What Is a Security System Key Fob and How Does It Work?

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A security key fob is a wireless remote control device nearly identical to those clickers you get with your car. In fact, they perform basically the same function.

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What do security key fobs do?


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Think of a home security key fob like the wireless remote for your car. It locks and unlocks the car doors and initializes the built-in car alarm system. It also includes a panic button that blares the horn and flashes the headlights and taillights.

The key fob for your home security system doesn't lock or unlock your front door, but it arms and disarms the security system in your home. It also includes a panic button that sounds an alarm, which in turn causes the monitoring center to be notified that a security breach or other home emergency is in progress.

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Uses for security system key fobs

Key fobs aren't just for when you exit and enter your home. Seconds count in emergency situations, and having a wireless key fob nearby while you’re inside your home can make a big difference for you and your family since it acts like a panic pendant.

Placing your wireless remote on your nightstand allows you to arm the security system when you go to bed each night, ensuring your family and house are being protected while everyone sleeps.

For those with mobility or health issues, keeping a fob in your pocket can ensure you get help during an emergency situation (like after a fall) no matter where you are in your home.

How many security key fobs do I need?

Most home security systems allow for multiple fobs to be programmed into the system (up to eight in many instances). Why would you need so many?

In addition to being able to keep them in handy places around your home, you’ll be able to provide them to certain individuals that need access to your home. This includes older children, an elderly family member, or a trusted neighbor. No more divulging the passcode for your system.

How to order a new home security key fob

Image: Cove

With many of the larger security companies, like Abode and Cove, you just need to order a new key fob using the company's online store. For others, like ADT and Vivint, you'll need to make a call to customer service.

Replacing an old fob?

Before you order, make sure to check with customer service to see if your old key fob is still covered by a warranty. 

How to program a home security key fob

Each brand of key fob is activated differently. Your best bet is to go into to the security system's app, tap on the "add a new device" option, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Alina Bradford
Written by
Alina Bradford
Alina is a safety and security expert that has contributed her insights to CNET, CBS, Digital Trends, MTV, Top Ten Reviews, and many others. Her goal is to make safety and security gadgets less mystifying one article at a time. In the early 2000s, Alina worked as a volunteer firefighter, earning her first responder certification and paving the way to her current career. Her activities aren’t nearly as dangerous today. Her hobbies include fixing up her 100-year-old house, doing artsy stuff, and going to the lake with her family.

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