July 2018 Archives

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Hi DIYers! We wanted to let you know that we have reduced the prices for many of our Qolsys products. At Alarm Grid, we're huge fans of Qolsys, and we recognize their hardware as being some of the most versatile and reliable equipment in the industry. The price changes are outlined below:

Product
Name
Old
Price
New
Price
Price
Difference
Percent
Savings
Qolsys IQ Hardwire 16-S
$124.99 $99 $25 20%
Qolsys IQ Battery
$33.99 $29.99 $4 12%
Qolsys IQ Panel 2
Verizon LTE

$449.99 $399.99 $50 11%
Qolsys IQ Panel 2 AT&T LTE
$449.99 $399.99 $50 11%
Qolsys IQ Panel 2
Classic Kit Verizon

$499.99 $449.99 $50 10%
Qolsys IQ Panel 2
Classic Kit AT&T

$499.99 $449.99 $50 10%
Qolsys IQ Dimmer
$49.99 $44.99 $5 10%
Qolsys IQ Siren
$81.99 $74.99 $7 9%
Qolsys IQ Glass-S
$89.99 $83.99 $6 7%
Qolsys IQ Temp
$29.99 $27.99 $2 7%
Qolsys IQ Fob-S
$28.99 $26.99 $2 7%
Qolsys IQ Power Supply
$16.99 $15.99 $1 6%
Qolsys IQ Smoke
$67.99 $64.99 $3 4%
Qolsys IQ Doorbell
$27.99 $26.99 $1 4%
Qolsys IQ DW MINI-S
$24.99 $23.99 $1 4%
Qolsys IQ Recessed Door-S
$33.99 $32.99 $1 3%
Qolsys IQ Pendant
$33.99 $32.99 $1 3%
Qolsys IQ Motion-S
$57.99 $56.99 $1 2%
Qolsys IQ Flood
$55.99 $54.99 $1 2%
Qolsys Image Sensor
$99.99 $98.99 $1 1%
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When one thinks of upgrading their security system, they would typically think of adding a new sensor to their setup. After all, it's sensors that a system uses to detect any important system events, such as burglary or fire. But often upgrading a communicator is even more important.

Simply put, the communicator is what an alarm system uses to send outbound signals to the user and/or a central monitoring station. If the communicator fails, then the alarm system is nothing more than a local sounder. It will have no way of alerting off-site users or requesting emergency dispatch from a central monitoring station. Therefore, it's extremely important that the communication path used by an alarm system is dependable, reliable and gives the user peace of mind. For most users, an alarm system that uses cellular communication is the ideal solution.

The Honeywell Lyric Controller is the flagship wireless security system from Honeywell. This system provides support for up to 128 wireless zones, and it can even work with the encrypted Honeywell SiX Series Sensors. The touchscreen controller is extremely easy to use, and the build-quality lives up to the Honeywell name. Additionally, the system comes with a Z-Wave controller built-in for controlling Z-Wave home automation devices. Overall, the Lyric is one of the top security systems available on the market today.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security systemHowever, there is one issue with a fresh, brand-new, out-of-the-box Lyric. This problem is that the system does not have an integrated cellular communicator. Although there are Lyric Controller System Kits that come with a cellular communicator, the base version of the system does not have such a module. If no cellular module is added, the system will be forced to rely on a WIFI connection. This might not seem so bad at first. WIFI is extremely fast, and most people think of modern internet services as being extremely reliable. For that reason, many users make the decision to go with a WIFI-only setup for their Honeywell Lyric Controller.

But going with a WIFI-only communication path can prove to be a major mistake. WIFI signals regularly go down, often for seemingly no reason. Additionally, a power outage of any kind will cause the WIFI service to go down, and a panel that uses a WIFI-only connectivity will be unable to send any outbound signals. This means that the property will be unprotected. But with a cellular communicator, this is occurrence is nearly impossible. Modern cellular communication is extremely reliable. It is not affected by power outages, and it offers users great peace of mind.

For those reasons, adding a cellular communicator to a Lyric Controller is extremely important. Honeywell offers various cellular communicators for the Lyric System. Adding one of these communicators can be the single most important upgrade for a Lyric Controller, due to the fantastic reliability and consistency that it will provide for the system. And for users looking for a new communicator, we recommend choosing the Honeywell LYRICLTE-A.

