Alarm Wiring Questions


I'm having a house built right now... It's almost time to start wiring everything up.

Well, the builder has an alarm guy pre-wire each house. After that, it's up to the owner whether to obtain service with that company or not. (I plan to install a Caddx alarm myself)

Well, I checked out another house that's a little further along than mine. The guy ran a wire from the panel area to a window in Room A and another wire from the Room A window to a window in Room B. This would mean they'd both be on the same zone, right?

What I want is to know whether Room A's window was opened or Room B's window was opened. Am I right in thinking this would mean running a separate wire to EACH window from the panel ?

Also, I noticed a wire from the panel area to where the doorbell chime will be located. What would be the reason for this?

Yes, to get maximum versatility from the Caddx and any home automation system, you would want each door/window/motion/zone wired separately. Tell the installer you want everything "home run", not daisy chained. the cost may go up just a little because this method typically uses more wire.

The wire to the doorbell chime are could be for a couple reasons:
  • to allow the alarm system to detect a doorbell press (my favorite idea)
  • to allow the alarm panel to use the doorbell chime (this sounds like it would be confusing to the homeowner)
  • to add a pre-alarm chime (but typically these are in the alarm panel)
Thanks for the reply... :)

Another issue: Smoke Detectors

The house I looked at had about five or six smoke detectors. They were daisy chained together. I followed the electrical wiring from the one on the end to each of the others. The wiring then went to a lightswitch in a hallway, then on to the breakerbox. (Also, they were not connected to the security panel)

- Does this electrical set up sound right?

- Shouldn't each of these have been wired to the security panel?
- Does this electrical set up sound right?
Honestly not sure if it's to code or not. Since I always install 12V smokes hooked to a panel, that portion of the code didn't get put into long term memory. :) Most electricians in this area put the smokes on a dedicated circuit when using 110V units. Again though, I'm not sure if it's a practice or a requirement.

- Shouldn't each of these have been wired to the security panel?
Again, yes and no. The code requirement is for the smokes to be powered from the mains, with a battery backup. This can be met by 1) 120 VAC smokes with a backup battery in each unit, or 2) 12 VDC smokes powered through a panel, with backup batteries in the panel. Most builders choose #1 for scheduling and cost reasons. If the home owner decides to have an alarm system, the alarm company either runs a duplicate set of smokes (REAL ugly), or replaces/adds a relay equipped 120 VAC smoke to the existing units, and connects the alarm system to the relay.

You're correct that the best solution is 12 VDC smokes connected to the alarm system, but unless you are having a custom house built, it's very diffacult to get this done. As you've discovered, most tract builders are very resistant to changing the way they do things. At least you can get into your house (and others) while construction is in progress. In this area, most tract builders prohibit the homeowner from coming on-site until the house is ready for occupancy. They might allow one pre-scheduled visit during construction (probably after they've had a chance to hide any shoddy work).

By they way, could you please edit your profile to show where you are from? No need for the full addy, but a city/state would be helpful. Different areas have different requirments, and sometimes we can point them out if we know (relatively) where you are.
Another thing I'm wondering about...

The installer usually runs all the wiring to the Master Bedroom closet and installs an alarm control panel there. I will be setting up a wiring closet about 35 feet away and would like to put the panel there, however, it's kind of a small closet and might be a tight squeeze.
If it's installed in my master bedroom closet, I imagine I could run a 35 foot cable from the alarm panel to my wiring closet (to connect with Homeseer or whatever) right? Or would a 35 foot cable be too long?

Any pros or cons for installing the alarm panel in the master bedroom closet instead of the wiring closet?

Not a problem to run rs232 35 feet to the wiring closet. The only drawback I can see of having the panel in the closet would be if you need to add additional wires to the panel in the future. Is the bedroom closet as accessable as the wiring closet?
Warez- Keep the questions coming!!

I have all the same ones you do!

So, just to clarify, no daisy chaining. That means each "Zone" is a single door/window. So if I have 20 windows and 5 doors, I would need at least a 25 zone system. Then we start adding motion detectors, smoke alarms etc....

End the end, I am looking for a "ultraview" scenario with my alarm system. A schematic of my house plan showing which doors/windows are open and which are armed.

I am looking at the Caddx as well.

Am I on the right track?

As suggested earlier you probably want to "home-run" each window and door to your security panel. Before the drywall is up it is also a good idea to check the wiring for shorts/opens/continuity (I believe my "how to install a security system describes these checks). Could save you from tearing into drywall in the future.

You MAY find that you don't want to have that many zones due to costs. You could then wire some zones in "series" to save on the number of zones to monitor with your alarm system.

If your builder really doesn't like running each window and door to a home run have him at least run "common" windows to the home run location. For instance if two windows are side by side in a family room, you may want to series these at the windows and just run one home run to the alarm panel location.

Caddx is a good alarm system, but its not the easiest to program. Its plugin for Homeseer is execllent though.

