Alarm Basics

Home and Business Security Alarm System Basics
When a burglar is aware a house or business has an alarm system, he/she will very likely move on to another easier target. By choosing Accent Alarms, Inc for your home or business security alarm you can be assured that, you will receive better products, service and prices.

The key components of a home or business security system include:

Master Control Panel
Every system has a master control panel or CPU (Central Processing Unit). This is the "brains" of the system and the location of the system wiring, and battery backup. The battery backup insures several hours of operating time, even during a power outage. The control panel is also where the system is connected to the phone line or internet if it is a monitored system.

The master control panel monitors the "status" of each zone in the system by looking for a predetermined resistance. The resistance value is created by using a resistor or end-of-line resistor (EOLR), which as the name implies is to be installed at the "end of the line" as they provide supervision of the cabling/point of protection. Many (most) alarm companies install these resistors at the control panel because it much easier, but it's a poor practice and completely defeats the purpose.

In most home security systems, the control panel is concealed in a closet or utility room and only the controls necessary to operate the system are located in a visible location. It is extremely important that the master control panel be difficult to locate and that it is considered as an important area to protect. (Click here to read how easily ABC's "20/20" investigative team defeated a poorly designed system) some systems are all-in-one systems and are a complete waste of your money and provide minimal security protection.
Be absolutely certain to choose a quality manufacturer, like DSC, when choosing an alarm system. There an many manufacturer's of security alarm control panels and it can be quite difficult to tell the differences between a low-end system and a quality panel. When comparing panels look to see whether the manufacturer is a leader or follower in the industry, What type of warranty is "standard", Where is it manufactured? If the system you are being offered is a "FREE system, expect to get about a $30-$40 control panel. Remember:"You Get What You Pay For!"

Be extremely cautious in believing that by choosing a large national or local company that you are getting a quality product, installation, or even your "best" deal. Would you say, "McDonald's has sold billions of hamburgers, so they have the best hamburger." Of course you wouldn't! what you get with McDonald's is a familiarity of known product, Us that what you want with your security system? With that National Company, how many employees, former employees, and general information is available about your security system? Do you want the same security system you watched on the discovery channels "to catch a thief" advertising to the general population how to defeat your alarm system?

Keypad
This is the primary method on how you will evaluate your security alarm! We say this because this is where you will turn your system on and off, check the status, and control the alarm system. The keypad must be easy to use with simple and intuitive prompts. Many alarm systems use simple led's that turn either on or off.

Many end users find it convenient for everyone to use the same security code, but most systems are capable of multiple codes. We highly recommend each user be given a unique code, which can be used with guests or workers and then easily changed. The keypad is usually mounted in a convenient location close to the main family entrance. Additional keypads can be installed at other entrances, like near the garage door. A keypad can also be installed in the homeowner's bedroom. This way, if the alarm sounds at night, the keypad display will indicate which door, window, motion detector or zone caused the alarm, warning the homeowner.

Siren/Sounder
A loud exterior and separate interior mounted siren sounds when there's been a break-in and it also lets the thief know that their presence has been detected. Sirens typically alarm for a preset amount of time, usually 10-15 minuted. Be certain that your siren does not lead the burglar to your alarms mater control panel! This a common installation "short-cut" because it is easier to install it close to the panel, opposed to installing it away from the panel.

Motion Detectors
Motion Detectors are an extremely important part of a properly designed security system. A passive infrared, microwave, or photoelectric detector, senses changes in a room caused by an intruder. Special motion/heat detectors are available for people who have pets. These motion detectors can be set, for example to only alarm for targets that weigh over 80 pounds. Interior motion or heat detecting devices are typically wall-mounted. The least-susceptible to false alarms are the passive infra-red sensors. These are basically thermostats which detect the presence of a human by comparing the 98.6 degree body heat to the usual surrounding temperature.
 
As pointed out on ABC's "20/20" (read more by clicking here) it can be relatively simple to defeat a system that does not include adequate, and properly installed, motion detectors. For Example, a door or window contact will not detect an intruder who enters by breaking the glass and going through the window opening without actually opening the window. enough motion detectors should be installed to provide adequate protection of your home or business and should be installed, at a minimum, in areas of common travel, stairways, and other high risk areas such as the master bedroom, the area approaching your master control panel.
 
Door and Window Contacts
Contacts are the backbone of any alarm system. Covering every door is highly recommended and covering windows and doors that are accessible provides the best protection but can get expensive. The decision on whether to have contacts on all windows or just the lower level should be guided not only by budget but also based on the ease of access to the homes roof or second story. Magnetic contacts and wiring form a circuit between a door and doorframe or a window and its sill. With the alarm on, when a door or window is opened, the circuit is then broken and the alarm sounds.
** Drilling holes, to install window contacts, may void the warranty on your windows!  it is imperative to ensure that holes are not drilled into the bottom sill of your window frames.
 
Zones
A security zone is a separate circuit or branch of s security system usually for the purpose of isolating and/or identifying alarms or trouble in a system. A zone is a length of cable onto which different types of security or fire devices are connected. This zone is attached to the panel on its own set of screw terminals and given its own name such as "front door" that can display on the system keypad(s). Multiple devices may be connected to a single zone, however the zone will not be able to identify the specific device. for example a zone could be "basement windows", however you would not be able to determine which of the basement windows caused an alarm or is malfunctioning. additionally, if one point of protection fails or needs to be excluded all points of protection on this zone must be bypassed as well.

When it is feasible accent alarms, inc always recommends using a point-to-point method (e.g. each point of protection is a zone.)

Wireless
in many homes and businesses the additional cost of wireless equipment will out weight the cost of installing a wired systems. a quality wireless system can perform as well as a traditional hard-wired systems (e.g. running wires to each device).

Central Monitoring Station/Alarm Monitoring
Monitoring companies use a connection between your alarm panel (e.g. phone lines, the internet, and/or radio frequency), an automated computer system (at least a quality company will), and trained staff to watch over your security system. Based on the type of signal received they will follow a predefined procedure.  For example, they will call the police department when you activate a panic/hold-up button.

Quality and experience can vary greatly among monitoring companies it is important to a company that can provide you with the level of service that meets your needs.  Some companies monitor their own alarm systems while some alarm companies outsource this service to independent monitoring companies.There are arguments made by both sides on which type of monitoring provides you, the system users, with a higher level of service. Having worked several years for one of the huge national companies, my opinion is that a much higher level of service is obtained by the independent central monitoring stations.

We believe that when you are "tied" to a monitoring station or to running it internally, the risk of losing customers is really minimal risk. A good example is if you sign a five year monitoring contract, which is extremely common, how hard is that company going to work during the first four years of that contract? Now what if you had a month-to-month or even a yearly contract? Under those two scenarios which company do you think is going to work harder for your continued business?

Accent Alarms, Inc uses C.O.P.S. Monitoring, which is a redundant UL Listed Central Monitoring Station. they have invested in the latest technology, including internet monitoring for those clients who choose that method, means faster transmission of your signals that tie into their automation software.