November 2020 Archives

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You have likely heard us talking about the benefits of PowerG Sensors at one point or another. Today, we figured we would break down the benefits of these sensors and explain why we like them so much. Let's take an in-depth look at PowerG Sensors and all of their wonderful benefits.


PowerG Sensors were originally designed for the hardwired DSC PowerSeries NEO Systems. By adding a compatible transceiver unit to your PowerSeries NEO, the system will be able to support PowerG Sensors. Johnson Controls, which you may know as the parent company of DSC, took the technology associated with PowerG Sensors, and brought it over to the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 System. This move was not a major surprise, as Johnson Controls also had partial ownership over Qolsys at the time, and Johnson Controls has since bought out Qolsys entirely.

The addition of PowerG support for the IQ2 marked the beginning of the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, which is how the system is still marketed and sold today. PowerG support is also available for the DSC Iotega, though that panel has largely flopped due to its lack of local end user programming. Today, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus represents the most popular panel for supporting PowerG. All versions and variants of the IQ Panel 2 Plus support PowerG Sensors, and their exceptional performance makes them the go-to choice for IQ2+ users who want equipment with the best versatility and protection.

Starting with the range, PowerG Sensors can be used from up to 2,000 feet away from the IQ Panel 2 Plus when they are used in an open air environment. By open air environment, we are talking about a perfect setting with a direct line of sight, and no obstacles between the sensor and the alarm panel. Most homes and businesses do not provide the ideal, "open air" environment, as there are usually walls and metal appliances present. When you see us mention that 2,000 feet open air range, take that with a grain of salt, because in practice, the range is likely a bit less. But still, we can undoubtedly say that PowerG offers arguably the best wireless range in the security industry. Even if its nominal range isn't quite as far as its "open air range", it is still a very powerful signal that can help you overcome the range issues that other sensor lineups may experience. It is great for use in detached garages, barns, multi-building complexes, and even just large industrial buildings.


To make matters even better, there is also a PowerG Repeater, the PG9920. This device will effectively double the range of any PowerG Sensor and help you overcome range limitations caused by thick walls and other obstacles or signal disruptions. The repeater works by taking the signal sent out from any PowerG Sensor and sending it out a second time with just as much power and force as when it was first sent from the original sensor. By strategically placing the repeater, it's theoretically possible to double the useful wireless range of these sensors. That would mean that they can be used from up to 4,000 feet away from the IQ2+ in an open air environment. And if your building is particularly large, you may even have repeaters going away from the IQ Panel 2 Plus System in different directions, including up and down in building stories above or below.

But PowerG Sensors offer more than just an impressive wireless range. They are also known for their exceptional security. This is thanks to their military grade 128-bit AES encryption. To put this as simply as possible, the PowerG Sensor and the panel share a unique encryption key at the time of pairing. The sensor must provide this encryption key to the panel whenever it transmits a signal. Additionally, the panel must then provide a return response with the encryption key as verification in order for the command to go through. In the past, we have referred to this two-way communication process as a "digital handshake". Because of this encrypted pairing process, a PowerG Sensor actively knows whether or not it is currently paired with a panel. You may need to factory default a PowerG Sensor before you can pair it with a new system.


PowerG Sensors also take proactive measures against RF jamming. When a wireless sensor communicates with an alarm panel, it does so at a certain wireless radio frequency (RF). When we talk about RF jamming, we are referring to any malicious technique that prevents wireless signals from reaching their intended destination. This is accomplished by blocking the receiver with a stronger signal at the same wireless frequency as the device that is legitimately trying to communicate with it. When this is done on an alarm system, the system doesn't receive the incoming signals from faulted sensors, and no action is taken during a security breach or an unfavorable environmental condition. Early wireless sensors did not take this into account, and this made RF jamming an effective way to defeat an older wireless system.

The way that PowerG Sensors overcome RF jamming techniques is through a process called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). This process involves splitting the RF bandwidth into multiple channels. Each independent channel represents a unique radio frequency for wireless communication to occur. The transmitter (the PowerG Sensor) and the receiver (the alarm panel) both agree on a set of channel hopping sequences that will take place. These sequences are encrypted and time-based for them to occur seamlessly. Since the transmitter and the receiver are both synchronized, they can switch between channels very rapidly. A potential intruder would never be able to re-tun an RF jamming device to keep up. In the case of the PowerG Sensors, the frequency hops occur between 912 MHz and 918 MHz. There are 50 different unique frequency channels that are used, and frequency switches occur 64 times per second. More information on FHSS is available here.

One other benefit of PowerG Sensors that we have never discussed previously is their Adaptive Transmission feature that helps them conserve battery life. This is why you will often see a PowerG Sensor with a very long expected battery life, sometimes more than ten (10) years). Adaptive Transmission involves two-way communication between the PowerG Sensor and the alarm panel. The alarm panel will tell the PowerG Sensor how well its signal is being received. The PowerG Sensor can then adapt its outgoing signal so that it reliably reaches the panel, without expending too much energy. The sensor and the panel regularly exchange this information so that the ideal amount of energy is always used in signal transmissions. This saves battery life in the long run.

We have also found that PowerG Sensors are extremely easy to enroll and they offer the reliable and effective performance that you should expect out of your security system. We wholeheartedly recommend them for use on the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, as well as any other compatible alarm system. It is expected that the upcoming Qolsys IQ Hub will also be able to utilize PowerG Sensors, so look forward to using PowerG Sensors on that panel once it is available.


For now, if you have any questions about PowerG Sensors or the systems that support them, or if you are interested in signing up for new alarm monitoring service, then please reach out to us by emailing support@alarmgrid.com. We'll be available to check your emails from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Alarm Grid will be closed Thursday, November 26, 2020, for the Thanksgiving holiday. During this time, we will not be answering phones, responding to emails, or shipping orders. We will reopen for business as usual tomorrow, Friday, November 27, 2020. We apologize for any inconvenience.