Honeywell lyric lte a at and t lte cellular communicator for theThe LYRICLTE-A is currently the only communicator for the Lyric Controller that can connect with an LTE cellular network. Specifically, the LYRICLTE-A connects with the LTE network for AT&T. LTE networks represent the latest and most advanced cellular technology available, and they provide lightning-fast speeds and superb reliability. Plus, cellular service providers have promised that they will continue to support for their LTE networks for many years, even decades into the future. And with trusted service from AT&T, the LYRICLTE-A will ensure that the Lyric Controller is always connected and always protecting your property. It should be mentioned that Verizon also plans to release an LTE communicator for the Lyric sometime in the near future. But for now, the LYRICLTE-A and AT&T is nearly always the best option for Lyric users.

With that in mind, we believe that the LYRICLTE-A is the single most important upgrade a user can make for their Honeywell Lyric Controller System. The level of reliability and consistency of cellular communication cannot be compared with by any other communication path. And with connectivity to an LTE network, users can be sure that their Lyric System will communicate as it should far into the distant future.

An alarm system is only good if it can alert others in an emergency situation. A system that cannot communicate properly is a sitting duck. Even if a system has every sensor imaginable, it won't matter if the system cannot send a signal to the end user or a central monitoring station when it counts. With the LYRICLTE-A and cellular communication, a Lyric System will be able to communicate successfully every time. This makes the LYRICLTE-A the single most important upgrade for the Honeywell Lyric Controller. Don't leave your Lyric System unprotected. Upgrade your Lyric with the very best in cellular communication with the AT&T LYRICLTE-A.

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Reliability is the single most important factor for a smoke detector. It is critical that these devices quickly and accurately respond whenever there is a fire in the building. One of the best ways to ensure this reliability is with a smoke detector that utilizes photoelectric technology.

Photoelectric smoke detectors are some of the most popular life-safety devices available today. The defining feature of a photoelectric sensor is its internal light source and sensing chamber. By default, light will never fall on the internal photo sensor. The presence of smoke or other airborne particles will cause the light to refract, which will have it strike the sensor and produce an alarm. This means that the device will not activate suddenly, as long as the sensing chamber stays clear.

But when smoke enters the sensing chamber, the light inside the sensor will be refracted. This will cause the internal light to strike the photoelectric sensor. When this happens, the smoke detector will send an alert to the system to let it know that there is smoke (and therefore a fire) in the building. The alarm system will then perform the programmed response by alerting others to the fire.

Overall, this method is very effective for detecting fires. But with this process, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that a smoke works properly. It is possible that other airborne materials besides smoke can also enter the inside of the smoke detector, adjust the light source and cause an alarm. Airborne particles can also potentially prevent the detector from allowing smoke to refract the internal light onto the sensor. If this happens the smoke detector will not function as it should.

To prevent this from happening, users should make sure to place their photoelectric smoke detectors in appropriate areas. They should not be facing any vents or air ducts. Photoelectric smoke detectors should also not be placed in garages, bathrooms, kitchens or laundry rooms. This is because these rooms feature large amounts of humidity and dust that may prevent the sensor from detecting smoke.

Instead, we recommend placing photoelectric smoke detectors in large open areas where their function will not become disrupted. Some ideal locations include large central living rooms, near staircases, in hallways and outside of sleeping areas. Since smoke rises, all photoelectric smoke detectors should be installed high up on the wall or on the ceiling. By following these guidelines, a photoelectric smoke detector is more likely to work properly. For more information on the proper placement of smoke detectors, please review this helpful guide. Users should also make sure to test their photoelectric smoke detector on a regular basis and to replace the batteries when low.

Some of the most popular photoelectric smoke detectors we offer include the Honeywell 5808W3, the Honeywell SiXSMOKE and the 2GIG SMKT3-345. These are all extremely versatile smokes that also double as heat detectors. Of course, users must make sure that they smoke they choose is compatible with their alarm system. Assuming that it is a wireless smoke, it must communicate at a frequency that is accepted by their system. We hope that you will check out our selection of photoelectric smoke detectors so that you can protect your home or business.

Honeywell 5808w3 wireless smoke detector and heat detector

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Hi DIYers! We're back with another recent video recap. This recap showcases videos from our techs Joe and Dylan as they show users how they can get the most out of their security system setups. We've got a great set of helpful videos this time around. Let's go and check them out.


Central Station Alarm Monitoring and How It Works

Dylan talks about the intricacies of central station monitoring and how it functions. The main purpose of central station alarm monitoring is to receive automatic dispatch in the event of an alarm. When an alarm occurs, a signal will be sent from the system to a central monitoring station to alert an operator of the event. The station operator can then alert the appropriate authorities on the behalf of the user. To prevent false alarms, a user can instruct the central station to try and contact them first before requesting emergency dispatch.


