A boat is a sizeable investment. And as such must be kept safe at all times. You obviously can’t monitor it 24/7 but a boat security system certainly can. For those times you leave your boat unattended at a dock or at anchor, a boat security system will be “your eyes”.
The endless misfortunes that can befall your boat range from fires to thefts and collisions. By installing a security system, you’ll have first hand evidence of any unusual occurrences on your boat.
But note that these systems aren’t only for monitoring your boat from afar—even use it when onboard.
Does this sound like something you definitely need? Let’s have a look at our top recommendations that you can pick from.
Types of Security Systems
We’ll start by outlining that there are different types of systems. We list them below:
- Local alarm: This system is designed to alert people onboard or nearby of any disturbances to your boat.
- Remote alarm: What happens if you’re not near the boat? This system will alert an owner of any suspicious activities happening on your boat even if you’re far away. Notification is done either via text, email or SMS.
- Interactive: This type goes beyond merely notifying the owner. It also allows you to immediately respond to a situation.
Top 5 Best Boat Alarm Systems and Tracking Devices
1. Skippers Wireless Boat Security System
First off, you’ll be impressed by how easy this unit is to set up. This is largely because it’s a wireless security system so no wiring is necessary to install the gadget.
Not only is it easy to install, but simple to use too. The intuitive keypad controller allows you to easily program the unit to your desired function. And it comes with four programmable modes.
This Skippers device displays a red flashing light which indicates that the system is armed and ready to start surveillance.
The alarm on this boat security system is pretty loud. You’re bound to hear it from a distance. The siren is designed to sound for three minutes before it shuts off.
For this system to function it needs to be connected to 12V DC power. It comes with two Energizer batteries located in the keypad but note that they are largely for back-up only. And these batteries will last you anything between six months to a year.
Generally the device is quite sturdy. But avoid exposing it to water because though it’s moisture proof it’s not waterproof.
2. Spot Trace
Before exploring the specs, we’ll quickly point out how relatively inexpensive this unit is. The system is designed to monitor the boat’s surroundings and you can view footage online on your mobile phone in real time.
If there are any suspicious movements near or around your boat, you’re immediately sent a notification. Alerts are sent via email or SMS.
The device is battery powered. And you’ll appreciate how the battery is designed to last for at least two months before the next charge. When the battery is low—or if the device has powered off—you’ll also receive a notification.
With this system, you’ll receive a daily status message that assures you of your boat’s safety. Aside from being affordable, this system is also very easy to use.
The system is negatively affected by weather. Rain is interpreted as suspicious movements resulting in a false alarm. Also, note that it’s not waterproof so avoid submerging it in water; you’re not likely to receive a signal if this happens.
3. Trak-4 GPS Tracker
Here is yet another boat security system that’s also easy to use. Upon installation, tracking will start in a matter of minutes. If there’s any suspicious activity picked up by the surveillance, you’ll immediately receive a notification via email or text.
This system is one of the cheapest on our list which is a plus. But note that you have to pay monthly subs to access hourly pings. The terms of purchasing this unit are pretty flexible. You don’t need a contract and there are no activation or cancellation fees.
You’ll enjoy unlimited cellular data with this system. And you can access surveillance footage via your mobile phone or tablet.
The device lasts up to 18 months on a single charge which is very impressive. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery which you can recharge using a USB cable or your regular phone charger.
The system is weatherproof; you can use it both indoors and outdoors. Installation is relatively simple. Our only concern is with the mounting holes that are rather small so you can’t use large screws. But nonetheless it’s an excellent product that works well.
4. Siren Marine MTC2 Wireless Boat Monitoring & Security System
The Siren Marine wireless boat security system is pretty easy to install. Like most systems on our list, this model is designed to track and monitor your boats surroundings. It has not one but two sensors included which will trigger the alarm if any movement is detected in and around your boat.
Features present on this system include GPS tracking as well as geo-fencing. This way you know where your boat is at all times. The unit features a functionality that’s designed to monitor if the system is functioning as it should.
This device allows you to control different systems on the boat from afar. Systems you can control include the air conditioner and lights.
But to enjoy all these impressive features you’ll have to pay a lot more because this boat security system is rather pricy.
5. Reolink Go 1080p 3G/4G GSM Outdoor Mobile Cellular Security Camera
This wireless system is powered by a 7800mAh high capacity rechargeable battery. And the long lasting battery life is one of the product’s huge draw cards. If ever you don’t want to run out of power, then you can use it with the Reolink solar panel which is sold separately.