Additionally, we are also sad to announce our Florida headquarters will be resuming quarantine due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the state. Starting on Friday, our Florida employees will begin working from home as we did earlier this year. This should not affect your experience as an Alarm Grid customer, but please keep this in mind if you contact us for support or other inquiries. Our Florida headquarters is expected to remain in quarantine until at least the end of the 2020 year.

We understand that this has been a challenging year for many people out there. The ongoing pandemic may put a damper on many holiday gatherings, get-togethers, and annual traditions. But there is still plenty to be thankful for, and we should use this holiday to remember that. Our team will be enjoying a much-needed day of rest today, and we will be ready for business tomorrow.

Remember that you can still reach our central station partner Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS) while we are closed if you need to put your system on test mode. You can do so by calling our phone number, (888)-818-7728, and choosing option number [9]. Alarm Grid customers in Canada who receive central station service through Rapid Response can contact them at (800)-932-3822 to put their systems on test mode.

If you need to reach us while our offices are closed, please email support@alarmgrid.com, and we will do our best to reply as quickly as possible when we reopen on Friday. Keep in mind that our usual business hours are from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Alarm Grid is thrilled to announce that the brand-new Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 Doorbell Camera is now available! This is a state-of-the-art video doorbell camera that provides all the tools you need to monitor the front of your home and quickly and conveniently respond to any guests or visitors.


There's so much to discuss when it comes to the Alarm.com ADC-VDB770. But a great place to start is with its recording capabilities. This fully functional doorbell camera has the type of specifications that you would expect out of a high-end security camera. It offers Full HD recording capabilities, with max resolution topping out at 1440x1920 pixels. Its High Dynamic Range (HDR) helps recordings appear deeper, while also allowing for superior color detail. And with an astounding Field of View (FoV) of 150° Vertical and 115° Horizontal, the doorbell camera will capture more activity in the front of your home so that you stay informed. It even has IR night vision of up to 15 feet for capturing high-quality and detailed footage in the dark.

What makes the Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 even better is that it supports the full suite of Alarm.com Video Analytics. If you haven't heard about Video Analytics for Alarm.com, then you really are missing out. You can use Video Analytics to set up special recording rules and alerts based upon the type of activity that is detected. For example, you can easily set up a customizable detection zone that will trigger a video recording when a vehicle pulls into your driveway, but not when a person is walking by on the sidewalk. You can even set up multiple detection zones for added customization. For a doorbell camera like the ADC-VDB770, you will most likely want one directly in front of your door to detect a person. This is the ideal resource you need for producing video evidence of a package thief right in the act. Please note that the ADC-VDB770 does not have a conventional motion sensor, and it relies upon Alarm.com Video Analytics for all motion-based triggers and detection.

Of course, you will also receive alerts from the Alarm.com Mobile App on your phone whenever someone rings the ADC-VDB770 Doorbell. You can then connect to a live full portrait video of the person at the door and communicate with them in real-time using two-way audio. This is perfect whether you are away at the office or downstairs in your basement and don't feel like walking all the way upstairs to answer the door. If it's your friend, then you will know to let them in. But if it's just a pesky solicitor, then you can tell them you're not interested without having to go all the way to them. This is super convenient, and it can really make your day-to-day life easier. You can even use this feature to prevent a possible burglary by answering the doorbell and appearing to be home if a potential intruder tries to ring the doorbell while you are away. Many intruders will first ring the doorbell to see if anyone is home, so this can really come in handy!

The Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 connects with your local WIFI network for pairing with the Alarm.com servers. WPS pairing is supported to make the process easy. It is important to note though that the ADC-VDB770 can only be used with Alarm.com accounts that have been set up for full video monitoring service. This is unlike the SkyBell Video Doorbells for Alarm.com, where you could add a single SkyBell device to your account, even if you didn't have true video surveillance. This means that Alarm Grid customers who want to use the ADC-VDB770 will need either a Platinum Level Plan (Self or Full) or a Video Monitoring Plan. More information about all our monitoring plans can be found in this guide.

Additionally, you must also have both the Video Doorbell Package Add-On and the Video Analytics Package Add-On applied to your Alarm.com Video Account. Alarm Grid will apply these add-ons at no extra charge for anyone with Alarm.com video monitoring, just remember to ask us. Lastly, you must keep in mind that the ADC-VDB770 and the clips it records will count both towards your camera limits and your clip limits. It really should be treated as a typical Alarm.com Security Camera. More information on Alarm.com camera limits and clip limits can be found in this FAQ.

The Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 is available for purchase on our site now! If you have any questions about this new doorbell camera, including compatibility requirements, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a good email to contact us at if you are interested in signing up for new monitoring service or upgrading your existing plan. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Last week, we took a look at three of the best alarm panels in the industry. These were the Honeywell Lyric, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the 2GIG GC3e. Today, we are checking out the sensors that you can add to support these systems. Here is our 2020 Security Sensor Buying Guide!

Sensors are accessories that are added to alarm systems to report specific activity. Each sensor has its own job of looking for a certain type of activity in its designated location. All of the sensors on a system communicate with a single centralized panel or hub. This panel is actively listening for any sensor that is triggered due to a potentially important system event. Adding new sensors is perhaps the best way to expand upon an existing system, and they make awesome gifts and stocking stuffers for the security enthusiast in your life.

