Thanks to the introduction of wireless burglar alarm systems, and some pretty innovative packaging by a Texas alarm company, home and business owners across the country are now installing their own alarm systems and saving a ton of money in the process. With complex drilling and wiring being removed from the installation equation, customers are installing their own alarm systems with, practically, the same ease as setting up Internet service.
Protect America Security (PA) of Round Rock, Texas, who in recent years introduced customer installed alarm packages nationwide, has completely revolutionized the way alarms are being sold and installed in the marketplace.
Historically, when a customer is looking to purchase an alarm they’ll usually go through their local yellow pages and contact an alarm company or two. Afterward, they’ll schedule a walk through of their premises with a field representative or salesman.
During the walk through, the representative, who is usually paid on commission, is assessing the property to evaluate what type of system and equipment will best suit the customers needs. Unfortunately, far too often, during this process the salesman is thinking more about his commission than the system design that is going to best serve the customers needs.
The general rule of thumb in alarm sales is the bigger the house the bigger the commission. Most salesmen who pull up in front of a home that is three thousand square foot or larger are practically drooling on arrival as they begin calculating the big commission they’re going to earn on all the window and door contacts, and other extras, they’re going to sale.
Protect America’s customer installed alarm packages have changed all of that by offering extremely affordable wireless packages that will fit in into any budget and can be order over the phone or via the Internet (which offers even more discounts).
What Homes Are Best Suited For Wireless Alarms?
Generally, their are a couple types of structures where wireless equipment will, absolutely, be necessary: 1) Two story and split level homes or buildings, with finished basements or no crawl space or 2) A one story structure that is built on a slab.
Two story/split level structures with finished basements or no crawl space These structures will almost always require wireless equipment exclusively. This is because when buildings are being wired for a security system, most of the wire is run through the attic of the structure down to the doors and windows (and other components) on the main floor. It’s impossible to drill from the attic of a two story structure down to it’s main floor; so wireless equipment is utilized in this type of installation.When a structure has an unfinished basement or a crawl space, a technician can run wire up to the windows, doors and other components.
One story structure built on a slab, When a building is one story and built on a slab while the doors and other components can be wired in the structure, the windows cannot be without exposed wiring. Window contacts are usually installed at the base of windows. When a home is built on a slab there is no way to drill upward. In some instances technicians will run wire under carpeting through the baseboard, using a method called wire fishing, to get the wire up behind the wall to the window seal. Over time wires run under carpeting can go badly because of the wear and tear of foot traffic on the carpet. So, most companies will opt to install wireless window contacts rather than run wires under carpeting.
In a situation where a one story structure on a slab has multiple windows in a single room, the customer may want to consider a strategically placed glass break detectors or motion detectors to cover multiple windows to keep cost down while providing them the protection they need.
Choosing The Right Equipment
Putting together the right alarm design to protect a property is pretty easy. Determining what equipment that is needed is as simple as counting the doors and windows that can be accessed from the ground level of a property and then placing contacts on those openings. If a customer doesn’t want to install a contact on every opening of a property, which can be expensive, they can install a single motion detector or glass break detector to cover multiple openings, in the same room, within a 25 foot radius.
If there’s a sliding glass door it’s a good idea to install a glass break detector because if an intruder breaks the glass in the door to enter the premises, instead of prying it door open, it will not trigger the alarm.
Motion Detectors Versus Glass Break Detectors
In my years as an alarm salesman in the field, customers would often ask the difference between a motion detector and a glass break detector. The difference between the two is pretty fundamental yet critical. A standard motion detector uses an infrared beam, good for about 25 feet, to detect body heat and movement of an object 50lbs or heavier. If a burglar enters a premises by breaking a window or cutting through the roof (which is not uncommon) movement inside the premises will set off the alarm. This will prompt the alarm company to call the home or business owner and the police if warranted. On the other hand a glass break detector is designed to detect the vibration in the air that is created when glass is shattered.
Glass breaking produces it’s own unique sound and feel in the atmosphere and shattering glass, and that alone, is what a glass break detector is engineered to detect.
