SHOPPING For a System: The type of system that will be best for you depends on many different factors. Here are some basic questions most purchasers should consider when buying a system: What are you trying to protect, People or Property? or both People and Property? Some Homeowners will answer "People", that means the system must offer adequate protection against Intrusion & Fire. If you are more concerned about "Property" being lost, a simple Intrusion system that covers all entry doors and important interior areas with motion detectors might meet your requirements. Before you start accepting bids from security companies, you should decide on a minimum set of system requirements that will meet your security & life safety goals.
Shopping Tip: Get at least three written bids, and make sure you're comparing bids based on identical specifications and scope of work. Do not automatically accept the lowest bid. In fact, you should beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others. It probably indicates that the sales representative made a mistake or is not including all the work quoted by his or her competitors. You may be headed for a dispute with your security company if you accept an abnormally low bid. It is possible that the lowest bidder will cut corners by doing substandard work, and use low quality equipment in order to make a profit on the job. Beware of security companies that offer bargain Alarm Monitoring Rates, they may not include signals that notify you about system problems such as; AC Power Failure, System Low Battery, Sensor Low Battery, Sensor Trouble, or Communication Failure.
Why Own a Security System? The mere fact that a security system exists can provide a deterrent that will discourage a burglar from attempting to force entry. Knowing you and your property are secured by a State-of-the-Art Security System increases peace of mind. Most insurance companies give a reduction on homeowners insurance when an alarm system has been installed. Be sure to check with your agent for details.
Local or Monitored Security System: A "Local" alarm only activates a bell, siren, or strobe light outside your Home or Business. It may scare away an intruder, but the authorities are not notified unless someone hearing the alarm decides to report it. A "Monitored" security system not only activates bells & sirens, it sends a signal to your alarm company's central monitoring station. The type of signal they receive from your system will determine what action will be taken. Example: If it's a burglar alarm activation, they will attempt to contact you, if they are unable to reach you, the Police will be called. A "monitored" system ensures that you or the proper authorities are notified in a timely manner.
Basic Service: Your system is monitored for Burglary, Fire (Residential), Medical, and Holdup/Panic Alarm Signals. Supervisory signals such as: AC Power Fail, Low System Battery, Low Sensor Battery, Communications TEST, and Sensor Trouble are also included.
Daily TEST Signal: Added to Basic Service, your system sends a Communications Test Signal every 24 hours.
Opening & Closing Reports: Every time the alarm is Armed or Disarmed a Signal is sent. This feature is used primarily for commercial accounts.
Supervised Open & Close Reports: The same as "Opening & Closing Reports" listed above, but with time restrictions on when the business can Disarm and Arm the alarm system.
Two-Way Voice: This feature allows the central station to listen and talk to people at the protected premise over speaker mics that are located throughout the building.
Cellular/Radio Backup: Provides an alternative communications path for your alarm system to send signals to the central station. It can also be used as the "Primary" path if traditional communications channels are unavailable at the protected premise.
UL "AA" Line Security: A service provided via Long Range Radio or the Internet. The Central Station Receiver polls an alarm system with this service at least once every 3 minutes. If the alarm system fails to respond, an alarm condition is generated.
Basic Parts of an Alarm System: All alarm systems are comprised of three basic parts; the control panel, the sensors, and the means of annunciation or letting someone know that there has been a problem (outside siren, or a central station phoning the police, or both). The control panel is the brain of an alarm system. It receives signals from the sensors and determines what must be done. A good control panel can be the difference between an easy to use system or a very difficult one. Sensors are the means by which your control panel is notified that there is a problem. Annunciation is how people are alerted to the alarm.
Wired and Wireless Systems: When people in the Security Industry use the term "Wired System", that simply means all of the components of the security system are connected to each other by electrical wire. If your home was not pre-wired for a system by the builder, you might have to purchase a "Wireless System". Security Systems that utilize Radio Transmitters instead of electrical wiring are commonly called "Wireless". The reliability and quality of a Professional Grade wireless system is equal to the wired systems that are available.
Common Perimeter Sensors: Magnetic contacts: Most commonly used, electro-mechanical device that activates when the magnet and contact are separated. Used mainly on doors and windows, most magnetic contacts used in home applications are concealed. Window screens: Specially contacted screens that contain inconspicuous alarm wires. Activates when ripped, torn or removed. Audio glass break detector: Most commonly used to detect an intruder breaking a window. It can protect several windows.
Common Interior Sensors: Passive Infrared Motion Sensors: Detects infrared heat generated by the presence of a body within a protected area. Most common type of interior sensor used today. Pet immune models are available. Photoelectric beams: Transmits an invisible beam across a protected area and activates alarm when interrupted. Motion Detector: Alarm activated by any movement in an area. Sensors can be either Ultrasonic or Microwave sensory devices. Can be prone to false alarms. Panic Button: Allows you to activate an alarm system manually with the push of a button. Either remote (wireless) or fixed station. Great for medical problems too. Impact Activated Microphones: Microphones that transmit sounds to a receiver at a central location. Can detect breaking glass and voices.