Broadly speaking, sensors can be split into two main categories, which are security and life safety/environmental. Security sensors look for activity that suggests potentially unauthorized entry into a monitored and protected location, such as a door being opened, movement in a room where nobody is supposed to be present, or a window being broken. Life safety/environmental sensors look for activity associated with unwanted or potentially harmful conditions that affect the well-being of those in the area, such as a flood, an extreme temperature, a fire, or the presence of CO gas. We'll be taking a look at life safety/environmental sensors another time. Today, our focus is on security sensors.

Wireless Sensor Basics


Before we dive into specific security sensors for our top panel picks, we're going to start by giving you some general, generic information that can be applied to any sensor out there. First, understand that this post is focusing only on wireless sensors. These are almost always the sensors chosen for use with wireless alarm systems. Wired sensors can also technically be used with wireless panels but a converter module is almost always needed. Not to mention the fact that wireless sensors are significantly easier to install, especially for DIY users. The only time you will realistically see wired sensors used with a wireless panel is if a user is upgrading from an older wired system and bringing over their old wired sensors, or in new construction where a user wants to integrate the sensors in with the building. But if you're expanding upon a wireless system by getting new sensors, then the new sensors will almost certainly be wireless.

The important thing to remember when choosing wireless sensors for a wireless alarm panel is making sure the sensor is compatible with the system. It doesn't matter if a sensor has all the specs and features if it doesn't work with your panel! The way to determine compatibility is to look at the lineup that the sensor is from. Petty much every wireless sensor out there is part of a larger grouping of sensors that will all have the same compatibility.

To make it easier for you, we have the three panels we mentioned before (well, make that five, as the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus actually comes in three versions), and all their compatible sensor lineups conveniently listed. We hope that this sheds some light on your options. The only caveat is that for any panel listed here that supports the Honeywell 5800 Sensors, we must be clear that this is only for the uni-directional sensors with one-way communication in the lineup. Any bi-directional Honeywell 5800 Sensors with two-way communication will not work with any of the aforementioned systems. The bi-directional Honeywell 5800 Sensors are only compatible with the Honeywell LYNX Touch and VISTA Systems, which were not included in our buying guides.

With that out of the way, here are compatible sensor lineups by system:

You will notice that some of the sensor groups listed above are italicized and underlined. That is done to identify the lineups of encrypted sensors. These encrypted sensors have special protection measures put in place to make them more secure and less prone to being hacked or defeated by malicious attacks. Encrypted sensors tend to have more restricted compatibility. They may follow a special enrollment process. Encrypted sensors often use bi-directional communication so that the sensor knows that it is actively paired with the system. Many encrypted sensors may only be paired with a single system at any given time, and the sensor will need to be deleted from its existing system before it will work with a new one.

It's okay to use non-encrypted sensors with your system, especially in zones that are less likely to trigger an alarm, like a second story window. Many users will opt to use a mixture of both encrypted and non-encrypted sensors. Other users feel comfortable using entirely non-encrypted sensors. It really comes down to your level of comfort. Non-encrypted sensors are secure in most situations, and they are still tricky to defeat. But going fully encrypted is recommended for anyone seeking maximum security. One tip if you do decide to go with some non-encrypted sensors is to avoid letting others know what wireless frequency your sensors use or what type of system you have installed. Knowing the frequency and the system being used makes it much easier for a savvy intruder to defeat a sensor.

Door & Window Alarm Sensors


Now that you know some basics that apply to almost all wireless sensors, let's start talking about specific types and models. Door and window sensors will let a system know when a door or window has been opened or closed. These are some of the most basic and easy to use sensors on a security system. These devices work by using a larger sensor portion and a smaller magnet portion. The sensor is placed on or inside the door or window frame, and the magnet is placed on or inside the moving portion of the door or window. When the door or window is opened, the magnet will move away from the sensor. This will trip a metal reed switch inside the sensor, which will tell the sensor to alert the system to the opened door or window. All of the sensors we've listed here follow that same method of operation.

Door and window sensors can be split into two (2) main categories. Surface-mount door and window sensors are mounted outside the door or window and its accompanying frame on the surface. The advantage to surface-mount door and window sensors is that they are very easy to install, and they can usually be mounted using double sided foam tape. But some users may not like how they are visible on the outside of the door or window. If you don't like the appearance of visible surface-mount door and window sensors, then you might instead consider recessed door and window sensors. A recessed door or window sensor is installed inside a door or window and its frame, so that it is hidden and cannot be seen from the outside. Recessed door and window sensors are more difficult and time-consuming to install, because you must drill holes in both the door or window and its accompanying frame. Whether you decide to use surface-mount door and window sensors, or recessed door and window sensors is up to you. Most DIY users and Alarm Grid customers in general will use surface-mount door and window sensors.

Now let's look at some door and window sensors.:

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Installation
Notes
Honeywell SiXMINICT

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 200 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES Surface-Mount Premier mini encrypted door/window Sensor for Lyric.
DSC PG9303

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Surface-Mount PowerG encrypted surface mount door/window sensor.
DSC PG9307

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus
2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Recessed PowerG encrypted recessed door/window sensor.
2GIG DW10e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption Surface-Mount Encrypted surface-mount sensor for 2GIG
2GIG DW20e

2GIG eSeries
2GIG GC3e
350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption
Recessed Encrypted recessed sensor for 2GIG
Qolsys IQ DW Mini-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption Surface-Mount Encrypted surface-mount sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.
Qolsys IQ Recessed Door-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ 2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption Recessed Encrypted recessed sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.
Honeywell 5818MNL

Honeywell
5800 Series
Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Recessed Non-Encrypted recessed door/window sensor for 345 MHz systems.
VERSA-2GIG

2GIG 345 MHz Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Non-encrypted surface-mount sensor for 345 MHz systems.
VERSA-GE

Legacy GE 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Non-encrypted surface-mount sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.
VERSA-DSC

Legacy DSC 433 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Non-encrypted surface-mount sensor for 433 MHz systems.

