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When hacking a wall panel successfully (the sort where you are met with a handprint after interacting), you are greeted with two options: active and inactive.

There appears to be no visual difference to the panel between clicking either of these options, and I can't interact with the panel again to change my choice, so what effect, if any, does clicking on either of the two buttons do?

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You mean the alarm panels? I'm pretty sure if it's set to "inactive" guards can use it to trigger an alert. – Raven Dreamer Aug 29 '11 at 21:55
All you're doing is disabling the panels so that guards can't use them. (Allows you to more-easily get the Smooth Operator reward in some cases, but seldom necessary.) – Darien Aug 29 '11 at 22:07
up vote 18 down vote accepted

The panels with a handprint on them are alarm panels. My understanding is that if an enemy panics and hits one, it will alarm the facility and send them running.

By disabling it you will keep them from alerting the whole facility, should an enemy make it to one.

Update: I went and got myself into a situation where some guards panicked. They ran to the panel, but since I hacked everything in the area already it did nothing while they used it. This can give you time to line up a headshot if you wish or run up for a takedown.

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Huh. I'd been ignoring those. Maybe it's time I start hacking them... – Kromey Aug 30 '11 at 17:05
@Kromey I just hack everything for the XP. ;) – CyberSkull Aug 31 '11 at 4:58
I meant that I didn't hack them because I didn't know they could be hacked; that they can be hacked and disable those pesky alarms is just icing on the cake as far as I'm concerned! – Kromey Aug 31 '11 at 19:51
Just as an addendum - if you hack and disable all the panels and then the alarm is set off some other way (e.g. detected by a camera), you won't be able to use a panel to disable the alarm! – Alex Oct 13 '11 at 7:55

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