Joshua Unseth Posts

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This post is late. It should have been written a week and a half ago.

Michael GorisA week and a half ago, on a Saturday afternoon, Alarm Grid lost one of its youngest, most vibrant employees. For many years Michael Goris has been Alarm Grid's prolific content writer. He is responsible for thousands and thousands of articles, words, FAQs, and more. Sadly, on August 07, 2021, Michael passed away at the age of 28.

I have been thinking for the last week what there is to say about Michael. This blog has thousands of visitors each month. And this site has hundreds of thousands. Michael's writings will never be found bound in a book. He'll never get around to that novel he told me he wanted to write. But here on this site, thousands of words were spilled.

Michael started working at Alarm Grid on August 23, 2017. Since that date, the blog alone has been read by 515,000 unique readers. The FAQs have been accessed by more than 4.5 million unique readers. The products have been accessed by more than 2.7 million unique readers. During his time here:

  • Michael wrote 2096 FAQs; 1,050,000 words at least.
  • Michael wrote 880 blog posts; 440,000 words at least.
  • Michael wrote nearly 700 descriptions for products; 374,500 words at least.
  • Michael wrote descriptions for 80 videos; 40,500 words at least.

There may be, literally, no person on earth who wrote more content about alarm equipment. To give you an idea, Tolstoy's War and Peace contains 587,287 words. Michael wrote more than 3 times that amount about home security equipment.

The industry has lots to thank him for. While many of the people that come to this site are homeowners working to save money on their alarm system, we know that many of you are installers. If you are one of the many installers that have been benefited by any of Michael's writings today or in the future, he has touched your life in a small way. If you are a homeowner, it is our team along with Michael's writings that have kept you and your family's security system in working order.

We will greatly miss Michael as a business. But more than that, Michael was an affable, happy 28 year old whom many of us considered a personal friend. Michael was a quirky man who surprised us at every turn. He loved Pokemon, and would battle opponents online at his desk. He would regularly give me updates on his world rankings as a player. Apparently he was very good. He loved esoteric music that I've never heard, and am not even sure I can describe. I think he liked anime generally, but never really talked about it. He loved his family. Whenever he would discuss things with us that were troubling him at work, he would come back the next day telling us he'd consulted with his mother or sister for counsel. He loved people. I remember in the interview I had with Michael, he said to me, "will I be able to make friends here?" He didn't want to work at a place where he disliked his coworkers or where they disliked him. He requested that his desk be in the support room and not in an office somewhere else.

One of my fondest memories of Michael, however, was one year at ISC West, the security industry's biggest conference. The team had had a late night. The next morning, Michael's roommate awoke. Michael wasn't in his bed. He was nowhere to be found. He reemerged around Breakfast time. Michael had run the ISC West 5k with almost no sleep or preparation. He placed 26 out of 417 runners posting a 21 minute and 59 second time. We were all in awe of the feat.

And so, I will admit, while my business will miss Michael, I will miss Michael as well. In fact, I have already been missing Michael.

For those of you who have been benefited by Michael's work, I encourage you to write his family a note in the official obituary. It would be nice for them to know that even though you didn't know it, your life intersected with his briefly, and to leave a small thank you. Feel free to comment below as well. Alarm Grid's staff is grieving as well and would appreciate any kind words you have for us.

So again, I apologize for the lateness of this post. But as you, perhaps, now understand, it is late because there was no one here to write it.


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Update: The phones are working again.

Hey everyone! Our phone system appears to be down at this very second. If you call in, you'll get a "We are currently unable to connect this call" message. We are working with the company that administers our phones to get it back up, which we assume will happen shortly. In the meantime, we are staffing our chat app with more support members. Feel free to use that until we get the phone numbers back up and running.


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Many of you have noticed that the last week our service has been a little bit lackluster. We apologize for this. More than half of our support team has been hit with COVID-19. The result is that our tickets are taking a bit longer to get to, and we are a bit slower to answer support calls. We appreciate the high level of support our customers have come to expect, and we will, hopefully, be back up and running at the same support level within the next week or two. In the meantime, we sincerely apologize to anyone who has experienced an interruption due to the current circumstances.

In the meantime, we ask for your patience, understanding, and good thoughts and prayers for those on our team who have fallen ill. Everyone here is expected to make a full recovery, which we are exceedingly grateful for.

As our team members get back, we will begin the process of catching up, and getting back to supporting customers at the same high level we are known for.

Thank you for your understanding.


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9/11 is a day I will never forget. I was a younger man back then, but the images of the two towers smoldering and falling down are seared into my memory. "America is under attack." Those are the words that were uttered by the Principle of my small Catholic school in the great state of Minnesota during a hastily gathered together convocation. Minutes after the student body gathered the first tower toppled into a heap, and shortly thereafter, the second tower followed. America stopped. Our airline industry ground to a halt. For those not old enough to remember, envision a sky with no airplanes. Envision a country filled with people who's stomachs would turn when they would hear the very occasional military Jet scramble. America went silent after 9/11, and everything changed.

I remember the patriotism that engulfed America. Americans hung flags from their cars, put little flags on their lawns, and proudly united around all the things that make this country great. I remember the brave firemen and policemen that waded through the rubble searching for America's living and dead. Many of those first responders lost their lives from complications attributed to the soot and chemicals kicked up by the falling towers. Today, we honor those brave men and women.

In the ensuing years, our country has been stuck in the miry quagmire of wars all over the Middle East responding to those that perpetrated terror on us on that terrible day in the year 2001. Those men and women are heroes, and I am humbled by their commitment to serving the country.

Little did I know then that 20 years later, I would be leading a company that worked closely with the nation's first responders. Alarm Grid is a proud partner with those men and women. We are honored to make both the people we serve and those men and women who serve us more safe. We hope that we continue to do them proud as they serve our country day-to-day. We hope to work with them and you for many many years to come.

Bless you all, and bless America on this most sacrosanct day.


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We are writing this post because in the last few days, a small minority of customers have called in frustrated by shipping times.

Our shipping team is working hard every day to get your product out to you quickly.

Unfortunately, once we pick, pack, and ship the products you ordered, we don't have any control about what happens to the product in the process of shipping. So far, we are noticing more packages arriving a day (sometimes 2 and rarely, but sometimes, 3 days) beyond our quoted timeframe. While our quoted timeframes are meant to be estimates, we understand that it can be frustrating to get a package after you expected it to be delivered.

At the moment, as the package carriers in the United States are being overwhelmed by people turning to online ordering. From what we can tell, a huge majority of products are being delivered just as they always have been. But a few more products than usual, for whatever reason, are showing up beyond what we would normally consider acceptable.

We ask for a little bit of patience. We are getting product out the door quickly - even as our warehouse is short-staffed. And UPS and USPS are getting your packages to you as fast as is humanly possible. Everyone is doing everything they can to get you the product and service you ordered as quickly as possible.

At this time, there are no refunds for late receipt of a shipment. When we ship the items, we are sending them in accordance with our shipping policy, as we normally do. Whether they arrive on time is not up to us. And our carriers have stopped refunding us for late arrival of product for the time being. We apologize for the inconvenience.


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Alarm Grid isn't your traditional alarm company. We're a little bit different. We're a young company built in the modern age. We use the same old technology, but we use things like YouTube and online content to teach you how to use it. Most companies obscure how these systems work. They will hide codes from you. They'll have provisions in their contracts that let them take the system back when you leave them. At Alarm Grid, we believe you own your system; you own your codes. We give you the tools to take full control of the security you so desperately want for your family. Oh! I almost forgot. We don't have contracts.

We think that we just do things better here. We rely on high quality service. Our team is incredibly knowledgeable. They know these security systems in and out. But now, as everyone is sitting at home on their sofa's trying to figure out how to fill their time, there is even more reason to work with us.

