Here is a glossary of security and fire alarm terms:

Access Control System

An electronic system facilitating the selective restriction of access to a place or resource. Access control systems automatically approve authorized personnel with no need for a security officer to validate the authorization.

Alarm Battery

Alarm batteries prevent your alarm from being disabled when the power goes out in your building. They also power the cellular phone systems so your alarm isn’t disabled if phone lines go down.

Alarm Manufacturer

Any company specializing in the production of alarm systems. Examples include Honeywell, General Electric, Tyco and Bosch.

Alarm Monitoring

The communication between your home security system and the central station of your security provider. When your system registers an emergency event, it sends a signal to the monitoring station, which will notify the appropriate authorities to that address.

Alarm Signal

The audible sound and/or transmission of a signal or message once the alarm system has been activated. This signal is sent to the monitoring center to dispatch the necessary authorities. is a company that provides cloud services for remote control, home automation, and monitoring service. Users can use to arm and disarm their systems, check live security camera feed, and operate any Z-Wave home automation devices.


Alarmnet is the division of Resideo that manages Total Connect 2.0 and the AlarmNet 360 servers. Their services are designed for Honeywell Security Services.

Away Mode

Away Mode is a security system setting. Away Mode secures your house when you leave, activating indoor and outdoor cameras to record the home while you’re not in it, as well as arming all sensors.

Bullet Camera

Security cameras with a distinct cylindrical shape, giving it the appearance of a bullet shell. The most common type of security camera, used as a visible deterrent.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

A device that detects the presence of carbon monoxide gas to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.  A good detector will warn you of CO buildup long before you experience any symptoms of poisoning.

Do it Yourself (DIY System)

DIY systems are security systems installed on one’s own. This can allow for additional customization options when building your system.

Dome Camera

A type of security camera in a round shape with an opaque cover. Dome cameras are ideal for indoor use and easily mount to ceilings.

Door Contact

A device made up of a sensor and a magnet. When a door is opened, the magnet will be separated from the sensors, sending a signal to the control panel.

Door Strike

A component to a locking system. When the strike is activated, the latch is released, and will remain locked as soon as the door is closed.

False Alarm

The incorrect reporting of a break-in. False alarms can be caused by numerous things, such as pets triggering motion sensors.

Fire Alarm

A device which makes a loud noise to warn of a fire. Most fire alarms are directly triggered by smoke detectors, heat detectors, and manual activation devices.

Flood Sensor

A device which senses floods by increasing conductivity between two exposed metal probes when water touches them.

Gas Detector

A device that detects the presence of gases that could be harmful to organic life. Gas detectors can sound an alarm where the leak is occurring.

Glass break Detector

A device that detects if a glass plane is shattered or broken. Once the sounds of breaking glass are detected by a sound signature, an alarm is set off.

Heat Detector

A device that reacts to the heat of a fire and sets off an alarm in response. Many heat detectors can be used to trigger fire suppression systems.

Horn Strobe

An alarm that combines audible and visual cues to alert occupants to evacuate. Flashing strobe lights and a noisy alarm help to inform occupants.

Infrared (IR) Camera

A security camera that detects and measures the heat signature of objects. This infrared energy converts into an electronic image, making it easier to see living things on camera in the dark without light.

Interactive Services

Accessing your security system via web-enabled devices like computers and smart phones. Interactive Services can be used to remotely arm and disarm your system, turn lights on and off, any lots more.


A miniature numerical keyboard operating an electronic device. These are commonly seen on doors in access control systems, with authorized users being granted passcodes to unlock them with the keypad.

Low Battery Trouble

A warning alarm in security alarm systems when your battery is low or dying. This informs occupants the alarm backup battery must be replaced or disconnected.

Low-Temperature Detector

A device that alerts occupants when the air temperature in a room falls below a pre-defined threshold. This can inform users of low temperatures and give them time to act before pipes freeze and burst.


Also known as an electromagnetic lock, this is a device that keeps doors shut via an electromagnet and an armature plate. When the magnet is energized, the magnet will keep the door shut thanks to the armature plate, unlocking when the magnet is no longer energized.

Monitoring Center

Location of a professional home security team monitoring security systems. These centers will assess what’s going on and contact the proper authorities as needed.

Motion Detector

A device that is designed to detect and measure movement. Motion sensors can detect motion via sound waves, radio waves, and microwaves.


A Network Video Recorder, a device responsible for video recording of security cameras. While a DVR simply processes data at the recorder, the NVR encrypts and processes data for storage and remote viewing.

PTZ Camera

Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera, a camera capable of remote directional and zoom control. Unlike fixed cameras, PTZ cameras allow an operator to physically move the camera to remotely survey the area.

Panic Alarm

A device that, when pressed for a predetermined amount of time, will activate the alarms manually. This can be used to notify the monitoring center of an emergency you perceive that your system may have missed or not seen yet.

Pull Station

A station on the wall of the building with a lever that manually activates the fire alarm. This device can be used to warn others and contact the fire department in case of a fire the detectors haven’t noticed yet.

Security Panel

The central device of a security system which all devices connect to. This device arms and disarms the systems and sounds the alarm when there’s a security breach, communicating with the monitoring company.

Smoke Alarm

 A device that detects smoke. As fires produce a lot of smoke, a detector that sounds an alarm when smoke is sensed is key to fire safety.


Napco’s line of LTE cellular communicators. Starlink can be used to upgrade any manufacturer’s old communication methods.

Stay Mode

A security system setting in between armed and disarmed. Stay mode will deactivate your indoor motion sensors while leaving the rest of the system armed to maximize peace of mind even when you’re home.

Trouble Signal

A signal on a fire alarm panel. Trouble signals warn the user that there is an operational issue with this system.

Water Detector

An electronic device designed to detect the presence of water. This device provides an alert in hopes of preventing water leakage.

Window Contact

A device made up of a sensor and a magnet. When a window is opened, the magnet will be separated from the sensors, sending a signal to the control panel.

Wired Security System

A security system in which devices receive power via hardwired cable. Signal transmission is also dependent on hardwires between devices.

Wireless Security System

A security system in which devices receive power from batteries. Signal transmission is dependent on wireless networks.


Refers to the wiring interconnecting parts of a hardwired home security system. Main alarm panels need to be wired to all home security components in the system, as well as power and telephone.