We also want to share a selection of outdoor door and window sensors with you. These surface-mount contact sensors are specifically designed to withstand the conditions of an outdoor environment, including intense rain, wind, dust, and sunlight. You can see them listed below.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Installation Notes
Honeywell 5816OD

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Outdoor contact sensor from 5800 Series.
DSC PG9312

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Surface-Mount PowerG Outdoor Contact Sensor.
2GIG DW30-345

2GIG 345 MHz Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 350 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Outdoor contact sensor from 2GIG 345 MHz series.

Motion Sensors


Motion sensors use passive infrared (PIR) technology to detect movement within the sensor's coverage area. This is done by looking for the changes in infrared (IR) energy that occur when a person, animal, or object comes within the sensor's field of view. Standard motion sensors are typically PIR only. These are appropriately called PIR motion sensors.

Some motion sensors will also use microwave technology in addition to PIR technology. This involves having the sensor send out microwave signals and seeing how the signals bounce off of objects in the area. Movement will change the pattern of these microwave signals, and the sensor will be able to detect this. These motion sensors that use both microwave and PIR are called Dual-Tech motion sensors. The purpose of using both PIR and microwave together is to prevent false alarms. A Dual-Tech motion sensor will only activate and alert the system if both its PIR sensor and its microwave sensor are triggered. A microwave sensor is not vulnerable to the same environmental issues that may cause a false activation on a PIR. You will not find a motion sensor that uses microwave technology without PIR detection, as microwave alone would result in too many false alarms without having PIR to confirm movement.

One feature that you will often see listed on a motion sensor is pet-immunity. A motion sensor that has been set up for pet immunity can be configured to not "look" in the areas close to the ground where pets and small animals walk. Instead, the motion sensor only looks in the areas higher up, where humans move while walking upright. A pet immune motion sensor is not impervious to small animals, and you must position it carefully so that it works as intended. Pet immune motion sensors normally have a weight limit, where animals under that weight limit should avoid triggering the sensor, assuming that the sensor is installed properly. Please note that most pet friendly motion sensors will require you to set the sensitivity for the sensor to the lowest possible setting.

When it comes to motion sensors, mounting them carefully is very important. A motion sensor may cause false alarms on the system if it is not installed properly. These sensors should not be facing any vents, air ducts, ceiling fans, or curtains that may cause the sensor to activate without any movement. If you are using the motion sensor for pet immunity, then it should also not be facing any furniture or stairwells that your pet could use to get within the sensor's field of view. You will likely want to perform a Walk Test of your motion sensor to make sure that it responds properly when movement is present, and does not respond due to other external factors when there is no movement. You should also have any pets participate in the Walk Test to ensure that pet immunity is working properly.

We recommend reading the following FAQs to learn more about motion sensors:

Below are some of the most popular motion sensors for our recommended systems:

Sensor Name Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Coverage Area
Detection Type
Pet Immunity Notes
Honeywell SiXPIR

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES 40 by 56 Feet
PIR Up to 80 lbs Encrypted PIR Motion for Lyric.
DSC PG9914

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Up to 39 Feet PIR Up to 85 lbs PowerG Encrypted PIR Motion.
DSC PG9984P

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Up to 50 Feet Dual-Tech Up to 40 lbs PowerG Encrypted Dual-Tech Motion.
2GIG PIR1e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption
30 by 50 Feet PIR Up to 55 lbs Encrypted PIR Motion for 2GIG.
Honeywell 5800PIR-RES

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 35 by 40 Feet PIR Up to 80 lbs Non-encrypted residential PIR motion for 345 MHz systems.
Honeywell 5800PIR-COM

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz, IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 60 by 80 Feet PIR None Non-encrypted commercial PIR motion for 345 MHz systems.
Honeywell 5898

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 35 by 40 Feet for Pet Immunity Dual-Tech Up to 100 lbs Non-encrypted Dual-Tech motion for 345 MHz systems.
Qolsys IQ Motion-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption 30 by 40 Feet PIR Up to 40 lbs Non-encrypted PIR motion for 319.5 MHz systems.

There are also certain outdoor motion detection sensors that are better-suited for use in an outdoor environment. These outdoor motion sensor models are typically more expensive than indoor variants. You can see some of our most popular ones listed below:

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Coverage Area
Detection Type
Pet Immunity Notes
DSC PG9994

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Up to 30 Feet PIR Up to 40 lbs PowerG Outdoor PIR Motion Sensor
Honeywell 5800PIR-OD

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 40 by 30 Feet PIR None Honeywell 5800 Series Outdoor Motion, 1st ed.
Honeywell 5800PIR-OD2

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 40 by 30 Feet PIR None Honeywell 5800 Series Outdoor Motion, 2nd ed.
Optex FTN-RRIX

Legacy Interlogix 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Up to 16.5 Feet PIR None Optex Fitlink Outdoor Motion Sensor for 319.5 MHz Systems
Optex FTN-RR2G

2GIG 345 MHz Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Up to 16.5 Feet PIR None Optex Fitlink Outdoor Motion Sensor for 345 MHz Systems.
Optex FTN-RRDS

Legacy DSC 433 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Up to 16.5 Feet PIR None Optex Fitlink Outdoor Motion Sensor for 433 MHz Systems.

Glass Break Sensors

The last type of security sensors we will be discussing are glass break sensors. These sensors include built-in microphones, and they actively listen for the unique sound of glass breaking. Most of these sensors will need to hear both the high-pitched shattering sound of the glass breaking, as well as the low-pitched sound of an object striking against the glass in order to activate. This design choice is to prevent false alarms caused by similar sounds. Most users will use glass break sensors to monitor windows, but they have also been known to work effectively on protective glass display cases that store valuables, such as what you might find in jewelry stores or gun shops. Most types of glass will work with glass break sensors, though there are some exceptions. For example double and triple pane glass windows won't work reliably. The same is true for coated or "safety" glass. Refer to the manual for the exact glass break detector you are using to determine compatibility.

