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The Alarm Grid holiday buying guide for the 2020 season continues, this time focusing on smart home automation. We will be covering our top picks for lights, door locks, and thermostats. As usual, our selections are compatible with our top security system picks for the 2020 shopping season.

If you haven't seen our earlier 2020 holiday buying guide releases, make sure to review them at some point. They will provide you with a good introduction before checking out our smart home automation offerings.

An automation device is a piece of equipment that you can have activate automatically based on a set schedule. These devices can also be controlled remotely from virtually anywhere in the world using a platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com and a simple app on your smartphone. When we talk about automation devices for alarm systems, we are mainly discussing lights that can be turned ON or OFF, dimmer modules that can adjust the brightness of lights, door locks that can be LOCKED or UNLOCKED, and thermostats that can increase or decrease the set temperature in the building when connected with an HVAC system. There are also some miscellaneous automation devices, including smart water valves, that we will also explore. Depending on the platform, you can also integrate these devices with smart home voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. We won't be exploring that too much in this buying guide, but it is something to keep in mind if you already have a smart home assistant set up in your house, or if you were considering setting one up in the near future.

To keep our automation section as simple as possible, we will be primarily looking at Z-WAVE PLUS automation devices. This refers mostly to 500-Series Z-Wave Plus devices, though you may occasionally see some newer 700-Series Z-Wave Plus devices thrown in as well. Using certified Z-Wave Plus devices with a Z-Wave Plus controller will ensure the furthest possible wireless range, as well as the longest possible battery life, when applicable. Using exclusively Z-Wave Plus devices on a Z-Wave Plus controller is also the best way to ensure the strongest possible mesh network. Another advantage to going with Z-Wave Plus is that your automation devices will pair directly with your alarm system, which will thereby serve as your central automation controller. This keeps things as simple and as organized as possible, and it will ultimately allow you to keep everything in the same app on your phone.


However, we will also be including a few Apple HomeKit products along the way. We understand that we have many customers who use iOS and are building around the HomeKit platform for automation. When looking at our top security system picks, only the Honeywell Lyric is compatible with Apple HomeKit. This is out recommended system if you are building around the HomeKit platform. If you are starting from scratch and you are not a dedicated iOS user, then you will likely prefer Z-Wave Plus, as you can keep all your system control and automation control in the same app, with virtually no crossover. But, if you have taken advantage of what Apple HomeKit has to offer, and you want to continue building around the platform, then we have you covered. Remember, of our top system picks, only the Lyric can support HomeKit, and even then, your HomeKit devices will not pair directly with the Lyric.


Of our top security system picks for the 2020 holiday buying season, both the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus and the 2GIG GC3e support Z-Wave Plus technology. Both of those systems have their own integrated Z-Wave Plus controller, and they will allow you to take full advantage of what Z-Wave Plus has to offer. However, our other top pick, the Honeywell Lyric only has a classic Z-Wave controller built-in. You can still enroll Z-Wave Plus devices with the Lyric, but they won't offer the same range, battery life, and security provisions as Z-Wave Plus. This makes the Lyric the weak link of the three if automation outside of Apple HomeKit is particularly important to you. But rest assured that every product listed here should work with any of our recommended systems. Its just that you will get the best possible results by using a Z-Wave Plus compatible system, like the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus or 2GIG GC3e.

With all of that out of the way, let's begin exploring our favorite smart home automation devices of the 2020 holiday season.


Smart Lights

Smart lights can be split into a few different categories. They are usually either in-wall modules that replace your existing, standard light switches, or they are plug-in module that you simply plug into a regular wall outlet. Lights can also be split into groups of ON/OFF switches that merely turn the lights ON and OFF, and groups of dimmer modules that can actually adjust the brightness of the lights. As such, you will see four (4) groups of lights listed below. There are in-wall switches, in-wall dimmers, plug-in switches, and plug-in dimmers. We know that may seem a bit confusing, but it should make more sense once you see all of the categories properly laid out and organized. Spoiler, if you're looking for Apple HomeKit Lights, then skip to the very end of this section.

We will start with Z-Wave Plus in-wall switches. These devices replace existing in-wall switches, and they are able to turn the lights ON and OFF. When installing one, make sure to cut power at the circuit breaker first. Then simply remove the existing in-wall switch, and install your new Z-Wave Plus in-wall switch in its place. Keep in mind that most of these units will require the use of a neutral wire. Most homes built in the 1980s onward will have this readily available, though older homes may be lacking this wire. It's also important to mention that all of the in-wall switches listed here should readily fit into single gang brackets. We will also be listing coordinating 3-way switches in the notes section when applicable.

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus in-wall switches.

