Getting Started In The Alarm Business

Oct. 1, 2006
Sticking to a single manufacturer offers several advantages.

If you’re going to go into the alarm business, it is going to take commitment -- the commitment to get licenses; lining up a central station, advertising, etc.

You will also need to select the equipment you wish to offer your clients. You’ll probably try out panels until you find ones which suite your typical job template. You’ll find that sticking to a manufacturer can be to your advantage, because you and your staff can master the installation and programming of the panel. With this expertise, you can make more effective sales presentations, offer better service to your clients needs, and give effective training to end-users on-site or over the phone when they’re having problems learning how to use the system.

The products from a single manufacturer tend to all follow the same vernacular in the installation operating instructions. In addition, the products are frequently scalable; that is you can move up the product line for larger projects, and keypads and other accessories are used on more than just on panel to allow you to keep inventories small.

Here are the two of the largest and most respected alarm panel manufacturers’ products for your consideration.

They are both aimed at the smaller system market, but both have large system features.

Both manufacturers offer the dealer a wealth of marketing materials and technical support as well as product training to help you to get up to speed quickly.

For a related article on whether the alarm sector is the next logical step as you expand your locksmithing business, see page 62.


The new Napco Freedom is of special interest to locksmiths because of its unique adaptation of the deadbolt into the system’s operation and security. Feedom is the first panel available to the public sector of the alarm installation industry with this feature, making it highly marketable for the locksmith.

Napco Freedom product features include:

Ease of operation

False alarm reduction measures

Freedom can be configured for homes with multiple deadbolts.

Freedom can be configured to monitor a garage door equipped with an opener. Many homeowners use their garage door as their primary means of entering and leaving their homes, and Freedom has technology to accommodate them.

Freedom also incorporates a motion detector into the alarm keypad. This figures into the Freedom design, philosophy, and also simplifies installations.

Freedom supports up to eight zones and uses many of the same GEM family of wireless sensors and transmitters as other NAPCO security systems.

This means that Freedom deadbolt & garage door security keypads can be interfaced with a larger conventional NAPCO Gemini panel as subzones, which can be ideal for applications such as strip malls, multiple dwellings, storage units, etc,

Besides simple code-free (no keypad) arming and disarming, Freedom is supplied with digital keys (FOBS) which may be used to further control the Freedom panel.

The NAPCO Freedom F-TP Touchpad Automatic Deadbolt Security System combines intuitive interactive arming with a passive disarming scheme, providing a system which is simple to use and extremely false alarm resistant during the arming and disarming sequences (which is when 80 percent of false alarms occur).

The system is armed with a simple push of a button, followed by the locking of the home’s deadbolt. Disarming is by unlocking the deadbolt. The microprocessor controlled F- TP touchpad uses information provided by its F-TAB deadbolt sensor and the PIR built into the Freedom ‘keypad’ to ensure fool-proof operation. The F-TP touchpad’s integral wide-angle PIR motion sensor acts as an occupancy sensor that provides the microprocessor with activity information which prevents the user from making errors during the critical exit and entry periods. For example, if the user presses the AWAY button, opens and closes the door and locks the deadbolt but does not leave, the PIR will sense the user’s presence in the home and automatically default to STAY mode arming, preventing a false alarm.

If the system is armed in the AWAY mode, the F-TP touchpad PIR will prevent an intruder from approaching the deadbolt from inside the premises. If an intruder is detected by the built-in PIR, the system must be disarmed using the F-IFOB digital key.

The F-TAB deadbolt sensor, which is installed in the deadbolt strike hole, senses locking or unlocking, and sends this information to the F- TP touch pad microprocessor. The adaptive inductive F-TAB deadbolt sensor has no moving parts to break or wear out and self calibrates to compensate for aging of the deadbolt and the door and frame in which it is installed.

By allowing this level of system control without traditional numeric keypad interaction, the Freedom Touchpad System will provide a significant reduction in false alarms due to user error and also provide comfortable use of the system to those customers who might feel uneasy arming and disarming the system using a traditional keypad.

