Security Tips and Industry Musings

Do you have a system?

Lew Stouffer - Thursday, April 03, 2014

This is one of my first questions when talking with a prospective client. Many times there is some confusion on the client’s part of what they actually need. While we can’t cover every possible situation, here are the most frequent situations and how we proceed from there.

I do not have any security system. This is pretty straight forward, you need a new installation. One factor that will significantly affect the price is whether or not the premises is pre-wired.

Pre-wired premises have had the wiring for the security system already run throughout the home; usually at construction. It is rare to see a commercial space that was pre-wired. The pre-wiring usually dictates a lot of the characteristics of the security system. Example: location of motion detectors, master control panel, etc. Pre-wired systems are generally “trimmed out” at a substantial discount when compared to installing the same system from scratch.

I have a working security system on premises. This is the simplest service to perform. We come out and reprogram the existing system to call our monitoring center and make sure the system is in good working order. Proprietary or locked out panels may impact this. I’ll come back to this below.

My current security system is not working or its condition is unknown. This may require service and reprogramming to get it operational or to upgrade it altogether. It is difficult to forecast without seeing the individual system however, a good rule of thumb is if the system is eight years or older it is likely that it will need to be upgraded.

Proprietary systems are security systems that are designed to work with a specific security company only. They typically have their programming access restricted in one way or another. This restriction can be in the programming itself or require the need of a special programmer that is not generally available. Either way, the system will need to be upgraded.

Locked out panels are similar to proprietary systems in that their programming has been restricted however, they can be unlocked with the correct installer code (this would be supplied by the company that installed it.) thereby allowing the system to be reprogrammed. Proprietary and locked panels would require an upgrade to the security system.

Upgrading a security system involves replacing the control panel and the keypad(s). Most other devices on a system are universal regardless of the manufacturer or the proprietary nature and as a result, should not need to be replaced.