There is no better time than now to secure your home and family.

Alarm Grid Doesn't Send Anyone to Your Home

When you get an alarm system, most people expect someone to show up to their home and put it on the wall. Not Alarm Grid! To date, Alarm Grid has been for the enterprising do-it-yourselfer. But in the age of coronavirus, we're really the best way for you to keep your quarantine, socially distance, and get the protection your family needs in a unpredictable world.

Our process is simple:

  • If you have a security system, you can just sign up and give us all the system information we need. We can help you find that information if you need to. But we can monitor most systems.
  • If you need a security system, you can find a whole bunch of different systems that you can install in your own home. Pick your system, and watch our installation video on that system. Once we ship you the system and it arrives, you'll be able to get it up in an hour or two. It's fun, easy, and perfectly safe. Program the sensors to it. Voilla, you have a brand new, professional security system installed by you.

Our Systems are the Same Systems ADT and Other Big Name Brands Install

Notice I said "professional security system" above. We don't sell janky or cheap systems. We sell top of the line security systems. Our systems are used in millions of restaurants, businesses, and homes all over America. That's right, millions of people have the systems we sell. They are the same systems that an installer would put in if you ordered from one of the big names in the industry. So you don't have to worry about the quality of these security systems. Your family will be as safe as ever.

While we have lots and lots of choices available, our two favorite systems are the Qolsys IQ Panel Plus and the Honeywell Lyric. Read about the differences, if you are trying to decide between these two incredible systems.

The biggest difference between these two systems is that the Honeywell Lyric is compatible with Apple's HomeKit. The Qolsys is not compatible with HomeKit. However, both work excellently as Z-Wave home automation controllers. Both systems can be controlled from a phone or computer. The Qolsys is compatible with's interactive services. Honeywell's Lyric is compatible with Total Connect. Both and Total Connect allow for remote management of your system. Finally, the Lyric's communicator is removable. The Qolsys's communicator is built in.

Old alarm systems used a phone line to send signals. This means that when someone broke into a home, the system would make a literal phone call, and deliver information to the central station. The central station would then call the police and give the dispatch information for checking on your property.

Phone lines are notoriously insecure. For the enterprising thief, in order to disable the alarm system, they would simply cut your home's telephone wire. But the bigger problem came as phone systems modernized. We moved from analog copper phone wires to digital phones and, many times, digital switching. This causes phone calls to be less clean and pure than they used to be. Signals from these devices can become problematic for central stations.

Modern security systems no longer send signals through the phone. Rather they use an IP connection and a cellular back up. IP suffers from some of the same security concerns as the old phone lines. Someone can cut an IP system's line. But, when coupled with the cell signal, modern security systems are both cheaper and more secure than the old analog systems. Oh, and they're far less complicated as well. As computers have advanced, they have progressed from old wired systems with wonky keypads to new beautiful systems with excellent user interfaces. And that's where we come in. We help you learn how to select, buy, and install your system.

If that sounds appealing to you, call us today!


If you're still intimidated though, perhaps it will help you to know that you can...

See Everything You Need to Do for a DIY Installation by Watching a Step-by-Step Video

Don't get too intimidated. The secret of the alarm industry is that installing these devices is really easy. We have videos of everything, including installation.

If you dislike video, we have lots of written FAQs. And if you dislike those, you can call us. We can teach you to install the system, learn sensors into the system, and we can give you an overview of how the system works all over the phone.

Whatever the case, if you're at home, trying to figure out what you're going to do for the next few months, consider checking "Get a Security System" off of your bucket list. And do it all without breaking your quarantine or social distancing rules.

We Have No Contracts

Alarm Grid is a month to month service. You can cancel any time. We basically invented the concept of no contract alarm monitoring. Traditional companies usually require that you sign a 3 year deal. You'll pay a lot more than we charge. And the service they give you will cost more every time they do what's called, "roll a truck." That's industry speak for "sending someone to your house to fix a small problem." And the problem with that is, you don't know the repairman from Adam. You never know who you're going to get... if you know what I mean...

The truth is, we've rarely had to roll a truck. Our goals is to not send someone out ever. This Coronavirus thing doesn't changed anything for us. We have been doing this for years. Most fixes to your security system take mere minutes. And almost never are any of the fixes a system needs so difficult that you won't be able to do it on your own. If you don't believe it, check out our reviews.

These reviews are real. We don't hide them, we don't suppress them. They are all verifiable, real customers of Alarm Grid's. But remember, behind the no contracts, and no strings attached thing is an implicit promise we have to our customers. If you hate us, you can leave us. Because we aren't making proprietary systems, because we're helping you install professional systems, because we want you to be our customer for a long time, we have to be great to you. We have to help you from beginning to end. We have to work you through problems you encounter in the installation. If we don't, you can leave the very next month. We promise you!

Your experience is all we care about. So while you're sitting at home, bored off your fanny, give us a call. Let us help you get a brand new security system or take over your existing one. You won't regret it. In fact, you'll probably love it. And if you have kids, it's so easy, you can probably just make them do it. Maybe they'll learn something. We'll call it homeschooling... in the subject of "computer science" or something. Whatever the case, we'll work with you.

Call us today, and see how different we are.


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Today, as a result of the Coronavirus's spread, we have made the decision to close our Florida office. Our goal is to do this process without causing a huge disruption. That said, we will be a bit short-staffed for a few hours this morning. While the office staff is taking their workstations home and getting set up, our staff in Kentucky and Connecticut will be picking up the slack.

Much of this will be happening this morning. We are hoping that everyone will be up and running, fully staffed by 11am EST.

Because of this transition, however, please be courteous when you call. Understand that we are not at 100% early this morning. If you get the option to leave a message, rest assured, we will get to your call. We are attempting to do our part to make sure that we as a nation can "flatten the curve," as well as working to ensure that we are able to continually provide service to all of you throughout this crisis.

Be safe!



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Most of these best security systems lists are frustrating to navigate. Many of them include companies and their respective rating. ADT, Brinks, Vivint, or others will make the cut. We’re sad to never be included in these lists. But that reflects the state of the industry. Many people don’t know that other alarm monitoring companies exist. Still others only include the new DIY systems that are on the market like Simplisafe, Ring, Nest, or Scout. Consumer Reports, for example, only reviews Nest, Ring, Abode, Frontpoint, Simplisafe, and Samsung’s Smarthings integrated GC3 that they produced for ADT. This list is, in no way, a complete list of products. Moreover, it completely ignores legacy and current systems. And, while we like “new,” being in the industry, we are proud to say that the so-called “professional” systems that are out there are better than these systems for a few simple reasons.

Our list includes exclusively professional equipment. It is the same equipment that ADT or other installation companies might sell you. We’ve tested a lot of these DIY systems. They work well to varying degrees. But we have found that nothing surpasses the quality or features of a professional system. What’s more, we provide the help that you need to turn these professionally installed systems into the DIY systems that you may be looking for.

Yup! You heard that right. You don’t need a professional to install a professional home security system.

They are simple enough to install and operate that you can do it yourself. Additionally, you can have them monitored by anyone. We think that this feature is the feature that sets them apart from any of the new “DIY” systems. Simplisafe systems must be monitored by Simplisafe. Ring systems must be monitored by Amazon. Nest systems must be monitored by Google’s chosen provider: Monitronics (now Brinks).

But a professional system can be monitored by any alarm company. We certainly do monitor them. But if you’re interested in having a local installer at your beck and call, you can have Larry the alarm installer from down the road monitor it as well.

In all, these systems are not easy to rank. Each one comes with its own set of features and benefits. So we have organized the following list based on your own possible set of needs.

So without further ado, here are the 3 best alarm systems of 2020.

