Glossary of Home Security Equipment

List of Home Security Equipment


Access Control:

An access control system allows personnel to move in and out of a building and also to move about inside the building. Personnel can be restricted as to where they can go. These systems have a keypad or a keycard to allow access. The system sees what card was swiped in the card reader and verifies that the person is allowed access and opens the door.

Alarm Permits:

Alarm permits are required for most jurisdictions around the country. They involve filling out a form with contact information and sending it into the sheriff or police department along with a fee. In many places the alarm company is required to collect the permit and fees on behalf of the police department. The police department can impose fines on the alarm owner if the permits are not filed and can also fine you if you have too many false alarms.

Automated Security:

Automated security is basically the same as an access control system. Access is controlled automatically by equipment that has been programmed to allow access to certain areas of a building depending on the level of access assigned to a set of codes or a proximity card.



Battery Back-up:

All security systems have a back up source of power. The typical alarm will be able to detect an intruder for up to 24 hours and also sound an alarm while on battery. The backup is intended to only be a temporary source of power. If power is lost there is a trouble generated and if the system is monitored the central station will be notified.


When a person enters a residence using force and having no consent it can be considered breaking and entering. If there is the intent to commit a crime it may be considered burglary. In any case if their residence is protected with an alarm system the intrusion will be detected and if monitored, the central station will have the ability to dispatch the police department.

Burglar alarm:

A loud signal produced electronically when a sensor is triggered by an intruder. The signal is intended to alert neighbors and the burglar that they have been detected and stop them from continuing with the crime.

2GIG Alarm System




Cameras come in several different types. The following is a list of the different types available:

  • Box Cameras
  • Bullet Cameras
  • Dome Cameras
  • Turret Cameras

Cameras also are available in a hard wired or wireless version.

Revo Mini Turret Camera

Carbon Monoxide Detector (CO2 Detector):

A device that detects the presence of carbon monoxide gas. CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced from incomplete combustion. The device can measure the amount of CO2 and detect an unsafe amount before a dangerous level can accumulate. These devices can be stand alone or connected to an alarm system so the central station can be notified and emergency personnel can be dispatched.


CCTV Systems:

CCTV stands for Closed Circuit Television. Most of today’s systems are no longer closed circuits but instead are connected to the Internet to allow for remote access. These systems can be just a few cameras to large systems including 16 or more cameras. A complete system includes a power supply, camera and recording device.

Central Station:

The central station is where all of the signals are sent when an alarm event is triggered. The central station has personnel that receive the signal and determine which authorities need to be dispatched. These are 24/7 facilities with very high tech equipment that have the capability to monitor thousands of alarm systems around the country.

Control Panel: ­­­

Every type of system needs a control panel. The control panel is usually a metal box that contains a circuit board or mother board where all of the outside devices are wired to. There are also other circuit boards such as audio boards, expansion boards and audio drivers to name a few. Many people assume that the keypad is the security panel and it actually just controls the panel.



Digital Video Monitor:

The video monitor is used with a CCTV system. It is what the cameras are viewed with. You can monitor a single camera or multiple cameras with a split screen.


Do It Yourself has become an increasingly common way to install security and camera systems. The equipment can be purchased at a lower price and you save all of the money in hiring labor to do the install. Some of the issues that result in a DIY install are:

  • You have to do everything
  • In the event of a failure you have to troubleshoot and repair.
  • Longer downtimes in waiting for replacement parts.
  • Lower quality parts

Door Alarm:

A door alarm is a contact that is attached to the door to be able to sense when the door is opened or closed. If the system is armed when the door is opened it will cause an alarm. If the system is not armed and the door is opened the system will beep or make an announcement. The door contact can be wired or wireless.

Door and Window Contact:

The contacts for a door or window are usually the same. The contacts come in several different types. They are surface contacts, recessed contacts or roller ball contacts. A recessed contact is hidden from view and located in the window track or drilled into the door jam. The surface contact is not hidden but works identically to the recessed sensor. A roller ball contact is usually located on the hinge side of a door so when the door is opened the spring loaded ball pops out and opens the contact.



A DVR is a recording device used in surveillance systems. The DVR allows multiple cameras to be connected and viewed at the same time. The DVR also can be setup to record multiple cameras. Each camera can be setup individually to record all of the time or only when they detect motion.



