Invisible burglar bars for your home
Credit: Sudocream

Polycarbonate burglar bars are fast becoming one of the most popular choices in modern home security. They are transparent, elegant, resistance to impact, affordable, maintenance free and just as strong and durable as traditional metal bars.  

The 'See-curity' Option For Your Home

Your home is where you and your family should feel safe and it is the one place where you have the control who can get close to you and your family. I thought for long time that my family was protected against criminal intrusion until last year when I woke up to my wife screaming down our homes corridor. Earlier that evening, she had not been struggling to sleep and was watching series on the television. She noticed our cat was acting very weird and she went to go check out the lounge where the cat came speeding from. To her astonishment, she stood there, her eyes seeing but not understanding – a bald headed man climbing though our front window! She yelled at him and turned to come running to the bedroom where I was sleeping.

According to the FBI, a home burglary occurs in the United States every 15 seconds. Although you may believe you are an unlucky victim, burglar’s use a selection process to choose your home. They will select you home based on ease of access, the greatest amount of cover (ie. trees, bushes, walls concealing their presence) and the best routes of escape. Statistics reveal that 70% of burglars use some force to enter your home and will use common workshops tools like hammers, crowbars and long screwdrivers.[1] In the case of our intruder, he had selected a front window which had no burglar bars on it and he was hidden by an overgrown bush. He had ample time to quietly pop open the aluminum frame with a screwdriver and remove the glass pane.


Transparent Burglar BarsCredit: Sudocream

The reality that home owners face is that if a burglar wants to get into your home he will do so. Burglar bars are merely deterrents and serve to strengthen weak access points of your home.  

After our incident, I started inquiring about installing burglar bars to all the windows of our home. I am a practical person and enjoy very much making home improvements to my home. I stumbled upon a Groupon promotion that offered ‘invisible burglar bars’ made of clear polycarbonate. What I really liked was the ability to see through the window without having that feeling that you living in a jail cell. The promotion offer was not really what I wanted so I went directly to the security company that sold them. I bought a DIY solution and installed the invisible burglar bars myself.

What Is Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate is a group of thermoplastic polymers which balance useful features such as temperature resistance, impact resistance and optical properties. Unlike other thermoplastics, polycarbonate can withstand a large amount of plastic deformation without cracking or breaking. They are used in a wide range of applications in industry and utilized as a better or preferred alternative to glass due to being light weight and tough. Polycarbonate has been hugely successful in automotive, aircraft and security components. So resistant to deformation, polycarbonate has been laminated to form bullet proof ‘glass’, used in riot shields by the police, used as mobile phone screen covers and even been fitted as the cockpit canopy of the F-22 raptor jet fighter.  In South Africa, security companies have launched the 'transparent burglar bar' under a variety of retail names, made from UV resistant polycarbonate.[2]

Insurance Companies Stance On Polycarbonate Burglar Bars

So you might not be sold on the idea of ‘plastic’ burglar bars and question whether your insurance company approves them. Surely the metal burglar bars are better. When contacting insurance companies and requesting their policies regarding ‘burglar bars’ the policy generally says something to the effect that bars be placed over the windows that can open. No details are mentioned to the type of material at all. There is NO standard for burglar bars, they can be made by your uncle Joe down the road or installed by big brand security companies - it makes no difference. Polycarbonate burglar bars are just as good as mild steel metal bars and insurance companies will pay out.[3] 

DIY installation Of Transparent Burglar Bars

Security Bars ToolsCredit: Sudocream

For installing polycarbonate bars in your home, you will need a drill, hacksaw or angle grinder, tape measure, screw driver or pop riveter. The installation is quick and mess-free, no welding, grinding and repainting bars and frames afterwards. The DIY kits supplied by security companies have instructions however I can offer you some extra tips.

Tip 1

Measure twice, cut once. Cut each bar length for one window at a time, there are sometimes slightly different in size. Cut the bar to fit from wall to wall, the outside dimensions of your window frame. Preferably use an angle grinder for the cutting as it is much faster.

Tip 2

Use a spirit level to ensure the bars are horizontal, mark on the frame where you want the holes.

Tip 3

Make sure that the holes in the bar at each end are between 10 – 20mm from the edge, this ensure that the bar will not fail at the fastening when impacted by heavy force.

Tip 4

Definitely make use of a pilot drill hole (2.5mm is ideal), especially when drilling into aluminum or steel frames. It makes a neater job and it faster. The hole can be opened up to the final size for the fastener.

Tip 5

Space the bars so that the gap between them is around 100 - 120mm apart. This is the recommended spacing by most suppliers, as insurance companies may not cover you if spaced further apart.

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Why Polycarbonate Bars Are Becoming So Popular

Without doubt what draws everybody’s attention is the fact that these burglar bars are transparent, not blocking light or your view. They are UV resistant and will not fade over time. Imagine having uninterrupted views of the sea or mountains! In terms of function, polycarbonate bars are strong and flexible and it is this property that allows it to absorb far higher levels of impact than ordinary metal bars. Price wise this security option is very competitive and often cheaper than metal bars. The bars will not rust at the coast and maintenance is minimal, a quick wipe with a damp non-abrasive cloth is all that is needed.