How to Install a Home Security System

How to Wire the System

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. To connect a switch, cut apart the copper-colored wire only and bare the ends. The ends are connected to the terminal screws of the magnet switch.

Once you have mounted the sounder backplate and installed all the switches, fire sensors, and window foil, it is time to wire the system together. The wire for the entry-detection switch loop is a thin (nearly transparent) two-wire cord that is quite inconspicuous when you run it up the corner of a wall, down a door frame, or along the baseboard.

Start at the point farthest away from the sounder (the foil taped to a window or door glass, for example). Using a knife or wire stripper, bare about 3/4 inch of the wire ends. Loop each wire under a separate terminal screw on the switch or door cord. Without cutting the two-wire cord, route it to the next device -- a magnet switch, for example. Use small staples to keep the wire runs neat, but be careful not to damage the wire when you hammer in the staples. At the second device, use a knife to split apart the side-by-side conductors for a distance of a few inches. Cut apart the copper-colored wire only -- do not cut apart both wires. Bare about 3/4 inch of the copper wire ends and connect them to the switch's terminal screws.

Continue in this manner to the next switch, cutting apart only the copper-colored wire in the cord and attaching the bared ends of the cut wire under the terminal screws on the switch. One after the other, run the wire to all the entry-detection switches and fire sensors, finally running the two-wire cord to the sounder backplate location.

If you need more than the spool of wire included in security system kits, buy another spool of the same wire gauge and start the new length at the last switch reached by the first length of wire. Cut off what remains of the first length of wire at the switch, and bare the two conductors in both wires. Attach the copper-colored wires to the switch terminal screws. Twist together the two silver-colored wires, and affix a small, solderless connector. Continue the run back to the sounder with the new spool of wire, but do not connect the wire to the sounder yet.

You have just finished wiring the intruder-entry sensor switch loop. If you did it properly, the circuit of the copper-colored wire will go to and through all the switches, and the silver-colored wire will return from the farthest end with no breaks or interruptions.

Now it is time to install the battery circuit. Purchase two 6-volt lantern-type batteries or a suitable type of rechargeable battery pack. Decide where you are going to locate the batteries; they can be hidden in a closet or a cabinet or placed on a shelf you can install for that purpose. The security system kit should contain some lengths of single-conductor wire called bell wire. One should be covered with red insulation and the other with black. Use this wire for connecting the batteries to the sounder.

In the battery-to-sounder circuit, you must connect the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals of the battery to the sounder to make the solid-state switches operate properly. The bell wire ends are also black and red. Such color coding is helpful for wiring the battery to the sounder correctly. Run both a black and a red wire from the sounder location to the battery location. Connect the red wire to the positive (+) terminal of one of the cells, and connect the black wire to the negative (-) terminal of the other cell. Later, as a last step, you will connect a wire between the negative (-) terminal of the first cell and the positive (+) terminal of the other cell. Wait to do this, however, because while you are working on the installation you might accidentally touch the black and red wires together. Since that would quickly discharge the batteries, you should leave the between-the-cells section of wire out until last.

Connecting the Sounder

Now it is time to connect the sounder. Use solderless connectors to join the black wire from the battery to the black wire of the sounder, and the red wire from the battery to the red wire of the sounder. If your installation includes a key switch, however, run the red wire first to the key switch and then to the sounder. At the key switch, cut the red wire, strip insulation from the ends, and fasten each cut end under a separate screw terminal on the switch. Thus, operating the key switch will open and close the circuit in the red wire.

Connect the wire ends from the switch loop to the two smaller wires on the sounder. Fasten the sounder to its backplate, and tighten the attachment screw. Finally, with the key switch in the OFF position, attach the short wire between the two battery cells.

Close all the entry-detection switches by shutting all windows and doors in the loop. Turn the key switch on. The circuit should now be in operation. Test it by opening a door. If you installed everything correctly, the alarm should sound. When you close the door, the system should keep ringing. Turning off the key switch, however, should shut off the alarm. When you turn the key switch back on, the alarm should remain off until the loop circuit is again interrupted.

If the alarm sounds as soon as you turn the key switch on, check the loop circuit to make sure it is intact. All switches must be closed, all wires have to be attached properly to switches under terminal screws, and no break can exist in the window foil. On the other hand, if the alarm does not sound when you open the door, check to make sure that the key is on and that the wiring from the battery to the sounder is correct.

Once you get the system into operation, set it off deliberately about once a week just to make certain that the circuit is still in working condition and that the batteries still contain enough power to operate the system properly. Test the system only briefly; then turn it off and reset it.

You can usually leave the security system turned on in the sentry mode for a considerable period of time. Since the entry-detection switch circuit draws a standby current of only about one-thousandth of an ampere, the batteries should last for months when used only to supply the entry-detection switch loop. Using the sounder puts a heavy drain on the batteries. After the alarm has sounded for a few hours, the batteries become exhausted and the alarm stops sounding. Know how much use your batteries can stand, and replace or recharge them before their energy is depleted.

When you combine this intruder alarm system with a timer that switches on lights and a radio, you have a home security system that compares favorably with some of the more elaborate and expensive systems. In addition, you have a security system that you can easily keep in good operating condition and at little expense.

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