Cellular Alarm Communicators Posts

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If you have been thinking about upgrading your existing Honeywell security system, now is the perfect time. In the past, Honeywell security systems did not see major new features added with newer versions of the alarm control panels. Aside from minor tweaks to the programming options, there was never really a compelling reason to spend the money and get a brand new control panel. However, there have been some recent technological changes from Honeywell and their AlarmNet division that finally give customers a real reason to look at making a change.

First, Total Connect 2.0 was released in 2011. Total Connect is an interactive monitoring service that allows you to remotely arm and disarm your security system from any computer or smartphone. It also allows you to receive instant emails and/or text messages whenever new security system events occur. The original Total Connect service was Honeywell's first offering that allowed customers to get more out of their alarm monitoring service but like most new technologies, it needed to be polished. Total Connect 2.0 is bright and shiny and gives customer what they want. Unfortunately, when AlarmNet released the new Total Connect 2.0 service, it was only compatible with newer Honeywell security systems.

The other major technological change that requires a Honeywell security system owner to consider upgrading is the development of 4G cellular alarm communicators. We have talked in the past about how AT&T is discontinuing their 2G cellular network at the end of 2016. The 2G cellular network was very popular in the past before cell phones turned into mobile computers. All cellular alarm manufacturers, including Honeywell, built their communicators to work on the 2G network. Now that AT&T has but announced an end to the network that these communicators work on, everyone that has an existing cellular communicator needs to start thinking about upgrading to a communicator that will work past 2016.

Instead of dealing with the large expense of buying a new security system and a new cellular alarm communicator to take advantage of both these advancements, the GSMV4G-TC2  and GSMX4G-TC2 provide an easy and inexpensive way to upgrade to Total Connect 2.0 and 4G cellular communications. Both AlarmNet Total Connect 2.0 upgrade kits include a 4G cellular alarm communicator and PROM chips for both a VISTA-20P and a VISTA-15P. The PROM chip upgrades an older model VISTA panel so that it will be revision 9.12 and compatible with the newer Total Connect 2.0 service. No wiring changes need to be made and the existing system programming even stays the same. Upgrading couldn't be easier. If you have a VISTA-20P that can't do Total Connect 2.0 or a cellular alarm communicator that will need to be replaced, stop thinking about upgrading and get a new GSMV4G-TC2 or GSMX4G-TC2 today!

  

While Honeywell won't officially endorse this, we have found that the PROM upgrade chips that come with the GSMV4G-TC2 and GSMX4G-TC2 will even work with an older model ADT Safewatch panel. Therefore, any VISTA-15P or VISTA-20P, even branded versions, can take advantage of the amazing cost savings that these upgrade kits provide.

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Honeywell's Total Connect 2.0 service is the best upgrade to your security system that you can make. With Total Connect 2.0 you can arm and disarm your system with the touch of a button from any computer or smartphone app. You can also have the system send you instant emails and text messages whenever a new security system event occurs. You can get a text message with the actual zone description of the device that went into alarm, the actual name of the user that armed or disarmed, even a message when your teenagers opened the liquor cabinet in the middle of the night. Once you try Total Connect 2.0 you will never look at your security system the same way again.

Of course, don't just take our word for it, try it out yourself. We now have a Total Connect Instructional demo that you can use to explore all of the exciting features of Total Connect 2.0. Even if you have already signed up for Total Connect, this demo can show you some features that you may not even know existed.

Once you have gone through the demo, go one step further and actually log into a live Total Connect 2.0 account at www.totalconnect2.com. Use 'alarmgrid' for the username and 'P@ssw0rd' for the password.

Don't forget that none of our alarm monitoring plans require a contract so if you are still on the fence about whether or not Total Connect 2.0 would work for you, try it risk free today! We even have a standalone Total Connect plan for people that don't want central station monitoring but would like the interactive features that Total Connect provides. If you decide it's not worth the cost, simply let us know and we would be happy to stop your plan.

Call us today to find out how easy it is to get fully connected to your security system with Total Connect 2.0!

UPDATE: The information from this post is now outdated. For information on how you can test drive Total Connect 2.0 now, please check this more recent post.

