System Enhancement Module: Alarm.com Software on Honeywell VISTAs

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When we launched Alarm Grid in 2012, we sold Honeywell equipment exclusively. We have been very slow to grow our selection because their products have proved to be so reliable. We absolutely love Honeywell. And while we're proud to have expanded our offerings to 2GIG systems and Simon communicators, our primary offering continues to be Honeywell focused.

Last year, when we added 2GIG's systems to our offerings, we also launched alarm.com at the same time. While Honeywell's products have always been coupled tightly with AlarmNet's interactive offering, Alarm.com powers the interactive services for most of the other brands. And while we believe strongly in the Total Connect product, Alarm.com has done an amazing job of offering a bit more flexibility to their offering meaning that a lot of end users prefer the Alarm.com software.

So what's a DIYer to do if they want Honeywell hardware and Alarm.com software?

Alarm.com has just released the System Enhancement Module (SEM) which allows end users to attach the unit to their wired Honeywell system (e.g. VISTA 20P, VISTA 15P) and use the Alarm.com software. Significantly cheaper than the Total Connect communicator the iGSMV4G or GSMV4G, the SEM gives the systems cellular monitoring capabilities to anyone who wants them. Additionally, the SEM provides more options to end users regarding their choice of network, currently available for LTE and CDMA.

What's more, the SEM gives end users the ability to take advantage of some incredible Z-Wave functionality that previously would have required the purchase of the VAM or the Tuxedo. Simply, for a cost of $155.99, an end user can now take advantage of everything these systems have to offer.

