Because we all want to feel safe and secure, the prevalence and necessity of security systems has always been a driving factor in business and industry. The tragic events of Sept. 11 have pushed the envelope even further and it now seems as if everyone wants to install a security system or upgrade their current one. This is not unexpected, since we all would like to feel safe again. What transpired in 2001 left both businesses and individuals feeling vulnerable.

Trust seems to have been lost and security systems are an immediate option, one many consider in an attempt to find a semblance of normalcy. There is no formula for complete safety, but security systems are the best line of defense for any business or building. Since the desire for safety is such a large part of society, electrical contractors need to be fully aware of all the aspects of these applications.

Security systems and their associated, required cabling have always been somewhat of a natural extension of traditional electrical contract offerings. The inherent similarities in both design and installation of the cabling allow most electrical contractors to easily offer security-system design and installation services in addition to their standard functions. One can add to this mix the maintenance and service sides of the security system market, too. Once all of these options have been combined, it becomes increasingly clear why many electrical contractors have taken the steps required to branch off into the security market.

The wiring required for all electrical systems is the backbone of operations for voice and data systems and security systems. In general, security-system wiring is less complex than that of electrical systems, which means that understanding this market is something that electrical contractors can easily pick up on and put into practice. Delving into the security-system business can be a boon for electrical contractors, especially since they already have a wealth of knowledge and experience. This can be attributed to the acceptance of the voice and data market as an additional offering for electrical contractors: by adding security systems to the overall mix, a contractor’s total offerings grow once more.

The bulk of security systems operate off of low-voltage wiring, and, typically, Category 5 or 6 cable is used. This is an important aspect for electrical contractors, since this type of cable is generally used during an initial installation of voice/data systems. The simple addition of extra cabling runs places any given project right on track to incorporate security systems and their associated components. Since most electrical contractors routinely delve into the communications market, the logistics behind security systems is almost always already in place.

When people talk about security systems, they could be referring to a wide variety of things. More often than not, a comprehensive security system includes a multitude of components that may include such items as card access, video monitors, motion detectors and surveillance equipment. Add to this the common practice of linking fire systems with security systems, and the picture becomes much clearer. Interoperability becomes an issue, as does stability. In addition, a reliable and properly designed, installed and maintained electrical system is required to power the entire setup, no matter how many components it may contain. The electrical system is a vital aspect.

Regardless of which specific system components are used, all of them will need to be supplied with power. This is where electrical contractors and their associated expertise within the industry becomes important.

Another important element in the equation is that most security systems need to be incorporated into the voice/data network to become effective. This is crucial for customers that have split operations or remote locations. Having a centralized location for the viewing, assessment and storage of all security-related information is essential.

All in all, the similarities between various systems such as voice systems, data systems, fire alarms and security systems parallel that of traditional electrical systems, and contractors need to be fully aware of the possibilities that exist. EC

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.