Understanding Your Electronic Security System
Electronic security systems are made up of component parts designed to detect, determine and deter criminal activity or other events. A security system can detect events like motion, smoke or sound, determine if the event poses a threat and then send a notification about the event.
Step 1 – Detect
The security system components that detect activity are called sensors. Here are some of the more common sensors that may be used to protect your home or business.
Door and window contacts
Door and window contacts are switches that can indicate the opening or closing of a door or window. The switch is mounted to a door or window and is held closed by a magnet attached to the frame. When the door or window moves away from the magnet, the switch opens which is sensed or picked up by the alarm control panel. More about that later.
Door contacts should be installed on every ground level, exterior door and window. glass break or motion sensors are appropriate for that location. Fox Brothers prefers the most reliable installation method of hard wiring the contacts wherever possible. Most of these are never visible when installed.
A motion sensor can detect movement or motion in a room and is the logical choice for spaces that would-be intruders can access from several directions. A motion detector can help protect a large area such as a room with may windows by using just one device.
The best kind of motion detectors use two technologies to distinguish between heat and motion. Passive Infrared (PIR) can sense heat while microwave technology senses movement. When the detector recognizes both heat and movement, it sends an electronic signal to the alarm panel.
Glass Break Detectors
A glass break sensor is another alternative for protecting large spaces with multiple, fixed windows. This kind of sensors is designed to constantly “listen” for the sound of breaking glass that may indicated a forced entry. When the glass break detector hears the sound pattern caused by shattering glass, it sends an electronic signal to the alarm control panel. Fox Brothers typically uses Glass break sensors like this –
Door and window contacts, motion detectors and glass break sensors are among the most common sensors used in today’s electronic security systems. There are other sophisticated devices available to enhance your security such as:
Shock Sensors that can detect an intruder using force to pound through a wall, roof or other area of the structure. This has happened at several Lehigh Valley businesses through concrete and block walls!
Panic Buttons which can sent an immediate, discreet call for help with the press of a botton. These devices can be located at strategic or easy to access areas of your home or business. A typical installation would be a retail store or any building that keeps large amounts of cash or valuables on hand.
Environmental Sensors are especially helpful where critical condition monitoring is needed such as computer server rooms and other areas that house sensitive electronics. These kinds of sensors can react to the presence of water or sudden increases or decreases in tempurature. Go on vacation ? Let us notify you if your pipes are going to freeze BEFORE it happens.
The keypad is the device normally installed near an entrance or exit of your home or business where you can arm and disarm the system quickly upon entering the premises. By using the numerical code you have selected you can arm or activate the system. Sometimes it is also recommend to program your system with a panic or duress code different from your regular code. This duress code can be used in life threatening situations to notify authorities of an attack or emergency.
Most newer keypads have an illuminated display to show the status of the security system. If a door or window remains open, a sensor will detect that opening and a display on the keypad will tell you which door or window you need to check before arming the system. This is important because you cannot arm the system if a door or window remains open and a sensor is detecting that opening.
Your entry door or the door closest to your keypad, is programmed with an entry delay. This gives you extra time to get to the keypad and enter your code before the system sends an alarm. Any other doors, along with your windows and motion detectors, will immediately initiate an alarm if they are triggered. It is important to have the entry delay to avoid accidentally triggering the alarm. Most Fox Brothers installations use these keypads –
Step 2 – Decide
The alarm system control panel is the brains of the system. It carries out the ‘decide’ functions and processes the information it receives from various sensors and responds accordingly. If a door or window is open while the system is disarmed, the control panel ignores the event*. On the other hand, if a window is opened while the system is armed, it will immediately respond by sending a signal to your alarm company monitoring center and it will trigger sirens or audible alarms notifying you of an event.
An electronic security system performs two primary actions in response to an intrusion. It can communicate to the alarm company monitoring center, sometimes called a central station and it can trigger alarms at the premisis in your home or business. Panels are usually enclosed in a utility structure much like your breaker panel –
Step 3 – Action
Electronic security system panels have a built in communicator that transmits and receives information via the phone line (traditional method).
Alarm signals are sent to the Fox Brothers central monitoring station, manned by highly trained dispatchers. When a dispatcher sees a signal from your alarm system, the dispatcher will normally call you first to verify that this is an actual alarm and then, if necessary, contact the police or fire company on your behalf. We also allow you to customize your response procedures. For example, you may want us to call different individuals to verify alarms during and after business hours.
Radio and Cellular backup
Since your security system is communicating via the phone line (some alarm systems now communicate over computer networks, but the phone line is still the most common means) it is in your best interest to use at least one dedicated line. The first thing many thieves will do is cut the phone line on the outside of the house. Fox Brothers strongly recommends having a cellular or radio backup as a redundant communications method. Cellular backup is a technology that can keep your communication path secure. If your alarm panel senses that the phone line has gone dead, it can communicate with central station via the cellular network if a back up unit has been installed.
Sirens and Lights
Besides sending signals to your central alarm monitoring center, an alarm panel can also respond to an alarm by activating sirens and strobe lights. The purpose of these devices is to scare an intruder away from your premise. The only time that sirens are not advisable is in situations such as bank lobbies where physical confrontation is likely. Another option for lights is to have the exterior lights of the home flash intermittently while an alarm is sounding, this can be great for notifying your neighbors and getting word out that your in trouble.
After the Installation
System testing is critical to help ensure your security monitoring center responds properly in an emergency. After the initial installation, your Fox Brothers installers will transmit every signal your panel can transmit to verify that the central monitoring center is able to receive it and understands how to respond. After the installation, you should test your system monthly. Test timers are also available to help ensure proper system operation daily or weekly.
Fox Brothers will always contact you to follow up on the system installation and operation, making sure your expectations are met. We are always here to support you as we aim to help you live more secure and peaceful lives.
A security system is designed to sense, decide, and act on security related events. A Fox Brothers professional security system designer can help you choose from the wide array of equipment on the market and create a system around your business needs. After the installation, regular testing will ensure that your system continues to provide reliable protection.