Electronic Surveillance:

A camera system is a form of electronic surveillance. A camera system is not a security system by itself since it does not connect with central station. It is a great way to enhance your security system and can be connected to the security system in custom applications.

Emergency Response:

A security system or personal emergency system generates an emergency response by notifying the central station manually or automatically of an emergency situation. The central station can then notify the proper authorities.



False Alarm:

A false alarm is an alarm that any emergency department responds to that result in no need for their services. False alarms may occur with residential burglary alarms, smoke detectors, industrial alarms, and in signal detection theory. False alarms have the potential to divert emergency responders away from legitimate emergencies, which could ultimately lead to loss of life.


Fire Alarm:

A fire alarm can detect heat, smoke or flames. A smoke detector is what most common form of protection against fire is. Heat detectors are commonly used in garages where a standard smoke detector might cause unwanted false alarms. Smoke detectors can be integrated with your security system so that the central station is notified in the event of a fire emergency. Many homes are equipped with smoke detectors that are stand alone detectors; these types of detectors do not integrate with an alarm system and are only meant to save lives. They are only intended to save property since they do not notify anyone outside of the residence.

Flood Detector:

This device can detect the presence of unwanted water. These devices can be integrated with an alarm system and can with some panels be integrated with an automatic shut off system. They are designed to detect water before a leak can cause excessive damage.



Glass Break Sensor:

Glass break sensors are tuned to “hear” the sound of breaking glass. When this sound is detected the sensor will cause the security system to trigger an alarm. These types of devices can cause an alarm even when the system is not armed. They are considered a 24 hour device.




Heat Detectors:

Heat detectors can detect heat at a certain temperature or it can detect a rapid change in heat. This is called a fixed heat detector or a rate of rise detector. These devices work in conjunction with smoke detectors and are not meant to replace them.

Home Alarm:

Home alarms are an intrusion detection system to help prevent burglaries. They are also capable of detecting fire and high levels of carbon monoxide. They can even detect flooding and high humidity. The security systems available today are also capable of home automation.

Home Automation:

Any device that can allow you to remotely control devices in your home is home automation. These systems can control lights, door locks, thermostats and virtually any electrical or electronic device. Home automation is built into or can have a module added to a security system to not only detect intruders but to automate your life.



Image Sensor:

An image sensor is the combination of a standard motion detector and a built in camera. The detector senses motion and then snaps a picture. It then sends the picture to your smart phone for you to determine if this person is supposed to be in your home. This is a new device that can cut down on false alarms and false alarm fines.

IP surveillance: IP-based surveillance systems provide a means for many cameras and video encoders to share the same wired or wireless network for communicating data. The term ‘IP’ refer to a digital video surveillance system that is tied into a network. A digital image is more easily stored and retrieved when compared to an analog video tape.




A keyfob is a wireless device that is used to arm and disarm an alarm system. Some keyfob can be used to trigger a panic alarm and also control things such as a garage door.


Keypad: A device with a set of buttons usually arranged in a square, similar to the standard telephone touchpad. Each button bears a number with a set of letters underneath the number or other symbol. A keypad controls the functions of an alarm system. Many people confuse the keypad for the alarm panel when in fact the keypad controls the security panel.




A lense is attached to a camera and allows for different views depending on what is needed. Some lenses are manually adjustable and some can be remotely adjusted. Most lenses are fixed to the mount but box cameras allow for the changing of lenses if the view need to be changed.



Medical Alarm:

This system can be used for the sole purpose of monitoring a person that has medical considerations. The system is wireless and includes a receiver and a medical pendant. When the medical pendant is activated a signal is sent to the receiver and automatically contacts a central station. The central station can contact medical personnel to help the individual. These systems usually incorporate 2 way voice so that both parties can talk through the medical emergency system. These can be stand alone systems or they can easily be incorporated into a security system. These types of systems give the user and relative’s peace of mind when no one is home to take care of the person potentially needing help.

Mobile Home Security:

Home security can now be completely controlled from anywhere that has an internet connection. That means that any computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone can be used to monitor and control your home alarm system.

Motion Sensor Light:

A motion sensor light is the light that illuminates inside the motion detector when movement is detected. Wireless sensors do not light so that the battery life can be extended.



