A conventional CCTV system consists of the camera itself, or more than one where needed, the power supply and the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). The camera is at the heart of the system, keeping a permanent watchful eye. In addition to this, a DVR is required to store the video data. The job of the DVR is simply to record the video for you to view at a later stage as and when needed. Viewing the video recording can be done easily through the DVR’s software, which prompts for a username and password before allowing access. DVRs are usually available in 4, 8 or 16 channels; the number specifying the maximum amount of cameras each DVR can handle. Finally, the power supply is used to electrically power up the system and allow everything to work properly. The wiring of the system is also quite straightforward. A coaxial cable, similar to the one used for TV signals, is used to transfer the image to the DVR, and together with this cable, a 2 core power cable from the power supply unit is passed through to power up the system. DVRs are usually connected either to a TV set, where a channel is set for CCTV viewing, or else to a dedicated monitor. Video clips can then be extracted onto CDs, DVDs or USB storage devices for portability.
Continuous recording is possible. You could also record by schedule, whereby recording takes place only between a set period of time, or by motion, whereby recording takes places only when the camera senses some movement. The capacity of the hard-disk inbuilt in the DVR will vary according to the number of cameras on the same DVR, and depending on whether the cameras are recording continuously, by schedule or by motion. The resolution of the cameras also affects the recorded storage time.
When the recorder’s memory is full, data will start to be overwritten starting from the oldest data. This means that not all data will be lost once the recorder is full, but only the oldest data. Generally, the recording needed is usually for a few hours or days after an incident has occurred, and this will still be saved on the hard disk.
Yes, a simple system with no recording can exist. This will consists of just the camera, power supply and a specific monitor (BNC monitor). However with this system, one is only allowed to view live images and there is no way of recording.
Camera specifications vary depending on what one wants to see, the precision, the distance, the angle, picture sharpness at night, visibility, whether it is indoor or outdoor, and more. These factors all need to be considered before a camera is chosen. The camera lens will specify distance, angle and clarity, and the lenses can also be set to have a variable focus. Infrared LEDs are used to allow a clear picture in low light or at night. If a camera is facing a window on which direct sunlight will fall, a camera with a wide dynamic range function is needed. The difference between domes and pipe cameras is usually just aesthetical, unlike the general perception that domes can cover a 360º angle. These points show that choosing the right camera is not a straightforward task, and that a site visit is normally required.
To view cameras remotely from a computer or a mobile device, one will need to connect the DVR to an internet router. Obviously not all DVRs have the capability of doing this, so the DVR must be specifically designed to support network communication. The cameras can be accessed through the IP address. This IP address needs to be fixed or static and is obtained from an Internet Service Provider (not Alberta). Once the system is up and running, all one needs to do is to enter this fixed IP address into the address bar of a normal internet browser, and after entering the username and password, the live images from the camera can be viewed. Although recordings cannot be viewed in this way, since the DVR software would be required, there is still a way that this can be done.
Wireless cameras do exist, however their application is more limited than the standard wired solutions. Recording can be performed directly on the camera (through an SD card) or on a PC. A Wi-Fi connection is necessary for these cameras to work properly. However, it is important to keep in mind that wireless video streaming is not entirely secure. In general, a wired solution can be applied in most locations, however, wireless cameras are also readily available and are an option that can be considered.
The next generation of cameras is the IP camera solution which will include better picture quality and infinite picture analysis. The system works through a network, unlike the conventional analogue CCTV option. IP solutions are becoming more popular at this time especially in industry and large areas where a large area can be monitored in detail without the use of multiple analogue solutions. If you are interested in such a system we advise you to talk to us as we can give you demonstrations to compare picture quality.
Intruder Alarm Systems
In order for the intruder alarm system to be connected to the Central Monitoring Station, it has to have an auto dialler installed. The dialler has to be connected to a telephony service.
The system as a whole includes several different electronic accessories. Besides the sounder which is visible on the façade of homes or offices, an intruder alarm system also includes the main panel, the keypad, the Passive Infra-Red (PIR) detectors, door or window contacts, internal and external sounders, a telephone dialler, and remotes (where applicable).
The main panel is essentially the heart of the system. Without it, the intruder alarm cannot operate. It is an input and output control panel which controls all the devices in the system. This panel will be alerted once an intrusion is detected and will give a signal to the sounders and dialler to do their job and protect your residence by making a loud alarm sound and by calling any dedicated telephone or mobile numbers.