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We have already talked about the phase out of AT&T's 2G cellular network, but if you haven't read our previous article about the new GSMX4G and GSMV4G cellular alarm communicators, then you may not know that all existing AlarmNet cellular alarm communicators will become obsolete by the end of 2016.

Here at Alarm Grid, we urge everyone looking for a new cellular alarm communicator to only invest in 4G capable communicators. AT&T has formally announced that they will have completely dropped support of the 2G cellular network by the end of 2016. As cellular data use increases, AT&T has to find ways to add new throughput to their most advanced networks. One easy way to expand that throughput is to cannibalize their older and slower 2G network. As it is extremely rare to find a cellular phone in use today that still uses the 2G network, AT&T has no problems sacrificing the older 2G network to make the newer 4G network bigger and faster. Unfortunately, the alarm industry will be affected by the discontinuation of the 2G network as nearly all cellular alarm communicators in existence today use the 2G network. Since the difference in speed between the 2G and the 3G or 4G network wasn't needed when transmitting alarm signals, cellular alarm manufacturers never bothered to upgrade their communicators to support the faster networks. Now however, all alarm companies must act and act quickly. While the end of 2016 is the formal end of the 2G cellular network, certain areas of the country will lost 2G support well before 2016.

For most people, upgrading to the newer cellular network will be as simple as swapping their existing communicator to a newer communicator that has 3G and 4G support. Unfortunately, for everyone that invested in Honeywell's VISTA-21iP alarm control panel, the change to 4G cellular alarm communications won't be so easy. The VISTA-21iP is a great security system because it has a built-in internet alarm communicator.

While internet alarm monitoring is fast and inexpensive, it is not as reliable or secure as cellular alarm communications. Therefore, the VISTA-GSM was available as a snap-on module to the VISTA-21iP to provide an integrated back up cellular communication path. For some reason, Honeywell's engineers did not design the new VISTA-GSM4G to be backwards compatible with existing VISTA-21iP security systems. Therefore, all people that have dual path alarm monitoring using a VISTA-21iP and the VISTA-GSM cellular communicator will have to replace both their VISTA-GSM communicator AND their VISTA-21iP alarm control panel if they want a system that is supported by the 3G/4G cellular network.


We are fully aware of the burden this will place on people looking to upgrade to the future of cellular communications and we will do everything we can to help those people that are left having to replace their system and their communicator. If you have a VISTA-21iP and you are wondering if it is compatible with the VISTA-GSM4G cellular add on, you will have to look at your VISTA-21iP circuit board. If there is a sticker that says "SUPPORTS VISTA-GSM/4G" then it is compatible. Without that sticker, your system will not accept a new VISTA-GSM4G. We are not sure of the exact date that Honeywell began manufacturing the new VISTA-21iP panels, and the model and revision number are the same, but we do know that it was sometime in November. Chances are, unless you got your VISTA-21iP from a reputable source in the past month or so, your system will not support the 4G cellular communicator.

Of course, here at Alarm Grid, we only ship brand new VISTA-21iP panels that have the sticker and do support the VISTA-GSM4G. If you have questions about upgrading your VISTA-21iP, please call us today.

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Honeywell has an excellent interactive service called Total Connect. With a compatible AlarmNet alarm communicator and the Total Connect service, you are able to remotely control your Honeywell security system from a computer or from a free app on an iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ or Blackberry® device. It's great when you leave and can't remember if you armed the system or if you have to let someone in and don't want to give them your alarm code. 

Of course, the value of the service lies in the ability to control the system from anywhere at anytime. Unfortunately, ever since Apple released their new iOS 6.0, some Total Connect users have experienced problems using the Total Connect 2.0 app from their iPhone. With the release of iOS 6.0, Total Connect 2.0 wasn't the only app that has had problems. Apple has publicly acknowledged that the new software has caused some issues and they rolled out a very quick update with iOS 6.0.1 to try and fix most of the problems. Even with that fix, some Total Connect 2.0 users are still experiencing problems.

