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What are the Different Types of Intruder Alarm Equipment?

By Casey Campbell
Updated Feb 21, 2024
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Keeping one's family and belongings safe can be a daunting task, but with certain types of intruder alarm equipment, the job can get a lot easier. There are many different types of intruder alarm equipment, including control panels, sensor devices and the alarms themselves. Businesses and other buildings also utilize intruder alarm equipment, and it usually is of a higher quality and more expensive than the equipment used in most homes.

A control panel acts as the "brain" of the alarm system. This also is where the user turns the system on or off from inside the building. When a sensor is tripped, a signal goes to the control panel, which activates the audible alarm and sends a signal to a communication device if a monitoring service is used. When alerted, a monitoring service contacts the local police to report a potential intruder.

An arming station typically is located outside, near the front door or other main entrance. This is where the system of intruder alarm equipment can be armed or disarmed when someone leaves or arrives at the building. There are many variations of arming stations, but most include a keypad and some sort of display screen.

When the system is armed at the arming station, the sensor devices are being turned on. There are many types of sensors available, and each type has its own benefits. Magnetic switches are used to signal when a door or window has been opened. These consist of a magnet on the door frame and a magnet on the door itself. When the door is opened, the magnets will break connection and will send a signal for the alarm to go off.

Mechanical switches are alternatives to the magnetic switch. These generally will work the same way as the magnetic switches but depend on direct physical contact to operate. They rely on spring-loaded or plunger devices that send a signal when the door is opened.

Acoustic and glass-break sensors are available to detect broken windows. The acoustic sensor will detect the high-frequency noise that is created when a window is shattered. It will run the sound through a filter, and if the frequency matches, it will sound the alarm. Glass-break sensors typically are mounted on an interior wall or ceiling and will feel the shock wave that is created when glass is broken and will then sound an alarm.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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