Home Security System

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Old 05-25-03, 07:56 PM
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Home Security System

First, if you can help, thanks a lot. With how busy we all are it's wonderful when people take the time to post thoughtful and helpful replies. I've learned that it's very difficult to find objective information regarding home security systems. I want the ease of wireless but have 4 patio doors + 2 standard doors, so I'd need 6 door sensors and would also like at least one infrared detector that my cat won't set off. Any opinions on which brand or brands are best for me? Keepsafer? Simon 3? Visionic? I'd like to keep this as cheap as possible (of course sometimes extra dollars are worth it -- perhaps you can help me there too). I don't plan to pay for a monitoring service. Any ideas? Thanks so much.

Emily
 
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Old 05-25-03, 09:20 PM
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Hello Emily. I have to tell you right off the bat, I'm very partial to ITI products (Simon, Concord, Advent, etc.) But, for good reason, ITI is simply the best. As an installer, I like the ease of installation and programming, but as a regular user (I do have a system in my home that I keep monitored) I also like the ease of use. For the DIY'er, Simon or Concord are the best way to go. Some will tell you Ademco or DSC or Visonic, but I've used all of these myself, and none of them comes close to the Simon or Concord system.

Now, on the other hand, expect to pay slightly more for the ITI products (compared to Visonic and Keepsafer anyway - price will be about the same as Ademco or DSC wireless systems.) But, ITI is a much more respected and much better system than you will find in the Keepsafer or Visonic systems.

If you do not plan on monitoring the system, I highly recommend taking a look at the <a href="http://64.49.194.64/products/simon3.jsp">Simon 3 system</a>. It offers some extras that you will need for a non-monitored system (one of these is the Voice Event Notification Reporting - the system will call a pre-programmed phone and tell you, in plain english, when you have alarms.) The system also has pager capabilities to notify you of alarms or troubles.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
 
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Old 05-26-03, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the help. Who offers the best price on the Simon 3? Any ideas? What should I expect to pay for what I want? Also, why are the X10 products so cheap? Junk? -- in your opinion of course

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-26-03, 12:35 PM
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Well, since you asked, I like to think we have the best prices on the Simon 3 But, I highly recommend doing your research. Try a google search for "Simon 3", you will see a lot of companies that sell online. If you're not comfortable installing your own system, there are also a lot of companies on the net that will set you up with a local installer. Just be very cautious of any "free" systems. There is a lot of fine print that comes along with those free systems, not to mention all the stipulations.

For your system (Panel/Keypad/Siren, 6 door/window sensors, and a Pet-Immune motion) you're looking at about the $500 range. Most companies out there sell a "basic kit", this includes the Panel/Keypad (it's all built into one on the Simon), 2 door/window transmitters, and a motion - this kit usually ranges anywhere from ~$300 up to $400 or more, depending one who you buy from. Most companies will offer a variety of packages, so take a look around, see which you like and what add-ons or options you want, then find the best price.

X-10 is decent. It's cheap because it's mass-produced and literally everywhere. X-10 actually has a lot of technology and research behind it. The X-10 protocol has been around for a long time, so there are a lot of products out there that are "X-10 compatible", including most security systems. I have some X-10 modules in my home, and for the most part they work pretty good. There are glitches now and then, but very rarely. The only thing I would be very cautious of with X-10 is the "security" cameras. They have absolutely no form of encryption behind them. So anyone can "spy" on your X-10 cameras with very little effort. If you just want to turn your lights on and off, X-10 is the best value.

Hope that helps. If you need anything else, let me know.
 
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Old 05-26-03, 04:12 PM
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Thanks. So why wouldn't someone like me go with an X-10 system with similar features to the Simon 3? What are the differences? From what I've been able to glean from the net, I could get similar functionality for around $250 less. What's the downside of X-10?

And thanks again for the help.
 
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Old 05-26-03, 04:45 PM
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To be totally honest with you, I've never used or installed an X-10 security system. I've not really heard anything about them either. Just to show you what that means, I've worked on literally hundreds of different systems from different manufacturers (including DSC, Ademco, ITI, Home Automation Inc, Moose, FBII, Caddx, and many many more - I couldn't name them all.)
Not to get into a resume, but I've installed thousands of systems, serviced twice as many, and I've helped people online with systems with no-telling how many systems.
Never once in any of those encounters have I come across an X-10 system. Never once in any of those encounters have I talked to anyone with any experience using the X-10 security systems.

The only experience I can offer you with X-10 products is the home automation products (Lamp Modules, Switch Modules, Universal Modules, etc and the interface Modules for computers and some of the camera systems.) All of the above are decent systems. They are a good value. That doesn't mean they are the best, or that they are the recommended brand. Only that they work good enough for what you pay (value.)

