How to Wire and Install a Security Alarm System (DIY Tips: Door Contacts)
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Posted: Friday, February 17, 2006
by Matthew Lombardi
The Experts Know Alarms
When you are ready to layout your alarm system design for installation, you must first decide wher
If you are working on a single story building, you will be running your wires up into an unfinished attic and
dropping your wires down to the control.
If you are in a commercial application you will run your wires on top of drop ceilings or along beams or possibly through exposed conduit.
If you are in a place where there is no place to run all these wires and hide them then you are a prime candidate for a wireless system.
You want to make sure that wherever you decide to mount your alarm control panel, that you have a device such as a motion detector or door contact to protect it. Leaving the control panel in an unprotected area could make it easy to circumvent in the event of a break in. Consider running the wires through the basement, and than jumping them up into a closet, in the protected area of the house. If you are wondering "what about the exposed wires in the basement? Don't." Cutting the wires would duplicate opening of the device they are running to, and would cause an alarm condition if the system were armed.
If you elect to go wireless on your system of choice, choose a central location in the home or business that will receive a strong radio signal from all points of protection. Remember that even on wireless system there are some wires that will need to be run. Most often they are the keypad, the siren, the power supply and the phone line. Take these runs into consideration when choosing your central location.
Provide lighting for the chosen area, as this will be where you are doing most of your installation work. Lay out a tarp and place all products and tools and a trash bag in this area. I have learned over the years to come to my central location to get what I need, and return everything I’m not using back to this location when I am done with them, especially tools. If you do not run an organized installation, you will spend ½ of your time searching for a tool, part, spool of wire etc. A tool belt is handy for the tools you will need everywhere, such as fresh drill bits, tape, wire cutters, screwdrivers, B- connects, a small bubble level, stud finder, a clean rag, etc.
You also want to clean as you go. As you finish running each wire and installing the device that will go there, take the time to clean up and bring all trash to the bag at your control zone. Being anal is a good thing, when you are doing a quality installation.
As you run each wire to the control room, measure where the wire is going to come into the control panel hole, and then add about a foot of wire before cutting it with your diagonal cutters. Place a piece of light colored electrical tape around the wire about 5 inches from the end and write on the tape with an indelible sharpie or marker where it is going.
If your home or business is under construction you may elect to pre-wire it for security. Pre-wiring is beneficial in the ability to get every device in the exact location you would want it. Placing wires and gang boxes before construction is complete, is dependent on your ability to read the architects plans and understand where cabinets, appliances and electrical devices will be placed with accuracy. If you do elect to pre-wire be sure to drill your own holes in the wall studs and rafters. Many a lazy alarm technician will run through the electrical and plumbers holes and think they are getting away easy. The problem is that if an electrician or plumber fails inspection they will have to pull wire and pipe out to relocate them to the inspector's specifications. They are not likely to be concerned about your wire, when doing so.
The best time to run your wires on a pre-wire is immediately after the electricians leave and before the insulators arrive.
If you are ready to start running wires, lets start with the front door. If you are going down to the basement you will be working low on the opening side of the door. If you are running your wires up you will be working on the top of the door. Lets use down for our example. What kind of contact will you be using? Surface mount or recessed? If you are running wires anyway, why don't you take the time to install recessed contacts so that they are out of site when the door is closed? Set up your drill with a 3/8-inch standard length drill bit. In the jam of the door, approximately 4 inches from the bottom begin drilling at an angle towards the basement. Switch to your 3/8- inch by 12 to 18 inch long drill bit and continue drilling towards the basement, finally switch to your 5-foot long bell hangers bit and continue drilling till you pop out in the basement. Pull the long bit out of the hole and remove it from the hole. Poke the skinny end of the long bit down the hole. Go down to the basement with a flashlight, diagonal wire cutters, tape, marker, staple gun with staples in it, and a spool or box of 22 gauge 2 conductor wire. Strip the plastic off of the end of your wire about 2 inches. Twist the 2 wires together and thread them through the hole at the end of the skinny side of the long bit and twist it around itself. Go back upstairs and pull the wire up to the hole. Tie a large loose and temporary knot in the wire after you get it there, so that it will not fall back in the hole. Leave at least 12 inches upstairs, so that you can work with the wire.
Go back downstairs and begin to roll out enough wire to make it to your control panel. Staple the wires with an industrial stapler like a T22 along the beams in a neat and orderly manner from the drop hole towards the control panel. Be sure you are not penetrating the wire with each staple, if you do, remove it now and re-staple. These mistakes are hard to trace after you walk away. Be sure to make it down the wall stud to where you will poke into the back of your control panel (about chest high) and leave an additional foot or more of wire before cutting it off the spool. Mark your wire with the tape and marker several inches from the end.
Congratulations! You made your first run. Be sure to gather and return all tools to the starting point so that you know where they are when you need them.
