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Common Security Terms

Common Security Terms

24-Hour Zone - A zone that is continuously active regardless of whether the alarm system is armed or disarmed. Could be a panic button or smoke detector.

Access Code – A four-digit (usually) code that allows a user to turn an alarm system on (Arm) or off (Disarm.)

Activity report - A record or file maintained by a monitoring company of all events communicated by a customer’s alarm system.

Alarm condition - A state of alert status indicating an alarm had occurred.

Alarm Memory - A feature of some alarm control panels that provides a record if an alarm has occurred during the last armed period.

Alarm Reporting Codes - The signals transmitted by the alarm system’s digital communicator to an alarm companies monitoring facility’s receiver that identify the specific alarm condition.

Alarm verification - A false alarm reduction feature supported by some control panel that resets a fire/smoke detector for a brief period and reports only if the detector trips a second time or if another detector on the fire loop trips.

Ambush code - A unique code entered into the keypad by the owner of an alarm system indicating a duress condition, usually a silent alarm.

Ampere hour - (AH, Ah) Term is generally used in the alarm industry to express the storage capacity of standby batteries and how that capacity relates to the length of time the battery could power an alarm system in the event of a power failure.

Arm - The act of turning on an alarm system.

Armed - What an alarm system is when put into an active alert state.

Automatic Arming - A feature supported by some control panels which provides for automatic arming of the alarm by a built in timer.

Automatic iris - An optical device that adjusts automatically to varying light levels.

Auxiliary Power Connections - Terminals provided on many alarm system control panels for the purpose of supplying power to attached devices, like motion sensors or smoke detectors.

Away - An alarm system armed condition or mode that activates both interior and perimeter zones.

B Connector – A small insulated connector used to join and insulate two or more wires at a splice. The stripped ends of the wires are placed inside the connector, and it is crimped with pliers or (preferably) a crimping tool. The connectors are often call “beanies” or “chicklets” by installers.

Backup battery - (Standby battery) A battery used as a temporary power source in the event of interruption of primary power, usually located in the metal enclosure that houses the control panel.

Bell cut-off - (Bell time-out) A feature supported by most alarm systems that will silence a siren or sounding device after a prescribed period of time, usually 8 or 12 minutes.

Bypass – To deactivate a zone or zones before arming the system. For example, the user might want to arm the system while leaving the back door open while he/she works in the back yard. The back door would be bypassed at the keypad before arming the system.

Call-Back - A communications protocol for control panel downloading procedure wherein the control panel answers a downloading computers telephone call, both the control panel and the computer hang up and the control then calls a number which has been designated as that of the downloading computer. This procedure provides a high level of security by insuring that only the designated downloading number has access to system programming.

Can - The metal enclosure that houses an alarm system's control panel. It holds the battery, control circuit board and wire splices.

Central station - (Central Monitoring Station) An alarm monitoring facility which receives and acts upon signals transmitted to them by subscribers alarm systems. These stations are graded according to their level of security.

Chime - An audible signal with a rhythmic tone used to annunciate a change in status of an alarm system, such as the opening of a door or window.

Closing report - A signal sent to a central station by an alarm system indicating that the system has been armed. Used mostly in commercial applications.

Code - A group of numbers used to arm or disarm an alarm or entry system.

Communicator Format - The established communications protocol, designated by control panel programming, that will be used for communications between the alarm system’s digital communicator and the receiver at a monitoring company.

Contact ID - A standard communications format developed by Ademco and used by alarm system digital communicators for information exchange with a remote monitoring facility.

Default programming - The factory-set value for any programmable option in the alarm system. To “default the system” is to perform either a hardware or software operation that returns ALL options in the system to values they had when the system left the factory.

Delay Zone - A zone, normally used for entry/exit doors, which when faulted starts a timer and will initiate an alarm on an armed system only upon expiration of the programmed delay period.

Digital communicator - A stand-alone device, usually built into an alarm control that electronically dials a telephone number and transmits distinctive digital codes that carry information regarding the status of the alarm system to an alarm monitoring company.

Digital meter - A measuring instrument that samples and displays values on a digital readout, typically capable of measuring voltage, current and resistance.

Disarm - To remove an alarm system from active mood. It can still signal a local chime if something is opened, but will not send an alarm condition to the central station, unless it is a 24 zone like fire.

Door Chime - An enunciator that provides an audible signal upon the opening or opening and closing of a door. It is supported by most alarm system control panels which provides an audible signal with a rhythmic tone to annunciate a change in status of a protection circuit, such as the opening or opening and closing of a door or window.

Doppler Shift - The apparent change in frequency of a signal caused by relative motion between the signal transmitter and receiver, the familiar example being the change in pitch of a train whistle as the train approaches and then passes the location of the observer.

Downloading - Transferring data from a computer or other programming device to an alarm system via direct connection, telephone or Ethernet connection.

DTMF - Abbreviation for Dual Tone Multi-Frequency.

Dual Technology Sensors - Sensors that utilize two separate technologies for the purpose of enhancing detection and/or reducing false alarms. Usually motion sensors the use both Microwave and Inferred sensors.

Duress Code - A code, password or pass phrase used by an individual when that person is being forced to gain access to a protected area or system. Can be a special Access Code, which initiates a silent alarm, used when a person is
being forced to disarm an alarm system.

EEPROM - Acronym for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only memory.

