Intrusion Systems Best Practices

Intrusion systems (burglar alarms) provide critical detection and notification for residential and commercial buildings. Larger projects may have specific detection and notification requirements stated in the specifications. Systems installed to comply with a specific listing agency requirement (like UL 681 and its related standards) will have to meet certain detection and notification requirements. NFPA 731 provides a standard for electronic premises security, but still lacks wide adoption.


For most intrusion systems, however, the detection and notification for the project will vary based upon the preferences of the designer of the system. An experienced designer will certainly consider the threats and design an adequate system. However, conscientious designer may find himself underbid by another company who does not take the customer’s security needs as serious as he does.


Fire alarm systems are life safety systems and are universally required to comply with NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code). While an intrusion system may not be a life safety system, intrusion systems do provide the building occupant and property owner protection in the form of electronic security. While intrusion systems do not have a universally adopted standard as of yet, we have recommended bets practices.


Here are some highlights of the Security Systems Best Practices document:


All systems require a Security Systems Assessment (SSA)
An SSA is a written summary document covers threats, targets, and detection requirements.  It is written by a security professional with customer input.


All systems shall provide a minimum of 4 hours of secondary standby power and 15 minutes of secondary notification power
4 hours of standby time provides coverage for short term power outages, while 15 minutes of secondary notification power allows the system to provide extended notification time even in a power outage.


Control units shall be UL listed for their specific application
Not all projects require UL listed equipment, but using UL listed equipment ensures the highest quality and performance, and typically for a small premium in price.


Screw mounted contacts shall be mounted with security screws
Security screws help prevents contacts from being tampered with. A small investment that can become a selling point for the professionalism of the company.


A false alarming PIR shall not be substituted by a dual tech
Dual techs are intended to avoid false alarm, not solve poor application of detection devices


Interior notification appliances shall maintain at least a 90dB sound level within protected area
90dB sound level weaponizes notification, making the intruder uncomfortable and reducing the amount of time he spends in the premises.


IP communications equipment (switch, router) shall have 4 hours secondary power
A small UPS provides continuity during a power failure, allowing IP communicators, VoIP, and interactive services to continue during a power failure


Batteries shall be replaced every 5 years
Don’t wait for the system to send a low battery signal. Schedule your customers to replace their batteries every 5 years. Use the opportunity to sell more products and services.


Learn more about intrusion systems (and other security systems) in Online Training: Security Systems, and in the NTC Blue Book: Low Voltage Systems Handbook.


Download our Security Systems Best Practices PDF here.


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