HUA Help: Holdup Alarm Best Practices

When it comes to HUA devices, what you propose and install could someday save a person’s life. Here are some installation tips and resources.

What do you do when a prospective customer asks for a holdup alarm (HUA)? Many times a dealer will just give them a single button under the service counter. This month, we will take a more in-depth look at correctly applying HUA devices to a customer’s account, whether it be commercial or residential. 

First, let’s get in the right frame of mind. Why do we take fire equipment installation so seriously? It is because it is a life-safety installation. We should get in the same frame of mind for HUA devices. What you propose and install could someday save a person’s life.

Yes, a single button under the counter is something. However, did you offer the customer the option of a more complete installation of duress devices? If he is not interested, make sure to get it in writing from your onsite security survey and proposal.

When dealing with an HUA device you are typically dealing with a silent alarm dispatch. The question often comes up, should I make an HUA audible or silent?

Most will lean to making the alarm silent as you do not want to aggravate a possibly armed robber. Because it is silent, it deserves extra respect as to the silent nature of the alarm. Care should be taken in the design of the HUA device.

Dual-button devices should be used, or at least recessed single buttons should be used to avoid someone accidentally bumping the button. A latching indicator HUA device should be used to help identify the HUA device, especially when multiple devices are in the same alarm circuit. They can often be reset by a button, or in some cases a proprietary key.  

Good locations for your HUA devices are extremely important, as again it could save a life someday. Make sure to have HUA devices in locked storerooms and coolers as this is often a place robbers will place personnel during a hold-up. Make sure the devices are located both high and low on the wall, as personnel maybe tied up or injured on the floor. This goes the same for store counters and offices.   

HUA money clip devices are useful to signal a robbery is in progress and money is being forcibly removed. Makes sure to use dual HUA clips so that if money in one is accidentally removed and noticed, a silent alarm will not be tripped. The Monitoring Association (TMA) recommends a trouble signal be reported if both HUA devices are not secure. Money must be cleared out of both HUA clips simultaneously for the alarm to be sent. 

Wireless HUA devices can be very useful, but can also cause false alarms. Staff must be trained on how to handle these versatile devices.

Make sure to know the range that a customer can expect a wireless device to operate as some may assume it will work in the outer areas of a commercial facility. Make sure to provide relay devices to get the proper coverage. 

Home invasions are on the rise and customers should have plenty of HUA devices strategically located around the house. Having a wireless fob HUA device can be handy when talking to strangers at the door.  

Below I have listed some suggested HUA devices to consider when putting together an HUA strategy with your customer/prospect. 

  • George Risk Industries – The GRI3045 Panic Switch has a protective cover and is good for active areas such as cooler and storage room. The HD-1 Hold Up Switch is dual activated using a unique capacitive switch. Good for service counters. 
  • Magnasphere – Panic Switch Kits MK-3045T and MK-3045L are new and the nicely designed protective coverings make them good for reduction of false alarms. 
  • Eaton – The reliable application of long range wireless HUA devices can be demanding. The 705, 710 and 726 models come with 10mW transmitting power. 
  • Robert Dolph Consulting – Yes, readers may want to look back at the Dolph Double-Trap circuit I designed and published back in 2011. It will report a trouble if only one device in a dual money clip is activated. Something for you to think about and comply with TMA requirements. 
  • Potter Security – A long established company with quality HUA devices. Take a look at the HUB and HUS series. Many configurations of dual button and latching functionality. UL Listed as well. 
  • SECO-LARM – A range of HUA devices starting from the SS-47Q/BG Double Button Momentary to the SS-077Q and SS-078Q Latching Holdup Button with reset key. 

(Image courtesy of Inovonics)

Tool of the Month 

Dealing with large duress systems in large facilities can be extremely challenging. Inovonics has recently released the Mobile Duress API integration with Rapid Response Monitoring

This is built upon the Inovonics Cloud platform and marries reliable Inovonics wireless products with established Rapid Response monitoring. It can both receive and locate a duress situation. It appears to me like we have a win-win combination and may be worth a further look. 

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Our Newsletters