Get your 3/8 inch recessed contact and magnet. You will need a drill, (unless you are using a wireless drill) extension cord, electrical tape, and a wire cutter. Split the end of you wire and strip a small amount of plastic cover off of each end. Do the same with your contact unless you have the type that has small screws for the wires to be clamped under. Twist each end of your wire to an end of the contact wire and tape tightly and individually. After you do each one you can wrap a piece of tape around the whole thing tightly. (It does not matter which wire goes to which wire as this is a circuit wire, and has no positive or negative side.) Carefully poke the wire into the hole and press the contact in. Now mark the door in the spot that the magnet will meet the contact, when the door is closed. Stabilize the door and drill a 3/8 " hole just deep enough to put the magnet in. Repeat for each door you want contacted. We always suggest that you contact every perimeter door.
We will post additional device wiring instructions on The Experts Know! Alarms web-site for your access.
Check Back Soon! as we will be adding DIY device installation techniques often.
Matthew Francis Alarms@expertsknow.com
Matthew is a 22- year veteran of the alarm industry. He has served as an installer, salesman, licensed alarm company owner, monitoring station designer, and a promotions and marketing director with one of the worlds largest security dealers. He now works as a consumer advocate, teaching consumers how to buy or get systems for free (without being taken). He is committed to being unbiased.
His web site is www.expertsknow.com
This Article has been viewed 71,928 times. (Not updated in real-time.)More comments
» left by Javed from Manchester 4 years 57 days ago.
Hi, Could you please tell me what would you recommend using when it comes to folding sliding doors? i have a 5 leaf system where the first can open on its own or it can be folded right back with the other 4. Thanks. Javed» left by Matthew from Anacortes, WA USA 4 years 55 days ago.
Hello Javed, without seeing a photo of the door setup I could only guess at how your doors work, but my initial reaction is to contact the door that can be open independently with a surface mount contact (on top). My assumption is that this door will be opened in both configurations, thus making it the only contact needed.
» left by Anonymous 2 years 347 days ago.
Why are there 2 wires for contacts for windows upstairs?
» left by Anonymous 2 years 304 days ago.
As an alarm installer myself, I would HIGHLY recommend that you solder connections for your contacts. I have had many service calls for faulty contacts where the wiring lost its connection.good article otherwiseThanks for your input...I concur! Soldering connections is common practice with quality minded technicians.Matthew
» left by sam from houston tx 2 years 214 days ago.
do you connect it in series or prallel» left by Matthew 2 years 214 days ago.
Series for (NC) Normally Closed devices such as most door/window contacts, glassbreaks, motion detectors.
Parallel for (NO) Normally Opened devices such as smoke/heat and rate of rise heat sensors.
Note: There are both NO and NC options available on all of these devices. Be sure to check which one you want/need before ordering and wire accordingly.
» left by Gareth from Ireland 2 years 157 days ago.
Hello matthew, gareth here i hav a problem i am not experianced in alarms so i'm wondering if you could help. there was a new back door put in my house and the old sensor was taken off and lost so i bought a new one hopeing i could replace it but i'm at a loss. its an Aritech alarm system. on the top off the new sensor there are two terminals and on the side four its the same as the sensor on the inner door. on that door on the in coming wire the red goes to the left hand side top terminal and yellow goes to the top terminal on the side.on the out going wire, red goes to the third terminal on the side and yellow to fourth. blues are twisted together and blacks are twisted together there is also a link wire between the right hand side top terminal to the second terminal on the side. is there any chance you could tell me what wires go where on the new sensor any help would be great. hope to hear from you soon thanks again.
» left by Anonymous 2 years 86 days ago.
Hey Matt, I just hope & preay that all upcoming (wanna bee) Securit/Firey Alarm Installers see this. I feel It is A excellant guide to all who are truly wanting to be a serious and pro. installer.Thanks for your kind words!
» left by John B 1 year 333 days ago.
I have a doble door in the front of the house and back in the lanai, should I put sensors in both door of each doble door?
» left by Matthew Lombardi 1 year 333 days ago.
If you have to open one to be able to open the other you only need contact that one. If each open independently you can contact both and series on to one wire to the control.
» left by salman from maurituis 1 year 141 days ago.
how to wires a PIR?And if u cut the wire of the alarm,why the alarm will trimming!Salman, When wiring a PIR there are 4 wires. Two (Black/Red) are for power to the detector, the other two are a circuit wire just like a contact and should be wired in series or put on its own zone and programed as "Interior". I think the second part of your question is if the alarm will violate if the wire is cut? the answer is yes if the alarm is armed. Cutting a wire is just like violating the circuit!
» left by Frank from Cork city Ireland 1 year 108 days ago.
How do u get a job installing alarms and what's the money like at end of week after tax
» left by hernani coelho from portugal 1 year 37 days ago.
i need help to connect sensor motion pir 2712, in control panel.
i have 6 connectors they are, 2 to + 12V - , alarm 2 connectors , and 2 connectors tamp N.C , this last are connected to 24 hour protection zone, no problem.
Now the alarm 2 connectors i dont know where connect in control panel, the manual for HA-263D (is my alarm) in search in the google is the 1ºfirst PDF, search for HA-263D manual.
In connection terminals i have Sensor Motion PIR connect to terminal 11 and 17 but tell me, FORCE TO ARM.
If you can help me i appreciate.