On the other hand, as a security technician and business owner, I never recommend the best "value", I only recommend what I know my customers can trust for security.

I, personally, would not use or recommend the X-10 systems. On the other hand, if you want some feedback from others, who may have more experience with this system than I do, try AlarmsBC.com or try a search on Google.com for reviews.

Wish I could be of more help with that system, but, like I say, I just haven't heard anything about them (and, for me, that's not good.)

Sorry for the resume, I just want to express that I do have experience in the business with more than just ITI equipment
 
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Old 05-27-03, 06:22 PM
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Hi
What's the difference between the SAW and the Crystal sensors? Also, how useful is the keychain remote? It seems to me that I could just as easily punch in a code. Finally, with 2 motions, I could mount one on some stairs such that my cat couldn't set it off, and then put the other one in a living area. The stair one could be of lesser quality (and expense) than the ITI pet immune PIR, right? Are there other brands that communicate with the Simon 3 but aren't $90+.
Emily
 
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Old 05-27-03, 11:01 PM
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What's the difference between the SAW and the Crystal sensors?
To the homeowner, not much difference. To the technician/installer, some difference. I like the Crystal because it has a hardwire sensor terminal on it. But, for homeowners, this is not a big deal. The Crystal sensors also use lithium batteries instead of alkaline batteries, so they last longer (btw, SAWs typically last 3-5 years, Crystals about 4-6 years - depending on use.) The only other major difference is the type of technology used in the sensors. Again, a homeowner won't notice a difference in the technology. Crystal is more secure than SAW because of the encrypting technology used, and the signal is supposed to carry farther (I've never tested them, so I can't say for sure - but I think Crystal does have a stronger signal than SAW.) That's about it for the differences. For the price, I would say use SAW.

Also, how useful is the keychain remote? It seems to me that I could just as easily punch in a code.
Let's compare this way: it's similar to a car remote with door lock/unlock (keyless entry) - except, of course, the system won't unlock your doors - some people prefer the convenience of not having to use any codes and just press a button to disarm their system. Others, it's just as easy to punch in 4 numbers. Others use different entry doors and just don't want to walk from one side of the house to the other to disarm the system. Everyone has a different use and different need. I personally, like the keychain remotes because I never have to touch my keypad, just arm and leave, then disarm when I come home. Call it laziness

Finally, with 2 motions, I could mount one on some stairs such that my cat couldn't set it off, and then put the other one in a living area. The stair one could be of lesser quality (and expense) than the ITI pet immune PIR, right? Are there other brands that communicate with the Simon 3 but aren't $90+.
Make sure you setup your PIRs where the cat cannot get anywhere near them (either one.) Even though they are "pet immune", if a cat jumps in front of them, they will go off. Pet Immunity is relative to distance. You can't really say a motion detector is 40lbs pet immune - 40lbs looks different at 15ft than it does at 3ft (to see what I mean, put your palm up in front of you at arms length, then bring it towards your face - not too fast - your hand gets bigger as it gets closer - same thing.) So, just make sure the cat can't get close to the motion. Don't get me wrong, pet immunity does help, but what it refers to is the pulse count and patterns of the motion, not really the "immunity size."
Unfortunately, right now, the only motions available for the Simon are the ITI type. There is another company that will be coming out with compatible motions "soon", but for now they are not available. That's really all I know about them. I have a feeling they will only be about $10-15 cheaper, though. Wireless technology is just expensive. But, it's much better than trying to run wires or paying someone else to do it for you.

Let me know if there's anything else I can help you with.
 
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Old 05-28-03, 06:30 PM
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Ok, I think I have just 2 more questions (not gonna hold me to this right?):

First, if I wanted an outdoor siren, how much would that be and how would it work? Hardwired vs. Wireless? etc.

Second, I have one window that is a great target for a burglar -- mostly obscured by bushes that I'd prefer to leave as they are -- to the bathroom off my bedroom. So, what's the most economical way to secure that? Another crystal sensor?

Thanks.
Emily
 
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Old 05-28-03, 06:34 PM
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Did I say just two more questions? Disregard that.

I have a question about patio doors. If someone were to lift a door off the track, as burglars apparently like to do, couldn't they just walk right in without setting off the crystal sensor? If it were mounted on the moving part of the door, they could just lift off the other door, and never set it off. Am I wrong?

