Home Security Blog

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While we are a security and alarm monitoring company, we also tend to get some requests for products from people that aren't looking for security. Recently we were contacted by Philip J. Beards who designs beautiful custom pool tables and other cabinetry and furniture in London. He had a project he was working on that required some contact switches that would operate lighting within a wine cabinet he was designing. The idea behind the design was that when the cabinet is opened, the lights would turn on to illuminate the inside of the cabinet. He was planning to install the contact switch in the frame of the cabinetry and the magnet in the sliding door.

Philip's problem was that he could not find the contact switches from local London alarm companies or from anyone in mainland Europe. He had ordered some contacts from American companies, but with all of the switches he had tried, the circuit was only completing when the door was closed. Therefore, his lights were turning on when the sliding door was shut and no one could see his awesome work. He contacted us because he saw that we carried many types of contact switches.

After discussing how the alarm industry views normally open and normally closed switches, we decided the Honeywell 944-2GY switches would be the best option since they allow for normally open and normally closed configuration. In the alarm industry, we consider normally closed to be a switch that completes the circuit when the magnet is close to the contact because the door closed is the "normal" position. However, an electrician would consider that same contract to be normally open. The beauty of the 944-2GY contact is that it has three wire leads, a common, a normally closed and a normally open, so that Philip was confident he could configure the switch to do exactly what he needed.

These pictures don't do the final product justice, but you can see that the interior lights are on when the sliding door is open. You can also see one of Philip's gorgeous custom pool tables he built for the same customer.


If you would like to contact Philip for your next custom furniture project or for a beautiful custom pool table, please visit his website at www.philipbeards.co.uk. Also, if you have a unique project that may require some of our security products, call us today at 888-818-7728.

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Well that was quick! Just days after posting about the iPhone Total Connect 2.0 app crashing problems, Honeywell released an update that has fixed the issue that was causing the app to crash upon log in. Now, the Total Connect 2.0 app is back to working great for remote security system control.

From experience we know Honeywell is the premier security system brand and that AlarmNet is an industry leader in alarm communications and interactive services. The problem with the Total Connect 2.0 app was very unusual as the service is normally bulletproof. However, software updates can cause unexpected issues with the programs that use the software. As this particular issue only occurred when an infrequently used setting was changed, it took longer than usual for AlarmNet to become aware of the problem and then subsequently fix the problem.

Hopefully the negative reviews that were starting to pile up in the iTunes store will now be drowned out by good reviews from all of the people that use this app daily. We hear all the time how Total Connect 2.0 makes people's lives easier and we urge anyone that may have been turned off by the negative reviews to reconsider. 

For everyone else that already has the Total Connect 2.0 app, go get the new update from the App Store today!


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Honeywell has an excellent interactive service called Total Connect. With a compatible AlarmNet alarm communicator and the Total Connect service, you are able to remotely control your Honeywell security system from a computer or from a free app on an iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ or Blackberry® device. It's great when you leave and can't remember if you armed the system or if you have to let someone in and don't want to give them your alarm code. 

Of course, the value of the service lies in the ability to control the system from anywhere at anytime. Unfortunately, ever since Apple released their new iOS 6.0, some Total Connect users have experienced problems using the Total Connect 2.0 app from their iPhone. With the release of iOS 6.0, Total Connect 2.0 wasn't the only app that has had problems. Apple has publicly acknowledged that the new software has caused some issues and they rolled out a very quick update with iOS 6.0.1 to try and fix most of the problems. Even with that fix, some Total Connect 2.0 users are still experiencing problems.

It's unfortunate because an otherwise great application with overwhelmingly positive reviews, is now down to only 2.5 stars on the iTunes store. If you look at the reviews, you can see all of the negative reviews are in the past couple of months since iOS 6.0 was released. Everyone seems to be experiencing the same issue. The app will work once properly, but then if you log out, the app crashes and closes upon any subsequent log-ins. While Honeywell recommends upgrading to the newest version of the Apple iPhone software (iOS 6.0.1) and if that doesn't work, doing a backup and restore of the phone, there are people that are still experience the same issues after doing those fixes. AlarmNet's app developers are working on a fix and hopefully will have an app update out soon. 

