/>
X
Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

What are the best driveway alarms and which alert your phone of movements?

Driveway alarms can notify you whenever there's movement in your driveway. They're an added layer of protection if you're looking to improve your home security. ZDNET found the best ones, and we tell you which ones can alert you via phone of potential disturbances.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on

A driveway alarm can beef up your home security system. It works with sensors to detect motion or heat (sometimes both), and alert you that someone is on your property. Though the name is specific to driveways, this setup can be placed all over your home, like the front or back yard. 

Aside from home security, a driveway alarm can be the best way to know when trick-or-treaters are coming to your door this Halloween, giving you extra seconds to scramble off the couch to grab the candy bowl.

Whether you prefer audible driveway alarms that beep or play a melody when movement or heat are detected or a smart alarm that will send you push notifications, ZDNET has gathered the best options available, no matter what your setup is. 

Also: These home security systems are reliable, versatile, and easy to set up

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Expandable up to 16 sensors
  • Up to 500ft wireless range
  • 30+ melodies to choose from
cons
  • May not work on longer driveways
More Details

Specs:

  • Power source: Battery-powered
  • Max wireless range: 500 feet
  • Maximum detection range: 40 feet
  • Color: Black and copper
  • Sensor type: Heat and motion

This driveway alarm can be installed on your home or a post outside of it, in order to allow it the most visibility of incomers. It has three levels of sensitivity ranging from low to high, the highest being up to 40 feet, so you can select the right amount of coverage for your property.

When you set up your alarm, you'll get alerted of any detected motion by a melody that plays on the receiver. The Guardline 500ft range alarm has over 30 melodies to choose from, with the option add up to 16 sensors for different areas around your home, each with its own melody. 

The wireless range means that the receiver needs to be placed within 500 feet of the sensor, which is something to consider when setting it up. If you have a long driveway and want to place this at the end of it, by the street, then you may need an alarm that covers over 500 feet.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • 600ft wireless range
  • Expandable up to 58 sensors/receivers
  • Inexpensive option
cons
  • Smaller coverage area
  • Only IP44 waterproof
More Details

Specs:

  • Power source: Battery-powered
  • Max wireless range: 600 feet
  • Maximum detection range: 20 feet
  • Color: Black
  • Sensor type: Microwave and infrared

Bistee's driveway alarm is a good starting option for anyone on a budget. With a maximum detection range of 20 feet, this is the perfect sensor for a smaller driveway or coverage area like a front porch or patio, especially at only $20. 

The sensor is powered by 4 AA batteries and has an IP44 waterproof rating, making it weatherproof for outdoor use. The receiver needs to be plugged in indoors within 600 feet of the sensor, making for an easy installation. 

Dakota Alert DCMA-4000 Long Range
Image: Amazon & Sabine Mederer / EyeEm via Getty Images
Pros & Cons
pros
  • Large coverage area
  • Perfect for long-range coverage
  • Battery can last up to a year
cons
  • Only up to 12 alert tones
  • Setup can be difficult
More Details

Specs:

  • Power source: Battery-powered
  • Max wireless range: 1 mile
  • Maximum detection range: 100 feet
  • Color: Tan sensor and white receiver
  • Sensor type: Infrared

The Dakota DCMA-4000 is the best option for long-range monitoring as it allows up to one mile between the sensor installed outside and the receiver inside. If you have a long driveway or a larger property to cover, this option was made for you. 

The long-range monitoring makes for more reliable alerts, effectively reducing false alarms. This is especially true as it detects movement in a coverage area of up to 100 feet from the sensor.

The sensor uses a 9-volt battery, while the indoor receiver is connected to power. The receiver can handle up to 16 different Dakota sensors, in case you want to add extra monitoring to areas surrounding your property. 

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Smart mobile notifications
  • Upload your own MP3 alerts
cons
  • Issues with detection during rain
  • Only wireless connection, no LAN port
More Details

Specs:

  • Power source: Battery-powered
  • Max wireless range: 1320 feet
  • Maximum detection range: 30 feet
  • Color: Gray and white
  • Connectivity: Wifi

Driveway alarms work by playing an audible alert in your home when motion is detected by the sensor outside. Personally, I prefer a silent-type of alarm, like a phone notification, since with three kids and a dog I don't need more noise in my house. So I'm a fan of smart alarms instead of the traditional ones.

Yolink's driveway alarm is the best smart option because it doesn't require a specific home automation system to be installed or purchased separately. It comes with a receiver that connects to wifi and the sensor which is mounted outside. 

The receiver works like all the other driveway alarm receivers, with the exception that it's wifi-enabled, so when you install it you can connect it to the internet so you can easily receive mobile notifications of any motion detection. 

The Yolink driveway alarm can be integrated with Alexa or IFTTT, and has customizable audio. You could even set up custom Halloween anouncements by uploading an MP3 file and setting it as your alert.

Pros & Cons
pros
  • Large wireless range
  • Can be buried in or next to driveway
  • Handles up to 16 sensors
cons
  • Only detects vehicles
  • Only 16 alert types
More Details

Specs:

  • Power source: Battery-powered
  • Max wireless range: 1 mile
  • Maximum detection range: 10-12 feet
  • Color: White
  • Sensor type: Metal-detecting probe

The Dakota Alert DCPA-4k Plus wireless driveway alarm consists of a probe that you can bury underground to detect incoming vehicles, the probe is connected to 50ft of direct burial cable to transmit the signal to the receiver. The receiver can be placed up to a mile away and still sound reliable alerts when a vehicle is near the probe.