Best Interactive Service of 2020

Interactive services are the apps that allow you to control your alarm system from your phone or computer. There are dozens of such services. Some companies, such as the ones we mentioned above have their own proprietary service. But then, there are a few universal services. These are sold by Interlogix, DSC, Alarmnet (Honeywell), Securenet and others. Our favorite of these interactive services is It is a great service that works with Qolsys products, DSC products, Interlogix products, 2GIG products, and more. Unfortunately, it does not work with most Honeywell products.

It provides a wide array of controls, including the ability to use SIRI to command your system and schedule Z-Wave scenes. The drawback is that requires users to sign up for cellular monitoring. This is the best, most robust kind of monitoring. But some users don’t want that level of connectivity. Some end users are satisfied with just IP monitoring. In the 90s, particularly, phone line monitoring was the norm. Modern monitoring has found other, better, more secure options. No one can cut the line of a cellular device, for example. IP monitoring suffers from many of the same problems as phone line monitoring. But it also allows users to get many of the advantages of cellular monitoring, including homeowner’s insurance discounts. Even still, despite this drawback of, it is our preferred interactive service.

That said, its closest competition is Honeywell’s Total Connect. Total Connect only works with Honeywell. It does almost everything that does, with a few specific differences - no native SIRI control, for example. That said, Honeywell makes excellent equipment. The Lyric alarm, for example, works with HomeKit. This integration will allow individual control of the unit from SIRI. This is actually more robust than even’s SIRI integration. And the only options that a HomeKit user has on the side is the DSC iotega, which is a system that works, but for many reasons, doesn’t make this list.

Ultimately, whether you use or Total Connect, it will depend on your system’s interactive service compatibility. If you are interested in system features, look at the systems below. If you are more concerned with the usability of the interactive service, you can certainly pick a system based on its qualities and compatibility with an interactive service.

Runner Up: Total Connect

Best Overall System of 2020

Qolsys IQ Panel 2+

This security system is an amazing piece of equipment. It is a great looking home automation controller as well as a security system. It’s compatibility is a great feature that makes the Qolsys IQ Panel 2+ a stratospherically better panel than almost anything on the market. The system is built on the Android operating system. Ultimately, the Qolsys is what you get when you beset a Silicon Valley company with the task of building a professional alarm system. It is feature filled, beautifully and competently built.

One of the frustrations with the Qolsys is its lack of modularity. It is an expensive system. Everything is built in to the panel. Whereas most security systems allow a user to install (and uninstall) a cellular communicator, the Qolsys builds the communicator right into the panel itself. This sounds like a great feature, and it is. But that’s until the system’s communicator becomes obsolete. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often, but every 10 or so years, the cellular companies deprecate one or more of their networks. At this very moment, Alarm Grid’s subscribers are preparing to replace thousands of communicators. As Verizon and AT&T deprecate their old CDMA and 3G networks, the systems that have included these communicators are coming due for an upgrade. The drawback of the Qolsys is that there is no upgrade per se. Rather, end users with an older Qolsys will have to replace the entire panel.

Despite this drawback, the Qolsys is a great unit. One of its best features is its ability to take over old systems. For those that are looking to replace an old system, the Qolsys is a great choice. The new Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus’s come in different varieties, each with a daughter card that allows them to grab the signals from other company’s wireless sensors.

Just awesome!

In our opinion the best feature of the new Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, however, is not its amazing home automation features or its ability to take over other systems. It’s not even its slick Android interface. All those features can and are replicated by its competitors. Rather, our favorite feature of the Qolsys is its sensor’s ranges. The Qolsys is a panel whose PowerG sensors, which are encrypted, are capable of being monitored over HUGE ranges. We have seen the Qolsys detect sensors that are nearly a half mile away. This makes the PowerG line of sensors that are compatible with the Qolsys an amazing feature that no other all-in-one system has. These sensors basically remove the need for expensive repeaters. They are modern sensors that no other company has.

Eat your heart out Google, Amazon, and all ya’ll Silicon Valley companies trying to build better systems. None of these systems even touch the quality of the Qolsys in our opinion.

Runner-up: 2GIG GC3e

Best HomeKit Compatible System of 2020

Honeywell Lyric

The Lyric is in competition with DSC’s Iotega, which works as a HomeKit controller. If you’re looking for HomeKit control, and your home is filled with DSC sensors, the Iotega might be a better choice for you. But if you’re starting from scratch, nothing is better than the Lyric controller. This system is compatible with a wide range of sensors, including America’s most sold sensor, the 5816. It looks great on a wall. It’s fairly priced, and it does everything you’d want from a good looking system, including a photo album feature.

We sold more Lyric’s in 2019 than any other system on the market. This is largely due to Honeywell’s trusted name. The quality exemplified by the brand is epitomized in this sleek wall unit. Its versatility is buttressed by the hundreds of compatible sensors that Honeywell has released over the years.

We like Honeywell’s no-nonsense approach to monitoring. They put security over all. They were the first mainstream system on the market with both a panel and encrypted sensors. And the sensors work immensely well. We love Honeywell. We love the Lyric. At the moment, we believe that the Qolsys has surpassed the features of Honeywell’s alarm system. But the Lyric has one feature that Qolsys simply does not: the ability to be monitored by WiFi only. In fact, nearly all of Honeywell’s all-in-one systems can be monitored by WiFi only. For an end user, this means that they can be professionally monitored at a price that is significantly cheaper than that of a cellular system. For the budget conscience consumer, this presents an amazing opportunity to save money while getting all the benefits of a monitored system, including insurance discounts. We are a big fan of cellular monitoring. But the option is there for those who simply don’t think it’s as important as we do or for those who don’t want to pay the cost of cellular monitoring.

Runner Up: DSC iotega

Best Budget Alarm System

Honeywell L3000

We spent a lot of time debating whether the L3000 would be the best system for someone on a budget. We actually prefer the GC2e as a system. It’s a great looking system, it’s inexpensive, and it uses But here’s the problem: it requires that anyone using it purchase a cellular communicator. Additionally, because its most minimal monitoring will include This puts anyone purchasing it into a different category of spending. That said, if it’s not outside of your budget, the GC2e is a great system. It is our runner-up, because it is a good budget system, but it’s not great.

The low price of the L3000 is no indication of its quality. It is because it is a legacy system. It is often used by alarm companies that are putting systems into big apartment buildings. The system is amazing. It’s effective, will last for a very long time. Unfortunately, it’s ugly and can be a bear to program. Luckily for owners, programming is not something you do more than one time. And if you’re with Alarm Grid, there is a strong chance that we can program it for you.

Unlike the GC2e, the L3000 allows users to do IP-only monitoring. It also allows old-school phone line monitoring. That means, for the budget-conscious consumer, the L3000 is both cheaper to purchase than the GC2e, and will save an end user between $10 and $20 per month. In all, the L3000 will save anyone who installs it between $120 and $240 per year, while also being incredibly affordable at the outset. Huzzah! Oh, and for those concerned about sensors, the L3000 works great with any of the Honeywell’s 5800 sensors. You will have a ton of sensors to pick from, which also makes the system the most versatile budget system on the market.

We love the L3000 as a budget system.

Runner-Up: 2GIG GC2e

Best Wired Alarm System of 2020

Honeywell VISTA 20P

This is an oldie but a goodie. The VISTA 20P has been produced by Honeywell for many many years now. It's an excellent system with great, modern features. Honeywell produces update chips that they release every once in a while. These updates allow the system to take advantage of modern features like those available in the VAM or Tuxedo Touch. Home Automation? You can do it using the VISTA 20P. Manage both wired and wireless sensors? You can do that very easily with the VISTA 20P by adding a wireless receiver or a keypad with a wireless receiver built in. In all, this system has all the same great features of its all-in-one wireless contemporaries. 2 drawbacks to speak of, though: 1) it's big and bulky; 2) programming these systems sucks.

Runner-up: Honeywell VISTA 21iP

What Else is Coming in 2020?

