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Back in January of 2013, we discussed the compatibility issues with earlier revisions of the VISTA-21iP alarm system with the VISTA-GSM4G. Traditionally, Honeywell creates a new firmware revision to clearly mark which panels are compatible with specific features. In this case, we found out that revision 3.13 had some panels that supported the 4G communicator and others that did not.

At the time, we explained that Honeywell started tagging the panels with stickers that read, "Supports VISTA-GSM4G." Although Honeywell offers PROM chip upgrades for the VISTA-15P and VISTA-20P there are no PROM upgrades for the VISTA-21iP. The update meant that VISTA-21iP owners without this sticker would need to upgrade their entire alarm panel in order to integrate 4G cellular connectivity.

 The biggest factor in this discussion is the "2G sunset." AT&T announced that they have already started phasing out their GSM 2G cellular network. The kicker is that every 2G cell tower in the nation will be upgraded by the end of 2016. This may have seemed far way but it is only around the corner. So this discussion relates to any VISTA-21iP system owner using cellular communication; not just those looking to upgrade to a faster 4G communicator. The original post seemed like a doomsday if your panel did not have the sticker. Well think again...

Now for the good news! The VISTA-GSM4G is considered an internal communicator for the VISTA-21iP. It is designed to be used as a backup to the built-in IP communicator. However it can be used as a stand alone cellular communicator as well. The important thing here is that the VISTA-21iP supports external Honeywell communicators as well.

The GSMV4G is an external cellular communicator which can be used with any VISTA-21iP revision. If you plan to use the internet as your primary communication path with cellular as secondary, you can use the iGSMV4G instead. In order to tell your panel to use an external communication path you need to disable the internal communications by physically moving a jumper pin on the board. 

There is an "Internal IP/GSM Jumper" that is in the 'on' position by default. This jumper powers the internal communicators: Internet communicator on the panel, the VISTA-GSM4G or both if you have a dual path setup. The jumper is located just beneath the RJ-45 jack which can be found on the top left side of the board. In the 'on' position, the panel powers the internal communicators. In the 'off' position, the panel cuts off power to the internal comm paths.

If you would like to use an external communication path like the iGSMV4G you must power down the system and move the jumper to the 'off' position. Doing this will shut down both the IP and GSM internal communication paths. So if you were already using the on board IP communicator simply disconnect the ethernet cable from the panel and land it on the iGSMV4G!

Similar to a wired keypad, external communicators require a 4 wire connection to the panel's ECP bus which is located on terminals 4-7 on the VISTA-21iP. There is a power connection on terminals 4 and 5 on the panel and a data connection on terminals 6 and 7 on the panel. Although the communicator is already connected to ECP power, it still requires an AC power connection on terminals 1 and 2 of the communicator.

The GSMV4G and iGSMV4G are shipped with their own Honeywell 1361 AC transformer. You can wire the communicator directly to the transformer or you can use a shared transformer with the panel. If you do the shared transformer setup, you need to swap in the beefier 1361 that comes with the communicator. Simply swap the wired connections over to the new transformer. Then land terminals 1 and 2 from the communicator on terminals 1 and 2 on the panel. You can land them in parallel, right on top of the existing connections to the transformer. 

We have made available detailed instructions for installing the iGSMV4G. The wiring is exactly the same for the GSMV4G. The only difference is that you need to connect an Ethernet cable on the RJ-45 port on the iGSMV4G. 

We've already begun to see an increase in people with the older non-4G capable VISTA-21iP panels asking us for upgrade opportunities. We don't like being the bearers of bad news and having to tell those people that they need an entire new alarm control panel and a new cellular communicator so we have begun offering this as a less expensive alternative to upgrade to 4G cellular communications.

While Honeywell engineers didn't design the original VISTA-21iP panel with the option to support the future VISTA-GSM4G communicators, the flexible design of the 21iP, which allows for an internal or external communicator means that their oversight won't have to cost you anymore than the price of a new external 4G communicator.

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Maybe you've noticed the little Affirm logo on our site the last few months. It looks a little like this: 

Alarm Grid has teamed up with Affirm to become the first DIY security company to offer financing for your security system. While other companies will offer free systems in exchange for long-term contracts, our deal with Affirm allows our customers to finance systems at reasonable rates for up to 12 months. What that means, very simply, is that you can now pay or monitoring + a system at a price that is going to look a lot like the bigger players in the market. But after 12 months, the cost of the system will disappear, which means that all you'll have to pay going forward is Alarm Grid's much more reasonable monitoring costs.

For those interested in financing through Affirm, the process is super easy. Simply pick "Buy Now with Easy Monthly Payments" at the payment step during checkout.