Caddx is old school. The Elk M1 Gold system just came out and is a lot easier to program, plus it gives a lot of benefits offered by a dedicated PLC such as the Ocelot (minus the IR capability) and SECU16 Digital Input module. No plugin exists yet to Homeseer though.

I was using Ultraview, but later decided on Main Lobby. It has a high initial cost, but I like its ease of use and versatility (I really don't like spending a lot of time figuring out programs).

You can check out some sample screens I created HERE. Page two has my Ultraview like display for the windows, doors, and lights.

Hope this helps,

Depending on size of house, wiring each discrete window as a Zone might be overkill. A Zone is usually a logical area of the house. So, one bedrooms windows would be a Zone. The door might be another. This will let you know where the intrusion is. It might not tell you exactly which window you left open, but once you get in the room, that should be obvious.
No plugin exists yet to Homeseer though.

Someone is currently writing a M1 plugin. I saw the thread on the HS board.

RE: wiring windows. Most of the professionals will wire groups of windows, instead of individual windows. You really don't need to know that the "second window on the south wall of the kids bedroom" is open. A "window is open in the kids bedroom" is usually sufficient. While there is a minor benefit to individual runs while tracking down problems, it is lost with the increased equipment costs (wire, zones) and more importantly, time for the installer to make all those home runs.
I looked at the Elk and it looks awesome. Right now my main concern is interfacing with HS. I really dont want to "hope" that somone will do the same fantastic job Nitrox did with Caddx. (where is Nitorx by the way? he hasnt posted on HS in months.)
I have a few months before I have to purchase, so I will hold out and see what happens.

As for the wiring, I am doing everything myself. So I can run as much wire as I want too.
The additional cost of the zone expanders is what will get me.

I think I will take the suggestion of grouping all windows in a single room into one zone.

One last question. I can monitor interior doors without ever arming them, correct?


P.S. I am still working on getting my ML interface set up. Now that there is a plug in for HS, I am in heaven.
With the Napco 9600 panel you can monitor doors without arming the system. Then, Homeseer sends the update to MainLobby client via MLHSPlugin. Works great.
Tymon said:
As for the wiring, I am doing everything myself. So I can run as much wire as I want too.
The additional cost of the zone expanders is what will get me.

I think I will take the suggestion of grouping all windows in a single room into one zone.
You can always home-run all of the wires (from each door and window) but connect them in series in the wiring closet itself rather than in the room. This way you limit the number of zones (and the amount of "control" hardware you need) but you can easily change it in the future.
Here is a link to one of the M1 plugin threads. And here is another.

One last question. I can monitor interior doors without ever arming them, correct?
Most panels will allow you to do this.

You can always home-run all of the wires (from each door and window) but connect them in series in the wiring closet itself rather than in the room.
BSR makes a good point. Just remember that the wire itself adds resistance. A room 50' away (the way the wire runs) with 6 windows would give you 600' of wire. I suggest that if you want to do individual runs linked at the panel, do the farthest one first and then throw a multitester on it to check the resistance.

You can monitor the status of the interior doors without arming the system. I have (err, had until a recent lightning storm blew out my NX8E's serial port) Homeseer announce when any door or window opened while the system was not armed.

The Caddx NX8E will allow you to arm the system in a "Stay" or "Away (Exit)" mode. This is nice because you can then assign which sensors/monitors you want bypassed when you are in a "Stay" mode such as nighttime when you are inside the home. For instance I have my interior motion detectors bypassed when I arm my system at night in this "Stay" mode.

The nice thing about Nitrox's plug-in is it will see any input as a digital input change (variable) independent of the system being armed.

Another cool thing you can do is have Homeseer turn on all your lights and send you a text message when the system alarms. I also announce that a "Silent Alarm" has been sent over the home's announcement system. Possibilities are endless.

If you can truly have "endless" wiring, why not have EVERYTHING go to your home run location therefore having the flexibility for the future. Also, don't forget to run your four conductor wire in locations where you would want keypads, motion detectors, smoke detectors, and glass break sensors. When in doubt have a couple of four conductors home run from each room and have at least one four conductor above each door entry switch.

I will try to get my "How to install a home security system" updated with its pictures to help you get a feel on how to run the wiring.

You will also see a lot of posts (and opinions) about EOL or end of line resistors with door and window sensors. Here is BSR's UNPOPULAR opinion on using EOL resistors. I figure if a burglar is smart enough to cut through my stucco walls and wired frame and is intent enough on carefully cutting into the wires to splice them together (without causing an open) then he is probably going to figure out just about any security safeguard I have inside my home. Also, I have nothing valuable enough (well maybe the secret to the Aliens kept in the Nevada desert) that would cause a professional of this caliper to attempt to break into my home.

The Caddx NX8E lets you have the option of not using EOL resistors. I believe they are more trouble than they are worth. Plus to be of true value they need to be mounted at the sensor. Well, I had a hard enough time re-routing flexible wire back into my door and window sensor's hole without the hassle of figuring out how to get an EOL resistor in there. But here again, I had to install my entire system after the drywall was up (the house came complete with alarm wiring only installed).

Again, that is just MY opinion. :)