Every year, professional systems get better and better. The systems that are coming soon are no different. In the coming months, we are expecting the release of Qolsys’s new Hub as well as Honeywell’s ProSeries panel. 2GIG hasn’t announced anything yet. But they just released the encrypted versions of their panels.

Unfortunately, 2019 saw the close of Interlogix’s security systems production division. While interlogix was not known for the incredible innovation of their systems, they made great budget models that gave users a simple, cheap entry point into security systems. They will be missed. But the three main producers--2GIG, Qolsys, and Resideo (formerly Honeywell)--are continuing to pioneer new and innovative features.

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The phone system played an integral role in early alarm systems. Each system was connected directly to a dial up phone system. If an alarm was tripped, the system would call the central station and give information. That is when high-fidelity copper lines ruled the day. In that world, analog calls were crystal clear. But the world has moved to digital, and while everything is cheaper, some things have changed, which we’ll cover in a little bit.

For those hyper-concerned with the safety of their family or possessions, skimping on security is the last thing you should do. At one time, landlines were the best thing you could use to send signals from your alarm system to the central station. Nowadays, there are simply better ways to get that signal out. And it’s time to stop skimping on the monitoring and update your system to get with the modern age. It doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and the advantages to using new technology are out of this world.

Which is why you should...

Switch to Cellular & IP Alarm Monitoring

The advantages of switching are innumerable. In some ways it is how you breathe new life into a security system that has grown old. These new communication pathways will overtake your current system’s old, tired over-the-phone communication, and turn your system into the modern system that you want. And, most of the time, it will cost you very little.

In other words…

Save a ton of money. Most Systems Can be Retrofitted to Work with Cellular Alarms Easily

Most old systems can use a new communicator. These systems are simple units that tell you whether a zone is opened or closed. This simple function is no different in new systems. Generally the difference between an old system and a new system is in the slick design. But now, even old systems have gotten some great updates. For example, if you have an old VISTA-20P, you can bring your system up to date with a

  • PROM replacement (about $50)
  • a communicator (about $120)
  • and if you’re really concerned about the way the keypad looks on your wall, you can get one of the new Tuxedo Touch keypads to make your system look new, modern, and sleek.

Regardless of how easy it is, there is really only one great reason to switch from a landline security system to a wireless (cellular+IP) security system: IP Monitoring & Cellular Monitoring provide better security than old landlines.

Thieves Can No Longer Just Cut Your Phone Lines

When phone lines were analog, all a thief had to do was cut your phone line. This would prevent your system from calling the central station. No wire, no signal. No signal, no one will know you were robbed.

While the advantage of the analog phone lines was the crystal clear communication from the panel to the central, the disadvantage of having exposed wire is obvious. Fortunately, cutting the line doesn’t work when your system is able to communicate wirelessly.

This is why we don’t recommend IP systems exclusively. IP is great! It’s the fastest communication pathway alarms have. But, generally, IP is still connected via an exposed wire. The solution to the problem of the exposed wire is cellular monitoring. And the fact that most modern systems allow you to connect your system to both IP and cellular communication paths at the same time means that you can get all the advantages of IP monitoring (at no extra cost) with the connectivity of cellular.

The wireless, over-the-air cellular communication path means that this attack vector is something you will never have to worry about again!

Phone Lines are No Longer Analog

Phone lines don’t really work anymore like they used to. Old phone lines were made of copper. Their analog signal was extremely high fidelity. Nowadays, things are different.

First, a lot of our customers have switched to Voice Over IP (VOIP) phones. These phones are notoriously poor quality. They work pretty well, but the quality is nothing like analog. While this might not be terrible for calls to friends or family, it poses a problem in sending signals to a central station.

Second, most phone systems have digital switches. What that means is that even if you never got rid of your old copper line phone, your phone likely still uses digital signals at some point. This poses the same issue for alarm companies as VOIP.

For us, this means that wires get crossed a lot. The result is that central stations occasionally receive bad signals, these VOIP accounts are prone to false alarms, and occasionally, the bad signal will cause signals to get crossed in such a way that signals are dispatched to the wrong account. Phone lines just don’t work like they used to.

Since signals are being sent over wireless communication pathways, this is one of those instances where embracing modern technology will save you a lot of headaches. Where VOIP fails, cellular and IP monitoring pick up the slack.

Because of these issues, we think that

Cellular Monitoring Is Simply Better Than Landline Monitoring, and IP Monitoring Creates a Great Backup for When it’s Needed.

Cellular monitoring provides amazing connectivity. Because it is a wireless connection, a thief can not cut any wires to disable it. The cellular modules connect directly to the nearest cellular tower.

And most modern systems also include monitoring for any system whose signal is blocked by someone using a device that disrupts cellular signals.

Up time for these systems is as close to perfect as it can be. While an IP signal is a great way to make sure your system is able to quickly send signals, cellular monitoring enhances monitoring over the internet by making sure that your system can communicate signals even during those times that your IP provider is down (and we all know that happens occasionally).

That’s why…

Cellular Monitoring is the most reliable monitoring you can buy. And with our dual path IP + cellular monitoring options, it’s made even more reliable.


Posted By


Data Field Programming Guide This is a living document based on Honeywell's Vista 15P, 20P Programming Guide. It is meant to be the programming guide in its entirety, but is a work in progress. We will be continually adding new segments, new videos, and more. Hopefully this guide makes everything a little bit easier for those looking at the document for the first time. Please let us know what we can do to improve it.

Recommendations for Proper Protection

The following recommendations for the location of fire and burglary detection devices help provide proper coverage for the protected premises.

Recommendations for Smoke and Heat Detectors

With regard to the number and placement of smoke/heat detectors, we subscribe to the recommendations contained in the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Standard #72 noted below.Early warning fire detection is best achieved by the installation of fire detection equipment in all rooms and areas of the household as follows: For minimum protection a smoke detector should be installed outside of each separate sleeping area, and on each additional floor of a multi-floor family living unit, including basements. The installation of smoke detectors in kitchens, attics (finished or unfinished), or in garages is not normally recommended. For additional protection the NFPA recommends that you install heat or smoke detectors in the living room, dining room, bedroom(s), kitchen, hallway(s), attic, furnace room, utility and storage rooms, basements and attached garages. In addition, we recommend the following:

  • Install a smoke detector inside every bedroom where a smoker sleeps.
  • Install a smoke detector inside every bedroom where someone sleeps with the door partly or completely closed. Smoke could be blocked by the closed door. Also, an alarm in the hallway outside may not wake up the sleeper if the door is closed.
  • Install a smoke detector inside bedrooms where electrical appliances (such as portable heaters, air conditioners or humidifiers) are used.
  • Install a smoke detector at both ends of a hallway if the hallway is more than 40 feet (12 meters) long.
  • Install smoke detectors in any room where an alarm control is located, or in any room where alarm control connections to an AC source or phone lines are made. If detectors are not so located, a fire within the room could prevent the control from reporting a fire or an intrusion.

This control complies with NFPA requirements for temporal pulse sounding of fire notification appliances.

Recommendations For Proper Intrusion Protection

For proper intrusion coverage, sensors should be located at every possible point of entry to a home or commercial premises. This would include any skylights that may be present, and the upper windows in a multi-level building. In addition, we recommend that radio backup be used in a security system so that alarm signals can still be sent to the alarm monitoring station in the event that the telephone lines are out of order (alarm signals are normally sent over the phone lines, if connected to an alarm monitoring station).