The rest is simple. Just fill out the information, agree to let Affirm run a credit check, and voila, you will hopefully receive instant approval for financing up to a certain amount of your purchase. The process is simple, up front, and very fair.

Affirm is a good, transparent company that is focused on making making this process easy. So we're proud of the announcement, and are excited to pull our financing option out of beta. If you have any questions, let us know, we are happy to help.

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Alarm Grid has co-branded Total Connect. For those who wanted to feel a bit more like they were part of the AG family, now is your chance. Every time you login to Total Connect 2.0 from your computer, you'll see our beautiful logo up in the right hand corner instead of the old Total Connect logo. On your phone, you will see it at login, and on our information page along with all the necessary information for connecting to support.

For our long-time self monitoring and monitoring plus customers, nothing has changed except the branding of the application. You should continue to get all your emails and texts just as you have in the past, and the application is the same easy to use application you've become familiar with. Just remember, if you have any questions at all regarding your Alarm Grid Total Connect experience, please email support@alarmgrid.com.

If you are new around these parts and are just looking to give Total Connect a try, we have setup a dummy account that will let you test drive Total Connect.

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The last few weeks, we have been hearing rumblings that Home Security Store has not been answering their phones or emails. We have to date not commented on it, since we really don't know anything at all about their financial situation. That said, we know they have sold a lot of product over the years, and that there seems to be a lot of customers feeling a little bit like they are caught in the lurch. And after this CEPro story came out, we thought it was probably time to say something.

While we can't offer advice for those who are waiting on product, other than to say that we offer many of the same products as HSS sells, we can certainly speak to the service/monitoring side. If this is your first time at Alarm Grid, you probably don't know anything about who we are. We are a well-reviewed alarm monitoring provider that happens to sell high quality home security equipment. Most recently, we've begun selling the Honeywell L7000 and L5200 security systems, which are some of our favorites, and which we highly recommend to anyone looking for a system. We pride ourselves on the free tech support we provide to all of our customers. In the last year, we have been over-run with the tech support needs of DIYers who love us!

So for those of you stuck in the middle of the HomeSecurityStore.com mess, we would love to hear from you. Please email support@alarmgrid.com (it's the best way to contact us), or call 888-818-7728. If you call in and don't get an answer, leave us a message. We are quick to respond, and will call you back ASAP. We've been inundated the last few weeks with calls about this Home Security Store situation. So forgive any waiting, and let us help you get the help you need for the products you have received.

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Longform PodcastWe love supporting projects that we both believe in and personally enjoy as a group. Longform is one such project. As avid listeners, we are happy to support such an incredible and well-tuned into podcast.

Alarm Grid is new to sponsorships, but we decided that we wanted to support projects that we were personally excited about as a team. Sure, Longform gives us some great coverage by mentioning our name and describing our monitoring service and our installation videos, but more than that, we are very happy to be getting a chance to support the podcast and it's wonderful team of personalities.

Longform is kind of neat, if you've never been to the site, we highly recommend it. Nothing to do with home security equipment, but a lot to do with reading. Since their inception, Longform has been dedicated to showcasing longer written pieces. Whether fiction, journalistic, or biographical, Longform has really been a powerful part of shaping the modern landscape of both online and offline written content. Whereas newspapers are busy cutting staff and pushing ambulance and fire-truck chasing journalism that Longform's readers tend to be interested in the more in-depth, beautiful prose of well-seasoned writers. And while we really don't have an interest in taking political positions here at Alarm Grid, what excites us about what Longform does is that they feature writings on their site and they interview writers on their podcast. Some of these pieces are political, some are fictional, some are just plain old good stories. They get into the heads of authors, and have them discuss their creative processes.

For those interested in listening to the most recent Longform podcast that Alarm Grid has sponsored, please simply click here.

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Happy holidays everyone!

Remember, while your systems are monitored 24/7 by the good folks at Criticom, our tech team is going to be taking a little break this holiday. Below are the Alarm Grid hours. If you need help, please email support@alarmgrid.com (emailing is the fastest way to get a response) or leave a message when you call 888-818-7728. We will do our best to respond quickly.

  • Dec. 24th - Half day. Closing at 2PM EST.
  • Dec. 25th - CLOSED
  • Dec. 26th-Dec. 30th - Open
  • Dec. 31 - Closing at 5PM EST
  • Jan 1st - CLOSED
  • Jan 2nd - Normal hours resume (Monday-Friday - 9AM-9PM EST, Saturday & Sunday - CLOSED)

We wish you all very well this holiday season, and hope you all have a wonderful week filled with cheer, happiness, and of course, safety. We sent out a nice little e-card to those who are signed up for our monitoring service. So, for those of you who didn't get to see the card, here it is. Please, leave the Alarm Grid team a message. We love hearing from all of you, and we promise that we are reading them all!

