Your alarm system can be a local type of alarm or it can be connected so that it will communicate with a Central Station where the authorities can be notified. The alarm system will send in a different type of signal for each type of alarm event. The typical events are Intrusion Alarm, Fire Alarm and Emergency Alarm. Depending on the type of alarm the appropriate authorities will be dispatched. This is obviously of great value since you would not want the paramedics to come for a security breach.
On the other hand if your alarm is a local type of alarm the security system will not do anything except sound in your home and ring Gegensprechanlage a bell if one is connected. This does you no good if you are not home when the alarm is triggered other than to scare the burglar off. There is another type of communication that seems to be gathering popularity and that is self monitoring without dispatch from the central station. With the newer types of alarm systems using cellular communication the alarm can be accessed from any internet connection with the user receiving the alarm. This is called self-monitoring and is less expensive than having a central station but many alarm companies do not offer this in any alarm monitoring packages.
The end result of alarm system monitoring is that when the alarm is triggered the central station will receive the alarm and be able to dispatch the appropriate authorities. How the signal reaches the central station varies drastically. The following are the different types of monitoring:
This type of alarm system monitoring has been the standard for years. It has always been very reliable but has always been vulnerable. It literally takes only minutes for a burglar to find the phone line coming into your home and cut the line. Once the line has been cut the alarm system “wants” to notify the central station but has no ability to transmit the signal.
While it provides limited features, low bandwidth and no mobile capabilities, POTS reliability is an often cited benchmark in marketing and systems-engineering comparisons, called the “five nines” reliability standard. It is equivalent to having a dial-tone available for all but about five minutes each year.
How VoIP Alarm Monitoring Works
Regardless of which type of provider is chosen, the fundamental principle is that the analog voice or analog alarm signal from a control panel must first be converted into a digital format using a chosen compression method. Then the signal is translated to a series of Internet packets that are routed over a network (either a managed network or the public Internet). This process is then reversed at the other end so that the person hears the voice or an alarm receiver can hear the alarm signal that was sent.
Those VoIP providers that use the internet, not a controlled network, are subject to the possible delays of the Internet. For instance, when the Internet is slow, this can cause digital communications to slow down as well. If you send a digital signal over this network during such times, the timing is thrown off. The arrival time of the individual packets could be slowed.
Honeywell ADEMCO Contact ID sends 1 signal in about 1. 4 seconds. If the Internet is slow it could take 4-5 seconds for a signal to be transmitted and re-assembled, thus causing communication failures.
Another limitation of VoIP in general is when you lose power; your phone service is also down. There is no power provided by the VoIP provider like a traditional phone company. Furthermore, when a failure of the VoIP network occurs, some equipment leaves the voltage on the phone line, thus the panel believes there is no problem with the circuit when in fact there really is. There are other limitations when trying to upload/download. The alarm panel may not answer or may connect, but will not allow you to upload or download the program.
GSM security system monitoring allows you to utilize the cell phone towers to transmit your alarm signals. The same information that was previously sent over a POTS line is sent via cell. There is no cell phone per say involved. The alarm panel has the ability to transmit the date directly to the central station with all of the same date that is required to dispatch the authorities. This form of monitoring provides the best features and the most reliable form of communication.
In the “old” days all security systems were hard wired systems. This means that all of the alarm devices were physically connected by wire. This wire runs from the security panel to all of the door and window contacts and all of the motion sensors. These systems also had an alarm panel that was usually located in a hall closet or possibly in the attic. The keypad also had a minimum of a 4 wire conductor run to the control panel. These types of systems are still in use today and are widespread across the country.
An alarm system of this type has all of the features of a wireless alarm system so as far as features they can compete head to head. The problem with these systems is that a wire must be run from the control panel to any new device. This made it very tough for a Do it Yourselfer to install a security system. There is also the issue of potential damage to the physical piece of wire. The wire can be gnawed on by rodents or broken by other contractors that are in your attic for unrelated repairs. These types of repairs can be very costly because there can be a fair amount of troubleshooting involved. The actual repair can be minor but the time involved in finding what to repair can take hours.
A wireless alarm system has a huge advantage over a wired system in that new alarm system devices can be added very easy. Even a Do it Yourselfer can add devices as needed. There are also no wires involved except for the wire to power the control panel. All of the wireless devices are operated by battery. These batteries can last for a year or more. The system is supervised so any tampering with the devices will be detected. When the batteries are getting too low to operate there is a trouble generated to notify you that it is time to change the batteries. This is very easy to do by the alarm system owner so there is not a need to make a call for service if you are just a little handy. There are no wires to speak of so there can be no damage to them.
The wireless alarm system operates with batteries and even though they do last a long time they will still need to be changed at some point. If you have a large number of home security devices then the expense should be taken into account as part of the cost of maintaining the system. Another potential problem with a wireless system is the range of the alarm devices. Depending on the construction of the home or business there may be some difficulty in the control panel receiving the signal. The range can be a limitation in larger homes and might require a wireless repeater. This will increase the signal range of your wireless alarm devices but does add additional cost to the cost of the system.
These systems are a combination of wireless and wired systems. Most wired alarm panels can be made into a hybrid type panel. You can add a module that will communicate with the wired panel and allow you to add wireless devices. There are also wireless panels that have devices that can utilize wired zones. If you have a number of wired zones already in place and you want to upgrade to a wireless system this can easily be done by using a door contact that will accommodate a fixed magnetic sensor.
All in all a wireless system is much more versatile than a wired alarm system. Many alarm companies will want to install a wired system because they are using subcontractors and do not care about the amount of labor to install the system since they are paying a flat rate. If you do your home work and decide that you do want to have a wireless alarm system then do not allow yourself to be convinced that the wired is better.