Inspiration and advice for your building project
Masterclass: Going Wireless
Traditionally, the alarm system components were connected by wires. So unless you specified the alarm at first fix stage of a new build project, you had to accept a maze of wires on the inside.
If you don’t want to lift carpets, prise off skirting boards or see rows of wire clips up the wall, a wireless alarm system is the solution. All the components communicate with the control panel on a narrow-band radio frequency, and with a range of up to 30 metres, a wireless system can cover even the largest house. Wireless systems also cost significantly less than a professionally wired-in system. To fit a wired alarm to a typical three-bed house costs from £700, plus £10 a month for a service that alerts you by phone if there’s a break in. A basic wireless alarm can be bought from £120, and one like the unit featured here, including an automatic telephone alert system, costs around £200. Best of all, this is a DIY job.
1. Unpack everything. As well as a pair of wallmountable sirens and control panel, our kit has a pair of passive infrared (PIR) detectors that sense motion, and two contacts that detect when a door or window is opened. Also in this kit is a telephone lead that allows the alarm to alert selected numbers.
2. Pull out the plastic tabs on the sensors and door/window contacts to activate their batteries.
3. Set the control panel up near a mains socket and plug it in. If the system you have bought has a telephone alert system, the control box will need to be close to a phone socket too.With this kit, mounting the box to the wall sets up its anti-tamper device.When the control panel is turned on, a prompt appears on the screen for you to type in a four-digit user code.
4. The control panel needs to ‘learn’ which door/window contacts, PIRs and alarm sirens will be used. To do this, press the test button on each device in turn. The control panel will respond with a beep and a readout showing the device added. If the system has a function to alert home-owners and key holders when the alarm goes off, you’ll be asked to tap in a selection of telephone numbers.
5. Push the phone line into the control panel and, after checking with the people whose numbers you tapped in, run a test call.
6. Before you fit the PIRs and door contacts, check that they are in radio range of the control panel.
7. Take each component to the position you plan to use it and press the test button. The control panel should respond if the device is in range.
8. Fit door/window contacts near the top of the opening. The sensor (ABOVE RIGHT) goes on the frame; the magnet on the opening section. The gap between the two should be no more than 8mm.
9. PIRs should be mounted from 1.7m to 2.3m from the floor. Fitting them in corners gives better room coverage but don’t point them at heat sources or windows.
10. Sirens should be mounted as high as possible on a prominent external wall. If you live in a Conservation Area or in a listed building, check with your local planning office before you fit the siren. A button showing a lock symbol or ‘A’ is typical for arming the alarm. On your return, type in the four-digit code you programmed in step four to disarm the alarm. Many systems are expandable so you can add extra contacts, smoke detectors, panic buttons and pet-friendly PIRs.