What Is Cellular Alarm Monitoring

Joe discusses the benefits of using cellular service with an alarm system. Cellular monitoring is seen as the most reliable communication path available. In order to receive cellular monitoring, the user will need a system with a cellular communicator and an alarm monitoring plan that includes cellular connectivity. The cellular communicator that is used must be compatible with the security system. Some security systems, like the Qolsys IQ Panel 2, come with a cellular module that is already included for this purpose. Others, like the Honeywell Lyric Controller need to have one added separately.


Wholesale Home Alarm Monitoring w: Alarm Grid

Dylan explains what wholesale alarm monitoring is and how Alarm Grid supports this type of monitoring. Wholesale alarm monitoring is where a single customer receives service for multiple locations. The customer will need a separate monitoring plan for each location. However, they will still be able to manage the systems for all of their locations with just one Total Connect or Alarm.com account. This possibility is useful for people who own multiple residences, as well as those running a business with multiple locations.


Add a Honeywell GSMX4G to a VISTA Security System

Dylan shows users how to add a Honeywell GSMX4G Cellular Communicator to a VISTA Security System. The GSMX4G is a 4G communicator that connects with the AT&T cellular network. The device receives power directly from the panel using a four-wire connection with the ECP bus. These terminals are four thru seven. The communicator receives this connection via a plug-in port. By feeding the wire through the slot, there will be no exposed wires. The communicator will need to be activated by the user's alarm monitoring company before it will work.


Adding a wired siren to a 2GIG GC3

Joe goes over the process for adding a hardwired siren to a 2GIG GC3 System. To do this, a user will need a power supply, a power relay and a backup battery. The panel will connect with the power relay through its bell terminals, and the negative (black) wire will also parallel splice to the power supply. The relay will connect with the panel, the siren and the power supply. The siren will connect with the relay and the power supply. The backup battery will connect with the power supply exclusively. A plug-in transformer connects with the power supply. A full diagram can be seen here.


Voice Commands on the Lyric Security System

Joe talks about the voice control feature on the Honeywell Lyric Controller. This feature is often overlooked on the system, but it can be very useful when used effectively. Voice commands can be used to control smart scenes and to open the camera menu for older model Honeywell IP Cameras. Voice command options can be set from within the Master Tools menu. It is recommended that a user completes the voice training on the system so that the Lyric Controller can better understand the user's voice.


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Hey DIYers! As you know, we mentioned in a post yesterday that the MR7 firmware update for the Honeywell Lyric Controller is now available. The big news yesterday was that this update would restore Apple HomeKit functionality for Lyric Systems running an IP-only communication path.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security systemHowever, the other major component of this update it is that it will allow for some exciting new products to be used with the Lyric.These products include various Z-Wave home automation devices and an upcoming Honeywell SiX Series Sensor. The following products will become compatible following the update:

  • Honeywell's new T6 Pro Z-Wave Programmable Thermostat (TH6320ZW2003) - Not to be confused with the T6 Pro WIFI Thermostat models (TH6320U2008, TH6320U2000, or TH6320U2001)
  • The upcoming Honeywell SiXCOMBO, which features dual smoke and carbon monoxide detection, as well as a one-go-all-go function
  • The August Smart Lock Pro with Z-Wave - The first generation August lock with Bluetooth only is not compatible
  • Eaton & Cooper Z-Wave Light Switches and Outlets

Honeywell also says that this update will improve general system performance and overall end-user experience.The system can be updated from the Installer menu. This is done through Security > Tools > Installer Code (default 4112) > Update Firmware. The update can also be pushed down by the user's alarm monitoring company.

If you are having any trouble pushing the update, please contact us at 888-818-7728 from 9AM to 8PM M-F or email support@alarmgrid.com.

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Hi DIYers! We are happy to announce that Honeywell has released firmware update MR7 for the Lyric Controller. This is also known as firmware version 01.07.07648.491. The main purpose of this update is to restore HomeKit functionality for those who had previously lost access to the service.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system

Honeywell Lyric Controller Systems that use a WIFI-only communication path recently had Apple HomeKit service made unavailable by Honeywell. This is because HomeKit was causing problems for the panel's WIFI connectivity. But with this new firmware update, users will have Apple HomeKit functionality restored for their Lyric Controller Panels.

