Designing Around The Perfect Storm

As I’m starting to lay out system designs, I’ve come across a challenge I’d love to hear some opinions on. The bottom floor of my house is a (mostly) open floor plan layout, three rooms containing 15 windows, plus 3 more if you count the master bedroom. I’m not completely keen on the idea of putting window sensors on all of them, if for no other reason than initial cost considerations alone (trying not to blow the bank out of the gate). Even enough glass break sensors to cover the area would be pretty tough, and a bit lacking in entry coverage imho. Ideally I could use 2 (possibly 3) well placed motion sensors and be done, but then comes the challenge. In addition to the possible triggers from all the light of the windows, there are 3 cats in play.

The front half of the house I could probably manage as I think a decent Pet Immune sensor would work. The only furniture that would be in range of the sensor would be 20+ feet away. At that distance I’m thinking they wouldn’t be a factor. The back half is where the challenge comes in. That’s where the bulk of the windows are, plus the furniture is probably within about 10-15 feet of where the motion sensor would need to go.

So now we get to the suggestions part of today’s program. My initial hunch is to start off with the motion sensors, but set them in a group that wouldn’t trigger the alarm in away mode. Then I could keep track of detection events for a while to determine if they’d work or not. I’ve been doing a good bit of digging around the web for ideas, but that’s the best I’ve come up with so far. Any other suggestions on how to create a perimeter without needing ~15 window sensors?

I was about to say you could use motion detectors without any issue as the light wouldn’t affect them, but then you said you had cats. With animals that can get up on furniture, particularly cats, motion detectors can be a major source of false alarms. If you can keep the cats out of the basement when you’re not home or arming in Stay, then I would say go for the motions. If that’s not an option, I would suggest a combination of window sensors and glass breaks. However, if cost is a concern, you could get away with the Honeywell Glassbreaks. I think they’re more reliable.

Your idea of setting up motion detectors that don’t arm in stay to see if they’re going to be a problem is a good one. In fact, that’s the way we preprogram them for customers. However, you will have to worry about any arming in Away. And if you’re never really planning on arming in Away, then the money you spend on motion detectors for testing purposes would be better spent on just getting window sensors that you know will work.

Yeah, the cats are the fun one. I see posts from people with multiple cats saying they’ve never had a false alarm, and others with a single cat setting things off left and right. I’m sure much of that has to do with layout, cat activity, and sensor quality, but it’s quite challenging finding the true common denominators. I must admit it’s surprising to me that we haven’t figured out how to make better “pet immune” sensors in this day and age. I know with PIR it’s tough by the very nature of the device, but it seems we should have come up with something better by now. :slight_smile:

On the glassbreak, I’m looking to go with a QolSys panel, so that takes Honeywell out of the equation. My one thought on the if-I-have-to-rule-out-motion approach is to go down the criminal profiler route. Dealing with the lower floor with all the windows, only two of the areas are on the back of the house. One is on the side pretty visible to the street, and one is in the front. And of the two in back, one is off of a glassed sunroom first. So I’d definitely need at least 2 glassbreaks back there, but that would probably cover it. Of course that doesn’t cover either “quiet” breaks or cutting, but since I imagine the most likely scenario for someone in my house is a smash and grab, it’s a logical guess.

I have a cat, and multiple motions (image sensors and PIR1s), I very rarely have any issues with false activations.

I would recommend using Image sensors and cameras with VMD.

If you are worried about pets, you can set the image sensors (which are newer PIR motions with infared camera capabilities), to capture motion events instead of alarming panel and send you captured image.

As for Glass breaks, they are very easy to defeat (duct tape and ball peen hammer) Recommend you get some interior sensors as opposed to relying so heavily on perimeter.

For glass breaks, see:

Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of glassbreaks except as a supplement. First choice would definitely be motion if I can work with the cats, but barring that I’ll have to plop down the cash for a boatload of sensors, and possibly tack a couple of glassbreaks on as supplemental.

I’m thinking my first approach (though it means less protection to start) is going to be look for a place that has a decent return policy on sensors, grab a couple motion (or possibly image) sensors to test, and go from there. If they don’t work I can return, or just use them in a different place that the cats don’t go when we’re not home (sunroom for example), and get the window sensors. My next step is more digging trying to find the best rated GE compatible motion sensor for pet immunity.