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One of the big gripes people have with the LYNX panels is that the only siren that it works with is the 5800WAVE. The truth is that Honeywell's wireless security system can be made to work with any wired siren. It just takes a little bit more work. We've done our best to make it simple with FAQsmanuals, and even an Alarm Grid kit, but we have been missing the most important, helpful element: videos. The following video can be viewed as a series on YouTube (if you head over there, be sure to subscribe to the Alarm Grid channel), or you can watch it in order right below.

In this first video, we show you the Alarm Grid LYNX-EXT. It's the simplest, cheapest way to get an external sounder to work with your wireless security system without having to run a wire. The LYNX-WEXT works roughly the same way as the one in the video below, however, a wire needs to be run from the relay in the WEXT to the system itself.

Putting everything together in the LYNX-EXT is really simple. Sterling goes through the wiring, and how to connect it to the wireless security system.

Sterling goes in depth about how to choose the wired sirens you would like to use, and how to do a quick power calculation on your system. In this video, we demonstrate the strongest siren we sell, the Amseco 52s, which will make a 120dB fuss if the system is breached.

Sterling gives a quick explanation about how to properly wire the siren and the strobe. Once this is done, all that is left to do is set the house ID codes in the system and the 5800RL.

Setting the House ID Codes on the LYNX Touch Units

All three of the next videos demonstrate how to set the house ID whether your system is an older, discontinued L5100, or the newer L5200 and L7000.

Setting the House ID on the 5800RL

Like most Honeywell sensors, the 5800RL uses dip switches to pick its House ID. It is the same way that the 5800WAVE works. Setting these dip switches will allow the system to communicate with the horn so that the siren can start blaring the second you need it most.


Honeywell's AD12612 is the best selling power supply in any kit. Sterling takes us through how to wire the LYNX-EXT to the power supply and external sounder. 


The Panics!

Both to show it works, as well as allowing anyone who is curious a chance to listen to the panic sounds. Below are videos of Sterling demonstrating both the Police Panic and the Fire Panic.



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We're giving the site a facelift! We've partnered with POW Photography in Chicago, IL to make sure that our site is filled with high-resolution product photos. The first pictures we've had them take are our most popular items. So this won't all happen over night, but over the next few months, as you come back to research your new alarm system, don't be surprised when you see a new, beautiful photo suddenly take the place of an old, blurry part.

If you want to see a gallery of the new photos, I'll be including them below as we add them to the site:

Honeywell 5834-4 Wireless Key FobHoneywell 5816 thick wireless door and window sensorHoneywell 5811 wafer thin door and window sensor for the L5100Honeywell GSMVLP5-4G wireless cellular communicator for the L5100Honeywell 300-04705 L5100 LYNXTouch TransformerHoneywell LYNXRCHKIT-SC battery backup for the LYNX Touch security systemHoneywell L5100-ZWAVE module for the LYNXTouch L5100 Security SystemHoneywell L5100-Zwave AnteriorHoneywell L5100-WIFI AlarmNet Communicator for the L5100 LYNX TouchHoneywell 7847i-L AlarmNet communicator for the L3000LYNX Plus GSMVLP4G AlarmNet CommunicatorHoneywell 5800PIR-RES Pet Immune Motion SensorHoneywell LT-Cable for the LYNX Touch L5100

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Our alarm monitoring is not expensive in the slightest. Alarm Grid offers a number of simple plans for your system, that we have done our best to keep very reasonable. We are happy to say that nearly everyone we talk to is amazed to find no-contract monitoring service at the rates we offer, and that our current customers are very happy with their service. That said, we are often asked by more price-conscious consumers why they are better off becoming customers of Alarm Grid than one of those super-cheap central stations. Since we spend so much time explaining anyway, I figured it was about time to do a little write-up on the subject.

Who Does the Monitoring... because Not All Central Stations are Created Equal

One of the dirty little secrets of the home security industry is that the company that actually does the alarm monitoring and alarm dispatching is usually an un-named central station that answers as the company you're paying. Most alarm companies don't even admit that they use a third party for the central station service. Central station monitoring is a commoditized service that companies like Alarm Grid purchase on behalf of their clients. Just like those concerned about price will often try to find the best deal for monitoring, alarm companies do the same. They shop their accounts around so that they can get the cheapest deal on alarm monitoring. Unfortunately, that can result in a under-staffed, under-technologized UL listed central station providing you your monitoring service.

