How to Wire and Install a Security Alarm System (DIY Tips: Door Contacts)

When you are ready to layout your alarm system design, for installation you must first decide where to mount the alarm control. If you have an unfinished basement, you will be drilling down and running your wires in the rafters to the area that you select for the panel. Most often this will be the mechanical or furnace room.

If you are working on a single story building, you will be running your wires up into an unfinished attic and

dropping your wires down to the control.

If you are in a commercial application you will run your wires on top of drop ceilings or along beams or possibly through exposed conduit.

If you are in a place where there is no place to run all these wires and hide them then you are a prime candidate for a wireless system.

You want to make sure that wherever you decide to mount your alarm control panel, that you have a device such as a motion detector or door contact to protect it. Leaving the control panel in an unprotected area could make it easy to circumvent in the event of a break in. Consider running the wires through the basement, and than jumping them up into a closet, in the protected area of the house. If you are wondering “what about the exposed wires in the basement? Don’t.” Cutting the wires would duplicate opening of the device they are running to, and would cause an alarm condition if the system were armed.

If you elect to go wireless on your system of choice, choose a central location in the home or business that will receive a strong radio signal from all points of protection. Remember that even on wireless system there are some wires that will need to be run. Most often they are the keypad, the siren, the power supply and the phone line. Take these runs into consideration when choosing your central location.

Provide lighting for the chosen area, as this will be where you are doing most of your installation work. Lay out a tarp and place all products and tools and a trash bag in this area. I have learned over the years to come to my central location to get what I need, and return everything I’m not using back to this location when I am done with them, especially tools. If you do not run an organized installation, you will spend ½ of your time searching for a tool, part, spool of wire etc. A tool belt is handy for the tools you will need everywhere, such as fresh drill bits, tape, wire cutters, screwdrivers, B- connects, a small bubble level, stud finder, a clean rag, etc.

You also want to clean as you go. As you finish running each wire and installing the device that will go there, take the time to clean up and bring all trash to the bag at your control zone. Being anal is a good thing, when you are doing a quality installation.

As you run each wire to the control room, measure where the wire is going to come into the control panel hole, and then add about a foot of wire before cutting it with your diagonal cutters. Place a piece of light colored electrical tape around the wire about 5 inches from the end and write on the tape with an indelible sharpie or marker where it is going.

If your home or business is under construction you may elect to pre-wire it for security. Pre-wiring is beneficial in the ability to get every device in the exact location you would want it. Placing wires and gang boxes before construction is complete, is dependent on your ability to read the architects plans and understand where cabinets, appliances and electrical devices will be placed with accuracy. If you do elect to pre-wire be sure to drill your own holes in the wall studs and rafters. Many a lazy alarm technician will run through the electrical and plumbers holes and think they are getting away easy. The problem is that if an electrician or plumber fails inspection they will have to pull wire and pipe out to relocate them to the inspector’s specifications. They are not likely to be concerned about your wire, when doing so.

The best time to run your wires on a pre-wire is immediately after the electricians leave and before the insulators arrive.

If you are ready to start running wires, lets start with the front door. If you are going down to the basement you will be working low on the opening side of the door. If you are running your wires up you will be working on the top of the door. Lets use down for our example. What kind of contact will you be using? Surface mount or recessed? If you are running wires anyway, why don’t you take the time to install recessed contacts so that they are out of site when the door is closed? Set up your drill with a 3/8-inch standard length drill bit.

In the jam of the door, approximately 4 inches from the bottom begin drilling at an angle towards the basement. Switch to your 3/8- inch by 12 to 18 inch long drill bit and continue drilling towards the basement, finally switch to your 5-foot long bell hangers bit and continue drilling till you pop out in the basement. Pull the long bit out of the hole and remove it from the hole. Poke the skinny end of the long bit down the hole.

Go down to the basement with a flashlight, diagonal wire cutters, tape, marker, staple gun with staples in it, and a spool or box of 22 gauge 2 conductor wire. Strip the plastic off of the end of your wire about 2 inches. Twist the 2 wires together and thread them through the hole at the end of the skinny side of the long bit and twist it around itself. Go back upstairs and pull the wire up to the hole. Tie a large loose and temporary knot in the wire after you get it there, so that it will not fall back in the hole. Leave at least 12 inches upstairs, so that you can work with the wire.

Go back downstairs and begin to roll out enough wire to make it to your control panel. Staple the wires with an industrial stapler like a T22 along the beams in a neat and orderly manner from the drop hole towards the control panel. Be sure you are not penetrating the wire with each staple, if you do, remove it now and re-staple. These mistakes are hard to trace after you walk away. Be sure to make it down the wall stud to where you will poke into the back of your control panel (about chest high) and leave an additional foot or more of wire before cutting it off the spool. Mark your wire with the tape and marker several inches from the end.

Congratulations! You made your first run. Be sure to gather and return all tools to the starting point so that you know where they are when you need them.

Get your 3/8 inch recessed contact and magnet. You will need a drill, extension cord (unless you are using a wireless drill), electrical tape, and a wire cutter. Split the end of you wire and strip a small amount of plastic cover off of each end. Do the same with your contact unless you have the type that has small screws for the wires to be clamped under. Twist each end of your wire to an end of the contact wire and tape tightly and individually. After you do each one you can wrap a piece of tape around the whole thing tightly. (It does not matter which wire goes to which wire as this is a circuit wire, and has no positive or negative side.) Carefully poke the wire into the hole and press the contact in. Now mark the door in the spot that the magnet will meet the contact, when the door is closed. Stabilize the door and drill a 3/8 ” hole just deep enough to put the magnet in. Repeat for each door you want contacted. We always suggest that you contact every perimeter door.

