An alarm system is only as good as the reliability of its power supply. The most dependable system that operates on household electric power, with emergency backup power provided by a battery to assure operation during emergencies. A rechargeable means of automatically reporting battery failure should be included. In addition, a service and maintenance contract that includes automatic battery replacement when needed is highly desirable.
- Some visual or audible signal should be provided to alert you to a malfunction in the system prior to operation.
- Any components that can turn the system on and off or render it otherwise inoperative or ineffective should be tamper-resistant.
- A quality system should carry a reasonable warranty covering both parts and labour, from both the manufacturer and the installer for a period of one year from the date of installation.
- The alarm system should be capable of being easily upgraded at minimal cost to meet changing needs, e.g. smoke, fire, medical, water, temperature and any change in legal requirements.
- Since any system of this type will require service from time to time, be sure that the company you deal with can provide service promptly.
- Make sure you understand your system thoroughly. Be aware of its capabilities. You should be made familiar with all the details of operating the system and receive verbal as well as written instructions covering all circumstances.
- The alarm system should also be easy to learn to operate for everyone who may require access to your premises, e.g. children, guests and key holders.
Equally important, you should be sure to cooperate with local crime prevention programs, as well as with all reasonable requests and requirements made of alarm system owners by your police service. By properly registering your system, as well as advising authorities of whom to contact should you be away when your alarm sounds, you will greatly assist them in providing maximum protection to you, your family and your community. For information on how to register your intrusion alarm system contact the Edmonton Police Service Alarm Program at (780) 421-3410.
Perimeter protection refers to sensors installed on doors and windows. They set off the alarm whenever a window or door is forced open. Full perimeter protection means that every possible point of entry has a sensor.
Interior protection, on the other hand, refers to a "motion sensor" being used to detect someone inside.
Installation of the perimeter devices is straightforward, while the installation of interior sensors can be tricky. If you have animals, a "pet alley" will be necessary to avoid false alarms. A “pet alley” is created by using a special lens that prevents a sensor from detecting motion near the floor. This option can allow your pet to roam the area when the system is on, as long as it does not jump or climb on something inside the detection area. The installer must be careful to avoid putting the sensors where heating ducts or the sun’s ray can cause temperature changes to be detected, creating a false alarm. Price of the sensors also determines accuracy. More expensive sensors often have higher immunity to false alarms. More expensive systems have formulas and double checks that reduce the possibility of temperature changes, insects and flapping drapes creating false alarms.
Dual technology sensors, using both infrared and microwave detection, reduce false alarms but cost more. Two sensors may also be aimed at the same area, from different angles, and wired to require dual activation before sending in an alarm. Again, this reduces false alarms and will double the price.
Two or three perimeter detectors backed up by a motion sensor is the most inexpensive possible layout. However, it is easy to violate. Since most false alarms come from the sensor and presumably a cheap layout will use a less expensive sensor, it may tend to cause more false alarms.
Reasonable perimeter protection (cover on the most accessible windows and all doors) with good motion sensors, well placed, gives adequate protection. Audible sirens may be considered to scare away intruders. A good system should have a remote keypad that is at a convenient location for entry/exits. The "brain’ or "guts" to any system is called the "control panel". It should be in a remote location, hidden.
Glass Break Detectors
A number of companies make glass break detectors. These are devices that set off an alarm when breaking glass is detected. They tend to be sensitive to similar sounds, like jingling car keys or a dropped plate in the kitchen. If adjusted to avoid false alarms from anything other that the actual window panes, they may not work when those panes are actually broken. Fortunately, burglars rarely enter through broken glass. They reach through a broken pane to unlock and open the window frame or door (Burglars don’t want to get cut either). Opening the frame or door then sets off the alarm.
Therefore, these should be used only when a massive glass area represents the obvious entry point and careful calibration must be used for effective detection.
Hard-wired vs. Wireless
Hard-wired systems run wires through your walls and floors to connect the sensors. The advantage of a hard-wired system is dependability. There are no batteries to change. The sensors are easily concealed. The disadvantages to hard-wired systems are that they take longer to install, and require drilling into walls and ceiling as well as lifting carpets during installation.
Wireless systems’ sensors transmit a radio signal when they detect an intrusion. No wires are needed. They can be installed in a few hours with less mess. Changing the system later is easier.
Wireless systems have batteries that must be changed. Most should be replaced annually.
Supervised vs. Unsupervised
Supervised systems tell you when a door or window is open. They indicate if a sensor is not working, usually meaning a battery died. With most, the alarm control panel is able to locate the problem.
When you leave a door or window open, or if a sensor is not working, you won’t know it with an unsupervised system. The danger is that your alarm will be set but a window may be open.
What About Off-Premises Monitoring?
A proper home alarm system should feature a distinct signal on the premises, both inside and outside. In this manner, the occupants, the intruder and the neighbours are alerted at the same time. The alarm signals may be a loud bell, buzzer, siren, horn or other warning device and may also be installed with various automatic lighting features which either turn on the household electric lights or activate special emergency signal lights. Warning decals or similar emblems affixed to the home’s point of entry are also useful in deterring intruders.
The mere fact that an alarm system exists is often sufficient deterrent to discourage a burglar even before he tries to force an entry. In addition, the local alarm signal is generally enough to scare off most intruders once they sound. Silent alarms which do not sound on the premises, but merely alert an off premises monitoring source are not recommended for residences, since they allow the intruder inside where he may be in a position to threaten an occupant while police respond to the silent signal.
However, the procedure of transmitting an alarm signal off the premises to a monitoring location is an excellent additional form of protection. Such off-premise alerts mean that help will be on its way.
Keep alarm company signs clean and in plain view and request a replacement decal for your Edmonton Police Service Alarm Permit when damaged or faded. Requests scan be made through the Edmonton Police Service Alarm Program at (780) 421-3410
Alarm signals are generally transmitted via direct connection to a central monitoring station by means of special leased telephone lines, or by various forms of automatic telephone dialers utilizing the existing household telephone line. In the latter approach, there is a dialling device which utilizes a digital dialer which transmits a special coded signal. Where combination alarms are installed, the transmitter should differentiate between the various types of alarm signals., i.e. fire, burglary, medical emergency, etc.
Systems should be capable of pinpointing the location of an intrusion within your home; such a feature is certainly an advantage to the police officer responding to an alarm signal; or to a technician trying to locate a problem sensor. The central station employs trained personnel whose ONLY function is to remain alert for alarm signals and act upon them which usually involves dispatching either alarm company personnel, a private guard service, local police or fire officers to the scene.