Wired Alarm Control Panels Posts

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Hi DIYers! We haven't made an Alarm Grid Tips post in while, so we figured now was a good time. The tip for today is to always take pictures when swapping out a hardwired alarm control panel with a new one. A few clear and detailed pictures can help you greatly with rewiring later on.

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If you have an older alarm system, there may be many benefits to upgrading to a newer model. A more advanced panel will allow for a greater number of zones and support for new functions and features. Many people upgrade so that they can access an interactive service platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. This will allow you to control your system and check its status remotely using a smartphone.

When a person makes a system upgrade, they will usually want to bring their existing sensors to their new setup if possible. Even if the panel itself is old and outdated, the sensors may still be perfectly suitable for regular use. It can be very expensive to buy a complete new set of sensors. And the user won't even need to move their sensors. They can remain in the same location and just wire-in with the new panel.

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But if you have a complete hardwired system, then there are likely many sensors and other pieces of equipment running from various locations on the circuit board. Certain devices like sirens can require a surprisingly intricate setup, and it can be difficult to remember where everything goes. Even if you are just transferring sensors and other devices from one panel to another, the task can be surprisingly challenging without a visual aid.

For that reason, we recommend taking pictures before trying to bring over equipment from one panel to another. You don't need to take many, just enough to see where everything goes and where every connection ends up. In many cases, a new panel will follow a very similar wiring setup to the one it is replacing. By using your images as a guide, you will have a much easier time making a successful transition.

This same principle also applies if you are upgrading to a wireless system from a hardwired system. Wireless systems can support hardwired sensors by using wired to wireless converters. A wired to wireless converter works by connecting directly with hardwired sensors and sending out wireless signals to the panel on their behalf. The system will then recognize these wired sensors just like any regular wireless sensor.

Honeywell 5800c2w hardwire to wireless system 9 zone conversion moduleWiring sensors to a converter is actually very similar to wiring to a panel. The pictures of your old hardwired setup will be surprisingly helpful when connecting to a wired to wireless converter. You can check the pictures to see which wire goes to which terminal and even make sure the backup power supply is connected correctly. By placing the converter in the old location of the previous panel, all the sensors can remain in the same spot and easily connect with the converter(s).

So if you are ever upgrading from an older hardwired system, make sure to take some pictures first! We hope this basic tip was helpful to some DIY installers out there. Keep checking our blog for more Alarm Grid Tips in the future.

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Hi DIYers! We know that many users take on the task of setting up their own hardwired security system. We think this is great, as it really lets a DIY user get to know their alarm panel. But there are some extra tools we recommend for setting up a wired system. One of which is a voltmeter.

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All alarm systems require electricity for basic operation. But this electricity is used for more than just powering the panel. Various equipment like sensors and keypads will also require power. With hardwired systems, the peripheral equipment will actually draw power from the panel. Not only is the system's plug-in transformer powering the panel, it is also keeping its many devices running as well. If the electricity goes out, the panel should also have a backup battery to ensure that everything remains powered.

The important thing to understand is that plugging in a transformer does not suddenly supply an infinite amount of electricity for an alarm system. There's a limit to how much power a system can provide. Each transformer can only provide a limited amount of current. There are also current limiting devices like fuses and breakers that are built into each of the output circuits on a system. These are used to prevent things like the bell circuit, the battery charging circuit and the auxiliary power circuit from allowing enough current through to damage the system. If you try to add too many devices to a system, you may find that they will not work properly. Worse yet, if you don't use the specified transformer and other manufacturer-specified peripheral devices, you could cause serious damage to the system.

For smaller applications, this is not usually a major concern. But as you add more powered devices to an alarm system, the chance for overload becomes greater. You may need to add a second power supply, along with an additional transformer and battery. However, you shouldn't be working blindly. Using a voltmeter with the ability to read current (technically a multi-meter) is very important for knowing the current load and making sure that the current power supply is adequate.

A voltmeter works by applying a known amount of current and resistance to a circuit. Ohm's Law tells us that if you know any two of three values (voltage, current or resistance), you can then calculate the third value. A hardwired zone on an alarm panel works largely in the same way. Voltage, along with a small amount of current, is fed through a zone circuit. Based on the Ohm's Law principle, if you know the amount of voltage being applied, and you know the amount of current being applied, you can then calculate the amount of resistance that is present on the circuit. This is how a zone with an end-of-line resistor works. When you make a zone Normally Open or Normally Closed, you simplify things even further. If current is flowing, the zone is open. If current is not flowing, the zone is shorted or closed. Without a voltmeter, troubleshooting wired zones becomes much more difficult. The voltmeter doesn't even have to be a big expensive model. It just needs to provide basic function.

Also keep in mind that many system problems occur due to electrical issues. Having a voltmeter on hand can save a user a lot of hassle in troubleshooting. We hear of users all the time who don't know why their system isn't working, only to find that it is because they aren't supplying enough power. Performing a simple check with a voltmeter can help you discover an issue that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. For that reason, everyone with a wired panel really should invest in an inexpensive voltmeter or multi-meter.