The central station we work with is a company called Criticom. We picked them because they are well-regarded as a central station. For our customers, the average response time over the last 6 months is just over 11 seconds. This kind of response time is incredible, even a little unprecedented. Your accounts are not cheap for us to have monitored. We didn't pick Criticom because of incredible cut-rate pricing. We picked them, over less expensive central stations, because we think they are the best. They have three central stations (something that is not required for a UL listed central station). They have incredible response times, a 30+ year history and they are armed with the best, most modern technology available today. They are always modernizing so that any new technology in the industry is adopted quickly. 

Simply choosing a central station because it's UL listed doesn't cut it anymore. It's important for you to ask your alarm company the detailed questions about who they use for central station service and then to research how that central station may differ from others. Before we selected Criticom to be the official Alarm Grid monitoring partner, we spoke to countless other UL listed centrals. Criticom had the best feature set we could find.

Additionally, Alarm Grid is in control of the phone number that your system uses to communicate with the central station. This is a pretty important fact that most consumers wouldn't even know to ask about. Very simply, it means that if Criticom begins performing poorly (if our customers do not continue to get the same great level of service they've received up to this point) we can simply change which central station we work with.

You Don't Get to Test Your Monitoring Until You Need It

This is a pretty critical point. With cheap alarm monitoring, oftentimes what you're getting is monitoring from a central station that is nothing more than a couple of guys sitting in a cement room, fulfilling the minimal requirements to be a UL listed central station. These alarm companies may say that they can charge less because there is no middleman - they are the ones providing the monitoring. This is often true. However, it's important to realize that there are typically two businesses in the industry: alarm service companies and central station companies. Running a central station competently is not something an alarm service company is necessarily well suited to do.

Alarm companies are generally staffed to the hilt, with installers, technicians and sales people. For companies whose primary business is selling security system service and attempting to get customers to sign up for long, unreadable contracts, running a central station is an afterthought. How can you know that your company will be there when you need them, the one time that you actually get robbed? Well, again, we work with a company that does nothing but central station monitoring. Their job is to be there. We encourage you to test their track record, read as much as you can about them. Criticom's years and years of service are unparalleled. And that level of certainty is what you pay for in an alarm monitoring company.

An Explanation of Alarm Grid's Costs

So given all that, how does Alarm Grid keep our prices so low? The traditional alarm company acquires customers through a number of channels, including offering them free systems in exchange for signing a long-term contract. This free-system scam is one of the most insidious in the industry. Often a company's cost will be around $300, but the monitoring that they sell will end up locking consumers into contracts where they pay for the monitoring, and then pay enough on top of it that they could have purchased a brand new system every single year. We believe in transparency. So, at Alarm Grid, we offer the equipment at as low of a price as we can and only offer alarm monitoring packages that are month-to-month.

Alarm companies often resort to these tactics because they have to pay for the overhead of a bloated installation, sales and tech support team. As a DIY company, we employ only tech support and customer service agents. We are lean, green, and uninhibited by the need to pay a bloated staff. If you've ever had the pleasure of meeting our beautiful live chatters, you'll know that Alarm Grid strives to give you as many communication channels as possible. That said, the content we produce - the FAQs, the videos, our posting of the user manuals, and everything else, is done to make sure that you can do much of what needs to be accomplished on your own. For simple problems, the kind that you might have called an installer to come and fix in the past at a cost of $50 to $100 (like installing a 5811 sensor or changing the master code on a wired Honeywell system), you can now do yourself in a matter of minutes.

As a result of our cost saving measures, we do not need to sacrifice the quality of monitoring by using a cheap central station. So, while we may not have the absolute lowest priced monitoring plans, our rates are anything but cheap and we know that you will be hard pressed to find a company that offers the service on a month-to-month basis at these rates. That said, we will do everything in our power to make sure that we can keep it low cost as possible. Because, while we believe it is important to continue to offer alarm monitoring at a low price, you have our word that we will never sacrifice your safety for our bottom line. If the price of monitoring has to go up someday, we can assure you that the hike will have been very carefully considered and only done if necessary. Such a move would only be done if we had no other choice. And while that may happen some day, we promise that if it does, we will be as transparent about it as we have been with everything.

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According to the Detroit Free Press, many of Detroit's cash-strapped fire departments use a Faygo can filled with metallic objects and puts it precariously at the edge of a fax machine (that's right, they get their fire alerts by fax). When a fax comes in, the paper tips over the can, and a nearby firefighter alerts the rest of the station.

We sell some of the best, state of the art residential monitoring equipment you can find. Using an L7000 and a 5808W3 sensor are going to protect your home using the incredibly reliable, wireless technologies that have been perfected by Honeywell. So when we see low-tech stuff like this, it's astounding. That said, we have to commend those Detroit firefighters for making the most of a hard situation.

It just goes to show, just because you may have a state of the art security system and fire detection system. That doesn't mean that your fire department does. 

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