August 2007 Tech Talk Online Q & A

Q: With the price of copper going through the roof, we have experienced a large increase in the theft of central air conditioning units lately. Since they are not typically inside the protected premises, do you have any suggestions in protecting them for my customers?

A: I would suggest using an old favorite of mine called the “Magnapull.” It is available from GE Security and comes in many flavors. You will need to attach a supervised base box on the building and the Magnapull cabling receptacle on the compressor body. What’s nice about this alarm sensor configuration is its tethered type cabling system and good resistance to outside weather. It is also electrically supervised. There are no open contacts and an AC serviceman can temporarily disconnect the cabling. Just make sure you turn the alarm zone off first. The base of the circuit can either be hardwired or use an RF transmitter.

Q: I have a customer asking about dummy security devices, such as dummy CCTV camera and dummy smoke detectors hiding covert cameras. I monitor a system for the customer and feel funny about supplying dummy equipment. What do you think?

A: Your instincts are good. There have been many nasty lawsuits by people who have been injured and felt this type of dummy equipment gave a false sense of security. I would stay away from the practice altogether. In fact, I recently heard a story of a large municipal fire department making camera equipment resellers pull smoke detectors with covert cameras off merchant shelves until they were actually working with a functioning smoke detector.


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