Alarm systems, sometimes called burglar alarms, are designed to alert property and business owners to the presence of intruders. They are made up of a series of sensors connected to a central unit capable of raising an alarm if any sensor is triggered. The types of sensor and alarm can both vary depending on system type and settings. Normally, an alarm system will be connected to a telephone line and automatically dial a pre-programmed number or numbers to report a security breach.
What are Common Components of an Alarm System?
Most home alarm systems are made up of some or all of the following components:
The base unit is the �brain� of the system. It is connected to a phone line and dials out to report any notifications it receives from system sensors.
Nearly every alarm system uses keypads to arm and disarm. Some may only have a single keypad attached to the base unit, but many allow additional keypads to be installed so they can be placed near multiple entryways.
These sensors are placed on windows and doors, reporting whenever they are opened. The most common are magnetic sensors made of two parts, one on the window/door and one on the door jamb. If the door or window is opened, the connection between the parts is broken, generating an alert.
Varying in range, these sensors detect movement. They are perfect for hallways and open entryways.
PIR stands for Passive Infrared. These sensors can detect changes in heat in the area they cover, allowing them to function even in the dark.
Some alarm systems can integrate smoke detectors into their functionality. These work just like normal smoke detectors, but generate an alarm from the base unit in case of a fire.
Panic buttons can be installed in specific areas, such as under a retail clerk's counter, or they can be portable, wireless devices carried by the user. They allow an individual to manually trigger an alarm through the base unit.
What is a Wireless Alarm System?
Wireless alarm systems work just like wired alarm systems, but connect to their various components via radio signals instead of through wires. This can have advantages and disadvantages. Wireless components can make installation drastically simpler, since no wires need to be run, and also makes adding new components easy. They also make it more difficult for potential thieves to locate components, or find and disable the base unit without wires to follow.
Wireless technology can be vulnerable to interference, though. A true wireless system will use batteries for its components, which a user will need to monitor. If a sensor's battery fails, it will not be able to provide any protection to your property.
What is a Cellular Alarm System?
A cellular alarm system works the same way as a traditional alarm, but its base unit dials out using cellular technology. The components for cellular alarms will almost always be wireless, and are usually battery-powered. These are perfect for short term installations, particularly for business travelers or trailers on construction sites. There are monthly fees associated with cellular network access, just as there are for your cell phone.
What is Central Station Monitoring?
Some alarm systems use central station monitoring. This means that, in the event of an alarm, the base unit will dial a monitoring agency. This agency will then contact local emergency services appropriate to the alarm triggered. For example, if a smoke alarm went off, they would dial the fire department. If a door sensor was triggered, they would dial the police. In most cases, they will first try to contact the property owner to ensure a false alarm is not reported to emergency services.