Sense of security

From pressure-activated mats and wireless sensors to a good old-fashioned siren, today’s security systems include a bewildering array of features.

Here is a breakdown of the jargon you're likely to encounter when setting up surveillance or an alarm to protect your home, valuables and loved ones.

Cameras

AHD (analogue high definition) cameras normally require their own power supply and capture high-definition footage that is streamed by cable to a DVR system.

Cameras that are network-enabled rely on either Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi for connectivity, and process their footage onboard. This means they can work as standalone units, and most support onboard recording to MicroSD card.

PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) cameras can be turned remotely in the horizontal and vertical axis, as well as zoom in on precisely what you want to see.

Controllers

A wireless keypad gives you PIN access and other control options for an alarm base station or home automation gateway, coordinating a range of sensors and smart lighting.

A networked surveillance system gives you the power to control and view footage from your cameras using a web browser or smartphone app.

Sensors and alarms

PIR (passive infra-red) sensors detect movement by sensing the temperature difference as a heat source – such as a person, animal or car – moves in front of them.

Reed Switches are paired with magnets mounted across a door or window, and its surrounding frame. They can trigger the alarm as the magnet moves away from the switch when the door or window is opened.

Pressure mats are battery-operated pads that can be slipped under the doormat. They can be set to alarm mode for announcing intruders or chime mode to act as an automatic doorbell.

Entry alarms are very simple standalone units designed to sound an alert when a door is opened, or a person or vehicle crosses their sensing range.

Sirens range from compact units integrated into the base station of wireless alarm systems to standalone models that can be mounted in the location of your choice. Strobes, like sirens, make it unlikely for an intruder to stick around when their presence is being stridently announced to everyone in the area.

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