It's unfortunate because an otherwise great application with overwhelmingly positive reviews, is now down to only 2.5 stars on the iTunes store. If you look at the reviews, you can see all of the negative reviews are in the past couple of months since iOS 6.0 was released. Everyone seems to be experiencing the same issue. The app will work once properly, but then if you log out, the app crashes and closes upon any subsequent log-ins. While Honeywell recommends upgrading to the newest version of the Apple iPhone software (iOS 6.0.1) and if that doesn't work, doing a backup and restore of the phone, there are people that are still experience the same issues after doing those fixes. AlarmNet's app developers are working on a fix and hopefully will have an app update out soon. 

However, in the meantime, we seem to have figured out a way to stop the app from crashing. When you first log into the app, the security screen is displayed that allows you to arm or disarm your system. Along the bottom of the app, there is a button that says 'Security' with an open lock icon, an 'Events' button with an icon of a triangle with an exclamation point in it and a 'More' button with three dots. When you press the 'More' button, there are some options for changing settings. The 'Message Center' allows your AlarmNet dealer to send you new updates. The 'View Preferences' option allows you to change the default Total Connect 2.0 screen when you first log-in. The 'Navigation Order' option allows you to change the available buttons along the bottom of the app. It seems that by changing the navigation order is what is causing the issue. Our Total Connect 2.0 app works perfectly every time we do a fresh download of the app. As soon as we edit the navigation order and then log out, the app crashes every time we try to log back in.

Therefore, for anyone having issues with a crashing Total Connect 2.0 app, please don't edit the navigation order if you want to avoid problems. We are sure Honeywell and AlarmNet will have an update soon that will restore the app to full working condition, but hopefully this fix can alleviate some headaches in the meantime.

 

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Fresh off the heels of our Telular partnership, we had an interesting situation come up when trying to provide the Telguard Interactive service to one of our new customers that had an existing GE NetworX NX-8 control panel. 

While Telular does a good job of providing detailed installation instructions for integrating their cellular alarm communicators with most alarm control panels, the instructions for the newer NX-6 control panel were not working for this older NX-8 and therefore, the system wasn't acting as it should. 

Telguard Interactive service works by wiring the TG-1 Express universal cellular alarm communicator to the alarm control panel. With the NX-8, you need to connect the 'Gnd' terminal on the TG-1 to the auxiliary power 'COM' terminal on the NX-8 and the 'Pwr' terminal on the TG-1 to the 'AUX +' terminal on the NX-8. Then, you need to wire the two 'STC' terminals on the TG-1 to an open zone on the control panel. The zone used must be one of the eight on-board wired zones and you cannot use an expansion zone for this connection. Finally, you need to connect the 'Trp' terminal on the TG-1 to one of the 'AUXOUT' terminals on the NX-8. Of course, you also need a Telco connection from the RJ-45 connector on the TG-1 Express to the four Tip and Ring terminals on the GE NX-8 alarm control panel.

After making the proper connections, the Telguard Interactive installation guide walks you through programming the connected zone as a keyswitch zone and programming the connected auxiliary output to follow the armed state. The TG-1 acts as a normally open relay that closes for one second and then opens. With this setup, the TG-1 Express allows you to use a web based account to remotely control (arm/disarm) your NX-8 control panel.

When we followed the instructions for the NX-6 Telguard Interactive setup, the Telguard account showed the system was armed, when it was disarmed. When we tried to disarm the system from the Telguard account, the system armed. Once it armed, the app would fail every time we tried to disarm. We spoke to GE and Telguard technical support separately many times to try and solve the problem. Both companies were very helpful in giving us information on how their device should operate. However, it wasn't until we were able to do a conference call with a lead Telguard technician and a very knowledgeable GE technician, that we got the system working properly. After some troubleshooting and voltage metering, we determined that the NX-8 auxiliary output should actually be setup to follow the disarmed state instead of the recommended armed state. Since the interactive account was showing the opposite state, changing this output programming allowed the voltage across the 'AUXOUT' and auxiliary power 'COM' terminals to show a positive twelve volts when the NX-8 was disarmed and zero volts when the system was armed. The TG-1 Express needs these voltages in these states for the Telguard Interactive service to work properly. However, even after we figured out this programming deviation, the app was still not controlling the system.

