Basic DIY Alarm Questions

criticalmass048December 27, 2009

My sister has purchased a DIY alarm kit, and for reasons I can't get into, it needs to be hooked up and functioning quickly, even if only basic components at first, such as one panel, doors, and windows. We can worry about the PIR alarms, monitoring, and secondary panel later. Right now, we're just interested in securing entry points and making the siren go off. I'm sure you can use your imagination for the reason!

I've mounted the alarm panel in the cellar, although I haven't connected power or battery backup yet. We've got several switches, both concealed reed and surface-mount magnetic.

While I've never done an alarm before, I feel comfortable with the wiring and programming, which I know will be specific to this system anyway. I just want this to be as quick, as neat, and painless as possible. I don't mind patching up tiny holes or anything else, but I'm also not looking to rip out any walls, either.

I'll be glad for any tips or hints I can get, such as how to run the wires without too much of a mess, common mistakes I should look out for, things like that. Of specific interest is the living room... there's a front door, two windows next to the door, and windows on the side of the LR. Do I use one zone for the door and one for the windows, do I use one zone for all of them, or three seperate zones? If you wire multiple doors/windows on the same zone, for example, am I making a complete circuit of panel-door-window-panel, or am I simply going from each door/window to the panel and connecting the wires to the same terminals?

Thanks so much for any help I can get!

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quicker to buy a shotgun

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 9:00PM
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With the shotgun it may be a little messier then you want but you won't have to worry about patch THOSE holes....unless you miss.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 9:05PM
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With the shotgun it may be a little messier then you want but you won't have to worry about patch THOSE holes....unless you miss.

Drywall repair is covered in another forum... :-)

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:07PM
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You can set up the zones whatever way you wish. However you want your entry points to be on a seperate zone from say a motion sensor or glass break detector. Another thing to consider is putting contacts on the windows and on the screens but have them on different zones. By doing this you can still have the windows open while you are home but have the screens protected in case someone tries to get in.

The wiring for all sensors must be done in series as the circuits are normally closed, thus when a sensor is activated it opens the circuit causing a fault. If you wire more than one sensor to the terminals in the panel it will be a parallel circuit and will not protect the home properly.

What brand and type of control panel did you get?

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:16PM
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Thanks, guys, for the wise cracks. I don't mind a little ribbing, but at least accompany it with something useful!

jmvd, it's a Honeywell VISTA-20P with a 6160 keypad. I'm a little concerned that I hooked up the keypad as instructed, and then hooked up the power supply and battery, but I don't seem to be getting any power to the keypad. I was just hoping to get a backlit keypad and buttons just to be able to show a little progress, but I didn't get anything, so I just unplugged it again. I don't know if I did something wrong, or didn't do something I should have.

I have the front windows wired, have the wires going over to the door, and have the wires going into the cellar (the panel is almost directly under the door, so this is easy). I haven't connected them as of yet to the panel, though.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 12:11AM
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I would be concerned that installing a DIY alarm system with the possible option of adding monorting later, may cause some problems. I believe most companies want to install their own equipment. Part of their sthick is their signs indicatiog coverage to the home.

The other side of this issue is that most sounding alarms on houses and cars are often considered false alarms. When was the last time you heard a car alarm going off and ran to see what was going off.

The issue of guns, and I am well armed, is aimed at people breaking into your home while you are there. If your home is burgled while your are not there, with an unmonitered system, you are at the mercy of a neighbor that may be at home to be bothered to call 911.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 10:03AM
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Tons of alarm companies will monitor a DIY alarm system for you. Even the large companies like ADT install Honeywell Ademco and GE based panels and systems.

Home Security Store, Intella Home, Safe Mart, etc... will all monitor DIY alarm systems and often are much less (~$9.00/month) than those of the large nationwide companies due to the fact that they have no service departments to maintain the system itself. Usually these companies provide signs and stickers when you sign up with them. Also Brinks, ADT etc... will also provide monitoring of an existing system but their rates are much higer $30+/month.

The VISTA20P is a good system with tons of room for expansion and additions. If you have areas where fishing wires will be very difficult you can add a wireless receiver and wireless sensors for those areas.

As soon as you applied power to teh system the kepad should have powered up - make sure the conductors did not loosen on the back of the keypad when you mounted it to the wall. Also make sure that you did not use the positive terminal for the signal devices - that is for the bells and/or strobes during an alarm. It is a common mistake as the positvie alarm terminal and the positive terminal for the keypads/sensors share a common negative terminal.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 9:32PM
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The first system I ever installed involved a box that would dial a preprogrammed phone number and a play a message.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 6:21PM
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I'm a big fan of hardwired zones. But if you need to get something up quickly, consider wireless. I'm sure your panel will allow you to add wireless zones. You can come back with the wired later.

You want the entry doors to be on a separate zone. You will have delays on them that you won't have on other things, such as glass breaks.

Use Honeywell wired dual-tech motions. Don't even bother with anything else. They use IR and Microwave to eliminate false positives.

Invest in fish sticks, fish tape and a flex drill (drill bit on 6' flex shank) They will make your life easier for getting wires through the wall.

Monitoring can be done for $10 a month. It's worth it. BTW: it lowered my homeowners insurance by more than that. I use NextAlarm, but there are others.

