Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What is Alarm System?

Why should I have a security alarm system?

Having a security alarm system may decreases the chances of a burglary. Even if the alarm system does not keep a burglar from breaking in, it may cause the burglar to stay a shorter amount of time.

What Should a Security Alarm System Include?

Most systems rely on a combination of contacts placed at doors and windows and motion sensors.

It is best that all exterior potential points of entry have contacts that sense when they are open. Glass break sensors are also available and recommended.

Motion sensors should not be used as the primary means of detection because they do not detect someone until they are already in the house.

The basic elements of a standard home security system include:

  • Control panel: This is where the system wiring terminates, the backup battery is located and where it is connected to the phone lines if it is a monitored system.
  • Keypad: This is where the system is armed and disarmed.
  • Siren
  • Inside motion detector: These sense changes in a room caused by human presence. Special motion detectors are available for people who have pets.
  • Door and window contacts:; This sounds the alarm when the door or window is opened (and the system is on).
  • A central monitoring station (Company): If the system is monitored, and the alarm is set off, the control panel sends a message to a central monitoring station, which is manned 24 hours a day.

    After attempting to contact the homeowner, the central monitoring station will contact the police, fire department, or medics.

    There is usually a monthly fee for this service.

Additional items that can be added to the basic system are:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Glass break detectors
  • Panic buttons
  • Pressure mats for under rugs
  • Closed circuit TV to allow monitoring and/or recording inside or outside a home.
  • Alarm screens for windows.


Costs of systems vary. Many security companies offer the systems for free - in exchange for long-term monitoring contracts.

Monitored System or Unmonitored System?

Monitored systems typically work as follows:

  1. The security system senses something.
  2. The security system waits 30 to 45 seconds to give the homeowner a chance to deactivate the system to prevent false alarms.
  3. If the alarm is not deactivated the security system sends a message to the monitoring company over telephone lines.
  4. The monitoring company receives the message and verifies the alarm, generally by placing a phone call to the home. If they do not receive the proper password or do not receive an answer, they call the police.
  5. The police respond.

Unmonitored systems typically have on-site alarms and/or flashing lights. It relies on neighbors to call police.

Neighbors or passersby should never investigate an alarm themselves.

With an unmonitored system, it is best to have a combination of strobe lights and alarms. They should be located on the street side of the house and in an inaccessible spot as possible. It is best to discuss the installation with your neighbors and to place the siren and flashing light on the house where it can be easily seen.

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