We knew we had our NX-8 zone wired and programmed correctly because shorting the zone, with the TG-1 unhooked, resulted in an arm or disarm at the panel. We also knew the auxiliary output was providing the proper voltage when the TG-1 was unhooked, but still the interactive service did not work. Just when we thought GE and Telular were going to give up and say that the service wouldn't work with this customer's panel, I asked whether or not the four wire smoke detector that was attached to the panel could be complicating things. It turns out, that with four wire smoke attached to the NX-8, the auxiliary outputs are used for resetting the smoke detectors after an alarm. Therefore, because the smoke detectors were wired to the 'SMOKE +' terminal, the system was not allowing the change of voltage on the armed state. As soon as we unhooked the four wire smoke detector, everything worked perfectly. It was much easier to replace the existing four wire smoke detector with a new two wire smoke detector, than it would have been to replace the entire alarm control panel.

We would like to thank both GE and Telguard technical support for the time they dedicated to solving our issue and we are glad that we made Telguard aware of the way the NX-8 control panel works so that future Telguard members will be able to use the interactive service with NX-8 security system.

If you have an NX-8 security system, you can add the TG-1 Express to remotely control your security system. You can also have the TG-1 Express send you instant emails and/or text messages whenever a new system event occurs. The Telguard Interactive service is included in our Self Monitoring and Monitoring Plus plans available at our alarm monitoring sign up page.

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We are proud to now be a member of Telular's Telguard Advantage Program (TAP). 

Telular's Telguard division has been providing wireless alarm communications to homes and businesses for over 25 years. While Telular does not manufacture alarm control panels or security systems, they are experts in alarm communications. Telguard has a complete line of cellular alarm communicators that provide a wireless link between a security system and a central station. Cellular is the most secure and reliable method of alarm monitoring available as there are no lines that can be cut by the intruder, and the cellular communicators use the alarm control panel's backup battery so that a power outage will not stand in the way of your alarm signals reaching their destination. Also, as cellular phones continue to push regular phone lines to extinction, the nationwide cellular network will only get larger and stronger. 

Telguard stands apart from other alarm communication providers because of their focus on educating alarm dealers about the upcoming changes in cellular technology. Nearly all cellular alarm communicators installed today operate on the older 2G cellular network while the current cellular phones use the 3G and 4G cellular network. Cellular phones require so much bandwidth that cellular carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile are being forced to cannibalize the older 2G network to be able to provide the necessary throughput. In fact, AT&T has formally announced that the 2G network will be completely shut down by the end of 2016. While other alarm communication providers continue to sell 2G cellular communicators, Telguard has been exclusively selling 3G/4G communicators since the beginning of 2012 to protect all alarm owners that choose to go cellular.

Here at Alarm Grid, we recognize that the 2G shutdown will be a major event in the alarm industry and we feel that every alarm owner deserves to know the truth about cellular. That is why we have partnered with Telular's Telguard division and why we recommend the TG-1 Express cellular communicator to all customers that do not have a Honeywell security system. The TG-1 Express is compatible with the 3G and 4G cellular networks so you can be confident it will work well into the future. Also, the TG-1 Express is compatible with Telguard's interactive service which allows you to remotely control your security system from a computer or a smartphone and provides you with instant emails and/or text messages directly from your security system. The Telguard interactive service is compatible with nearly any alarm control panel so that you can now get the next level interactive services that were once only available with the top brands in the industry.

Alarm Grid's partnership with Telguard is an important step for us as we aim to provide the most advanced and secure alarm communications to every alarm owner in the country!

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The Honeywell L5100PK-WIFI-4G is the perfect choice for anyone that wants the most secure and reliable alarm monitoring communications available. In the past, Honeywell did not have an option for dual path alarm monitoring using the wireless all-in-one LYNX Series alarm control panels. There was no dual path alarm communicator compatible with the LYNX Series alarm control panels and you could not install both an internet alarm communicator and cellular alarm communicator inside a single LYNX system. Therefore, you had to choose between the faster, less expensive internet communications and the more reliable cellular communications. This was a disadvantage of the easier to install LYNX Series wireless alarm control panels and forced people over to the VISTA Series alarm control panels which were compatible with the discontinued 7845-iGSM and the iGSMV dual path alarm communicators.  

