Wiring Basics 6

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Wiring Basics 6

More Tricks of the Trade/Wireless Alarm Systems



Keeping Windows open while Arming your system

Window Double MagnetA question that always comes up is "Is there a way to keep a window(s) open for fresh air while arming the system"? The short answer is yes, however, you must understand how this procedure works and the short comings of utilizing it. If you look at the pictorial to the left, you will notice it has one switch and 2 magnets. The magnets must be placed no more than 6 inches apart. When the window is closed the magnet and switch line up as shown. With the window locked, this would be the normal position when arming the alarm system. When you open the window, raise it just enough to line up the bottom magnet with the switch. It is important that the window fits firmly within the frame and can't fall or vibrate down. The alarm can now be armed again and any attempt to close or open the window further will cause the alarm to sound. I would suggest that you cut a piece wood to the size that does not permit the window to raise any further. Better yet you could carefully drill a hole in the frame of the window and the window itself and pin the window open. Of course you could just bypass the window at the keypad but you would not be afforded any protection on the window. In reality there will probably be other windows on the same zone and since you bypass zones rather than contacts this will mean you have to shut off more openings than perhaps you wanted to. Yes, there will be a trade off between security and convenience. The point is you will have to make this decision based on how comfortable you feel in trading off security for convenience.

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What is a Wireless Alarm System

Alexor Wireless Alarm Because hardwired alarm systems are more difficult to install, many companies are placing more emphasis on wireless systems today. They used to be plagued by poor performance, poor battery life and a tendency to produce false alarms. I am happy to say this is no longer the case. Because of constantly improving technology they are just about as reliable as hardwired systems. While it is true that there are completely wireless systems, most still require minor hardwiring of certain components. These are typically the power transformer, to supply AC power to the control panel and to keep the batteries charged. Other items are an outside siren, keypads and the telephone line. The drawbacks to wireless systems are that they are more expensive because of the receivers, transmitters and additional circuitry involved. The wireless contacts are also more expensive than their hardwire counter parts. The prices vary but as general rule run from $30 to $50 dollars each. Whereas, hardwire contacts run $3 to $5 or more. Some of the other drawbacks are the range of the sensors, however, most modern panels will diagnose the placement and strength of the signal from the sensors. There are a multitude of wireless sensors available such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide, motion detectors, flood and glass break devices.

The drawback to a completely wireless systems is that they are entirely self contained. The control panel, keypad, siren and communications are all contained in a single unit. If this unit is mounted on the wall or near an entrance door and it is smashed, you will lose everything. That being said I opt for the control unit being separated from the keypad.

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How do Wireless systems work

Instead of all the components being connected by wires, all or part of a wireless alarm system are connected by miniature radio transmitters, located inside each component of the system. These sensors all require an on board battery to function. With lithium batteries the manufacturers claim 3 to 5 years of service before requiring a change of the batteries. Wireless sensors are designed to transmit a unique identification code, an electronic serial number, to the alarm controller. The controller learns the identity of each device and links it to an assigned zone. This procedure is known as enrolling the device. Zone attributes are then assigned and these tell the zones how to operate. They can operate as a delay, instant, interior, fire or panic zone. These radio transmitters are constantly being polled by the alarm control panel to obtain the status of its sensor switch, battery voltage, condition, and other diagnostic messages. The polling time can be programmed in the alarm controller.

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