Model Notes
GoControl WS15Z5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 600W for incandescent bulbs. Uses GoControl WT00Z5-1 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GE 14318 From GE. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GE 46201 From GE. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Compatible with CFL and LED bulbs. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GE 46562 From GE. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
Resideo Z5SWITCH From Resideo. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Compatible with CFL and LED bulbs. Uses Resideo Z53WSWITCH as coordinating 3-way switch.

Next up are Z-Wave Plus in-wall dimmers. These units also replace your existing in-wall switches. The difference here is that these devices have the ability to adjust the brightness of your lights, in addition to simply turning them ON and OFF. You will want to make sure you are using these devices with dimmable light bulbs. Again, you will want to cut power at the circuit breaker when installing. Most of these units will require a neutral wire, though there is an exception here. You should be able to fit these units into a single-gang electrical bracket.

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus in-wall dimmers.

Model
Notes
GE 14299 From GE. Supports up to 600W incandescent. For dimmable bulbs only. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch. No neutral wire required.
GE 14294 From GE. Supports up to 600W incandescent, or 300W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GoControl WD500Z5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 500W of lighting load. Uses GoControl WT00Z5-1 as coordinating 3-way switch.
Resideo Z5DIMMER From Resideo. Supports up to 600W incandescent, or 150W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs. Uses Resideo Z53WSWITCH as coordinating 3-way switch.

Now we will look at some more DIY-friendly options, starting with Z-Wave Plus plug-in switches. Unlike in-wall switches that you have to install using a screwdriver, these devices simply plug into your standard wall outlet. Just plug one in, connect a lamp, and you now have smart lighting control. These units couldn't be more straightforward and simple to use, and if you're intimidated by having to install your own in-wall light switch, then these are a fantastic alternative. Again, these units are only capable of turning the lights ON and OFF. You can also technically use some of these units with other plug-in devices, provided that the connected device does not exceed the maximum load limit.

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus plug-in switches.

Models
Notes
GE 28172 From GE. Designed for lighting devices only. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, or 600W for incandescent lights.
Linear PS15EMZ5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, or 600W for incandescent lights.
Resideo Z5SWPID From Resideo. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, 600W for incandescent lights, or a 1/2 HP motor.
Resideo Z5SWPIO From Resideo. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, 600W for incandescent lights, or a 1/2 HP motor. Suitable for outdoor use.
Qolsys IQ Smart Plug From Qolsys. Supports up to 13A of power. Not just for lighting devices. Also sold as Qolsys QZ2101-840.

Our penultimate category of smart lights focuses on Z-Wave Plus plug-in dimmers. As you can probably guess, these are plug-in modules, but instead of just turning the lamp ON and OFF, you can also adjust its brightness. The use of dimmable bulbs is recommended. Again, this is an excellent DIY alternative if you don't feel comfortable installing your own in-wall dimmer switch. Just plug it in, connect a dimmable lamp, and enjoy your new smart lights!

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus plug-in dimmers.

Model
Notes
GE 28170 From GE. Supports up to 300W for incandescent, or 100W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs.
GoControl PD300EMZ5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 300W for incandescent lights.
Resideo Z5DIMPID From Resideo. Supports up to 300W for incandescent, or 100W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs.

Lastly, we want to give special recognition to Apple HomeKit compatible smart lights. We're keeping things simple by only listing products from Lutron. These lights work by building around a centralized base station and then pairing lighting modules with that main unit. Our team at Alarm Grid is wholly impressed by what Lutron has to offer, and we can definitely recommend these lights for anyone building around the HomeKit platform. One other major benefit of Lutron Smart Lights is that no neutral wire is required as part of the setup. This can be very beneficial if you do not have a neutral wire in your home's existing electrical wiring. Please note that Alarm Grid only offers the Caseta lineup from Lutron, so that is what we will be focusing on in this buying guide.

The Lutron section of this guide will be split into four (4) categories. First we will look at the smart bridges, or central hubs, that we offer for Lutron. Then we will explore some bundled deals we offer as starter kits. From there, we will check out individual Lutron lighting devices. Lastly, we will examine some accessories for Lutron devices.


First up, we have the Lutron Smart Bridges. There are only two (2) here. You need one of these devices to start building a network of Lutron Smart Lights. You will notice a standard "non-Pro" model, as well as "Pro 2" model. The main difference here is that the "Pro 2" model can integrate with Alarm.com, while the "non-Pro" model cannot. This is completely irrelevant if you are building a HomeKit network around the Honeywell Lyric, as you will be using Total Connect 2.0 as your interactive smart platform instead of Alarm.com. But if you are using HomeKit separately with an IQ Panel 2 Plus, a 2GIG GC3e, or pretty much any other Alarm.com Security System, then this can really come in handy, as you can then integrate your smart lights in with the same network as your alarm system.

