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More Than a Burglar Alarm

Burglar alarm

Most people think of a home security system as simply an intrusion alarm, with a siren that sounds when someone forces entry. It can be much more than that and if you pay for monthly monitoring you want to get the most value from your system.

The flexibility of a home security system comes from the variety of sensors that are available to detect a wide range of issues, but the best systems have other features that add value. Here are some of them:

  • CO detectors. If you burn fossil fuels at all, whether it is a gas stove, an oil-fired burner, or a gas fireplace, dangerous carbon monoxide is vented outside the house. If something goes wrong and the fumes leak into your living space you probably won't smell it and it can kill you in your sleep. A CO detector keeps a vigil at all times.
  • Smoke detectors. Every home must have smoke detectors but those that are integrated with a security system provide better protection, particularly if your system is monitored.
  • Flood detectors. If you have a sump pump or even laundry tubs, this detector can alert you the minute something goes wrong.
  • Relay outputs. An input from a sensor can be programmed to activate a relay that corresponds to the type of alarm. For example, if you have a motorized gate at the end of your driveway your system can be programmed to open it when the smoke detector goes off, to allow quick access for the fire department.
  • Personal safety alarms. A panic button beside the bed or on a lanyard around your neck can send a message to the monitoring station that indicates a medical emergency.
  • Door chimes. When certain doors are opened, such as the front door, a chime at the keypad lets you know. If you are concerned about the comings and goings of your teenagers, or an elderly loved one with cognitive issues, this can ease your mind.
  • Partitioning. If you have a rental space or granny flat in your home, one system can operate as two independent systems by creating a virtual partition between them.
  • Temperature sensors. If you have a wine cellar in which you want consistent temperatures, this type of sensor can indicate any problems. If your home is often vacant, a temperature sensor can indicate if the heat goes off.
  • Current sensor. If you have something like a freezer full of meat, this sensor can let you know if, for any reason, it stops drawing power.
  • Activity logs. A record kept internally within the system logs comings and goings and, in case there is a break-in, it notes which motion detectors were activated as the intruder moved through the house.
  • User codes. Each member of the family, as well as help such as house cleaners or gardeners, can have a unique code that is programmed to define the parameters of use. For example your cleaning lady might only be able to access the system on Tuesdays, but not at other times.
  • Camera system inputs. With CCTV cameras inside and outside the home, you can program the system to send an alarm in a specific response to what the cameras see.
  • Geo-fencing. The newest systems can incorporate GPS positioning so that when you cross a virtual border en route to your home, it can prepare for your arrival by disarming the system, and, if it is integrated with home automation, it can set up the heat and lights to create a warm welcome.
  • Cell Uplink. If a burglar cuts your land line to disable the system, this link to the cell phone network can send a special alarm to the monitoring station.

All of these features are much more effective if they are professionally monitored because you don't have to rely on neighbours to respond. The monitoring station instantly calls to confirm that it is not a false alarm and then dispatches the emergency services without delay if required.

If you are going to go to the expense of installing home security make it work for you in every way possible. The inclusion of these other features turns it into a system that enhances your safety in a wide variety of ways, whether you are at home or not.

About the Author

Bill Monahan applies a lifetime of interest and professional experience in home construction to the application of home electronics to enhance personal lifestyles, comfort and safety. In the "smart home" industry since 1997, he applies a wealth of knowledge to custom solutions for all clients, serving the south shore of Georgian Bay.

Posted by: Bill Monahan
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