TideLog Archive for June, 2010

I’ve installed, upgraded and repaired many alarm systems, both professionally and as a hobby. Here I’ll detail how to professionally install and set up an alarm. As a professional engineer, I like to set up a “skeleton” system, where I dummy test all the components, wiring and panel before installation, by wiring everything up on a test bench and doing a quick walk test using default codes before final customer programming and commissioning. I use a mains cable on a plug to test, but I know what I’m doing, I don’t recommend you try it, it’s something I’m familiar with.

REMEMBER: If you are EVER in doubt, consult a QUALIFIED engineer for assistance, especially where any doubts as to the mains wiring is concerned. Mains wiring standards were changed in 2004, and many older panels (if being upgraded) have the old colour coding. Getting it wrong will result in a fire, shock, DEATH, damage to the alarm, or all of them. Don’t be ashamed of asking for help!

Planning the Layout:

The most important step in installing your own alarm system is to plan correctly. This is normally done by drawing a floor plan of the building, then you need to decide what areas to cover with the alarm system. (Main entry points, rooms, windows and vulnerable parts of the building, it’s also useful to walk around the building and look for these points) From that information you can then decide what type of alarm panel and how many zones are needed. (Always try to pick an alarm panel with extra zones to allow for future expansion).

Now you have the main alarm areas (zones) of the system decided you can think about where to position the panel and/or remote keypad if used. You also need to decide where to mount the sensors and the neatest and easiest way to run the cables back to the panel. You also need to decide where to mount the bell box and internal sounders (if used).

Mains Connection:

The mains power should be connected using a 3 core flat twin and earth mains cable of not less than 0.75mm2 from a fused spur to the mains connector inside the control panel. The fused spur must be located close to the control panel and have a 2 Amp fuse.


The mains connection should be connected by a technically competent and qualified engineer, and according to current IEE wiring regulations. As I mentioned above, YOU MUST NOT attempt mains connection, to either the main fusebox, or to the control panel, if you’re in ANY doubt about the wiring and recent 2004 mains specification changes.

Other things to think about:

Should the main panel (end station) be hidden just leaving a keypad on show? (Using a system with an end station and remote keypad looks neater and is also more secure than leaving a big metal box on the wall in full view.) Here at Kitamura Security, we like to install an end station up in the loft of the property. This ensures all wiring and the panel is hidden from would-be burglars that also like to trash systems to try to disable them! A burglar is less likely to fret trying to find the panel in this case!!

Consider fitting a few 12 volt Smoke/Heat Detectors in suitable locations as part of the Alarm System. Try to mount the PIR’s in suitable positions to avoid false alarms from heaters, windows and post coming through the letterbox, etc.

Mounting the sensors and Running cables:

Now comes the fun part, drilling the cable holes through walls and joists. Think about how many cables will be running through that hole and therefore its required diameter, keep all cable runs away from any mains wiring and do not use existing holes to push cables through
that contain mains cabling. The mounting of the sensors, speakers, keypad, bell box, and end station should only be started after all cables are in place.

After running a cable to each sensor position leave a few spare feet to allow for final positioning and stripping and terminating in case of any problems, usualy any slack can usually be pushed back into the ceiling, at the other end (the end station) also leave a few feet of slack and label the cable before you cut it off the cable drum!

Wiring detectors/bellbox/panel etc

Lay a length of 6 or 8 core alarm cable (not BT cable) in a continuous run from each detector to the control panel, leave plenty of slack at each end (this can be trimmed later when wiring). It is advisable to locate the cable as much as possible under the floorboards, but where this isn’t possible you may need to wire along skirting boards or other suitable routes. Use cable clips to secure the cable in place taking care not to stretch or damage the cable. If you know nothing about electronics or wiring don’t worry it’s straightforward and easy to follow, all  brand new panels come with instructions to tell you what terminals do what. If you’re using a second hand or refurbished one, it may not come with one. Try to keep the colour coding of the devices the same where possible (i.e. red and black for 12v DC power etc…) Then trim and terminate the cables at the end station/control panel, you will find the labels on the cables come in very useful here! (But don’t trim the labels off!).

Wiring P.I.R (Passive Infra Red) Detectors

For most PIR’s you need 6 wires:- 2 for power (+ and – 12 volts) 2 for the alarm loop and 2 for the 24 hour tamper loop. (There are sometimes jumper links or switches inside the P.I.R to turn off  the LED and to enable Pulse count etc). There will also be a potentiometer to adjust the sensitivity of the detector. This prevents flies, dust, and pets (if you let them roam whilst the alarm is armed) and any other animals of a certain height from triggering the system and causing a false alarm.