Here are our Lutron Smart Bridges.

Model
Notes
Lutron Caseta L-BDG2 "Non-Pro" smart bridge for Lutron. Does not support an Alarm.com integration. Supports up to 50 Lutron devices.
Lutron Caseta L-BDGPRO2-WH "Pro 2" smart bridge for Lutron. Supports an Alarm.com integration. Supports up to 50 Lutron devices.

But before you rush out and buy one of the aforementioned Lutron Smart Bridges, you may instead consider getting one of our Lutron Starter Kits, which all include a Lutron Smart Bridge and some compatible devices to get you started. This can save you a bit of money if you are just getting started with Lutron. Unfortunately, we only have starter kits based around the "Non-Pro" smart bridge. If you are wanting the "Pro 2" model for Alarm.com use, then you will need to buy that model ala carte, along with all the devices you want to pair.

Let's check out our Lutron Starter Kits.

Model
Notes
Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG1W Includes Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, In-Wall Dimmer, Pico Remote, and Wall Plate.
Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG2P Includes Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, Two (2) Plug-In Dimmers, Two (2) Pico Remotes, and Two (2) Mounting Pedestals.
Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG2W Includes Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, Two (2) In-Wall Dimmers, Two (2) Pico Remotes, Two (2) Wall Plates, and Two (2) Mounting Pedestals.

Now we'll look at the actual Lutron Lighting Components. These are the individual, ala carte lighting devices that you pair with your Lutron Smart Bridge. The included notes should help you decide which devices are right for your Lutron network. Lutron keeps things relatively simple here, as the selection is short but sweet.

Here are individual Lutron Lighting Components.

Model
Notes
Lutron Caseta PD-3PCL-WH Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Module. Supports up to 300W for incandescent or halogen bulbs, or 100W for dimmable LED/CFL bulbs.
Lutron Caseta PD-5NE In-Wall Smart Dimmer for Electronic Low Voltage (ELV+) Lights. Supports up to 250W for dimmable LED/CFL bulbs, 500W for incandescent, halogen, or ELV bulbs, or 400W for Magnet Low Voltage (MLV) bulbs.
Lutron Caseta PD-6ANS-WH In-Wall Neutral Smart Switch. Supports up to 720W for incandescent, halogen, ELV, or MLV lights, 6A for LED/CFL, or 3.6A for a ceiling fan.
Lutron Caseta PD-6WCL In-Wall Light Dimmer Switch. Supports 600W for incandescent or halogen bulbs, or 150W for dimmable LED/CFL bulbs.

Last but not least, we have some Lutron Accessories. These include the Pico Remote that you can use a remote control for your Lutron Lights, as well as various wall-plates and some bundles. There are quite a few accessories to cover, and they make the perfect stocking stuffer for the Lutron lover on your gift list.

Here are Lutron Accessories.

Model Notes
Lutron Caseta PJ2-3BRL-WH-L01R Lutron Caseta Pico Remote. Small handheld remote that you can use to control your Lutron Lights. Includes three (3) buttons for turning ON and OFF and adjusting brightness. Can also be used to facilitate a multi-pole setup for your Lutron Lights.
Lutron Caseta PICO-WBX-ADAPT Lutron Caseta Pico Remote Wallplate Adapter Bracket. Allows you to mount your Pico Remote to the wall. Wallplate not included.
Lutron Caseta PJ2-WALL-WH-L01 Lutron Caseta Pico Wall Plate Kit. Includes a Pico Remote, Wallplate Adapter Bracket, and Wallplate.
Lutron CW-1-WH Single Gang Wallplate for Lutron. Double, triple, and quadruple gang wallplates also available!

Door Locks

Door locks are fairly straight forward. They replace the existing deadbolt lock on your front door, back door, patio door, pool door, garage door, or really any door with a deadbolt lock. You will then have smart control over that door, meaning you can LOCK and UNLOCK it remotely using a compatible interactive service platform. This also includes the ability to have the door LOCK or UNLOCK automatically with smart scenes. Most of the locks listed here will allow you to use a traditional key if you want, but you can also manually enter a code into the lock using push-buttons or a touchscreen. This can be very convenient for getting in if you forget your key or don't wish to carry one around.

Virtually any door lock will accomplish the same goal, so what you should base your buying decision on is how reliable the brand is, how you control the door lock locally (e.g. a push-button touchpad or a LED touchscreen), and which design you like. You will also need to decide whether you need a Z-Wave Plus door lock or an Apple HomeKit door lock. Most of the models listed here are Z-Wave Plus variants, but we did include a couple of HomeKit versions for good measure. Many of the door locks listed here come in multiple finishing options to give you some added customization. You will notice that we do not list too many brands here. We really wanted to focus on the ones we feel the most confident in offering.

