Alarm System Keypads

The keypad is the device you and your loved ones will interface with daily. It is typically placed at one or more of the following locations:

* House to garage door hall.

* Front door

* Master bedroom

* Inside garage

You need at least one keypad to communicate with the control panel. If you elect to have only one keypad you should have it installed as close to the door you use most often as possible. Even if you or others sometimes use a different door, you can put it on its own delay zone and have a longer entry time to get to the keypad from that door.

There are different levels of keypads available for each model of control panel. The one that the dealer uses as their basic model varies by company. The choice of keypads is usually made for you as sales persons tend to stay away from technical discussions even if they do know the difference. If you know that you have a choice and find out what your options are you can make sure that you get the keypad that will work best for you. Following is a general list of the main differences:

* LED- (light emitting diode) This keypad has many lights to tell you what is happening such as a green light for ready to arm, a red light for armed, a yellow light next to a zone number to show you which zone is open if it is not ready.

* LCD- (liquid crystal display) This keypad uses a display window to tell you what is happening such as “System armed”, “Zone 4 open”

* ALPHA(alpha-numeric readout) This Keypad can be programmed to give you descriptive readout of what is happening with your system such as

“Tommy’s window is open”, “Alarm violation, Basement Motion”

* Large display area is important so that you don’t have to squint to read it.

* Some windows are not back -lighted so you have to turn a light on to see what’s happening. Make sure your window and number keys have lights built in.

* One touch arming lets you turn the alarm on the way you want without entering a code such as Away, Stay (bypass motion detectors), Instant (Make delay doors instant) etc.

* Exit buttons on some keypads allow you to open a door for 30 seconds if the alarm is on. This is handy for letting your pets out and back in without having to disarm the system. This is also a great feature if someone in the house has to exit in the middle of the night.

* Panic buttons for Police, Fire and Ambulance are on most keypads. Make sure you don’t have to contort your fingers into strange configurations to use them. The better-designed keypads are the easiest to use.

* Your keypad should have the ability for the alarm owner to program in a code for each user. Some people use one general code for the whole family and have a different one for the real estate agent, builder, maintenance companies, boy or girlfriends that they don’t expect to be around that long, baby sitters and so on. You can easily remove a code at will, and the more sophisticated systems have a timer on how many times a particular code can be used before it erases itself if desired. Having different codes for employees at your business is important for obvious reasons and many high-end systems can track what time a code user entered and exited. Some like this feature at home to track what time the cleaning service or their teenagers entered and exited. (you would need an alpha keypad to read such information) Some systems can hold up to 40 different code users.

* A “distress code” should be able to be programmed into your system. This is a code that will be easy to remember for the whole family. When the system is turned on or off with this code it simulates normal function while notifying your monitoring company that you are in a hostage situation. Almost all systems have the ability to have this programmed in and it amazes me how many people I have consulted that didn’t know they had a distress code. Make sure this is discussed when you are choosing an alarm, as it is one of your systems greatest features.


Write your distress code on the inside of your keypad cover door with a marker so that it is there as a reminder for you at possibly the worst time of your life. If a burglar breaks in and sees this code they will think to themselves “look how stupid these people are to write their code down” and they will turn your system off. A dispatch will promptly be made to your local authorities as a hostage situation or holdup in progress. This is the highest priority response you can get. Who’s stupid now?

Lets take a look at how easy it would be to use your keypad by reviewing some common every day scenarios. The flexibility and complexity of how your keypad can be programmed often scares people into thinking that an alarm would be hard for them to operate. It is important to remember that once your alarm system is set up to your specifications by your installer, it is quite easy to use. Most of the keypads on the market are designed for use by anyone who is older than 7 years old. The systems will even have your bypass requirements for motion detectors and interior traps pre-programmed so you can make several things happen with the push of a well- defined button.

When I think about how many pages of paper it would take me to create scenarios for every keypad on the market, I envision an empty forest somewhere with no wildlife in it. In an effort to show you how easy your alarm is to use I will give you a general set of situations that would pertain to my system of choice. The slight differences you might see if you used a different keypad are often subtle things like having to press two buttons instead of one. So in the interest of me doing my part for earth conservation today, I will limit myself to a general use mode.

Leaving the house- If all the devices on your system are ready to be turned on meaning doors are closed, windows are closed, nobody is walking around in front of a motion detector etc. Your system will display “Ready”. If any thing is not ready on your system your keypad will display its location so that you can know where to go to make it ready. The keypad would say “Zone 2 open” or “Back door open” if you have an Alpha keypad.

If multiple areas are not ready it will scroll through all of them.

Press “AWAY”- This will tell the control that you are leaving the house and want all devices including the motion detectors armed. The keypad will begin to emit a beep at 1-second intervals. This is your systems way of saying to you “Have a great day, goodbye!”

The exit counter is usually set for approximately 60 seconds but can be longer if your lifestyle requires a longer exit time. Once the exit time has expired your system is “ARMED” and is protecting your house or business.

Returning home- When you come home you will enter through a door that has been pre-assigned as a delay door. As you open the door the keypad emits a steady welcome home tone. This entry delay time is usually set for approximately 30-seconds but once again can be tailored to your lifestyle. The system needs you to enter your complete code (3 to 8 digits) to turn off your system so it will not go into an alarm condition.

If you entered through a delay door first the system will let you walk in front of a motion detector if needed to get to the keypad, for the complete entry delay period.

Turning your system on for the evening- When you are staying at home you will want to turn on your perimeter system but not your interior devices such as motion detectors on the main floors.

Press “STAY”- This will let the system know that there will be activity inside the home so it will turn off the assigned motion detectors and any other interior traps you may have. It will arm the perimeter doors, windows, glass break detectors and any other perimeter devices you may have.

In the STAY mode the system knows nobody is leaving so it does not emit a goodbye countdown from the keypad. If nobody leaves through the doors within 60 seconds or so, the system will remove the entry delay time from your usual delay doors. This means that if someone opens even a delay door while you are armed in the stay mode the alarm will sound instantly. If someone does leave within 60 seconds or so, the system will activate the entry delay so they will get a welcome home tone and time to disarm upon their return.

Disarm in the morning- When you are ready to turn your alarm off simply enter your code. The red armed light turns off.

Returning home to a violated system- If your system was violated while you were away the siren will sound for a pre-programmed period of time. After this alarm time expires the systems will re-arm preparing for a second attempt. When you return home the keypad will be emitting a high pitch and rapidly beeping tone. The keypad will also tell you where the security breach occurred in the order of violation. If you hear such a tone on your return you should LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! as the burglars may still be in the house. Go to a neighbor’s house and make sure the authorities clear your home as safe to enter before re-entering. When it is safe to return just enter your code to reset the violation alert.

This is yet another way that your system protects people as well as property. This feature coupled with the distress code is for me the best reasons to have a system. When you are thinking about what is irreplaceable in your home I hope you are placing your loved ones and yourself at the top of that list.

On the lighter side there is the opportunity to eliminate another future worry from your life. There is nothing better than returning home and knowing as you unlock your door that nobody has been or still is in your house. If you open the door and hear a normal welcome home tone, all is well. If your keypad was removed forcefully by an uninvited quest, you will not hear your tone and you will still suspect that something is wrong.

The scenarios I have just gone over with you will pretty much cover your daily use of your security system. As you can see the system is not complicated for you to use.

The Percentage, by which you decrease your likelihood of being a victim, far exceeds the inconvenience of having to learn something new.

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