Now however, with the Honeywell L5100 LYNX Touch system, you can use the L5100-WIFI internet communicator in conjunction with the GSMVLP5-4G cellular communicator for a true dual path alarm monitoring option using a LYNX Series wireless alarm control panel. If the internet connection ever goes down (due to a power outage or service interruption), the system will switch over to the GSMVLP5-4G and your alarm signals will go out over the AT&T cellular network. 

The L5100PK-WIFI-4G includes the same (3) 5816 wireless door and window contacts, 5800PIR-RES wireless motion detector and 5834-4 wireless key fob that are included in the L5100PK LYNX Touch security system kit, but it also comes with the L5100-WIFI and GSMVLP5-4G AlarmNet communicators so you can get the peace of mind that only dual path alarm monitoring can provide. 

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In conjunction with our AlarmNet partnership, we are proud to announce that we are now accepting new monitoring clients! 

We are offering three unique alarm monitoring plans which you can customize with add-on features to build the perfect monitoring plan for you and your family. Starting at only $10 per month, you will be amazed to find that you can get the same services other alarm monitoring companies are offering but at a fraction of their price. The best part of all is that here at Alarm Grid, we never make you sign an alarm monitoring contract! Enjoy the cost savings and enhanced security features that come with our alarm monitoring plans while enjoying the freedom of knowing that you are not locked into a contract. We are so confident in our central station and our customer service that we know, once you sign up with us, you will never have any reason to shop your alarm monitoring service again. 

Choose from our Self Monitoring, Basic Monitoring and Monitoring Plus plans.

The Self Monitoring plan includes an interactive service that allows you to remotely arm and disarm your security system from any web enabled computer or even from an app on your iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ or Blackberry® device. The Self Monitoring plan also includes instant emails and text message notifications that are sent direct to you from your security system so that you will know right away when an alarm occurs.

The Basic Monitoring plan includes traditional central station alarm monitoring services and is backed by our award winning network of UL-listed central stations. Our three central station facilities are spread out across the country but are also virtually connected at all times so that we can spread out our alarm traffic to ensure that no operator will ever be too busy to give your alarm signal the immediate response it requires. 

The Monitoring Plus plan is our best offering as it includes central station service and interactive control of your security system. With the Monitoring Plus plan, you can rest easy knowing that when an alarm occurs, the proper authorities will be notified. In addition, you will be able to control your security system no matter where you are. Starting at only $20 per month, the Monitoring Plus plan is the best alarm monitoring value in the industry!

As the Basic Monitoring and Monitoring Plus plans include UL-listed central station monitoring, you get the added bonus of a homeowner's insurance discount as insurance companies across the country recognize Alarm Grid as a provider of the highest quality alarm monitoring service available.

Once you choose the plan that works for you, you are able to include extra features like secure cellular communications, remote home automation control and even live video access. In fact, the Video Monitoring plan can even be ordered as a standalone service for someone that may not have a security system. Here at Alarm Grid, we give you the flexibility to design your ideal alarm monitoring plan. Don't forget, with Alarm Grid, you can always try out new features without the risk of signing up for a contract.

Give us a call at 888-818-7728 to speak with a security expert that can get your security system activated today!

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Alarm Grid is the first to offer the brand new Honeywell GSMX4G and GSMV4G cellular alarm communicators. With the release of these advanced 4G cellular alarm communicators, you now have a 4G cellular option for a VISTA Series alarm control panel. AT&T has formally announced that December 31st, 2016 will be the last day they provide support for the older 2G cellular networks. Even before this date, certain areas of the country may see a degradation in the 2G network which could prevent an existing GSMX or GSMV cellular alarm communicator from reliability communicating with AlarmNet and your central station. Therefore, we highly recommend that everyone swap out all existing GSMX and GSMV communicators with the new GSMX4G or GSMV4G 4G cellular alarm communicators.

 

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