Here are our top picks for door locks.

Model
Notes
Yale YRD216 From Yale. Push button Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 250 codes. Available in Polished Brass, Oil Rubbed Bronze, or Satin Nickel.
Yale YRD226 From Yale. Touchscreen Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 250 codes. Available in Polished Brass, Oil Rubbed Bronze, or Satin Nickel.
Kwikset 914 From Kwikset. Push button Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 30 codes. Available in Satin Nickel, Aged Bronze, or Polished Brass.
Kwikset Obsidian From Kwikset. Touchscreen Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 16 codes. Does not allow for traditional key locking/unlocking. Available in Oil Rubbed Bronze or Satin Nickel.
August Smart Lock Pro w/ Connect From August. Includes August Smart Lock Pro and August Connect, which makes integrating w/ Apple HomeKit significantly easier and more reliable. Supports BOTH Apple HomeKit and Z-Wave Plus connectivity. Also supports Bluetooth connectivity. Does not allow for traditional key locking/unlocking. Available in Dark Gray and Silver.
Yale YRD256 w/ iM1 Module From Yale. The integrated iM1 Module allows for use w/ Apple HomeKit. Lock itself can store 25 codes, pairing w/ HomeKit increases limit to 250. Available in Polished Brass, Oil Rubbed Bronze, or Satin Nickel. There is also a Z-Wave Plus variant of the same lock that does not support Apple HomeKit.


Smart Thermostats

Now we're really getting into exciting territory, as smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature in your home from virtually anywhere! This is perfect whether you want to keep energy costs low, or you simply want to ensure you arrive home to a comfy house. We all know how stressful it can be if you forgot to adjust your thermostat before leaving home. Well, now you can worry no longer! All you need to do to get started is cut the power at the breaker for your HVAC system, remove your old thermostat, and install your new smart thermostat in its place. This is easier than you might think! For this category, we will mostly be covering Z-Wave Plus thermostats, but we did include an Apple HomeKit thermostat in the listings as well.

Here are our top picks for smart thermostats.

Model
Notes
Honeywell T6 Pro Z-Wave From Resideo. Uses Z-Wave Plus technology.
Alarm.com ADC-T3000 From Alarm.com. Uses Z-Wave Plus technology. Compatible temperature sensor also available.
2GIG STZ-1 Thermostat From Nortek. Uses state-of-the-art 700-Series Z-Wave Plus technology.
Honeywell T6 Pro WIFI From Resideo. Uses WIFI to connect w/ Apple HomeKit.


Other Smart Home Devices


Alright, we're finishing this up with some great smart home devices that we couldn't really fit into any other category. Our main focus here will be on smart garage door controllers and smart water valves. These are super convenient and useful devices that make a great addition to almost any home. A smart garage door controller connects with your existing garage door motor so that you can open and close your garage door from anywhere or have it open and close automatically with smart scenes. Smart water valves are an excellent emergency tool that you can use to shut-off your water supply in the event of a flood or leak. Many users will pair them with flood sensors for inclusion in smart scenes. Unfortunately for Apple HomeKit users, we don't have any HomeKit devices for this section, and we will only be covering Z-Wave variants in this section.

Check out these miscellaneous smart home devices!

Model
Notes
Honeywell GDCK Garage Door Controller Kit From Resideo. Garage door controller kit that includes Honeywell 5877 Relay Module, Honeywell 5822T Tilt Sensor, and a SSA-1 Siren/Strobe. For use w/ Lyric and LYNX Touch only. Cannot be used with LiftMaster MyQ Garage Door Motors
GoControl GD00Z-8-GC Garage Door Controller From Nortek. Z-Wave Plus Garage Door Opener. Includes tilt sensor for detecting current position of garage door. Cannot be used with Lyric or LYNX Touch.
Alarm.com ADC-SWM150 Smart Water Valve & Meter From Alarm.com. Z-Wave Plus Smart Water Valve w/ Meter. Water valve allows you to shut off the water supply in the event of an emergency. Meter tracks your water usage for energy savings and efficiency. Typically installed by a plumber.
Alarm.com ADC-SWV100 Smart Water Valve From Alarm.com. Z-Wave Plus Smart Water Valve. Used to shut-off the water supply in the event of an emergency. Typically installed by a plumber.


Reach Out to Us!

Got any questions about which smart home devices are right for you, or are you not sure about compatibility? Reach out to us! Our team is happy to help you make your holiday shopping season as easy and as stress-free as possible. The best way to contact us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. And as always, we look forward to hearing from you!

