April 2013 Archives

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We just recently completed a full system upgrade for one of our friends that lives in Boca Raton, FL. Our friends recently purchased a beautiful home that had an older Napco wired security system. The system was operational and even had a cellular alarm communicator installed. However, our friends took one look at what the L5100 LYNX Touch system could do, and they decided they had to have one. 

After replacing all wired sensors with Honeywell 5800 Series wireless devices, we helped them install the LYNX Touch 5100 and add an L5100-WIFI module and a GSMVLP5-4G cellular communicator. We set them up with a Total Connect account so that they could arm and disarm their system using their iPhones. We also programmed the system to notify them with text messages every time the system is armed, disarmed or goes into alarm. They have a family member living with them and they also have a cleaning person that comes weekly so now they know right away whenever someone accesses the system. The Total Connect notification even includes the name of the person that armed or disarmed. This level of detail is exactly what they needed and something they always wished they could have with their old system.

Finally, we helped them add an L5100-ZWAVE module so they could turn their new wireless security system into a home automation system as well. They installed Z-Wave locks in all of their exterior doors and we helped them configure it so that when they lock the doors, the L5100 system arms. Unlocking the doors also automatically disarms the system so that they never have to deal with remembering user codes and rushing to the keypad to disarm when they come home. They got some Honeywell ZWSTAT Z-Wave thermostats as well so that they can set their thermostat to a comfortable temperature while they are on their way home from work. They have already seen a substantial drop in their FPL electricity bill now that they have full access to their air conditioning system. With the weather here in South Florida, efficient energy management is crucial. Their next project will be to add Z-Wave lights throughout their home that they will have a truly connected home.

Our friends are thrilled with the versatility and functionality that the LYNX Touch provides and they said the the Total Connect 2.0 app has quickly become one of their favorite apps. While we are very proud to be offering alarm monitoring services nationwide, it feels even better to be providing alarm monitoring in Boca Raton which is just a few exits north of us on I-95.


Our Alarm Grid security sign also looks great in front of their home!

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Welcome to another Wednesday and another edition of Ask Sterling. This week, Frank from New Hampshire wants to know how to set the House ID on his Honeywell L5100.

If you're first wondering what a House ID is, I'm glad you asked. The House ID is used for bi-directional devices that communicate back to your Honeywell Lynx Touch L5100.

A good example would be a a bi-directional key fob like the Honeywell 5804BD that wants to send signals to your panel and also can get status of from your panel.

So now that you know what a House ID is, I'm sure you're eager to set yours up or change yours on your L5100. To change this setting, just follow our useful video below:


If you have any questions you would like to see answered in our Ask Sterling series, please ask below in the comments or send us an email at support@alarmgrid.com.

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Are you stuck with an old VISTA 15P or VISTA 20P panel, but you want Total Connect? While the bad news is that if your PROM chip (that little microchip in the center of your control panel's circuit board) is lower than version 9.12, you can't use Total Connect 2.0, the good news is, you can upgrade your VISTA panel pretty easily.

To date, the only way to upgrade the panels would have been to purchase the iGSMV-TC2, the GSMV4G-TC2 or the GSMX4G-TC2. These AlarmNet cellular alarm communicator upgrade kits include a little PROM chip version 9.12 that can replace your existing chip. The problem is that not every systems is monitored using a cellular communicator. And while cellular communicators definitely provide a security panel with the most secure communication pathway between the panel and the central station, if you wanted to add an IP communicator and upgrade to Total Connect 2.0, you've been out of luck. You'd have to buy the IP communicator and replaced your entire control panel. Of course, that means mapping over all of your wiring and reprogramming your whole system.

So we're very excited to announce that we've broken out the PROM chips, and you can now buy them separately from any of the GSM communicators. The new VISTA 15P PROM chip and the VISTA 20P PROM chip are simple to install, and will bring your older VISTA system up to date with AlarmNet's award winning interactive service, Total Connect 2.0.

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If you're looking to save money on your electric bill or just join the smart home revolution, then I have someone I'd like to introduce you to today - the Leviton Z-Wave switch family.

Alarm Grid is proud to now officially carry the entire line of Leviton Z-Wave switches on our site.