To upgrade the system firmware, start from the home screen on the Lyric Controller. Then go to Security > Tools > Installer Code (default is 4112) > Update Firmware. The panel must be registered with AlarmNet360, and it will need to be connected to the network for this update to go through.

It is also possible to have the firmware updated remotely. This is useful for users running an older firmware version of the Lyric Controller that does not feature the Update Firmware button. A user can do this by contacting their alarm monitoring company to have them push the update.

Users can check their system firmware at any time by going to Security > Tools > Master Code > Advanced > System Information. This will display the following screen of information:


Please note that the HomeKit feature may still need to be re-enabled before it can be used. This is done by the user's alarm monitoring company. Any Alarm Grid customer who has a Lyric Controller running the proper firmware version and who does not have HomeKit re-enabled should reach out to us.

Users may contact us at 888-818-7728 from 9AM to 8PM Monday thru Friday, or email us at support@alarmgrid.com to have HomeKit re-enabled. Make sure to check your system firmware version before contacting us! We will then re-enable the HomeKit function for your panel.

We hope that you enjoy using Apple HomeKit with your Lyric Controller, and we will continue to provide any further updates as they are made available.

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Motion detectors are some of the most important sensors used with security systems. Even if you are only monitoring an apartment or a smaller house, you will still likely want to have at least one motion sensor installed with your system. A great sensor for this purpose is the Qolsys IQ Motion-S.

Qolsys iq motion s encrypted motion sensor for iq panel 2 qs1230

With the IQ Motion-S it is important to understand that it will only work with the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 System. This is because the sensor operates using an encrypted 319.5 MHz signal that is only compatible with that system. This 128-bit AES encryption prevents the sensor from being hacked or taken over by others. It truly is one of the most secure sensors that we offer.

The device works using passive infrared (PIR) technology. This involves having its lens scan for changes in infrared energy caused by movement. If the sensor detects a person's body heat, it will send an alert to the system to respond accordingly. The IQ Motion-S features a detection range of 30 by 40 feet, making it excellent for virtually any residential application.

For best results, the IQ Motion-S should be installed 6.5 feet off the ground. This will give it a proper vantage point of the room. It should not be facing any ceiling fans, vents or air ducts, as they may disrupt the sensor or cause it to respond accidentally. The device offers pet immunity for animals weighing up to 40 pounds. The device runs using two AAA batteries, and it has an average battery lifespan of five years.

You can purchase the Qolsys IQ Motion-S on our website. Get one for your Qolsys IQ Panel 2 System today!

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Hi DIYers! We would like to remind our customers that they have the ability to place their systems on test mode without contacting us. Customers can do this using the MyAlarms.com portal from our monitoring partner Criticom. This is useful for customers who have central station monitoring.

With MyAlarms.com, customers can put their systems on test mode, view their account information and view their signal history. To do this, a user must create an account with MyAlarms.com. To get started, simply contact Alarm Grid, and provide us with the following information:

A username to use with MyAlarms.com (cannot be an email address)

The email address associated with your Alarm Grid account

The address where you receive monitoring services

After receiving this information, our team will get started on creating your MyAlarms.com account. You will then receive an email from noreply@myalarms.com to finish creating your account, which includes providing a password.

If you have any questions about this service and to get started, please contact us at support@alarmgrid.com, or call us at 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm Monday through Friday.

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Honeywell is known for producing some outstanding security equipment, and their wireless door and window contacts are no exception. With wireless contacts available from both the 5800 Series lineup and the SiX Series lineup, there are certainly some great options. But with all the possibilities, it might seem overwhelming if you are just getting started. This guide will help you choose the perfect wireless Honeywell door and window contact for your needs.

Honeywell 5820l super slim wireless door and window sensorFirst, a user should understand exactly how a door and window contact works. Almost every wireless Honeywell door and window contact functions using the exact same principles. These devices consist of a sensor and magnet. The sensor is the "brains" of the operation, and it is responsible for sending signals to the alarm system. It is typically installed on or inside the door or window frame. The magnet is installed on or inside the door or window itself. The only wireless Honeywell contact that does not use a magnet is the Honeywell 5800RPS. This is a wireless recessed sensor for doors only that operates using a plunger switch.

For proper operation, the device's magnet should be installed very close to the sensor. We usually recommend placing it within a half-inch of the sensor. However, some 5800 Series contacts, like the 5816OD, can function properly with a slightly larger spacing gap. When the door or window is opened, the magnet will separate from the sensor. This will cause a reed switch inside the sensor to activate. When this happens, the sensor will send a signal to the alarm system so that the programmed Response Type can be performed.