Wiring Door & Window Sensors

For most magnetic door/window contacts you need 4 wires:- 2 for the alarm loop and 2 for the 24-hour tamper loop. Most sensors are the same for both windows and doors. It is recommended to use the same model across the whole property for ease of installation. Nothe that not all makes of sensors have the terminals labelled, but you can clearly see where the reed switch is held in. These are the alarm loop terminals.

Wiring the Bell Box

For the bell box there is normally up to 6 wires:- 2 for + and – 12 volts “hold off”, 1 for bell trigger, 1 for strobe trigger and 2 for tamper. Various manufacturers use different labelling for the terminals, as follows. This list is not exhaustive:


ADE use standard terminal markings on their control panels and bell boxes. They are marked as T-A-D-B or T-E-A-D-B

T&E: These are your Bell Tamper feed & return terminals (T is Feed & E is Return)

A: -ve supply (0v)

D&B: D is +ve supply (12v), and B -ve applied sounder trigger supply (0v)

The Strobe has its own rail in ADE control panels, and is wired separately to the Strobe terminals


Texecom use their own labelling, in the form of A-B-C-D-S:

A (12v): Permanent +ve supply (12v)

B (BELL): Negative Bell trigger

C (TAMP): Negative Tamper Input

D (0V): Permanent -ve supply (0v)

S (STRB): Negative Strobe trigger

Wiring Extension Speakers

The speakers (if used) can either be 2 or 4 wire devices :- 2 are for the speaker and the other 2 are for tamper (If used). Extension speakers are used to extend the sounds produced by the internal control panel speaker into other areas of the building, and are wired together with the control panel loudspeaker. Normally only a maximum of two can be used. The Tampers can be wired into the system Tamper terminals along with any zone/sensor & P.I.R tampers.

Wiring Remote Keypads

The wiring for the remote keypads (if used) can vary depending on make/model of system anything from 3 to 10 wires (usually no more than 6).

Positioning and Mounting the Bell Box

This should be mounted on the front of the building or a location where it will be in full view of neighbours and passers by, as the very sight of it would be a deterrent to many would be burglars. The bellbox should be placed high enough on the building to be out of easy reach.

Control Panel:

Ideally the control panel wants to be located fairly close to the main entry/exit point. It should be positioned out of reach of smaller children and close to a mains electricity supply. Do not fit the panel onto combustible material, or force it onto uneven walls. Use washers on the screws to even the base when fitting, otherwise case damage will result. If you’re using a multi keypad system, we recommend placing the control panel, fuses and mains supply up in the loft, and to have a keypad near to the premises entry point.

PIR Detectors:

Where possible it is advised not to mount standard PIR detectors where they might face sources of infra-red light emissions such as windows, fires, filament lamps, and heat sources such as radiators and heaters, as these could occasionally trigger the sensor causing false alarms. Also consider your PETS, consider other methods of detection to areas where pets/animals will have access during the times the alarm system is set. If PIR type sensors must be used then try to get the PET IMMUNE type with sensitivity potentiometers as mentioned above.

Smoke/Heat Detectors:

Consider mounting at least a couple of Smoke/Heat detectors as part of your Alarm System, I’d recommend at least 2, one in the Hall and one on the Landing but every home is different so decide the best locations for your home. Try to fit Heat detectors in locations where smoke is an un-avoidable occurrence, such as in the Kitchen (You don’t want the alarm going off every time you burn the toast).

Shock Sensors:

These are usually fitted to any area that access could be gained by forced entry such as door or window frames. Door contacts will only detect a door or window opening, if you fear access may be gained by kicking a panel out of a door or breaking a window then consider fitting shock sensors along with or instead of door contacts to the suspect area.

Door Contacts:

These are normally fitted to all external doors, but can be fitted to any vulnerable door or window as required.

Programming the system:

Now all there is left to do is program the system, with zone descriptions, zone types, entry/exit time, bell time, codes etc…. To ensure all zones are functionally correctly you can usually enter “walk test” mode on the control panel. And to ensure the speakers, bell box and strobe all function correctly you can usually enter “bell test” on the control panel

To test your system the best way is to set it and try to gain entry without triggering the alarm system, if all has been planned and installed correctly this should not be possible!

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