Why do engineers lock their codes in?

Within the security industry, there is a widespread misconception that once you buy an intruder alarm system, it belongs solely to you. However, in the initial stages of intruder alarm systems, manufacturers included an engineer lock function. This function allows the current service provider to lock their specific installer code into the system, preventing other installers from accessing the control panel.

Uncover the facts

So what does an engineer code actually do?

An engineer’s code provides access for the installer or supplier to enter the alarm programming menu, offering a wide array of features. These include programming zones and descriptions, as well as adjusting entry and exit times for the alarm system. You might wonder why you would need access to this menu. In reality, users should never need to access the installer menu of an intruder alarm. The separate code for engineers exists to prevent users from making changes that could prevent the alarm from activating during a break-in, holding the supplier accountable for any issues. Additionally, the installer menu allows engineers to secure the alarm system while working on devices like panels and detectors, which involve high voltage and potential danger. Triggering the alarm by opening a device outside the engineer menu will set off a local internal alarm and log the event, possibly voiding your warranty or insurance. Having an engineer code is practical for maintenance and repairs, but it cannot be used to disarm the system once it has been set by a user.

Burglar Alarm Installer

Engineer code locked in, What does this mean?

After covering the basics, let’s delve into the process of locking engineers’ codes. This presents a significant challenge in the burglar alarm industry as other suppliers are unable to access the intruder alarm menu even when it’s defaulted. While opinions vary widely, the decision ultimately rests on personal judgment. The prevailing recommendation is to entrust the management of your intruder alarm solely to your primary installer. If you opt to switch providers due to a price increase or finding a more competitive alternative, some installers may charge a nominal fee to reset the code. It’s understandably frustrating to pay for a code change on your own alarm system. However, as a customer, you have limited options – either pay the fee or replace the panel. In rare cases where the initial installer is no longer in business, obtaining the code becomes impossible. Consequently, customers have had to purchase a new panel to replace a perfectly functional one.

Confused

What advice to give when having a Burglar Alarm installed regarding engineer codes?

Many companies may not disclose the engineer code locking policy, so it’s advisable to enquire about it from them. While modern panels have eliminated this feature, some older models may still have it in the market. To safeguard your alarm system for potential changes in the future, always check if the engineer code is locked in. Request that the code remains unlockable. Reputable companies typically honour this request, but if they decline, there might be a specific reason for it.

I will provide a practical example to explain why they might lock the engineer code. If a customer requests an installation before making the payment, and later on refuses to pay, the system technically remains the property of the supplier, not the customer. Therefore, it would be reasonable to lock the engineer code in this scenario. This action would discourage the customer from seeking another provider for maintenance or repairs on a system they do not own.