Alarm System Outputs (Programmable Output)

DSC PowerSeries NEO

It is a little known secret that alarm system circuit boards typically have programmable output contacts. This article will discuss some possible uses for these outputs, and how to wire them into the circuit board. The alarm system output is generally called a PGM output.

Step 1: Identify your Programmable Output (PGM)

The first thing to do is make sure your system has at least one programmable output, and to make sure it’s not already in use for something. It’s usually labelled as PGM1 on the circuit board, which stands for programmable output. The PGM output is kind of like an on/off switch. It will trigger whatever device is attached to it depending on what type of output it is programmed to be.

Step 2: Choose what use the Programmable Output will have

This step is up to the homeowner to decide what he or she might want to do with this output. Some common examples are:

  • To trigger a garage door opener
  • To activate a strobe light or LED
  • To activate a relay that turns on household AC lights or appliances
  • To monitor a fire sensor such as a smoke detector or heat detector

It is also important to note the power draw for the selected output. Your alarm system installation manual will detail the power available with each PGM output.

Step 3: Wiring your Programmable Output

This step involves running a wire from the alarm control panel to whatever output device you are controlling. If there is a relay and high voltage involved, remember to follow the Canadian Electrical Code. The alarm side of things is low voltage (Usually 12VDC.) Remember to disconnect all live power sources before beginning any work. You need at least two wires for any PGM circuit. The positive (+) usually goes to auxiliary power and the negative (-) goes to the PGM terminal.

Step 4: Programming the Alarm System for PGM

Now that your output is wired, you must define the output in the alarm panel software. Consult the programming manual from your alarm system for this. Most panels have pre-programmed definitions, such as an output that goes “high” when the alarm system is armed, or “zone followers” that trigger on a certain zone being tripped.

Step 5: Test your Work

Now that the hard part is done, go ahead and test the alarm system and verify that everything works correctly. That’s it! You have successfully added to your alarm system. Keep in mind there are extra boards you can buy that have more PGM outputs on them. With enough PGM’s, you could make it so that your household lights are activated by the alarm system’s motion detectors. The possibilities are endless when you think outside the box.

Smartphone App PGM Control

Some alarm systems have internet modules in them that allow for a smartphone app to control the system. Most of these apps also let you toggle the PGM outputs. This can be quite handy if you need to let someone in the house when away by triggering the garage door opener. Learn more about DSC and smartphone control here.


Contact BARNES PROTECTION SERVICES for any other questions you may have regarding PGM’s, or other alarm related inquiries. If unfamiliar with anything here don’t hesitate to call us to come and do the work for you.

Your security is our priority!