Home Automation Controllers Posts

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When it comes to Z-Wave home automation devices, it is usually understood that they are universally compatible with all Z-Wave controllers and hubs. While this is generally true, some Z-Wave devices may appear as different device types than for what they were originally intended.


If you aren't familiar with Z-Wave, it is an automation protocol that is used with a variety of smart home devices. Some popular Z-Wave accessories include smart lights, door locks, thermostats, smart water valves, and more. In most cases, you can use any Z-Wave device with any Z-Wave controller. However, there are sometimes restrictions on how Z-Wave devices can be used. This depends on the Z-Wave hub that they are enrolled with

A few weeks ago, we wrote an interesting FAQ. It discussed whether not not mixing Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus devices on the same network is likely to cause issue. Normally, mixing the two protocols will not result in any problems. Z-Wave devices are known for being backwards compatible. You can typically bring a Z-Wave Plus device to a standard Z-Wave controller. And the opposite also applies, as you should have no trouble using a standard Z-Wave device with a Z-Wave Plus controller. The main thing to understand is that by mixing Z-Wave Plus with standard Z-Wave, the devices in which any signal passes (hops) through a standard Z-Wave device will result in the communications functioning as standard Z-Wave.

But there is another issue that we haven't talked about very often. This issue occurs when you pair a Z-Wave Plus device with a standard Z-Wave controller or hub. It's possible that the standard Z-Wave controller might not recognize the Z-Wave Plus device as its proper device type. Instead, the Z-Wave Plus device will still appear in the hub, but it will show up as different device type, usually as a Z-Wave switch.

Some examples of this issue that we've seen are if you try to pair a Qolsys IQ Siren (Z-Wave Plus) with a system that utilizes standard Z-Wave functionality, such as a Honeywell Lyric Controller or a 2GIG GC2. We actually created specific FAQs for using this siren with a Lyric and with a GC2. Another example we recently saw was when someone tried to us an Alarm.com ADC-SWV100 Z-Wave Plus Water Valve with an L7000 System that had an L5100-ZWAVE module. Instead of the system seeing the ADC-SWV100 as a Z-Wave water valve, it saw it as a Z-Wave Switch.

The problem with this issue is that a system only knows how to turn a switch ON or OFF. When a Z-Wave controller sees a device as a "switch", it can only perform the binary function of ON or OFF. And it's won't necessarily know when to automatically activate the device. For example, if a hub sees a Z-Wave siren as a "switch", then it won't know to automatically activate the siren during alarms and to automatically stop it when alarms are cleared.

Fortunately, these situations can often be addressed by creating specific rules and smart scenes that have these devices activate automatically when desired events occurred. This usually requires some very specific instructions, with one scene & rule designed to automatically start the device, and another scene & rule to automatically stop the device. It can be a little tricky to get up, but there is usually some type of work-around other there. Depending on your setup, this may be done locally at the panel, or it may be done through an interactive platform like Alarm.com or Total Connect 2.0.

If you are an Alarm Grid customer needing help setting up your automation devices in the way that you want, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com, and we will be happy to help. Remember that our support hours run from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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In today's real estate market, many homeowners are looking for ways to increase the value of their homes. One way to do this is to install a home security system. This is an easy and effective way to make your home more appealing. And getting alarm monitoring service is completely optional.

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Many people mistakenly believe that signing up for monitoring service is a requirement when buying an alarm system. Technically, this is not the case. An alarm panel, security sensors, and even home automation accessories are all items that you can purchase without signing up for anything. You can install this equipment in your home without any alarm monitoring plan. Then you can list a security system as feature in your home when you go to sell. This can help seal the deal for a buyer, as many people are looking for smart homes with state-of-the art security systems.

What makes this even better is that you can likely install this equipment by yourself. The biggest challenge is mounting the panel to the wall. This will require drilling some holes and maybe fishing some wire. But it's really nothing you can't do as a quick weekend project. If the idea still makes you uncomfortable, then you can get a desk or table stand for the system instead. Nearly every system has one available. Meanwhile, the sensors can be mounted without drilling any holes by using double-sided foam tape. And basic programming is a cinch with a wireless all-in-one panel.

An aspect of residential alarm systems that is sometimes overlooked is that these devices do more than just keep a home secure. Today, most home security systems double as complete smart home automation hubs. In other words, you can set up a security panel to serve as a one-stop controller for various smart devices in your home. This includes peripherals such as smart lights, smart door locks, smart thermostats, water shut-off valves, and more. Many alarm panels allow you to control these devices from one location, even if the system isn't monitored. And if you add a key fob, then you can control some of these devices from anywhere in your home with the press of a button!

