Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, there is always the looming threat of burglary, especially during the holiday season. You’ve seen the commercials — a family sleeps soundly as a thief creeps up to the backdoor. After breaking the lock, he quietly shoulders his way into the home. Suddenly, the night erupts in the sound of alarms. As the security company calls the homeowner, he or she looks out the window just in time to see the would-be intruder fleeing over the backyard fence. You might think that an important piece of equipment like a security system would use cutting edge technology, but in reality, it’s actually quite simple. In fact,  the barrier between average families and break-ins is a magnet and a basic reed switch. For someone in the security industry, it’s important to understand how this kind of system works.

How Security Systems Incorporate Magnets

The reed switch, a nearly 100-year-old piece of technology, lies at the core of common household security. Invented at Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1936, the reed switch is used in a myriad of products, such as laptops, cars, and washing machines. It houses two ferromagnetic electrical connectors spaced a small distance apart. In the presence of a magnetic field, they connect, keeping the circuit closed. This is called a closed-circuit system, and it’s the most common type of reed switch.  Many alarm systems, typically installed on windows and doors, incorporate reed switches into their products. A sensor is placed beside the frame, then, a small magnet — such as a disc magnet — is placed on the door or window. When the circuit is closed, the magnet sits right beside the reed switch, drawing the two metal ends together. As long as they are in contact, the alarm won’t sound. But when the door or window opens, the magnet separates and opens the circuit causing the reed switch to be tripped. When the electricity stops flowing, the sensor sends a signal and an alarm, alerting anyone nearby that there’s an intruder in the house.

A Flaw in the Design?

The genius of the reed switch is its simplicity, however, this very thing can compromise the integrity of an alarm. Theoretically, an intruder may disrupt the system by placing a second magnet against the switch and overriding its influence. This means someone could tape a magnet over your alarm system and effectively come and go without detection. Still, a homeowner can prevent this from happening by regularly inspecting their system and calling authorities if they find anything suspicious. In general, reed switch alarm systems are highly reliable, and people like to use them because they require very little power.

Apex Magnets is Here to Help

Our magnets are trusted in products and factories all over the world. If you’re in the security industry and plan to use our magnets in your alarm system, give us a call at (1-304) 257-1193. We can walk you through some crucial details like what level of strength you should use to build and distribute an effective product that keeps families safe.