It's also important to know the system compatibilities for the different Honeywell wireless contacts. Their wireless contacts come from two different sensor lineups. These are the 5800 Series and the SiX Series. The 5800 Series contacts are unidirectional devices that operate at 345 MHz. This makes them compatible with any Honeywell System or 2GIG System. But the SiX Series contacts are bi-directional, fully encrypted sensors that communicate using 2.4 GHz WIFI. These sensors only work with Honeywell Lyric Systems.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system

If you have a Honeywell Lyric Controller, then you can choose between any Honeywell wireless contact on the market. But if you have a LYNX Touch or a VISTA System with an added wireless receiver, then you are restricted to the 5800 Series contacts. Additionally, if you are using a 2GIG GC3 or a 2GIG GC2, then you can use either 2GIG Contacts or Honeywell 5800 Series contacts. Any alarm systems that do not accept the 345 MHz frequency are unable to use Honeywell contacts.

The only two contacts in the Honeywell SiX Series Lineup are the Honeywell SiXCT and the Honeywell SiXMINICT. These are both wireless, surface-mount sensors that work exclusively with Honeywell Lyric Systems. What makes these sensors special is that they feature 128-bit AES encryption. Whenever the sensor sends a command to the Lyric System, the system must then send a secure response back to the sensor. The command will only go through if this secure response is received. Many security experts refer to this as a "digital handshake", and it is excellent for preventing any hacking attempts or wireless attacks.

The SiXCT and the SiXMINICT do have a few slight differences. Most notably, the SiXMINICT is smaller and more compact than the SiXCT. The SiXCT measures at 3.13”L x 1.61”W x 1"D, while the SiXMINICT measures at 2.44”L x 1.25”W x .45”D. So users who want a smaller sensors should go with the SiXMINICT. But the benefit of the SiXCT is that it features a larger wireless range (~300 feet) than the SiXMINICT (~200 feet). However, only users with particularly large properties should have to worry about signal range. One thing that these sensors do share in common is that they can both be batch-enrolled with the Lyric Controller.

  • Honeywell SiXCT - The standard SiX Series contact. Features a 300 foot range and encryption. Will only work with Lyric Systems.
  • Honeywell SiXMINICT - The more compact SiX Series contact. Provides a 200 foot range and encryption. For Lyric Systems only.

Honeywell sixct wireless door slash window contact for lyric conHoneywell sixminict wireless door slash window contact for lyric

But the SiX Series contacts aren't for everyone. For one, they will only work with the Lyric Systems. There are also no recessed contacts in the SiX Series lineup. Users who don't have a Lyric Controller or want a recessed sensor should look to the Honeywell 5800 Series instead. This is an incredibly diverse sensor lineup that has an appropriate contact option for virtually any situation. Any Honeywell or 2GIG System will work with these sensors. This includes any Lyric Controller, L7000, L5210, VISTA P-Series, 2GIG GC3, 2GIG GC2 and more. Most 5800 Series contacts feature a 150-200 foot wireless range that can be effectively doubled with the use of a 5800RP Wireless Repeater.

Honeywell l7000 wireless home security system with 7 inch screenHoneywell 5800rp wireless repeater

When selecting a 5800 Series Sensor, a user will choose between a surface-mount contact and a recessed contact. With a surface-mount contact, the sensor and the magnet are mounted on the outer surface of the door or window and its frame. But with a recessed contact, the sensor and magnet are installed inside the door or window and its frame. Surface-mount sensors are very easy to install, since they only require screws or double-sided foam tape. But the sensor will be visible on the outside of the door. Recessed sensors are more difficult to install since holes will need to be drilled. However, some users will appreciate the fact that recessed sensors are hidden.

For users who go with a surface-mount sensor there are certainly some great options in the 5800 Series. One of our favorites is the 5800MINI. This is a reliable sensor that boasts an impressive 200 foot range, despite its small size of just 2.2"H x 1"W x 0.25"D. This is arguably the best surface-mount contact in the Honeywell 5800 Series.

  • Honeywell 5800MINI - A small and discreet surface-mount contact. Offers a 200 foot wireless range. Great for almost any application.

Honeywell 5800mini interior wireless door and window sensor

But there are other surface-mount options than just the 5800MIIN. The 5816 is the most popular sensor that Honeywell has ever offered. It features a larger size and roughly the same range as the 5800MINI. But unlike the 5800MINI, the 5816 can be used as a wireless transmitter for a normally closed hardwired device. Honeywell also offers the 5820L Slim Line for narrow installations and the 5816OD for outdoor use.

