Home Security Blog

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We hope this never happens to any of our clients, but what happens if a burglar forces you to disarm your system as you enter your home?

Well, luckily the Honeywell L5100 has the duress code feature and Eric from Washington asked us an amazing question, "how do I set the duress code on a Honeywell L5100 panel?"

In this video, we go over the details of a duress signal code and how you set it on the Honeywell LYNX 5100 panel.  

As usual, if you have any questions you'd like to see answered in our Ask Sterling series, either email us at support@alarmgrid.com or ask below in the comments.

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We get a lot of questions about how central station monitoring works, and so I thought it was a good idea to sort of explain how we do central station monitoring and why we partnered with our central station.

First, I think it’s worth noting that most alarm companies will tell you that they do the central station monitoring. The truth is, most security companies don’t actually monitor your alarm, they outsource it to a company. So when you ask them about their central station, they are probably telling you about someone else’s central station. It’s not really dishonest, but we prefer to be completely transparent about how we work so that you can make a better, informed decision.

CMS LogoWe chose to partner with Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS) because of their incredible track record. While most alarm companies use a central monitoring station that is UL listed, which means they meet UL’s rigorous standards for quality, some central stations go way above and beyond those standards, and that is what CMS does.

The most attractive features of CMS, in our opinion, was their load balancing and redundant station locations. While most UL listed central stations are one building, somewhere a bit remote and probably very secure, CMS has three different locations from which they answer calls: one in New Jersey, one in California, and one in Florida (where Alarm Grid is headquartered).

They also have load balancing, which means when they get flooded with calls, they re-route them to the location that has less volume. What that means is when there is an event (hurricane, snow storm, etc.) that causes a lot of systems to go off, and the central is inundated with calls, because your system is monitored by Alarm Grid and CMS, your alarm signal will still get the priority response you need without any delay.

Why does it all matter? Well, think about what would happen if we had only one central station here in Florida. Sure, we’d be UL listed. We’d have a great, secure location, all our fire extinguishers would be in the right places, we would have two redundant servers, multiple lines coming in, etc. But, if there were a hurricane, there is a chance that we would have to shut down for a short time to make sure our staff were safe. Even if we didn't have to shut down, our operators would have so many false alarms coming in that our response for real alarms may get delayed.

As a result of using CMS, not only do you not have to worry about natural disasters that are happening where the central station is located (think Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey), you can be certain that 24 hours a day, someone is looking out for you and ready to respond immediately to any emergency.


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We are proud to announce the release of the long awaited GSMVLP4G cellular alarm communicator for the L3000 LYNX Plus wireless alarm system!

The GSMVLP4G replaces the discontinued GSMVLP. While Honeywell has been focusing on the more advanced security systems, like the L5100, in their bid to replace all 2G cellular alarm communicators with 4G compatible communicators, they finally got around to releasing the GSMVLP4G. Now, all L3000 owners have a cellular alarm monitoring communicator that will work well into the future. Before the release of the GSMVLP4G, the GSVMVLP was the only option for cellular alarm communications using the L3000 security system. Unfortunately, as the GSMVLP is a 2G cellular communicator, it will no longer work at the end of 2016. In fact, certain areas of the country have already lost 2G cellular coverage and therefore GSMVLP's in those areas are already obsolete. If you have a GSMVLP installed currently, and you have experienced issues with your cellular alarm communications, please give us a call today so we can help you with an upgrade to the GSMVLP4G.

All of Honeywell's AlarmNet cellular alarm monitoring communicators are powered by AT&T's powerful and, most importantly, reliable cellular network. A cellular alarm communicator connects your security system to a central station with a wireless cellular communication path. Cellular alarm communicators are the safest and most reliable form of alarm communications because there is no physical wire that can be cut to defeat the system.

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GSMVLPThe GSMVLP was a wonderful device that allowed Honeywell's LYNX Plus L3000 panel to communicate with AlarmNet using the cellular communication pathway.

As Honeywell transitions to AT&T's fast and reliable 4G network in anticipation of the end of the older 2G network, they have begun discontinuing the antiquated 2G communicators and replacing them with 4G compatible communicators.

We're sad to see this communicator go as we have loved the amazing security it has provided for Alarm Grid's many monitored clients. However, this is one of the final communicators to be put to rest and its replacement, the GSMVLP4G, will join Honeywell's growing pantheon of 4G communicators: the GSMVLP5-4G for the L5100, the GSMV4G or GSMX4G for a majority of the VISTA panels, and the VISTA-GSM4G for the VISTA 21iP.

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So now that our fearless leader is hitched and I'm not off to any weddings, it's time to return to what I'm sure is everyone's favorite part of Friday: the Owner DIY Blog!

As I introduced in my blog post two weeks ago, I have a Honeywell LYNX L5100  system installed in my home. But it didn't just install itself. I'm here to document how we did it!

So a little background on my house. Like many people in Florida who hate putting up shutters on their second floor, I have high impact Hurricane windows and doors.  

And I don't just have them. I have a LOT of them. Being an older, remodeled home, I have them in all shapes and sizes. French doors, sliding glass doors, and way too many windows.

So when it came time to designing my security system, we had to put a lot of thought into picking the right door and window sensors.

First, let's consider the windows. There's a ton of them and clearly we want to protect that method of entry. 

Since there's over 40 of them (many of the windows are double-hung and multiple panels per opening), we had to rule out wireless window sensors. Even at those affordable Alarm Grid prices, they're unrealistic in that quantity.

We couldn't even use glass break detectors. Impact glass functions a lot like bullet proof glass. It won't shatter and set off the detectors.

So we settled on a few motion detectors placed cleverly throughout the house. Luckily since my manly 9 pound Shih Tzu just squeezes under the 80 lb limit of the Honeywell 5800PIR-RESthe choice of which one to use was obvious.

