What does a Security Installation consist of?

Many consumers out there are attempting to tackle a wide variety of home improvement projects. With today’s new technologies this is much easier to do. As a Do It Yourselfer you need to consider what the project is and what the percentage of success is. You need to consider all of the tools that you will need to complete the project and also the skill level that you need to have in order to have good results.

DIY Security Installation

Basic Security System Design

There are several factors that you must consider when you are designing a security system. A basic system must consider all of the following items:

  • How many doors does your home have?
  • How many windows does your home have?
  • Do all of the windows need to be protected?
  • Are there areas that require special consideration such as liquor cabinets or gun cabinets?
  • Your lifestyle should also be considered to make sure that you can take advantage of the features available in today’s security systems?
  • Do you need or want remote system access?
  • Do you want to now or in the future take advantage of home automation?
  • What areas need fire protection and where should you locate your smoke detectors?
  • Do you need smoke or heat detectors?

Special Security Considerations

You will want to survey the areas outside your main dwelling so that you can determine if there are additional areas that you will want to protect now or in the future. You will want to make sure that the security system that you select can expand and change to accommodate everything that you want now but can also meet your future needs.

Planning Your Security System

The first place to start is to make a zone list of your home. The best way to do this is to make a numbered list starting at the front door and write down every door and window around your entire house. Make sure to label each opening as a door or window. It is easiest to keep things straight if start at the front door and proceed clockwise around your home until you are back at the front door. Make sure you include at least one motion detector in a common traffic area and also at least one smoke detector located in the hallway between the bedrooms. If you have a second story then you will need to include a smoke detector at the top of the stairs. You must also consider adding Carbon Monoxide protection.

Tools of the Trade

You will need some basic tools in order to complete an installation along with some specialty tools that should be available if the need arises. The last thing that you want to happen is be in the middle of an installation and then have to stop the flow to go and pick up an additional tool. Here are the basic tools to have in your tool bag:

  • Standard Screwdriver (small and large)
  • Phillips Screwdriver (small and large)
  • Wire Strippers
  • Hole Saw
  • A small level
  • Battery Operated Drill
  • A variety of Drill bits
  • A glow rod or wire hanger
  • A tube of silicone
  • A multimeter

Installing Your Security System

As you can see by the time you actually get to the installation of your security system you have already devoted a lot of time to the process. At this point you have already made a lot of decisions and it is time to get the system installed. In a DIY installation these are all decisions that have made on your own. If you have a professional installer they have asked questions and helped to guide you to a security system that will protect your home and family and since they do this process every day you have the peace of mind knowing that it has been designed properly.

At this point you already purchased the control panel and all of the supporting devices. The next decision is to decide where to place the control panel. Just ask yourself this question. What door do you normally enter the home through or exit through when you leave? Let’s say your answer is the garage door. If this is the case then you will need to locate your panel above a wall outlet at eye level.

Mounting the Control Panel

A professional installer will cut a hole in the wall that is large enough to work with but smaller than the opening on the back of the panel. You will need to fish a wire down the wall to the outlet below. If at all possible make sure that you locate the panel on an inside wall. Outside walls typically have fire block and insulation that can make it very difficult to fish the wire down. Once you have the wire down the wall you will poke the wire out at the bottom of the outlet and it will be screwed down to the transformer. The wall outlet is a shock hazard so please be careful when you are working in this area. Do not plug the transformer in at this point. You will want to make sure the other end of the wire is landed on the control panel first. Always make sure to observe proper polarity when making your connections. At this point you have only mounted the back plate of the control panel. If you are going to add an external siren to your panel you will need to cut a hole higher on the wall and then run wire from the panel up to the new siren location. If you have ever watched a professional security system installer they will make this look easy. Do not get discouraged if takes more time that it took for me to write this. Once you have your siren wire run you can mount the control panel to the back plate and plug in the transformer. You panel should come to life at this point. It is now time to program your panel with all of the new devices that you purchased.

Programming your Security Panel

Your new wireless security panel is a highly technological piece of equipment. It can detect intruders, detect smoke, detect carbon monoxide and control many parts of your home with zwave technology. It can also automatically notify the authorities (if you have alarm monitoring) to save lives and property. The programming of your system is by far the most critical part of making sure that your system operates to the specifications needed to properly operate. The wrong entry during programming can make a device fail to report at all or it can even report the wrong situation which can fail to activate the alarm or send in the wrong signals. Make sure that not only do you absolutely observe the correct programming procedures but also make sure that you test every incidence of a possible alarm to make sure that the system operates the way that was intended. A smoke detector should report a fire and not a medical emergency as an example. A front door opening should not be reported as a fire. These are just some of the examples of what incorrect programming can cause. There are some basics to observe but the exact programming of your panel must be accomplished by you thoroughly reading your programming manual. Most alarm professionals rarely need to consult the manual because they have installed so many of these systems that programming has become second nature.

Critical Parts of Programming

  1. Make sure you program your devices with the correct zone type. Using the wrong type can report a smoke detector as a front door or any variety of incorrect things.
  2. Make sure the account number is correct so that central station know what panel is reporting information.
  3. Make sure the phone number is correct that the panel will dial in the event of an alarm.

There are hundreds of options available when programming a security panel. Each programming book does have an explanation for each programming option so if you take to not skip any items you can get the system programmed properly.

Testing Your Security System

After your system has been installed it is critical to test every aspect of the system. A professional security installer does this every time and you should take even more care when testing. You must arm the system and test every device by opening doors or windows and testing each smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector. Before you send alarms into central station you must first make sure the system is in test. Before you send in alarms make sure that all of your zones are properly reporting. This means that when you open the front door the security panel knows it is a front door and so and so on. Do not skip any openings or any steps during the alarm installation process. Skipping a step could literally mean the loss of life or property in the end. Your security system is a Life Safety device and should be treated as such. Now that you know that all of your zone are correct you can arm the system and open every door and window again to make sure that the system detects an alarm. There are two parts to this process. You must check the control panel to make sure that it received every alarm and then you must call central station monitoring to make sure that they received every alarm from every zone. Don’t forget to activate the emergency alarms located on the control panel.

Monitoring Your Security System

There is no question that your security system should be monitored. A security system without monitoring is like having a fancy noisemaker. It knows that someone violated your space but no one knows. It cannot summon help to protect your family or your home. You cannot depend on your neighbors to help because they may not be home at the time and do you really want your neighbors to potentially be in harm’s way trying to prevent a burglary? The protection of your family and your property is best left to the professionals such as the police and the fire department. You can install your own security system and select an alarm professional to monitor the system.

Warranty for Your Security System

When you have a DIY installation you have to realize that you are the installer. This means that if something does not work when you install or stops working after the installation you will be the one to do the troubleshooting and you will also be responsible for the replacement of the equipment. The equipment may be under warranty but you will have to send it back for replacement and wait for the part to be sent to you. This means that your home protection has been degraded while you are waiting. You can purchase all of your parts from local security companies and this way you can minimize the time required having your system up and running.

As you can see the installation of an alarm system is not a slam dunk and does require attention to detail. You must consider that even though you will save money upfront on the parts you may not have the peace of mind in knowing that the installation was done right. Make sure you consider all of the factors before jumping into an installation on your own.


Some installation companies will supply the equipment programmed and ready to go. This means the critical part of an installation has been done and you can just do the installation.

Source by William J Robinson

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