FAQ on Security Systems

I’ve been thinking about buying a security system for a while now, but I don’t know that much about them. How do they work?

A security system starts with a control panel. Usually located in a closet or a basement, the control panel contains the “brains” of the security system, and essentially operates as a central computer. Various sensors connect to the control panel from locations throughout your home. If your security system is armed and the sensors detect a problem, they send signals to the control panel. The control panel automatically dials the central monitoring station, where the proper authorities are notified.

What does the keypad do?

You operate your security system by entering your security code at the keypad. Generally located at entry doors, keypads can arm and disarm with push-button ease, and literally put security at your family’s fingertips! Good features to look for include illuminated keys to provide you with greater visibility at nighttime, easy-to-read English displays that spell out your system’s status at a glance, and one-touch function keys that provide single-button operation for arming, disarming or emergencies. Most keypads even offer convenient additional user codes to give friends, neighbors or service people access to your home.

What are magnetic contacts?

Magnetic contacts are two-part devices used to safeguard windows and doors. One part of the contact is a switch installed in the window or door jam; the other contains a magnet and is placed in the window or door itself. Any noticeable shift in contact with the switch results in an alarm.

What is a PIR?

A passive infrared motion detector (PIR) is an electronic security device that detects intruders by “sensing” motion or body heat in the area being protected. Most PIRs are designed to be used when your family is away from home or when no one will be passing through the area “covered” by the PIR.

I have a dog! Does that mean I can’t install a PIR?

Absolutely not. Recent innovations in security technology have resulted in the creation of “pet immune” motion detectors-allowing dog and cat lovers to enjoy the same level of protection they would receive with a standard PIR. These state-of-the-art sensors provide “pet immunity” for animals weighing up to 100 lbs. Pet immune PIRs allow your pet to move about freely but can still detect an intruder’s movement.

Speaking of sensors, how are the "glassbreak" kind operated?

“Acoustic” glassbreak sensors, usually mounted on ceilings or walls, work by “listening” for the sound of breaking glass in a window. “Shock” glassbreak detectors are mounted on the window and “feel” the shock of breaking glass. This kind of advanced wireless technology can provide shatter and shock protection for your windows, for often intruders are “sensed” and an alarm sounded while they are still outdoors. This is often enough to send a burglar running!

I already have a battery-operated smoke detector, so why would I need one installed as part of my security system? What’s the difference?

Since you own a smoke detector, you obviously realize what an important safety measure this device is. That’s good. Smoke detectors are highly effective in preventing loss of life and property. However, there are differences between the “stand alone” or battery-operated smoke detector you would buy at your local hardware store and one installed as part of your home security system.

“Stand alone” detectors are not connected to other detectors or warning devices. A smoke detector connected to your security system offers more protection because it is monitored by a central station. If fire strikes, the detector sets off an alarm and sends a signal to the control panel. The control panel dials the central station, where the operator notifies the fire department. Only central station monitored smoke detectors provide automatic notification of authorities when you or your family are asleep, not at home or unable to get to the phone.

I’ve been hearing so much about these "wireless" security devices. Do they really work well, and are they easy to use?

Yes on both counts! Technological breakthroughs have led to the development of wireless electronic security products, and their effectiveness has been proven time and again over the years in millions of installations. Their rock-solid stability and long battery life make them a popular choice among homeowners and dealers alike. They give installers the flexibility they need to overcome obstacles like brick walls, cement floors and cathedral ceilings; and no drilling holes preserves the beauty of your home and results in cleaner, faster installations.

Folks today enjoy the convenience of remote control devices, and the security industry has responded! User-friendly wireless products provide the dual benefits of superior performance and ease of operation. Wireless keypads allow you to activate and de-activate your security system with the touch of a button, and can even be programmed so that a young child can operate it with ease. Homeowners especially love wireless keys! Similar in size to a remote car alarm key, they fit right on your keychain, and the press of a single button lets you control your system, lights and appliances-eliminating the need for codes. This is especially great if you and your family enjoy spending time outdoors. Relax by the pool, garden, barbecue and entertain, or play with your kids in the backyard-enjoy extra mobility without compromising your safety!

