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  • Do it Yourself - How to wire Home Security and Fire Systems.


       Wiring Home > Hard Wired Home Security and Fire Systems.
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    Home security systems are very popular these days, but the cost of maintaining and troubleshooting these systems is on the rise. Having a home security system is a good way to help protect your family and make them feel secure, but if the system is not properly maintained and tested it may fail when you need it most. I’m not going to be able to cover all the wiring and maintenance possibilities of your home security system, but I am going to provide you with the basics and some very important do it yourself information and things you should know.

    Let me start off with the brains behind the system, your control panel. I will say right up front that there is no way I can cover each and every control panel out there. There are way too many manufactures and way too many types of control panels to cover here, but I can cover some of the basics that each security control panel has.

    Types of Home Security Control Panels.

    There are two basic types of control panels for your home security system, one is a box located in a closet or basement, the other and less secure type of panel that is incorporated into your keypad and makes that keypad also your control panel. I will say right off the bat that I do not like a system that has the keypad as the control panel; it is less secure than a panel that is in a separate location and is a very cheap way of doing a security system.

    What you need to know about your control panel.

    As far as maintenance goes it is important to check and replace the battery back up. If you do not have the knowledge to load test your battery, I would suggest replacing it every 2 years. If you can load test your battery I would recommend doing it every year.

    Replacing your home security system battery is a simple process, one that can be easily done yourself. First open your control panel and write down the voltage and amp hour rating of your battery (For Example: 12v 7ah). Once you have recorded this information all you need to do is locate the supply house in your area that sells them, and swap out the old battery with the newly purchased one, making sure you maintain the correct positive and negative connections. This is a very easy thing to do and should not require a service call from your security provider, however if your security system is programmed correctly, it will register a trouble condition when you unplug the existing battery, if you have a monitored system you should call your monitoring service in advance and inform them the you intend to change the battery and they may receive a code. They will most likely place your system on test for a specific amount of time, or require you to call them back when you are completed. If removing the battery doses not cause a fault at the keypad or a trouble condition at your monitoring service, your system is not programmed properly and should call your security system provider and tell them to fix the problem. They should do this at no cost!

    Unless you know how to program your system and desire to make a change or a device addition, the only other thing you need to do is to make sure it is operating properly. Which brings me to the topic of testing your home security system; I strongly recommend that you test every aspect of your security system on a monthly basis. Your system is not much good if it’s not working properly, so take the time and do the test each month. Your neighbors may not enjoy it, but just make sure you choose a time which will not disturb anyone.

    Note: Security and Fire systems require a lot of programming to operate properly and each one is different, some even require a programmer. If you do not have the instructions and do not understand the terminology, programming is not a “Do it yourself" option.

    How to test your home security system.
    • Testing is easy to do yourself.
    • If your system is monitored by a central station you will need to call them and have your system placed on test before you start, failure do this will result in a not so pleasant conversation with your local police or fire department. On the other hand if you do want a true test you could just let it fly. But be advised that they usually don’t like it and you could possibly be fined.
    • Next you will need to set your system and generate an alarm, this will test whatever device you trip and the siren, it will also send a code to the central station which you should make sure they receive.
    • The next thing you want to test is each and every door, window, motion detector and any other device connected to your system. You can do this by tripping each device and checking to make sure they register on the keypad as a fault. You do not necessarily need to have the system armed when you do this unless you like to hear the siren, or just want to check and see if your system was programmed properly.
    • Now the security portion of your system should all be tested, so I’m going to move onto the fire part of the system. If you don’t have fire on your system you should, so you may want to consider an addition to your system.
    Testing the Fire part of your system.
    • I’m not a big fan of the test button; the best way to test smoke detectors is with smoke. You can do this a few different ways, punk stick, smoke in a can or you can even do it by burning something like a cigar. Which ever way you decide make sure you consider safety first.
    • Each detector should sound the siren and send a code into your central monitoring station.
    • If you have heat detectors and that are “Rate of Rise” detectors you can test them, if they are fixed temperature heat detectors you can not test them. Rate of rise detectors cause an alarm condition when a rapid increase of temperature happens. A fixed temperature detector causes an alarm condition when it reaches it rated temperature, and is a one time use detector. For example if a fixed heat detector is rated for 200 degrees it will need to reach 200 degrees for it to cause an alarm, and can only be used once.
    • To test a rate of rise heat detector you can either cover it with a hot towel or use a hair dryer to cause a rapid increase in temperature which will trip the detector.

    Once you completed all of your testing you should call your alarm system monitoring station and verify that they received all the alarms that you sent in during the test and let them know you are done testing.

    Home Security and Fire system connections and wiring diagrams.