A single glass break detector can monitor multiple windows or display cases, as long as the glass it is monitoring is within its detection range, which is typically 15 to 25 feet. Any glass that is being monitored must have a direct line of sight with the sensor, with no obstacles blocking the path that sound will travel through. When testing your glass break sensors, it is strongly recommended that you us a glass break simulator. These devices will mimic the sound of the glass breaking and activate your glass break sensors without actually breaking any glass. Remember to refer the instructions of your glass break simulator for more information. When choosing a glass break simulator, it is best to use a simulator from the same manufacturer, if possible. We have a Honeywell Glass Break Simulator and a DSC Glass Break Simulator available on our website. If you get one of the 2GIG Glass Break Sensors mentioned in this buying guide, then the Honeywell Glass Break Simulator is best for testing. Otherwise, just match the manufacturer.

Below are some of our most popular glass break sensors:

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
Honeywell SiXGB

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES SiX Series Glass Break Sensor for Lyric
DSC PG922

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG Glass Break Sensor
2GIG GB1e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption Encrypted glass break sensor for 2GIG.
Honeywell 5853

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Non-encrypted glass break sensor for 345 MHz systems.
Qolsys IQ Glass-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption Encrypted glass break sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.

Reach Out to Us!


Remember that you can reach out to us with any questions you might have about planning your system and determining sensor compatibility. The best way to contact us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a good email to use if you are interested in starting new alarm monitoring service with Alarm Grid. Our team checks for new email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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It's that time of the week for a video recap! We have been busy getting started with our holiday buying guides, so we haven't had quite as much time for new videos. But we still managed to put up a few new ones for you to check out. Let's take a quick look at the newest Alarm Grid videos!

Time Needed to Activate My Alarm Grid System

I provide you with an estimate for the amount of time it will take to activate your new security system for alarm monitoring service. Our activation slots are scheduled for one hour in length, and the typical activation is completed in around 30 minutes. You can help us make your activation go smoothly by having your system installed with sensors programmed, being on-site and ready to work with your system, knowing the important system codes beforehand, and listening carefully to your activator.

Number of Zones On a Wireless System Cannot be Increased

I explain how the number of available zones on a wireless alarm panel cannot be increased. A wireless system has built-in logic, and the number of zones it can support is based on its internal firmware. There is no way to increase this limit, and once you run out of zones, you would need to get an entirely new system to add more. The good news with wireless systems is that all system zones are usually readily accessible right out of the box, with no extra hardware being needed. You just need to get compatible wireless sensors.

Honeywell Lyric System & Garage Door Control

Jarrett explains how the Honeywell Lyric can be set up for garage door control. To do this, you must get a Honeywell 5877 Relay. This unit will wire into your compatible garage door controller. Remember that MyQ Garage Door Controllers are not compatible. You can enroll the 5877 with your Lyric, and then the Lyric will communicate with the 5877 to control the garage door. You must also get a Honeywell 5822T to monitor the Open/Close status of the garage door. This setup will also allow for garage door control through Total Connect 2.0.

Activating a System for Monitoring with Alarm Grid

Jarrett discusses the importance of activating a security system for alarm monitoring service. The user will need to choose an alarm monitoring plan for their system. This will determine how the system communicates (IP, cellular, or both), whether the user has coverage from a central station, and what remote functions will be available for the user through an interactive platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. Activating a system for central station service is the only way to get a certificate of alarm (CoA) for an insurance discount.

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If you're planning to give the gift of security this holiday season, then we're here to help! Today, we're looking at the best alarm panels available for the 2020 holiday season. Finding the right panel is the first step to building the perfect security system for your home or office.


The panel serves as the central hub for an alarm system. All sensors programmed with the system will communicate with the panel. The panel is also the piece of equipment that communicates with the outside world, namely a central station and/or a monitoring platform. To do this, the panel must have a communicator that is installed and activated. Some alarm panels come with a communicator already built-in, while others will require you to purchase one separately.

Today, most alarm panels are wireless, all-in-one devices, where the panel itself serves as the keypad for controlling the system. There are still hardwired panels available, but these are less common due to the sheer convenience and ease of wireless all-in-one panels. For the purpose of this buying guide, we will only be focusing on wireless panels, as most new users today opt to go the wireless route. We especially recommend wireless panels for anyone looking to save money by installing their own system without hiring a professional installer. It's easier than you might think, as many installations are done using a screwdriver as the only tool!

The panel you choose will affect virtually every other aspect of your security system. Your panel selection determines sensor compatibility, available communication paths, the user interface (UI) for the system, what accessories you can use with the system, and even the interactive platform you use when controlling your system through your phone. In a way, the panel itself IS the system. It's such an important decision, so you really want to get it right.

Today, we're going to be presenting you with our three (3) most favorite alarm systems available for the 2020 holiday season. What's great about all these systems is that they are all extremely DIY-friendly, and they can be taken to virtually any monitoring company, whether that is Alarm Grid, or someone else entirely. With all of that out of the way, let's get started!

Honeywell Lyric Controller

The Honeywell Lyric Alarm System still represents our favorite alarm panel from Resideo, and it is the most popular system for use with Alarm Grid monitoring services. It is the oldest panel on this list, and it doesn't support some of the more high-tech features offered by the other panels presented here. But when it comes down to choosing an all-around great system for alarm monitoring, the Lyric is hard to beat.