We will post additional device wiring instructions on The Experts Know! Alarms web-site for your access.

Check Back Soon! as we will be adding DIY device installation techniques often.

Corporate Executive Protection – Security Tips For Nigeria

Corporate Executive Protection (CXP) teams doing assignments in the major urban centers of Nigeria, such as Abuja and Lagos should beware that violent crime is on the rise. Armed attacks, assaults, undisciplined Nigerian police road checkpoints, kidnappings, hostage taking and ship hijackings make the place very dangerous.

Don’t get careless when on CXP assignments in Nigeria, carelessness kills. There is a high level of crime within the inner city and on the outskirts of Lagos. This includes armed robbery, hostage taking and violent armed assault. Robberies and muggings conducted by large well armed groups on a daily basis and police response in non-existent. Hotel room robberies is also a serious concern in Lagos and are on the rise in Abuja.

Petty crime such as pickpocketing, minor physical violence and purse snatching is common in all crowed places throughout Nigeria. Learn the geography of the city and keep alert in public markets, beaches and while walking along the sidewalks. Remain especially for client safety upon arrival in Lagos as incidents of armed robbery and carjacking are high along main routes to international and domestic airports, this is the most dangerous time of the assignment.

The CXP team should approach Lagos like any other violent Third World environment. Avoid traveling after dark and especially the outskirts of the city of Lagos. Your CXP team should be implementing best performance in protective measures for your clients in Lagos and throughout Nigeria. All the best and keep out of harm’s way.

Corporate Executive Protection – Security Tips For Cambodia

There is a heightened security threat to Western executives and interests throughout Cambodia, this includes the areas of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Exercise high caution, particularly at night and in commercial and public establishments (hotels, clubs, restaurants, bars, schools, places of worship), outdoor recreational events, and tourist areas.

Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville are classified as dangerous due to street crime, targeting Western executives. Along the riverfront in Phnom Penh and on beaches in Sihanoukville has a high risk of armed assaults. Many Western tourists and visiting Western executives have been injured in the course of assaults and armed robberies. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville has violent criminals on motorcycles that grab bags and briefcases from pedestrians.

Armed Bandits roam the streets of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, as well as on routes between Snoul, Kratie and Stung Treng in the northeastern provinces of Cambodia. Avoid the outskirts of Phnom Penh due to the high rate of violent crime in the area. Keep within the inner city area. When visiting the country on executive protection assignments, make your client disappear off the radar screen by not attracting attention, avoiding the ill-disciplined police and military personnel, and by staying cautious every step of the way.

Keep a sharp look-out for anyone following you during your visit. Learn the geography of the city by studying a map. Implement best security measures and avoid crowded environments. All Third World urban environments are tough, and demand highly effective security strategies. I know you will not compromise your security and follow these tips while on your visit to the country. All the best and keep out of harm’s way.

"Failure to Perform" – Security Companies Taking a Huge Risk Without This Coverage

Over the past twenty years, the investigation and security services field has seen considerable expansion due to a rapid rise in business and technology.

A number of jobs that used to be handled by police forces are now performed by private firms. A large share of security activities in North America now falls to non-governmental agencies. In major metropolitan cities, business improvement associations are hiring private security firms to patrol the downtown streets. Private consulting firms regularly conduct investigations of suspect financial operations and in urban areas, private companies are hired to protect large industrial complexes. As businesses reassess their security plans and new are technologies being introduced at lightning speed, the private security sector has become a multibillion dollar industry and is only getting bigger.

Yet are these companies that are in the business of protecting their clients, protected themselves? A very crucial coverage called “Failure to Perform” is lacking in many insurance policies that are specific for this sector.

Let’s look at a simple example of a security company hired to protect a retail outlet. For those who followed the Jerry Seinfeld show, one episode had George supply a security guard with a chair so he did not have to stand all day. Ultimately this proved costly as the guard fell asleep during a robbery. It may have been all laughs on the show but in reality a situation like this would cost the Security company their contract in addition to a potential lawsuit for the failure of service resulting in thousands of dollars that was taken during the crime. If this claim was presented to the insurance company, the claim would be denied leaving the security company on hook for the entire loss.

An example of “failure to perform” coverage is listed below from an insurer that specializes in this area of coverage.

We will pay those losses resulting from the failure of THE NAMED INSURED’S PRODUCTS or THE NAMED INSURED’S WORK performed by or on behalf of the Insured to meet the level of performance, quality, fitness, or durability warranted or represented by the Insured and including loss of use of tangible property of others provided that such accident or occurrence happens or commences during the policy period, subject to the limits of liability, exclusions, conditions and other terms contained herein.

The first sentence is the key as it clearly indicates the policy will cover losses from the failure of the insured’s WORK. The example above would have been covered if the insurance policy had this special clause embedded in the policy wording. Other examples that would fall into the category of Failure to perform are

  1. A sprinkler contractor accidentally discharging the system while performing maintenance
  2. A security camera installer cutting a major electrical artery
  3. A locksmith cutting a Master key for a specific industry that has strict protocols

Many standard insurance policies that are issued to the Protection Services industry are lacking this coverage. It is imperative that brokers and business owners seek out this coverage in the policy. A few minutes can save thousands of dollars. If it is not offered, ask the insurer if the coverage can be added on as an endorsement, otherwise seek out a policy that can offer this protection. There are insurance companies that specialize in this class of business and can offer this coverage at premiums comparable to or less than regular CGL policies.