What to look for in an Alarm - guide to which is best system

Posted: 23rd January 2012

Recently, AMCO have had a lot of queries from people who have removed their burglar alarms during building work or have been told they’re not fit for purpose, or simply want to upgrade what they have. A lot of people want to know what to look for in an alarm, but unfortunately, there are some rogues in the industry who try to tell customers what they ‘need’ instead of explaining what the components do and offering their recommendations. Wiring - before you do get builders in to rip out an existing system we would recommend you contact us first. The old alarm system needed wiring to be hidden to the sensors, and with some quick tests of the wiring we may find it to be usable in upgrading your system. The wiring is one of the most time consuming, and therefore costly parts of system installations. If you do not have existing wiring then we may need to move furniture, pull carpet up, take floorboards out etc. to hide wiring. Whilst we will put everything back as we find it, this can be an inconvenience during installation, however there is an alternative. Wireless – until recently there have not been many decent wireless control panels or sensors available. AMCO have put numerous systems through rigorous testing and have found a suitable system. This is not completely wireless though, it will require hard wiring to any microwave/dualtech sensors, the phone line and should be in an unswitched fused spur. AMCO can normally install the system in 4-5 hours, with minimum inconvenience - depending on complexity and the size of the house. The disadvantage to wireless systems is that devices have batteries that need changing as well. A control panel is the brains behind your alarm system, it takes readings, provides information and power to the rest of the devices. It should be located in a secure location, where a burglar cannot get to quickly. For monitored systems this should ideally be within close proximity to a phone line and power. The control panel should be attached to mains power by an unswitched fused spur, and contain a battery back up. The battery should be within its working life, and depending on battery type needs replacing approximately every four years. A remote keypad, normally LCD or LED – where the user sets or unsets the system. This could be by pin code or proximity fob. AMCO do not recommend using proximity fobs as they could be stolen/pickpocketted along with house keys giving full access to the property. An important consideration is what you want to be able to do with the keypad. If you are just using it for basic setting, unsetting, part setting of your alarm, then an LED panel may be cheaper and look less obtrusive/industrial. A contact is a two part sensor of a simple magnetic reed and a magnet. When a door or window is closed the reed is closed with it. When the door is opened it springs back to being open letting the alarm panel know the door / window has been opened. They can be either surface mounted or flush mounted (hidden within the door frame and door. We would recommend a contacts is always backed up by another sensor, and is used to signal to the panel you have entered through the correct route. A passive infrared sensor (PIR) is a type of movement sensor. It works by measuring infrared light radiating in its field of view, and detects a change in heat. Glass and walls are not transparent to infrared waves so the sensors cannot see past glass. Due to the design of PIR sensors, they are not suitable for areas with rapidly changing temperatures such as garages. These should be placed around vulnerable locations in the house. A microwave sensor sends out pulses of microwave energy and measures the reflection from objects in its field of view, similar to radar. They are often combined with PIR sensors to form a dual-tech sensor, which is the most accurate. It requires both human body heat and movement to set the sensor off. A vibration/shock sensor works by detecting specific frequency vibration, such as the vibrations of glass shattering. They are normally placed near windows, or doors not normally used for entering the property. An alarm bellbox, normally high up on the front of the property is a toughened plastic or fibreglass box which lets potential burglars know you have an alarm system. In areas that have large houses or easy access to a particular side of the property it may be best to have more than one. An active bellbox will contain a live bell and strobe. Live bells are notoriously unreliable and prone to false alarms, and are often considered an annoyance by neighbours and very rarely cause a situation to be investigated. A communicator is an essential piece of kit that transmits information from your alarm panel to a monitoring station. This means key-holders and police can be informed almost as soon as an alarm is triggered. AMCO use a 24/7 advanced audio monitoring communicator. When an alarm is triggered the communicator lets our monitoring team know, but also transmits audio of what is happening inside the premises. This means we can listen in to exactly what is happening and let key holder and the police know. We will also speak in to the property to frighten off intruders - minimising the damage and loss should a burglary occur. Fire, Attack and Medical One other thing to bear in mind is with the AMCO immediate audio response system, we can add panic or medical emergency buttons, wired or wireless to any system.  We can also add wireless smoke detectors, or fully wired smoke detector and change in heat detectors suitable for kitchens or bathrooms. What other security should I get? West Yorkshire police have recently launched this fantastic guide - available nationwide. For further information on alarm system design – you can get one of our security consultants to design and quote you a system. Pleae see local office numbers here , or alternatively call our head office on 0845 833 8823