There are three (3) things that the Lyric can do that are impossible for the other panels on this list. If you choose the Lyric, it's usually because of one or more of these aspects. The Lyric is the only panel here that can be set up with an IP-only communication path, without cellular. While cellular is always recommended, some users opt to go internet only for alarm monitoring. The advantage of doing this is that the user can obtain monitoring service at a lower monthly rate. A Lyric System user can sign-up for an Alarm Grid Bronze Plan with central station service for just $15 per month. But a user with a system that requires cellular monitoring will need to pay a minimum of $25 per month for the Alarm Grid Cellular Alarm Monitoring Plan. That $10 monthly saving equates to $120 annually. The user should understand that an internet outage will take their system offline and leave their home or business vulnerable in that situation. But if a user is confident enough in their internet service, then they can certainly take that chance. Of course, the Lyric can be upgraded to use cellular at any time, but if you are trying to save money by setting up IP-only monitoring, then the Lyric offers you that option.

Second, the Lyric is one of the very few alarm systems that is able to interface with Apple HomeKit. This is the premier automation platform used with iOS devices, and many users have existing HomeKit networks that they build around. If you already have HomeKit devices in your home, then it is natural that you would want a security system that can also integrate with that network. It's important to note that the HomeKit integration isn't perfect, as Apple HomeKit can only provide specific alerts for a limited selection of system activity. But the integration makes it possible to perform some basic commands through HomeKit. The integration also allows you to set up automations so that your HomeKit devices activate automatically with activity on your security system. Overall, it's a great feature, and we often recommend the Lyric over other systems just for this feature.

Third, the Lyric is the only system on this list that uses Total Connect 2.0 as its interactive monitoring platform. This is the service that you will use to control your Lyric System remotely through a web browser or an app on your smartphone. The platform allows you to arm and disarm, check the current status of your system, and control automation devices. Remember that you will need to upgrade to a Silver level plan to take advantage of these great features. We think Total Connect 2.0 works just as well as any other monitoring and automation platform, but we have heard of users specifically choosing the Lyric to use this platform over the other ones out there.

You have no shortage of sensor options for the Lyric, as the system has its own lineup of encrypted wireless sensors in the Honeywell SiX Series Sensors. It is also backwards compatible with the widely popular Honeywell 5800 Sensors. As we mentioned earlier, the system is a bit on the older side, and it lacks some of the more advanced features like partitioning and automatic Bluetooth disarming. The panel does technically support camera streaming, but that's only for older legacy cameras that are no longer being manufactured. Also, the system only offers classic Z-Wave functionality, so you won't be able to take advantage of the the extended wireless range and longer battery life of Z-Wave Plus. If you want Z-Wave Plus, and you have the Lyric, then you will need to replace the panel entirely. There is no way to upgrade the existing classic Z-Wave firmware for the Lyric and make it Z-Wave Plus. But if you need HomeKit compatibility, or if you are trying to keep your monthly monitoring costs as low as possible, then the Lyric is almost certainly your best option. With its support of local end user programming, the Lyric is the best system from Honeywell and Resideo as of late 2020. There is a good reason why it remains the most popular Alarm Grid security system.

The Lyric is for you if:

  • You want to save money by going IP only.
  • You want compatibility with Apple HomeKit.
  • You want to use Total Connect 2.0 as your interactive platform.
  • You don't need automatic Bluetooth disarming, partitioning, or Z-Wave Plus functionality.

Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus

The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus is without a doubt the most feature-packed system we offer at this time. It has totally changed the game with its advanced features like automatic Bluetooth disarming, camera streaming from the panel, partitioning, facial recognition, and a super innovative wellness platform. The IQ2+ offers a seamless integration with Alarm.com, which serves as the interactive monitoring and automation platform used with the system. It is also currently the only system where you can perform Alarm.com Smart Scenes directly from the main panel. We also love the system's UI, as automation devices like lights, door locks, and smart thermostats can all be accessed from the main panel screen. It is easy to navigate, and we find that it is arguably the most intuitive panel for users who have never used a security system before. Really, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus is the system we almost always recommend for any user not needing HomeKit functionality or low-cost IP-only monitoring.

Since this system, communicates through Alarm.com, you must have a cellular connection set up with the system. The good news is that you won't have to buy a communicator, as the IQ2+ already has one built-in (AT&T LTE or Verizon LTE). The bad news is that monitoring for this system starts at $25 per month, assuming you get service with Alarm Grid. And if you want central station service and the ability to do cool things through Alarm.com, such as arming and disarming remotely and setting up automated smart scenes, then the minimum cost jumps up to $35 per month for our Gold Plan. You may want to review this post that explains our monitoring plans in more depth.

One other awesome aspect of the IQ2+ is that it supports DSC PowerG Sensors. These wireless sensors are some of the best in the industry. They can be used from up to 2,000 feet away from the IQ Panel 2 Plus in an open air environment, and they utilize 128-bit AES encryption for advanced protection and security. You also get the choice of one of three (3) legacy sensor frequencies (319.5 MHz, 345 MHz, or 433 MHz). If you are upgrading from an older system, this is fantastic, as there is almost certainly a version of the IQ2+ that will let you bring over your old wireless sensors.

But even with all its bells and whistles, the IQ Panel 2 Plus is still not a perfect alarm system. We aren't blown away with its build quality, as some users have reported struggles in properly closing the panel after opening it up. And having an integrated communicator might seem like a good thing, but it also means that the entire panel must be replaced if the one inside fails for any reason. The same will hold true when the inevitable LTE Sunset occurs, though that should be years into the future. All that being said, if you are looking for the most feature-rich alarm system on the market today, you would be hard pressed to find a better option.

The IQ Panel 2 Plus is for you if:

  • You want a system with the most advanced features.
  • You want easy access to smart home automation.
  • You want to use PowerG Wireless Sensors.
  • You can accept a system without replaceable components.