If you're just beginning to consider purchasing a panel, and you don't want the hassle of worrying about wired zones, then a wireless system may be a better option. Wireless sensors operate strictly on battery power, and a user won't have to worry about overloading circuits. We generally recommend wireless systems for DIY users in general, as they are much easier to use and install. But if you do decide to go the hardwired route, or you already have a working wired system, we certainly recommend you keep a voltmeter on hand!

If you're an Alarm Grid customer, and you need help using a voltmeter to check your system, don't hesitate to reach out to us! We are happy to help monitored customers get their systems up and running and perform any necessary troubleshooting. We invite you to check out our monitoring page for more information. If you ever need help, you can send an email to support@alarmgrid.com. You may also call us at (888) 818-7728 during our normal business hours of 9am to 8pm EST M-F. We look forward to working with you!

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If you're in the market for a new home security system, you are likely faced with the decision to go hardwired or wireless. Both options have their merits, but it really comes down to the needs of the user. But we will say that in most cases, a homeowner will want to go the wireless route.

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That's not to say that hardwired home security systems aren't right in certain situations. It's just that they offer greater challenges than wireless systems. Most users will want the convenience and ease-of-use that hardwired systems simply cannot offer. Perhaps the most obvious factor is that wireless systems are much easier to install and get started with than hardwired systems. This can be very important for DIY users who don't want to hire a professional installer.

Many wireless alarm systems can be installed without even drilling any holes. Although they can certainly be mounted, most wireless systems support desk stands that allow them to be conveniently rested on any desk or table. Wireless systems can also be readily used with wireless sensors. These sensors can often be mounted using double-sided foam tape, thereby eliminating the need to drill holes.

On the other hand, a hardwired system will almost certainly need to be mounted. These systems provide ready support for hardwired sensors. Any hardwired sensor will need to have a wire that is connected directly with the system. This can mean running wires across the entire premises for a complete hardwired setup. Although most wired systems can be configured to use wireless sensors, they will usually require a separately purchased wireless receiver to make this possible.

Honeywell 5881enh unlimited zone wireless receiverThe next consideration that a user should make is the ease of use for the system. Most users find that wireless panels are much easier to use and program. These systems often feature built-in touchscreen controls and menus that are easy to navigate. With some minor instructions, an end user will be able to set up their wireless system in its entirety. Additionally, the touchscreen navigation will make it easier for the user to perform basic system functions like arming and disarming. This can be very important for users who aren't always the most tech-savvy.

Hardwired systems function differently. These panels typically use external hardwired keypads that are wired-in directly to the panel. Although there are some wired touchscreen keypads, most wired keypads are of the push-button variety. This means that a user will have to enter-in various codes to perform basic system functions. The menus will not be as easy to navigate, and deep-level programming will often require the use of an intricate and sophisticated programming guide. In fact, many users of hardwired systems do not even attempt programming, and they leave the task to a professional installer.


Another advantage that wireless systems offer is that they usually come more "ready" than hardwired systems. That is, wireless systems typically require fewer add-ons than hardwired systems. Many wireless systems come ready-to-go right out of the box. As mentioned earlier, these systems come with integrated touchscreen controls so that no external keypad is needed. Wireless panels also come with built-in wireless receivers so that they can support wireless sensors. If a user wants to use wireless sensors with a hardwired system, they will almost certainly need to add a wireless receiver. Modern wireless panels will also usually come with some type of communicator so that they can readily connect with a central monitoring station. But please note that many wireless systems will still need to have a cellular communicator added for cellular monitoring services.

Hardwired systems don't come nearly as ready. Virtually every system function for a hardwired panel will require some type of add-on. Even basic functionality will require an external keypad. And hardwired systems almost never come with a built-in communicator. Instead, a separate communicator will need to be added and installed if a user wants reliable connectivity with a central station or an interactive service platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com.

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One area where wired systems do reign supreme is adding value to the property. A hardwired system with wired sensors will essentially integrate in with the building itself. This is something you can actually list when selling the building, and it can certainly increase the property's resell value. But a wireless system is not necessarily considered a fixture in the home, and it will not add to the home's value.

However, the upside is that wireless systems can be taken to a new property much more easily than wired systems. The user will just need to unplug the panel, dismount their sensors, put them in a box, and bring them to their new house. But for hardwired systems that have wires running throughout the building, the process is much more challenging. Many wires and sensors may be inaccessible, and a professional might need to remove them. For that reason, it's not much of a surprise that a user will often leave their hardwired system behind when moving to a new property. As mentioned earlier, this can provide the added benefit of increasing the home's resell value.

One final consideration is that wired systems usually require less maintenance than wireless systems. Wired sensors use power provided from the panel, and they will almost never require any type of maintenance. In other words, once a hardwired system has been installed and programmed, a user will almost never need to make any adjustments. The only thing they will need to worry about is replacing the panel's backup battery every few years.

