What Is The Definition Of An Integrator, Contractor, Dealer, Consultant, A&E, & More?

When I started in the low voltage world, I was always confused when people said "low voltage integrator" and "low voltage contractor". Supposedly both mean different things and you were either one or the other. But when I asked people, they could not give me a straight answer and it was usually "contractors do contracted work" and "Integrators Integrate" or answers that conflicted with the last persons definition. To me, they all seemed like they did the same thing. They both have RCDD's. Most good Low Voltage integrators/contractors have at least 1 RCDD on staff. They both go after the same jobs.

When I moved into the security world, I also found that different terms were being thrown around that made little sense as many did the same thing. Am I the only confused person with these terms? The main ones are Integrator versus Contractor. I will also add a few more terms that get muddied a little. Feel free to add more terms. (Maybe John should create a survey to see if people share the same descriptions.)

Security Integrator:

Security Contractor:

Security Dealer (Not meaning Distribution):

Security Consultant (Muddied):

Security A&E (Easy):

Trunk Slammer (We all know when we see one... but is there a gray area?):

Security Alarm Company (Res Alarm but many do commercial security work now):

What is a security company called if they do not hang cameras or any low voltage work… including plugging in Patch Cables? Their job is to "program" the system.

Do manufactures have different meanings for Integrator and Contractor? How about Distribution?


Looks like Reuben Orr had this question in 2011...at least about being called an Integrator

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What is a Security Integrator?by Fred F. Farkel, Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Rueben Orr, CPP

Article Link

May I propose the following definitions?

A security integrator designs and installs physical protection systems- alarm, access control, fire, and surveillance- helps the customer develop procedures for using these system components, and trains personnel responsible for its use.

A security contractor installs but does not design systems. They may or may not train end users, and they do not help develop procedures.

A security consultant designs physical protection systems, is responsible for developing procedures and training end users, and may or may not specify equipment to be used.

Security A&E specifies equipment to be used or specifications and features quoted equipment should have, and often specifies how equipment should be installed.

While I have, in jest, suggested that trunk slammer is "what integrators call other integrators they don't like", the best definition I can come up with is "a trunkslammer is anyone who places greater importance on making the sale than on doing the job the right way, and who only ever sells products and services based on lowest price, not product quality or best solution".

Personally, I've always hated the term 'Integrator'. I call myself an Installer or a Technician depending upon what I'm doing.

A Security Contractor, from my point of view, is the same as an 'Integrator' only he works for himself and is contracted to do work. Where an 'Integrator' would be working for a company, or actively seeking work on his/her own. Just my own oppinion.

Another one I've seen is how customer refer to us, we're the Security Company they've 'Contracted' to do the work. The Contractor would then be refering to the company I happen to be working for, and I wouldb e the 'Integrator'

Whatever happened to "guru"?