Cut the Cord

Sept. 9, 2011
Dealers tap wireless for innovation and new revenue

There was a time when being an alarm installer meant that you were fearless with a fish-tape, a wizard with a wire and professionally proficient at pushing, pulling or somehow negotiating a wire from point A to B. Those days aren't gone yet, but the skill-set required for an alarm technician is changing.

On-site wireless technology continues to advance beyond traditional constraints. Skilled craftsman are hard to find and copper prices continue to skyrocket. Even in applications that have rarely, if ever, been considered a good wireless candidate-like commercial fire-we now see UL-listed commercial fire smoke detectors, pull stations and even wireless Position Indicator Valve (PIV) or Outside Screw & Yoke (OS&Y) Valve. These elements create favorable market conditions for almost universal acceptance of premises wireless.

The typical dealer school of thought is, 'we can pay a higher premium on equipment, give up a bit of functionality in the system, save on labor time installing the system and be ahead of the game on my cost-of-creation multiple.' Not a bad plan. So what has changed? With the new wireless detectors you're not giving up functionality, you're actually gaining system features, beneficial to you and your customer.

Identify your wireless opportunities

One of the biggest wireless opportunities is in window detection. Most of us have been in a sales call where a customer wanted to protect every window, which has too often been cost prohibitive. But with current, small window transmitters, they're not only easy to install, it's a real opportunity for adding profit on the job. Next time you're asked the question 'do you do windows' make sure to answer 'yes' and multiply your profits.

Another significant opportunity is with new "smart" motion detectors. Traditional wireless motion detectors will trip and then go to sleep for two to three minutes-they have always been a pain to service and test leaving you wondering, 'are they working right?' (Putting the passive infrared (PIR) sensor in a box for three minutes has served as not just a time waster but a problem creator for installers). New, "smart" PIRs can go to sleep when the system is disarmed and wake up when it is armed, which preserves battery life. This allows them to operate fully during the armed period just like wired units, providing multiple trips in succession and better protection when you need it most. They also allow you to adjust the sensitivity or the pulse count remotely from the keypad or central station.

Even things as basic as walk testing the system have been reinvented. No longer do you have to grab your ladder and open up every PIR. Now all you have to do is set the keypad to the walk-test mode, walk the site and the PIRs will automatically go back to normal operation in a few minutes.

Cut your installation time

With today's wireless premises-fully functional wireless keypads and operational wireless sirens-there is little, if ever a need, to get out the saw and vacuum cleaner. There is no need to notify the customer that you need to clean up your mess when there isn't one to begin with. Selling wireless intrusion components and systems may require your company to consider a different business model for installation. With employees selling a system or two in the morning and installing them the same afternoon-the process could mean a reinvention of the way your company operates.

Next time you consider installing the same old wired alarm, take a closer look at a fully wireless alternative. It might cost a couple more dollars but it may make perfect sense for your bottom line.

Mark Hillenburg is the executive director of Marketing for Digital Monitoring Products, Springfield, Mo.