Should I fit my own Home Alarm System or pay to get one Professionally Installed ?
This is a question that we have been asked many times over the last few years, to help answer this question we have listed some key factors you should consider whilst making your decision:
Wired or Wireless Alarm:
- A Wired Alarm consists of a central control panel powered by a mains supply (normally from a fused spur requiring an electrician) and includes a built in back up battery to cover power cuts. This control panel is then connected to all the additional components by cable (normally 4,6 or 8 core alarm cable), these components include Keypads, PIR’s, Door Contacts, Sirens.
- A Wireless Alarm will consist of a central control panel which is normally powered by a plug in transformer (no electrician required) and also has a built in battery back up. All of the additional components are self powered by a built in battery or plug in transformer and are connected to the control panel by a secure wireless signal.
Benefits of a Wired Alarm:
- No need to change the batteries of the additional components once per year.
- No chance of a external Wireless Signal interfering with the Alarm System, although this is a rarity these days as wireless alarms get more sophisticated.
Negatives of a Wired Alarm:
- Much harder & time consuming to install, requires running cable from the location of the control panel to every location of the building where detectors, keypads & sirens are going to be fitted.
- Normally needing a fused spur to connect the control panel to the mains supply, which in theory should involve a qualified electrician.
- Not being able to fit all components in the most efficient locations due to cabling issues.
- Not being able to easily add additional detectors in the future, due to needing to run new cables (often required due to changes or extensions to the building).
- Not being able to easily move a sensor or keypad due to a change in circumstances in a given room.
Benefits of a Wireless Alarm:
- Easy & Quick to Install (no cables to run around the property).
- No electrician required for the power supply.
- The ability to fit the additional components into the most efficient locations.
- The ease to add additional sensors or keypads in the future as changes are made to the property.
- Most will be supplied with a Remote Control for easy operation.
Negatives of a Wireless Alarm:
- Having to replace the batteries inside the sensors, keypads & sirens (as a general guide 12 months PIR’s, 12- 24 months Door Contacts, Vibration Sensors, 2 – 8 years Sirens).
- The sensors are generally larger (due to the space for the batteries).
- The slight chance of an external wireless signal interfering with the alarm (not common on the newer wireless alarms).
At this stage, we would normally conclude that most people still considering to install an Alarm System themselves, would be thinking down the lines of using a Wireless System, therefore the following information will be based on these:
Socket Tester: Safely ensure the socket which is going to power the control panel is in good working order.
Drill: To dill holes for different sized wall plugs for the Control Panel, Siren, Keypads, PIR’s, Magnets etc.
Drill Pieces: You would need two to three different sized masonary drills.
Screw Drivers: You would generally require two sizes of a pozzi & a small flat screwdriver.
Ladder: A ladder long enough to install the external Siren & Dummy Siren into the desired location, this wouldn’t be required if you decide not to include an external Siren or Dummy Siren Box. They should be long enough to allow you to safely reach the desired location without having to stretch.
Step Ladders: These would be used to reach the desired location of the PIR’s & Door/Window Magnetic Contacts.
Pencil: Used to mark the location of the holes you need to drill.
Spirit Level: Used to ensure the control panel is level.
Scissors: Used to trim the double sided tape for the Door & Window Contacts.
Hammer: Used to push home the wall plugs for the Control Panel, Sirens, PIR’s etc.
Tip of the Day:
Brief Description of Skills Required during an Installation:
Most Wireless Alarms will just need the control panel fixing to the wall with screws & wall plugs (normally supplied) and powering up with a plug in transformer.
Door & Window Contact:
Most Door & Window Contacts will be fixed using double sided tape and small screws, full insight can be found on the following link (fitting a door & window contact), but it is very easy.
PIR’s are very simple to install, they are normally fixed into the corner of a room with 2 x screws & wall plugs (normally supplied), full insight can be found on the following link (fitting a PIR).
Sirens vary between different Wireless Alarm Systems, some are powered by Battery, some by Solar Power & others by a Plug in Transformer, the principle factor would be managing to climbing a ladder to the desired location of the Siren together with working out how to power it.
The power variations are:
- Battery Powered, these are the easiest to install, it allows the Siren to be fitted into the best location on the property (normally on the front of the building visible to neighbours, passing traffic & police.
- Solar Powered, these are nearly as easy as battery Sirens to fit, but you have to try to fit the Siren onto a South or East facing wall, sometimes not practical on some buildings.
- Plug in Transformers, these are the hardest to install, but will need less long term maintenance, a power supply in a roof space is normally the best way to achieve this.
Most keypads for Wireless Alarms are powered by small built in batteries, therefore making the installation very easy & quick by using 2 screws & wall plugs.
Vibration Sensors, are normally simply fixed into place using double sided tape, on some applications you may choose to use 2 small screws (locations subject to damp).
Most Smoke Sensors are fitted using 2 screws and wall plugs, very simple.
You may be informed by your insurance company that you need to have a professionally installed alarm system to be adequately covered by them, this may be true with some companies, but others will be happy for you to inform them if you do have an Alarm. A word of caution:
- Ask you Insurance Company what savings you will expect on your premiums by having a professionally installed alarm, you may find it is only a few pounds a year, whilst the installation costs add a few hundred pound and more, often with additional monthly or annual monitoring charges.
- Ask your Insurance Company what would happen if you had a professionally installed alarm system, and you were broken into and you had forgot to set the alarm, this can lead to them not covering your losses.
If you are going to consider having a Monitored Alarm, ask the companies giving you a quotation exactly how this monitoring works:
- A large percentage of Monitoring Centres will simply act as a call centre and contact registered key-holders when there is an alarm activation, no different to a lot of the modern type of DIY Alarms which can automatically contact key-holders by Telephone or Text Message when activated (without the annual charges).
- If the agreement includes Security Personnel attending your property following an alarm activation, ask how much this will cost you each time, for both genuine or false alarms.
- How many false alarms can happen before you start being charged penalties, or in some cases are removed from this cover.
So if you think you can safely carry out the tasks listed above & you don’t feel inclined to pay high installation & ongoing running costs, then you have nothing to fear about installing your own Alarm System. Ultra Secure Direct are happy to give you advice before or after your purchase by EMAIL or Telephone, all types of Wireless Alarms are available on the web site.
By Mark Walter Google