When you replace your existing switches with this Leviton Vizia RF+ series, you will be able to remotely control your lights from any Z-Wave controller, including the Honeywell Lynx 5100 with Z-Wave module and Honeywell Tuxedo Touch.

Now allow me to introduce our four new products and explain each of their uses in your home:

  1. Leviton VRS15-1LZ - The VRS15 is the flagship of the Leviton Z-Wave switch line and what we recommend all our customers buy. It can handle up to 15A (or 1800 Watts) of load and can do both incandescent AND compact fluorescent lights (CFL). You can even use them in 3-way when partnered with the Leviton VP0SR-1LZ (3 on our list) and VP0SR-10Z (4 on our list).
  2. The Leviton VRS05-1LZ - The VRS05 is the baby brother of the VRS15. It can handle up to 5A (or 600 watts). We generally do not recommend the VRS05 because it can only handle incandescent and is not as future-proof. It can also be used in 3-way applications when paired with VP0SR-1LZ (3 on our list) and VP0SR-10Z (4 on our list).
  3. Leviton VP0SR-1LZ - The VP0SR-1LZ is the coordinating 3-way switch to use with a VRS05 or VRS15 if the switches are wired properly on the same circuit (using a traveler wire). That's when two switches control one light. The VP0SR-1LZ has a LED indicator.
  4. Leviton VP0SR-10Z - The VP0SR-10Z is a cheaper coordinating 3-way switch that does not have an LED indicator.

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We hope this never happens to any of our clients, but what happens if a burglar forces you to disarm your system as you enter your home?

Well, luckily the Honeywell L5100 has the duress code feature and Eric from Washington asked us an amazing question, "how do I set the duress code on a Honeywell L5100 panel?"

In this video, we go over the details of a duress signal code and how you set it on the Honeywell LYNX 5100 panel.  


As usual, if you have any questions you'd like to see answered in our Ask Sterling series, either email us at support@alarmgrid.com or ask below in the comments.


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We get a lot of questions about how central station monitoring works, and so I thought it was a good idea to sort of explain how we do central station monitoring and why we partnered with our central station.

First, I think it’s worth noting that most alarm companies will tell you that they do the central station monitoring. The truth is, most security companies don’t actually monitor your alarm, they outsource it to a company. So when you ask them about their central station, they are probably telling you about someone else’s central station. It’s not really dishonest, but we prefer to be completely transparent about how we work so that you can make a better, informed decision.

CMS LogoWe chose to partner with Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS) because of their incredible track record. While most alarm companies use a central monitoring station that is UL listed, which means they meet UL’s rigorous standards for quality, some central stations go way above and beyond those standards, and that is what CMS does.

The most attractive features of CMS, in our opinion, was their load balancing and redundant station locations. While most UL listed central stations are one building, somewhere a bit remote and probably very secure, CMS has three different locations from which they answer calls: one in New Jersey, one in California, and one in Florida (where Alarm Grid is headquartered).


They also have load balancing, which means when they get flooded with calls, they re-route them to the location that has less volume. What that means is when there is an event (hurricane, snow storm, etc.) that causes a lot of systems to go off, and the central is inundated with calls, because your system is monitored by Alarm Grid and CMS, your alarm signal will still get the priority response you need without any delay.

Why does it all matter? Well, think about what would happen if we had only one central station here in Florida. Sure, we’d be UL listed. We’d have a great, secure location, all our fire extinguishers would be in the right places, we would have two redundant servers, multiple lines coming in, etc. But, if there were a hurricane, there is a chance that we would have to shut down for a short time to make sure our staff were safe. Even if we didn't have to shut down, our operators would have so many false alarms coming in that our response for real alarms may get delayed.

As a result of using CMS, not only do you not have to worry about natural disasters that are happening where the central station is located (think Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey), you can be certain that 24 hours a day, someone is looking out for you and ready to respond immediately to any emergency.

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We are proud to announce the release of the long awaited GSMVLP4G cellular alarm communicator for the L3000 LYNX Plus wireless alarm system!

