Alarm system

doogan123February 11, 2009

Hi all. I have a question and am a little tight on time - so i have not had a chance to research yet. I was wondering if someone could lead me in the right direction. I need to run cabling for an alarm system in my house. I have not had the time yet to figure out what system to install. Its probabally something that i will install down the line -Not really in an area that we need an alarm, I just want to be pre-wired.

So what should i run. can anyone give me a guick tutorial or point me to one that can tell me what to run. I am doing all my cat 6 and RG6 over the next week or so, and want to include this also

thanks everyone

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The system in my home just uses 2 conductor jacketed (22 ga.solid) from each sensor and panel to a common location where the control box is located (usually out of sight in a closet as you don't need to access it except for service). Power for the control is also through a 2 conductor to one of the garage door opener outlets in the garage ceiling where a 'wall wart' provides the power.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 4:15AM
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for wiring your house, read this
it might be more than you are looking for now, however, there is lots of good info.
when the time comes, might look into using the Elk Alarm System as its very DIY friendly and lots of good forums if you run into trouble.

Here is a link that might be useful: Elk Alarm

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:11AM
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Take a look at this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Structured Home Wiring Inlcuding Alarm Systems

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 1:19PM
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Here is a quick primer. I did my own security system and it is pretty easy:

1. even though wireless sensors are available, hard wire is best when walls are open. wire is cheap, no batteries to replace. Use wireless to augment the system if you need to add sensors later. Most security contollers provide both wired and wireless interfaces.

You will need more wire than you think due to snaking up/down walls and through trusses.

2. Motion sensors and Glass break sensors require 4 conductors (power, ground, common, and normally open or closed contact). So it is best to run 22 guage 4 conductor wire everywhere. Magnetic contact sensors only require 2 conductors - so 2 will go unused. But why buy two wire types - the 4 conductor wire is not that much more than 22/4. MAKE SURE THE WIRE IS STRANDED - much much easier to work with than solid. Pay the extra for the stranded wire.

3. Use glass break sensors to cover a series of windows instead of magnetic sensors on all windows. For example, my dining room has 3 window sections and a transom. Rather than use magnetic sensors on each window, I used 1 glass break sensor in the dining room ceiling to cover all windows in that room. The glass break sensors have a range of about 20 feet and are quite sensitive. Using them will reduce the number of sensors you need.

I would not recommend wiring magnetic sensors on all windows since this is very labor intensive. The only benefit of this is it will tell you if you have left a window open when you are getting ready to set the alarm. Most crooks will break the glass - unless you happen to leave a winow or door open. If you find out later that you want that - this is a good place where wireless sensors can be added.

You can run the wires for the glass break sensors to a spot in the ceiling where you want to install them later. I highly recommend using a piece of 1 inch inside diameter PVC pipe strapped/glued to a ceiling truss that protrudes 1/2 inch below the truss. When the drywallers install - have them cut holes so these little pices of pipe pop through and are flush with the ceiling. Tape the wire inside the pieces of pipe so you can pull them out later. Purchase little covers for the pipe holes until you install the glass break sensors. Use the Honeywell Glassbreak sensors in the small sized packaging (they are a few dollars more than the larger size which look like small smoke detectors - but much more attractive than the larger versions).

You want the galss break sensor to be about 10 to 15 feet back from the glass and in the ceiling.

NOTE: do not adjust the sensitivity too high. Birds crashing into windows will set the alarm off (I found this out the hard way!).

4. Use magnetic contacts on doors. This is the one sensor that you need to install right now since you will have to drill through the door frames, and doing that after drywall will be a mess.

5. Use motion detectors as a second barrier. The best place for these is on the wall about 7 feet up. They have a range of about 25 to 35 feet. Use motion sensors to cover the second floor - one in the hallway should work. Crooks know that most people only alarm first floor and will use ladders to break in.

Download the spec on the motion sensor you will use so you can get the pattern of coverage. Large rooms may need 2 sensors to cover all entry and exit points.

6. Definately install CO sensors - at least 1 for each floor.

7. Do home runs from each sensor location to a central location where you will install the panel. Make sure you label each wire so you know what sensor each wire is connected to.

8. There is a way of interfacing the smoke detectors in your home to the alarm system. If you use the link below and buy from them - their tech support will send you a small interface module that you tie into the last smoke detector in the chain - which is typically in the basement. You want to make sure you have a 22/4 wire run to this location (the end of the chaain of detectors). Call the people at the link below to double check on this. It will save you from having to install separate smoke detectors for the alarm system.

