Recent security alarm systems use EOL(R) or DEOL(R) to terminate the line of the zones.

Question 1: What method is used to measure the resistance of a zone?

I can think of two options:

  1. It measures voltage drop on the zone using a current source

  2. The zone is part of a voltage divider, voltage measured on the zone

Question 2: How good/bad idea is to use a simple voltage divider for that?


Since not too much answer arrived, I have done some experiment.

I bought 100m 6x0.22 shielded cable and tried out the voltage divider option. I had different scenarios, I tried to put noise on the line by coiling the cable on a 2000W electric heater's input line and switching it on and off. I used 5V and 0.9mA to drive the line. I was watching the line with an oscilloscope but did not notice anything. I did not even use a single capacitor as a filter, I used only the shielding. Without the shield, of course, there were very ugly peaks when I switched off the heater. Although, I think if I would have used a current source, that would also be affected by such an EMI.

Since there is no load on the voltage divider, there is only a very minimal current which allows longer cable without significant voltage drop. Despite of that, I don't think that is common to use a cable for a zone which is longer than 100m.

There were concerns about installation contractors, who don't care about specifications, noise supression etc.. These people are out of scope this question. If someone decides to use something improperly then he has to deal with the consequences. In our country the installer can be punished if the alarm system doesn't work correctly and the house get robbed because of that.

However, I'm not a specialist of this field, I just want answers, that's why I test and suppose.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking how current products do it, or what would be the best way to do it, or only which of the two proposed solutions would be the better? \$\endgroup\$
    – PlasmaHH
    Nov 7, 2015 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Main question is how current products do it. (How should I do it if I would like to align to the current "trend"). However, I'm also interested what would be the best way to do it. I'm thinking of a small project where I could use this knowledge. \$\endgroup\$
    – bakcsa83
    Nov 7, 2015 at 22:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ A bit of back-story might help here. I live out in the sticks and we can still leave everything unlocked so make it open to folk like me!! \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy aka
    Nov 7, 2015 at 23:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nothing special. I designed a protocol for home and building automation (I know, there are a lot of out there) and I'm about to build a prototype. During the design process I thought it would be good if the system could be used as a security alarm system too. That's why I would like to know, how the big boys are doing it. \$\endgroup\$
    – bakcsa83
    Nov 8, 2015 at 8:29

2 Answers 2


My alarm uses a simple voltage divider. It has a 5 V power bus. Each sensor input is pulled up with about 4k7. The common return of all sensors is wired to ground.

In normal end-of-line resistor mode, the input node will be held at about 2.5 V by the two resistors. A sufficient deviation from this voltage means the zone has gone open or short circuit.

I suppose the alarm simply uses a many-channel A/D, or a multiplexer, to sample the zones. There is some protection and conditioning of each input to guard against RFI and ESD I suppose.

My alarm goes one step further and allows "zone doubling" where two sensors with eol resistors can be connected. One uses about 1k, the other 6k8. You can see that these two will generate a unique voltage for (almost) any fault condition.


I cannot say for certain if current source or voltage divider is used. You could put an ammeter in series with a zone circuit, open and close a sensor, and see if the current stays constant.

EDIT : The OP question about EOL is "end of line" resistor on a zone loop.

What I Can say is, what are some of the design criterion that a manufacturer might consider.

Using a current source appears to be the better method, unless the power budget would not allow for current source method. Current source method would be expected to consume more power than a voltage divider method . A security system has to operate from battery power during power outages. Consuming more power because the “current source” method was chosen will reduce the time duration for operating during power outages.

WHY CHOOSE Current source method : Systems designed to operate with User Connected Wiring need to account for induced extraneous noise. Installation contractors don’t think about noise suppression , twisted wires, proximity to other equipment, nor wire length. Using a current source to power the sensor generally results in a higher noise immunity. I won’t go into why current sourcing in this manner results in higher noise immunity. But if one wants to know about noise immunity, just look into 4-20 mA control loops (lower impedance is one reason).

One link to current loop's noise immunity is , http://www.ni.com/newsletter/50262/en/ , "Because all the current that flows from one lead of the power supply must return to the other, current loop signals are immune to most sources of electrical noise "

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer, it really makes sense. However, it still does not answers the question. I would like to know how the actual alarm systems measure the zone resistance, also, why voltage divider should not be used for that. \$\endgroup\$
    – bakcsa83
    Nov 23, 2015 at 23:03

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