How to install wire free alarm
Difficulty rating: Medium
These tasks may be tricky so will suit you if you're experienced in DIY, or simply love a challenge.
Before you get started on any of our 'how to' guides, please take a moment to read through our DIY safety tips.
Wired or wireless alarms?
- DIY alarm systems are either wired or wireless. Wired systems can be a bit tricky to install as you'll need to run wires from each detector all the way back to the central control unit.
- Both types of system usually use a number of detectors. These either sense movement or are triggered if a magnetic contact is broken - when someone opens a door or window, for example.
- These protect vulnerable entry points such as the back and front doors and ground floor windows. Work out how many you'll need.
Pir movement sensors
- PIR sensors are triggered by body heat and movement. They're good for covering large areas inside your home. But the sensors aren't right for doors and windows as they can be triggered by people or animals passing outside (fig. 1).
- Place PIR sensors so the beam doesn't point at a window, lamp or heat sources like radiators - these will set them off.
- Check sensors cover enough area for the rooms you want to protect.
- Most control boxes need a mains power supply, with a back-up battery in case of power failure.
- Get a tamper-proof box so the alarm goes off if an intruder tries to disable it. And make sure small children can't reach the keypad!
- Send burglars a clear message: fit the alarm box to the front of your home or somewhere that's very obvious to passers-by. But place it high enough so no one can mess about with it.
- If people can reach your home from the back, position a second alarm box so they can see it (fig. 3).
2. What to consider
- Decide how many vulnerable entry points your property has.
- Work out how many PIR detectors you'll need. Looking at a plan of your home will help you decide (fig. 3).
- Place door and window contacts on your front and back doors and easily accessible ground-floor windows.
- Got pets? PIR detectors can be triggered by cats or dogs passing the sensor, so choose a pet-friendly model or buy only door and window contacts.
- Install an alarm box on the front of your home so it can easily be seen. If you have a larger house, you might want to put a second alarm box on another wall.
- Some alarms have a zoning option so you can programme the system to activate only from certain floors or access points. This is handy if you want to secure the downstairs with your system so you can move around upstairs without setting off the alarm.
- More sophisticated systems will call phone numbers you've already programmed in when the alarm goes off. This means you can react instantly when you're away from home.
- For garages and sheds, single room and standalone alarms can be effective against burglars.
Place your alarm control panel high enough so small children can't play with it!
3. Installing a wire free alarm
These pointers will help you install your system just right:
- Position the control panel near a mains socket and near a telephone point if your system has the phone-calling function. Make sure you can get to it easily when you're entering and leaving your home. But take care that no one can see the control panel from outside your property.
- PIR detectors and door and window contacts perform best when they're within 30m of the control panel. Don't mount them on or near large metal objects or close to sources of electrical interference like microwave ovens, fridges or freezers.
- Position PIR detectors 1.7m-2.3m above the floor level. Place in the corner for the widest coverage. The best places for PIR detectors are hallways and bedrooms, where door and window contacts are not being used. Don't position them facing windows - innocent passers-by can set them off. Sources of heat can also trigger them. And don't place near obstructions such as curtains and ornaments.
- Put door and window contacts at the top of the door or window between the frame. The magnet should be fixed to the door or window, with the sensor fixed to the frame.
Here's a brief guide to installing a wire-free alarm. But follow the manufacturer's instructions for the alarm you're installing.
1. Check you've got all the kit: control panel, a siren (alarm box), PIR detectors and door and window contacts.
2. Before you mount or programme the alarm system, activate the batteries in the sensors.
3. Then power up the control panel by plugging in the power adapter. Also activate the back-up battery if your system has one.
4. You can now programme your system and synchronise the sensors and alarms with the control panel. For details, see the manufacturer's instructions.
5. Next disable the control panel tamper, so you don't activate the siren, before physically installing any devices.
6. Then place the control panel where you'll be installing it. Put the system into 'test mode'.
7. Now take each sensor to its intended location. Do a radio test to make sure it's within range of the control panel. If the control panel doesn't respond it may be a range problem, so you'll need to find alternative locations or move the devices closer together. When you're happy everything's in range, mount the control panel (fig. 4).
8. Then mount the alarm box in a very obvious location on an outside wall (fig. 5). It should be as high as possible, with the tamper switch fully engaged.
9. Now you can permanently fix PIR detectors and door and window contacts in their locations (fig. 6). Once you've installed everything, reactivate the system tamper.
10. You're now ready to test your system. The set-up for each model will differ so follow your manufacturer's instructions. Once you've done a successful test, set-up is complete and your home is alarm-protected.
House alarms are extremely loud! Before doing a live test, replace the cover, retreat to a safe distance and warn others nearby.
4. Maximising your security
- Use an external PIR floodlight (A). Mount the device at least 2.5m above ground level. Keep it away from your boiler flue as steam can activate the sensor. Point the light away from nearby paths and pavements as passers-by can trigger it.
- Don't leave ladders out at night (B). And remember that ranch-style fences (C) or strong trellises (D) can make decent ladders for burglars. It's best not to have a trellis near your house. Use featherboard or fence panels that can't be easily climbed.
- Treat rain pipes, fences and roofs with anti-burglar paint (E). It's oily and slippery, making the surface very difficult to climb. By law, you can only apply it 2m or more above the ground and you have to put up a warning sign.
- Keep side entrance gates bolted and use maximum security padlocks (F). Lock sheds and garages securely to protect tools from thieves. Single room or standalone alarms give you added security (G).
- Thick or prickly bushes under windows are also a good deterrent (H).
- Make sure hedges and fences at the front of the house are kept low so intruders can't use them as cover (I).
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