  • Honeywell 5816 - Honeywell's most popular sensor. Can also be used as a wireless transmitter for a single NC hardwired device.
  • Honeywell 5820L - A slim line door and window contact that is great for narrow applications. Features a 150-foot range.
  • Honeywell 5816OD - A surface-mount contact for outdoor installations. Excellent for monitoring fences, sheds and detached garages.

Honeywell 5816 wireless door window sensorHoneywell 5816od wireless outdoor door and window sensor top


Honeywell also offers some less popular 5800 Series contacts. These include the 5811 (discontinued), the 5814, the 5815 and the 5816MN (discontinued). While these sensors will work just fine, there isn't really any reason to choose them over another 5800 Series contact.

  • Honeywell 5811 - A small and discreet sensor that has since been discontinued. Replaced by the Honeywell 5800MINI.
  • Honeywell 5814 - Another compact sensor option. It is not as robust as the 5800MINI. Its wireless range is only about 100 feet.
  • Honeywell 5815 - An aesthetically pleasing surface-mount contact that has roughly the same functionality as the 5816.
  • Honeywell 5816MN - A discreet surface mount sensor that has been discontinued. Replaced by the Honeywell 5816MN.

Honeywell 5814 wireless small door sensor and window sensorHoneywell 5815 white wireless aesthetic door sensor and window s

There are also several great recessed contacts in the 5800 Series. The Honeywell 5818MNL is a relatively standard recessed contact that can be used with almost any door or window. It features a 200-foot range, and the installation only requires minor drilling. The Honeywell 5800Micra is a recessed contact for windows only. It is a very small sensor with an attached antenna for sending wireless signals. Finally there's the 5800RPS, which uses a plunger switch instead of a sensor and magnet. This sensor can only be used with doors. When the door is closed, the plunger switch will be pressed in. Once the door is opened, the plunger switch will come out and activate the sensor.

  • Honeywell 5818MNL - A standard recessed contact for doors and windows. It is easy to install, and it has a 200 foot range.
  • Honeywell 5800Micra - A small recessed contact for windows only. Its antenna must be adjusted carefully when installing.
  • Honeywell 5800RPS - A recessed sensor that uses a plunger switch instead of a magnet. For use with doors only.

Honeywell 5818mnl wireless recessed door sensor and window sensoHoneywell 5800micra wireless recessed window contact

Alarm Grid has previously discussed the batteries used with door sensors. We recommend checking out that blog post for more information on which batteries to use with a door and window sensor. If you ever need any additional help choosing a Honeywell door and window contact for your DIY wireless alarm system, please feel free to send an email to support@alarmgrid.com. You can also contact one of our technical specialists by calling 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm EST M-F.

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When it comes to home security, houses aren't the only residences that require adequate protection. Apartments are also vulnerable to being taken advantage of by intruders and burglars. Thankfully, with advances in alarm systems, it has never been easier to achieve a DIY security setup.

Because of their smaller size and limited entrances and exits, most apartments don't need as many security sensors as a fully outfitted home. Just a few door and window contacts and a motion sensor can often do the trick. But that said, there's no reason that an apartment resident can't also take full advantage of the exciting home automation capabilities that a modern alarm system has to offer. This handy guide will cover everything needed to obtain a complete security system for an apartment.

Honeywell 5800mini interior wireless door and window sensorHoneywell 5800pir res wireless pet immune motion detector close up

Choosing a Panel

Like any security setup, it all starts with the control panel. This device serves as the central hub for the rest of the alarm system. Any sensors that are used with the system will report to the panel to let the system know when an event occurs. The panel is also the device that will send outgoing alerts to a central monitoring station or to the end user. Finally, most system arming and disarming is done right at the panel itself. Since the user will typically interact with their panel on a daily basis, it's very important to select one that is reliable and easy to use. Luckily for users, there are many tremendous options to choose from.

For an apartment, we strongly recommend choosing a wireless security system. These panels are remarkably easy to set up, and they are excellent choices for DIY users. A wireless panel is an all-in-one device that includes its own touchscreen display and wireless receiver for interacting with wireless sensors. Most newer wireless systems also come with a built-in communicator and an integrated Z-Wave controller. A user can also obtain a desk mount for their wireless system. This will eliminate the need to mount the panel to the wall, which is often forbidden by apartment policies. In fact, with a wireless system and wireless alarm sensors, it is possible to achieve a total setup without drilling any holes whatsoever. And if the user decides to move out of their apartment, they can easily take their wireless system with them to their new residence.