But the wireless sensors that are used with wireless systems cannot receive power directly from the panel. Instead, these sensors rely on internal batteries that must be replaced every few years. If a user has many wireless sensors, they can expect that they will need to replace many sensor batteries at some point in the years to come. Fortunately, the wireless panel will let the user know when the sensor batteries are low and in need of replacing. It's also important to remember that most wireless sensors offer fairly impressive battery lifespans, and batteries will not need to be replaced very often. But this is still more maintenance than what is required with wired systems.

Consideration
Winner
Ease of Installation Wireless Systems
Ease of Use
Wireless Systems
Readiness Wireless Systems
Adding Property Value Wired Systems
Bringing to New Location Wireless Systems
Required Maintenance Wired Systems

In conclusion, most users find that wireless alarm systems are the superior option for home security. They are easier to set up and use, require fewer add-ons and are easier to bring to a new location. But a user might prefer a wired system in situations where they want to add to the property's value or if they want a system that requires as little maintenance as possible.

If you still can't decide between a wired or wireless system, feel free to reach out to us for help! You may email us at any time at support@alarmgrid.com. Or if you prefer to call us, you can reach us at 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm Monday thru Friday. We look forward to hearing from you!

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After much anticipation, partition support for Total Connect 2.0 will soon be available for compatible VISTA Systems! With this update, users will gain full access to each live system partition. This includes controlling, checking the status and receiving updates for individual partitions.

The TC2 partition update applies to the following panels:

  • VISTA-20P
  • VISTA-20PSIA
  • VISTA-21IP
  • VISTA-21IPSIA
  • VISTA-128BPT
  • VISTA-128BPTSIA
  • VISTA-250BPT
  • VISTA-128FBPT
  • VISTA-250FBPT
  • VISTA-32FBPT

By using TC2, users can control up to eight different partitions on their alarm system. However, if their VISTA System supports fewer partitions, the user will only be able to control the number of partitions that are supported by their respective system (e.g. VISTA-20P can only support three partitions, with one being a common partition). With this update, users with compatible systems will be able to perform the following functions from Total Connect 2.0:

  • Name partitions
  • Arm and disarm individual partitions
  • Bypass sensors
  • Assign partition control to different users
  • Enable or disable event notifications
  • Set remote disarming capabilities for individual partitions
  • Choose which user codes can activate and edit partition settings
  • View activity of fire partitions remotely (cannot control a fire partition remotely)
  • Additional features to be announced

To ensure a successful rollout, Honeywell is making partition support available for a small percentage of customers each day. The process already started on Monday, June 11th, and it is expected to continue until the week of June 25th. By the week of June 25th, all compatible VISTA Systems should have TC2 partition support. Also note that any new Honeywell Total Connect VISTA partition account programmed during the rollout will be enabled for partition support the next regular business day.

Sometime during this rollout period, you should notice an update on your Total Connect 2.0 account. The message will state that partitions for your location have been made available. You will then be able to configure the partitions for your VISTA System through both the Total Connect 2.0 web browser and the TC2 Mobile App.

Please note that you will not be required to set up multiple partition configurations for your system right away. You can also choose to save the set up process for a later time. To configure partitions for your system immediately, select "Configure Now". To save the process for another time, choose "Later". You will be able to access partition support by clicking the "Partitions" tab on Total Connect 2.0.

To learn more about this feature, please review this helpful guide from Honeywell.

If you have any questions about Total Connect 2.0 partition control, please do not hesitate to contact us at support@alarmgrid.com or call us at 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm M-F.

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While wireless security systems like the L5100PK LYNX Touch are easier to install then traditional wired security systems, there are some applications where the LYNX Series control panels will not be the right fit. When you have an older existing wired security system and you want to upgrade it to take advantage of today's  technology, the VISTA-21iP-6160KT is a great choice. 

The VISTA-21iP-6160KT includes a VISTA-21iP alarm control panel and a 6160 alphanumeric alarm keypad. You can use the VISTA-21iP control panel to replace any existing wired security system and the 6160 will provide a keypad that you can use to program and control the VISTA-21iP. If you need additional alarm keypads because your existing wired system has more than one keypad, you can add any of the Honeywell wired alarm keypads. Every Honeywell security system needs at least one alphanumeric alarm keypad to access the more advanced programming menus. The 6160 that is included with the VISTA-21iP-6160KT will provide you with ability to program the system but you can use regular fixed English alarm keypads like the 6150 for places in your home that you'd want regular system control. 

The VISTA-21iP is different than most wired alarm control panels, because it has a built-in AlarmNet internet alarm monitoring communicator that you can use to get central station monitoring. The VISTA-21iP is also compatible with AlarmNet's Total Connect interactive service. By signing up for an alarm monitoring plan that includes Total Connect, you will be able to remotely arm and disarm your VISTA-21iP from any computer or iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ or Blackberry® device. You can also setup the VISTA-21iP to send you instant emails and/or text message notifications when different security system events occur. 

You can save over $100 by designing your new wired security system around the VISTA-21iP-6160KT instead of ordering the VISTA-21iP alarm control panel and the 6160 alarm keypads separately. Call us at 888-818-7728 to speak with a security expert who can advise you on which security products to add to your VISTA-21iP-6160KT so that you can get the perfect security system for your property.

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