Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I’ve been thinking about buying a security system for a while now, but I don’t know that much about them. How do they work?
A: A security system starts with a control panel. Usually located in a closet or a basement, the control panel contains the “brains” of the security system, and essentially operates as a central computer. Various sensors connect to the control panel from locations throughout your home. If your security system is armed and the sensors detect a problem, they send signals to the control panel. The control panel automatically dials the central monitoring station, where the proper authorities are notified.
Q: What does the keypad do?
A: You operate your security system by entering your security code at the keypad. Generally located at entry doors, keypads can arm and disarm with push-button ease, and literally put security at your family’s fingertips! Good features to look for include illuminated keys to provide you with greater visibility at nighttime, easy-to-read English displays that spell out your system’s status at a glance, and one-touch function keys that provide single-button operation for arming, disarming or emergencies. Most keypads even offer convenient additional user codes to give friends, neighbors or service people access to your home.
Q: What are magnetic contacts?
A: Magnetic contacts are two-part devices used to safeguard windows and doors. One part of the contact is a switch installed in the window or door jam; the other contains a magnet and is placed in the window or door itself. Any noticeable shift in contact with the switch results in an alarm.
Q: What is a PIR?
A: A passive infrared motion detector (PIR) is an electronic security device that detects intruders by “sensing” motion or body heat in the area being protected. Most PIRs are designed to be used when your family is away from home or when no one will be passing through the area “covered” by the PIR.
Q: I have a dog! Does that mean I can’t install a PIR?
A: Absolutely not. Recent innovations in security technology have resulted in the creation of “pet immune” motion detectors-allowing dog and cat lovers to enjoy the same level of protection they would receive with a standard PIR. These state-of-the-art sensors provide “pet immunity” for animals weighing up to 100 lbs. Pet immune PIRs allow your pet to move about freely but can still detect an intruder’s movement.
Q: How does a “glassbreak detector” work?
A: “Acoustic” glassbreak sensors, usually mounted on ceilings or walls, work by “listening” for the sound of breaking glass in a window. “Shock” glassbreak detectors are mounted on the window and “feel” the shock of breaking glass. This kind of advanced wireless technology can provide shatter and shock protection for your windows, for often intruders are “sensed” and an alarm sounded while they are still outdoors. This is often enough to send a burglar running!
Q: I already have a battery-operated smoke detector, so why would I need one installed as part of my security system? What’s the difference?
A: Since you own a smoke detector, you obviously realize what an important safety measure this device is. That’s good. Smoke detectors are highly effective in preventing loss of life and property. However, there are differences between the “stand alone” or battery-operated smoke detector you would buy at your local hardware store and one installed as part of your home security system.
“Stand alone” detectors are not connected to other detectors or warning devices. A smoke detector connected to your security system offers more protection because it is monitored by a central station. If fire strikes, the detector sets off an alarm and sends a signal to the control panel. The control panel dials the central station, where the operator notifies the fire department. Only central station monitored smoke detectors provide automatic notification of authorities when you or your family are asleep, not at home or unable to get to the phone.
Q: I’ve been hearing so much about these “wireless” security devices. Do they really work well, and are they easy to use?
A: Yes on both counts! Technological breakthroughs have led to the development of wireless electronic security products, and their effectiveness has been proven time and again over the years in millions of installations. Their rock-solid stability and long battery life make them a popular choice among homeowners and dealers alike. They give installers the flexibility they need to overcome obstacles like brick walls, cement floors and cathedral ceilings; and no drilling holes preserves the beauty of your home and results in cleaner, faster installations.
Folks today enjoy the convenience of remote control devices, and the security industry has responded! User-friendly wireless products provide the dual benefits of superior performance and ease of operation. Wireless keypads allow you to activate and de-activate your security system with the touch of a button, and can even be programmed so that a young child can operate it with ease. Homeowners especially love wireless keys! Similar in size to a remote car alarm key, they fit right on your keychain, and the press of a single button lets you control your system, lights and appliances-eliminating the need for codes. This is especially great if you and your family enjoy spending time outdoors. Relax by the pool, garden, barbecue and entertain, or play with your kids in the backyard-enjoy extra mobility without compromising your safety!
Another hot item gaining popularity is the interactive phone module. By adding the phone module to your home security system, you’ll have remote control access from any touch-tone or cellular phone-from your office, on the road, or anywhere in the world! Conveniently arm, disarm or check the status of your system, turn your lights on or off-you can even control your thermostat and air conditioner!
Q: What exactly is a central monitoring station?
Security systems send their signals over your telephone line to a central monitoring station-the facility that acts as the link between your home and the police, fire department, and emergency response authorities. A central station is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by highly skilled operators trained to respond to emergencies. The station operator alerts the proper authorities and dispatches help.
Q: If the central monitoring station is notified via my phone line, how can I keep my family safe if the line is cut or out of service?
That’s a valid concern. In the event that your phone line fails or is cut, there are back-up services that work in tandem with your home security system to ensure your safety-the most popular being an easy-to-install cellular radio service that contacts the central station in the event of an emergency. The only additional equipment required would be a small radio transmitter that connects to the control panel of your security system. Total Connect Services also available with this option.