However, in the meantime, we seem to have figured out a way to stop the app from crashing. When you first log into the app, the security screen is displayed that allows you to arm or disarm your system. Along the bottom of the app, there is a button that says 'Security' with an open lock icon, an 'Events' button with an icon of a triangle with an exclamation point in it and a 'More' button with three dots. When you press the 'More' button, there are some options for changing settings. The 'Message Center' allows your AlarmNet dealer to send you new updates. The 'View Preferences' option allows you to change the default Total Connect 2.0 screen when you first log-in. The 'Navigation Order' option allows you to change the available buttons along the bottom of the app. It seems that by changing the navigation order is what is causing the issue. Our Total Connect 2.0 app works perfectly every time we do a fresh download of the app. As soon as we edit the navigation order and then log out, the app crashes every time we try to log back in.

Therefore, for anyone having issues with a crashing Total Connect 2.0 app, please don't edit the navigation order if you want to avoid problems. We are sure Honeywell and AlarmNet will have an update soon that will restore the app to full working condition, but hopefully this fix can alleviate some headaches in the meantime.


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A lot of our users are return users. So, if that's you, I'm sure you've noticed that Alarm Grid looks a lot different today!

Alarm Grid's Old SiteIf you're new around here, I suppose you're wondering what it looked like in the "olden" days. Well, just to the left here, you can see a picture. The old site was sterile, white, and, if you believe the picture, extremely pixelated. We didn't think that the old site provided a very pleasant shopping experience to our customers. So we've done everything we can to change our look and feel. Navigation should be a bit more intuitive, and the site should make shopping a little bit easier. We would love your feedback. If you find anything confusing, aggravating, or you want to give your compliments to the webmaster, send us a quick email at suggestions@alarmgrid.com.

So let me introduce you to all the new members of the Alarm Grid family.

First, there is our new set of logos, straight in from the factory.

Alarm Grid's FaviconAlarm Grid's Square Logo

Alarm Grid's Rectangular Logo

We've also spiffied up the Alarm monitoring page, if you haven't seen that yet. It's got some nice new checkmarks, and some simple explanations next to each of the service descriptions so that users aren't left confused by what they're looking at, and we added a happy family to our homepage standing in front of their very, very secure home. 

On the inner pages, we made the pictures bigger (soon we'll have nice original photos of all our products), and we arranged them a bit more intuitively. You still have all the great information on every single, but it's a bit less cluttered, and we hope that navigating the products is a bit easier.

We are excited to roll out more and more features on Alarm Grid's site, and we hope that you like what you see. Let us know what we can do to improve your shopping experience. We want to make sure you're helped quickly, and that we give you good, accurate information.

Welcome to the new and improved Alarm Grid!


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Fresh off the heels of our Telular partnership, we had an interesting situation come up when trying to provide the Telguard Interactive service to one of our new customers that had an existing GE NetworX NX-8 control panel. 

While Telular does a good job of providing detailed installation instructions for integrating their cellular alarm communicators with most alarm control panels, the instructions for the newer NX-6 control panel were not working for this older NX-8 and therefore, the system wasn't acting as it should. 

Telguard Interactive service works by wiring the TG-1 Express universal cellular alarm communicator to the alarm control panel. With the NX-8, you need to connect the 'Gnd' terminal on the TG-1 to the auxiliary power 'COM' terminal on the NX-8 and the 'Pwr' terminal on the TG-1 to the 'AUX +' terminal on the NX-8. Then, you need to wire the two 'STC' terminals on the TG-1 to an open zone on the control panel. The zone used must be one of the eight on-board wired zones and you cannot use an expansion zone for this connection. Finally, you need to connect the 'Trp' terminal on the TG-1 to one of the 'AUXOUT' terminals on the NX-8. Of course, you also need a Telco connection from the RJ-45 connector on the TG-1 Express to the four Tip and Ring terminals on the GE NX-8 alarm control panel.

After making the proper connections, the Telguard Interactive installation guide walks you through programming the connected zone as a keyswitch zone and programming the connected auxiliary output to follow the armed state. The TG-1 acts as a normally open relay that closes for one second and then opens. With this setup, the TG-1 Express allows you to use a web based account to remotely control (arm/disarm) your NX-8 control panel.

