How to Set Up an Alarm System


Setting up an alarm system means understanding your security needs and choosing the right components for the job. Your alarm system needs to cover every entrance in your house, as well as such important areas as the bedroom and living room. You will need to decide whether your alarm system will include a security monitoring service, whether it will notify the police, and whether it will include such amenities as smoke alarms and outdoor lights. Once you have decided on those details, you can set up your alarm system quite readily.

  • Determine a point within your home to set up the alarm system's control box. It should be somewhere near an entrance, such as the front door, but out of sight if possible. A closet or a nook is a good spot as well. In addition, consider whether your control box requires an external power source, such as a nearby wall outlet. If so, you'll need to place it accordingly.

  • Count the number of doors and windows on the ground floor of your home and any on the upper stories through which a burglar might have access. Each of these entryways needs to be covered by a sensor in your alarm kit.

  • Determine which areas require a motion sensor. This can include outdoor areas such as the back yard--in which case a sensor can be set up to trigger a light--and such indoor areas as the hallway or living room. Indoor motion detectors should be utilized in such central locations or choke points as stairways, where a burglar must pass in order to enter key areas of the house.

  • Choose a spot for the alarm itself (if necessary) and any smoke detectors or CO2 detectors you wish to include with the burglar alarm. Smoke detectors should be placed at least six inches from the edge of any wall or ceiling and away from heating or cooling vents.

  • Measure the distance between each of the areas requiring an alarm component (door and window sensors, motion detectors, alarms and smoke detectors) and the central control box. You need to know these distances in order to ensure that your system is fully connected.

  • Decide if you want a wired or wireless system. Wired systems use cables to connect each component. You may need a professional installer to run the wiring through the walls, although you can also run the wiring along the floorboards in a pinch. Wireless systems use radio signals to communicate and are designed to be installed by do-it-yourselfers. Pay careful attention to the range of each component; it needs to stay within that distance of the control box in order to work.

  • Install each component of your burglar alarm in the locations you have selected. If you need to run wiring, make sure its in a scale in which it is easy to do. Otherwise, you should be able to simple screw a mounting bracket into position using drywall screws, then snap the component into the mounting bracket.

  • Run wiring from each component to the control box, or put batteries in each component if you're using a wireless system.

  • Activate each component and turn on the control box, then program in the password and perform any other set-up steps for your particular system.

  • Test each component to ensure that it's functioning and contact the monitoring service (if you have one) to let it know that your alarm is operational.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a wireless alarm system, you need to check the batteries on each component periodically and refresh them when necessary.

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