2GIG GC3e

The 2GIG GC3e is the current flagship system from 2GIG, though that might soon change with the 2GIG Edge on the horizon. This panel was introduced in 2019, as 2GIG was a fairly late arriver to the encryption game. But it's here now, and it's ready to support 2GIG eSeries Encrypted Sensors, while still being backwards compatible with older 2GIG 345 MHz Sensors and Honeywell 5800 Sensors.

If we're being completely honest, we rarely recommend the 2GIG GC3e over the Lyric or the IQ2+. The Lyric offers some unique features (HomeKit support and IP-only monitoring) that make it the best option in many cases, while the IQ2+ is the most feature-rich system we offer. The GC3e just doesn't have any one particular feature that helps it stand-out from the other two. We usually only steer people toward the GC3e if they want an Alarm.com System, but don't want the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus for whatever reason. We must also admit that the GC3e local end user programming is a bit more cumbersome than the Lyric or the IQ2+. People who choose the GC3e are usually those who are accustomed to the 2GIG panel, and are upgrading from an older 2GIG GC2 or 2GIG GC3.

That doesn't mean the GC3e is a bad system. The truth is that it actually has the best build-quality out of any system listed here. The panel just feels well-made and durable, especially when compared with the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. And while you don't get fancy features like panel camera streaming, Bluetooth disarming, or Apple HomeKit support, you do get a nice partitioning suite, and Z-Wave Plus functionality with the ability to create localized smart scenes. Also, unlike the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, you can actually swap out the cellular communicator in the GC3e. It is rather inconvenient that you have to buy a communication module add-on to get the system monitored, but this is a good thing if you ever need to replace your system's communicator for whatever reason.

This is matter of subjective personal opinion, but I can say one very nice thing about the GC3e. Out of every panel we offer, the 2GIG GC3e looks the nicest on the wall, and has the most fluid and satisfying touchscreen controls out of any panel I have personally ever used. And sometimes, that alone is the selling factor. There are users out there who don't care about fancy technical features or easily accessible automation menus, and they just want a high-quality system that looks good and does what they need it to do. If that is you, then maybe you should consider the GC3e.

The GC3e is for you if:

  • You want the panel with the best build-quality.
  • You don't care about fancy extra features.
  • You want an Alarm.com System with a replaceable communicator.
  • You can deal with programming that is a bit more cumbersome.

We hope that this post has given you some insight into choosing a new system for alarm monitoring. Stay tuned to our blog, as we will soon present a buying guide for the various security sensors you can choose from. Remember to email us at support@alarmgrid.com if you have any questions. We are available to respond to emails from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Resideo has announced that 17 million shares of common stock will soon be available in a public offering. According to Resideo, the proceeds will be used to repay borrowings and to help fund growth and acquisitions. The news comes after Resideo posted abetter-than-expected Q3 for 2020.


Resideo trades on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker REZI. The security, automation and comfort company had its initial public offering (IPO) in late 2018 after being spun-off from Honeywell. The news of the 17 million shares being available in a public offering resulted in a 14% decline in the company's stock price during Monday trading.

For the transaction of 17 million shares, Morgan Stanley and Evercore ISI will act as lead joint book-running managers. Additional bookrunners on the transaction include Bank of Ameria Securities and JPMorgan. Underwriters are being given the options to purchase an aggregate of up to 2.55 million additional Resideo common stock shares.

In the company's most recent earnings report, $1.36 billion in revenue was said to have been achieved in Q3 of this year. This greatly exceeded the consensus expert estimate of $1.15 billion. Year over year revenue for Resideo has increased by 10%. Resideo President and CEO Jay Geldmacher has recently expressed great optimism in demand trends for the security industry as the market enters into the final stretch of 2020.

Resideo is arguably best known for its state-of-the art Honeywell Lyric Alarm System, which boasts 128 wireless zones, encrypted sensor options, backwards compatibility with legacy Honeywell 5800 Sensors, integrated WIFI, built-in Z-Wave home automation, Apple HomeKit compatibility, a 7-inch touchscreen display, and local end user programming. The company also offers the new Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS Alarm Panel, the Honeywell LYNX Touch Panels, and the Honeywell VISTA Alarm Systems.

If you are interested in setting up a Resideo Security System in your home or business, then please feel free to email us at support@alarmgrid.com with any questions you might have. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. Also remember to check out our monitoring page to learn more about the services we offer. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Just last month, we announced that we were offering the Linear GD00Z-7 Z-Wave Plus Garage Door Controller. Well that product was short-lived, as it has already been discontinued and replaced by the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC Z-Wave Plus Garage Door Controller, which is now available on our site.

The GoControl and Linear brands are often used interchangeably. They are both used to identify automation offerings from Nortek Control, which is also the parent company of 2GIG. Whether the company decides to brand a product as GoControl or Linear usually isn't very important, as they basically represent the same product lineups from Nortek Control.

As you may recall, the various smart garage door controllers offered from Nortek through the years have usually been sold under the Linear banner. Some of these products include the Linear GD00Z-4, the Linear GD00Z-5 and, of course, the Linear GD00Z-7 that we mentioned earlier. From what we can tell, the introduction of the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC was only done to rebrand the product as GoControl instead of Linear. We say that because, from what we can tell, the Linear GD00Z-7 and GoControl GD00Z-8-GC are virtually identical, other than the name written across the front.

This isn't a bad thing though, as the Linear GD00Z-7 was an excellent product. All of the same great features return for the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC. It is a Z-Wave Plus garage door controller that is wired to your garage door motor. By pairing the device with your Z-Wave hub, you can open and close your garage door and check its current status remotely. This is done by using a compatible interactive automation platform for the Z-Wave controller, such as Alarm.com. You can also include it with smart scenes for automatic operation.