Alarm Grid offers some outstanding wireless panels that are great for apartments. One fantastic option in particular is the Qolsys IQ Panel 2. This system features a fresh, sleek design that is sure to fit in very well with any modern apartment. The system is simple to operate, and the menu options come across as very straightforward. The device also comes included with its own desk mount for easy setup. The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 will function with all Qolsys-branded wireless sensors, including the fully encrypted S-Line of sensors. Additionally, the IQ Panel 2 is one of few panels to come with a cellular communicator that is already built-in to the system. It is also WIFI ready right out of the box.

Qolsys iq panel 2 classic kit verizon wireless security system wAnother panel option is the Honeywell Lyric Controller. The Lyric is the flagship alarm system from Honeywell, a company that has served as a leader in the security industry for decades. It comes WIFI ready, and it can interface with an impressive lineup of different security sensors. This includes the encrypted SiX Series Sensors, which are designed exclusively for the Honeywell Lyric System. The menus are easy to navigate, and getting started with the system is a breeze. With just a WIFI connection and an appropriate monitoring plan, a user can sync their Lyric with Total Connect. This service allows users to arm and disarm their system remotely and check the current status of their security sensors at any time. A special desk mount for the Lyric is available for purchase separately. This will allow the user to avoid mounting the panel to the wall.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system

We also encourage users to check out our alarm system kits that include everything a new user needs to get started with a security system for their apartment. By going with a kit, a user can save a decent amount of money versus purchasing each component of the security system individually.

All About Sensors

The only types of alarm sensors that are used in most apartments are door and window contacts and motion detectors. Although other alarm sensors can definitely be used as well, they are usually unnecessary for an apartment. Just like with security panels, we advise users to install wireless sensors in an apartment. Wireless sensors are easy to program with an alarm system, and most are mounted using double-sided foam tape. This will prevent the user from having to drill any holes in their walls. Most wireless sensors will function for three to five years before requiring a simple battery replacement. If you are purchasing alarm sensors individually and not with a kit, make sure that the sensors you choose will interface with your alarm system.

A door and window contact is used to let the system know whenever a door or window is opened. These are very simple devices that are easy to understand. Basically, a door and window contact consist of a sensor and a magnet. The sensor is applied on the frame of the door or window, and the magnet is applied on the door or window itself, within a half-inch of the sensor. Double-sided foam tape can secure both of these components. When the door or window is opened, the magnet will separate from the sensor. This will cause a reed switch inside the sensor to activate. When this happens, the sensor will send an signal to the alarm system to let it know about the event. The alarm system will then respond accordingly, based on the programmed Response Type for that zone. For apartments, we recommend using surface-mount contacts over recessed contacts. This is because recessed contacts require holes that are drilled into the door or window frame. If you are purchasing door and window contacts individually and not part of a kit, make sure that they are compatible with your alarm system. Putting a contact on the front door is an absolute must. Many users also place them on windows and interior doors.

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Motion detectors are also commonly used in apartments. Simply put, these devices recognize when motion is present, and they let the system know about the activity. A motion detector will certainly come in handy if an intruder is ever able to get inside the apartment without setting off a door or window contact. Most motion detectors operate using passive infrared (PIR) technology. This detection method involves looking out for the infrared energy given off by a potential intruder. When a PIR motion detector is activated, it will take a quick reading of the current infrared energy in the area. If a person or large object suddenly comes into the picture, it will cause a change in infrared energy. This will cause the motion sensor to activate, and the device will then send a signal to the alarm system to perform the programmed response. For most apartments, one motion detecting sensor is usually adequate. We recommend installing an apartment motion sensor in the main room for optimal sensor coverage.

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Other alarm sensors are typically not as important for apartments. Glass break sensors can be used to monitor glass windows, but this is usually covered using window contacts and a motion sensor. However, some apartment residents may use a glass break sensor to monitor a glass casing or artwork. Most apartments already come included with a smoke detector. This means that purchasing a separate smoke detector for the alarm system is unnecessary. But a user may want to integrate the conventional smoke detector with their alarm system. For that, we recommend using a smoke detector takeover module, such as an Encore FireFighter FF345. This device will actively listen for the sound of an activated smoke detector. If it detects this type of sound, it will send a signal to the system and trigger an alarm event. If you do use a takeover module, make sure that the model you select is compatible with your alarm system. Finally, most apartment systems will not require any flood sensors since any failed HVAC unit or serious water leak is typically the responsibility of the apartment management.