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Comments


We just got an email about the beta program on the new TC2 site so we expect it to be released in the coming months and we will certainly blog about it once it's live so keep an eye on our blog. I would imagine Honeywell will have updates on the app/website as well for all customers that currently use TC2.
Sterling, Any better timeline on the TC2 overhaul and will you do some sort of notification to existing Alarm Grid customers that use TC2?
Alarm.com does not offer vehicle tracking as of now. Alarm.com does offer video services but you would need to change our your AlarmNet cameras for Alarm.com cameras instead as the SEM would only change over the system from Honeywell/TC2 to Alarm.com. Also, we offer no-contract monitoring services and cater to the DIY customer. If you are interested in switching to us, we offer no-contract plans online at https://www.alarmgrid.com/monitoring. We may be able to help with any TC2 issues you are experiencing. Finally, Honeywell is working on a TC2 overhaul so that the site will be based on html5 instead of Flash.
Does the SEM/alarm.com option offer the asset tracking and video streaming options that TC 2.0 offers? I currently have multiple tuxedo touch units connected to a vista 21ip panel but am not impressed with the expensive TC 2.0 flash website. I have also found that my options in New Mexico for Honeywell dealers is very disappointing so I am left to do most of the troubleshooting and programming myself.
From your description of feature "wants", it sounds like either route would work just fine for you. With the iGSMV4G, you can run a shared transformer for the panel and the communicator and it has an internal battery so the power concern shouldn't really be an issue for you. When you say the TC2 is sluggish sometimes, I wonder if it's sluggish when IP is out and you are using GSM. If you are on a 2G cellular unit, that would explain why it's sluggish. It's hard to say if Alarm .com would be faster as I typically would say an IP connection is the fastest way to remotely arm/disarm with cellular being a bit slower (whether its Alarm .com cellular of AlarmNet/TC2 cellular). TC2 also has started integrating into other 3rd party technology more recently but Alarm .com has been doing it for longer and has more integrations available now. You can get zone control with either option.
I've been on TC2 since Sept 2011. I cross shopped a GE Concord4 + Alarm.com and ended up going Honeywell route instead largely because I had a friend who could help me through programming and other things. I don't use much more then remote arm/disarm/bypass/event log view from my iPhone.T he website still being Adobe Flash based is terrible, but I've only had to use it for initial config. I'd say my biggest complaint is that communication between panel/TC2/App seems to be sluggish at times. Sometimes it will process a Arm/Disarm in < 5 seconds, and sometimes it takes 20+ seconds. Not sure if alarm.com is better, but this would be my top complaint. I like that my 21iP is dual path (IP+Cell, with IP currently primary) and sticking with TC2 and an iGSMV4G means I can keep dual path, while going to SEM means losing the IP path, so less options to get signals out. But is this really a concern these days with "smash-n-grab" protectons and LTE as a cellular path (high speed cellular data)? VZW LTE coverage is really good here. Haven't gotten into automation stuff yet as I haven't decided exactly how I plan to do it house wide, but I've been considering going HomeSeer, but it's pricey. I've even considered swapping to an ELK panel for better panel<->home automation integration and flexibility, but there is some options to make a Vista panel better compatible in general (outside of even Alarm.com/TC2 offering). Anyway, that's another story all together and I haven't been willing to spend the $600+ to make the swap, so reality is I'll stick with my Vista panel for now. I like that the SEM uses panel power/battery where as the iGSMV4G needs it's own transformer/battery. And I like that it includes a Zwave controller and 3rd party integrations in general. So, even though I'm undecided on home automation path as a whole, have the SEM means I can dabble in a few things without having to figure the entire package out. From reading the install guide, I see the SEM uses an external antenna and the iGSMV4G is internal atenna only. This looks like it would allow me to put the SEM inside of a locking cabinet, which is desirable to me. Would the SEM allow for two-way voice features? I don't have this currently with my panel but I know the iGSMV4G supports and I believe my panel supports it, I would just need to add the AVS. Seems like it has a lot of upsides to the SEM overall, but I don't know much about alarm.com and how it compares to TC2 given I'm 5 years out of date. It does seem like TC2 hasn't had many enhancements in 5 years though. The main thing would be knowing that the basic features I use with TC2 today are just as good or better in Alarm.com. From the features I don't use (automation), it's more of an education thing to know how they compare and which might be superior. Also, is there any kind of limiations on zone control/monitoring with Alarm.com? I have unlimited use of that with TC2.
Your system is certainly compatible with the SEM then.
The PROM is WA21IP-3.13 with 2010 date on it. My existing VISTA-GSM is dated 06/02/2011 and the sticker on the mainboard at the top right (I believe for the IP communicator itself) is dated 6/15/2011
What year does your PROM chip read? As long as it is 2005 or later you should be good wit the SEM option. It is a cool product that supports Z-wave control (i.e. light, locks and thermostats) as well.
The SEM does offer all Alarm .com functionality. The only thing you can't do is program zones remotely. Another option is to add an iGSMV4G to your VISTA-21iP (with the 21iP jumper set to the OFF position) to upgrade to 3G/4G cellular communications and keep all of your existing TC2 services. It's hard to say which would be better for you without knowing your opinions of TC2 or what features are important to you.
If you use this with a Vista panel (specifically 21iP), does this offer 100% of the alarm.com capabilities that you would get when using an alarm.com "native" panel (ie a GE Simon series), or is there some limitations on capabilities? What's your opinion on the TC2.0 vs. alarm.com featureset? I've never used alarm.com and have been on TC2.0 for 5 years now. I have a 21iP with TC2.0 and on the onboard GSM communicator but it doesn't support the newer onboard communicators due to older firmware on the board. So I need to add a new communicator or I have this SEM/Alarm.com switch option. But I don't want to end up finding out I have some kind of limitation by making the switch vs. staying with TC2.0
No, the SEM doesn't work with a LYNX Touch system. However, if you wanted alarm .com service and you have an existing LYNX Touch system, you could simply swap out the main LYNX Touch controller to a 2Gig GoControl panel (https://www.alarmgrid.com/products/2gig-cp21-345 or https://www.alarmgrid.com/products/2gig-gc3-345 ) as Honeywell wireless sensors are compatible with 2Gig systems and both 2Gig panels support alarm .com communicators (https://www.alarmgrid.com/browse/alarm-monitoring-communicators/brands/2gig ).
Could this work for the Lynx touch as well?

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