I'd suggest using quad (22/4) for addressable systems as well. Typically the
sensors are more expensive and require larger holes for concealed contacts in
doors and windows. If you're going to do the prewire then use a good quality
concealed contact with terminals like the GRI 20RS-T. Order them in "wide gap".
(http://www.grisk.com/recessed/20rs.htm ). Tell us what kind of windows you've
got so we can make some suggestions on installing them (or an alternative). I'd
suggest two quads for every keypad drop. This allows you more flexibility in
the type of system you can install.
As for a suggested control... Unless you decide on one that's hybrid or has an
addressable loop (or zone expanders), I'd suggest home running all the wires to
a secure central location (like a wiring closet). You can also run all your
cable TV wires from here to the various rooms that need it... Run two runs of
RG-6 to the cable company's termination point at the outside of the house from
this closet. While you're at it, install your telco and network cables as
I beg to differ... never aim a motion sensor at a window. Always corner mount
them on the same wall so that an intruder will walk through the protected
curtain rather than directly toward the sensor. Aiming a PIR at a window (no
matter how good it is) is askin' for trouble as well. The other thing about
using motion sensors instead of contacts and glass break detectors in the rooms
with accessible windows is that you'll have to bypass the motions if the
homeowner wants to walk around inside the home with the system armed. Perimeter
protection can't be beat. For rooms with a single opening window that may be
used as a point of entry, contact the window and ensure it's covered by either a
good quality glass break detector or an alarmed screen.
Have a look at the FAQS page at http://www.yoursecuritysource.com .
Go to a cable wholesaler. You shouldn't be paying more than about $30 - $40 for
a 1000 ft box of quad... Quit buying from Bass... :-))
It's simple enough to prewire for an effective alarm system during
construction. You're right to plan for flexibility as well. As you
surmised, the cabling for keypads, power, phone connection and ground is
similar with most systems. A few systems are starting to use CAT5 for the
keypads but with most you can use 22/4 (22-gauge, 4-conductor) cable for
just about everything. Although the magnetic door and window sensors (in
the trade these are called "contacts") only need two wires there's very
little difference in cost between 2 and 4 conductor cable so many techs just
use the four.
Plan on installing the contacts with the wires if at all possible. Contacts
are cheap -- the best ones cost only $3 or $4 apiece -- and it's a bit
easier to insert them during construction than afterward. Bug each external
door and each operable window. I have an extensive FAQ website where you
can learn a bit about what to choose and how to install it in case you
decide to DIY. Even if you hire an alarm contractor it's good to educate
yourself so you will know what to expect and even what to insist on.
Plan for motion detectors in a few strategic locations. It's good to have
motion detection in front of (but not actually facing) the stairs leading to
the sleeping area. If the home is a single story, put a motion detector in
the bedroom hallway. Place a motion detector in the family room or wherever
the audio / video gear will be since that is a target location for thieves.
If you will have an office, consider placing a detector there, too. Some
folks like to install a motion sensor in the master bedroom since that is
also a target for thieves.
If there will be large glass doors in any first floor or basement level room
consider installing a glass breakage detector in that area as well. These
devices can detect breaking glass 20 to 25 feet away so they protect an
entire room. I should mention that glass break detection is considered
supplemental protection by many installers. It doesn't replace magnetic
contacts. It's a backup.
If you are going to have the house monitored in the future, consider
installing a few system smoke detectors to augment the 110-Volt ones the
builder will install. While almost any smoke detector will wake you up and
save your life, a monitored detector may get the fire department there in
time to save your house should something happen while you are out.
If the home will have gas heat or appliances you may want to prewire for
carbon monoxide detectors as well. These are typically installed at
"breathing level" (about 5 feet from the floor) near the bedrooms and in the
vicinity of possible CO-producing appliances.
Prewire for a keypad at the door leading to the garage / driveway. Place
another keypad in the master bedroom. If there will be a formal entrance
many people like to put a keypad there as well. However, I usually
recommend against that one since it may rarely be used. It all depends on
the layout -- how your family will usually come and go. I usually specify
18/4 fire alarm cable for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
Don't forget the siren speakers. Plan on one in the basement, one near the
bedrooms and one either in the attic or under the eaves as high off the
ground as can be. The speakers should be wired with 18-gauge cable. If you
have some extra fire alarm cable you can use it for those as well.
Run 22/4 or CAT5 (it makes no difference which) for the telephone
connection. This needs to be a dedicated, 4-wire cable from where the
phones enter the house to the alarm control panel. Speaking of where the
phone line enters, try to have the telco or the electrician move the
telephone company "demarc" (gray box on the outside wall) to the inside of
the house and conceal the cable. If you will have a basement the best way
is to run the cable through the foundation wall below grade. That way no
one can cut the phone line -- a growing problem in some areas.
