These days, alarm systems can consist of many elements which make up the system – including passive infrared detectors, magnetic contacts, panic buttons, outdoor beams, CCTV systems and electric fencing, amongst other things.
A basic system, however, will always consist of some standard elements:

  • A panel
  • A keypad
  • A number of passive infrared or dual infrared/microwave detectors
  • Several sets of magnetic contacts
  • One or more fixed or mobile panic buttons
  • A radio or digital transmitter


This is normally situated at least 1.5 metres below your ceiling of your premises and is the nerve centre of your alarm system. This should always be additionally ‘guarded’ by a specialised dual detection sensor, as the panel is, in effect, the brain of your alarm system and if tampered with could mean negative consequences.. This should always be additionally ‘guarded’ by a specialised dual detection sensor, as the panel is, in effect, the brain of your alarm system and if tampered with could mean negative consequences.
The panel contains all the connections to the various detection elements of your system, your keypad and your transmitter (whether digital or radio based).


Your keypad is your window to your system. The keypad stores various programmes and is how you activate and deactivate your system, set stay modes and bypass zones. The keypad is connected to the detection elements of your system via your panel.
Please see individual user guides regarding programming on your keypad for the various brand-name systems which Atlas installs. If you do not have one, please contact your sales consultant or our technical team for your copy.


Passive infrared detectors (PIRs)
These detectors are most common in properties at the moment. PIRs are often thought to be motion detectors, when in fact they are background temperature detectors. They contain a temperature sensor which is triggered when the background temperature of a closed space changes – this is when you see the little red light appear. There are various levels of sensitivity to these detectors, and you can also choose either a wall or ceiling mounted option – although a ceiling mount has a wider field of ‘vision’ than a wall mounted passive.
Dual PIR and microwave detectors
These detectors have both passive technology as explained above, and also microwave technology which detects movement. These detectors are very stable in harsh environments, where temperatures vary from one extreme to the other (such as a roof space).
Magnetic contacts
Magnetic contacts add more robustness to a system by protecting doors, windows and any area which opens in such a manner. The contacts create a closed circuit of current which, when broken, will trigger the system and a signal to be sent to our control room. We recommend magnetic contacts on all exterior doors and windows – including garage doors, and also on internal doors which give access via traditionally weak areas, such as bathrooms and cupboards where safes/objects of value are kept.
Panic buttons
A good basic alarm system will always have at least two fixed panic buttons as part of its infrastructure. Generally fixed panics are situated close to exits, such as a back door, or in the main bedroom. Most keypads also have 3 types of panics built in – fire, medical and panic. Remote panics are a great addition to a home or office system, as they can be worn by users and will transmit a signal from up to 50 metres in most cases, depending on the panel installed. These are particularly useful for domestic workers, teenagers and the elderly in a domestic environment. Another variation of a remote panic, is ICE Atlas – a cellphone panic. This works by the user pressing it on their touch screen phone – the phone dials into Atlas control (sending a signal) and control calls back, having already dispatched a vehicle. This is linked to the registered address of the monitored premises. When in genuine distress, clients should press their panic, whether fixed or remote for 3 seconds. It is Atlas’ policy to dispatch a vehicle first and then phone the client, when we receive a panic signal. Read more. 
Radio or digital transmitter
The all-important transmitter is the lifeline between your alarm and our control room. Your panel has a communications connection which connects the system to the transmitter. When a zone is triggered this will send either a radio, telephone or digital signal to our control room. Radio transmitters are intended to be a back-up in case your phone line goes down. A radio transmitter operates on a frequency which is relayed to us via a high-lying transmitter – this also governs our on-the-road communications between our armed response officers and the control room. Telephone transmission happens via your landline cable which communicates a signal to our control room a hardwired connection. The data or GSM connection works much like a SIM card in a cell phone, by transmitting a signal via a cell phone tower to our control room. This connection is far more cost effective and reliable than either the radio or telephone transmission. Because more data can be transmitted via the GSM route, at a low cost – it cuts your telephone costs. Data transmitters are very favourable for business alarm systems, where larger amounts of data are transmitted, by comparison to a domestic alarm system. Read more. 


Test your Alarm on a regular basis at least once a month.

  • Advise ATLAS of any faults as soon as possible
  • Test your fixed and remote panic buttons regularly
  • Dropping or bumping these items could render them inoperable
  • Ensure your alarm system communicates both via radio & telephone links
  • Make sure all alarm users, domestics & babysitters are familiar with our emergency call centre phone number and program it as a pre-set number in your home phone and mobile phone – 0861 585 585
  • Advise Atlas of any changes to your risk profile i.e. alterations to your building or new equipment housed in areas
The use of Magnetic door and window contacts on all your external doors and windows are strongly recommended by Atlas Security and are one of the minimum specification standards required by all South African Insurance Association (SAIA) Approved alarm installations. Failure to install these door contacts can seriously compromise your security.