Difference between a control panel and a keypad?

Using the correct terminology is important in gaining a basic understanding of your alarm system and becoming an educated user. Understanding the difference between the control panel and the keypad is necessary for both utilizing the forums search feature and asking effective questions.

The terms "control panel", "control", "panel" and "board" all refer to the printed circuit board that is housed inside the metal enclosure, or "can" along with the alarm system standby battery as pictured on the left. Sometimes external devices wired in close proximity that also enable operation are grouped into this category.

Peripheral devices, including protective loops, and items such as wireless receivers, printers, output devices, as well as end user devices are not considered to be a "control".

A keypad, shown below, is a peripheral devices that is wired to a control. It is the user interface with the alarm system that allows you to enter alphanumeric data into the system for purposes of arming and disarming, controlling system functions, and programming. The keypad provides a constant display of system status information.

There are also exceptions to this rule, which are of interest. Some manufacturers make integrated keypad/control units, such as the DSC SCW9047, the GE Simon series and Ademco's Lynx panels, where the keypad is the control unit as well. There are also older, obsolete hardwired panels with the similar design characteristics.