The system features a smart sensor that’s designed to detect movements. If any motion is picked up, the siren is sounded and you’re immediately notified via email or text. You have the option of customizing your own voice alert to deter the intruder as opposed to the siren. This is thanks to the integrated microphone and speaker that allow for two way communication.
You can view images and recorded videos clearly—even at night—thanks to the Starlight night vision feature. The camera has an impressive 110ᵒ field of view that allows you to view a wider angle of your boat’s surroundings.
Since the product is from China, technical support is very difficult to access.
Boat Security System Buying Guide
Powering the Systems
From the above it’s clear that there are several options when it comes to powering boat security systems. Boat security systems are either powered by:
- Rechargeable batteries which vary with regards to operational time span. Lithium rechargeable batteries are however designed to last long so keep that in mind when shopping.
- A solar panel is another option although whether your system can use it depends on the brand in question. Needless to say, with solar panels, your chances of running out of power are minimal.
- DC battery banks, with 12V DC power supplies being among the most common power supplies on the market. Their popularity is largely based on their impressive stability and reliability.
Boat security systems have different kinds of sensors. We’ll discuss the common two types below:
- Motion sensor: As the name suggests, this type is responsible for detecting any movement that occurs on and near your boat. It can either be armed—or disarmed—using a remote.
- Door/hatch alarm: This type is designed to monitor if a door or hatch on your boat is opened or closed to deter intruders. If a door is opened, the siren sounds off. Usually no hardwiring is required with this type of sensor.
Regardless of the one you pick make sure it’s only designed to pick up suspicious motion signals and not other harmless activities such as rainfall or moving rodents. This only results in an increasing number of false alarms which can be rather annoying.
Sensors that significantly reduce the risk of false alarms are designed to exclude body mass. This means they’ll only trigger the alarm if the object detected falls above a certain weight.
Also note that a high quality sensor will notify you if the battery is near depletion so that you can take corrective measures.
Sirens and Alarms
After movements or suspicious activities are detected by sensors on the boat security systems, the siren or alarm immediately sounds.
You need to consider how loud the alarm is. You want one that you can hear from a distance if you’re not on board your water craft.
You’ll also need to consider the duration the alarm will sound for. Most sirens and alarms on boat security systems are built into the unit’s keypad & battery powered.
The tracking aspect on your security system which includes GPS helps you keep tabs on your boat when you’re not close by. You’ll always know exactly where your boat is.
Here you insert hidden devices on your watercraft where you can set up geo-fencing around your boat. This way you can track your boat’s location via satellite if it happens to go past its geo fence.
Depending on the boat security system you pick, you can receive mobile notifications regarding your boat’s location. Other manufacturers designed their systems to allow you to view your boat and its surroundings on your phone in real time.
It’s important to consider the storage capacity on your boat security system. Preferably you must opt for one with a sizeable storage capacity to store all footage recorded.
Does it store captured videos locally or in the cloud? Both have advantages and disadvantages. Buying a system that only allows you to store videos locally is very risky. If any sort of damage occurs to the unit, you risk losing all recorded footage. In addition, the amount of footage that can be stored is limited. You’ll have to delete videos to make space for new ones.
With local storage you can only access footage if your devices are nearby. But your footage will be fully under your control with no third party interference.
Opting for a system that allows you to store in the cloud is ideal. Footage is backed up and can be retrieved at a later day when necessary. However note that you can only access this information when you have an internet connection. And since you’re entrusting a third party to store your videos, there’s also risk of security breach.
Connection and Subscription Plans
As stated above, with certain boat security systems you can only access footage if you have internet access. What happens if you don’t? There are manufacturers who design their security systems to allow you to access recorded information without Wi-Fi. The latter may be more ideal if you’re going to be viewing from a place with no internet access.
Aside from connection, some security systems have subscription plans in place to fully access the device’s full functionality. Only after paying monthly or annual premiums can you receive functions such as hourly pings.
Granted a boat security system won’t stop your boat from capsizing or sinking but you can certainly keep track of it. In the event of theft you’ll have footage of the culprit which increases your chances of finding it. In addition, any collisions that happen are captured first hand on camera.
Take care of your investment. This certainly sounds like a system every boat owner must have don’t you agree?