The most important thing when choosing a home security system without professional monitoring is to make sure the system is non-proprietary and can be taken to any alarm monitoring company that will support it. For example, all of the security systems sold on the Alarm Grid website can be used with monitoring service from nearly any alarm company. This will give you or a new owner greater flexibility if you decide to sign-up for alarm monitoring later on. The last thing you want to do is tie yourself to a single monitoring company. A non-proprietary security system offers greater freedom!

Once you have the security system, you just need to install it. This includes mounting the panel and sensors, powering the system, and enrolling any accessories. Like we said earlier, this can all be easily done yourself as a quick weekend project. And just like that, you will have immediately raised the value of your home! Whether or not you use the system from there is up to you. An unmonitored system can still be armed and disarmed to serve as a local noisemaker. And you can still use it as an automation controller for your smart home devices. All while improving your home's sell value!

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Of course, we always recommend monitoring any alarm system. This is the only way to receive text and/or email alerts for any system activity that occurs. It is also the only way to receive service from a central monitoring station for automatic emergency dispatch in the event of a burglary or a fire. You can even control your smart home automation devices remotely from nearly anywhere in the world using a user-friendly platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com.

Also keep in mind that signing up for central station monitoring service can help you save money on your homeowner's insurance. The savings might even cover the full cost of your monitoring service! Remember, just because you don't sign-up for monitoring service right away doesn't mean you can't later on. As long as you have a non-proprietary system and a compatible alarm monitoring communicator, you will have a ton of options at your disposal. We recommend checking out our alarm monitoring page if you want to learn more about our monitoring services.

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And if you are in the market for alarm monitoring service, why not consider Alarm Grid? All of our monitoring plans are no-contract, and they feature no added fees. This means that you will not pay any extra cost when activating your monitoring service. If you ever decide to cancel your service, you can do at the end of your monthly cycle, without incurring any fees or penalties. And since your system is non-proprietary, you can always take it to a new alarm monitoring company. This gives us motivation to work hard each and every month to continue to earn your trust and your business.

If you need help choosing a home security system for use without professional monitoring, or if you have any questions about our products or monitoring services, you are always welcome to reach out to us. The best way to contact us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. You are also invited to call us at (888) 818-7728. Just remember that our regular business hours are from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you find the perfect security system!

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Hi DIYers! If you have a smart home setup, then you know how exciting it is when you add a new smart device. Now you have brand-new equipment that you can integrate into smart scenes and control from anywhere! But what about the central hub that serves as the "brains" of the setup?

The smart home hub is the unsung hero of a smart home network. The way that it works is that all smart home devices will connect with the hub. Whenever a command is sent out for one or more smart home devices, it will pass through the hub first. In that sense, the hub is what connects all of the devices in the network together. So without a hub, a true smart home network will not be possible.

What makes a smart hub unique is that it communicates with multiple types of wireless protocols. This should not be confused with a bridge, which only communicates with one type of wireless protocol. An example is the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, as it will only send commands to devices running the Lutron protocol (Clear Connect). That's not to say that bridges can't represent a useful part of a smart home setup. There are many great protocols that are operated through some type of smart bridge. But having a dedicated central hub can make controlling your smart home devices as easy as possible.

Naturally, it makes sense that many users want to integrate their alarm systems into their smart home networks. This way, they can have certain smart home devices respond to predetermined security events. An example could be having smart lights turn on automatically when a user walks into a room and sets off a motion detecting sensor. This type of setup is has become a reality for many users in recent years, as smart home technology continues to grow and evolve.

Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as just taking any security system and any smart home hub and having them suddenly work together. There are many compatibility issues and rules that must be kept in mind when integrating an alarm system into an existing smart home network. Some smart home hubs are easier to work with than others. And as this type of technology is still fairly new, there are still some issues to be worked out. But the beauty of integrating a security system with a primary smart hub, or even using the security system itself as the smart hub, is that it will facilitate a true connection between smart home devices and security devices.

We have already seen many users experience great success in using the Honeywell Lyric Controller as a secondary Z-Wave controller with a Samsung SmartThings Hub or as an integrated device with Apple HomeKit. In these situations, SmartThings or HomeKit will serve as the primary home automation controller. However, the user will still be able to have their Z-Wave devices respond based on actions taken by the Lyric. This could involve adjusting the thermostat automatically when a sensor is triggered or having a door lock itself when the system is armed. But keep in mind that the system may not be able to interact with every wireless protocol that is supported by the primary hub.