    The first thing you need to know is the difference between “Normally Open” and “Normally Closed” switches and contacts. Some manufactures consider the “Normal” condition differently, so it’s a big help if you know how to use a multi-meter. I’m going to use the most popular definition.

    • The normally closed switch or contact should maintain a closed position while it is in a normal condition and change to an open when in a alarm condition.

    • The normally open switch or contact should maintain a open position while it is in a normal condition and change to an closed position when in a alarm condition.
    • Normally closed switches are connected together using a series circuit.
    • Normally open switches are connected together using a series – parallel circuit.
    Wiring door and window contacts to your home security system.

    One thing to keep in mind when connecting new devices to your home security system is the control panel zone that you are connecting to. The zone must be programmed in the control panel for the type of device you are connecting to it. If you are adding devices to an existing system, just make sure you connect it to the same type of zone that the same type of devices are already connected to. If it is a new zone or a new system the zone will need to be programmed for the type of device.

    • Each and every zone needs an end of line resistor which should be connected to the last device in the circuit.
    If you open your control panel and see resistors connected to the terminals in your control panel, your system was not wired properly. I would suggest that you call who ever installed your system and tell them to fix it at no cost. Don't do it yourself.

    Connecting Motion detectors to your system.

    It is usually best to have each motion detector on its own zone, this helps with troubleshooting false alarms. If you are going to have more than one detector on a zone you will need to wire the contacts as per the normally open or normally closed instructions above. The power is connected in parallel, all positives to the positive terminal and all negatives to the negative terminal.

    One of the most important things to consider with motion detectors is placement. The environment the detector looks at should be a calm environment without movement from air ducts, animals and should not be pointed at a window. Environment is a common cause of false alarms with motion detectors, bad detectors and faulty wiring are other common causes of false alarms.




    Home Security & Fire System Keypads.

    Hooking up keypads to a system varies greatly from system to system. Some systems require that multiple keypads be wired in series, while others require them to be in parallel. You need to have a wiring diagram of how your system needs to be wired; if you don’t have one you should do your best to get one. The wiring diagram on the right gives you a basic example of how a keypad is wired.


    How to wire smoke detectors to your system.

    Having smoke detectors on your system is a necessity, most systems support smoke detectors and they are a critical part of your protection. If already have the normal 120 volt or battery operated detectors in your home you should still have smoke detectors connected to your system. The detectors connected to your system should be photo-electric, which is a different type of detector than your normal home smoke detector which is usually an ionization detector. These two types of detectors detect different types of smoke, having both greatly improves the response of your fire detection and gives your family a better chance to escape.

    • Make sure your system supports the type of detector your get. Check to see if you need 2-wire or 4-wire detectors, 12 volt or 24 volt.
    • Install smoke detectors in a plastic round electrical box.
    • The circuit is a daisy chain circuit which goes from the control panel to the first detector and than to the next and so on.
    • Use fire rated cable for your installation.
    2 Wire Smoke Detectors

    4 Wire Smoke Detectors
    The Siren or Sirens on your system.

    Sirens get wired in parallel positive to positive and negative to negative, unless your system has a separate siren driver than the sirens on your system are nothing more than speakers with the powered siren driver in your control panel. You can determine this by looking in your control panel or checking one of the sirens, it should be listed on the tag if it’s just a speaker or you can check the connections. There are many types of sirens, speakers and drivers that can be hooked to your system, or that you may want to consider adding to your system. It is important to check and see if your system can handle the siren or sirens you plan to install, voltage and amperage should be checked before you make a purchase.

    If you still have questions about your system you can ask questions in our forum and we will do our best to answer your question.


    Related Resources:
  • DIY Home Security Tips
  • Home Security Alarms, sensors and systems
  • Electronic Protection and Security Systems
  • Smoke Detector Placement
  • Smoke Detectors – Your family may not be properly protected.


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    It is important to note that electrical codes change, and that in some areas local electrical codes are not the same as the National Electrical code. The local authority having jurisdiction in your area may have different codes than the national code. It is important to find out if your local codes differ from the national code, your local authority having jurisdiction is the final judge and jury.

    Disclaimer: You understand that you are personally responsible for your own wiring, and that you're wiring should conform to the National Electrical code. The information provided is general installation advice. We make no claims about the completeness or the accuracy of the information as it may apply to an infinite amount of field conditions. It is the responsibility of the person or persons using this information to check with all concerned parties, owners and local authorities, etc. before doing an installation. Users of this information agree to hold Wireityourself.com or any of its agents harmless form liabilities of any kind relating to the use of this information. You also agree to the terms set forth in our terms and conditions.


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