Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I would like to run wires in anticipation of a future hard-wired security system. However, I have yet to find any information that pulls everything together regarding what is required.

From what I understand 22/4 wire should be run to each window and door where a sensor of some type with be placed. These wires should all be run to a central location where the alarm control panel will be installed (in my case, most likely the basement).

What I have yet to find a solid answer on is what is typically run to the keypads. Do I run cat5/6, or use the same security wire (or both)?

Once I run the wires to each window, where do I leave the wire? Do I just leave a coil of wire stapled to the stud? Should I drill a small hole in the rough window frame, and pull the wire through? If I do drill a hole, where should the hole be positioned?

I guess I'm questioning the workflow more than anything. For instance, do those putting up the sheetrock, installing windows, or those installing the molding around the window typically know how to deal with these wire?

I will not be installing the system for months after we move in, so would prefer not to have cables sticking out of the window frame until the install is complete. Do I have any chance of fishing the wire out if I drill a small hole in a window frame? I'm assuming not, and thinking in would be easiest to just have it pulled through.

share|improve this question
1  
    
Related How should I Organise cables.. –  ppumkin Aug 6 '12 at 12:15
    
It would be helpful if you knew what alarm system you were installing from the start. Not all RKP's (Remote Key Pad) will work with Cat 5. For example, the Honeywell Galaxy Dimension range and its RKP's require a twisted pair for 12V and a screened pair for its data line. You have enough cables with Cat 5 but if you don't screen out these two you're asking for false activations or the system not responding at all. –  user14807 Aug 29 '13 at 11:37
    
I ended up installing an Elk M1G, and ran Cat 6 to the keypads, which worked fine. –  Steve Aug 30 '13 at 16:39

6 Answers 6

up vote 9 down vote accepted

What I have yet to find a solid answer on is what is typically run to the keypads. Do I run cat5/6, or use the same security wire (or both)?

I recommend running 22/4 and cat5e from the security panel to the keypads. That provides lots of options.

Once I run the wires to each window, where do I leave the wire?

I recommend leaving a coil of wire in the window return.

Should I drill a small hole in the rough window frame, and pull the wire through?

Yes. Exactly.

If I do drill a hole, where should the hole be positioned?

Somewhere that meets these criteria:

  • a spot that minimizes the run of exposed cable from the window frame to the contact
  • in a position that won't interfere with the installation of window coverings
  • in a position that lends itself to finishing the window frame area (e.g. avoid spots that will become finished vertices)

I guess I'm questioning the workflow more than anything. For instance, do those putting up the sheetrock, installing windows, or those installing the molding around the window typically know how to deal with these wire?

In general, the other trades will make sure your wire doesn't get buried, but where it ends up and in what condition it will be in is uncertain.

I recommend installing the windows before wiring. If the returns are drywall, I recommend one of the following:

  • install your own peice of Sheetrock on the part of the return where the wire is run
  • have your contractor board the drywall returns but not the walls or ceilings before you wire

If your returns are wood, I recommend coiling wire on the studs inside the window frames, and working out a specific plan for how the wires will be handled with your carpenter just before he starts work.

I will not be installing the system for months after we move in, so would prefer not to have cables sticking out of the window frame until the install is complete. Do I have any chance of fishing the wire out if I drill a small hole in a window frame?

Not likely. If you are concerned about aesthetics, just finish the contact install for those windows that matter.

Motion Sensors and Keypads

Unlike window contacts, these are mounted to the walls like any other electrical device. I recommend using open-backed electrical boxes rather than just a hole in the sheetrock. There is some more information about them in this question.

Hidden Door Contacts

I recommend this type of door contact for doors that open inward. It fits right in the top of the door frame. The contact itself will need to be installed when you rough-in.

share|improve this answer
    
Incredibly helpful as always. Thank you. –  Steve Aug 5 '12 at 16:37
    
You are welcome. It's easy when the questions are well-formed. –  alx9r Aug 5 '12 at 16:46

I assume you already have the system you want in mind. Look into the cost of the sensors. they may be inexpensive enough to purchase and install now. The systems I am familiar with run all the sensor wires to a central controller. I would think that the control system is the most expensive part. I would run the wires to the point that will house the control unit and power supplies. The wire type for the keypads will vary from system type.

share|improve this answer
    
I don't see how the cost of sensors should determine when they are installed. Sensors should not be installed until after final paint. They will be damaged by drywall installation, get paint on them, motion sensors will get dust inside their lenses, etc. –  alx9r Aug 5 '12 at 16:22

There's more to a security system than just running cables to all your windows. A good installer will assess the dwelling and develop a plan. Depending on the individual location (door, window, etc.), different types and quantities of sensors will be used. Will you have any glass break sensors? Where are the correct places considering your layout to install the motion sensors?