Be sure to run a ground wire for the control panel. This can be a single
solid or stranded, 12 to 14-gauge wire. It should run to the home's main
electrical ground. That's usually either a long, copper clad stake near the
electric meter. Use your own clamp; don't share another service's ground or
some TI may remove your ground later. You can also use a cold water pipe
*if* everything else is grounded to the cold water pipe and *if* there is no
insulating connector between the panel and the water meter.
Look for a few local alarm firms in the local directory and explain what you
want to do. Many alarm companies don't want to do anything without signing
a multi-year monitoring contract up front but you may luck out and find a
good one. If not, consider doing it yourself. It's not difficult and only
a few simple tools are required. My business caters to DIYers so if you
decide to go that route I can help with parts and tech support.
Best of luck.
Alarm and Home Automation System FAQ
Bass Home Electronics
2291 Pine View Circle
Sarasota · Florida · 34231
877-722-8900 Sales & Tech Support
Nextel Private ID - 161*21755*1
And this, gang, is why Robert is a success in running his on-line store.
He took the time to give the man as much information, if not more, than he
needed. If he can then turn around and sell the man his parts and his
monitoring, it will be a win win situation! Why not? He has to buy the
parts somewhere and he can't buy from our wholesale houses in Texas without
a valid company license. With Bass, he will get support helping him use
what he buys.
I know that some will take exception to what I have said and will try and
convince John why they shouldn't buy from Bass, but where are you in filling
in the gap?
Damn Allan you're right! I'll fill in the gaps.
Here is what Mr. Bass ain't telling the potential customer:
Thanks for pointing that out Allan.
Thanks for your help (and others, too). I visited your and other sites
mentioned in this thread, and I wish I could do a DIY. It looks like the
most fun anyone could have (I am an electrical engineer by education, and a
S/W engineer by trade). The problem is, I am about 250mi away from my new
house, and will be for the next few weeks :(, and I can't delay the finishing
of the house without getting into a domestic battle.
I am meeting with the builder on Tuesday, and I will ask for the schedule to
see if it is possible to fit myself into it :).
To summarize what I gained through the net-wisdom:
1. Design a wiring closet in a secure location. Since I am already planning
to have a home network and file server, and I can use CAT5 cables for the
security system, then I only need to have additional CAT5s for the security
system. Does it matter if I use stranded or solid CAT5?
2. Call around for an installer who does this for a living (I-zheet M'drurz,
take notes :) ) and willing to do the pre-install only. Most likely I will go
with the original installer when the time comes anyway, as long the fees are not
outrageous (again, I-zheet M'drurz, take notes :) ).
Cat 5 is quite a large wire. It would probably be better to use plain old 4
conductor solid phone wire for the doors and windows. This is because
sensors in homes are usually concealed. If you have a window which slides
up/down for example, the wire would come up from the bottom into the area
where the window slides down. Then be soldered to a thin contact and the
wire and contact lie flat at the bottom of the window. A magnet is glued to
the bottom of the sliding portion of the window. A large fat wire may not
allow the window to close.
Some visible door contacts (like those used on business doors) have small
screw terminals. It would be easier to wrap a small solid wire around these
screws than a stranded cat 5 wire. (Look at business alarm sensors)
Also note that alarm control units are usually placed in a closet or out of
view. They need electrical outlets nearby and use large plug-in
transformers for the control unit, motion detectors, and sometimes smoke
detectors. So you can have 3 large transformers to plug in plus may also
want an outlet to use in the room. I would install 3 separate single gang
outlets so you have plenty of room for any transformers.
You need an incoming and outgoing phone line direct to your phone drop [to
the main control]. This is so the alarm can disconnect the inside phones
and have exclusive use of the phone line. (and no one could pick up a phone
to keep the alarm from dialing out.) 8 conductor cat 5 would do fine for
this. (Need 2 wires incoming and 2 wires outgoing.) So phone goes to
outside drop, then to alarm control, then back to drop, then to rest of
For fire smoke detectors(usually part of the alarm system), special fire
rated fire wire is used. New code may require smoke detectors inside and
outside bedrooms, and other places. (Check with your local fire department,
alarm company, and electrical inspector to see what your options are.)
Regular interconnected smoke detectors may be able to connect to your alarm
system? Depending on the type of smoke detector used, you may need 120 VAC
at each detector, or for other types 12 VDC power plus the fire wire for
sending the alarm to other detectors and/or your alarm system. Garages and
storage rooms usually get a "rate of rise" detector which needs no power,
but needs the fire wire. These are set off by a rapid heat increase or an
extreme temperature. They have a barometric chamber/sensor and a small
pressure relief opening. If the temperature slowly goes up, air bleeds out
and the sensor does not trip. If temperature goes up fast, air can't bleed
out fast enough, and the pressure increases inside the chamber which causes
the sensor to trip.
