Alarm Technical Notes
1. What is a burglar alarm system?
A burglar alarm system is a proven deterrent against the double threat of burglary and fire. While there are many brands of security system, they can be generally categorized into two types. These are:
- Bells only: These systems rely on sirens to both deter the burglar as well as to alert the neighbours to the intrusion. With many newer panel, the system may come with a built-in auto dialer that enable it to send a message to your hand phone via your telephone lines.
- Monitored Systems: These systems have all the features of a bell only system with the addition of being monitored by a central station via your telephone line. When an alarm is triggered, the system will send a signal to a central monitoring station where officers on duty can notify the key holders and police of the alarm. While it is not mandatory for most places to be monitored, it is fast becoming popular in view of the many benefits that comes with a monitored system.
2. How do burglar alarm systems work?
The most basic burglar alarm is a simple electric circuit built into an entry way. In any circuit, whether it is used to turn on a fan or a light, for electricity to flow, you need a switch to close the circuit; and to turn it off, you need to open the circuit. For an alarm system, whether the the circuit is open or close depends for example on the door contact installed at the front door.
When the door is closed, the electric circuit is closed and electricity will flow through. When the door is opened, the electric circuit is opened and the electricity will cut off, triggering an alarm.
To control the opening and closing of this alarm circuit, you have a wide choice of devices that can be installed at the vulnerable parts of your premises, And by opening or closing the circuit, theses devices signal to the burglar alarm system whether a door, window or a protected zone is violated.
3. What are the different types of detectors?
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Doors and Windows Contacts comprises two parts. The part that is mounted on the door or window frame is the one with a reed switch and the other part normally mounted on the door or the window is a magnet. When the door or window is closed, the magnet will magnetized the reed switch, causing it to close the circuit. When the doors or windows are opened, the reed switch will bounced back to its open position
Motion Detectors are used to detect the burglar moving through the house. Most motion detectors uses the PIR (Passive Infra Red) technology to detect motion. For homes with pets, you can select Pet Immune PIR where it will ignore movement of pets under its specified weight. To reduce false alarm, particular in harsh environment, motion detectors that utilise the dual technology of PIR and Ultrasound can be employed. In such cases, an alarm will only triggered if both technology senses motion at the same time.
There are other detectors such as panic buttons and glass break detectors though not as commonly used compared to the door and window contacts, and the motion detectors.
4. What is arming and disarming?
To arm the system is to tell the system to be on an alert. For arming, there are two types of arming that addresses the operational condition:
Arming Away: Arming Away is you telling the system that no one is in and it should be on an alert. Under this mode of operation, all sensors (whether interior or exterior) are armed and on alert. So if there is a breach of any of the sensors, an alarm will be triggered and the siren will sound.
Arming Home: Arming Home address the situation where you are at home and you want to be protected against intruders yet be free to move about in your house. Under such a mode, the system will only arm the exterior sensors (normally doors and windows) but ignore your motion sensors (normally programmed as interior) so that you can move about without triggering an alarm.
Disarming is you telling the system that it can "relax" and do not need to sound the siren if any of the zones are violated.
Arming and disarming is performed at the keypad and to arm or disarm, you will need your User Code. Different panels may have different command or buttons to press for the two types of arming, though all panels will disarm simply when you enter the correct user code.
5. What is a user code and how can I change the code?
A user code is needed for arming and disarming. This is the code that the system will use to recognize that you are the authorised person to arm or disarm. How many user code can a system have will depend on the brand though most will support at least 4 user code. You can assign different code for different people or in some companies for different departments. Changing the code normally require you to have the Master Code and the steps to take ar normally outlined in your User guide.
6. What is Chime and how do I turn it on or off?
Chime is a feature of the system where the keypad will sound a chime (ding dong) when certain doors are opened. This is to alert you that a door has been opened. This is quite popular for many homes where the chime can tell you that your child is back or someone has just opened the door to go out. Quite a useful feature particularly for family with young children.
To turn it on or off, there is normally a toggle button on the keypad. For the specifics, please refer to your user guide.
7.How do PIR motion sensors work?
A PIR detector is a motion detector that senses the heat emitted by a living body. PIR stands for Passive Infra Red. The sensor is passive because, instead of emitting a beam of light, it "collects" the heat energy emitted by every living thing and continuously compare it with the pattern collected earlier. Through its algorithm, where there is a large differential in the pattern, it will triggered an alarm.
8. How to silence the alarm?
The siren will be sounded once an alarm is triggered. To silence the alarm, you will need to disarm by entering your user code. Note that under the Police requirement, your siren will be automatically cut off after a pre-determined time period. This is to prevent your alarm from becoming a nuisance to your neighbours. The Singapore Code of Practice set it at no more than 10 minutes. Which is why it is always a good idea to have the alarm monitored by a Central Monitoring company or be self monitored via your hand phones.
9.Can I bypass my sensor?
Yes. To bypass your sensor is to tell your system to ignore any signal sent by that detector. This may be necessary where the sensor is faulty and always caused false triggering. How to bypass depends on your model and it is best to refer to your user guide. But note that bypassing a zone is not permanent. When you disarm the system, the system will also restore your bypass and at the next arming, it will treat that detector as fully operational. This is a safety feature to ensure that your system is always working at all time.
10. What to do in a false alarm?
Don't Panic. If you are in the house when the alarm is triggered, you can go to the keypad, enter your User Code and disarm the system If your system is monitored, expect the central monitoring company to contact you. Be ready with your challenge password for authentication.
11. How to prevent false alarm?
False alarm are normally caused by human error which may be result from not fully understand how it work or forgetting that you have armed the system. Be sure that everyone in the house is familiar and know how to properly arm or disarm the system.