|This month, I would like to discuss a
topic that I am sure that you can identify with. Hopefully,this
article will provide you with an interesting solution that solves a
problem situation that has been encountered many, many times by
almost every alarm company at one time or another.
examine the different categories of service calls.
Some service calls
are caused by defective or worn parts. Sometimes contacts go bad,
sometimes motion detectors false, backup batteries need to be
replaced every so often. This type of service call is something that
you can understand, and your customer can understand.
Some service calls
are the result of insufficient planning on the part of your
installer. Some examples of this might be a 2nd floor smoke detector
installed just outside of the hall bathroom that goes into alarm
when someone takes a nice hot shower, and then opens up the bathroom
door which allows lots of steam to cascade right into your smoke
installer didn't really eyeball the recessed roller switch that he
just installed on the front door, and didn't realize that even
though closing the door gave you a ready light, in February when
it's 10 degrees out and that wooden door gets just a tiny bit
smaller, the shim that he should have installed back in July would
Let's face it,
things happen, and even with all of the proper planning on your
part, and even though you stress quality workmanship, and expect the
same from all of your employees, there is one service call that you
have never been able to avoid, until now.
I will lay it out
for you this way: You get a call from your customer and the
conversation goes something like this...
"My alarm rang last
night, and I never got a call from your central station, no police,
no call, nothing. Now I have a trouble light lit on my keypad.
What's going on?
You now ask a
series of probing questions of your customer, and you conclude that
the alarm actually did ring, and after checking with the central
station you now know for sure that there was no alarm signal sent,
and that the trouble light is indicating a failure to communicate.
Now you are thinking, bad panel? or, did I reprogram for the latest
area code? or is my call forwarding line working ok? or was
it.......Hey wait a minute, "Was the Phone Company at your house
lately to do any work?". Now we are getting somewhere...
indicates that yes, the phone company was out there last week
because they had some static on the line, but it is fixed now, but
what does that have to do with the alarm anyway? Now you have to
explain that you are going to have to have someone come to there
house and reconnect the alarm connection at the Network Interface,
you know that little gray box outside of your house, because the
Phone Company disconnected the wire leading to the their alarm
This is probably
one of the least favorite service calls for lots of reasons.
Generally, the Network Interface is outside, behind a bush or two,
in mulch, and maybe it's a rainy day, as a bonus.
When you open the
box, you may see your wire disconnected, or maybe you will see all
of the wires inside the interface neatly connected to the various
red and green screw terminals. At the very least, you will have to
determine which wire is the one running to the alarm system (the
wire you ran when you installed the system originally). If the phone
company just re-connected all of the red and green wires to the
corresponding screw terminals, the communicator should still work,
but forget about line seizure, and upload/download
Just for the
record, let me take a minute to cover exactly how the connection
works between the typical Network Interface, and the alarm panel.
Using a 4 conductor wire, the green and red wires get connected to
the screw terminals on the customer side of the interface. The green
and red wires are the "feed" wires, and are connected to the proper
terminals of the alarm system. The black and yellow wires are the
"return" wires that bring the dial tone back to the interface. It is
this return connection that invariably leads to problems.
Since it is
imperative that the red and green wires feeding the alarm are the
only wires that are to be connected to the screw terminals, this
means that the black and yellow return wires from the alarm must be
connected to the household phone wires (which will consist of a
minimum of 1 set of wires to possibly as many as 8). Usually this
connection will be a "floating" connection inside of the Network
Interface and the connection protected by chicklets, tape, crimps,
and/or all of the above. Here is a short list of problems associated
with this type of connection:
1. The Phone
Company technician will probably not be familiar with the connection
that you have made, and will almost always cut it out and reconnect
just the red and green.
2. Even though you
may have left the job with the alarm wire being the only thing on
the screw terminals, another party may connect something else later,
like a new extension into the "home office" or a new extension into
the garage or kid's room. No more line seizure for you.
3. Even though you
may have installed the RJ-31X at the alarm panel, you still are
responsible for the condition and integrity of the wire inbetween
the interface and the jack and/or alarm panel.
Wouldn't it be nice
if there was a way to connect the phone line to the alarm panel and
not have to worry about all of the above listed problems? How about
something that requires no chicklets, no tape, no crimps. and just
plugs into the interface?
Well, there is a
new device available that enables you to make your alarm/telco
connection in about 15 seconds. The BW Connector from Better Way
Products provides you with a great new way to handle this
connection. You simply run a 4 conductor wire to the interface, as
usual. Instead of removing any wires from the terminals inside the
box and making splices, you just connect the alarm wire to the 4
position header of the BW Connector, plug the male end into the
interface jack, and plug the small lead from the interface into the
female side of the BW.
You never have to
touch the customer's wires, and you just plug it in. Later on, if
the customer or the Phone Company needs to service the line, the
connector can be easily removed and replaced in seconds. This is a
product that will not only save lots of time during the initial
installation, but will save you lots of time in the form of service
calls that will no longer be made necessary. Best of all, this new
product sells for about $5.00.
As far as I am
concerned, any time you can save time and eliminate service calls,
that's a good thing! You can contact Better Way Products at
1-888-906-2669.You can visit them at www.bwconnector.com . Their
email address is