A Rose by Any Other Name

Posted by Wayne Ohlemeier, Chief Technical Officer
January 7th, 2008

Our industry, like many others, has its own language. We often find ourselves using words, abbreviations, and phrases which we understand but the general public has no idea what we are referring to. A great many of our clients have become security speak savvy but many more are too polite to ask us to Speak English.

One area I witness this on a very regular basis is when we inquire about the location of the “panel”. Many times we are directed to the device which is used to turn the security system on (arm/ code-out) and off (disarm/ code-in). We affectionately call this a keypad.

Other times we will be taken to that room with all of the grey metal boxes. These too are “panels” otherwise called “breaker panels”. These are the places where the electricity can be turned on and off throughout the building.

What we are trying to find is that beige or grey metal box or boxes that all of the security wires run to. This is the heart of the alarm system. It houses the main circuit boards which control all of the alarm devices. It is where the power from a wall plug is run to. The back-up battery is contained here. We also have our connection to the phone line to send out the alarm signals.

The “panel” is most typically going to be placed near the telephone equipment for your building. Other common locations will be in a closet or storage room residentially. Computer, data, or electrical rooms are also frequent candidates. The importance of having the panel as secure as possible is usually the first factor in where it is located. Next comes the ability to get our wires from all of the devices to its location. Another very important factor is the proximity to power (an outlet which does not get shut off) and a phone line.

The next time you see one of us wandering seemingly aimlessly about muttering something about a panel, I hope you will take heart and at least have a little more information to help us out.