End of line relay - A device used to supervise or monitor power supplied to powered sensors on an Normally Open loop or zone, such as 4-wire smoke detectors.

End of line resistor - A termination resistor placed at the end of a supervised zone or loop. A method of monitoring the integrity of a zone or loop that usually employs a termination resistor of a specified value. The control box monitors the circuit resistance and sounds the siren if the resistance value changes.

Entrance delay - (Entry delay) A timer is used to delay the activation of the siren to allow disarming of the system after entering the home. Usually 15 to 30 seconds.
EOL - Abbreviation for End of Line denoting the end of an electrical line or circuit
Event code - A reporting code transmitted by an alarm system's digital communicator that identifies a specific event or occurrence, such as burglary, fire, etc.

Event log - A file containing a limited history of certain actions or mode changes that have occurred on an alarm system.

Exit alarm - An chirp of the siren initiated upon exiting a protected area.

Exit delay - The time allotted after arming an alarm system for leaving a protected area without initiating an alarm. A timer is used to delay the activation of the siren to allow exiting of the home. Usually around 40 seconds.

Fail Safe - A type of lock that automatically unlocks in the event of electrical power loss.

Fail Secure - A type of lock that automatically locks in the event of electrical power loss.

Failure to Communicate - (FTC) A condition that results when an alarm system’s digital communicator is unable to complete successful communications with a monitoring facility receiver.

False alarm - An alarm resulting from a malfunction or user error.

Fault - An abnormal condition on a circuit or line.

F-Connector - A crimp-on, twist-on or compression connector used to terminate coaxial cable, commonly used on cables for TVs, VCRs and CCTV equipment.

Force arm - A feature supported by some control panels that automatically bypasses any open or faulted zones and enables arming of the alarm system anyway.

Ground - An electrical connection to a large common conducting body or an electrode buried or driven into the earth.

Handshake - The initial communications between an alarm system's digital communicator and a monitoring facility's receiver that determines the parameters of the communications format and establishes synchronization.

Hardware Default - A procedure normally requiring a physical act or temporary change to the control panel to affect a default to basic factory programming values, such as depressing a push button, changing the position of a switch or installing a jumper wire.

Hardwire - Physically connecting an alarm systems control, modules and components with conductors and cables.

Homerun - A wiring method that routes all cables from individual sensors to the control panel rather than connecting multiple sensors on a single loop run.

Hybrid Alarm System - An alarm system, which combines the characteristics and functionality of both Hardwired and Wireless system alarm systems.

Infrared - (IR) Light that is invisible to the human eye.

IP - (Internet Protocol) A set of rules to send and receive messages at the Internet address level.

IPCCTV - Internet Protocol Closed Circuit Television

LED - Light Emitting Diode.

Line Seizure – An alarm system feature that allows the system to take complete control of the house telephone system in the event of an alarm. This would prevent, for example, an intruder from disabling the alarm system phone dialer by picking up an extension phone.

Loop – A term sometimes used for the wiring circuit in a zone. A zone might have five switches forming one continuous loop.

Master Code - A four-digit (usually) code that allows the primary user of an alarm system to turn the system on (Arm) or off (Disarm) as well as make limited changes to the system (for example: adding, changing, or deleting access codes.)

Memory – If an alarm has occurred, the alarm system will retain it in its memory and display it on command, so that the user can know what caused the alarm.

Modem - An appliance used to allow electronic devices to communicate with each other via telephone lines.

Monitored alarm - An alarm system or alarm component which is supervised by a base station.

Normally Closed – A type of alarm system wiring in which a detection device has a switch or circuit that is closed when the door or window is closed (its “normal” condition).

Normally Open - A type of alarm system wiring in which a detection device has a switch or circuit that is open when the device is secure (its “normal” condition).

Partition: Segmented section of a security system. May be an office inside a factory that can be left armed on weekends while workers are in the factory.

Processor controlled - A device which uses a microprocessor to analyze inputs to the alarm system, i.e. movement, to determine an output, such as sounding the siren. Like logic circuit control, this technology can be used in PIR sensors to reduce the risk of false alarms by improving their reliability in detecting different types of movement.

RS-232 Port - A communication port with 15 pins.

Server - A computer program that provides services to other computer programs in the same or other computers. Or, the computer that a server program runs.

SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. TCP/IP used in sending and receiving e-mail.
Supervised alarm system - An alarm system which supervises all input devices, i.e. reed switches, PIRs, tamper switches and key pad/s. This type of supervision allows the alarm to monitor itself which offers a higher form of system integrity.

Supervision – A configuration that allows an alarm system control panel to make sure that other components of the system are intact.

Tamper switch - A switch is used to sense unauthorized tampering of equipment. The switch is mounted on the inside of control panels and siren housings. Note: Some internal movement sensors may have tamper switches included.

Tamper proof enclosure - An enclosed alarm component which is monitored by a tamper switch such as a control box or siren housing.

TCP / IP - Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol. The basic communication language or protocol of the Internet.

WAN - Wide Area Network.

Wireless – A method of installing an alarm system, where all or most of the components communicate with the control panel by transmitting radio signals.

Zip Cord – Cable in which each conductor is insulated, but there is no additional jacket surrounding them (speaker cable, for example.)

Zone – A protected area of a building, as seen by the alarm system. A zone might include a door, one or more windows, a motion detector, or any detection device that is monitored by the control panel, alone or in a group.

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