Home alarm wiring is needed to interconnect the parts of all hardwired home security systems. The main alarm panel needs wiring to all home security components in the system, as well as to power, telephone, and any other input or output devices you may want.
It’s always best to install home alarm system wiring during the construction phase of the house, referred to as prewiring. Most home alarm companies prefer to prewire the alarm at about the same time as the electricians are running their wires.
With all the framing exposed, it’s easy to drill holes, run burglar alarm wire, and install mud rings or boxes wherever they may be needed. This also makes it easy to co-ordinate with the electricians on any special power or lighting connections for the alarm system.
Pre-wiring is also a good time to “future-proof” the home to some degree. You can run extra cables for options you don’t need now, but may want in the future. This might include additional keypad locations, motion detectors, home automation and lighting control, etc.
Running home alarm wiring in an existing house generally takes much more time and effort than prewiring.
Fishing wires can be difficult, and some areas of a house may not be accessible at all. If you’re thinking about doing the work yourself, check out this page: A DIY Home Alarm System – Is it Right for Me?
For a new house, you have a chance to run home alarm wiring that will cover all of your current security needs. With a little planning, you can also wire for some common upgrades you may want in the future.
Regardless of how the alarm wiring is installed, a typical hardwired home alarm system needs three basic kinds of wiring connections:
Whether you go through an alarm company or install your own DIY security system, these are the basics for the panel itself.
For details on each of these, see Alarm System Wiring for the Main Panel.
With the main panel up and working, you’ll need some way to detect an intruder. Home alarm wiring for detection devices commonly include:
Door and window wires should be 2- or 4-conductor, while powered devices like motions and glassbreaks need 4-conductor.
For details on the best ways to protect doors, see this page on Burglar Alarm Wiring for Securing Doors.
And for windows, Burglar Alarm Wire for Protecting Windows.
The best choices for interior protection are motion and glassbreak sensors. Click here to find out How to Run Motion Detector Wiring.
Glassbreak detectors are good interior protection for fixed windows, where a switch and magnet won't work. Learn more about Alarm Wiring for Glassbreak Sensors.
The home alarm wiring listed above would cover all you need for burglary protection. I highly recommend that you consider adding at least some additional wiring for fire protection. This should include:
Taking these extra steps doesn’t just give you protection from fire. If you also have your system monitored, you could be entitled to a 10-20% discount on your homeowners’ insurance!
Be aware that more and more insurance companies are requiring some of the above fire protection before they will even issue a policy. The cost of the average fire loss is several times that of a burglary, so insurers are becoming more strict.
For more details, including fire alarm wiring diagrams, see Fire Alarm Wiring for More Complete Home Security
Having a new home built is exciting, but cost is always a concern. There are some steps you can take to keep the alarm costs down, and still allow room for a complete security system later.
First, plan on wiring all door and window openings during the prewire stage. Then, when you actually install the alarm equipment, only install hardwired contacts for the doors.
This could save you hundreds on a large house. Later, when you have the funds, add hardwire contacts to the windows and connect them to the system.
Second, just install the keypads and devices you need for a basic system. Keypads and motion detectors can add up quickly when planning a “complete” home security system.
By scaling back to a basic alarm with maybe a single keypad and motion detector, you’ll save on the initial cost of the system. Later, you can add the extra keypads, motions, etc. as finances allow.
Third, don’t overlook home alarm system monitoring too quickly. Home alarm companies strive to get monitored customers, and will offer great deals to get them. Many builders now will only install home alarm wiring if you commit to installing and monitoring the system.
Signing up for a 2- or 3-year contract may not sound economical, and yes, it will cost you several hundred dollars. However, during that time you’ll have the benefit of better burglary (and if you choose, fire) protection. Also, you’ll likely be able to save money with a discount on your homeowners’ insurance policy.
At the end of the alarm contract, you’ll probably have a more complete system than you would have been able to buy outright without the monitoring agreement.
Learn more about home alarm system monitoring benefits.
For both professionally installed and DIY alarm systems, a little planning in the beginning can save you money and disappointment in the end. Installing home alarm wiring during construction will give you more options while you own the house, and better resale value if you decide to sell it.