Alarm Screens


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Old 04-03-16, 03:05 PM
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Alarm Screens

I've been working on improving our alarm system, and one of the housemates really wants to be able to easily open and close the windows without having fuss with the alarm. We don't have air conditioning and depend on open windows and the breeze up the hill to keep the house cool in the summer, so it's a reasonable concern.

Someone mentioned "alarm screens" and they appear to solve the problem nicely.

I think all of our windows are vinyl framed windows that slide open side to side. They have screens now, but they're ten years old and showing their age, so new ones are on the list anyway.

Do they work as well as they sound?

Is there any disadvantage to them?

Does anyone know someone who'll do them in the SF Bay Area? I've found one website that says they do them on-site, but they only deal through alarm companies. Foo.

If I have to send them off, does anyone have any recommendations?
 
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Old 04-03-16, 04:25 PM
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Alarm screens are an old-school solution that were used mostly for awning style windows. They are very expensive because they have to be custom fabricated, and are surprisingly fragile, and there's only a handful of fabricators that still make them.
 
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Old 04-03-16, 04:57 PM
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I still use a lot of wired screens for my higher end customers. The company re-uses the customers frames. The re-screening process starts at $50 per screen and up. I deal with two companies and they both only supply to the trade.

The screens are mostly used where it would be hard to protect the window itself.
 
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Old 04-04-16, 06:53 AM
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I hate window screens--they're high maintenance and when one of the internal wires gets severed or flakey, they're not field-reparable. The frames have to be sent back to the shop and you have to wait for it to come back, anywhere from a week to several.
As MrRonFL said, they're "surprisingly fragile" and, in fact, they're designed to be. If they were robust, they would be too easy to circumvent. Not only is the screening delicate, but the installation positioning is exact: If you remove them to clean your windows, be prepared to put them back in place _exactly_ as they were before, and I mean _exactly_. Mounting screws can work loose spontaneously in some environments and cause a slight shifting of alignment between internal (invisible) mag switch and magnet. Re-aligning is not difficult for an experienced pro, but it has its learning curve.

You might look into barrier bars as a more practical alternative.
GE-BB1GS Barrier Bar Alarm Switch
 
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Old 04-04-16, 07:57 AM
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You could try 'venting' by placing 2+ sensor magnets in a line* [within about 3" of each other] if your contacts: 1- are not embedded and, 2- along the horizontal frame of the window. This creates an area where the reed switch of the sensor will stay closed while the window travels between this 'defined' area. If it is opened further, it will alarm. Unfortunately, this will not keep out bugs.

* if memory serves me correctly, the magnets must be aligned correctly since polarization matters [+ to -].


** the concept is easy, however, I do not have any example diagrams or pics handy. [If this is of interest maybe someone else has a diagram or pic.]
 
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Old 04-04-16, 08:14 AM
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Adding a Vent Zone to a Home Alarm System

What type of sensors are there now (or are there any?) If just magnetic, the above article should help. Just put more magnets in place along the sash (like tpring suggested)....it doesnt become a "range" where you can slide the window and have it vent....you do need to line the sensor up with each magnet, but it does allow for the window to be vented and still armed.
 
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Old 04-04-16, 04:55 PM
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If your windows are of the double hung or slider type, this magnetic contact may work for you.

GRI VS06WH Window Venting White Contact
 
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Old 04-04-16, 05:50 PM
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Yes that will work or a standard switch and two magnets will also work.
As an alarm installer I have boxes of extra magnets.

The only reason I emphasized using protection screens is for casement windows where they crank out. Putting a magnetic contact on this type of window is next to useless.

I have a customer now that just installed all new double hung windows and one casement window. He has a gnat problem and opted for the very expensive "no see um" screens which use a microfine mesh. This microfine screen is not used by the screen companies and is not available with embedded wiring. We haven't come to a mutual agreement on protection yet for this window.
 
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Old 04-04-16, 08:53 PM
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The trouble with "venting" type contacts or configurations--I've used more than one--is that you're restricted to leaving the window open only a few inches, definitely less than a foot.
I couldn't get through a 1-foot slot any more, but I used to cave (spelunk) and adults that can squeeze through a 1-foot slot aren't that rare. Teenagers, even less so. A window sash can be braced from outside so slim Jimmy can wiggle through a 1-foot opening, even if he squeezes against the sash.

You don't have that problem with a barrier bar perched across the window. Those bars are more precarious than they look, and allow windows to remain fully opened to whatever breeze you can catch. It doesn't take much of a brush to dislodge and trip them. If one barrier bar won't block the window effectively, two almost certainly will. Best of all, compared to screens, you don't have to sever something to trip them and they're a lot easier to re-mount.

Also, like screens, you have the option to program barrier bar zones as 24-hour zones. I've seen parents do that to keep their teens from sneaking out windows while the system is disarmed. (Sad but true) I personally don't care for doing it that way, but it's an option to be aware of.
 
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Old 04-05-16, 06:27 AM
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I actually have a bunch of casement windows and used Tane pill contact to secure them (for now anyway). Since I need a wire there anyway I ran it and used the pill for now.

I figure if an intruder tries to go thru the casement they will attempt to pry it open and that should trigger the contact. If they happen to be daring enough to toss something through the glass and go that way, that's what the glassbreak detectors are for

I do have 2 casements with alarm screens because of their proximity to sleeping areas. While they dont look as perfect as non-alarm screens, I do like the idea of them. Not the cheapest way (especially considering I have about 10 casements if I wanted to do them all) but Ive vowed as the screens get holes in them over the years I would bring one screen at a time to the place to have them alarmed. Spreads out the cost and I end up with a new screen without holes anyway.

The only thing I dont like about my current alarm screens is that they used a standard (i.e. big) magnet. Would be nice to use something smaller and less obvious.
 
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Old 04-05-16, 08:00 AM
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I agree with PJMax that contacting crank-out casement windows is superfluous, insofar as they can't be forced when they're closed. However, contacts still have the value of not letting you arm the system with a window left open.

Glassbreak sensors can cover casement windows, but not if they're left open and don't need to be broken.

However, all this talk of casement windows is kind of off-topic. The OP has side -to-side sliding vinyl frame windows that beckon for barrier bars if one wants to leave them open but still protected.
Granted, barrier bars are easily dislodged when cleaning windows, but unlike screens, aren't prone to actual damage and aren't anywhere near as expensive, and nowhere near as challenging to re-seat in their proper places.
 
 

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