January 17, 2012

Anatomy of a Burglar Alarm Security System Part I

Speaking of anatomy, what are the bare “bones” of a residential burglar alarm / security system, and what are the added features?

Pictured above is a Gemini keypad which is a core component of a security system.

It’s like shopping for a new car. You’ll still get a quality, new vehicle if you choose the base model, but it may be worth it to you to add a few options—depends on your style and needs.

In this blog post (part one of two), we’ll discuss the core. The next article will highlight the additional and complementary components that can add functionality and convenience to an alarm system.

The core of a burglar alarm system typically comprises a keypad, a security panel, door and window contacts, motion detectors and a siren.

The keypad isn’t just something you use to arm and disarm your system; it serves many other functions as well.

It typically has a chime feature which subtly alerts you if a door is opened while you’re at home and the alarm system is turned off. This is ideal for making sure toddlers don’t wander, for instance.

The keypad can also have an ambush feature. It works if you get “taken hostage” at your car on the way in, and the thief makes you enter your code at gunpoint, for example. You simply enter a couple additional digits to your normal code and it will silently alert the police.

It also has a panic feature. If you see a thief at the back door who is breaking in, and you can’t get to your phone, you can press a single button for the police.

Your panel is the brains of your system and will alert the central station monitoring company upon any alarm. It houses the battery which will provide power for a set amount of time if power goes out.

Door and window contacts, often wireless, pair up in a fixed position. If a window is opened while your alarm system is armed, and the contacts separate from one another, then the siren will sound and central monitoring will be alerted.

Motion detectors serve a similar function as door and window contacts. We’re not saying they work the exact same way, just that they signal unwanted motion / entrance. They transmit a field and if any motion occurs within that area, it will trip the alarm.

They are important to have in addition to door and window contacts because a thief could cut or break through a window or door without moving the contacts from their fixed position. The motion detector would pick up the thief when he/she was walking through the house.

Be sure to ask your security company about ancillary components as well. We will discuss these complementary features in our next blog post at the end of the week. The will include such things as security screens and much more.

Thanks for spending some time with us today, and be sure to see part two of this article coming soon.


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