Maybe, since we’re almost to the point where a single smart phone camera can do the same thing as the XBox Kinect can, someone will come up with a camera based motion sensor that can analyze the target size to determine it’s a pet instead of a larger human form.

If you go glass break…consider installing also combo shock sensors (one for each window) its a dual window sensor that also acts as a shock sensor.

Then may a single glass break as a third line of defense to cover all windows in a certain area.

FYI the trick for pir motions and cats is to properly install the sensor. Most don’t. Do not face them so they see windows/glass, or furniture that a cat likes to jump on.

The only time my cat activates a motion is when she streaks. I minimize this by only leaving doors partially open so she has to go slow out of a room into hall, or vice versa. This also helps for the third floor motion which can see the window in bedroom. Keeping door almost closed allows cat to have egress, and prevents sunlight from activating pir


So now that I’m getting the initial run of equipment ordered, it’s time to revisit this. I’m still thinking I might get away with PIRs in two critical locations. The back of the house would have it about 15 feet from the back of the couch and close to 20 from the stairs. The other would be in the hallway and would catch front window, door (though will have door sensors of course) and bedroom as methods of entry. I don’t think there is anything within range of that location that the cats would be jumping on (possible exception of dining room table which is about 10 feet from sensor.

With that in mind, I’m thinking a decent pet friendly PIR would work (or a good dual tech), which begs the question. Can someone recommend decent pet immune senors compatible with the QolSys? Most of the ones I’ve found, including Interlogix and Resolution both show as 40lb, and resolution even says not for use with cats. Interlogix doesn’t have any mention of cats, but I"m thinking if I could find a dual tech or 80lb-ish immune, that might help.

When it comes to felines, I would typically recommend trying to completely avoid the headache of PIR motion detector false alarms. In my experience, the cat will find a way. So dual tech is definitely the way to go if you want motion detection. If you are going to use multiple motions, it may not be terribly cost-inefficient to go with Honeywell compatible dual techs and a translator.

I am only aware of wired dual tech GE motion detectors (RCR-50). I am awaiting word from Interlogix on wireless options, in case they recently released one or have one in the pipeline. I will update this thread.

Thanks much. I’m still wavering on the PIR idea. I’d consider image sensors with alerts, but the volume of those could get pretty ridiculous.

The only challenge in not using them is the sheer number of windows downstairs. It’ll take a ton of sensors/break/shocks to effectively cover. Might just have to take that route a bit at a time.

Any update on this Jason? I seem to have issues occasionally with our cat and the motion sensor. My first day out of town, had a false alarm…most likely due to the cat.

This is a very old thread, (referring to an older panel model)and Interlogix is actually shuttering its security business, so there won’t be any new GE/Interlogix sensors, but there are other options for newer alarm panels. It looks like you are referring to an IQ Panel 2+.

With an IQ Panel 2+ you have access to Power G sensors. The PG9984 would be a good option for a wireless dual PIR and Microwave detector.

For what it’s worth, I left the motion sensors and glass breaks out of the equation. I did add a pan & tilt camera that covers a good chunk of the ground floor in default position and created a couple of motion detection zones that are nearly impossible for the cats to trigger, but that would be triggered by a human walking through them. Doesn’t trigger the alarm, but I get alerts and can look and see if it’s still just the cat (or massive change in sunlight that can trigger on occasion) or something to worry about. Not a perfect solution, but covers me fairly well.

I do keep considering getting some glass breaks, I just need to break down and get one to test a couple scenarios on. I don’t think the cats would make enough noise to trigger it, but we have a sunroom with an aluminum roof, and I’m wondering if a powerful enough rainfall would hit the right pitch and SPL to trigger.

we have a sunroom with an aluminum roof, and I’m wondering if a powerful enough rainfall would hit the right pitch and SPL to trigger.

Its a good idea to test locally for false positives in this type of scenario prior to fully relying on a glass break. Unfortunately its up to mother nature to be reliable.

That’s one reason I’ve never gotten around to testing it. Been too lazy to order a glass break sensor, then wait for a good old mid-south thunderstorm. :slight_smile: