What Are the Components of a Security System?
Oct 19, 2018
Security systems can vary widely in size and scale: from simple home alarms to small business surveillance and fire systems, to commercial grade intrusion and detection systems, to enterprise-level systems that stretch across multiple locations.
The Essential Building Blocks
Understanding the essential components of a security system is the best way to start your search for the perfect safety solution for your home or business. Let's go through the main categories that make up any given system.
Master control panel
Behind every security system, there is a master control panel, the brains of the entire operation. It is the central processing unit which houses all the electronic circuitry responsible for interpreting and executing the commands of the security program.
For a simple home security system, the master control panel is usually contained within a small metal box placed in a basement or utility closet – someplace out of sight. Your master control panel must have power running to it and can be hardwired to an electrical outlet or powered by a battery. Most security systems have both – a battery back-up designed to supply power to your security system in the event of an electrical outage.
With some of the new, inexpensive DIY wireless home security systems available, the master control panel comes in the form of a standalone base unit that you plug into a standard electrical outlet, with some offering optional battery back-ups. There is debate among security experts however about the ultimate safety of such an arrangement.
To arm and disarm a security system, there is generally a keypad, touchpad, phone, or some other remote-control device that allows you to check the status of your system, turn it on and off, enter programmed user codes, etc. This keypad is the primary interface between you, the operator, and the master control panel. The communication signal can be transferred through a wired connection like a telephone line or cable connection or a wireless connection such as a cellular, internet, or radio signal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Signal transmission is one of the most complex yet crucial features of any security system for a home, business, or enterprise. The expertise of a security specialist becomes extremely helpful when figuring out how your system communicates with you, the operator, and the various components such as the sensors, cameras, sirens, and sounding devices. A specialist can advise you on what types of components will provide you with the most reliable transmission method based on the unique location and features of the space you are trying to protect. If the elements of your security system can’t communicate with one another or the master control panel, your security system will ultimately fail.
If variety is the spice of life, then this next component is the Carolina Reaper of the security industry. The broadest definition of a sensor is a device whose purpose is to detect changes in its environment and send the information to other electronics. Some examples of different sensors include:
• Passive infrared motion detectors
• Ultrasonic detectors
• Microwave detectors
• Magnetic switches
• Photoelectric beams
• Glass break detectors
• Pressure mats
• Impact-activated microphones
• Panic button
• Security cameras
• and more
The list goes on and on, and every sensor in a security system has unique features and types of signal transmission to consider. The number of options can be downright dizzying, but it’s worth investing the time upfront to learn about the possibilities and make sure your system provides the right level of protection for your home or business.
Finally, the sounding device is the way your security system lets someone know there is a problem. Whether or not it makes an audible sound is beside the point.
The sounding device for your security system may be designed to alert people inside the home or building that there is an issue and may include things like bells, chimes, horns, strobe lights, or voice evacuation systems. The sounding device could also be used to notify people outside of the home or building that there is an issue by silently alerting an outside monitoring company, triggering a notification to the owner, or even alerting emergency responders. Most security systems use some combination of sounding devices depending on the situation that occurs.
A security system is a long-term investment that should last you 15 or 20 years. That’s why it is wise to work with a professional to help you understand the complete picture of what is available to you. There is a plethora of options and features in each component category, and it’s important to consider what functions you want the security system to support both today and down the road. If you would like to learn more, give our team a call at 888-412-5356, and one of our specialists will help you figure out what would be necessary for your needs.