How to Design an Alarm System for your Home or Business

Building your System

The Panel

The first step to building your system is purchasing a panel and optional keypad (you can just use the App, but most people prefer a keypad as well). 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 keypad location. The panel should be located near the door you use most often to enter or exit the building.  Your panel should be located somewhere near the middle of your house or business.  Something to also take into consideration is the distance of the furthest sensor. Wireless sensors transmit up to 1000ft 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 keypad 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 totaling 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.

Environment Sensors

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 Sensors

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.

Panic Devices

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.

Home automation

For home automation, we offer many products: light bulbs, switches, outlets, locks, and Z-Wave devices.

For more devices, visit our shop.