I think that's my last question.
Emily
 
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Old 05-28-03, 10:36 PM
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Outdoor sirens (or attic sirens) run anywhere from $20-45 each - depending on who you buy from and the type of siren you buy. ITI makes a great complimentary siren for the Simon system, called the Maxi-Blast, that is a good attic siren (115dB and weatherproof). They say it is an exterior siren, but I don't recommend actually installing a siren outside, for several reasons:
<ol><li>Weatherproof or not, weather will eventually get to it
<li>It leaves the siren susceptible to attack and possibly being disconnected
<li>It's just plain tacky
</ol>
For windows, you could use a Crystal Sensor that would detect opening of the window. You could also use a Shock Sensor. If you have more than 1 window in that room, you may just want to install a glass break detector and protect all the windows.

If you contact a patio door (I assume you mean a sliding glass door, since you are talking about lifting it off the track), then if someone removes the door from the track, this would essentially be the same as opening the door. So, the system would alarm. The way you protect doors is to install the Sensor on the door frame and install a magnet on the door. When the 2 are separated, the sensor sends a signal to the control panel, saying that is has been opened, and the system decides whether it should set-off the siren or chime, etc. (depending on whether or not it's armed at the time.) So, if you have the Sensor on the frame and the magnet on the door, if someone removes the door from the track, the sensor opens and the alarm goes off.

If that's not a good enough explanation, let me know, I can take a picture of my sliding glass door and let you see exactly what I'm talking about.

Anything else???
 
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Old 05-29-03, 04:55 AM
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Thanks. Precisely where is the sensor placed? It seems to me that if the sensor is placed on the door that opens and closes, a burglar could lift off the other door -- the stationary one -- and walk right in without separating the sensor from the magnet. No?
Emily
 
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Old 05-29-03, 08:55 AM
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That's a great question, Emily. I've never had anyone ask me that before, nor have I thought of it myself. So, I studied my own door to see how that would work. Now, here's the thing, I'm not a sliding glass door expert, so I'm not exactly sure how these stationary doors are installed or how they work. But, it looks like they are held stationary by 2 brackets - 1 at the top and 1 at the bottom of the door. There's about 3 screws in each of these brackets. I didn't test this, but it looks like if you were to remove these screws, and brackets, the the door would no longer be stationary, it would slide along the track much like the other door. Those screws are on the outside of the house, so they could easily be removed.

So, here's my solution, just install the sensor on the back of the movable door (if you're looking at the door, the back would be the side opposite of the handle side.) What you want to do is put is on the frame, not on the glass side, but on the edge of the frame (kind of the side of the door), so that when the door is closed, the sensor will be right next to the edge of the glass on the stationary door. Then, on the glass of the stationary door, you would install a rare earth magnet. These are very strong magnets that are usually used on windows. They are very thin also, at only about 1/4" thick, so it would stick to the glass without hindering the slider any.

I'll try to take a picture of my door setup like this sometime today, and I'll post back with the URL that you can find it at.

I'm glad you asked that, because I probably never would have thought of it.
 
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Old 05-29-03, 04:42 PM
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Thanks

On my patio doors, I don't think the sensor will fit there. It seems only about 1/4 to 1/2 inches in between the doors. Also, when you said that the crystal sensors have a hardwire terminal, I assume that means you can run wire to them OR use them wireless, right? Lastly, must the sensors be mounted with the magnet directly across from them? I assume that's how they work. I went to the ITI website and the pdf file available there has no information about setting the system up.

Emily
 
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Old 05-29-03, 04:45 PM
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Wow. It's worse than I thought. It seems they don't want me to learn how to set up the system, since I can't even get access to necessary info without being a dealer. That's pathetic.
 
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Old 05-30-03, 08:12 AM
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You don't need much clearance between the doors. Take a look at the photo below. I've actually used a bigger magnet than the rare earth magnet I mentioned before. The rare earth magnet is only about 1/4" thick:
<center>
<img width=400 src="http://www.safewatchservice.com/shared/Slider002.jpg">
</center>
With the SAW type sensors, you only have 1 place to mount the magnet - directly beside the sensor at one end. On the Crystal sensors, you have a choice of either mounting the magnet next to the sensor (like in the photo above) or mounting it at the end of the sensor (it would be at the bottom of the sensor in the photo above.) This gives you an option of how to mount the sensor - either long-ways or short-ways, depending on where it's being mounted.

The hardwire terminal built-in to the sensor allows you to take a hardwire contact and make it wireless by connecting it to the wireless sensor. Take a look at the picture below to see how I've used 2 hardwire contacts connected to a Crystal sensor's hardwire terminal to protect a double window (and saved using another wireless sensor to protect the other window):
<center>
<img width=400 src="http://www.safewatchservice.com/shared/Double-Window011.jpg">
</center>
ITI only deals with distributors and dealers. So they don't provide access to the online files to homeowners or end-users. They prefer that everyone go through an ITI dealer. I am an authorized ITI dealer, so I do have access to the files (and have them on my site.) If you want to take a look over them, <a href="mailto:[email protected]?subject=Manuals Access (RE: DIY - Home Security System)">e-mail me</a> and I'll send you the access information.
 