Many users are fine with having the security system itself serve as the primary hub for their smart home devices. Depending upon the wireless protocols involved, this can work quite well. For example, both the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus and 2GIG GC3 Systems are Z-Wave Plus controllers that can be used as hubs for security devices and Z-Wave devices. When doing this, a user can control their Z-Wave devices directly through the panel or through the Alarm.com service. The Alarm.com Mobile App will even allow users to operate their Z-Wave devices from virtually anywhere in the world. The weakness here is that the user will be limited to using only wireless protocols that are supported by the alarm system. This might not be as many protocols as a dedicated home automation hub like Samsung SmartThings.

Alarm Grid will keep you up to date with new and advanced smart home automation technology and capabilities as it becomes available. We look forward to bringing you the latest news about this exciting technology and how it can help you get the very most out of your security system.

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Honeywell VAM

The VISTA Automation Module (VAM) may be Honeywell's most anticipated wired system accessory in years. Previously, those who owned wired systems were stuck paying the hefty price of a Tuxedo Touch WIFI if they wanted to take advantage of Z-Wave capabilities available to Honeywell security system users. The nearly $500 price tag has been a point of criticism for years, as users have flocked to wireless systems such as the L5200 where they can gain access to the convenience of Z-wave home automation with a simple $25 Z-wave ready circuit board that can be installed in seconds. But Honeywell's commitment to making systems more affordable and more DIY friendly seems to have given way to VAM which acts as a simple Z-Wave controller for their VISTA series panels.

If you are one of the numerous customers who have always wanted to take advantage of the home automation advantages of a Z-Wave system, but aren't ready to pay the huge expense of a Tuxedo Touch? Then today is your lucky day! The VAM, which is basically just the guts of the Tuxedo Touch without a screen, will get you where you need to go for a much more affordable price. Get yours today, to unlock the power of your VISTA when enhanced with Z-Wave automation products!

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Now that Honeywell has finally made Total Connect home automation control available for Tuxedo Touch keypads, people with existing VISTA Series alarm systems can finally take full advantage of all of the great features Total Connect has to offer. In the past, only the LYNX Touch wireless security system supported remote home automation control through Total Connect. If you had a VISTA system, you could add a Tuxedo Touch or Tuxedo Touch WIFI if you wanted to use Z-Wave home automation devices in your home, but if you wanted to remotely control those devices, you had to setup complicated port forwarding. Unless you were knowledgeable about networks and router setup, you were left controlling your home's Z-Wave lights, Z-Wave locks and Z-Wave thermostats just from your Tuxedo screens.

Thankfully, Honeywell has finally released the long-awaited software update for all existing Tuxedo Touch WIFI units. If you go to the Tuxedo Touch Toolkit website, you will find the software update and steps on how to run the update for your Tuxedo Touch WIFI controller. With the new software downloaded and installed on your Tuxedo Touch WIFI, your Tuxedo Touch WIFI will work better locally even if you don't choose to sign up for the Remote Home Automation monitoring service.

You can now have Z-Wave scenes activated by a security system alarm, a security system event or even a specific zone status change. You can also setup Z-Wave lights to activate and then run for a programmed length of time. You can even program your lights to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise.

Of course, the real advantage of the new software update is the ability to control your Tuxedo Touch WIFI using your Total Connect interactive account. Once you setup your remote home automation control on your Total Connect account, you will have full access to your smart home for remote system control and notifications.

Unfortunately, as non-WIFI Tuxedo Touch keypads use a different operating system and circuit board, the software update will not work on those devices. If you have one of the non-WIFI Tuxedos and you want to get Total Connect home automation control, you will need to purchase a new Tuxedo Touch or Tuxedo Touch WIFI.

Please call us if you are interested in adding the remote home automation feature to your Alarm Grid monitoring service.

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Honeywell's award winning Tuxedo Touch keypads are not only beautiful touchscreen controllers for most Honeywell VISTA Series alarm control panels, they are also powerful Z-Wave home automation controllers. Adding a Tuxedo Touch keypad to your VISTA security system allows you protect your home and fully control your home's Z-Wave lights, Z-Wave locks and Z-Wave thermostats.


