Security System Parts: The door & window contact

Security System Parts: The door & window contact

In heist movies, bands of would-be thieves often come up against a prospective mark protected by a state-of-the-art security system. To reach their high-value target, the thieves must foil a gauntlet of eye scanners, thermal surveillance cameras, and the infamous motion-sensing lasers. Whether or not the audience thinks the theft will be difficult depends on how flashy the security system appears to be—which, in the world of Hollywood blockbusters, equates to how well-defended the protected property will be.

As a real-life business owner, however, you’re likely to root against burglars succeeding at breaking into your property. While biometric scanners, IR surveillance cameras, and dual-detection motion detectors all have their place in the grander scheme of security, sometimes the less flashy devices do the heaviest lifting. There’s a reason door and window contacts—discreet, blink-and-you’ll miss them mechanisms—are amongst the most common security devices used in protecting both businesses and homes: they really, really work. Understanding how door and window contacts work—and how they can keep would-be intruders at bay—can go a long way in providing enduring and powerful protection for your business and everything (and everyone!) within.

What is a door/window contact?

Even if you left all of the doors and windows unlocked all night in your place of work (and we really recommend you don’t), you’d still want to know if anyone was entering when they shouldn’t. While the world’s greatest diamond thief from a heist thriller might rappel from the top of a building, the front door of a building is a favorite spot for real world “regular” burglars to gain access to a building, followed closely by other first-floor doors and windows. Certainly, motion detectors can signal your security system that someone has entered the building once the culprit is within range, but many businesses have valuable goods, products, or even money in close range of exterior doors and windows. By the time a motion detector goes off, a quick-acting thief could commit a “smash-and-grab,” snatching high-value goods in a matter of seconds before absconding into the night—leaving your business in disarray and your pocketbook hurting.

Door and window contacts were created specifically to protect the perimeter of a business or home. By monitoring the highest-likelihood points of forced entry, the devices often act as the first line of defense for your business. Appearance-wise, they’re not flashy or hyper-stylized; in fact, one of their key strengths is in their low-profile aesthetic, designed to remain out-of-sight to those inside a building by invitation and from those looking to break in. And even if a burglar does spot one through a window, professional contacts come with tamper-proofing technology designed to send an alarm signal to your control panel (and then your designated monitoring center!)  if they are jostled or mishandled.

Another strength of door and window contacts is in the simplicity of their design. Contacts typically come in two parts: a magnet and a sensor. The sensor itself is usually attached or drilled onto the door jamb in a manner that allows the door to close unobtrusively. The magnet is then attached/drilled onto the edge of the door itself, with the professional security system installer aligning the devices carefully to ensure they come close to “meeting” or “contacting” correctly. When the sensor and magnet are aligned—when the door is closed—a switch inside the sensor remains closed due to the presence of a magnetic field. When the door is opened, the magnetic field moves away from the sensor, popping the switch open and triggering an alarm signal. (Note: Some door contacts are designed in the opposite manner, where a magnetic field closes the switch to activate the alarm.) With this remarkably simple technology, contacts are the perfect device for complicating a burglar’s best-laid plans.

In the past, contacts were primarily hardwired to the alarm panel. While hardwired contacts still exist, some people prefer wireless contacts. Hardwired contacts sometimes require wire runs and drilling to ensure a proper connection with the rest of the security system; however, they also typically don’t require any sort of battery changeout like their wireless brethren. What sort of system works best in your business is something that should be discussed with the professional security provider helping to design your security system.

But what if a burglar simply smashes a window?

Window contacts function similarly to door contacts. If someone opens a window, it separates the sensor from the magnet, sending out an alarm signal. However, a determined burglar may not be polite enough to gently open your window. If a burglar breaks a pane of glass and crawls through the gap, it would render the “contact” portion of the device, effectively beating the alarm system.

Luckily, professional security manufacturers have long devised a solution to this problem. Many high-end window contacts come equipped with acoustical glassbreak-detection technology or even shock-sensing capabilities to provide dual protection from literal break-ins. The differing capabilities of the many different varieties of door and window contacts are just another reason why enlisting the help of a capable professional security installer is essential to protecting your business.

One of many layers of business security

They may not get a lot of love in heist movies, but door and window contacts provide superior perimeter protection at an affordable price. Of course, door and window contacts only make up a single facet of a true-blue, comprehensive security system. The security system that protects your business will need to protect your people, property, and other valuable goods from the threats that face it. A gas station will not have the same risks as a jewelry store; likewise, every business should be protected by a security system specifically designed with your unique situation in mind.

EPS Security knows a great deal about protecting Michigan businesses. As West Michigan’s foremost experts in commercial security, our engineers, security consultants, and technicians have amassed an incredible amount of experience in protecting everything from Mom-and-Pop corner stores to massive industrial complexes. If you’re looking to protect your business from the threats that face it, look no further than EPS Security and let us use our six decades of experience to help your ship run smoothly

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