The GSMVLP4G replaces the discontinued GSMVLP. While Honeywell has been focusing on the more advanced security systems, like the L5100, in their bid to replace all 2G cellular alarm communicators with 4G compatible communicators, they finally got around to releasing the GSMVLP4G. Now, all L3000 owners have a cellular alarm monitoring communicator that will work well into the future. Before the release of the GSMVLP4G, the GSVMVLP was the only option for cellular alarm communications using the L3000 security system. Unfortunately, as the GSMVLP is a 2G cellular communicator, it will no longer work at the end of 2016. In fact, certain areas of the country have already lost 2G cellular coverage and therefore GSMVLP's in those areas are already obsolete. If you have a GSMVLP installed currently, and you have experienced issues with your cellular alarm communications, please give us a call today so we can help you with an upgrade to the GSMVLP4G.

All of Honeywell's AlarmNet cellular alarm monitoring communicators are powered by AT&T's powerful and, most importantly, reliable cellular network. A cellular alarm communicator connects your security system to a central station with a wireless cellular communication path. Cellular alarm communicators are the safest and most reliable form of alarm communications because there is no physical wire that can be cut to defeat the system.

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GSMVLPThe GSMVLP was a wonderful device that allowed Honeywell's LYNX Plus L3000 panel to communicate with AlarmNet using the cellular communication pathway.

As Honeywell transitions to AT&T's fast and reliable 4G network in anticipation of the end of the older 2G network, they have begun discontinuing the antiquated 2G communicators and replacing them with 4G compatible communicators.

We're sad to see this communicator go as we have loved the amazing security it has provided for Alarm Grid's many monitored clients. However, this is one of the final communicators to be put to rest and its replacement, the GSMVLP4G, will join Honeywell's growing pantheon of 4G communicators: the GSMVLP5-4G for the L5100, the GSMV4G or GSMX4G for a majority of the VISTA panels, and the VISTA-GSM4G for the VISTA 21iP.

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So now that our fearless leader is hitched and I'm not off to any weddings, it's time to return to what I'm sure is everyone's favorite part of Friday: the Owner DIY Blog!

As I introduced in my blog post two weeks ago, I have a Honeywell LYNX L5100  system installed in my home. But it didn't just install itself. I'm here to document how we did it!

So a little background on my house. Like many people in Florida who hate putting up shutters on their second floor, I have high impact Hurricane windows and doors.  


And I don't just have them. I have a LOT of them. Being an older, remodeled home, I have them in all shapes and sizes. French doors, sliding glass doors, and way too many windows.

So when it came time to designing my security system, we had to put a lot of thought into picking the right door and window sensors.

First, let's consider the windows. There's a ton of them and clearly we want to protect that method of entry. 

Since there's over 40 of them (many of the windows are double-hung and multiple panels per opening), we had to rule out wireless window sensors. Even at those affordable Alarm Grid prices, they're unrealistic in that quantity.

We couldn't even use glass break detectors. Impact glass functions a lot like bullet proof glass. It won't shatter and set off the detectors.

So we settled on a few motion detectors placed cleverly throughout the house. Luckily since my manly 9 pound Shih Tzu just squeezes under the 80 lb limit of the Honeywell 5800PIR-RESthe choice of which one to use was obvious.

Need help installing yours? We have a great Honeywell 5800PIR-RES installation video.

With three of those placed in rooms with entryways and hallways outside the rest of the rooms, it was time to move on to the doors. Oh the many doors.

Since I'm a snob, I knew the standard and popular Honeywell 5816 just wasn't thin enough for me. I needed the slightly more expensive, but way more discreet Honeywell 5811.

For the many sliding glass doors, I needed to install two door sensors per door because the doors could open from either direction. Looking for help? We have a great video showing how to install door sensors on a sliding glass door.

For the French doors / double front door? Luckily, one side was a dummy / passive door that locked into the frame. We were able to get away with just one sensor on the active side. Again, we have a great French door installation video for the 5811.

Any questions or concerns on how to design your security system? Next up we'll go over some of the cool stuff we did with Z-Wave. 

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This week, Josh from Connecticut had a pretty standard question a lot of us have before purchasing any wireless products: how long will the battery last?

Specifically, he wanted to know how long the battery in the Honeywell 5811 last. The Honeywell 5811 is a wafer thin door and window sensor that isn't as clunky as its counterpart, the 5816. It's button battery may be small, but it is very very effective.

While the answer to this question is obviously based on usage, I tried my best to answer Josh with a general estimate based on Honeywell specifications and average lifespans on Honeywell CR2032 3V lithium batteries as well as our personal experience with these sensors.

Watch the video below:


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