  • Programming Mode Commands
  • Data Field Programming Form
  • Configurable Zone Types Worksheet
  • *56 Zone Programming Menu Mode
  • *58 Expert Zone Program Mode
  • ALPHA VOCABULARY LIST (For Entering Zone Descriptors)
  • *29 COMMUNICATION DEVICE MENU MODE (Pass-Through Programming)

Programming Mode Commands

To enter programming mode (using an alpha keypad connected to the control):

  • POWER UP, then press [*] and [#] at the same time, within 50 seconds of powering up (this method must be used if *98 was used to exit program mode). OR
  • Enter Installer Code (Default: 4112) then 800
Task Command/Explanation
Go to a Data Field Press [∗] + [Field Number], followed by the required entry.
Entering Data When the desired field number appears, simply make the required entry. When the last entry for a field is entered, the keypad beeps three times and automatically displays the next data field in sequence. If the number of digits that you need to enter in a data field is less than the maximum digits available (for example, the phone number fields *41, *42), enter the desired data, then press [∗] to end the entry. The next data field number is displayed.
Review a Data Field Press [#] + [Field Number]. Data will be displayed for that field number. No changes will be accepted in this mode
Deleting an Entry Press [*] + [Field Number] + [*]. (Applies only to fields ∗40 thru *46, *94, and pager fields) Press *96.
Initialize Download ID Press *96. Initializes download ID and subscriber account number.
Reset Factory Defaults Press *97. Sets all data fields to original factory default values.
Zone Programming Press *56. Zone characteristics, report codes, alpha descriptors, and serial numbers for 5800 RF transmitters.
Function Key Programming Press *57. Unlabeled keypad keys (known as ABCD keys) can be programmed for special functions
Zone Programming (Expert Mode) Press *58. Same options as *56 mode, but with fewer prompts. Intended for those familiar with this type of programming, otherwise *56 mode is recommended.
Output Device Mapping Press *79. Assign module addresses and map individual relays/powerline carrier devices.
Output Programming Press *80. Program 4229 or 4204 Relay modules, Powerline Carrier devices, or on-board triggers.
Zone List Programming Press *81. Zone Lists for relay/powerline carrier activation, chime zones, pager zones, etc.
Alpha Programming Press *82. Zone alpha descriptorsIP/GSM ProgrammingPress *29. For programming the IP/GSM options.
Exit Program Mode with installer code lockout Press *98. Exits programming mode and prevents re-entry by: Installer Code + 8 0 0. To reenter programming mode, the system must be powered down, then powered up. Then use method A above. See field *88 for other *98 Program mode lockout options.
Exit Program Mode Press *99. Exits program mode and allows re-entry by: Installer Code + 8 0 0 or method A above.
Scheduling Mode Enter code + [#] + 64. Create schedules to automate various system functions.
Site-Initiated Download Enter Installer code + [#] + 1. (perform while system is disarmed and in normal mode)

AVS Quick Programming Guide (for AAV sessions using the AVS system)

For controls with the following firmware revision levels, these commands automatically configure the control for AVS operation:

  • VISTA-15P = version 6.0 or higher
  • VISTA-20P = version 7.0 or higher

Programming Instructions

  • installer code + [#] + [0] + 3. Enable AVS operation.
  • installer code + [#] + [0] + 4. Enable AVS operation and enable panels sounds on the AVST speaker.
  • installer code + [#] + [0] + 5. Remove all programming options set by [#] + [0] + 3 quick command.
  • installer code + [#] + [0] + 6. Remove all programming options set by [#] + [0] + 4 quick command.

Refer to the AVS System Enable and Quick Programming Commands section for details on the specific options that are set with each command, depending on the control used. To select the AAV session communication path (phone line/communication device), see field ∗55 Dynamic Signaling Priority. To enable AAV operation, use ∗91 Options field (option 4).

Special Programming Messages

  • OC = Open Circuit (no communication between Keypad and Control).
  • EE or ENTRY ERROR = ERROR (invalid field number entered; re-enter valid field number).
  • After powering up, AC, dI (disabled) or “Busy Standby vx.x (firmware revision) Dl will be displayed after approximately 4 seconds. This will revert to a “Ready” message in approximately 1 minute, which allows PIRS, etc. to stabilize. You can bypass this delay by pressing [#] + [0].
    NOTE for CANADIAN PANELS: Power up time is 2 minutes, and Contact ID report code 305 System Reset is sent if the [#] + [0]command is not performed before the 2 minutes expires.
  • If E4 or E8 appears, more zones than the expansion units can handle have been programmed. The display will clear after you correct the programming

IMPORTANT: The Real-time clock must be set before the end of the installation. See procedure in the Setting the Real-Time Clock section of this manual.

Data Field Programming Guide

Input Command Explanation Video
*20 Installer Code.
Enter 4 digits between 0000 and 9999.
The Installer Code (default 4-1-1-2) is used to assign the 4-digit Master Security Code (default 1-2-3-4). The Installer Code can perform all system functions except it cannot disarm the system unless it was used to arm the system. For security purposes, the factory default installer code should be changed.
*21 Quick Arm Enable
  • 0 = no
  • 1 = yes
If enabled, users can press the [#] followed by an arming key to arm the system instead of using a security code. The security code is always needed to disarm the system.
*22 RF Jam Option
  • 0 = no RF Jam detection
  • 1 = send RF Jam report
If enabled, a report is sent if the system detects an RF jamming signal.

UL Note: Must be 1 if Wireless sensors are used.
*23 Quick (Forced) Bypass
  • 0 = no quick bypass
  • 1 = allow quick bypass (code + [6] + [#] )

Zones bypassed by this function will be displayed after the bypass is initiated.

*24 RF House ID Code
  • 00 = disable all wireless keypad use
  • 01–31 = using 5827, 5827BD or
  • 5804BD keypad

The House ID identifies receivers and wireless keypads. If a 5827 or 5827BD Wireless Keypad or 5804BD Transmitter is being used, a House ID code must be entered and the keypad set to the same House ID. You can assign RF house ID for each partition.
*26 Chime By Zone / KP Sound Enables Entry 1
  • 0 = no “entry 1” keypad trouble sounds, AND no chime by zone (keypad chimes on fault of any entry/exit or perimeter zone when chime mode is on)
  • 1 = Chime by Zone enabled
  • 2 = Communication Device (LRR) trouble sounding enabled (for communication devices such as 7845GSM, 7845i-GSM, GSMV)
  • 4 = System Low Battery sounding enabled
  • 7 = select all entry 1 options
Entry 2
  • 0 = no “entry 2” keypad trouble sounds
  • 1 = RF Supervision sounding enabled
  • 2 = RF Low Battery sounding enabled
  • 4 = RF Jam sounding enabled
  • 7 = select all entry 2 options

Chime by Zone

If Chime by Zone is enabled (entry 1 – option 1), you can define the specific zones intended to chime when faulted while the system is in Chime mode. List chime zones on zone list 3 using *81 Menu mode.

Keypad (KP) Trouble Sounding

Keypad trouble sounding can be enabled/disabled for the conditions listed for each entry.

For each entry, enter the sum of the desired options. Example Entry 1: for Chime by Zone and System Low Battery sounding, enter 5. To enable all options, enter 7.

*27 Powerline Carrier Device (X–10) House Code
  • 0 = A
  • 1 = B
  • 2 = C
  • 3 = D
  • 4 = E
  • 5 = F
  • 6 = G
  • 7 = H
  • 8 = I
  • 9 = J
  • #10 = K
  • #11 = L
  • #12 = M
  • #13 = N
  • #14 = O
  • #15 = P
Powerline Carrier devices require a House ID, identified in this field.

Program Powerline Carrier devices in interactive modes *79, *80 and *81.

UL Note: UL: not for fire or UL installations
  • Access Code For Phone Module
  • 00 = disable
  • 1st digit: enter 1–9
  • 2nd digit: enter # + 11 for "∗", or # + 12 for "#".

[00] partion 1 only

You must assign a 2-digit access code for the 4286 Phone Module, if used. Example: If desired access code is 7∗, then 7 is the first entry, and [#] + 11 (for ∗) is the second entry.

