The invisible barrier

August 2013 Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection

The secret behind successful outdoor intruder detection is the ability to specify and adequately install a system that marries the environment to the customer’s needs. Matt De Araujo, head of products at IDS, discussed some of the current trends in outdoor detection, with Hi-Tech Security Solutions.

“The reason that homeowners want an outdoor detection system is that they require early warning that an intruder is on the premises, and they need to deter the intruder from entering the premises. As a result, we have seen a large increase in popularity of outdoor detection systems over the past few years,” said De Araujo.

He pointed out that there are four predominant detector technologies that have come to the fore. Firstly, there is the traditional volumetric passive infrared which uses AND logic, whereby signals from two detector heads are required to activate the alarm. Curtain lookdown detectors are installed under the upper section of window frames or under eaves to detect movement below them. Active infrared beams are very accurate for point to point detection. Finally, strip barrier beams, which are also used for point to point detection, create a comprehensive invisible wall solution. Over the past few years, wireless outdoor detectors have become extremely reliable and popular due to the simplicity of the installation. This allows installation companies to do more installations using less resources.”

There are a number of challenges to overcome in outdoor detection systems, according to De Araujo. “It is critical to carefully consider and analyse the environment in which the premises are situated. The first step in this process is product selection by a trained salesperson. The key here is to ensure that the salesperson is not recommending a specific product just to make a sale. It is critical that the correct product is specified for the environment under discussion. It will do damage to the reputation of the installer and the industry if a product that is recommended fails to live up to its capabilities.

“The second challenge arises with the installer. Unless an installer has been appropriately trained to not only install and set up the detector, but to also verify the recommendations of the salesperson based on environmental conditions, the system may not perform according to spec. A third issue, which has now been overcome to a great degree, is the stability of the technology used over the past 10 years. We do still see instances of inferior, cheap products on the market that fail to perform adequately and that are often completely inoperative in less than 12 months or soon after their warranty expires,” added De Araujo.

Probably the biggest challenge, however, is customer expectation. It is important to consult closely with the customer so that they are made aware of any environmental issues that could affect the performance of their outdoor detection system. The presence of large pets, monkeys and large birds can trigger the detectors. In addition, should a customer request a system that will allow large pets to roam freely around the property, they need to understand that the efficacy of the system will be negatively affected.

“In addition, consumers have become more discerning about the aesthetics and performance of their outdoor detection systems. They require a housing that is durable and robust enough to withstand inclement weather conditions; something that is generally absent with unknown brands. In order to ensure a system that performs well, in terms of detecting intruders and reducing false alarms, the expectations of the customer must be discussed in advance of product selection. Assessment of the ambient environment and the selection of the correct detector will then play the major role in the success of the system,” De Araujo concluded.

For more information contact IDS (Inhep Digital Security), +27 (0)31 705 1373,


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