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Intruder Test: Texecom Micro Contact-W

On the face of things, it’s probably fair to say that a magnetic contact isn’t the most exciting of security products. However, the devices are used in just about every intruder alarm system and need to be reliable and robust. The method of operation has remained largely unchanged for many years, and given the low cost of the items it is hard to see why anyone might want to reconsider their choice of contacts. However, the Premier Elite Micro Contact-W from Texecom does offer some value-added benefits when it comes to door and window protection.

Traditionally, magnetic contacts are used for the monitoring of doors and windows at a site being protected by an intruder alarm system. Despite offering a relatively cost-effective option, a large number of sites tend to only use magnetic contacts on designated entry/exit doors and windows that have been identified as being high risk or vulnerable to attack.

Best practice is that every door and window be protected, but this rarely happens for a number of reasons. Firstly, running cables to every portal and window is time consuming, causes disruption and can be costly, and secondly many end users object to having numerous magnetic contacts fitted in plain sight.

Magnetic contacts are often not the best looking products, with some being quite bulky, and given that they are installed on windows (which the eye is naturally drawn to), it is easy to understand why some users shy away from protecting every window and door in a premises. Also, some types of frames are unsuitable for installations of the devices.

Against these issues it should be remembered that the vast majority of intrusions (or attempted intrusions) use doors or windows as a point of entry. It is also worth considering that as end users seek more flexibility from their alarm systems (including automation and smart building functionality), some degree of monitoring of doors and windows can be beneficial. This monitoring could even include internal doors as well as cupboards and other storage places, plus there are benefits to protecting and monitoring drawers.

When Texecom released the Premier Elite Micro Contact-W earlier this year, it was easy to consider the launch as just another contact. However, the device was also very timely given changes in demands from end users.

Specification

The Premier Elite Micro Contact-W is a miniature low profile wireless magnetic contact switch. The contact makes use of Texecom’s Ricochet mesh-based network and so forms a part of a self-healing wireless environment.

The interesting thing about the size of the contact is not just that it is small and therefore less obtrusive than traditional contacts; it so small, with a very low profile, that it can be concealed in the frame of many modern uPVC windows and doors. This means that in many applications it is virtually invisible.

Measuring 57 x 27.5 x 8.2mm, the size of the device also makes it ideal for monitoring cupboards, storage units and drawers, both for security and automation triggering. It is powered by a single CR2450 battery and has a claimed battery life of up to four years.

The Micro Contact-W is available in three finishes: white, brown and anthracite. This means it can be used with white, wood effect and aluminium finish frames with little to no visible impact.

The Grade 2 868Mhz device is tamper protected, and is compatible with Premier Elite and Premier control panels and Ricochet expansion packs. It features a single push button and tri-colour LEDs to simplify set-up. It is supplied with a battery, adhesive mounting strips and an instruction leaflet.

Installation

The physical installation of the Premier Elite Micro Contact-W is very straightforward. The backplate simply unfastens and can be attached to the mounting substrate using either screws (required for a Grade 2 system) or adhesive strips (for an ungraded system).

The contacts are supplied with adhesive strips and to be fair the majority of those we used showed no signs of movement during the test period, which thus far has been approximately four months. That said, if you do end up moving the units to adjust the alignment and this necessitates removing a unit, they don’t restick very well. Where this happened we replaced them with No More Nails adhesive strips which were very secure. That said, most installers and integrators will fix with screws once the correct positions are achieved.

‘Learning’ the contact on to the system is also a simple process. With the control panel in Ricochet Learn mode and a location identified, you simply hold down the button on the contact for three seconds. The LED will turn from pink to green once the device has been learned. It is worth noting that if you take the contact to the keypad to initiate the learning process, the LED will show as orange as the device will be in tamper. Once fitted to the backplate the status will show correctly.

With the contact learned and mounted, the magnet position can be tested. There is also an option to carry out a radio range test.

Performance

During the test we added 24 Premier Elite Micro Contact-W devices to an alarm system using a Premier Elite control panel with Ricochet wireless connectivity. Despite these being across four buildings with distances of up to 80 metres, all the contacts had good and strong wireless links directly to the control panel.

Where possible, all of the units were concealed within uPVC door and window frames. This caused no issues and the units fitted well with plenty of clearance for opening and closing. Typical use, including slamming and some degree of door expansion due to sunlight and heat, did not create any performance issues. Indeed, throughout the test the contacts performed flawlessly.

The Contact Micro-W devices were also used as automation devices, allowing lighting to be switched when doors were opened and smart home automation to be triggered when internal doors or cupboards were opened. Again, performance was 100 per cent.

Verdict

Texecom’s Premier Elite Micro Contact-Ws are, when all is said and done, wireless contacts. However, they are probably more important for many installers and integrators as they make the protection of all doors and windows (or certainly more doors and windows) a reality.

Performance was without any issues, and the miniature size means they easily fits into uPVC frames without any problems when opening and closing. The inclusion in a smart system also adds much value.
As such, the devices achieve Recommended status.

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