|Re: Common House Information||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)|
|Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2021 10:07:53 -0700 (PDT)|
I received a question off-list about our entry system and I thought more people would like to see this because it isn’t a topic that most of us have experience with until we move into cohousing (and join the facilities team). What we have is: AEGIS 7000 Series http://www.pach-co.com/products/aegis%20series/aegis7000/aegis7000%20manual.pdf It is about 10 years old now so there are probably updated ones now. I did the replacement when our first system was hit by lightning so I remember the research and the problems. Advice based on our experience: 1. Find a security / locksmith person who is dependable and recommends a good quality product. Larger cohousing communities are semi-commercial and things wear out. We have 60+ adults and several teens who use the entry system and some of them several times a day. We use our locksmith much more often than you would think based on your own personal experience. But they recommended an entry system that we thought was too expensive. We should have stayed with them. We used another service that was recommended to us but had to have the installer come back and install other features or correct settings several times, and he refused to do even the first programming because “it takes too long.” We had to have things like a heater installed as an addon — not revealed when researching systems. Part of the entry system couldn’t be installed outside and had to go inside. We found a place for it inside but no everyone would be able to do that. (Sorry, I’ve forgotten what it does. 2. Compatibility with other devices. We have keypads on our fire stairs and the CH back door that are not compatible with the main entry system. They have to have different codes—not a big issue but frustrating to explain to service providers. Entry has an * first but others have the * last. 3. Pay attention to things like grounding for lightning strikes, moisture barriers if it is outside, a heater for cold weather outside or in a foyer, compatibility with other keypads. Not all entry systems are designed for outdoor use. Our first system stopped working from shorts, moisture, or cold, someone had to reprogram the whole system or no one could get in using a code. In misty weather, particularly for more than a few hours (big problem in DC), our first entry system just didn’t work — the buttons wouldn’t fire. Now that most people have cell phones they can call someone to get buzzed in or have them come to open the door but still, it’s an issue at 4 in the morning or in the afternoon when no one whose phone number you have in your phone is home. We all have an outdoor key but since it isn’t often needed not everyone carries it around. 4. Check that there is something firm under the buttons—this is where a good locksmith is important because they will know the history of everything they recommend. Our buttons are wearing out. Some numbers can’t be used because they were used too much and are weak. I think 7 must have been in every code we’ve used for 10 years. Not a major issue but an indication that the others may go before we actually need a new system. 5. Pay attention to the programming procedure. (I should have put this first.) Be sure there is battery back up or direct wiring so all the codes aren’t wiped out when the electricity goes out — even for 3 seconds. Reprogramming 43 codes is time consuming and not something you want to do on an emergency basis. Ours has 11 things to remember when programing each code—not 11 steps to reprogram—but the list includes things not to do and things that look wrong but are necessary and serve a purpose. It needs reprogramming when people change phone numbers — new phones or new residents — and if it is some time since someone did it, they have to relearn the instructions. We have a wiki now but even finding the instructions when the last person who used them had moved or was unavailable. 6. Check illumination if you don’t have it installed under or near a light. Check the readability of the screen under various conditions. Does it fog over? Some are not legible in the sun. Non-residents are dependent on reading the screen messages. 7. Have a dedicated phone line. We tried using one phone line for both the entry and for the CH which is rarely used now that almost everyone has cell phones. It still didn’t work. There were still too many times when someone used the CH phone and talked a long time. Then the entry didn’t work. 8. Don’t get more functionality that you need. Each step of complexity breeds more complexity down the line. We started out with a complex system that linked to the ground line in each unit. Each unit had their own code, plus codes for the mail carrier, pest control, etc. We could track who was using those codes. Except that the software either didn’t work or no one understood it. It was a true intercom system with a huge dashboard in the basement with a lot of wires. Every time a new landline was installed or changed, the telephone installer would mess up the whole system while connecting and reconnecting wires. Programming was so tedious that we stopped changing codes. We now have one code for residents and another one for vendors and guests. Two codes so we could change the guest code often. But someone had to remember to tell all those vendors and guests about the change and no one could remember or was home to tell everyone. We still have a guest code but don’t change it often. We haven’t needed the feature of tracking who was using a code. These sound like little things but getting it close to right means less daily irritation. In our situation half of us are dependent on the entry system to get home, and the rest have to use it to check mail or enter the CH. During the pandemic we receive several food deliveries each week, even on some days. Since we are an urban community the doors are always locked except on workdays and during cookouts when there are lots of people round. Sharon ---- Sharon Villines Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC http://www.takomavillage.org
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