All home security systems are comprised of several key components: a master control panel, at least one keypad, and the selection of sensors. Think about where these components can be placed in your home for maximum effectiveness. Here’s an overview of each component.
Master Control Panel
This is the brains of the system. CPU receives information from the alarm sensors and keypads and decides when to sound the sirens or call the central station. Be sure to select a master control panel with enough capacity to handle all the sensors you install now and those you may add in the future. The control panel also contains a backup battery to power the system for several hours in case your electricity goes out. For hard-wired systems, the control panel is usually a wall mounted metal cabinet located in a closet or the basement.
The keypad is the systems command centre. From it, you control the systems every function – alarming and disarming, silencing the siren, and reviewing past alarm activity and other functions. Most keypads have numbered buttons, a buzzer, and the digital display panel. Some even speak with an electronic voice. To operate the system, you enter a code, then follow the instructions on the display. The buzzer remains you to turn off the system when you arrive home. Most keypads also have a panic button that can be pressed at any time to sound the alarm and, in monitored systems, send an emergency signal to the central station.
Since you’ll be using the keypad to turn your system on and off as you exit and enter the house, installed just inside your most frequently used door (usually the one leading to the garage). If convenience dictates and your budget allows, consider adding keypads in the front entry area and in the master bedroom.
Door and Window Sensors – Magnetic Contacts
A break in the magnetic contact trips the alarm when the door or window is opened. Some magnetic contacts are concealed within the frames of door or window frames. Others are small, plastic devices that mount on the surface of the door and window frames. For entry doors, an entry/exit delay is programmed into the system to allow you time to enter and leave through specified doors without setting off the alarm.
These replace the insect screens on openable windows and an almost identical in appearance to regular screens. The alarm is tripped if the screen is cut or removed from the window frame. Alarm screens are the most expensive type of window sensor, but they protect the entire window opening – even when the window is open.
Acoustic Glass Break Sensors
A passive infrared motion sensor – PIR – is the most common type. This miniature electronic device is a low-cost, reliable unit that detects body heat, and is usually mounted in the corner of the room near the ceiling. As a rule, PIRs should be located so that no object that rapidly changes temperature is within its field of view. Be sure to direct it away from heater vents, wood stoves, and sun-heated windows as the temperature changes can set off the false alarms. A PIR sensor is most effective at detecting a person walking across its field of view as opposed to directly toward or away from the unit. So, mount the unit where anyone entering the room will cross their sensors field. Most rooms can be effectively covered by a single PIR unit. If your pets have a free run of the house, choose pet-immune motion sensors.
Sirens and Strobes
Interior sirens are usually small devices designed for surface mounting on an interior wall. When the alarm is activated, the interior siren sounds both to warn those at home and to scare off the intruder. Exterior sirens alert the neighbours and discourage the burgler from entering the house. Most sirens included in fire-protection systems produce one sound for an intrusion and another very different sound for a fire. You can program how long the alarm sounds, so after a preset amount of time, it will quit. The system will automatically reset.
Strobe lights are another option that you can install to alert you, the neighbours, and the police of a break-in. Mounted on the front of the house, the strobe flashes brightly during an alarm, discouraging the intruder, and making it easy for the police to find the right house. Strobes and fire systems will also flash when the fire alarm is triggered, so the fire department can readily identify your house even if the fire is contained in a small area. As an added advantage, the strobe can be set to continue flashing after the siding shut off. That way, if you’re away from home, you’ll know that the alarm was activated as you approach the house.
If you don’t want to install a full system, or don’t have a good place to mount a motion sensor, consider using a portable alarm. The small battery-operated, self-contained units and motion sensor and alarm in one. Some styles sit on a flat surface, such as a table or shelf, was hanging on the doorknob. There are good choices for apartments for added security in hotel rooms.
For more help and advice call IFireUK Ltd on 0330 121 1234