How to test security alarm cabling

How to test security alarm cabling

Security alarm systems have progressed from simple hard-wired solutions to complex Internet-based systems that offer many advantages and additional features, such as the ability to remotely monitor what’s happening in your home or business.The trade off is that setting up security alarms can be tricky, especially when Powered Over Internet (POE) devices are used. It’s no longer possible for installers to get away with just a digital multi-meter, because more sophisticated devices capable of identifying IP settings and system protocols are needed.

The information provided by modern digital cable testers simplifies installation, fault identification and commissioning of digital security alarm systems.

Basic Configuration of IP-Based Security Alarm Systems

The biggest change between traditional alarms and IP-based systems is the introduction of IP cameras that have the ability to detect movement and activate video recordings. Control systems are sophisticated and may use computer-based software along with hard drive storage for recording information. Many security systems can be accessed directly from smartphones and other mobile devices.

Security alarms also detect other threats such as smoke, fire and excessive carbon monoxide. Modern sensors have increased capabilities with an ability to be configured to monitor actual temperatures and alarm levels. Most systems are linked to a control room or even directly to police and fire services.

Testing Security Alarm Cabling

During installation or when a fault occurs, the first test is to verify the continuity of the cables. Although this basic test can be performed using a multi-meter, a professional cable tester has the additional capability to identify splits, shorts and open circuits and to accurately measure the distance to the fault. The tester is also able to identify to which port on a hub or modem the cable is connected.

POE is a popular way to power up remote devices, and a digital cable test should be able to detect POE and measure the off-load voltage and load current at the device to identify any power supply issues. Other key parameters to measure are IP addresses, Internet protocols and link speed.

Landline Testing

Security and fire protection systems are usually linked to service providers’ control rooms and, occasionally, directly to police and fire stations. The most reliable method is through a landline.

Lines need to be checked from time to time, especially passives lines that are not continually monitored, such as those linked to the fire service. Typically, a butt set is used to find faults and commission landlines. Butt sets are able to measure off-hook voltage, operating current and circuit resistance as well as identify the type of line that is being used. Butt sets should not interrupt the flow of data.

Getting It Right

The use of the right digital line tester simplifies commissioning and fault finding of security alarm systems. T3 Innovation markets two testers that are ideally suited to these applications. The first unit is the Net Prowler™, which is an advanced cable and network tester. The unit has a large full-color screen and is compatible with all categories of data lines.

The unit can measure POE and is compatible with Cat 3, 5, 5e, 6 and Cat7 cables. The second is the Tel Scope™ Butt Set. This highly advanced tester provides more information on line conditions than any other butt tester unit available. It is fitted with a tough IPV54 weatherproof housing and features a glow-in-the-dark keypad, large, speakerphone, and backlit LCD screen.