The Freedom system also supervises all deadbolts in the system, providing constant deadbolt status on the touchpad. This sophisticated feature, usually reserved for high-end systems, makes it impossible for the user to arm the system without first locking all deadbolts.

The NAPCO Freedom F-8 control panel is designed to work in conjunction with the Freedom F-8 Touchpad, comprising the deadbolt-activated security system. The system provides a maximum of 8 zones, with Zone 1 (the door sensor) and Zone 2 (the integral PIR) monitored by the Touchpad.
Zones 3 through 6 may be hardwired zones connected directly to the control panel or wireless devices reporting to an external (optional) GEM-RECV-XP8 receiver.

Zones 7 and 8 may be supported by an optional second touchpad (magnetic door contact and PIR), protecting a second exit/entry door, or be additional wireless devices.

The system supports a maximum of two touch pads, which may include the following models:

F-TP/TAB wireless touchpad (included in F-8K1T1)

F-TPG garage touchpad

F-TPBR bedroom touchpad

F-TP/TAB-H hardwired touchpad.

In cases where the wireless F-TP/TAB touchpad is used, a second door may be supported with the use of the F-2D second door kit, which will transmit magnetic door contact and deadbolt status into the primary Touchpad. If two wireless Touchpads are used, a maximum of four deadbolts may be protected.

The system may be programmed through the F-PROG programming tool (optional), or the PCD-Windows downloading software, version 52 or higher.

For more information, visit


The high capacity, feature-rich Honeywell VISTA-20P lets you deliver up to 48 zones of protection, graphic keypad support and dual partitions to your customers. The panel’s installation advantages, innovative end-user benefits and robust system capacity make the value-priced VISTA-20P an ideal choice even for higher end installations.

Features include:

  • Eight on-board hardwire zones standard (15 when Zone Doubling feature is used). Expandable to 48 total zones when used with hardwired and/or wireless expansion modules
  • Supports 6270 and 8132 graphic touchscreen keypads
  • Wireless keys can be programmed without using zones
  • 16 output devices
    - Relays (Model 4204 Relay Modules, or 4229 Expansion Module), and/or
    - X-10® devices (when used with a 4300 Transformer)
  • Two low current on-board trigger outputs
  • 100 Event Log viewable at system keypads with time/date stamp
  • 48 system user codes assignable to either partition
  • Two independent partitions plus a common partition
    -Global Arming from any system keypad
    - Go to function to view or operate one partition from the other
    - Separate partition account numbers
  • Four installer configurable zone types allows the installer to create custom zone types by assigning all zone attributes
  • Multiple actions on output devices depending on system “state”
  • Turns lights off when system arms
  • Turns the same light on when system disarms
  • Flashes same lights when system is in alarm
  • Built-in phone line cut monitor with programmable delay and annunciation options
  • Display on system keypads
  • Trigger local sounders
  • Trigger system bell
  • Supports four-wire, and up to 16 two-wire smokes
  • Works with Sentrol CleanMe maintenance signal

Valuable features for your customer (things that are viewable on system keypads) include:

  • Exit countdown
  • Time and date display*
  • Event log*
  • Auto keypad backlighting on entry
  • Keyswitch arming
  • Programmable macro buttons and single-button arming
  • A variety of wireless remote controls for single-button operation
  • User Scheduling
  • Automatically activates X-10 and relays at programmed times
  • Latchkey reports to pagers
  • Auto arm/disarm
  • “User access” time windows
  • Supports up to four end user numeric pagers
  • VIP Module allows system control from any touchtone phone
  • Chime by zone

Features for security dealers:

  • Programmable to meet SIA false alarm prevention specifications to meet UL approval for ANSI/SIACP-01-2000 order part number VISTA-20PSIA
  • Automatic System Load Shed
  • During extended AC power fail, the system battery will be disconnected to prevent irreversible battery failure. Reduces service calls to replace batteries
  • Dynamic Signaling
  • Reduces redundant reporting to the central station when multiple reporting methods are used; i.e. digital dialer and AlarmNet radio

For more information, visit