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The main components of an alarm system are the control panel, primary and/ or secondary power supplies, central station communication transmission technologies, detection devices, indicating/notification appliances, the annunciator, and the on/off control instrument. Notably, each is vulnerable to criminal attack or circumvention attempts. Highlighted below is an excerpt from my book, The Alarm Science Manual, where I review these components and best practices for ensuring security:

Control Panel – The brain of any intrusion-detection system is the control panel. Control panels monitor the protective loops and circuits of the system and generate an alarm, trouble, or supervisory condition when a sensor is triggered or when some other programmed or threshold event takes place, such as if a wire is cut. Simply put, control panels “control” the system’s detection, communications, notification, and annunciation capabilities.

It is critical for the alarm contractor or consultant to specify a panel that can expand as the needs of the client change. Hybrid systems are recommended; the combination of hard-wired and wireless devices can be configured to complement each other, based on current and future needs and objectives. All control panel equipment shall be Listed for its intended purpose. A burglar alarm control panel that is Listed for household use only, for example, cannot be used in a commercial application.

The control panel circuit board and the cabinet in which it is contained should also be protected with tamper switches, and depending on the risk, a shock sensor. The panel tampers should be connected to a 24-hour zone of the system so that any attempt to open its housing (which would reveal the main central processing unit, backup power supply, and final system-wiring terminations) would be reported to the central station.

All openings in the control panel should be mechanically sealed to keep water out. Moreover, system backup power requirements should be designed to meet extended power failures that would negatively affect system operation, and this should be configured during the design phase of the project.

Detection Devices – The two main types of security system sensors are perimeter intrusion detection devices and motion detectors. The former are typically used indoors, while the latter are used both outdoors and inside of the perimeter of the facilities.

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