Although I want to start by explaining wireless alarm technology and talking about the sophistication of various alarm systems, please don't lose sight of a very important element, which I'll address below: I’m talking about whom you purchase the system from, and where you purchase it. That decision could be the most important call you’ll have to make.
Okay, let's talk about the technology. Most systems installed today are wireless. Now don't get confused like some providers would like you to be. A security and lifestyle monitoring system consists of three very important segments.
The first segment is detection. Detection is the part of the system that detects status changes or emergencies (your door was opened by an unauthorized party or your front window was broken, for example). Detection components include door and window contacts, Passive Infrared (PIR) motion detectors, glass break sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and more.
The second element of a system is annunciation. In a nutshell, annunciation announces that a system has been breached or needs attention at the source: sirens, bells or flashing lights are all examples of annunciation. It’s important to note that audible or visual annunciation occurs only at the source of the potential security breach; in your home or business for example. The part of the system that alerts people who are currently away from your home’s perimeter is defined as monitoring or communication.
Which brings us to the third, and probably the most important, element of any system. Your monitoring system is the element that communicates emergencies and system health and maintenance information to a central station monitoring center. It also broadcasts alerts to anyone who is directly associated with the premises. For example, if you get a text alert saying that your patio door lock was disabled, that’s a prime example of monitoring and communication. This is the segment of your system that serves as the umbilical cord, connecting you and the outside world. In most cases, your monitoring and communication system is the element that minimizes (or even eliminates) the possibility of a disaster.
Tying it All Together -- Wirelessly
All the elements of a system can be hardwired, which connects every device back to a main control panel or CPU. In the case of monitoring communications, a hardwired system would require a wire from the main control to a telephone line. Unfortunately, standard telephone lines are vulnerable and unreliable in this digital age.
These systems can also be wireless. Wireless alarm systems have RF (radio frequency) transmitters built into each device, which allows the devices to communicate with the main control panel. More advanced monitoring and communications systems utilize a GSM Cellular Radio Communicator that is completely wireless and highly reliable.
Be careful: when an alarm provider tells you a system is wireless, you have to be careful to make sure it’s completely wireless.
Working with the Right Supplier
Let's touch on the variety of business types that sell alarm and lifestyle monitoring systems. As I noted earlier, whom you buy your system from is as important as what you buy.
As you know, you can find just about anything on the Internet. And when it comes to alarm systems, be very careful. Some Internet and catalog- based companies are simply wholesale warehouses that will sell you the components of a system. You call or go online and they ship you the hardware just as they received it from the manufacturer. Then it’s up to you to decipher in-depth instructions and get all the components working together from a cold start. This can be a difficult and tedious process for most consumers without experience in the area. And often, you end up paying an independent contractor a hefty fee to install and set up the components for you.
Real security companies -- not just warehouse wholesaler -- take a very different approach. These companies take the time to understand your needs. When you place an order with them, their team of security professionals (not warehouse shippers), assemble the components of your order. They program the devices, test your system for accuracy and make sure all your components are communicating to the central station.
When dealing with a security professional, you can be confident that when your system arrives, it’s completely operational from beginning to end. When you open the box and unpack your system, you can place the components in their designated areas and start using your system within minutes.
When you work with a security professional, you’re not simply buying a box of parts. You’re buying a fully configured system that’s been optimized for your unique needs.
Remember, wireless systems need to be wireless from beginning to end. Ask about vulnerabilities and how the system you are purchasing minimizes them. Make sure you understand what to expect. If you’ve purchased your system from a security professional, the installation process should be as simple as opening up the box, peeling away the sticker backs, placing the devices and calling your alarm company to activate.