Another hot item gaining popularity is the interactive phone module. By adding the phone module to your home security system, you’ll have remote control access from any touch-tone or cellular phone-from your office, on the road, or anywhere in the world! Conveniently arm, disarm or check the status of your system, turn your lights on or off-you can even control your thermostat and air conditioner!

FAQ on Surround Sound Systems

TV Set

The video components usually consist of a TV set, HD Cable Box and Blu-ray players. Today, more and more people choose High Definition TV sets for the best in video quality, as well as the image aspect ratio that is the same as a cinema. All high definition TV sets have an image aspect ratio of 16:9. In addition, most HDTV’s are able to play progressive scan at either 780p or 1080p resolution. For ideal viewing, most surround sound systems include either LCD or LED TV’s. These types of TV’s come in HD format, offer excellent video quality, come in large size and are super thin. For instance, most people choose TV’s that come in sizes over 30 inches for surround sound set ups. Both LCD and LED TV’s are extremely thin, with the thickness being about 2 inches to about 6 inches.

HD Cable Box & Blu-ray Players

Besides a big screen TV, practically all surround sound set ups also include a way to watch high quality media. The most common devices used are either Blu-ray players, HD Cable Box, or DVR’s While Blu-ray players are new on the market, many people usually view movies from their HD Cable Box or DVR (digital video recorder) on their surround sound set up.

Audio Components

One of the reasons that surround sound s are a great way to watch movies and other types of programming is because most surround sound set ups have such good sound reproduction. In order to reproduce great sound in your surround sound you will need three main components; a surround sound receiver, surround sound speakers and a subwoofer.

AV Receiver

The AV receiver is said to be the brains and power behind most surround sound systems. An AV receiver usually is the center for all components to be connected. For instance, most AV receivers have powerful amplifiers that give power to stereo speakers, surround speakers and the subwoofer. In addition, AV receivers also process digital signals from the video source to separate the audio into discrete channels for surround sound.

Most AV receivers usually come with the ability to digitally process sound into either Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital, DTS, THX Surround or DTS- ES.

Surround Sound Speakers

So now that you have your video component which includes your TV, Blu-Ray player and your AV receiver which is the brains behind your system, now all you need is speakers to reproduce quality sound. Surround sound speakers are usually called surround sound speakers and come in four different types, front speakers (includes front left and front right), center channel speakers, surround sound speakers (sometimes called rear channel speakers) and finally the subwoofer.

Front Left and Right Speakers

These speakers are the power house speakers of the system; they are also the main speakers for playing music or watching TV without surround sound (surround sound processing).

Center Channel Speaker

The center channel speaker sits usually underneath or above the TV set. This speaker is very important for dialogue on the TV screen. It anchors the dialogue to the area near your TV set. You wouldn’t want to watch a person on TV talking and hear them from the side of you. The center channel speaker brings the sound to the location where it should be.

Surround Sound (Rear Channel Speakers)

Surround sound speakers are speakers that envelope you in the action. They add life to a movie soundtrack and bring your attention to the area behind you and around you. Most surround speakers are either placed behind the ears or on the side of the viewer, in the line of the sight of the ears.


The subwoofer is extremely important because it adds depth to sound by adding deep bass and low frequencies. If you love to hear the rumble of an explosion or the tight, deep frequencies of percussion, you need a subwoofer to reproduce these extremely low frequencies.

Besides video components and audio components there are also surround sound accessories that you should know about They include high tech remote controls to easily control all your components quickly and conveniently, special cables and wires for connecting all your high quality components and speakers to the receiver or TV and a power strip with a circuit breaker to make sure that an electrical surge or storm does not ruin your equipment. If you are looking to enjoy a true theater experience without trekking to the cinema, you can now put a surround sound system together in the quality and comfort of your own home.