Security systems evolve with technology changes

Published 11:07 am Friday, July 25, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The greatest misconception causing people not to buy residential alarm systems is old technology.
Jerry Bowman, a systems consultant with SCI Alarm Inc., South Bend Ind., which serves the Michiana area, said many people hesitate to buy alarm systems because the technology on old alarm systems was hard to operate and there were many problems with false alarms.
Bowman said alarm systems are much better now than before and the way alarm system sensors pick up disturbances have changed.
Bowman said old sensors that worked off a microwave frequency would pick up motion itself, causing the alarm to go off when it wasn't supposed to.
The newer sensors, however, work off an infrared frequency, which is looking for heat and can separate movement of objects, such as a branch moving in the wind, from people, he said.
Bowman said there are two types of alarm systems currently in use: hardwired and wireless.
Operationally they both function in the same way, using door contacts, window contacts, motion detectors and acoustic sensors to detect movement.
Pressure pads, an old technology commonly used in the past, are not used anymore, he said.
But alarm systems can now be programmed to allow the movement of pets less than 65 pounds without triggering the alarm, a feature called pet immunity.
Another interesting feature with modern alarm systems is the fact that it is possible to activate and de-activate different types of alarms depending on the situation.
Bowman said people can use motion sensors in the evening when they sleep, or while they are away from their home.
When they get back, however, they can turn off the motion sensors while keeping door, window and acoustic sensors active.
He also said all doors connected to an alarms system have a chime function, which gives a signal that someone is approaching.
Bowman said with today's technology, if the alarm system is set up correctly and properly installed, false alarms can be minimized.
He also said modern alarm systems allow people to isolate an alarm zone that causes a problem while remaining the rest of the alarm system active.
Bowman said generally the mid-to-high range alarm systems are very user friendly.
The difference in cost is the components and the needs of each home, he said. According to Bowman, residential alarm system start at $300 and average $750 to $1,500.
He said systems also vary in cost because people can add features to an alarm system that will detect water, heat and fire.
And, new digital alarm systems ensures a phone call is made, notifying the alarm company, even if a telephone line is or cut or broken.