Monday, February 05, 2007

Wireless Sure... But how do I plan a system anyway?

Not to put the cart before the horse as I did with the previous post... Before you can plan to go wireless with a burglar alarm system you should really plan it a little. After all wired vs. wireless may not be the right question to ask at the beginning anyway. What is the right questions and how do you begin your system plan? Come in and see...
Burglar alarm systems, hereafter referred to just as alarm systems (gotta love the legalese once in a while), are there for piece of mind. Let me make this point clear first - THEY DO NOT STOP A DETERMINED INTRUDER!!! These systems will let you know if someone has activated a sensor which may mean they have already gained access. But they fill other purposes as well. How do you know when you enter your home that someone isn't waiting for you inside? Well that might be the greatest value of an alarm system. An adversary that abducts you inside your house wins in every way possible. They are not in the travelled way, not in public view, and it is highly unlikely that you will have time to dial 911 for help. You alarm system should be planned well enough so that you can be reasonably confident that you are the only person that has entered your home when you open your door.

Planning a system requires a bit of discussion on sensor types, activities and spaces, and access/traffic patterns. So the next couple of posts will deal with each of these briefly.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why go wireless???

Ever thought about a burglar alarm but didn't want to deal with the wires? Ever think that wireless wasn't good enough? Maybe it's because of movies like The Score, The Italian Job, Heat, and the others that portray very talented thieves and complicated thefts. The kind that generally just don't happen everyday in real life. The common burglar will use the door or window that is left unlocked. Or they may put a foot against the door or destroy a window. Either way the greatest threat comes from the path of least resistance.

Realistically, what are the chances that someone would bring equipment to generate a radio signal to jam a wireless alarm system? But what if your wireless system could detect the jamming attempt and use that as a trigger for an alarm?
Welcome to the real world of quality wireless alarm systems. What is quality? See Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for a detailed discussion of that topic. But a worthwhile wireless alarm system will likely include all UL listed parts. And is should do some very important things like detect jamming attempts, prevent data collision, and device supervision.

Data collision is what occurs when two or more devices try to communicate to the system panel at one time. Worthwhile systems will not do this. While device supervision is just what it sounds like. The system panel periodically checks the status of each device. What a device fails to respond then the panel makes notifications that something needs to be done.

What might be the best reason for looking at a wireless systems is their resilience during power outages. The backup battery that should be fitted with the system panel is good and may last for 12 hours, but when that battery does not have to support each individual sensor it lasts much longer. See with wireless systems each device has its own battery and thus is not affected by power outages in the same way as a traditional wired system.

Now you may think that he batteries are expensive, but its not the expense that is likely to cause a problem since they usually last for about one to two years. The greatest issue the annoyance of actually changing the batteries every so often. But there are trade-offs with everything.

Keep in mind that there are disadvantages to wireless systems as well, but for the most part they should work just fine for you home and small business needs.

More on planning an alarm system and monitoring options next...