The way the Honeywell/Ademco contollers work is that glass break and magnetic conrtact sensors are typically programmed as perimeter alarms. These are monitored when you set the HOME ALARM button. Motion sensors are typically deactivated on HOME ALARM (although you can define a motion sensor as a perimeter sensor if you want). When any perimeter sensor goes off, the alarm automatically sounds with one exception - you can put a delay on any perimeter alarm and that is normall done at entry points (like front door, utility room door) where you have alarm panels. These delays allow you to come home, open the door and turn off the alarm within the programmable delay time before it goes off.

The motion sensors are typically defined as interior alarms that are usually activated only when you set the AWAY ALARM button. When you are away - all sensors (perimeter and interior) are activated.

If you have pets that roam around areas monitored with motion sensors, make sure you purchase motion sensors that can handle pets (a few more dollars).

I provided a link below to the on-line store where I purchased my equipment. They have some tips for installation on the site. Give them a call (located in Maryland) - very helpful.

Best of luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: On-Line Security Parts

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 7:44AM
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Hi all - thank a million for the responses.. this is great.. sniffdog.. thanks for your detail.... I think from all i have read..i will be running 22/4 to everywhere i need. I do not have a huge house.. so it will be glass break for windows.. magnetic for doors all around.. along with a couple of motion sensors upstairs and down..

if you do not mind - i will reach out to you later in the year for more details.. thanks agian

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 10:05PM
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I'd disagree with sniffdog on wiring windows. We open windows alot in nice weather and find that the wired windows have been particularly handy letting us know one was left open when we go out...alarm won't set. Since it sounds like you're doing it yourself, the labor cost isn't an issue. Real crooks will probably break the glass anyway but neighborhood kids behaving badly might find an open window irresistible...

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 4:22AM
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use wireless on windows - as i said in my post - if you want an indication of window open/closed. much much easier to install than wired magnetic sensors.

i did 9 doors with magnetic sensors and it is labor instensive drilling through framing and then aligning the magnet that has to be drilled and inserted into the door (or in this case window) frame. it just isn't worth the work for something that provides essentially no buglar protection.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 10:19AM
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back when i was installign alarms we hardwired all windows that will open. but what we did was put the sensor about halfway along the window. then 2-3 magnets down teh window itself. this way you could open teh window enough to get a breeze, but the alarm could still be set. nice if you are one who likes to both sllep with a window open AND set the alarm!

as to running wiring, newer alarm systems have digital expansion boards tha tidentify eahc device when it alarms. this allows you to knwo exactly which window was opened, which smoke detector went off, etc. but it also allows you to save on wire in large installs. after a lightning strike at work our alarm was replaced with one like this. now instead of 50 runs going all to one location the sensors go to a board in a central area for that part of the building. then that expansion board uses 1 4 wire cable to run back to the panel. this cna save a box or two or wire by using these hub locations versus running everythign back.

also, don't forget to run wires for sensors int eh attic. these will be higher temp smoke/fire detectors since attic get so hot. but they are necessary. my parents house was saved from damage when the one in their attic caught that the furnace was blowing flame out the side. had that sensor not been there it would have eventually caused a fire!

sniffdog, i do argee with you in a way. but i have always liked to backup mag siwtches with glass breaks AND motions. heck, i have seen folks literally peel siding off a wall and then kick their way thru the interior sheetrock. a mag switch nor a glass break will catch that, but a motion gets them every time.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 11:04AM
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I'm not sure why sniffdog is so adamant that the wire be stranded instead of solid conductor. I had no problems using solid conductor. One thing I learned was that you need to strip/twist when using "beanie" (i.e. Dolphin) connectors. They claim you don't need to, but that isn't the case.

The one problem I had was that several of the magnetic switches I put in failed in short order. Not sure if that was seasonal movement in the wood or what. And pulling the sensor wiring out of the jamb/sash isn't easy when everything's foamed into place. Cheap equipment, pain to replace.

FWIW, my recollection on Honeywell's terminology is that motion detectors are "interior follower" type zones. That's so they don't alarm when an entry zone is faulted first. The Honeywell/Ademco gear is relatively easy to figure out and program, plus it's available mailorder several places. My FIL's house has a Napco system that looks to be the bees knees, but I don't know if you could DIY it.

We had to replace our panel a while back (fried by surge during a lightning storm). I added a keyfob and now think that's pretty slick. One of these days, I'll go through the effort to set it up so I can use a button to turn on the front exterior lights.

I didn't do any glass breaks- I think if you can provide enough coverage w/ motion sensors (in addition to window/door contacts), you'll be fine.

I found the alarm forum at and the forum helpful. IIRC, the replacement panel came from Safemart.