Without all of this, it will be hard to run the right number of cables to the correct placess.

I'm assuming you want this system monitored, so the first person I would contact would be the security vendor. At minimum, have them come out and mark the locations and specify cable types so you run the right stuff. If this is a stand-alone system of some sort I would suggest that you figure out what type of system is being installed first and run cable to the specs of that system. As for placement, this too will be based on the system and types of sensors in use.

share|improve this answer
    
I humbly submit that in my experience it takes less time and money and yields better results to wire for all types of sensors up front according to my own plan rather than trying to find and corral the elusive "good installer". –  alx9r Aug 5 '12 at 16:18
1  
The key thing I was trying to get at is that you need to plan the installation and then cable to spec, not cable first. It even helps with aesthetics. If you want to hide the wires really well then the holes need to be placed right next to or behind the sensor. If you don't have the sensor in hand or at least a schematic, how will you know where this goes? –  Steven Aug 5 '12 at 16:43
    
+1 for plan first. I wholeheartedly agree. My point is, coming up with a good plan is well within the capabilities of many DIY homeowners. Someone should probably as the "how do I plan for an intrusion detection system" question. –  alx9r Aug 5 '12 at 16:53
    
@user115232 Ask and you shall receive :) diy.stackexchange.com/questions/16096/…. –  Steve Aug 5 '12 at 18:28

many moons ago I helped install alarm systems. for a private property i wouldn't bother with door and window switches. 3 infrared sensors should suffice most single storey houses. two sensors in front bedrooms (or bedroom and study) and another sensor in living/dining at back of the house. In other words enough sensors to cover the likely areas of entry and/or basically will pick up a burglar. The infrared sensors are typically mounted right in the corner of each room so as to cover most area, including entry ways etc., just under cornice. run 4 core wires from each sensor location to central panel. leave yourself a good one metre lead dangling where the sensor is going to go. use clips to neatly hold the wires on top of the beams. wherever necessary drill through studs/noggins to take the wires down. the drill holes should be not too far away from studs, i.e. not in the centre between two studs. you'll need a powerpoint installed where the central panel will be, typically hidden away location. then run a 6 core or 2 x 4core (if you bought a roll of the 4 core) from central panel to kepad panel, usually in entrance. some people also have the battery and an internal siren hidden in the ceiling space just above central panel, not in easy view. an external siren and strobe will complete the list. all those last items are 2 core each, which you can use from a 4 core....just write down the colors you've used for each. when it's time to install the sensors just drill in the corner of the room plaster a neat hole and from roof space (inside or outside the house) poke through your provisioned wires. the 4 core goes in through the back of the sensor, so you don't see it after you've screwed (gently) the sensor casing to one side of the corner. have fun.

share|improve this answer
    
I disagree with omitting door and window contacts: window and door contacts allow you to check for and set rules about whether any doors or windows are or are permitted to be open when you leave home. Open windows and doors can attract theft, compromise insurance claims (theft is harder to claim than burglary), and cause false alarms from motion sensors (think wind blowing through your home). I'm not saying that you always need to close every window, but without contacts you can't systemically enforce that certain windows must be closed when you arm your alarm. –  alx9r Aug 6 '12 at 16:50

When planning wiring, don't forget that PIR (and other sensors) require 6 wires (power, alarm, tamper) and most wire cables are either 2 or 4 conductor. Therefore, if you plan on using the tamper function, you must run 2+4 wires to each detector (this can be a series connection to multiple detectors on the same zone if needed).

In a private residence, tamper is often not used/overlooked, but some burglaries can be "inside jobs" where friends of family have unsupervised access to disable detectors.

Tamper should always be used in commercial or exposed to public settings.

share|improve this answer

The first step in any Alarm system should be a question to yourself: what am I trying to do with this alarm? Are you worried about if you at home or away, or both. Once you have decided what your needs are then you can decide what to wire.

The most secure system would be windows, doors, motions, glassbreaks all used in conjunction. Run a 22/2 to the non-powered devices (windows, doors). Run a 22/4 to your powered devices (motions, glass breaks). If you are going to use smokes I would go with fire rated wire on the keypad, power, siren and smoke (daisy chain the smoke detectors using 2 wire smokes). 18/2 to the power and siren. All home runs for every device except 2 wire smokes. Also pull a cat-5 to both your network and phone NID for either an IP or phone for communication.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.