Defense / Security / Safety

One SHTF Prep Item I’ll Bet Almost Nobody Has

top-secretI’ll cut right to the chase: I’ve been pondering wireless alarm systems lately. Ever since my 99 capacities post on Detect, Deter, and Deny Intruders a few weeks back I’ve been thinking that an alarm system is a potential prep item that I’ve overlooked. Sure, we talk about alarm systems as being something you can and should use when times are “normal,” but I don’t see anyone discussing them in a SHTF scenario.

Maybe that’s because it’s a usless prep but maybe not. And, yes, I recognize there are more primitive alarm systems we might utilize such as the beer can tripwire alarm but I say we should utilize technology whenever and wherever we can… it’s kind of like one of those force multipliers Rawles talks so fondly of.

The thing is, my general experience with alarm systems is a throw-back to when I was a latchkey kid and everything was hard wired and needed to be professionally installed. Apparently, the times they are a changin’ and now they have DIY wireless alarm systems that might rival what you can pay to have installed. To be clear, I haven’t yet purchased a wireless alarm system and I’m still not sure if it’s a brilliant idea or not, but let me throw a few things at you…

It’s DIY

First, it’s supposed to be a DIY project. Reading some of the various wireless alarm system reviews suggest it’s not that difficult to install but there are a few things to pay attention to; the bottom line is to read the manual thoroughly–for whatever system you purchase–and follow the instructions… yes, guys, that means you. 😉

Low Price

Second, they’re relatively inexpensive. It seems I can purchase a complete system for around $200, such as the following. Per the description, the system includes 10 door/windows sensors, 3 motion sensors, a siren, 3 remote controllers and more:

That said, there are some systems out there that are quite a bit less expensive but only include a few sensors which I doubt would do much good for any typical home. As for the above reference system, I’m really only interested in the door/window sensors and motion sensors.

No Grid Power

Third, because it’s wireless, that means it runs on batteries–at least the sensors do–which means you don’t need grid power to work the alarm system. Unfortunately, the sensors use an A23 battery (which is about 1/2 the size of a AAA battery) so you would need to stock up on them if you intend to use the system for REALLY long periods of time. Of course, I’m willing to be the batteries last for a long time as it is, since I doubt the manufacturer expects people to be changing batteries every month or two.

The only major problem I see is that you would also need to power the siren and main unit using a small off-grid system. A bit of research on the PiSector website indicates that the base unit draws very little current but needs 220 volts–maybe just for the siren?–so I’m not entirely sure how all that would work for an off-grid setup. I’m sure someone with some electrical knowledge could enlighten me.

Benefits for “Normal” Times

Well, you could use this just like any other alarm system. In fact, these systems can be programmed to call your cell phone (or other numbers) in the event a sensor gets triggered.

Now, What Can You do With The System in a SHTF Scenario?

Well, the fact that most people’s homes are way too large to be watched at all times makes utilizing an alarm system such as this one plausible. Think about your house. How many exterior doors and windows are there? Probably dozens. It might stand to reason that, in a true SHTF scenario, you would cordon off most of the house and choose to occupy one or two main rooms to conserve resources and maybe for defense. That being the case, you would then want to be able to “keep watch” on the unused parts of the house.

For example, let’s say you have a house with a basement. You choose to occupy the basement and leave the upstairs un-guarded. In this case you could use an alarm system to alert you to intruders. You could use the door/window sensors to monitor the upstairs windows and doors and even place the motion sensors strategically upstairs as additional early-warning devices.

I briefly considered placing the motion sensors strategically outside but I feared too many false alarms. If they were adjustable then maybe this would be a viable option but nothing I’ve read says these sensors can be adjusted to be more or less sensitive to motion. If they were, I would probably attempt to use them outside as even earlier warning devices.

Of course, you could also use the alarm as intended to better secure the area you’re actually inhabiting. In addition, you might be able to use it to secure other structures on your property such as a shed or RV.

I’m also thinking that perhaps you could use the alarm system without connecting the siren. Though I can’t tell for sure, it seems like the unit will indicate if a “zone” or alarm has been triggered. If so, you could then have someone designated to monitor the base unit at night while others are sleeping and be able to respond to a perceived threat without an intruder being aware that they’ve been detected. Sure, it might only be a few to several seconds warning but I’d rather have that than no warning at all.

