BBB Business Review

How to design an alarm system

In this video we'll discuss the basics of putting together an alarm system for your home or business.

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Hi, I'm Jason with, and in today's video, I'm gonna talk about the basics in alarm system design. We'll start with the first layer of defense, door and window contacts. These should be placed in all exterior doors and windows that can be accessed from the ground floor. As you can see in our example, all the exterior doors and windows are protected by these contacts. For an additional level of security, you can place the contact on windows on the upper floor or the interior garage door for instance. Unfortunately, if an intruder enters by breaking a window, you will not be protected by your door and window contacts. Due to this, you should consider a second layer of defense, this includes sensors such as motion detectors, glass break sensors and shock detectors. By far the most popular of these is the motion detectors, but depending on the situation, a glass break detector or a shock sensor may be a better tool.

Now as you can see in the example, we're using a combination of all three of these items, but again, depending on your specific layout and how you wanna do it, will change this. You'll also wanna keep in mind the manufacturer's recommendations for installation. In the case of motion detectors, they are usually recommended to be placed seven to eight feet high and you always want to keep in mind that motion detectors detect perpendicular movement, movement across the detection field better than movement towards the sensor itself. So in the case of a bank of windows that you're protecting with a motion detector, you'll wanna place  it across the windows instead of pointing at the windows. That way if somebody enters through the windows, they'll be moving across the field of vision of the motion detector and not toward it as you can see in this example of the right way and the wrong way to do it.

As you can see in our floor plan, you see that we use a variety of different sensors. Of course, we have our first layer of defense around the perimeter of the home with the door and window contacts. But then we also use a variety of motion detectors, glass break sensors and shock detectors depending on the needs of the home. You'll also wanna keep in mind that there are a variety of other specialty contacts that could be useful depending on your needs. The most popular of these is the overhead door contact. This will allow your alarm system to be notified if your garage door is opened. Smoke detectors are a requirement in most locations, so always check with your local government about what the regulations are. Many locations only require one smoke detector though in your home. So you may wanna go above and beyond that to fully protect yourself and your family.

Now there are different kinds of ways to detect fire. There's a traditional smoke detector that detects the smoke in the air, but then there are also heat detectors. The heat detectors could be useful in a place like a kitchen above a stove where smoke's gonna  be a regular thing, but a dangerous fire is not. So the heat detector won't go off and cause a false alarm until there's an excess amount of heat. Carbon monoxide detectors will protect you against an otherwise undetectable and deadly gas. These are only needed in homes that have gas appliances however. Now as you can see in our example, we have a combination of smoke detectors, heat detectors, as well as a carbon monoxide detector. You may wanna use a water sensor especially if you live in a flood prone area, but any home can use them to protect against water leaks that can cause a large amount of damage in a short amount of time.

You also may wanna consider using temperature sensors especially if you live in a cool air climate. These are usually used to detect when the temperature in your home drops too low, which can lead to frozen pipes. Now that you have all the sensors you may need for your home, you wanna consider having at least one siren. Sirens are great at deterring intruders. Even if they do break in and set off the alarm, a lot of times the sirens will scare them away before they do any real damage.

Let's take a look at our home once more. You see that we have our first layer of defense, the contacts around the perimeter of the home. We have our second layer of defense, the motion detectors, the glass break sensors and the shock detectors. Then we have protection against fire with our smoke and heat detectors, we've protection against carbon monoxide with our carbon monoxide detectors and then we also have protection against other environmental threats with our water sensors and our temperature sensors. And finally we have our sirens that will help deter any intruders that may come into the home. Now that you have all the basics of alarm system design, head over to our website,, to  start putting together your system today. And of course, if you have any questions, give us a call, number's on the screen right here. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks.