Best of 2012: How Sensors Work – Glass Break and Others

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Selecting a security system seems to get more complex as security providers continually expand their range of wonderful equipment options. Rather than searching high and low for the best pre-packaged “deal,” we always recommend that customers find a security company that helps them customize the system that best fits their house, lifestyle and safety needs.

Last year Peter devoted some popular blogs to various types of security equipment, like his blog in May, explaining how glass break sensors work. He noted that while traditional systems were often limited to door/window sensors and motion sensors, many FrontPoint customers find our Glass Break Sensor to be a cost-saving alternative. You need to protect all your ground-level points of entry, but if you have a room with several windows – your family or great room, for example – costs will quickly add up if you put a sensor on each one. A single Glass Break Sensor could effectively protect that whole space.

Now that there are so many equipment options out there, this seems like a great opportunity to kick off 2013 by covering a few of the less-well-known devices, and how they work.

Glass Break Sensors

Since we’re on the subject of glass break sensors, let’s start there. This device works by listening for the specific frequency generated by breaking glass. (Bad guys often break glass, reach in and unlock a window.) Wireless glass break sensors mount on the wall or ceiling, and don’t have to point directly at the glass – they just need a clear “line of sight.” With a range of 20 feet in any direction, they can cover lots of windows, as long as there are no walls or other physical structures in the way.

These sensors are active whenever your system is armed, so please remember that accidentally dropping a wine glass could trigger an alarm. Unlike a motion sensor, these will function even in “Stay” mode. They work well for sliding glass doors, or non-opening windows (have any that are painted shut?) as well as rooms with multiple windows. At FrontPoint, our Glass Break Sensor uses GE’s proven “ShatterPro II” technology.

Garage Door Sensors

Using a garage door sensor not only protects a vulnerable point of entry – it also tips you off if you forget to hit the “Close” button when you drive away. As long as you have interactive and mobile alerts, your system will ping you to let you know something’s amiss. The sensor detects an angle of tilt as the door opens, and communicates with your security system’s central control. When the pitch passes 45 degrees, the sensor triggers the alert. The FrontPoint Garage Door Sensor is sophisticated enough to send “opened” or “closed” signals to the Control Panel.

CO Sensor

The science of a CO Sensor isn’t too tricky. It detects the deadly carbon monoxide molecules that humans can’t see, smell or hear. The confusing part is how CO gets in your house in the first place. Automobiles aren’t the only source. CO is produced by common appliances, such as furnaces, refrigerators, clothes dryers, gas ranges, water heaters, fireplaces, grills, etc. Usually CO is safely vented to the outside. But today’s homes are often “energy efficient,” which means they’re built more tightly. Sealed homes can trap CO-polluted air. Exhaust fans can also pull CO back into the home. Anyone can get carbon monoxide poisoning, but people with greater oxygen requirements such as infants, children, senior citizens and people with coronary or respiratory problems are at greater risk.

Adding Sensors and Other Equipment

As your household or budget grows, or the industry produces new safety devices, you may decide you’d like to add to your existing alarm system. Unfortunately, some alarm companies don’t make that very easy. If the system is hard-wired, you’ll need a technician to come out and install the new component. Some companies charge additional installation or activation fees for these new additions, or increase your monthly monitoring rate. Others inflate the price of the components themselves.

At FrontPoint, we’re happy to report that we’ll let you add all the new sensors you want – any time – for no cost at all, beyond the price of the device itself. And setup is as easy as placing the sensor where you want it and calling to activate.

Our equipment prices also blow the competition away. For example, our Glass Break Sensor is $75 – whether you buy it with your original system, or add it later. Other top security providers charge between $100 and $155 for this component (or don’t offer it at all)! Maybe that’s why we’re the leading nationwide wireless home security company.

Our main message: don’t let security providers try to jam you into a “one-size-fits-most” solution. Get a customized system that fits your specific needs. And, as always, make sure you get safer cellular monitoring. For more tips on picking out a good alarm system, visit the Buying Advice section on our website.

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