NOTE: A 0 in either digit disables the phone module.

UL Note: UL: must be 00 for UL Commercial Burglary installations.

*29 Enable IP/GSM? – Communication Device Menu Mode (pass-through programming)

This is a Menu Mode command, not a data field, for programming IP/GSM communication device options. See *29 Menu Mode section later in this document.

*31 Single Alarm Sounding Per Zone
  • 0 = unlimited sounding
  • 1 = one alarm sounding per zone

V20PSIA/V15PSIA. If “0” selected, “alarm sounding per zone” will be the same as the “number of reports in armed period” set in field *93 (1 if one report, 2 if 2 reports, unlimited for zones in zone list 7).

▢ [0]

If enabled, limits alarm sounding on the bell output to once per zone per armed period.

*32 Fire Alarm Sounder Timeout
  • 0 = sound stops at timeout selected in field *33
  • 1 = no timeout; sounds until manually turned off


This control complies with NFPA requirements for temporal pulse sounding of fire notification appliances. Temporal pulse sounding for a fire alarm consists of the following: 3 pulses – pause – 3 pulses – pause – 3 pulses.

UL: must be 1 for fire installation

*33 Alarm Sounder (Bell) Timeout
  • 0 = none
  • 3 =12 min
  • 1 = 4 min
  • 4 = 16 min
  • 2 = 8 min


This field determines whether the external sounder will shut off after time allotted, or continue until manually turned off

  • UL: For residential fire alarm installation, must be set for a minimum of 4 min (option 1)
  • For Commercial Burglary installations, must be minimum 16 min (option 4)
*34 Exit Delay
  • 00 - 96 = 0 - 96 secs
  • 97 = 120 secs


  • 45 - 96 = 45 - 96 secs
  • 97 = 120 secs
  • NOTE: Entries less than 45 will result in a 45-second delay.
The system waits the time entered before arming entry/exit zones. If the entry/exit door is left open after this time expires, an alarm will occur. Common zones use same delay as partition 1.

SIA Guidelines: minimum exit delay is 45 seconds Common zones use partition 1 delay.

*35 Entry Delay #1

00 - 96 = 0 - 96 seconds

97 = 120 secs

98 = 180 secs

99 = 240 secs


30-96 = 30 - 96 secs; 97 = 120 secs;

98 = 180 secs; 99 = 240 secs

NOTE: Entries less than 30 will result

in a 30-second delay

Upon entering, the system must be disarmed before the time entered

expires, otherwise it sounds an alarm.

Common zones use same delay as part 1.

SIA Guidelines: minimum entry delay is 30 seconds

*36 Entry Delay #2

See *35 Entry Delay 1 for entries

*37 Audible Exit Warning

0 = no; 1 = yes

Warning sound consists of slow continuous beeps until the last 10

seconds, and then it changes to fast beeps. Sound ends when exit time


SIA Guidelines: must be enabled

*38 Confirmation Of Arming Ding

0 = no

1 = yes (wired keypads and RF)

2 = yes, RF only (except 5827,


Confirmation of arming is 1/2-sec external sounder “ding.”

If 1 selected, ding occurs when closing report is sent if open/close

reporting is enabled, or at the end of Exit Delay. If 2 selected, ding

occurs upon reception of the wireless arming command.

*39 Power Up In Previous State

0 = no, always power up disarmed;

1 = yes, power up in previous state

When the system powers up armed, an alarm will occur 1 minute after

arming if a zone is faulted. Note that if the previous state was armed

Away or Stay, the system ignores sensor changes for 1 minute, which

allows sensors such as PIRs to stabilize.

UL: must be 1

SIA Guidelines: must be 1
*40 PABX Access Code or Call

Waiting Disable

Enter up to 6 digits.

To clear entries, press





If call waiting is used, enter call waiting

disable digits “

(#+11) 70” plus “# +

13” (pause).

Call Waiting:

If the subscriber’s phone service has “call waiting” (and

is not using PABX), enter “*70” (“# + 11”) plus “# + 13” (pause) as the

PABX entry to disable “call waiting” during control panel calls. If the

subscriber does not have “call waiting” and is not using PABX, make

no entry in this field.


1. The call waiting disable feature cannot be used on a PABX line.

2. Using Call Waiting Disable on a non-call waiting line will prevent

successful communication to the central station.
*41, *42 Primary Phone No.

Secondary Phone No.

Enter up to 20 digits. To clear entries, press










Enter the respective phone numbers.

*43 Partition 1 Primary Acct. No.
*44 Part. 1 Secondary Acct. No.

*45 Partition 2 Primary Acct. No.

*46 Partition 2 Secondary Acct. No.

Enter 4 or 10 digits, as chosen in *48

Report Format. Enter digits 0–9; #+11

for B; #+12 for C; #+13 for D; #+14 for

E; #+15 for F.
Enter [

] as the fourth digit if a 3-digit account number (for 3+1 dialer

reporting format) is used. Enter 0 as the first digit of a 4-digit account

no. for 0000-0999. E.g., For Acct.


, enter: #+11 + 2 + 3 + 4

To clear entries in a given field, press *43*, *44*, *45*, or *46* based

on the field being programmed

*47 Phone System Select

If Cent. Sta.

is not

on a WATS line:

0=Pulse Dial; 1=Tone Dial

If Cent. Sta.



a WATS line:

2 = Pulse Dial; 3 = Tone Dial.
Select the type of phone service for the installation.
*48 Report Format
  • 0 = 3+1, 4+1 ADEMCO L/S STANDARD.
  • 1 = 3+1, 4+1 RADIONICS STANDARD.
  • 2 = 4+2 ADEMCO L/S STAND.
  • 6 = 4+2 ADEMCO EXPRESS.
  • 8 = 3+1, 4+1 ADEMCO L/S EXP.
  • 9 = 3+1, 4+1 RADIONICS EXP.
Select the format for primary/secondar phone numbers
*49 Split/Dual Reporting

0 = Standard/backup reporting only (all

to primary)

1-5 = see table at right

Backup Reporting:

All reports are sent only to the primary number

unless unsuccessful after 8 attempts. If unsuccessful, the system will

make up to 8 attempts to send all reports to the secondary number. If

still unsuccessful after the 16 attempts, the system displays the

“COMM. FAILURE” message (FC for fixed-word displays).

*50 Burglary Dialer Delay

Delay Time:

0 = no delay

1 = 15 seconds

2 = 30 seconds

3 = 45 seconds


Delay Time:

1 = 15 seconds

2 = 30 seconds

3 = 45 seconds

Delay Disable:

0 = use delay set in entry 1

1 = dial delay disabled for zones

listed in zone list 6 (use zone list 6

to enter those zones that require

dial delay to be disabled; these

zones ignore the setting in entry 1)

UL: Dial delay plus entry delay must not

exceed one minute; use zone list 6 to

disable dial delay from appropriate zones,

if necessary.

Provides delay of “BURGLARY ALARM” report to the central station,

which allows time for the subscriber to avoid a false alarm transmission.

This delay does not apply to zone type 24 alarms (silent burglary) or to

24-hour zone types 6, 7, and 8 (silent panic, audible alarm, auxiliary

alarm), which are always sent as soon as they occur.

UL: Delay Time must be 0

SIA Guidelines: delay must be minimum of 15 seconds

*53 SESCOA/Radionics Select

0 = Radionics (0-9, B-F)

1 = SESCOA (0-9 only reporting)

Enter 0 for all non-SESCOA formats.
*54 Dynamic Signaling Delay

0 = no delay (both signals sent)

1 = 15 secs

2 = 30 secs, etc.

Select delay from 0 to 225 secs, in 15-sec increments.