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Communication is Key

Unless you plan on staying home 24/7, you will want an alarm system that can send outbound signals in some way. For monitoring plans, there are two primary options. These are central monitoring plans and self-monitoring plans. The primary difference between these two types of monitoring plans is who is contacted when an alarm event occurs. With self-monitoring, the user will receive a text or email alert letting them know about the alarm. It is then up to the user to contact the appropriate authorities. But with central station monitoring, the alarm event is forwarded to a dedicated central station that operates 24/7. The central station will then request emergency help on the behalf of the user. Regardless of which type of monitoring is used, the alarm system must have some way of sending outbound alerts and reports.

Most alarm systems rely on cellular services or an internet (IP) connection as their primary communication path. Some alarm systems will use both of these communication methods for added reliability. The type of communication that is used will have an effect on the user's security setup and their monitoring plan. Cellular communication is considered to be more reliable than IP communication. This is because cellular service is almost never down, and it will still continue to operate in the event of a power outage. Also some interactive service platforms, like Alarm.com, require that the panel utilize a cellular connection, and they cannot be accessed using WIFI alone. But the advantage with IP communication is that it is usually less expensive than cellular monitoring. Additionally, while many panels already come WIFI ready, only a few can use cellular communication without a separate cellular communicator being added. Overall, the choice between IP and cellular comes down to the type of alarm system the user has and how reliable they want their system to be.

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Additional Features and Possible Add-Ons

Some apartment residents might want their alarm system to go beyond just performing security tasks. Many newer alarm systems come complete with a Z-Wave controller for operating Z-Wave home automation devices. However, most apartments will only allow users to take advantage of Z-Wave lights. These lights can be operated right from the alarm panel or using an interactive service like Total Connect or Alarm.com. Other popular Z-Wave devices include Z-Wave thermostats and Z-Wave door locks, but these are less likely to be used in apartment. A Z-Wave thermostat allows a user to adjust the temperature inside their residence from virtually anywhere. But many users might not feel comfortable replacing their apartment's standard thermostat with their own. Z-Wave locks allow users to lock or unlock their doors remotely. They can also unlock the door and disarm their system simultaneously by entering in a valid system code into the keypad on the Z-Wave door lock. Unfortunately, most landlords will not allow apartment occupants to change the locks on their doors. With those considerations in mind, Z-Wave home automation is often skipped by apartment residents. Still, the features are always available if the user ever does decide to use them.

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A greater number of apartment residents will take advantage of an interactive service with their system. These services allow users to access their alarm systems from anywhere using a convenient and easy to use mobile app. By accessing this type of service, a user can arm or disarm their system, check the status of sensors and control their Z-Wave devices from almost anywhere. These services are also used to contact the user during an alarm event. Two popular interactive service platforms for alarm systems are Total Connect and Alarm.com. Total Connect is designed exclusively for use with Honeywell Alarm Panels, while Alarm.com will work with systems from many different companies, including Qolsys and 2GIG. To access the Alarm.com service, cellular communication is required. Bu with Total Connect, an IP connection or a cellular connection can be used. Both services offer similar functions and features, so the one that is used will really depend on the alarm system being used. Most monitoring plans include this type of service, so the user should take full advantage of it.

Finally, some users may decide to use additional add-ons with their security setups. That said, these are also less commonly used with apartment systems. A secondary keypad can provide an additional point of access for an alarm system. But since most apartments are relatively small, this is usually unnecessary. A wireless repeater can extend the range of wireless sensors. But again, since most apartments are quite small this is also usually not needed. If the setup is based around a hardwired system, then a wireless receiver is needed to use wireless sensors. For apartments though, we strongly encourage users to use wireless systems instead of hardwired panels. Finally, some users may want to use security cameras with their setup. These devices are easy to use and install, and many indoor cameras don't require any drilling. However, a user will most likely need to upgrade their monitoring plan if they want to use security cameras.

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Conclusion

Getting started with an apartment alarm system is very easy. In most cases, fewer sensors and add-ons are required. A wireless panel and sensors will make it for easy for DIY users to setup their systems without having to drill any holes or perform any wiring. Once everything is setup, a user will receive complete piece of mind in knowing that their residence is fully protected. Now is a better time than ever to get started with home security. Get an alarm system for your apartment today!

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