As intelligent as it can be, once the main panel is alerted that there is an intrusion it cannot distinguish whether it is you entering the house or an intruder. Therefore the main panel will wait for verification from the owner before it sounds the alarm. This verification is given to the system in the form of a unique code which is entered into the keypad so that the main panel recognizes that it is the owner of the premises that has entered, and not an intruder. The main panel allows a brief waiting period to allow the owner to input the code on the keypad. If the waiting time is exceeded and no code is inputted, the main panel will give a signal to the sounders and dialler to turn on, since it assumes that there is an unauthorized intruder. The waiting time is variable and is set at installation stage. There can also be more than one keypad in a building. This enables one to switch on and off the alarm from more than one location, and can be useful in houses with a separate garage entry. Some alarms also have the facility to be set on and off using a remote, without the need to remember and input any code. The keypad also allows control over several other functions of the alarm system.
The Passive Infra-Red detectors are an essential part of the system. These components work on the principle of heat radiated by the human body. By using infra-red waves, the sensors will detect the moving heat emanated from the human body. Once this is detected, sensors will alert the main panel. These PIRs work on a basic system are known as Quad PIRs. More accurate PIRs are known as Dual-Tech PIRs, which use microwaves together with IR waves in order to double check any movement. Additionally, even more accurate PIRs are called Tri-Tech PIRs. Apart from IRs and microwaves, they have an in-built processor so that apart from analysing waves, they can also detect an intrusion through computer software. These Dual and Tri-Tech PIRs are mainly used in places where the temperature can change drastically in a few moments, such as when a sensor is located opposite a window or in the washroom of a house. The number of PIRs required for your alarm will vary in accordance to the building as not every property is the same. Normally, a PIR is placed at a direct point of access from the outside. The PIR is never placed facing a direct entrance but is usually placed in a way that, when entering a building, the intruder will find the PIR behind their back. The PIRs have a definite range for which they can detect intrusion, varying on the type and brand. To determine the amount of sensors that should be used, a site inspection is highly advisable.
The internal and external sounders are buzzers which, when alerted by the main panel that there is an intrusion, make a very loud noise in order to deter the intruder from proceeding undisturbed further inside the house. The loud noise can be heard from neighbours’ houses so it catches the attention of the neighbourhood. However, the sounder will not be able to protect your premises on its own, as it needs the main panel to give it the signal to go on. Frequently, external sounders have running lights to enhance visibility and are placed in very visible areas to act as deterrents.
Professional intruder alarm systems are tamper-proof, so that if anybody tries to break anything within the system, such as by cutting a cable or covering a sensor, the system will immediately sound the alarm and alert others.
If designed carefully and if components are installed within their range, a wireless system is as reliable as a wired one. However, one must be careful not to exceed its wireless signal range and hence, a site visit is even more advisable in this case.
Yes, partial setting is a feature which many alarms have now integrated into their systems. Partial setting means that one is allows to set only some parts of the alarm on. This is useful if only one part of the premises is being used at one time, and requires the other parts to be protected. For example, a person in a house using only the bedroom can switch off the bedroom sensor but still keep the other PIRs set for home protection. Different systems have different numbers of partial sets allowed.
A standard intruder alarm system is completely separate from a CCTV system, however smart home intruder alarm systems such as the Agility 3 and the LightSys2 allow cameras to be integrated within the same system.
Since the average kind of pet can be detected by the PIRs as intruders, there is a risk of false alarms. However, by using pet friendly PIRs which can distinguish pets either by the body mass or body heat radiated, or by the mass volume of the shape of the animal, the risk is minimized. Additionally, pet friendly PIRs can be set not to activate the alarm if there is moving heat up to a certain height, such as 40cm, which is the normal height of an average dog, hence, decreasing the risk of a false alarm. To further decrease the risk, door and window contacts can be used instead of PIRs. These work on the principle that the alarm is triggered only when a door or a window is opened, which is something that a pet (typically) cannot do.
Yes, the intruder alarm system will still work without a telephone dialler. However, in case of an intrusion, the main panel will only alert the sounders to go on and there will be no way of alerting you by telephone. The telephone dialler’s job is to call the numbers which are saved in its memory to alert the property owners. A pre-recorded message is saved as well, which will be heard once a call from the dialler is done. One can assign up to five numbers which the dialler calls in a sequence upon an intrusion. The first number assigned is usually that of the owner, whilst the second number is usually that of the police depot. When the dialler’s call is answered, the person taking the call will hear the pre-recorded voice message and, in case of the police, send the closest patrol.
