A passive infrared (PIR) sensor measures infrared (IR) light radiating from objects in its field of view. If a person or object moves in front of the PIR, the infrared light measurements change and the alarm activates.
Magnetic reed switches (MRS) are typically used on doors to detect when the door has been opened. MRS come in two parts: A reed switch that is attached to the doorframe, and a magnetic strip that is attached to the door close enough for the reed switch to detect its magnetic field. When the door is opened, the magnet strip moves away from the reed switch, causing the alarm to activate. MRS can also be used on windows.
A glass break detector listens for the specific acoustic frequency that is generated when a pane of glass is shattered or broken. These sensors have a range of about 6 metres (20 feet) and are commonly used near glass doors or glass store-front windows.
A temperature alarm detector uses an electronic thermometer to measure the surrounding temperature and will activate the alarm system should the temperature go over or under the thresholds that have been programmed into the detector. For example, the temperature in a commercial refrigeration room needs to be maintained within a narrow range so foodstuffs do not spoil. A temperature alarm detector can be set to send an alert when the temperature falls too low and the foodstuff is in danger of freezing or when the temperature climbs too high where bacteria can make it unsafe to consume. Temperature alarms have many applications from cool storage of medical specimens and vaccines to datacentre server rooms - anything where too high or low a temperature can cause a problem.
There are two main types of smoke detector: ionization and photoelectric. Ionization-type smoke alarms use a chamber that holds a small amount of radioactive held material between two electrically charged plates. This material ionizes the air and causes the electric current to flow between the two plates. Smoke entering the chamber disrupts the flow of ions, which in turn reduces the flow of current and activates the alarm. Photoelectric-type detectors use a beam of light and a light sensor that are set within a 'T' shaped chamber - the light beam is projected across the top of the 'T' chamber and the sensor is located on the bottom of the 'T' at a ninety degree angle to the beam of light so the light does not hit the sensor. Smoke particles entering the chamber reflect some of the light down to the bottom of the ‘T’ chamber where it hits the sensor and activates the alarm.
A medical pendant is a wireless button device attached to a lanyard that hangs around the wearer’s neck. Should the wearer require medical assistance, they can push the button on the device sending an alarm signal to the alarm-monitoring centre who will be able to assist. In the past, medical pendants worked as part of a traditional alarm panel installed in the user’s home, which limited the distance the wearer could move from the alarm panel before being ‘out of range’ and the button would not work. With the modern technologies now available, there are now medical pendant devices that use mobile phone and GPS locating services so a wearer can use their medical alarm anywhere that there is mobile phone coverage.
Holdup alarms are alarms that require a person under duress to covertly trigger the alarm to summon the proper authorities. These types of alarms are most commonly found in retail establishments and financial institutions, but are sometimes an integrated feature of home burglar alarms. The trigger could be a push button, electronic money clip, a foot rail, or a number of other things. Either the person under duress or a witness can activate this kind of alarm. For example, if someone is ambushed outside of their home and told to disable their alarm system they can possibly enter a special duress code that is different from their normal deactivation code to notify authorities without arousing suspicion. These alarms are almost always silent and usually require a manual reset with a key or a special code.
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