deer, etc. Because of the absence of false alarms, I know when my driveway alarm goes off at 3 a.m.that someone is coming and I can be sure to have the appropriate welcome ready for them.

The other advantage is the unit is very discreet. With almost 50 feet of underground rated cable, I can bury the sensor next to the driveway and put the transmitter away from the road in an elevated position (such as a tree) and it is almost impossible to see. The 9 volt DC battery it uses lasts us about 8-12 months easily. I highly recommend the Dakota Alert. It’s a great product and well worth the money. – Craig


I can vouch for the Reporter brand driveway alarm system. It’s American-made and is fairly reliable. I had two different chinese-made systems which used magnetic sensors before I found out about this one. The [mainland] Chinese-made ones would become very prone to false alerts before they both eventually broke down. One lasted a year and the other lasted two years. One of them ended up ringing the base unit non-stop.

I’ve used the older Reporter [design] for nearly three years and it has held up to midwestern temperatures and weather extremes. It’s range will drop to 100 yds if you use the supplied antennas with the receiver kept indoors. The sensor is very constrained in how it must be aimed in order to detect vehicles. Contrast in temperature in important. A cold vehicle that leaves your property will probably not always set it off. On the flip side, I’ve never had a false alarm with it. It will pick up small animals that get exactly within its sensor path –including rabbits and occasionally a bird. Likewise, I had a spider crawl onto the sensor which set it off and made for an amusing mystery until I looked at the sensor itself. It will sometimes miss vehicles coming in due to types of tires, position of muffler
which could escape a single sensor. This takes some experimentation and an understanding that it isn’t always going to be 100% perfect. It’s like any other piece of gear that can fail. Later, – Chris


Dear JWR:
I replaced my wired driveway alert with a wireless Dakota Alert unit several years ago. I have been pleased with the performance and customer support. I use a magnetic sensor to minimize false alerts, although my neighbor’s cow and large deer can somehow trigger it from tromping down my driveway. The 9 volt alkaline battery has been unreliable in cold weather and I have purchased lithium batteries to test this winter.
Also, the sensor and cable are enclosed in plastic conduit to keep the critters with sharp teeth from giving me another repair project I purchased and returned the Dakota Alert portable receiver as it was very disappointing. Thanks to all for the tip on using the alert with a MURS [handheld] radio. BTW, I’ve made my 10 Cent Challenge. Thanks, – Jon