System Design and Education

Design

The Basics of Alarm Systems and Designing a System

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So you are interested in installing a security system in your home and need to get educated before you move forward. You have determined that you want the peace of mind, insurance discount, and safety features that adding a monitored security system can provide.

What you do not want is to be blindsided by a pushy salesman who walks in and tells you what they think you need. Only you know what will give you peace of mind. Become educated in order to make that important decision.

No two homes are the same which is why a standard, “one size fits all” approach does not work when designing a security system. While a few door sensors and one motion detector may work for one home, your situation may be completely different. There are major questions you need to answer before deciding on a type of system and how it will work within your home.

Where does that leave us? With a lot of options and questions!

 

WE ARE HERE TO EXPLAIN IT ALL!

BASICS OF SECURITY SYSTEM COMPONENTS

HOW DO ALARMS WORK AND WHAT PARTS ARE INCLUDED?

Basic system Function and Components:

Alarm systems work by electronically detecting the entrance of intruders into a protected area, sounding an alarm and notifying the authorities via a path of communication. Authorized users of alarm systems are given a numeric code that allows them to “arm” and “disarm” the protected premises as they come and go. Besides detecting intruders, alarm systems are useful in detecting environmental hazards such as fires, water leaks, freezing temperatures, carbon monoxide, etc. and notifying the proper personnel.

Traditional alarm systems contain the following equipment in some type of configuration:

MAJOR ALARM COMPONENTS:

Component Function
Control Panel or “Brains” Controls all system functions and houses the most critical components of the system.
Keypad Where users interact with the system. Arm, Disarm, Bypass zones, etc..
Door/Window Sensors Senses when Door/Windows are opened or closed
Motion/Glassbreak Detectors Detects Motion or Broken Glass in a home
Climate Sensors Detect Environmental Hazards such as freezing temperatures, Carbon Monoxide, leaking water, etc..
Smoke Detectors Detect the presence of smoke in the atmosphere of a building.
Communicator Communicates to Central Station via cellular, internet or POTS (Telephone) line connection
Siren/Audible Alarm Provides Audible alert of alarm

BASIC SECURITY SYSTEM DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Designing a system from scratch can be overwhelming. However, there are some quick rules and guidelines that can help develop a sound design. Ultimately, a professional should be consulted to help with the myriad of technologies on the market and ensure you are properly protected.

The simplest guidelines that must be understood about the basics of security system design are:

  • How and when do you plan to use your alarm system (Night only? Day only? Hybrid?)
  • How do burglars view homes and how do they typically try to gain access?

HOW DO BURGLARS VIEW HOMES houseAS TARGETS?

When designing a security system, it is important to consider how criminals view homes they are targeting. Criminals look for the path of least resistance when planning break-ins. They target homes they can get into quickly and quietly, with as little chance of being seen as possible.

 

 

Intruders typically look for the following types of “easy” targets on homes:

  • Waist height windows or items they can stand on to access windows (think outdoor A/C units)
  • Double hung (up and down) windows versus casement (crank out) style windows.
  • High bushes or blind spots on houses where sight lines from neighboring homes is limited.
  • Homes without alarm systems.
  • Unlocked doors and windows.
  • Secluded homes with long driveways or very limited sight lines from neighbors or the road.
  • Neighborhoods where they can access houses from the woods, up rivers beds, or from an adjacent neighborhood or parking lot.

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Consider the following statistics:
How They Break In:

  • 88% of burglars enter the home from the first floor (34% through the front door, 22% through the side or back door, 23% through the first floor windows, 9% through the garage.)
  • 4% through the basement.
  • 4% through an unlocked entrance.
  • 2% through a storage area.

Knowing how burglars view homes and how they most often enter a home is a great way to prioritize the most vulnerable points of your home. The next section explains a basic guideline to ensure you begin designing your system correctly.

STAY VS. AWAY MODE AND THE SIGNIFICANCE FOR SYSTEM DESIGN

All alarm systems have two separate modes for arming the system: some type of “STAY” mode and an “AWAY” mode. The function may be named differently by manufacturer but all panels have these basic functions.

What’s the difference?

  • STAY MODE– Only arms perimeter devices in the home (doors / windows, in most cases)
  • AWAY MODE– Activates all devices in the home including perimeter and interior devices (motion detectors in most cases)

The two modes are important for system design because they can help you understand the most cost effective solution to protect your home. You can always add more devices to a system but you should have a base level of security that you feel confident and comfortable with.

APPLICATION

  • Stay mode most used? You should add more perimeter devices to counter the lack of interior devices.
  • Away mode most used? You can add more motion detectors in place of perimeter devices.
  • Both modes used equally? A middle ground should be found for your home and situation. An Independent Alarm professional can help.

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IT’S NOT THAT EASY IN THE END!

As you can see, designing a system can be quite involved. Properly designing a system is not something to take lightly. Yours and your families’ safety is at stake! There are many additional items to consider when planning the design of a security system for your home:

  1. Do you have pets?
  2. Do you have a finished basement? Drop ceiling or drywall?
  3. How will you communicate to the central monitoring station? Cell, Internet, or Telephone?
  4. What are the pros / cons of the different communication paths?
  5. Do you want to be able to control the system via your smartphone?
  6. How easy is it to run wire in your home?
  7. Are smoke, temperature, CO, or other sensors needed or advisable?
  8. Are you eligible for a homeowner’s insurance discount? How does that work?

DO NOT GET OVERWHELMED.

Speak with a knowledgeable professional at Independent Alarm who will walk you through the necessary thought process to design a system that will last for years to come.

Take a look at how we do business at Independent Alarm. Here is how our estimate process works. No high pressure sales tactics here.

Call 800-322-4231 or use our form here to schedule a free estimate!

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