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Old 05-30-03, 04:58 PM
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Thanks again. I thought that the sensor had to be on the back edge of the moving door -- which is a tight fit. I'm happy to learn that they can be mounted as you show.

So, with the crystal sensors I can protect the patio doors well. Will I need special magnets for sure or will the ones that come with the sensors (they do come with them, right?) work?

Also, what is the cost of the hardwire sensors that you show in your picture? Couldn't I buy a few of those and put them on windows near the patio doors?

Thanks . . . .
Emily
 
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Old 05-30-03, 05:26 PM
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Well, in my picture, the moving door is the one on the inside. But, it really doesn't matter which door is goes on, as long as the sensor is inside and the magnet lines up with the sensor when the door is closed.

You probably will need a special magnet. It's just a very small "rare earth" magnet (as they are known to technicians.) I've got a bunch of them laying around, so it's no problem to send you a couple. Regular magnets come with the sensors, similar to the ones in the picture, but actually a little bigger than that.

The hardwire sensors shown in the second pic run about $4-5 each. They also come with magnets. Basically, all you're doing with those sensors is wiring them in series (if you look very closely at that picture you can see the red wire comes out of the transmitter, down to the right contact, then another red wire comes out of that contact and to the other contact, then the black wire runs from that contact back to the transmitter.) I have the wires twisted in that picture, so it's somewhat hard to see. It's a very easy process though. All you are doing is making a loop of the sensors.

The more I answer, the more quetions you have Keep them coming...
 
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Old 05-30-03, 05:46 PM
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I just measured from the near edge of my inside patio door (the one that moves) to the glass of the outside door, and it's almost three inches. (The measuring tape was parallel to the floor) Isn't that plenty big enough so that I could use the standard magnets? The dimensions given for the sensors are 1.56" Wide X 3.25" High X .88" Deep, and the magnet appears to be less than .5" deep. Wouldn't it work fine without the skinny magnets?
Emily
 
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Old 05-30-03, 06:26 PM
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Are you sure you measured correctly? That sounds like an awefully large gap between the 2. Take a look at the picture below to make sure you are measuring properly. You'll have to mount the transmitter on the back edge of the door to make this work correctly.

<img src="http://www.safewatchservice.com/shared/Slider001.jpg" width="600">

Make sure you are measuring from the outside edge of the inside door (the edge under the left side of the transmitter in the pic above, to the glass of the outside door.)
 
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Old 05-30-03, 07:32 PM
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Hmm. My measurement included the frame of the innermost door -- the area on which the sensor would be mounted, as well as the small distance from that frame to the glass pane that the magnet would be mounted on. That total distance is about 3 inches. The distance from the glass pane to the moving door is only about 1/2". Is that too small to use the standard magnets?

Perhaps a more important question: There is a 3/4" weatherstripping thing that the sensor might have to be mounted on in order to be near enough to the magnet. The edge of the door is almost 2 inches of wood, 3/4" rubber weatherstripping thing, and then a small fuzzy edge insulator. How close must the mag and sensor be? Whew.
 
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Old 05-30-03, 09:11 PM
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I tell ya what. If you could take a picture of your door and e-mail it to me, that might work better. If not, we'll just do it this way.

The gap between the sensor and magnet actually depends on the magnet being used. If you only have about 1/2" clearance, then you'll have to use a rare earth magnet.

As for the weatherstripping, as long as it doesn't affect the movement of the door or break the sensor when being opened, it would be ok to overlap that weather stripping a little. One of the sensor's screws actually goes on the other side of the sensor from the magnet, the other goes about 1/2" in from the magnet side, but could be moved to the other side if need be. So you shouldn't have a problem.

So, if you can get a picture of that door, I'll take a look and make sure, but it sounds like you'll have no problems.
 
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Old 05-31-03, 03:57 PM
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I should get my digital camera back tomorrow and could take a pic then if need be. I stumbled across the micro crystal sensors and noticed that they are only about 10 bucks more than the standard ones. Any downside to them? Do they have a hardwire terminal? Work as well? etc. Thanks.
 
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Old 06-02-03, 01:30 PM
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Yes, the micro sensors do work as well as the Crystal or SAW sensors. But, No, they do not have a hardwire input of any kind on them. So, if you just want a small, inconspicuous sensor, they are perfect. But, if you want to be able to connect a hardwire sensor, you'll need the Crystal or SAW sensors.
 
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