I have the wireless receiver on my alarm that would let me do wireless zones but the only thing I use it for is the wireless key fob. It's great, I can turn the alarm on and off from the street.

Don't forget a panic button or two.

Changing the locks is important... but I will warn you, she will be talking to him, and probably seeing him again, before you know it.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 9:42PM
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I can't believe I typed up a message yesterday and forgot to click "Submit". UGH!

Thanks, everyone, for the good advice. As of right now, I've got the keypad, doors, windows, siren functional, and I've got everything programmed (well, enough to get the system functional).

I think I'm being too generous with the zones, however. I have 8 wired zones to play with, and I have the front door on 02, front windows on 03, cellar door (not used for exit/entry) and window on 04, door to the deck on 05, and side windows on 06. I still have yet to attach glass break and PIR (glass break is on order, and PIR came with the kit).

I was also VERY disappointed that nobody I went to carries hardwired supplies! Lowes, Home Depot, and RadioShack, as well as three smaller hardware/electrical places either never stocked them, or used to but stopped. The only place I can get a magnetic contact is online?!?

I can try calling customer support tomorrow, but if they're not open, I'm stuck until Monday. Issues/questions I still have are:

1) The siren is hooked up, but I haven't decided on a permanent location yet. We would like to have both an indoor and outdoor and outdoor siren, but if I got two and put them together on the same circuit, I'm decreasing the volume by 50%, am I not? The permanent location won't be decided until I figure this out.

2) I can program zones 02 thru 08 as being either EOL, NC, or NO. All of my contacts are NC. However, zone 01 is "EOL only". I know it stands for End Of Line, but what exactly does that mean to me, exactly? I wound up skipping it and started at zone 2. This is probably related to my next two questions:

3) When and why, exactly, do I use the resistors that came with the set? I think it has something to do with EOL, but as I said, I dunno what that is...

4) A little confusion crept in on my motherboard. My power supply gets connected first (terminals 1,2), then siren (3,4), aux power (not used, but 4,5), then keypad (4,5,6,7). After that, I have zone 1 and 2 on 8,9 and 10,11. Here's what threw me off: after that, zones 3&4, 5&6, 7&8 each share a common wire? That means that terminal #12 is labeled "Zone 3 Hi", #13 is "Zone 3 Lo/Zone 4 Lo", and #14 is "Zone 4 Hi". Why is this different than zones 1&2, and is the Hi/Lo going to matter? I was under the impression that the polarity didn't matter in this case. This is just curiosity, because it caused me some time lost troubleshooting, so if I won't understand, just say so.

I think that's it for now. I'm going to take a break to try to enjoy some New Year's festivities. Again, thanks to all for your help, and have a safe and healthy New Year!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 7:47PM
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1.) No, you will not decrease the volume by half. A good exterior siren and strobe can be found here.

It is the 4th one down but you should be able to find it cheaper than this.

2.) and 3.) The resistors should be installed at the end of the line of sensors but not technically inside of the panel. As far as your set up is concerened if all of the wires are fished through the walls they can be installed inside of the panel for the time being. The resistors, in a very basic sense can allow the panel to detect if the wiring has been tampered with by someone attempting to "bypass" a sensor.

4.) All of the zones will have a high and low wire. the high needs to be connected to the wire that goes to the first sensor, then however many other sensors are wired in series, then the wire coming from the last sensor goes to the low terminal with the resistor. "polarity" in this case can and does matter. The zones "common" wire will normally be shared with another zone, so terminal 12 and 14 may be the high for zones 3 and 4 while they share the same low terminal numbered 13.

Also the auxillary power is used for motin detectors, glass break sensors, and keypads. These terminals provide constant pwower to these devices whereas the alam output positive and negative - terminals 3 and 4 will only provide power during and alarm.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 11:00PM
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jmvd20, thank you so much!

So basically, in order to have done this correctly, I should have put all the contacts on all the same strand (red) therefore making that the "Hi", and the white would then be "Lo" and the best thing to do would be to put the resistor somewhere on the white side, as far away from the can as possible. I got it!

I'm not too sure that I understand why zone 1 can only be set to EOL, however, and what I should use it for?

Thank you for the link. I actually have an old Radio Shack siren exactly like the third one on that link that I was going to use, however I do like the idea of a strobe as well.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 11:38PM
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I am fairly confident that zone one is set up that way for a 2-wire smoke detector circuit, although you can still use it for a regular alarm circuit if you want to do so.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 2:15AM
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Just my $.02 here.

First home run all contact wiring back to panel, don't field string contacts together in the field. Phone line needs to be wired to D-mark phone block, the street side goes to alarm first then back to D-mark to feed all phones in the house. This is a 4 wire connection usaully red green yellow black, this prevents someone picking up a house phone to stop signal transmitting to central office.

Zones can be grouped so types are together.

The zones can go like this, but the choice is yours.

Zone 1 should be your delay doors.
Zone 2 Front windows
Zone 3 Back windows
Zone 4 Sliding door
Zone 5 glass break
Zone 6 Motion

You may noticed I placed glass break, and motion on there own zone, these are know to be the cause of false alarms so you need to know what causing it. Motions PIR should be installed so you cross its path walking into room vs. straight on walking to it. Motions like to look into room vs. looking out of room, don't install motion looking outside but install it looking in by outside door.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 9:21PM
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