Now, perhaps an alarm system wouldn’t matter if you’ve properly boarded up windows with plywood or security bars and done something similar to your doors. But, I would suspect you could find good use for it in some manner.

So, what do you think? Useful or not?

By Damian Brindle

How To Effortlessly Get Prepared For Emergencies Of All Kinds In Only 5 Minutes A Day... Fast, Easy, And Inexpensively... In Less Than ONE Single Month... By Following An Expert In The Field: Discover My 5 Minute Survival Blueprint And Get Prepared Today.

11 replies on “One SHTF Prep Item I’ll Bet Almost Nobody Has”

Ran across your posting by accident but thought I might be able
to offer some insight. I have been in the alarm / security industry for the
last 30 years and this is a topic I have given a lot of thought to.
Modern wireless (rf) systems come in 2 basic types. The first type is one
where the entire unit is built is a big touchpad thing that has a receiver
built in. The other type is one that the control box is located in one place and the touchpad is located somewhere else. If at all possible take the second choice. The reason is that a newer alarm panel will run at less than an amp. If you add a touchpad, that current draw goes up and the operating time on a battery goes down. Next – some alarm panels will
only boot up on ac power. This is a bad thing. It may be possible to jump start the ac terminals with your 12 volt battery but I have never tried. As far as transmitter batteries, they will last for 3-5 years. At least the Honeywell transmitters will. Get a control board that
can be operated by a keyswitch. This means you can wire up a push button to arm/disarm the system. You arn’t worried about someone un-authorized turning your system off. If they get that far, you have far more worries. The best approach is to find a programmable system on ebay. Honeywell Vista 10 comes to mind. It’s programmable with an English touchpad and takes a 5800 series add-on receiver. Dsc is also a good choice. Don’t get a panel with lots of fancy functions (multiple areas, lots of wired zones, ect.) Bigger smarter panels require more power to run. Make sure you get the program book that comes with it. My application was to throw together a system and install it in my bug out bag. it would have transmitters in zip lock bags and could be used both indoors (wherever I might end up for a night) or outside. If you rubber band a magnet to the transmitter and tie a trip wire (fishing line) to the magnet – no-one is going to approach your location without you knowing it. Motion detectors work great but are not applicable for an outdoor system. As far as audible, all alarm panel have either a voltage out on alarm (12vdc) or actual audible that goes to a speaker. The voltage output is a better choice. A sonalert works great and it can be wrapped up to make it quieter. The solar panel for charging is also a good idea. A 7 amp hour 12 volt alarm attery will operate the system for 6-8 hours.

Wow! Very cool info. And sounds like there is a lot more to consider than I originally understood. To be honest, I feel a bit more confused than when I started. 🙂 If I ever get serious about this I will certainly take your comment into consideration. Thank you.

Most control units will run off of 12 volts so a good deep cycle battery will run them for a long time. So run it with a battery at night and charge with solar during the day. Expect to lose it all if we get EMPed.
You can tune an infrared sensor by using black electrical tape. Say you have a big dog that sets a sensor off all the time just cover the bottom section of the lens cover with tape.
In a SHTF scenario I would disconnect the the siren as it lets people know a home is occupied by a possible prepper. People are going to be hunting us when there is no food. Radio shack sells piezo buzzers that don’t make as much noise but will wake you if the system goes off.

Solar panels with a battery bank would easily be able to handle the siren and such . Solar was my 2nd phase class at school , they are easy to set up , and you can cut down on the batteries depending on how you wire them to produce the voltage needed .

A great system to have. I installed a Simplisafe wireless system two years ago and love it. You buy the base system with what ever sensors you think you need and can add more later. It uses cell phone to transmit, or you can hook it up to a land line. I purchased the addon exterior alarm, but during a SHTF event, I would probably remove this and just have the interior alarm. It comes with two panic buttons, one mounted at the keypad and the other for a keychain. You can also buy motion sensors for this system, but they are a bit senistive and cause some false alarms till you get it located right. It will also tell you if the power fails at the house. I also installed a Q-See camera system to monitor and record all around my house. I can log into this system from anywhere in the world and see what is happening around my house.

The sensor batteries are good for about a year. The battery backup in the base unit would not last that long. I plan to run mine off an inverter and 12 volt battery during a long term grid down. The only part that needs power is the base unit and it uses 12 watts max. The other nice thing is, you can set it up to chime anytime a sensor opens even if it is not armed.

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