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Security Systems

Security Systems Explained

A security system is an important feature for any home or business. It reduces the chances of a break-in and protects your loved ones, investments and possessions. However, before you purchase a security system, it is important to understand the options available to you, in addition to understanding how a security system works. This understanding will help you make an informed decision and choose the right security system for your home, business and lifestyle.

How it Works

A security system uses sensors to identify and detect a variety of disturbances. To detect a break-in, a security system comes with magnetic sensors that are installed on door and window frames throughout your home or place of business. These sensors register if the magnets are separated, through the opening of doors and windows. Some sensors also have the capacity to detect vibrations and breakage, should someone break or tamper with doors and windows. Other security systems come equipped with infrared motion sensors that detect movement. Security systems that come with fire or carbon monoxide monitoring have smoke and gas sensors that detect smoke or deadly carbon monoxide gas. When the sensors detect a danger or disturbance, they immediately send a signal that sets off the alarm. Security systems provide consumers the option of everything from silent alarms that alert the authorities, to loud sirens and strobe lights.

Local Alarms vs. Alarm Monitoring Systems

Depending on your preferences, you have the option of choosing a security system with a local alarm, alarm monitoring or a combination of both. The security system that is best for your home of business depends on the proximity of neighboring homes and businesses, your budget and the amount of time in which you want the authorities to respond. A local alarm produces a loud siren to scare away burglars. These security systems are the cheapest, as you can install them yourself or pay a one-time fee for installation. However, they do not offer monitoring services, leaving the responsibility of alerting the authorities with the home or business owner. For this reason, local alarms work best in highly populated areas with neighbors in close proximity. Alarm monitoring security systems are those that send an alert to an alarm monitoring center, where trained professionals are standing by to dispatch the authorities. The owner of the security system pays a monthly fee for this service. When the alarm goes off, the monitoring center calls the home or business to ask for a password. If no one answers, or if an incorrect password is given, the monitoring center dispatches the police. For fire and carbon monoxide alerts, the center does not call; they immediately dispatch the fire department. The most efficient security systems are those that incorporate a local alarm with alarm monitoring. While a silent alarm causes less of a disturbance, a loud siren is important to scare away intruders and call attention to your property.

Hardwired vs. Wireless Systems

Security systems come in both hardwired and wireless models. Hardwired security systems are connected through a network of wires that are discretely placed throughout your home or business. These wires connect the systemís control panel to each of the sensors. Hardwired systems are difficult to install, and therefore, expensive. Conversely, wireless security systems communicate by sending a signal from the sensors to the control panel. Wireless security systems continue to improve with advancing technology, making them easy to install and cost-effective. When coupled with an alarm monitoring service, both hardwired and wireless security systems are connected to the phone or cable lines in your home or place of business. This connection allows the system to communicate with the alarm monitoring center in the event of an alert.

Elements of a Security System

Security systems are composed of a variety of elements that work together so the system functions properly. The central unit of any security system is the computerized control panel, which serves as the connection between the sensors and the alarm. If the alarm goes off, the control panel sends a signal to the alarm monitoring center so they can dispatch the authorities. The security systemís control panel contains a keypad with numbered buttons. These buttons allow you to punch in your secret code, activating and deactivating the alarm. Keypads also contain panic buttons, which immediately dispatch the authorities if pressed during an emergency. Other elements of a security system include the alarm and sensors. Sensors, placed strategically throughout your home or business, trigger the alarm in the event of a disturbance. Sirens are either interior or exterior, while some security systems have both. Exterior sirens are often recommended because they call attention to your home or place of business, which often causes intruders to flee, as they do not want to be identified.



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