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:
- Wireless sensors are completely reliable, especially when they are the supervised variety.
- They are easier and quicker to install, particularly when dealing with existing construction.
- They are easier to troubleshoot and to replace, since wiring (the main cause of sensor problems) is non-existent.
- 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!