Intrusion Detection: 4 Tips for Installing Residential Wireless

Jan. 16, 2013
These labor savers need proper set up to optimize results

The introduction of wireless intrusion systems has simplified the installation process for security systems both large and small. Independence from cabling results in lower installation times and allows security installers to access a larger base of residential customers, when compared with their traditional hard-wired focused counterparts.

Wireless technology provides the freedom to mount a device on nearly any wall or ceiling location, which is especially important in older homes and buildings where installing a wired alarm system could involve drilling through stucco walls or concrete cinderblocks. In addition, many wireless intrusion systems offer a quick enrollment installation feature that enables the security dealer to set the keypad in auto-detection mode to discover each device and add it to the system.

The benefits of installing a wireless intrusion system are many, but there are still several things that security installers need to keep in mind to ensure they maximize the system’s full capabilities.

Tip 1: Select the Proper Mounting Location

The location at which a security installer mounts a device is one of the most important aspects of installing a wireless intrusion system. Where a peripheral is installed can impact that device’s ability to transmit information back to the panel. And there is nothing worse than for an installer to climb a ladder, mount a device and then find out later that it is out of range and does not adequately communicate with the control panel.

So, what’s an installer to do? Technicians should perform a placement test to ensure the panel can communicate with a particular wireless device, such as a keypad or motion detector. These checks are now as simple as pushing a button to test the device while it is held up near a specific location. Today, some devices now come with an LED light designed to glow green to affirm mounting location or red if it does not have optimal placement.

Tip 2: Take Interfering Sources into Consideration

In addition to the mounting location, if a device will be located in a smaller home or in an area with an abundance of radio frequency signals, it is important to understand that additional RF noise can impact the overall range of the wireless device.

WiFi devices, such as smartphones and tablets, can interfere with a wireless security device’s ability to communicate back to the control panel. Also, security installers should stay clear of mounting a wireless device on or too close to an electrical box. The alternating current can interfere with the device, while the metal surface of the box can alter the characteristics of the antenna on each device, thereby reducing range.

If the placement test indicates that the location is not ideal due to interference, then an installer can purchase and install a wireless repeater to increase the range and transmission capabilities of the wireless intrusion system.

Tip 3: Know the Environment

Today, home and small business owners like to think outside the box when they look to install a security system. While the traditional installation location has typically been inside a main structure, such as a residence or small office, these boundaries have expanded to include additional structures, like the pool house, the shed and even the garage.

That’s all good—extending the range of the protected premises—but while a homeowner might want to install a wireless intrusion system in the garage where a valuable collection of antique motorcycles is located, the installer needs to still take into account the environmental characteristics of a device and if it is rated for outdoor use.

For example, some devices are not rated to operate in extremely cold weather environments where a minimum temperature is not maintained. If a wireless motion detector is not rated for use where the temperature drops to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius), then it should not be installed in a garage without a heat source.

The same rule of thumb holds true for a wireless window or door contact. If a contact is designed to be installed inside, mounting it on the door of a shed outdoors where it will be exposed to rain and moisture will eventually impact its ability to function. Check the manufacturer specifications before you buy and install a device for these and other specific characteristics.

Tip 4: Understand Range and Battery Life

Wireless intrusion systems have greater capabilities than ever before, which includes the ability to cover buildings of several thousands of square feet. While the overall range of wireless systems has increased significantly in recent years, it is still important to know the range limitations of the specific system you plan to install. Can it adequately cover the space in which you plan to install it or are there interference issues that need to be considered with the placement of such things as PIR sensors?

A wireless intrusion system rated for an area of less than 3,000 square feet will not be adequate for a 5,000 square-foot home. The range of a device can also have an impact on the mounting location selected. If an installer mounts a PIR sensor and a large picture window is in its field a view, the alarm could potentially sound if someone walks by the window and those people or object are within the range of the sensor.

Security installers can realize many benefits from offering and installing wireless intrusion systems as part of their security product portfolio. By keeping these key pointers in mind, dealers and integrators can ensure an easy installation process and deliver reliable systems to their customers.