This is perfect for gravel driveways, especially in larger properties. However, you can bury the probe next to a concrete or asphalt driveway and it will detect vehicles within 10-12 feet. 

This Dakota Alert driveway alarm only has a metal sensor, so it won't detect any people or large animals like deer or bears. This makes it more suitable for those who don't want false alarms from animals on their property and only want to receive alerts when a car is coming. 

What is the best driveway alarm ?

The Guardline 500 ft range is the best driveway alarm overall because it is the best combination of detection and wireless range, price, alert sounds and reliability. With both heat and motion detection during night and day, the false alarms are greatly reduced, making for accurate alerts. 

It's also right down the middle in wireless range, a perfect fit for the majority of homes that don't require one mile of wireless range.  

Driveway alarmsZDNet's takeOriginal PriceDetection rangeWireless rangeAlert soundsSensors per receiver
Guardline 500 Foot RangeBest overall$5940 ft500 ft30+16
Bistee Driveway AlarmBest for a budget$2020 ft600 ft5858
Dakota Alert DCMA-4000Best for long-range monitoring$100100 ft 5280 ft1216
YoLink SpeakerHub & Outdoor motion sensorBest smart option$461320 ft20 ftMP3, voice, or alertsN/A
Dakota Alert DCPA-4k PlusBest for gravel driveways$26012 ft5280 ft1616

Which is the right driveway alarm for you?

The right driveway alarm for you will depend on your property and the places you want covered by the motion detectors. Your budget, the are you want the sensor to cover, and how you want to hear the alerts will all factor into that decision.

If you have a long gravel driveway you want to be alerted of any motion detected, then the Dakota Alert DCMA-4000 is a good choice. If, however, this sounds like your property but you only want to know when a vehicle is detected, splurging for the Dakota Alert DCPA-4k Plus may be the best option.

Personally, I prefer an alert to come as a notification on my phone or Apple Watch, so I know I'll always get it no matter where I am and that it won't be a loud noise in my home, so I prefer a smart option like Yolink's outdoor sensor. 

Choose this driveway alarm...If you...
Guardline 500 Foot RangeNeed a large coverage area but don't have a long driveway
Bistee Driveway AlarmWant a reliable alarm within a budget
DakotaAlert DCMA-4000Need a long-range alarm for longer driveways or large properties
YoLink SpeakerHub & Outdoor motion sensorWant notifications on your smartphone for any detected motion
Dakota Alert DCPA-4k PlusWant to only detect incoming vehicles at long-range

How did we choose these driveway alarms?

ZDNET is committed to finding the best devices on the market via personal experience and exhaustive research, and choosing the best driveway alarms was no exception to that process. 

Taking great care to find the driveway alarms that are worth our readers' hard-earned money, we looked at accuracy in motion detection, reliability in everyday use, weatherproofing, detection range and wireless range. 

How does a driveway alarm work?

Traditional driveway alarms come with two pieces: a motion detector and a receiver. The motion detector is battery-powered and installed on the outside of your home, pointed towards the area you want to cover. The receiver is connected to power inside of your home. Once motion is detected, the sensor sends a signal to the receiver, which sounds an audible alert to let you know that someone is outside. 

Each driveway alarm has a specific range of both maximum coverage area and maximum distance between the receiver and the sensor. The maximum coverage area is the area the sensor is monitoring for motion, this would be a driveway, front porch or front or back yard. 

The maximum distance between the receiver and the sensor, also known as wireless range, determines how far you can place the receiver from the sensor for them to stay connected and the alerts from motion detection to come through to the receiver. 

Is there a driveway alarm that alerts your phone?

There are several smart driveway alarms that work either with an app from the manufacturer on your phone, or that can be linked to a home automation system like Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit, Home Assistant, etc. 

Our top pick out of the smart options, the YoLink Outdoor motion sensor & SpeakerHub is worth highlighting because it comes with a receiver that doubles as a hub for a low price, making it a good choice for those that don't want to add a complete home automation system to their homes. It has sound and voice alerts, as well as Alexa and IFTTT integrations though. 

If you only want a mobile notification when there is someone on your driveway, simply getting an outdoor motion sensor compatible with your current home automation system is enough. Ring has some outdoor motion detectors and is Alexa-compatible, Eve has HomeKit-enabled motion detectors, and if you have a Philips Hue hub at home, you can add this motion detector

How do you install a driveway alarm?

Most driveway alarms are battery-operated, with some solar-powered options. This makes installation easy by simply adding batteries to the sensor, and just a screwdriver should be enough to attach to either a pole or siding. If you have vinyl siding, these mount clips could be useful.  

The receiver just needs to be plugged in inside your home, then follow any manufacturer's instructions if pairing or wifi connectivity is required.

Are there alternative driveway alarms worth considering?

There are many more driveway alarms on the market worth considering. Even if they're not our top choices, they come close. Here are our honorable mentions:

Editorial standards

Related

What is a smart TV, and which are the best?
Placeholder product image alt text

What is a smart TV, and which are the best?

Don't know which home EV charger is right for you? We break it down
Home EV charger in garage

Don't know which home EV charger is right for you? We break it down

Bring the theater to you with our favorite 4K home theater projectors
Best 4K home theater projectors

Bring the theater to you with our favorite 4K home theater projectors