"Pressure mats" can be placed under carpeting. Usually at a key point like
hallway. May want to run wire to baseboard at this location.
Motion sensors need 4 wires (two for DC power). Better to use 6 or 8
conductor for long runs so wires can be doubled up for DC power (DC Voltage
drop). Motion sensors are usually mounted near the ceiling in a corner, and
usually in living room and/or hallway.
Inside detectors, mats, motion sensors, etc. have the option of being
turned off while inside the house. Newer alarms can be set to turn on
everything or bypass the interior stuff for when you are inside at night.
Or you may want a switch on a wall somewhere. If you want a by-pass switch,
run a 2 conductor minimum wire to that location. (It can be a toggle switch
or an electrical key switch.) If pets are left inside, you want to be able
to turn off the inside stuff. This wire could go to a multiple contact
relay which would still allow inside devices to be on separate "zones".
Also run a separate wire from each sensor, door, window, to the control
unit. Some controls can have many separate "zones" and will tell the
monitoring company which sensor tripped the alarm. This is good for trouble
shooting if having false alarm problems. (Some alarm companies run wires
from window to window. Then when the alarm goes off, you only know that a
window tripped the alarm, but not *which* window or which set of windows.)
Also check each and every wire before the drywall goes up. It is not
unusual for wires to get cut while other work is being done.
If you live in a lightning prone area, note that all that wiring can pick
up voltage via inductance. All going to that control unit. May want
shielded wiring or you can use relays (tough as nails) to isolate the house
sensor wiring from the sensitive electronics in the control unit. Older
local alarm control units were all relays and no transistors/IC's. Very few
problems with lightning on these older units.
A vibration like someone pounding hard on your door can make a door sensor
very briefly open the contact (fraction of a second). An electronic control
unit will sense this brief open circuit, where a relay will stay closed
unless the sensor stays open for about a second.
"John Smith" wrote in message
Someone named email@example.com (John Smith) Proclaimed on 26
Apr 2004 08:22:33 -0700,
That's not what he said. Use Cat5 for the dialer wire if you wish
(good choice), and some systems can use Cat5 for the keypads (but it's
not recommended for most). Use 22/4 stranded or solid for the
door/window contacts and power devices (motions/glassbreaks). Use 12
gauge for the ground wire. Use 18/2 for siren and power.
while at it why not install for the cable TV, the high speed computer
stuff, etc... put the wires in now and later if you want something you
will have the wires installed and just the modules are needed.. the guy
down the block just built a new two story house and had a company come
out and install his wiring for him before they put up the sheetrock...
dont know what it cost, but he is in business now for the future....
It is VERY wise to prewire for an alarm system. However,
due to the huge number of variations between systems, you
really should window-shop the residential alarm business and
target the installation for one or two of the available
systems to be precisely chosen at a later date.
Research should initially include, IMO, things such as:
-- Local codes, if any, regarding residential alarms.
-- Telco requirements/rules regarding residential alarms.
-- Install method: Open loop wiring closed loop wiring,
digital, RF (radio transmitters and receivers), eg the types
of systems available.
-- Personally, I prefer,and use, and RF system; no wiring
except ac to the main equipment box (with internal battery
-- Type/level of protection needed
-- Remote Appliance Controls?
-- Listen-in features?
-- Alarm Monitoring Company to respond to alarms?
-- and so on thru glass breakage detectors, and many
-- How many zones are required? I have 6 available, each
capable of 8 alarms. Not all used.
So, basically, you need to post more information if you
would like good answers, IMO. If you're ignorant of many of
these items, as most people are, then some online research
can help considerably.
On the other hand, if you are going to have this installed
for you, then I would get a couple of quotes from a couple
of installers of alarm systems. Probably more accurate.
Radio Shack is a good place to start research, believe it or
not. Try a Google search for "residential alarm systems"
(including the quotes) and you'll get a plethora of links
where you can learn a LOT, and get edumacated about alarm
If you wish to come back here, I'll be happy to answer
questions where I can, or at least maybe give you a source
where you can find answers.
Here are a couple of clarifications/corrections to some
incorrect information I saw posted to you:
CAT 5 (Category 5) wire:
-- Is NOT stranded wire; it's solid, 24 gauge wire, 4
pairs, 8 conductors total, in a sheath a little larger than
the standard telephone wiring.
-- CAT 5 wire is NOT large: it fits easily thru a 1/4"
-- There was a lot of talk about "4 wire" and while much of
the phone wiring is actually 4 wire, and only 2 of those are
used, keep in mind that they are in a 6 pin plug, not a 4
pin. It's called RJ-11.
-- There was talk about difficulty closing a window
becvause of wire size or somethbing like that: that would
not be a good insallation and isn't normal. Ignore it, IMO.
