How Do I Go About Designing a Whole Alarm System?

You can go about designing a whole alarm system by choosing a panel, compatible sensors and necessary add-ons. Most people will start by choosing a panel, as it provides a foundation for the rest of the setup. The panel is also the piece of equipment the user will interact with most often.

Any user who wants to design their own security system should know exactly how a security system works. At the heart of the setup is the panel. Various sensors are programmed with the panel to let the system know when activity occurs. Each sensor has its own duty with the system. For example, a door and window contact will let the system know when a particular door or window has been opened. Another example, is a motion sensor that lets the system know when someone has entered a particular room. All of the sensors work together to provide a complete security setup.

Whenever a sensor is activated, it will send an alert out to the panel. This can be through a wireless RF signal or a physical hardwired connection. But regardless of how the signal is received, the panel will respond based on the programming settings for that zone. Whether or not the system is armed or disarmed can play a major role in determining how the system responds when the system is armed. For instance, a sensor with a Zone Type of "Perimeter" will do nothing if it is activated while the system is disarmed. But if the system armed, then it will trigger an immediate alarm upon activation.

Arming and disarming the system is typically done from either the panel or an external keypad. Most wireless systems have a built-in controller for this purpose, and adding a keypad only provides a secondary point of access. But for a wired system, an external keypad is usually required for basic on-site function and programming. Please note though that most modern security systems can also be controlled remotely using an interactive service platform. Some examples of interactive services for alarm systems include Total Connect 2.0 and

Another very important part of an alarm system is the communicator. This is used for sending and receiving signals so that alarm monitoring can actually take place. When an alarm occurs, the system needs a communicator so that it can alert someone (typically the end user or a central monitoring station) to the situation. Likewise, a modern alarm system communicator will also be able to receive signals. This is useful for when a user is using an interactive service platform to control their system remotely.

Most alarm systems will use IP (WIFI or ethernet) or cellular communicators for this purpose. Some panels will already have a communicator installed, while others will need to have one added separately. We recommend using a cellular communicator if possible, as it offers greater reliability. There are dual-path communicators, which use both IP and cellular for added reliability and redundancy. Please note that the user will need an alarm monitoring plan to use any type of communicator and to receive any type of alarm monitoring services.

We would also like to make our customers aware that we offer various security system kits that included everything a new user needs to get started with home or business security. But customers are certainly free to design their own systems as well. If you want to design your own alarm system, complete the following steps:

1. Pick a panel. There are many factors that go into choosing a panel. It can be the functions that the panel offers, the type of sensors you want to use, the appearance of the panel or even just the overall cost. This is the piece of equipment that you will be interacting with the most, so choosing a good panel is very important. The panel also determines the types of sensors and add-ons that will be used with the system. If you already have existing sensors, you might make sure to choose a panel that can support your old sensors so that you do not have to replace them.

Most new users will want to choose a wireless system. This is because a wireless system will provide an easier installation process, require fewer add-ons and typically provide more functionality than a base hardwired system. But some users will prefer a hardwired system, as it will essentially integrate with the building. This can add potentially add value to the property. Other factors include whether or not you need partitioning, how many zones do you need, how many user codes do you need, which interactive service will you use (Total Connect 2.0,, etc.) and why type of home automation features the panel can support. Decide on a good panel for your particular needs.

2. Choose the sensors. After choosing a panel, you will get to actually customizing your system. This starts by choosing compatible sensors for the system. If you are using wireless sensors, you will need to make sure that they communicate at a radio frequency that is compatible with your system. Security sensors, such as door and window contacts, motion sensors and glass break sensors, are extremely important. You may also want to add life-safety sensors, like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. And some users will also want environmental sensors, such as flood directors. Make sure you keep proper guidelines in mind when installing sensors.

3. Acquire system add-ons. A user can complete their security setup by adding various system add-ons. This could include external keypads and keyfobs for additional system access points, Z-Wave devices for smart home automation control and security cameras for keeping an eye on the property when you aren't there. Remember, additional equipment can always be added later on, so a new user shouldn't feel like they need to buy everything right away.

4. Get monitored. Once you have a complete security setup, you will need to get that system monitored by an alarm monitoring company. Make sure that you choose an alarm monitoring plan that includes all of the services you need. If you are interested in alarm monitoring services from Alarm Grid, please check out our alarm monitoring page. New customers can sign-up for alarm monitoring directly from that page.

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