Friday, 31 January 2014

Home security for boats

Recently we updated our burglar alarm at our home. (ch√Ęteau 'Wits End') We chose a wireless type of alarm system, just for the ease of installation. The alarm system had to be able to protect the three floors of our home as well as two external conservatories, garage and garden shed. As we spend increasing amount of time on our boat we wanted a system that could send alert messages to our mobile phone.

Sourcing: There are many different wireless alarm systems available on the market and you will certainly be spoilt for making a choice. I downloaded several instruction manuals for different systems so that I could get a good idea of the variations available.

Facilities: The alarm system chosen had a wide number of additional facilities available. Such as wireless smoke detectors, wireless alarm sounders and a panic alarm. The ability to reset, arm and disarm the alarm via a simple text message. 

Video clips, sound recordings  and even still photographs can be captured and automatically uploaded to your smartphone. Depending on installing of additional recording devices. One thing I liked was that the door bell is also linked by wireless to the alarm and it records the time and date of the door bell being pressed.

Installing: Easy installation is essential, however it is also essential that each trigger unit should be able to communicate with the central alarm control unit. But the central control unit also needs to have a good signal with a mobile phone network.  Sighting of the control unit in this instance is to ensure a good signal from the wireless telephone network was essential.

It then struck me that such an expandable system would also be an ideal alarm for installation on a boat. 

Wireless Water Detector
So I started to look around for a starter wireless system with similar facilities including the sending of text messages. A system that can be expanded by adding sensors to up the level of protection needed. On a boat modern gas detectors can be used to detect smoke, raised temperatures and a wide range of combustible and toxic gases.

Gasses such as Carbon Monoxide. Propane and Methane. The units transmit warnings via wireless when dangerous levels of gas vapours are detected. 

Another alarm that would be useful on a boat would be a sensor for detecting water leakage. Which can be used in any place such as the bilge where there is a need to protect against water leakage.

All the more usual sensors and detectors are available, such as door, window and PIR (passive infra red) types. PIRs come in many configurations for a wide variety of applications. The most common models have numerous fresnel lens segments, giving an effective range of about ten metres (thirty feet), and a narrow "curtain" coverage.

A typical small expandable system with three door sensors, for the front back and side doors. Two PIR movement sensors, water level sensor , smoke detector, CO and gas sensor. Will cost about a hundred pounds to install. This would come complete with a 115db siren which is amazingly loud and painfully uncomfortable in a small area like the inside of the boat. Usually supplied with two fob style remote access controllers. Some even come supplied with an App for your smartphone.

Factor into the running costs the need for occasional battery replacement and a pay as you go sim card. Several providers are making low cost PAYG sim just for this purpose which will cost from £3.50 a month up to the usual £10 a month.

TalkTalk do a PAYG sim card which costs £3.50 a month (12 month contract) with 250 texts messages a month allowance. Click Here

Remember: If you do not make or receive a chargeable call at least once in any 6 month period a standard Sim Card will be disconnected and you will lose any remaining credits balance on your Account. As long as the system does something to create a chargeable action every few months, or you manually poke it to send something, it should be fine.  My alarm is one that you can set to send a text a status report on a periodic basis and thus maintain the SIM card activity.

You could also use Family Mobile (my choice) they run off the back of EE (T-mobile/Orange) You don't have to pay a monthly top up. You top it up when you get your SIM and the credit lasts until it runs out and they won't cut you off if you don't use the credit within a certain time frame. Cost is 4p per text. Click Here

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