Intended for reporting via a communication device on the ECP bus

(LRR). This field lets you select the time the panel should wait for

acknowledgment from the first reporting destination (see

55) before it

attempts to send a message to the second destination. Delays can be

selected from 0 to 225 seconds, in 15-second increments. This delay is

per message. If 0 is entered in this field, the control panel will send

redundant reports to both Primary Dialer and communication device.

*55 Dynamic Signaling Priority /

AAV Path Select

0 = Primary Dialer first / AAV via phone


1 = Communication Device (LRR) first /

AAV via communication device

path (see AAV Path Select

paragraph at right)

This field selects the primary communication path for reporting (dialer

or communication device) of

primary phone number




Split/Dual Reporting)


selects the communication path used for

AAV sessions (phone line or communication device path). Use


IP/GSM menu mode to enable the communication device being used.

Reports intended for the secondary phone number are not sent via

the communication device.

For Dynamic Signaling Priority:

Select the initial reporting destination

for messages as follows:

Primary Dialer First selected (



If acknowledged before delay expires (see

54), then message will

not be sent via LRR.

If not acknowledged before delay expires, message is sent to both

the Primary Phone No. and via LRR.

Communication Device (LRR) First selected (



If acknowledged before delay expires, then message will not be sent

to the primary dialer.

If not acknowledged before delay expires, message is sent to both

the Primary Phone No. and via LRR.

*56, *57, *58 Menu Modes. These are Menu Mode commands, not data fields, for Zone Programming, Function Key Programming, and Expert Mode Zone Programming respectively. Alarm Grid provides worksheets for the *56 and the *57 menu

System Status Report Codes (*59–*68)

Input Command Explanation Video
*79, *80, *81, *82 Menu Modes. These are Menu Mode commands, not data fields, for Output Device Mapping, Output Programming, Zone List Programming, and Alpha Programming respectively. Click on the zone numbers above to be taken to the appropriate section of this guide. Additionally, we provide a pdf version of the *79, the *80, and the *81 programming worksheets.
*96, *97 Initialize/Reset Defaults. These are commands, not data fields.
*98, *99 Exit commands. These are commands, not data fields.
*181 50/60 Hertz AC Operation
0 = 60 Hz; 1 = 50 Hz
Select the type of AC power applied to the control (option is used for Real-Time Clock synchronization)
(see Configurable Zone Type Worksheet following data field *199)
  • The system allows you to define custom zone types (VISTA-20P supports 4 [types 90-93]; VISTA-15P supports 2 [types 90, 91]) based on the options selected.
  • All configurable zone types can be programmed via the downloader. Zone types 90-91 can also be programmed from a keypad using data fields *182-*185.
  • IMPORTANT: Be careful when selecting combinations of options for configurable zone types. Contradictory options can cause unpredictable results.
Configurable Zone Type Options >
Auto Restore (entry 2): Faults on zones set for this option are cleared; restore messages sent upon restoral of faults.
Vent Zone (entry 2): Zones set for this option are ignored if faulted when arming the system, but are protected if the zone is later restored (e.g., an open window can be ignored when arming, but if the window is later closed, it will be protected; opening the window again causes an alarm.)
Bypass Disarmed (entry 4): Zones set for this option can be bypassed only while the system is disarmed.
Bypass Armed (entry 4): Zones set for this option can be bypassed when the system is armed.
Dial Delay (entry 6): Alarms on zones set for this option participate in dial delay central station reporting, if system dial delay enabled in field *50.
Fault Delay (entry 6): Faults on zones set for this option are delayed by the time set in field *87. Do not use this option if using entry/exit delay for this zone type.
Faults Display (entry 7): Selects how faults on zones set for this zone type are displayed.
Power Reset/Verification (entry 7): Selects whether the system resets power (when user enters code + OFF), and whether the system performs alarm verification (see description for zone type 16 in Zone Type Definitions section) when a fault occurs on these zones.
Use Entry Delay (entry 8): Selects whether to use the system’s entry delay times.
Use Exit Delay (entry 8): Selects whether to use the system’s exit delay time.
Interior Type (entry 8): Zones set for this option are treated same as standard zone type 4 (bypasses when armed STAY, faults displayed). Alarm Sounds (entry 9): Selects the type of alarms sound for zones set for this zone type.
Bell Timeout (entry 9): Alarm sounding on zones set for this option remain for the duration set in fields *32 / *33.
Fire Zone (entry 9): Zones set for this option respond in the same manner as if programmed for zone type 9. Do not set fire zones to respond as a “fault” in entries 1-6.
Trouble Sounds (entry 10): Selects the type of trouble sounds for zones set for this zone type (periodic beeps = once every 30 seconds; trouble beeps = rapid beeping).
Chime Enable (entry 10): Zones set for this option cause a chime when Chime mode is on.

*56 Zone Programming Menu Mode

(press *56 while in Program mode) Use the provided *56 Zone Programming Worksheet.

Zones and Partitions Each protection zone needs to be programmed with various attributes using *56 Zone Programming mode or *58 Expert Programming Mode. Using this mode, enter the zone number to be programmed and make appropriate entries at the prompts. Finally, Confirm the serial number of wireless transmitter zones. The VISTA-20P system can control two independent areas of protection (known as partitions) for use by independent users, if desired, by simply assigning zones to one or the other partition during zone programming. The VISTA-20P, by default, automatically distributes users between the two partitions. The master user can change the user number distributions. Zones can also be assigned to a common partition, which is an area shared by users of both partitions (such as a lobby in a building). This allows either partition to arm, while leaving the common partition disarmed for access into the other partition. The following describes the functioning of the VISTA-20P common partition:

  • The common zone sounds and reports alarms only when both partitions are armed. If only one partition is armed, the system ignores faults on the common zone.
  • Either partition may arm its system if the common zone is faulted, but once armed, the other partition will not be able to arm unless the common zone is first bypassed or the fault is corrected.
  • Faults on the common zone are displayed on common zone keypads, and will also appear on another partition’s keypad when that partition is armed.
  • Either partition can clear and restore the common zone after an alarm.

*56 Menu Mode

Wireless Key Predefined Default Templates

Templates Loop Function Zone Type
Template 1

No response
Arm Away
No Response

Template 2

No Response
Arm Away
Arm Stay

Template 3

24-hour audible
Arm Away
Arm Stay

Template 4

No Response
No Response
Arm Away

Template 5

No Response
Arm Stay
Arm Away

Template 6

24-hour audible
Arm Stay
Arm Away

Prompt Valid Entries Explanation Video

Alpha Descriptor Vocabulary List (For Entering Zone Descriptors)

Descriptor Number Word
000 (Word Space)
  • 001
  • 002
  • 006
  • 007
  • 009
  • 012
  • 013
  • 014
  • 016
  • 017
  • 018
  • 019
020 BELL
  • 021
  • 022
  • 026
  • 029
031 CAR
033 CASH
034 CCTV
  • 037
  • 040
  • 046
  • 048
  • 050
051 DESK
  • 052
  • 053
  • 057
  • 059
  • 060
  • 062
  • 064
  • 065
  • 069
  • 071
  • 073
  • 076
  • 077
  • 079
  • 080
081 FLOW
082 FOIL
  • 083
  • 085
  • 089
  • 090
091 GATE
  • 092
094 GUN
  • 095
  • 096
099 HOUSE *
  • 101
  • 105
  • 106
  • 107
  • 109
  • 110
111 LINE
  • 113
  • 114
115 LOCK
116 LOOP
117 LOW
  • 118
  • 119
122 MAIN *
  • 123
  • 125
  • 130
  • 131
  • 134
  • 136
  • 138
  • 140
  • 144
  • 146
  • 148
151 POLICE *
152 POOL *
  • 153
  • 156
160 RF
  • 161
  • 162
163 ROOF
164 SAFE
  • 167
  • 168
  • 170
  • 173
  • 176
  • 178
  • 179
  • 182
  • 185
  • 199
  • 201
  • 205
  • 206
  • 207
  • 208
213 WALL
  • 216
  • 217
  • 219
223 YARD
224 ZONE (No.)
  • 225
  • 226
  • 227
  • 228
1ST *
  • 229
  • 230
2ND *
  • 231
  • 232
3RD *
  • 233
  • 234
  • 235
  • 236
  • 237
  • 238
  • 239
  • 240
  • 241
  • 242
  • 243
  • 244
245 Custom Word #1
246 Custom Word #2
247 Custom Word #3
248 Custom Word #4
249 Custom Word #5
250 Custom Word #6
251 Custom Word #7
252 Custom Word #8
253 Custom Word #9
254 Custom Word #10

*Note: Bulleted (•) words in boldface type are those that are also available for use by the 4286 Phone Module. If using a Phone module, and words other than these are selected for Alpha descriptors, the module will not provide annunciation of those words.
Italicized words followed by an asterisk indicates those words supported by the 6160V/6150V Voice Keypads.

