Security & Safety FAQ
What is VoIP, and how can it interfere with my alarm aystem’s monitoring capabilities?
VOIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol. It simply uses your broadband internet connection to place voice calls digitally over IP based networks. Generally, a consumer will pay a flat monthly fee for local and long distance calls, often for considerably less than a regular analog land line
Speaking of sensors, how are the "glassbreak" kind operated?
"Acoustic" glassbreak sensors, usually mounted on ceilings or walls, work by "listening" for the sound of breaking glass in a window. "Shock" glassbreak detectors are mounted on the window and "feel" the shock of breaking glass.
I've been hearing so much about "wireless" security devices. Are they easy to use & work well?
Yes on both counts! Technological breakthroughs have led to the development of wireless electronic security products, and their effectiveness has been proven time and again over the years in millions of installations.
What is a PIR?
A passive infrared motion detector (PIR) is an electronic security device that detects intruders by "sensing" motion or body heat in the area being protected. Most PIRs are designed to be used when your family is away from home or when no one will be passing through the area "covered" by the PIR.
I have a dog! Does that mean I can’t install a PIR?
Absolutely not. Recent innovations in security technology have resulted in the creation of "pet immune" motion detectors-allowing dog and cat lovers to enjoy the same level of protection they would receive with a standard PIR.
What does the keypad do?
You operate your security system by entering your security code at the keypad. Generally located at entry doors, keypads can arm and disarm with push-button ease, and literally put security at your family’s fingertips!
What are magnetic contacts?
Magnetic contacts are two-part devices used to safeguard windows and doors. One part of the contact is a switch installed in the window or door jam; the other contains a magnet and is placed in the window or door itself. Any noticeable shift in contact with the switch results in an alarm.
I am new to security systems, how do they work?
A security system starts with a control panel. Usually located in a closet or a basement, the control panel contains the "brains" of the security system, and essentially operates as a central computer.
If my system communicates over telephone lines, what happens if my phone lines are cut?
If your phone lines are cut and your system isn't backed up with cellular back-up, there will be no communication. See our section on cellular back-up.
I've had a system for years and it has never been monitored, why start paying a monthly fee?
Basically, an unmonitored system will only activate a siren on the premises. First of all, many thieves simply knock sirens off of a wall or roof eave. In addition to this, an alarm that is only "making noise" is ineffective because it is often difficult to determine which home or business has a sounding alarm. Plus, continual sirens are often ignored by neighbors much like car alarms in a large parking lot. See our 24 hour monitoring service section.
What is the difference between smoke detectors that I can buy at a hardware store and those connected through a security system?
Smoke detectors bought at a retail store are battery powered and merely make a noise when smoke is detected. This works ok as long as the batteries are always charged and someone is home and can "hear" the detector. Monitored smoke detectors don’t rely on batteries but the security system’s AC power which is always on or has emergency battery back-up in case of power failure. Monitored smoke detectors are connected by wiring through the security system so that when smoke is detected, a signal is sent to the central station. This is a major benefit when there is no one home to "hear" the detector. Monitored smoke detectors work even when your system is in "disarm" mode.
What is the catch with the "free" systems that are advertised so often by the national companies?
The catch is that these residential systems offer only "partial" protection through their design. These systems typically only have 2 or 3 door sensors and a motion detector. This is misleading because with this type of system design, an intruder could enter through an unprotected window and not be detected unless he walked in front of a motion detector. Another flaw with this system design is that unless requested by the homeowner, these systems automatically bypass the motion detector when the system is armed and no door is opened – meaning “when you are at home with the system armed”. Another ‘catch’ is that the homeowner pays a higher monthly rate to pay for monitoring service + system cost over a 3 year period. When the 3 year period ends and the system is ‘paid for’, the rate often increases instead of lowering to just a monitoring rate. The best system design uses perimeter protection on all window and door openings and can be enhanced by several options including glass break detectors, motion detectors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors etc.
How do I know if my system will work when I need it?
We urge all of our subscribers to test their system weekly (Please call our office for instructions on how to test). As an additional service, we can also program your system to send test signals which will test your system’s ability to properly communicate over your phone lines.