One feature that the Tuxedo Touch keypads has been lacking is the ability to control your home's Z-Wave devices using Honeywell's interactive Total Connect service. While you could turn on your Z-Wave lights from the actual touchscreen keypad, you could not use your Total Connect account to remotely control those same lights.

The original Tuxedo Touch and Tuxedo Touch WIFI both had internal web servers so that they could be connected to your IP network. If you connected your Tuxedo Touch to your network, you could access a virtual version of the Tuxedo screen to do home automation control. However, you had to setup complicated port forwarding if you wanted to access the virtual Tuxedo keypad while you were not home and connected to the same IP network.

We have all been patiently waiting for Honeywell to release new versions of the Tuxedo Touch keypads and we are happy to say our patience has finally been rewarded! The new Total Connect ready Tuxedo Touch and Tuxedo Touch WIFI keypads are available and shipping now!

With a new Tuxedo Touch and a monitoring plan that includes Remote Home Automation, you will have full control over your Honeywell VISTA Series security system. Not only will you be able to arm and disarm your system from your phone, but you will now be able to turn your home's lights on and off whenever you'd like. You will be able to set your thermostat to a specific temperature while you drive home from work. You can even unlock your door and disarm your system from anywhere in the world!

Even if you had an existing Tuxedo Touch and you have it setup to be controlled remotely, there are extra features that Total Connect remote home automation provides that a regular Tuxedo Touch will not.

The chart above highlights the advantages of upgrading your Total Connect service to include AlarmNet's remote home automation option. With extra available scenes on Total Connect and manual remote scene activation, connecting your Tuxedo Touch to Total Connect will bring total system control to the palm of your hand. You can even have Total Connect send you instant emails or text messages whenever a Z-Wave device or scene is activated so that you are kept aware of all things happening at your home.

If you already have a Tuxedo Touch WIFI installed, there is an available firmware update that will make Total Connect home automation control an option for you. Unfortunately, non-WIFI Tuxedo Touch units are built with a different circuit board and operate on an operating system that does not support this update. Therefore, if you have an existing Tuxedo Touch and want Total Connect home automation control, you will need to purchase a new Tuxedo Touch or Tuxedo Touch WIFI.

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There are a few different security industry conferences held throughout the country each year. At these conferences, new products are showcased and security companies get a chance to meet and interact with the security manufacturers. It's a great way for new technologies to be introduced and for us dealers to let our manufacturers know what our customers are looking for.

The Electronic Security Expo (ESX) is a unique conference because it is owned by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA). The CSAA and ESA are independent organizations looking to further the industry and all proceeds received at ESX are used to improve the overall industry. Whether it's developing new programming parameters to reduce false alarms or working with legislators to ensure police continue to dispatch on alarm systems monitored by a central station, you can be confident that both the CSAA and ESA have the security industry's best interests in mind.

Also, the ESX Maximum Impact Awards program is the first and only program to place a critical perspective on the impact that new and recently introduced products and services have on security integration and  monitoring businesses.

Therefore, when a product is recognized by the panel of judges at ESX, it is definitely something consumers should pay attention to. This year's expo was help in Nashville and wrapped up today. We are very proud to announce that Honeywell was the unofficial MVP of the expo.


The amazing L5100 LYNX Touch security system took home the Best Overall award at this year's show and as a company that specializes in supporting the LYNX Touch we are not at all surprised! Winning the Best Overall award I'm sure would have been enough for Honeywell to feel like they were successful at the expo, but they weren't done there. The Honeywell Security Group also won the Best Alarm Equipment award in the Wireless Alarm System category because of the LYNX Touch L5100. Anyone looking for a new wireless security system can stop looking. The LYNX Touch is the best in the industry and it's not just us saying it anymore!

For those that still prefer a wired VISTA Series alarm control panel over the easier to install, all-in-one wireless systems, should note that the Honeywell Security Group also took home the Best Alarm Equipment award in the Intrusion Alarm Control Panels category for their Tuxedo Touch keypad. The Tuxedo Touch has revolutionized the wired alarm control panel market in just the same way that the LYNX Touch has done to the wireless market. By integrating Z-Wave home automation with a beautiful touchscreen keypad, Honeywell now has a powerful 1-2 punch behind the Tuxedo Touch and LYNX Touch.

With the Total Connect remote home automation feature coming in the next week or so, Honeywell will have finally tied in all of their products with their amazing interactive monitoring services. We are proud to be a Honeywell dealer and these awards help prove what we've been saying all along - Honeywell is truly the best in the industry!

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