Building your System
The first step to building your system is purchasing a panel. This will be the control center for your entire system. It is what will communicate with your sensors, home automation devices, and other devices to create a functional alarm or home automation system.
First, we’ll start with the basics: your panel location. The panel should be located near the door you use most often to enter or exit the building. Something to also take into consideration is the distance of the furthest sensor. Wireless sensors transmit up to 100ft in open air (cut that distance in half for each wall in between). When you enter or exit you can set the amount of time you have to punch in your code or how long you have to exit, so you will need to place your panel in a location you can reach within your set period of time. You must also power the panel, so it will need to be placed near an outlet. Finally, are you wall mounting the panel or placing it on a desk stand?
Contacts and Glass Sensors
After you have decided where your panel is going, we start with the first layer of defense. This is called pre-entry. You should walk around the outside of your house and see where someone could enter. The first thing is doors; we recommend all doors going outside have a door/window contact. Windows can have a contact as well. The downside of a window contact is it only goes off if the window is opened. If the window is broken, the door/window contact will not sense it, but a glass break sensor or shock sensor will. A shock sensor sticks right on the window, so you need one per window. A glass break sensor can monitor multiple windows within a 25ft radius. This is good for larger rooms, like rec. rooms and living rooms with multiple large windows. For an additional layer of security, windows on the upper floors or the interior of the garage can be protected with door/window contacts or glass break sensors. Garage overhead doors can be protected using a tilt sensor located near the top of the door. This detects the tilting motion of an overhead door. Another reason to have extra door contacts located within your home would be for home automation. An example would be if you open a door after dark and would like the light to automatically turn on.
The next layer of protection is post-entry. This is your backup system. At this point, someone is already in your house and has come through an entry that wasn’t protected. For this we would use a motion detector. This is usually placed in a corner that is not facing a window or an object that could be moved by a forced air heat vent. If you have large animals (over 75lbs) or multiple animals totalling over 75lbs a motion detector will sense them. Smaller animals like birds or cats that can climb on objects near the motion detectors may also set them off. Motion detectors can also work with your home automation system, turning on lights when you enter a room.
Another type of protection is environmental. These are things like water sensors, which can detect floods or a failed sump pump, freeze sensors, which can tell you if your furnace has stopped working in the winter, or a carbon monoxide detector, which can save you from a deadly gas leak.
Fire protection can come in couple of ways: wireless smoke detectors placed on your ceiling or wall, or heat detectors, which can detect either a maximum temperature or a rate of rise increase faster than is possible for a furnace. These are useful in places like kitchens or lunchrooms where a toaster or oven could burn something you’re cooking, which won’t set off the detector unless there is an actual fire. We also offer a device called the firefighter, which listens to the smoke detectors that most newer houses already have. The firefighter detects a smoke alarm and subsequently notifies you or your monitoring company of the alarm.
Another thing you might like to add to your system is a panic/medical alert button. You can wear this device as a pendant or as a watch. When the panic button is pressed, the LEDs on either side of the button will blink and an alarm signal is transmitted. You can use this button for personal security purposes, or configure it to your home automation system (when the button is pressed, it will turn off the alarm/unlock the door/turn on all the lights). If the button is pressed it can also turn off the alarm, unlock the door and turn on
all the lights so the person coming to help can come in.
For home automation, we offer many products: light bulbs, switches, outlets, locks, and Z-Wave devices.
For more devices, visit our shop.
Self-Monitoring vs. Monitored Systems
Scenario 1: You’ve headed to your cabin for the week and, just as you get comfy, your phone alerts you of an intruder in your house. You open your home security app and, if you have cameras, see footage of a stranger walking around your living room. You quickly call 911 and watch the police arrest the burglar on camera.
Scenario 2: You’ve headed to your cabin for the week and, just as you get comfy, your phone doesn’t alert you that someone is inside your house because you are out of cell signal range. You return to find your alarm went off and your valuables have been stolen.
- No monthly cost.
- No false alarms bring police/firefighters/medics to your house without you sending for them.
- If your cell phone is out of range or the battery is dead, you won’t get the notification that your alarm system has gone off.
- Self-Monitored systems run on Wi-Fi only. If your power goes out your system will still make noise but, most times, the Wi-Fi goes out with the power.
- You have to call 911 yourself in an emergency situation.
Scenario 1: You’ve headed up to your cabin for the week, and just as you get comfy, your phone alerts you of an intruder in your house. You open your home security app and, if you have cameras, see footage of a stranger walking around your living room. You receive a call and are asked if you would like the police to be dispatched. You reply yes, and watch the police arrest the burglar on camera.
Scenario 2: You’ve headed to your cabin for the week and, just as you get comfy, your phone doesn’t alert you that someone is inside your house because you are out of cell signal range. However, because you and your spouse weren’t reached, the monitoring system has dispatched the police and you return home to find your alarm went off, but the intruder has been apprehended (and, if you have cameras installed, you have footage of it).
- You don’t have to worry about monitoring the system or contacting authorities when the alarm is set off, which can be helpful if you are out of cell phone range.
- Your system is monitored by a real person, who will ensure someone will be notified when your system goes off.
- You can set the order of people to be notified (1. Call your home, 2. Call your cell, 3. Call your spouse’s cell, 4. Call your child, 5. If no one is reached, call the police/fire department).
- Runs on Wi-Fi and/or cellular (cellular module sold separately) and comes with battery backups, so your alarm system will continue working on cellular if the power goes out.
- Save costs on insurance. In most cases the more dangers you monitor (fire, flood, CO, intrusion, etc.) the better your discount will be. The insurance discount often covers the cost of monitoring.
- When the alarm goes off by accident, you have to answer your phone and tell them is was a false alarm so the police won’t be notified. However, if you’re not home, you won’t know if there’s an intruder or if the sensor has been tripped by something else, like one of your children or pets. If police are dispatched to multiple false alarms, you could be charged a fine.
- You need to keep your call/user list updated with the monitoring station.
- Flat monthly fee ($27.95/month, includes IP and/or cell communication).
- Cancellation requires 30 days’ notice.