-- There is nothing that would require CAT 5 cabling, but,
that said, should you ever wish to network computers
together later on, you'd be mighty glad to have it already
in place. Maybe a separate issue there. There are RF
networks too, that avoid wiring between computers, but
they're not very good. Yet. Improving though.
closet or out of
== NO, the main alarm equipment BOX, which contains the
logic and computer controls, is usually located in a
separate closet! The "control panel" is usually located
convenient to the most used exit for convenience in
arm/disarm ing the system. There are often other
sub-control panels, smaller in size and function, located to
serve the garage, back door, wherever they are deemed
plus may == ONLY if three separate alarm systems were
installed, which wouldn't make much sense. These days there
is usually only one external power pack IFF it's a Class-2
system, and as often as not, in a quality system, there is
no external power pack; it's insecure to have external
power packs. The better systems are hard wired. Outlets
should be nearby, preferrably two duplex outlets, but ...
not for several alarm system components.
== There SHOULD be a dedicated breaker for the alarm ckt,
HTH. Any questions as you get going, happy to try to help
or at least find a source for your answers.
Apr 2004 16:14:14 -0400,
I wanted to elaborate on your post Pop.
This is true..
So far so good..
Hard-wired systems are better for a variety of reasons:
1> no batteries to replace2> no unsightly transmitters near windows and doors3> wireless systems tend to be "deaf" and "dumb" due to RFI (they get
muzzled) and you can't use wireless stereo headphones near a wireless
4> 5> ignore #3 (inside joke)>-- Type/level of protection needed
All good points! Soon to be announced at an alarm company near you -
Video Verification! Yes indeed - we'll need to see the crime in
progress before the local constabulary gets called..
That's incorrect, Cat5 is available in stranded too - in fact most
pre-fab patch cords are stranded Cat5 cable.
Not *easily* - it would be a royal pain in the ass to push Cat5
through a series of 20 studs that just had a 1/4" hole. It does not
cost any more to drill a bigger hole, plus multiple cable are going to
be pulled through the holes.
That's true. But the phone jack an alarm panel uses is called an
RJ-31x jack. It's used to quickly disconnect the alarm system from
the premises phone line. Read about it here:
Cat5 (now Cat6) pre wiring for a computer network is almost essential
for a new home nowadays.
Really? I have a wireless network with a D-Link IEEE 802.11g
router/access point and it works like a charm.
Sorry, Pops. The "control panel" is the "brain" of the system - It
goes in the closet. You're thinking of *keypads* that are used to
arm/dis-arm the system.
It's a class-2 transformer that steps down 120V to 12-24 volts AC that
the control panel gets it's power from. Sometimes in larger systems
the control panel does not have a big enough power supply to support
all the field devices so a separate power supply may be used, this
will require another transformer to be plugged into an existing
No it's not - the transformer is plugged inside the protected area,
besides, if you broke in and unplugged it the control panel has a back
up battery to finish dialing the monitoring center.
You'll only find that commercial fire systems are hard wired.
That is mandatory according to NFPA 72 for commercial fire alarms, but
not necessary for residential burg.
My God! If your familys saftey is a concern...DO NOT USE THIS GROUP FOR
ADVISE OR GIVE OUT ANY INFORMATION. If you deal with someone from this
newsgroup you better keep one eye
open while your sleep at night! this is the worse place to look for info
for your home security. This group is a hive of activity to get your
confidence then rip your off. Get "help" from here and next think your
cleaned out and inexplicably your alarm didnt work......or worse.....
Be very very careful using this group.
Be sure to closely investigate (primarily if you
buy online) any of the online alarm seller, especially if they claim a ASA
certification, a totally false and misleading certification (see that
later). You wouldn't want to buy from someone whose sideline is
understanding your alarm system for the purpose of exploiting it later
byknowing your codes or maintenance access numbers. Be wary of those who do
not have a brick and mortar store.
When I was shopping and using this newsgroup some online dealers advertised
a ASA certification with a picture of a ASA emblem shown on their website.
It gives a good first impression but when you look into it you find out that
it was nothing more then some....guy.... creating a website to supposedly
post complaints, with no entries of complaints or follow-through. It was
analogous to someone flashing a police badge that turns out to be fake. The
ASA moniker is a badge without any accreditation and surely this is
misleading and a scam.
Some of the free advice you get is not because of someone's unselfish need
to make the world a better place to live. Most are giving you advice on the
hope of getting a sale or...."other" information. Listen but don't act on
the advice until you can confirm or gain some trust in the source by
Sometimes you can learn a lot about sellers by plugging in email address or
screenname into a Google search of past news postings. You will be
surprised, .....no..MAKE THAT SHOCKED....AND I MEAN SHOCKED!!!!..... at what
you find out about those offering to outfit your alarm. How can our legal
system let these type of people sell home security!!!!!
This is a very unregulated online business, and especially risky for
something as important as YOUR HOME security.
good luck....and go talk to someone reputible.
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