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Home Security Wireless Door/Window Sensors - In Detail

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March 10, 2014

Home Security Wireless Door/Window Sensors - In Detail

This is the first post in our Monday educational series that addresses one specific component of a well-designed home security system - and that component is the wireless door/window sensor. Over the coming weeks and months we’ll hit all the common sensors (and even cover a few that are not so common, but are still important to your safety and peace of mind).

Focus on Wireless Technology

First, let’s remember that in this blog covering all things related to home security systems we are talking about wireless sensors. After all, there are lots more wireless sensors being installed today than the hardwired variety: we already delved into the specifics of why that’s the case in this previous post. Here are a few reminders:

  1. Wireless sensors are completely reliable, especially when they are the supervised variety.
  2. They are easier and quicker to install, particularly when dealing with existing construction.
  3. They are easier to troubleshoot and to replace, since wiring (the main cause of sensor problems) is non-existent.
  4. They are easier to add and to move. This is especially important if you have a DIY alarm system that you want to move with you to your next home.

It Starts with Doors and Windows

Pretty much every monitored home alarm system starts with the door/window sensor. In fact, during almost 25 years in the alarm industry, I have never seen a system without one! The technology goes back almost a hundred years, and over a hundred million of these devices are in use, with over a million more installed every year, just in US homes.

Where Burglars Break In

There’s an excellent reason why this device is the core of any good alarm system: intruders invariably try to enter through a door first. Burglary entry stats look like this:

  • 34 percent of burglars enter through the front door
  • 26 percent enter through a back or basement door
  • 9 percent enter through the garage

That’s almost three quarters of all burglaries starting with a door - now you see why the layout of every good home alarm system starts with exterior doors (Note: don’t forget the door from the garage into the house!). The intruder wants an easy entry- and a fast and easy exit, ideally with an armload of your stuff.

Describing the Door/Window Sensor

Since the sensor functionality is the same for doors and windows, we’ll keep this simple, and just talk about doors for now. The standard door sensor is a magnetic reed switch, and consists of two small parts: one part mounts on the top of the door frame (on the opposite side of the door from the hinged side), and the smaller part (the magnet) is placed on the door itself so that when the door is shut, the two pieces are within an inch of each other.

How it Works

In this closed position the sensor is not “activated,” so your alarm system can be armed. When the door opens, and the pieces are separated, that triggers an event for the alarm system. If that system was in an armed state, and is not disarmed promptly, then the door opening will generate an alarm signal that is communicated to the monitoring center.

It’s Simple – and Effective

As basic as these sensors are, they are easy to install, and are remarkably effective. Again, most door/window sensors being installed today are wireless, which means no messy wiring, and the good wireless ones are smaller than your thumb. There are even wireless recessed sensors, if you don’t want to see the sensors at all.

Add Interactive Signals to Keep Yourself Connected

In another previous post we discussed interactive monitoring: specifically, the ability of today’s better alarm systems to send text and email notifications to you on anything happening in your home. And that includes doors opening and closings. This speaks to the concept of feeling not just protected, but also connected.

Features You’ll Appreciate

For instance, I get an email on my iPhone every time a door opens in my house, and it tells me which door even when the alarm system is not armed. That way I get to keep track of my family and service providers as they come and go throughout the day. It’s great for monitoring dog walkers – or even kids coming in late at night!

That’s the first of the many sensors we’ll address in this series – all in the interest of making you smart about home security. We’ll even cover how to design the right systems for your home and lifestyle, after you know everything your system can do. Once you’re smarter about how these systems work, and what you need, you’ll be able to shop home security, and compare companies and offers with confidence. That means more peace of mind for you, which is exactly our goal. See you next Monday!

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Future Customer
March 29, 2014
We have dark brown window frames and ideally I would like these bright white sensors to blend in with the frames. Can the sensors be painted, and if so what kind of paint would you recommend? Thanks! PS: Why don't you offer a black option? Or do you?
Peter M. Rogers
April 1, 2014
Hello, Future Customer. thanks for your excellent question. Since we do not make the actual equipment, but obtain it from the good folks at GE Security, we offer what they do - which in this case is the sensor color shown on our web site. And no, there is no black available. The truth is, however, that door/window sensors can be painted, and often are. That is not the case for motion sensors, glassbreak sensors, or other devices (especially smoke and heat sensors). As for the kind of paint, probably latex is best, but you want to be very careful: it's important that you be able to open the sensor in a few years when the battery reports that it is low, so the battery can be changed. A light coat is best, or perhaps even "dipping" the portion of the sensor that will be visible in the paint, as opposed to brushing over the sensor. I have never done it myself, but it should work. Thanks again.
December 16, 2014
Are GE Interlogix sensors compatible with Frontpoint?
Nick Nicolaos
February 2, 2015
Nice blog Peter! Nice blog and very informative. So how does wireless door/window sensor from Interlogix provides effective security that’s easy to set up?
Imperial Aluminium
March 16, 2015
now, doors and windows must have security.
Deanna R. Jones
March 31, 2015
It's interesting how wireless technology can help to make windows and doors in a home more secure. I didn't know that 34% of burglars enter through the front door and 26% of burglars enter a house through a back or a basement door. I'm usually worried about someone entering my house through my doors, so it's good to know that I have the option to have a wireless sensor installed on all of my doors.
Elmer Colón
December 27, 2015
Who is the touch monitor panel manufacturer name? Qolsys? Is this the Iq panel? Does it compatible with Nest Thermostat? Thanks in advance.
Valerie Saponara
December 29, 2015
Elmer, Qolsys is the manufacturer of this Touch-Screen Control Panel and the model we sell is the IQ. Currently it is not compatible with the Nest System and this is not something Frontpoint supports at this time. Thanks for the good question!
March 2, 2016
Can I move the wireless sensor from my front door to my back door which will be the point of entry that will trip the alarm?
Katie Rynex
March 3, 2016
Margie, absolutely! We ask that you please give our Support Team a call at your earliest convenience. They will be happy to give you some instructions on moving your Door/Window Sensor and also send you out some additional adhesive so you can remount that sensor.
Jammy Hope
April 4, 2016
It is very amazing to hear how how wireless technology can help you secure your home.nice post peter.Keep posting more relevant information like this.
Nick Nicolaou
June 15, 2016
Useful blog about home security systems . It is really amazing to hear how wireless technology can help you secure your home and family .Interesting read & thanks for the share. Visit:
Score Materials
June 23, 2016
Agreed 100%! a security system is imperative in a home owners defense against intruders! However, a solid steel security entrance door can also prove to be that much effective as well. Since usually most intruders enter an unarmed home by simply kicking down a weak door. On average an intruder will only spend 12 seconds trying to enter a home. Once they realize that they can not enter they move on. A good security door plus wireless security is your best line of defense 100%.
Steve Smith
July 25, 2016
Hello Peter, hope you are doing all. Being a regular follower of your blog I feel privileged. It's secondary to tell that this is a very good post about the window sensors, I have not found many on those on the web. Keep informing us like no one. Thanks.
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