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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Configuration and Settings

The next section examines the location and configuration settings for each type of sensor and the video surveillance components. You will discover the features and requirements for planning zone layouts, setting up passwords, locating keypads, as well as locating video surveillance cameras.

Zone Layout

Home security and surveillance systems are usually designed with certain areas of the home designated as zones. A zone can include interior motion detectors or certain rooms or hallways. The use of zones has several purposes. It enables the user to arm only portions of the system, such as the perimeter doors and windows, while bypassing the interior motion detectors when retiring for the night. When leaving the home, all zones, including the interior, can be armed as required.

A zoned security system layout is also used by the external monitoring service to know which sensor in a designated zone is causing the alarm.

If a sensor were to be reported as just sensor 3 zone 5, this could mean just about anywhere at first. But if the sensor were reported as sensor 3 zone 5 perimeter, this would give the operator a better understanding that the violated area is on the outside of the premises. Another reason for using a zoned security system layout is the ease of troubleshooting if a sensor is reported as a bad sensor. For example, if a bad sensor is reported as being in zone 3 perimeter, there is no need to troubleshoot sensors that are located in the interior of the system.


Passwords are used as a confirmation tool by most professional alarm monitoring service companies. They are used to avoid a police response when a false alarm situation has been triggered accidentally while still ensuring that the homeowner is safe. The passwords are known only by the residents and the monitoring station personnel. When an alarm condition is received from the home at the monitoring center, the person on duty calls for a police response to the home. However, this occurs only if the alarm is not reset in a predefined length of time. If the alarm is reset at the keypad with the correct code by the owner prior to the time limit, the monitoring station simply calls the subscriber and asks for a password. The password response has two agreed upon formats: One password is used by the homeowner to indicate the alarm condition was accidental and no action need be taken by the monitoring station. Another secret password is used if the owner is in peril or possibly held hostage by a burglar. This password, when passed after an alarm condition has been reset, results in a police response. This is the option used if the homeowner is asked to respond to the monitoring station phone call by an intruder who (hopefully) does not know the distinction between the two passwords. Passwords are used only if the monitoring station needs to authenticate the cause of an alarm condition when the residents are at home. Law enforcement agencies can penalize homeowners for excessive false alarms.


Common sense should guide the selection of a security system password used with a monitoring service. Never use family or pet names, birth dates, street names, or any word found in the dictionary. The preferred password should include both letters and numbers, and a password should be memorized and never be written down. Numeric keypad codes should also avoid the use of birth dates or home address numbers.

Keypad Locations

Keypads are located by most contractors on the inside wall near the door most often used by the occupants. They are also frequently located in the bedroom to provide easy access by the users when retiring or arising. Keypads used for home security perimeter protection are not recommended for outside mounting because this would allow tampering, vandalism, or attempts by an intruder to search for a correct code. Some exceptions to this rule are applications such as exterior security gates and gated community entrances.

Sensor Locations

Sensors perform all the functions required for detecting and reporting an intrusion in the area they are designed to protect. Window and door sensors are installed on the door or window frame. Window sensors can be protected by either a magnetic switch that detects an opening of the window frame or other types mounted on the window to detect the sound or vibration of broken glass.

Interior surveillance cameras and motion detectors are usually wall mounted and are used to protect open areas where an intruder might be able to defeat the perimeter security system sensors.

Exterior surveillance cameras and security lighting systems should be located in areas near the front, side, and rear entrances to detect intruders before they reach the perimeter security sensors.

Motion Detector Locations

Motion detectors are usually mounted in the corner of a room. This enables the PIR type of motion detector to cover a 90° field. As illustrated in Figure 3.7, they are sensitive to movement across the sensor field of view.

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 PIR sensor field of view.

Window Sensor Location

The location of a window sensor can vary with different types of windows. Vibration detectors are mounted on the glass, whereas acoustical window sensors are typically mounted on an adjacent wall, as illustrated in Figure 3.8.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 Glass break sensor location.

Camera Locations

Surveillance cameras can be mounted outside the home to provide recognition of someone wishing to enter the security perimeter area, such as a front door or driveway gate. They should be located where no blind spots exist or where it is not practical to use other types of sensors. Cameras can be mounted on any surface area of the home or garage where coverage is required as long as the area is illuminated sufficiently at all times after dark. They are often used in the interior of the home to monitor a child's playroom or nursery. Although not usually a problem in a residential application, certain legal implications are involved in using video surveillance cameras. They are not to be used where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy by individuals who are not aware that they are in a location where a camera is installed. This obviously does not apply to a person breaking into a business or home.


Surveillance cameras can be used in most exterior residential locations; however, you should remember that a surveillance camera cannot be located where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Exterior Security Lighting Systems

Exterior lighting is often used to illuminate dark areas or areas to be protected using motion detection sensors that activate security lighting to deter an intruder. Dark areas surrounding the home where there are trees or shrubs are specific areas that need to be illuminated with security lighting systems. Motion detector-activated lights are also popular for exterior lighting. The most common and reasonably priced style is the two-floodlight design with the motion sensor mounted beneath them. The dual-lamp type exterior security lighting system is shown in Figure 3.9.

Figure 3.9Figure 3.9 Motion detector light.


Exterior security lighting should be used near landscaped areas around the home, such as shrubs, bushes, foliage, and trees. Security lighting systems used during dark hours avoid the problem of allowing an intruder to enter the area surrounding a home and attempt entry while unobserved in a dark area.

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