Just like its predecessors, the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC cannot check the open/close status of the garage door on its own. Instead, it interfaces with a tilt sensor that is installed on top of the garage door. This tilt sensor will relay status to the GD00Z-8-GC so that it knows whether the garage door is opened or closed. This tilt sensor comes included with the product, so you do not need to purchase one separately.

An exception to the above rule is if you wish to have the garage door monitored by your burglar alarm system. The tilt sensor that comes included only conveys the garage door status to the GD00Z-8-GC, not to the alarm panel being used. So, if you want to monitor the state of the garage door as a part of your alarm system, then you will need to purchase a separate, compatible garage door sensor.

Also returning to the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC is the ability to utilize the S2 Security Protocol with Z-Wave Plus controllers that support S2. This security suite offers advanced levels of protection to keep your automation equipment safe. We recently did a great post on the S2 Security Protocol, which you can check out here. Keep in mind that the same compatibility restrictions of the older Linear and GoControl Garage Door Controllers also apply to the GD00Z-8-GC. This means that you cannot interface the unit with the Honeywell Lyric or the Honeywell LYNX Touch Panels. Make sure to check compatibility before purchasing.

If you want to check compatibility, or if you have any other questions about the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC2 or monitoring service in general, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We will check your email at our earliest convenience and reply back as soon as possible. Remember that our business hours for checking email run from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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In an act of deja vu, next year's ISC West is being pushed back from its scheduled dates in March to new dates in July. The group in charge of organizing ISC West, Reed Exhibitions, says that the decision was made based on the current state of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.


ISC West 2021 was originally scheduled for March 23 - 26. With this postponement, it will now occur July 19 - 21. The event will still be held at the Venetian Resort and Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. A unique aspect of the 2021 edition of the event is that it will occur in a hybrid format, with both in-person and virtual conference passes being available. Extra measures are being taken to ensure the health and safety of those involved.

Reed Exhibitions and the Security Industry Association (SIA) released a statement that reads, "We’re pleased to have a plan in place to produce ISC West in 2021, and after a long respite, the ISC and SIA teams look forward to welcoming our customers back to Las Vegas for strong education, demos, product announcements, awards ceremonies, networking opportunities, special events, and more."

This isn't the first time the tradeshow was postponed from March to July. The event for last year, ISC 2020, was originally set for March 18 - 20, before being rescheduled to July 20 - 22. It was later postponed a second time to October, before finally being cancelled entirely. There was an entirely virtual event held in its place. Unfortunately, we found the virtual event to be pretty lackluster, and we didn't obtain any useful announcements to post on our blog.

We really hope that the in-person ISC West conference happens this year. It is always a nice event for meeting key industry insiders and checking out some of the latest technology and upcoming products. It just doesn't transition easily to a virtual event, especially as security equipment manufacturers aren't likely to save their big surprises and unveilings for an event where people can't actually see the fruits of their labor in person. Although Las Vegas is hot in the summer, we'll take a summertime ISC West in the desert over no ISC West at all!

If you have any questions about ISC West, or if you are interested in learning more about monitoring service from Alarm Grid, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We're here to check email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Our video team had a decent time last week, as five (5) new videos were released. This time, the videos feature myself and Jarrett. As always, we hope that you find them to be helpful, informative, and interesting. Remember, we make these videos to help you! Let's check out the videos.

Finding the Date Code On the FF345

I show you how to find the date code on the Encore FF345. The FF345 is a listening module for smoke detectors and CO detectors that alerts the system upon hearing the unique sound of an activated smoke detector or carbon monoxide sensor. The device is designed to be used with 2GIG Panels and Honeywell Panels. However, FF345 units from a certain batch had an error that prevented them from working with Honeywell Systems. Checking the date code is useful for determining if your unit is affected.


Cameras that Work w/ the Lyric and Total Connect

Jarrett explains which security cameras are compatible with the Honeywell Lyric and the Total Connect 2.0 platform. The only cameras that can work with TC2 are Honeywell IP Cameras. Of these cameras, only the legacy models that are no longer sold are able to interface with the Lyric for live-streaming on the panel. None of the current Honeywell HD Cameras can be streamed on the Lyric. One important note about the legacy IP cameras from Honeywell is that they had to be online to receive a critical firmware update to continue being used to this day.


The Lyric Built-In Camera Disarm Pictures Cannot be Used With HomeKit

Jarrett explains how the disarm photos that are taken using the front camera on the Honeywell Lyric will not appear on the Apple HomeKit platform. While there is a nice integration between the Lyric and HomeKit, it is only used for automation purposes and a very limited selection of security functions. Disarm photos are considered to be a security function, and they will not appear in HomeKit. The only platform that allows you to view disarm photos taken by the Lyric is Total Connect 2.0.


Night Stay On Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus

I explain how there is no Night Stay option for a Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. Night Stay is a special type of Arm Stay. Normally, when you Arm Stay, interior zones are automatically bypassed. But when you Night Stay, motion sensors that are designated for Arm Night will remain active, instead of being bypassed. The feature is available on most Honeywell Panels, but it is not supported on the IQ2+. But there is an okay workaround for the IQ2+ that involves using specific Sensor Groups for programmed motion sensors that you want to remain active when Arming Stay.


Number of Zones On a Hardwired System Cannot be Increased

I explain why the number of zones on a hardwired alarm panel cannot be increased. The maximum number of zones that a system can support is built into its logic, and it cannot be increased. For a wired panel, only the on-board zones are initially accessible. You will need to add one or more wired expansion modules and/or a wireless receiver to open up the other zones. This will allow sensors to connect with the zones and interface with the system.

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