CHARACTER (ASCII) CHART (For Adding Custom Words)
32 (space)
33 !
34 "
35 #
36 $
37 %
38 &
39 '
40 (
41 )
42 *
43 +
44 ,
46 .
47 /
48 0
49 1
50 2
51 3
52 4
53 5
54 6
55 7
56 8
57 9
58 :
59 ;
60 <
61 =
62 >
63 ?
64 @
65 A
66 B
67 C
68 D
69 E
70 F
71 G
72 H
73 I
74 J
75 K
76 L
77 M
78 N
79 O
80 P
81 Q
82 R
83 S
84 T
85 U
86 V
87 W
88 X
89 Y
90 Z

  1. Entry Delay No. 1 and No. 2 (fields ∗35, ∗36) cannot be greater than 30 seconds for UL Residential Burglar Alarm installations, and entry delay plus dial delay should not exceed 1 minute. For UL Commercial Burglar Alarm installations, total entry delay may not exceed 45 seconds.
  2. For UL Commercial Burglar Alarm and UL Residential Burglar Alarm installations with line security, total exit delay time must not exceed 60 seconds.
  3. The maximum number of reports per armed period (field ∗93) must be set to “0” (unlimited) for UL installations.
  4. Periodic testing (see scheduling mode) must be at least every 24 hours.
  5. Alarm Sounder plus Auxiliary Power currents must not exceed 600mA total for UL installations (Aux power 500mA max.).
  6. All partitions must be owned and managed by the same person(s).
  7. All partitions must be part of one building at one street address.
  8. If used, the audible alarm device(s) must be placed where it/they can be heard by all partitions.
  9. For UL commercial burglar alarm installations the control unit must be protected from unauthorized access. The tamper switchinstalled to protect the control unit enclosure door is suitable for this purpose.
  10. Remote downloading without an alarm company technician on-site (unattended downloading) is not permissible for UL installations.
  11. Auto-disarming is not a UL Listed feature.
  12. As SIA limits for delay of alarm reporting and sounding can exceed UL limits for commercial and residential applications, the following UL requirements per UL681 are provided: The maximum time that a control unit shall be programmed to delay the transmission of a signal to a remote monitoring location, or to delay the energizing of a local alarm sounding device to permit the alarm system user to enter and disarm the system, or to arm the system and exit shall not exceed:
    1. 60 seconds for a system with standard line security or encrypted line security,
    2. 120 seconds for a system without standard line security or encrypted line security, or
    3. 120 seconds for a system that does not transmit an alarm signal to a remote monitoring location.
  13. This control is not intended for bank safe and vault applications.

SIA Quick Reference Guide
  1. *31 Single Alarm Sounding per Zone: If “0” selected, “alarm sounding per zone” will be the same as the “number of reports in armed period” set in field ∗93 (1 if one report, 2 if 2 reports, unlimited for zones in zone list 7).
  2. *34 Exit Delay. Minimum exit delay is 45 seconds.
  3. *35/*36 Entry Delay 1 and 2. Minimum entry delay is 30 seconds.
  4. *37 Audible Exit Warning: Feature always enabled; field does not exist.
  5. *39 Power Up in Previous State: Must be “1,” power up in previous state.
  6. *40 PABX Access Code or Call Waiting Disable: If call waiting is used, call waiting disable option in field *91 must be set.
  7. *50 Burglary Dial Delay: Delay must be minimum of 30 seconds.
  8. *59 Exit Error Alarm Report Code: Always enabled. 9 ∗68 Cancel Report Code: Default is “code enabled.”
  9. *68 Cancel Report Code: Default is "code enabled."
  10. *69 Recent Closing Report Code: Always enabled.
  11. *91 Option Selection: Exit Delay option should be enabled. If call waiting is used, Call Waiting Disable must be set to “1” (enabled).
  12. *93 No. reports in Armed Period: Must be set for 1 or 2 report pairs.
  13. Cross zone timer programming is set in field ∗85; cross zone pairs are assigned in zone list 4 using ∗81 Zone List mode.
  14. Duress code is assigned by using the “add a user code” procedure found in the User Guide. Enable Duress code reporting by programming zone 92 using ∗56 Zone Programming mode.
  15. Fire alarm verification is a built-in system feature when a zone is programmed for zone type 16.


Refer to the following notes for systems intended for Low Risk Level (low extent of protection) and Medium Risk Level (medium extent of protection) installations.

Low Risk Level

If the panel is used for Low Risk Level installations, the system msut include the following:

  • Subscriber control unit may use one telephone number, but it msut be programmed that
    1. it transmits over the single channel to the receiver once every 24 hour;
    2. it detects a loss of communication and initiates the local trouble signal within 180 seconds;
    3. in event of failure in the communication channel, all alarm and trouble signals must be annunciated locally.
  • Protection circuit conductors shall form one fully supervised circuit so arranged that an alarm signal will be initiated at the central station from teh effect of loss data, an open circuit or other change in normal status.
  • Trouble response time must be in compliance with CAN/ULC-S301, Central and Monitoring Station Burglar Alarm Systems

Medium Risk Level

If the panel is used for Medium Risk Level installations, the system must include the following:

  • Subscriber control unit may use at least two communication levels, one being the telephone number and the other being a radio frequency communication channel - the GSM communicator may be used. The Subscriber control unit must be programmed that
    1. it transmits over the both channels to the receiver once every 24 hours;
    2. failure of communication of either channel is reported to the Central Station on the other channel within 240 sec;
    3. the first attempt to send a status change signal shall utilize the Telephone line. Where it is known to have failed, transmission attempts over the alternate communication channel shall occur.
  • Protection circuit conductors shall form double fully supervised circuits so arranged that an alarm signal will be initiated at the central station from the effect of loss data, an open circuit or other change in normal status.
  • Trouble response time must be in compliance with CAM/ULC-S301, Central and Monitoring Station Burglar Alarm Systems

Perimeter, Space, Safe, and Vaults Protection

Protection for perimeter, space, safe, and vaults need to be provided during the installation.

  • For the Low Risk Security Level - Accessible openings should be contacted whether fixed or moveable;
  • For the Medium Risk Security Level - All moveable and fixed accessible openings should be contacted.

5800 Series Transmitter Input Loop Identification

All of the transmitters illustrated have one or more unique factory assigned input (loop) ID numbers. Each of the inputs requires its own programming zone (e.g., a 5804's four inputs require four programming zones). For information on any transmitter not shown, refer to the instructions accompanying that transmitter for details regarding loop numbers, etc.

UL NOTE: The following transmitters are not intended for use in UL installations:

  • 5802MN
  • 5802MN2
  • 5804
  • 5804BD
  • 5814
  • 5816TEMP
  • 5819
  • 5819WHS & BRS
  • 5850.

The 5827BD and 5800TM can be used in UL Listed Residential Burglar installations.