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Door contacts are one of the most important components of an intrusion alarm system, but we realize there is a wide variety of door contacts to choose from depending on your application. So, it's important to know which type is best suited for the specific installation you're working on.
Below are seven considerations to keep in mind when choosing door contacts for security system installations.
1. Residential vs. commercial
The contact you choose will depend on whether your job is residential or commercial. In many cases, a commercial building will most likely require contacts that have wider gaps than a residential building. For example, a warehouse door or a set of lobby doors will have much more play between the door and the frame than most doors and entrances in a home.
Another thing to keep in mind is the size of the contact and its construction. Door contacts intended for residential applications tend to be smaller in size and are made to be installed on home doors. Door contacts intended for commercial installations tend to be larger and are usually designed for metal doors or a more industrial type of entrance. Commercial door contacts are also usually made of aluminum or metal instead of plastic.
2. Wired vs. wireless
Does your customer need wired or wireless door contacts? Wired contacts communicate with the alarm control panel through a hardwired connection, while wireless contacts communicate with the panel through wireless RF signals.
One benefit of a wireless sensor is that it is easier to install and set up since there aren't any wires to run from the system to the contact. However, many users prefer wired contacts because they tend to be more reliable. Another advantage to a wired contact is that it doesn't use a battery to operate, so the user never has to worry about replacing batteries like in a wireless contact.
3. Surface mount vs. recessed
Door contacts can be mounted in two ways. Surface-mount door contacts are visible on the outside of the door, while recessed contacts are hidden inside the door and the frame or door jamb.
Generally, a surface-mount magnetic contact is easier to install than a recessed contact because no holes need to be drilled in order to mount them. Appearance also becomes a factor here because installing a recessed contact results in a neater, seamless look since the sensor is not visible.
4. Standard gap vs. wide gap
Depending on the parameters of the door you're installing the sensor on, you may need to use a standard-gap contact or a wide-gap contact. Wide-gap contacts use a much larger spacing gap between the sensor and magnet than standard door contacts. This allows them to be installed on garage doors, industrial applications or gates.
Wide-gap contacts tend to be visibly larger in size than standard-gap contacts. Keep this in mind when planning your installations because if appearance is important to the user, a standard-gap sensor will be the preferred option unless a wide gap is required.
5. Purpose and location
Take into consideration what purpose or application the contact will be used for and whether the location of the installation will be indoors or outdoors. Will the contact be installed on a gate or a garage door? There are types of contacts that are specifically designed for these types of applications.
For example, a tilt sensor would be suitable for a garage door or any other type of door that lifts or tilts open. This kind of sensor is triggered when it is tilted to 45 degrees or more; the user can be notified when the garage door has been left open. If you'll be installing a contact on an outdoor gate, then you'll need an outdoor sensor that may also need to provide an extra-long transmission range.
Since door contacts come in a variety of types and designs for numerous applications and scenarios, this also means there is a wide range in price. Door contacts can be priced as low as a few dollars to as high as hundreds of dollars for a single contact.
You may have to keep price in mind if you'll need to buy dozens of contacts for bigger installations or if you're wanting to stock up on certain types of sensors ahead of time to help manage your inventory. Expect to pay more for specialty contacts. Some examples of specialty contacts include outdoor-rated, high-security and explosion-proof contacts.
7. New installation vs. upgrading an existing system
If you're working on a new installation, consider the structure you'll be working in. If the facility, building or home is in the new construction phase with bare walls, then it will be much easier to run a wired system with wired contacts at that time then after the construction has already been completed.
If you'll be working with an existing system, or if the structure you're working in is already in a fully constructed state, think about whether you'll be able to work with wired contacts in that building or if you'll need to convert some of the existing hardware to wireless technology.
Keep in mind that when working with an existing wireless system, you'll want to make sure the contacts you use will be compatible with the system you're working with since different products use different types of wireless transmission signals.