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Neat-O: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Have you ever seen a security panel mounted on cardboard?

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Geoffrey Oldmixon · November 25, 2009

“What’s wrong with this picture?”

That’s what Andy Tomblin of Security Concepts asked his friend Jim Capps of Sanders Security, handing him this photo.

Tomblin and Capps are security installation competitors in Alabama. They are also good friends and they enjoy sharing a laugh over bad installations like this one.

Neither Tomblin nor Capps got to work on this structured wiring can; it was just an installation Tomblin was able to shoot with his cell phone camera. Nevertheless, it did warrant some thought, according to Capps.

“There’s a lot wrong with this picture,” Capps says. He decided to answer Tomblin’s question and he submitted his outline to CE Pro.

Capps says three thoughts came to his mind when he saw this installation:

  • “This is very messy and not at all planned out.”
  • “What would a homeowner think when they looked at this mess?”
  • “How will this installation reflect on our industry?”

Capps adds that this is probably the worst installation he has seen. “But, sadly, it’s not the only security panel I’ve seen mounted on a piece of cardboard.”

With all those thoughts in mind, Capps labeled the photo, looking to share it with other CE pros, perhaps to raise awareness.

“You hate to point fingers,” he explains, “but someone out there is a bad installer. These things don’t just happen by circumstance.”

Here’s what Capps says is wrong with the photo. The numbers below correspond with the labels on the photo.

1. Video Interface for Cat 5 Cameras “The module is just hanging free,” Capps says. “The module needs to be pinned into the structured wiring enclosure. Here, they have the matching brand module and structured wiring enclosure, but just failed to make space for the module.”

2. Lighting Control Modules “This system is OK,” Capps concedes. “But the Cat 5 wires attaching to the keypads on the bottom module could have run down the right-hand side of the enclosure and have been tie-wrapped.

3. Video Modulator “The module, again, is just hanging from its wires,” Capps says. “Most of the time, they do not make these easy to clip on or attach, but Velcro works nicely if you just have run in the enclosure to attach it to.”

4. Security System Control Board “The board is mounted to a piece of cardboard in order to insulate it from the metal enclosure,” Capps says. “The security control board really needs to be in its factory metal enclosure mounted somewhere else in the house. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to mix life safety systems with non-life systems [like lighting, for example] together in the same enclosure.” As for the piece of cardboard? Capps simply says, “This was not a professional job; let’s put it that way.”

5. Power Supply Board “The board is just hanging from its wires,” Capps says. “It needs stand-offs, and it needs to be mounted to the enclosure. Anytime you leave a power supply hanging, you run the risk of it being shorted out if it touches an un-insulated surface.”

6. Security System Battery “The battery is just lying in the bottom of the transformers. It actually fell out when Andy [Tomblin] opened the panel door,” Capps explains. “It needs to be located in a different enclosure, with the security control board.”


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