When it comes to protecting glass I recommend glass break detectors because most standard alarm packages don’t offer them and include motion detectors instead. A glass break detector will usually add $50.00 to $100.00 to the cost of an alarm package depending on the brand of the unit and whether it’s wired or wireless
Why Not Use a Motion Detector To Protect Glass?
Both motion and glass break detectors provide substantial back up to door and window contacts in the event an intruder enters a window or door by breaking their glass without prying it open.
The traditional window or door contact has two rectangular 3″x1″ parts: one half of the contact is mounted on the door frame while the other half, which has a magnet inside, is mounted beneath or beside it on the door itself. When the alarm is active if the door or window is opened; it separates the two parts of the contact and sets the alarm off .
If an intruder enters a window or door by breaking it’s glass, this doesn’t separate the two halve of the contact, thus bypassing it, and prevents the activation of the alarm. Again, this is where the motion or glass break detector will act as a backup.
In this type of intrusion, I prefer the protection of a glass break detector because it sets off the alarm immediately when the glass is broken–and before the premises is entered. In this type of incident when the glass is broken the 92 decibel siren starts screaming usually scaring off the intruder before he can enter the premises or get his hands on anything. Whereas, with a motion detector, an intruder has to enter the premises, where he can grab an item or two, before the alarm is set off–which violates the intended purpose of an alarm system.
The objective of an alarm is to deter an intruder from entering your home. A motion detector allows a burglar to enter the premises before tripping the alarm while a glass break detector sets off the alarm the instant a glass is broken and before the intruder has access to the premises or the valuables inside.
Installing A Wireless Alarm Is As Easy 1-2-3
Protect America makes it extremely easy to install their alarm system by providing an easy to follow instruction manual and installation CD, as well as live tech support to guide customers through the installation process .
Door and Window contacts, depending on the surface they’re being mounted on, are either secured by an adhesive strip, located on the rear of contacts, or with screws. Additional components like motion detectors and glass break detectors are mounted the same way.
Protect America uses the GE’s consumer award winning Simon Wireless Alarm System, which houses the control panel, or brain of the system, and keypad all within in one desk top, or wall mounted, command center.
Each of the components are individually installed and programmed into the system. A PA tech support representative guides the customer through the programming process which takes about 10 to 15 minutes…depending on the size the package purchased. The many hundreds of dollars customers save by installing the alarm system on their own makes the time investment well worth their effort.
What Structures Suited For A Protect America Alarm System?
There are only a couple of scenarios or customer types that aren’t necessarily the best fit for Protect America.
1) Customers who’s properties are already pre-wired for a wired alarm system. Most companies will give up to 10 or fifteen free door or window contacts when a property is pre-wired. They’ll also sell the additional motion and glass breaks detectors pretty cheap, $25.00 to $50.00 each, when the wire is already in place.
Because of ease and low cost of installation, a building that has been pre-wired should have a wired system even though some less than scrupulous companies install wireless systems in homes that are pre-wired to save money on labor and improve their bottom lines .
2) Properties that already have alarm systems installed that merely need activation. If a commercial or residential property has a functional alarm left by the previous tenant most companies will activate the system for a $50 to $150 activation charge (sometimes free). After the system is activated customers will be charged $12.00 to $16.00 per month depending on the negotiation skill of the customer.
The Cost Of A Self Installed Wireless Alarm System
There are two ways to pay for an alarm system. Either you sign a contract and pay a small down payment and have a higher monthly payment; or pay a higher down payment,with no contract (purchasing the system outright) and get a lower monthly payment.
Between wired and wireless systems, wireless systems are much more expensive. A wireless system, requiring 10 to 20 door or window contacts, could run from $500.00 to $1000.00 and even more. However, if a customer invests in one of Protect America’s customer installed wireless packages they can expect to save around 50% to 80% on installation while getting the same guarantee, warranty and level of service.
To see different company comparisons for wireless alarm packages go to my web site at www.directsecuritynetwork.com/lblackwell.
Louis Blackwell is a Security Systems Broker that specializes in residential and commercial alarm, surveillance and low voltage solutions.