Outdoor Lighting:

Although a security system provides the best overall protection there are other deterrents that can be used. Outdoor lighting can go a long way in keeping criminals from attempting to break in to your residence. These outdoor lighting systems are available as a unit that wires into your electrical system or as a solar unit that requires no house power. Outdoor lighting can also help a camera system to provide better pictures in otherwise low light conditions.

Outdoor Surveillance:

Outdoor surveillance requires cameras mounted outside of the building. These cameras must be weatherproof or they will fail well before their intended life span. There are wired or wireless units available but the wireless type cameras are less reliable than the wired systems. They can be prone to drop out and the loss of video or lower video quality.

Bullet Camera



Panic Button:

An emergency button that, when pressed, triggers an alarm system as well as sends a signal to authorities. These buttons can be wired or wireless and are also available as bracelets and pendants. Most alarm panels also include panic buttons on the keypad.

2GIG Panic Button

Panic Room:

A fortified room located in a residence and/or building designed to provide a safe place for the inhabitants to hide in the event of a break-in, home invasion, or other threat. A panic room may also have a separate emergency telephone line.

Personal alarm:

Is a discrete, hand-held electronic device that will emit a loud siren-like alarming sound when activated. It’s primarily used to ward off an attack by an assailant and attract attention.



Remote Home Security:

Alarm systems and camera systems used to be available to make noise locally and scare off the bad guys. Now you can access every control of your alarm and camera systems through a wide variety of devices. Your alarm system can be controlled through an internet connection or by an old standard phone line. Standard phone line monitoring is limited in the amount of control. Cellular monitoring is the best of the best. It provides monitoring with the best remote control and is nearly impossible to defeat by an intruder.



Security Camera:

A security camera can capture an image and transform the image into a picture that is displayed on a monitor, TV or cell phone. Security Cameras are typically added to an alarm system as an extra layer of protection.

Dome Camera

Security Monitoring:

Security systems have the ability to communicate automatically to the outside world so that help can be dispatched to the location where it is needed. This is called monitoring. Your system can be monitored in a variety of ways. They are:

  • Standard POTS line monitoring
  • Internet Monitoring
  • Cellular Monitoring

Each type of monitoring has its merits but the standard phone line is quickly going the way of the dinosaur.

Smoke Detector:

A smoke detector is used to detect the presence of smoke. Smoke detectors are available in a standalone version or they can be integrated into your security system. They are also available in a wired version or wireless. The two most common smoke detectors are ionization and photoelectric. These two detectors react differently depending on the type of fire. An ionization detector is generally more responsive to a flaming type of fire while a photoelectric works best with a smoldering type of fire.

2GIG Smoke Detector

Spy Camera:

A hidden camera can be a still or video camera used to film people without their knowledge. They are available in smoke detectors, clock radios or even wall outlets.

Surveillance System:

Electronic devices used to maintain close observation of areas from a distance and without being seen.



Temperature Sensor:

These types of sensors can detect temperature and alert people to the change. There are models that will send an alert when a preset temperature is reached or when an area gets too hot or too cold. They can even be set to detect a rate of rise in temperature.


Everyone knows what a thermostat is but you may not know that many alarm systems can control your thermostat from anywhere with an internet connection. This is a very useful tool in helping to cut down on energy usage. When used in conjunction with a smoke detector they can be used to automatically shut down the fans in your home which limits the amount of oxygen to a fire and the spread of smoke.

Remote Control Thermostat

Two-way Keypad:

Security system keypads can be as simple as numbers on a plate that can arm and disarm the system. They can also have more features such as a programmable display or the ability to transmit and receive commands. These commands can be in the form of activating a keyfob to arm and disarm or voice over the keypad.



Wireless Home Security:

When alarms were first installed all of the devices used had to be wired. This meant a lot of labor in drilling holes for the sensors and running wire from each device back to the control panel. The potential for damage was very high from people crawling through attics and drilling and cutting holes in the walls, windows and door jams. Today security systems are available in wireless and have eliminated all of the potential damage. The installation time has been cut down so the cost of a security system has come way down. The only real pitfall is that a wireless system depends on batteries and they will need to be replaced every 2-3 years.



x10 System:

X10 is a protocol for communication among devices used for home automation. It uses power line for signaling and control.







Zwave operates at 908.42 MHz in the US (868.42 MHz in Europe) using a mesh networking topology. Many security systems are using this technology to command the home automation market. Using zWave a security system can control virtually any electrical device by using zWave control devices.


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