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A minor update was recently made on Alarm.com to allow end users to view the recent activity history for their smart lights. Any Z-Wave light programmed with your Alarm.com Security System will now appear on the Activity page when it is turned ON/OFF or has its brightness level adjusted.


If you are not familiar with the Activity page on Alarm.com, it is a useful tool that lets you see recent events involving both your security system and your Alarm.com account. You can check this page to see when your system was armed, disarmed, or went into alarm mode. And thanks to a new update from Alarm.com, users will now be able to see the activity history for their smart lights.

According to Alarm.com, their Activity page will now display events for lights being turned ON and OFF. Alarm.com will also display when a dimmable light has had its brightness level adjusted. Each documented lighting event will include the exact hour and minute of the day when it took place. If you ever need to prove that the lights were Turned ON or OFF at a specific time, Alarm.com can now serve as hard evidence.

While this new feature might not seem like big news, it can be quite useful for monitoring your home or business. A light being turned ON or OFF at an unexpected time could be something worth investigating. And having the exact timestamp for the lighting activity can serve as strong evidence in many situations.

Accessing the Activity page on your Alarm.com account is super easy. Simply login to your Alarm.com account through a web browser. Then click the Activity button on the left-hand side. This will take you to the Activity page so that you can review all recent system activity. Remember that other events like Arming, Disarming, Alarm Events, and logging into your Alarm.com account will also be displayed on this screen.

The picture below shows the activity page for our demo account. As you can see, it now shows light activity for a light named Office and another called Hallway.


You can also use the Activity page to search for specific events and download your Activity log in PDF or CSV format. This is a great place to quickly review all the activity on your alarm system. It can be really useful for determining a true timeline of the events that occurred in your home or business.

If you have any questions about the Alarm.com Activity page, or if you are interested in signing up for monitoring service, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Did you know that your Alarm Grid Security System most likely has smart home automation capabilities? While keeping your home or business safe with trusted monitoring service is the main function of an alarm system, the world of home automation is easily accessible and very exciting.

Qolsys iq lightbulb dimmable z wave lightbulb for iq and iq pane

As a quick recap for anyone who may not be familiar with automation or the concept of a "smart home", it refers mostly to two (2) somewhat related ideas.

1) Being able to control devices remotely (aka, while you are away from the premises).

2) Being able to have devices activate automatically based on a schedule and/or predetermined events, with no action required on your part.

These devices that we speak of are collectively referred to as "smart devices". There are all sorts of smart devices that you can integrate into your automation network. Some examples include:

  • Smart Lights - Illumination devices that you can control remotely and turn ON or OFF automatically. These come in many forms, including light bulbs, in-wall switches, plug-in modules, and even wall outlets. Smart lights are perfect for making it appear as though someone is present while away or on vacation.
  • Smart Door Locks - Access control devices that you can operate remotely and LOCK or UNLOCK a door automatically. These are typically deadbolt devices that prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your home or business. In addition to remote operation, these devices can also be automated based on a schedule or the condition of other devices in your home.
  • Smart Thermostats - Temperature control devices that you can be adjusted locally or remotely and INCREASE or DECREASE the temperature. The operation of these devices can also be automated based on a schedule or event. These wire in directly with the HVAC system in your home or business. The setup is surprisingly simple, and it can be easily completed by a DIY user.
  • Smart Water Valves - Water shut-off switches that you can trigger locally or remotely. If you CLOSE the valve, then the flow of water will be stopped. If you OPEN the valve, then the flow of water will proceed when a faucet is activated. Smart water valves can be very important if the building is prone to flooding or water damage. These devices can be automated based on the activation of a flood sensor.

Now that you know a little more about smart devices, you're probably wondering how to get started. The first thing that we advise doing is selecting a smart protocol to build around. This refers to the type of wireless communication that the individual smart devices will use to speak with the centralized hub.

The smart hub, also known as the controller, is the single most important piece of equipment in any smart home. All of your individual smart devices will communicate their status with this centralized hub. And when you go to control your devices remotely, all incoming commands will pass through the hub before ultimately being forwarded to the individual device. Without the smart hub, home automation is impossible.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system

When you select a smart hub, you are also selecting the wireless protocol for your network. All of the individual smart devices in your network must use that same wireless protocol to communicate successfully with the main hub. As a result, your smart hub determines which devices can (and cannot) join the network.

A great aspect of most security systems sold by Alarm Grid is that they can double as smart hubs for your automation devices. The panels that we sell support the Z-Wave wireless communication protocol. Virtually any Z-Wave device can be enrolled with an alarm system that supports Z-Wave communication.

Once you have a Z-Wave device enrolled with your system, a few things become possible:

1) Operate your programmed Z-Wave devices on the main system display. This is the same place where you arm and disarm your system.