In that case you will still be protected by the alarm’s normal operation and sounders, however the telephone dialler will not be able to perform the calls. This can be resolved by opting to have a GSM dialler, which works on the same principle of a normal mobile phone and therefore does not need a telephone line to make any calls. A SIM card (provided from a local service provider, not Alberta) will be inserted into this dialler, and once the alarm is triggered, the dialler will perform the call from that SIM card without the need of any telephone line.
A wired intruder alarm and a wireless one work on the same basic principles as described above. The main difference is that with a wired system the signals are transmitted through cables, while with a wireless solution, the signals are transmitted through secure radio frequencies. In a completely wireless system, the main panel will be the only part of the alarm which needs cables in order to give electrical power to the system. All other accessories work on the wireless radio frequency principle and are powered through batteries. Batteries will need to be replaced (average lifetime is 2 years but varies upon usage) and one will be alerted as to which component needs a battery replacement via a message on the keypad.
When there is a power failure, the alarm will revert to a back-up battery so that the premises are still protected. The battery life will vary depending on the size of the system but there is usually up to 3 hours of backup. Once the electricity is restored, the backup battery charges back from the electricity supply. Moreover, some systems can alert you on a mobile phone device when there is a power failure and when this has been restored.
Alarm systems from Alberta start from as little as €299 (inc. VAT) for a basic package. The price will vary depending on the number of keypads and sensors, whether a dialler is included or not, the amount of sounders, whether it is a wired or wireless solution, the amount of cable required, the inclusion of remotes and installation costs. A site visit is required in order to be able to have a tailor-made quote for your residence or business. Different brands of alarms are available at Alberta, including Bosch and Risco. The difference between the systems is mainly the features they hold.
Fire Detection Systems
- Cabling: We always use fire rated cables, in accordance with the set standards.
- Device Positioning: A fire detection system includes the following devices: Panel, detectors, and break glass units. The positions also needs to follow set standards.
- Alarm sound level: The db has to follow the standard requirements.
- Dialler: The dialler must be connected to a fixed telephone line or to a gsm modular in order to make sure that you are notified as soon as the alarm goes off.
According to BS 5839, it should be serviced once every year.
Fire can be divided into 6 classes:Class A: Solids such as paper, wood, plastic, etc. Class B: Flammable liquids such as paraffin, petrol, oil, etc. Class C: Flammable gases such as propane, butane, methane, etc. Class D: Metals such as aluminium, magnesium, titanium, etc. Class E: Fires involving electrical appliances Class F: Cooking oil & fat, etc.
There are four main types of extinguishers:
- Dry powder - Often termed the ‘multi-purpose’ extinguisher, as it can be used on Classes A, B & C.
- Co2 - Carbon Dioxide is ideal for fires involving electrical appliances.
- Foam - Used for Classes A & B. Foam spray extinguishers are not recommended for fires involving electricity, but are safer than water if inadvertently sprayed onto live electrical apparatus.
- Water - Used for Class A. Not suitable for Class B (Liquid) fires, or where electricity is involved.
Having a fire extinguisher is one thing, but having it handy in case of an emergency, is another. It is recommended to have at least one fire extinguisher on each floor of your house. Keep it where it is in sight and not put in a closet. This is because taking it out of a closet may cost you valuable time during an emergency. We would also strongly recommend not to put your fire extinguisher behind any curtains or drapes. The most important places to have a fire extinguisher are in areas that are more susceptible to fire. Usually, these areas are the kitchen and the garage.
No, however it needs servicing once a year and whenever it is used.
This depends on various factors, however, a basic service for a 1kg dry powder fire extinguisher, which is the one we recommend for homes, costs €4.75 including VAT.
A fire blanket is a highly flame-resistant blanket that can be used to extinguish a small fire or to wrap around a person in case of a fire. Fire blankets are made from 2 layers of woven glass fibre fabric and an inner layer of fire retardant film. They work by cutting off the oxygen supply to the fire.
- In case of a fire, firstly, turn off the gas or electricity supply. Remove the fire blanket from its container, hold it by the fabric straps and to prevent burns on the hands and arms. Make sure you wrap the top edges of the blanket around your hands to protect them.
- Roll up your sleeves so they do not catch fire.
- Carefully cover the flames with the fire blanket, making sure that you cover the whole area so that you can effectively cut off the airflow and extinguish the flames. If the fire is larger than the blanket, do not attempt to put it out. Get out of the building and call the fire brigade immediately.
- DO NOT touch the fire blanket or anything underneath it until at least an hour has passed since the fire has been extinguished.
A fire blanket expires as soon as it is used.