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Protection Zones 101: Home Security Zones and Strategies

What are Security Zones?

Security zones are areas that are partitioned by you and then programmed into your alarm system's control panel to illustrate separate sections of your home that can be armed or disarmed as a unit.   During a risk assessment, mapping out your home into distinct zones is one of the first steps you’ll take.  At the same time, you can think about where and what type of sensors and other security equipment you want to include.   After you determine the location and number of zones and the number and types of sensors in each zones, then you can choose a security system that works best with your strategy.  Some security systems allow for more zones (sometimes referred to as “channels”), than others, so you should consider this before purchasing a system.

The zones should be clearly outlined on the alarm signal of your security system enabling you to arm some zones while disarming others.  For instance, you might only want security coverage on zones 6, 7and 8, representing your basement, perimeter and back door, while you are at home.

How Sensors Work

When an alarm is tripped, depending upon the type of transmission signa you’re using, your chosen central station will be notified of the type of sensor that was tripped along with the zone that sensor resided in, so you’ll have a good idea of how the break-in occurred.  Security systems vary in the type of sensors that they can accommodate. Most systems come with at least one sensor, which is usually a motion detector, but you can always purchase additional sensors separately and then add them to the device. Many hard-wired systems only allow analog sensors and many wireless systems only allow wireless sensors, however there are hybrid systems that provide inputs for both.  If you purchase a hard-wired system, then you will need a professional, licensed installer to connect the system to the monitoring station.  He or she will most likely have an idea of how to set up the zones, but the more knowledgeable you are, the more competent you will be in asserting your own preferences.

Environmental Sensors

In addition to sensors that detect motion and protect your home from intruders, environmental sensors guarantee an added value.  Smoke detectors are quite commonplace and need not be connected to the main security panel, unless you want them to be monitored by a central station while you are away from home.  Carbon monoxide, radon, moisture, and extreme temperature sensors are also available as stand-alone devices or as part of a complete monitoring package. 

Some people will create a separate zone for each environmental sensor, which allows them to easily identify exactly what area of the home the leak was detected in.  In fact, it’s quite common to determine the number of zones by the number of sensors, giving each zone one sensor. In a wireless alarm system, even though each motion detector, for instance, would cover a distinct zone, the control panels functions so that you would still be able to activate or deactivate all the motion sensors in the house in one go.

Some people choose to split the zones into types, e.g., an environmental zone, an intruder zone, a fire zone, however this isn’t the best way to go if you have a larger house.  Most glass-break sensors can protect all the windows within a 35 ft. spread, but if you have a door in the same area, you might want to include magnetic sensors in the room as well.