2) Control your programmed Z-Wave devices remotely using the same platform you use for controlling your system, namely, Alarm.com or Total Connect 2.0. This requires monitoring service.

3) Build complete smart scenes, in which multiple Z-Wave devices are controlled simultaneously. This is done through either Alarm.com or Total Connect 2.0. Again, alarm monitoring service is required.

While all of this certainly sounds exciting, we understand that it may seem a little daunting at first. If you are already an Alarm Grid monitored customer, then there's a good chance that your system is already capable of serving as a central hub for your Z-Wave network.

The following systems readily support Z-Wave communication, with no add-ons being required:

Additionally, the following panels can be upgraded to support Z-Wave communication:

Of course, there are other options besides Z-Wave for home automation. If you are an iOS user, then you might consider getting a security panel that can support the robust and powerful Apple HomeKit automation platform. The Honeywell Lyric is a great option for this. You can learn more about HomeKit in this prior post.

Another option for lighting control is the Lutron devices that use their own communications protocol. Lutron is known for their tight integration with Alarm.com, and they certainly make for a great starting point if you are looking to establish a smart lighting setup. More info on using Lutron with Alarm.com can be found here.


Alarm Grid is about more than just security. We can help you establish the perfect automation network for your home or business. Getting started with smart home automation is easy, and it's a fantastic way to get the most out of your security system. Whether you go with Z-Wave, Apple HomeKit, Lutron, or use a combo setup, we will be there to help you every step of the way.

If you aren't already monitored by Alarm Grid, now is a great time to get started. Smart home automation is included with all of our Silver, Gold, and Platinum Level Plans. This post will tell you all about our monitoring plans so that you can make an informed decision. Alarm Grid monitored customers are provided with free technical support online and over the phone. This includes helping you create the perfect smart home.

The best way for an Alarm Grid monitored customer to get help with all of their smart home questions is to email support@alarmgrid.com or call (888) 818-7728. Our support technicians will be happy to help you in building your smart home network. Remember that our business hours run from 9am to 8pm ET M-F, so make sure to plan accordingly. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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Hi DIYers! Today, we're taking a look at two (2) in-wall Z-Wave dimmers that we just recently started offering. These are the GE 14299 Z-Wave Plus Dimmer and the GE 45717 Z-Wave Classic Dimmer Switch. What's great about these in-wall dimmers is that neither one requires a neutral wire!

Ge 14294 side of z wave in wall smart dimmer

Installing smart lights in an older home can present some challenges. Most homes built pre-1980 do not use neutral wires with their light switches. The purpose of a neutral wire is to ensure a more balanced AC load to prevent any voltage spikes from occurring. Although most standard lights can work just fine without a neutral wire, you will find that most in-wall light switches require one. We actually wrote a helpful FAQ on the subject recently, which you can view here.

In more recent times, we have started to see smart in-wall lighting devices that can be used without needing to run a neutral wire. The first notable examples were the Lutron Lighting Devices, which are great for use with Alarm.com. But now with the GE 14299 and GE 45717, we now have an effective no-neutral wire option for users wanting to get their lights on a Z-Wave network. You can even pair these new in-wall switches with a GE 12723 Add-On Switch for a 3-way configuration!

As you know by now, adding your lights to your Z-Wave network offers several advantages. These devices are perfect for pairing with compatible security systems. You will need a system with a Z-Wave controller and a monitoring plan that includes home automation to take full advantage of these devices. By pairing your lights with your monitored system, you can control your lights from anywhere using an interactive platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. You can even create smart scenes to have your lights respond automatically based on a schedule or with system events.

We are sure that being able to install in-wall dimmer switches without a neutral wire will be beneficial to many users. Now you can achieve a top-of-the-line smart lighting setup even if your home doesn't feature neutral wires! If you have any questions about the GE 14299, the GE 45717, or any of our products, please reach out to us by emailing support@alarmgrid.com. Remember that our support hours are from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to helping you!

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Alarm Grid is very happy to announce that the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2 is now available for purchase from our website. This device serves as the central hub for a Lutron Smart Lighting setup. It offers a brand-new integration with Alarm.com for added flexibility and control.

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It's funny, we were just talking about Lutron the other day and how great their lighting products are. We didn't know that just a few days later we would be talking about the exciting Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2. This hub supports all of the same great integrations and features as the original Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge. These integrations include Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest, Sonos Sound, and more.

But the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2 adds the ability to integrate your Lutron Lights with Alarm.com. This is huge news for anyone with an Alarm.com Security System. Now you can control your Lutron devices and your security system from the super convenient Alarm.com App. You can even include your Lutron Lights with smart scenes for automatic operation based on a schedule or with certain system events!