There's a guy who used to prolifically post on Usenet and had his own online store (B*ss was the name, think b*ss fishing). I placed an order from him and had nothing but problems. It would've been OK, but I couldn't get a response to e-mail or get anyone on the phone. So, when half the order showed up and no indication that the other was coming, I disputed the charge w/ the CC co. Weeks later, the rest showed up from another distributor, with no way to return it.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 9:38AM
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I have a lot of windows in my house, many casement, but a bunch of double hungs as well. The thought of drilling and wiring magnetic sensors on every one was just too painful. When I spoke with the technical support of the alarm company where I bought the equipment, they recommended the approach I used. I could add wireless on the windows if I needed that, but we always check doors the windows so it isn't an issue for us.

The motion sensors are by far the best sensor of the 3 types. If placed properly, a few motion sensors might be all you need to protect the home if you only plan on setting the alarm when you are away. We usually do not set the motion sensors on when we are home and set the alarm, only perimeter type sensors are enabled in this case(perimeter type is programmed as glass break and magnetic sensors on doors, although I do have 2 motion sensors in the basement that are also defined as perimeter sensors too). The perimeter sensors immediately sound the alarm except for 2 that have a delay programmed for front door and a garage entry door where we have keypads to set and turn off the alarm. This configuration is set by entering your code at the keypad and pressing the STAY button.

When we are away, both perimeter and interior sensors (all other motion sensors) are on. The interior sensors sound the alarm immediately when tripped. This is set by entering your code at the keypad and pressing the AWAY button.

Using this 2 tiered STAY/AWAY approach makes sense if you set the alarm when you are home. If you set the alarm from your bedroom for the night but then need to get up and go to the kitchen for some water, you don't have to deactivate the alarm system because the motion sensors are on. If you only had motion sensors in the house with no glass break sensors, you would have to deactivate your alarm system before you started strolling around the house.

I am using the motion sensors in the basement as perimeter alarms because I have not finished it off yet and I ran out of time during the build - so I threw in 2 motion sensors cover all the basement windows plus I have magnetic contact sensors on both basement doors. I may someday add some more glass break sensors to cover all the windows down there but that might not be necessary since even if the basement were finished, we would probably not roam around down there with the alarm set. So the motion sensors may make the most sense in the basement defined as perimeter alarms.

I also dropped in some wire outside the house so that I can add some exterior sensors at key places where a break in would probably occur (e.g. basement and side doors, rear deck entry). My plan there is to have these sensors turn on the outside lights and ring a tone inside the house to alert me - but not set off the alarm system. This exterior barrier will give me some additional warning that someone may be try to break into the house. These exterior sensors might be overkill for many but I live in a remote area and cannot count on police to get to my house fast enough to save us if our lives are threatened. Robbers don't concern me as much as nut jobs do, and even a few extra seconds of warning is enough time to figure out what is going on and to get the clip loaded into the weapon.

This morning at 330 AM a glass break sensor went off in one of our garages - and that gets the heart beating fast quickly . Alarm company called seconds after it went off, so it was a good test. No glass was broken so more than likely it was a bird flying into the glass which happens a lot - and when they hit the glass they usually smack into it at high spped. I have all of my glass break sensors set on High sensitivity, so I need to adjust those back a bit. But at least I know they work!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 7:54AM
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Hi everyone again.

So i am finally running the alarm wiring this week. I have a question in terms of where to bring out the magnetic sensors on the windows. I took a close look on saturday and am figuring a small very neatly drilled hole on the piece of wood trim is the place. It needs to be a very small hole, but i think that i will not break out through the front face of the trim as i go through it. Can anyone with more experiance give more thoughts on this. I have a picture below with a comment in it ( hope you can see it) . I would probabally drill it lower down - high enough from the bottom to put 2 magnets on the wondow to allow it to stay open if needed.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 7:04PM
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My installer put the round magnets in the bottom part of the sash (he did this after the window was installed & ran the wire through the framing up to the sill/sash. I am not sure about putting it in the side...I have an Ademco system

Here is a link that might be useful: Do It Yourself security systems

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 8:09AM
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First a security system is an alarm system, but the alarm system has an important role in the overall security plan. In fact, none of the individual components should be viewed as the most important, though, as I will explain some steps have the greatest value for the money it invests security. The first step is however a study of the premise, including how to use, why and by whom, and of course the physical distribution. Risk factors and loss potential are scrutinized as much influence in the budget.

So, only an alarm system wouldn't be enough. Please check this article to have knowledge about building security systems.

Here is a link that might be useful: Building Security Systems

    Bookmark   September 13, 2010 at 9:17AM
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