Need help installing yours? We have a great Honeywell 5800PIR-RES installation video.

With three of those placed in rooms with entryways and hallways outside the rest of the rooms, it was time to move on to the doors. Oh the many doors.

Since I'm a snob, I knew the standard and popular Honeywell 5816 just wasn't thin enough for me. I needed the slightly more expensive, but way more discreet Honeywell 5811.

For the many sliding glass doors, I needed to install two door sensors per door because the doors could open from either direction. Looking for help? We have a great video showing how to install door sensors on a sliding glass door.

For the French doors / double front door? Luckily, one side was a dummy / passive door that locked into the frame. We were able to get away with just one sensor on the active side. Again, we have a great French door installation video for the 5811.

Any questions or concerns on how to design your security system? Next up we'll go over some of the cool stuff we did with Z-Wave. 

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This week, Josh from Connecticut had a pretty standard question a lot of us have before purchasing any wireless products: how long will the battery last?

Specifically, he wanted to know how long the battery in the Honeywell 5811 last. The Honeywell 5811 is a wafer thin door and window sensor that isn't as clunky as its counterpart, the 5816. It's button battery may be small, but it is very very effective.

While the answer to this question is obviously based on usage, I tried my best to answer Josh with a general estimate based on Honeywell specifications and average lifespans on Honeywell CR2032 3V lithium batteries as well as our personal experience with these sensors.

Watch the video below:

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I’m excited to tell you we’re getting bigger and bigger. We add more accounts each day, which makes us wonderfully excited. But even though we’re growing, we’re still a company with only a few employees. So this weekend, we are all out to see our dear leader, President Sterling Donnelly, get married to his beautiful fiancee.

Don’t expect to see many personal announcements here on the blog, but we thought this one was a particularly important one both because of who’s getting married and because we didn’t want to leave you all wondering what the heck was going on when you called.

We will be checking messages if you call 888-818-7728, and we will be checking emails when you send them to support@alarmgrid.com. We will do our best to get back to these as quickly as possible. And starting on Tuesday, things will be back to normal, except that Alarm Grid will have a new First Lady.

In the meantime, if you're feeling a little nostalgic, or feel like celebrating with us, go ahead and listen to the wedding march, drink a samosa, and send some good thoughts our way!


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This week on Ask Sterling, we're heading back to basics as Andrew from Kalamazoo asks how to arm and disarm a Honeywell L5100.

Due to the touch screen nature of the Honeywell LYNX 5100, combined with the multiple arming modes, we can see the confusion!

Let me walk you through the difference between Armed Stay and Armed Away in this video and how to arm and disarm your system:

As usual, if you have any questions you'd like me to cover in my next video or in our security FAQ section, please ask in the comments or send us an email!

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5800PIRZ-RESIntroducing Alarm Grid's Zombie Motion Detector

Traditional motion detectors generally work through infrared detection. When a hot body of a certain size (and yes, by hot body I am referring to all of us here at Alarm Grid), crosses the sensor, it will go off.

So what happens when a member of the undead crosses a sensor?

Well, since they're cold-blooded like a lizard, we assumed nothing would happen, but we weren't really sure since so little is known about these scary creatures. So we ran some tests of our own, rustled up some zombies, and worked on a motion detector that is both pet immune and zombie proficient. When the zombies approach, the 5800PIRZ-RES will let you know right away. Similar to Honeywell's 5800PIR-RES   our most popular motion detector, the 5800PIRZ-RES will let you know when a warm blooded body is approaching, but at the top is what we call the "Cyclops Eye" which looks for big bodies (80 pounds and up) that are below 80 degrees, which is right about where a Zombie running a fever might find itself.

You can have peace of mind against all sorts of undead, since our solution ensures that vampires, zombies, and other creatures of the night will all be stopped in their tracks. Next on the invention train for Alarm Grid: werewolf detectors. Unfortunately, those big dogs are still ignored by pet immunity. But we're working on a solution as we speak.

If you are interested in getting a 5800PIRZ-RES for yourself, we're currently taking pre-orders, call us today, and put your name on the list before we sell out of our first batch!

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Much like those cheesy Hair Club for Men commercials of the 90s, I'm proud to say, I'm not just one of the founders of Alarm Grid, I'm also a client!

In case you're wondering, yes, I even pay the same as everyone else!  Alarm Grid's prices are already so low, I gladly pay the same monitoring prices.

So, every week I'd like to highlight a different aspect of my alarm system I love and hopefully cover some cool features you might not even know you have!

First, some background.  Like most of you, I don't come from an alarm background.  This system?  The first one I've ever installed.

My previous house already had a Brinks system installed.  So I, like many people, just paid a silly amount to activate the thing and never even realized the cool stuff that was out there.  It was literally a fixed panel with 3 sensors that I paid close to $40 a month for.  What a silly waste!

So, of course, when I moved into my current house, I called up the usual big guys.  They came out, quoted astronomical prices to cover my home's many openings (4 sliding glass doors each requiring two sensors were just the beginning!) and required long term contracts.

After paying enough early termination fees in my life, I decided to make the unfortunate choice of just putting off my alarm system.  That's never an acceptable solution.

Luckily, I soon discovered the Honeywell L5100 and Total Connect 2.0.  It was love at first site.

A panel that required NO wires (except for its power supply) and offered remote control and  Z-Wave?  As a huge gadget geek that always tried and failed to wire smart homes in the past, I knew I met the panel of my dreams.

Now finding the service?  That was obviously an even easier decision for me.  And hopefully after you meet our amazing staff and learn about our incredible service, it will be an easy choice for you.

So stick with me over the coming weeks and learn about my security system and the cool stuff I'm doing every Friday.  

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