If you are not familiar with Lutron Lights, then prepare to have your life brightened! These smart lights offer a multitude of great features that help them outshine similar products. By using the free-to-download Lutron App, you can create smart schedules to have your lights turn ON and OFF at set times of the day.

The Lutron App also supports Geofencing features to have your lights respond based on the location of your smartphone. This is great if you want to have your lights turn ON automatically when you arrive home, or shut OFF when you leave for the day. There is also a cool feature called "Smart Away" that will have your lights turn ON and OFF at random times during the evening to make it look like you are home. This is perfect for when you are traveling.

Remember, you will need a monitoring plan that includes Alarm.com if you want to integrate your Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2 with that platform. For Alarm Grid customers, this includes any Gold or Platinum Level Plan. More information about our monitoring services is available on our alarm monitoring page.

The Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2 is compatible with all of the existing Lutron Caseta devices that were already sold on our site. We have all the resources you need to create complete smart lighting network based around Lutron. If you have any questions about Lutron or the new Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge PRO 2, please reach out to us by emailing support@alarmgrid.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Hi DIYers! Today, we are very excited to talk about the all-new Z-Wave Plus lighting products from Resideo. These lights are very easy to use, and they will work with nearly any security system that supports Z-Wave. They will certainly make a great addition to any growing smart home.


Resideo (formerly Honeywell and Ademco) has been long-known for their alarm control panels, sensors, and thermostats. But they really haven't made much of a splash in terms of smart lighting equipment. But that should change with these brand-new lights. The lineup has everything you need to create a robust and capable lighting setup.

All of these products use Z-Wave Plus technology to communicate with a central hub. We strongly recommend making sure your Z-Wave controller is certified for Z-Wave Plus so that you get the maximum wireless signal range. Some systems that support Z-Wave Plus include the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus and the 2GIG GC3e. If you have monitoring service and access to Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com, then you can control your lights remotely and use them with smart scenes.

These devices are all super easy to program with your alarm system or other Z-Wave hub. When enrolling, you should always make sure to exclude the device from the network first. This will clear out any information and ensure that the device can be enrolled successfully. Then enroll the device by putting the controller into its inclusion mode and activating the inclusion function on the light. It should successfully pair with the network.

Now that you know a little bit about the lights in general, let's take a quick look at all of the new products individually:

  • Resideo Z5SWITCH - An in-wall light switch that is used to control hardwired lights or a ceiling fan. Replaces the existing in-wall switch.
  • Resideo Z5DIMMER - An in-wall dimmer switch that is used to control hardwired lights. The light bulbs must support dimming to be used in that manner. Replaces the existing in-wall switch.
  • Resideo Z53WSWITCH - An in-wall 3-way switch that is used with the Z5SWITCH and Z5DIMMER. You can use multiple Z53SWITCH devices to achieve up to a 6-way lighting configuration. Please note that a traveler wire is required for use.
  • Resideo Z5SWPID - A plug-in switch that is used for controlling a lamp or other connected device. It features a manual ON/OFF switch and a pass-through "non-Z-Wave" outlet.
  • Resideo Z5DIMPID - A plug-in dimmer module that is used for controlling a lamp. The light bulbs must support dimming to be used in that manner. It features a manual ON/OFF switch and a pass-through "non-Z-Wave" outlet.
  • Resideo Z5SWPIO - A plug-in switch that is suitable for outdoor use. Great for operating holiday lights or other outdoor lighting fixtures. It does not include a pass-through outlet.
  • Resideo Z5OUTLET - An in-wall AC outlet that provides Z-Wave Plus control to the connected device. The bottom port uses Z-Wave Plus, while the top port is always active. Replaces an existing outlet.

All of these smart lighting products are available right now from Alarm Grid! They're great for anyone looking to create a new smart lighting network or expand upon an existing one. If you have any questions about these new Resideo Lights, please reach out to us by emailing support@alarmgrid.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Hi DIYers! Today, we would like to talk about Lutron Smart Lights and explain why they are a great choice for establishing a smart lighting setup. These smart lights offer many nice features, including integrations with Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa. We think you will love these lights!

Lutron caseta p bdg pkg1w unboxed single in wall dimmer starter

When talking about smart lights, we often point customers to Z-Wave lights first, due to their easy integrations with Alarm.com and Total Connect 2.0. But if you don't have access to ADC or TC2, then you might choose a different smart network to build around. For smart lighting, Lutron represents one of the best options available. The Lutron Caseta lineup is perfect for DIY installers, and the products offer some great features and functions.

