Selecting the right wire and installing it properly are key to the performance of a security system.

Would you want your heart surgeon cutting corners while you were on the operating table? The answer, of course, is an emphatic “No!” Why? Because your life is precious.

Installing dealers are the heart surgeons of the security industry. Just as the surgeon must exercise the utmost care when working with the aorta, so too must the installer be ever so precise in his or her handling of security wiring. Whether it’s the circulatory system pumping blood or an alarm system sending signals, taking shortcuts or failing to pay attention to detail could cost someone their life.

Whether it’s wire, cable or fiber optics, a system’s optimal interconnectedness is dependent upon the installation of the proper transmission channels. Considerations include the application, manufacturers’ specifications, end-user requirements, industry codes and standards, and the voice of experience.

Choose Cable According to Application

Tailoring wire selection to the application is the most important consideration when doing an installation. Does the job involve burglary, access control, fire, CCTV? Perhaps it’s an integration installation consisting of several elements. Is it a residential, business or industrial environment? What are the end user’s expectations? Is there a need to run additional cabling to allow for future expansion or upgrading (known as future-proofing)?

In general, twisted-pair wire is used for voice and data communications; coax is used for video signal transmission; and fiber is used for voice, data and video.

Minimize Runs and Mark Your Cable

Good training and aptitude, as well as on-the-job experience, are the key ingredients to becoming a real installing pro. A query of experts, who reveal their “tricks of the trade,” proves you have to be resourceful, too. One of the most important practices is the proper marking of cable.

90 percent of Cat 5 Wire is Improperly Installed

Cat 5 wire is versatile in an application, but can be temperamental in installation. It’s been estimated that as much as 90 percent of all Cat 5 wire has been improperly installed and is, therefore, operating below spec. Splices, high-voltage interference and pull tension are some of the many elements to keep in mind when running this data cable.

Coax Loses Signal Over Long Distances

Coax cable is very tough in appearance and seems nearly impervious to damage. However, it turns out that coax is susceptible to signal loss through hazards like lengthy runs, staple guns, sharp turns and poor terminations.

Fiber Requires Special Tools and Training

Fiber optics involves entirely different technology and has distinctly different characteristics from copper wiring. Therefore, it has its own set of do’s and don’ts. The medium requires special tools and training that addresses cutting, smoothing, polishing and running fiber. Fortunately, the technology is becoming less mysterious as fiber use becomes more widespread.

Today’s Installers Must Have Wiring Wired

Technology is rapidly infiltrating everyplace people live and work, and most of it requires one form or another of wiring. As the lines between different technologies blur, it becomes incumbent upon security professionals to familiarize themselves with and venture into other wired applications.

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