Anyone interested in Lutron should first become familiar with the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge. This is the central hub that makes the setup possible. All of your Lutron devices will pair with this controller. And whenever you use a smart assistant (e.g. Siri, HomeKit, Alexa, etc.) to control your Lutron Lights, the command will first pass through the smart bridge.

The Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge is very easy to set up. Just connect it to your router using the included ethernet cable. Then pair your smartphone with the bridge using the Lutron App. You will then be able to control connected Lutron devices from anywhere. One Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge can support up to 50 Lutron devices. You will have no problem decking out your home with Lutron Smart Lights!

The fun part comes once you have your smart bridge. You can then start choosing individual Lutron devices to use in your home. There are plenty of devices to choose from. We have some of our favorites listed below:

There are also lots of kits that include bundled Lutron items. We won't list them all here, but please check out our Lutron Smart Home Page to see them! Lutron even offers a variety of decorative wallplates to go with your Lutron In-Wall Switches. Look for the Lutron Claro Wallplates for more information!

Remember, Lutron is great for pairing with a variety of different platforms including Apple HomeKit and Siri, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Nest, and Sonos Sound. It is also excellent for Resideo Lyric System users who use the system with Apple HomeKit, as it gives the user a single robust platform for controlling the system and their lights. Just remember that the Lyric must be running firmware update MR7 or higher to do this.

If you have any questions about Lutron, please reach out to us. The best way to contact us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. We look forward to hearing from you and answering all your questions about Lutron!

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Hi DIYers! Today we're looking at three (3) smart home devices that can make a great addition to nearly any home. Half the fun of owning an alarm system is getting into the exciting world of home automation. These devices are all easy to use, and they are all available from Alarm Grid.

August Smart Lock Pro

August smart lock pro dark gray z wave deadbolt lock 3rd generat

The August Smart Lock Pro is very unique in being one of the few Z-Wave Plus Smart Locks that is also compatible with Apple HomeKit. It also works with great voice-based platforms like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, and it can be used for automatic Bluetooth unlocking. All of this makes the August Smart Lock Pro extremely versatile. It is a great choice no matter what interactive platform you are building around. The lock comes Z-Wave Plus ready right out of the box. You can also pair it with an August Connect WIFI Bridge for enhanced remote access. You can still use the lock with HomeKit without the Connect Bridge, but it will need to be within Bluetooth range of the HomeKit Hub (Apple iPad, Apple TV Gen 4 or higher, or Apple HomePod). Overall, this is a fantastic smart lock for your home and great for many scenarios.

Check out all of our fantastic smart locks here.

Honeywell T6 Pro Z-Wave Thermostat

Honeywell t6 z wave thermostat smart thermostat


The Honeywell T6 Pro is arguably our favorite Z-Wave thermostat right now. Its biggest selling point is its ability to connect to an HVAC system and remain powered on without common power from a C-wire. This is excellent for DIY installers, as it prevents them from having to work with high voltage wiring. The Honeywell T6 Pro Z-Wave version is certified Z-Wave Plus for extended wireless range and improved battery life. There is also a HomeKit-compatible T6 Pro that uses WIFI instead of Z-Wave Plus. However, most Alarm Grid customers get the Z-Wave Plus model so that they can control the thermostat through the same interactive service platform used with their security systems. Although the T6 Pro was designed with Total Connect 2.0 in mind, it will work just fine with Alarm.com and associated systems.

Check out all our smart thermostats here.

Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG1W Starter Kit

Lutron caseta p bdg pkg1w unboxed single in wall dimmer starter


Lutron Caseta is a great option if you are looking to establish a smart lighting network for your home or business. In order to get started, you will need a Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge to serve as the central hub for the setup. The kit linked above include the smart bridge, along with an in-wall dimmer switch and a Pico Remote for controlling the device from up to 60 feet away in open air. Other great starter kits from Lutron include the P-BDG-PKG2P with a lamp dimmer module, and the P-BDG-PKG2W with dual in-wall dimmer switches. A great aspect of Lutron Caseta devices is that you can build a network of lights without having to run traveler wires to connect load-bearing light switches to a master switch. Instead, all communication occurs wirelessly through the Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge. Lutron integrates with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home with ease. This makes this smart lighting network perfect for many different smart home setups.

Check out all of our smart lighting options here.

Build Your Smart Home!


Alarm Grid is here to help you build your ideal smart home. Whether you're looking for locks, thermostats, or lights, we have what you need to help you get started. Remember, we offer free support for all Alarm Grid monitored customers. You can build your smart home network around one of our security systems and make your life more convenient than ever. Alarm Grid customers should email us at support@alarmgrid.com with any questions. And if you haven't joined Alarm Grid quite yet, you can get started by clicking the orange Alarm Monitoring button at the top of this page. We look forward to helping you design the perfect smart home.

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