When we followed the instructions for the NX-6 Telguard Interactive setup, the Telguard account showed the system was armed, when it was disarmed. When we tried to disarm the system from the Telguard account, the system armed. Once it armed, the app would fail every time we tried to disarm. We spoke to GE and Telguard technical support separately many times to try and solve the problem. Both companies were very helpful in giving us information on how their device should operate. However, it wasn't until we were able to do a conference call with a lead Telguard technician and a very knowledgeable GE technician, that we got the system working properly. After some troubleshooting and voltage metering, we determined that the NX-8 auxiliary output should actually be setup to follow the disarmed state instead of the recommended armed state. Since the interactive account was showing the opposite state, changing this output programming allowed the voltage across the 'AUXOUT' and auxiliary power 'COM' terminals to show a positive twelve volts when the NX-8 was disarmed and zero volts when the system was armed. The TG-1 Express needs these voltages in these states for the Telguard Interactive service to work properly. However, even after we figured out this programming deviation, the app was still not controlling the system.

We knew we had our NX-8 zone wired and programmed correctly because shorting the zone, with the TG-1 unhooked, resulted in an arm or disarm at the panel. We also knew the auxiliary output was providing the proper voltage when the TG-1 was unhooked, but still the interactive service did not work. Just when we thought GE and Telular were going to give up and say that the service wouldn't work with this customer's panel, I asked whether or not the four wire smoke detector that was attached to the panel could be complicating things. It turns out, that with four wire smoke attached to the NX-8, the auxiliary outputs are used for resetting the smoke detectors after an alarm. Therefore, because the smoke detectors were wired to the 'SMOKE +' terminal, the system was not allowing the change of voltage on the armed state. As soon as we unhooked the four wire smoke detector, everything worked perfectly. It was much easier to replace the existing four wire smoke detector with a new two wire smoke detector, than it would have been to replace the entire alarm control panel.

We would like to thank both GE and Telguard technical support for the time they dedicated to solving our issue and we are glad that we made Telguard aware of the way the NX-8 control panel works so that future Telguard members will be able to use the interactive service with NX-8 security system.

If you have an NX-8 security system, you can add the TG-1 Express to remotely control your security system. You can also have the TG-1 Express send you instant emails and/or text messages whenever a new system event occurs. The Telguard Interactive service is included in our Self Monitoring and Monitoring Plus plans available at our alarm monitoring sign up page.

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The resources we have available to us are incredible. When I look at how much our website can do, I'm amazed. But underneath the architecture, there are a ton of people we have to thank for making Alarm Grid a great place. So, as a thank you to all those companies that have made us who we are and who have contributed to making Alarm Grid a remarkable place for our customers, here's our salute to you.


Stripe LogoWhile we offer a ton of free content, we do sell both alarm monitoring and security products. What that means is we needed a really really secure solution to make sure that your credit cards are safe form identity theft. While a lot of small businesses do some pretty insecure stuff with your information like put it into excel sheets on their computers, store it in a filing bin in their office, or pay really cheap unproven, unsecure solutions to funnel your most important data, we decided to splurge and make sure that we went with the most secure solution we could find. Stripe is that solution. They are responsible for your ability to pay Alarm Grid, and they are the reason you can be confident that your data isn't going to compromised.


OnsipWhen you call Alarm Grid, our phone system is full-featured. It's one of those things that you probably won't see. But when a phone system doesn't work, you are going to know about it. In some ways, OnSip has done with business VOIP what we are trying to do with alarms. They provide businesses (and individuals if they wanted to use it), a DIY solution to managing and implementing a full-featured, complex phone system with tons of support. They provide FAQs, recommendations, and when we call them, they pick up right away and make sure that we are taken care of. Their technology is affordable, and the quality is excellent. We picked them because as Alarm Grid grows, they can grow with us. We picked all of our partners for that same reason. We want to make sure that the technology that they are offering is the kind of technology that we can use when we're supporting tens of thousands of clients at once and have tens or hundreds of employees.


Olark LogoYou see that little chat box at the bottom of the site? Some people get annoyed that it's there. But a majority of you really seem to love the feature. I'm going to be doing a lot of posts about how our Olark's chat has revolutionized the way we are doing business, but that's a different conversation. Just one quick little nugget for you to chew on: our average call volume since implementing Olark has dropped but the number of customer whom we are having conversations has more than doubled. For now, I just want to give Olark a shout-out, and say if you are going to be running an e-commerce store any time soon, we highly recommend implementing some sort of chat solution. We picked Olark and they are awesome. What are you using?


Highrise by 37 SignalsEvery company needs a way to make sure that interactions with our customers are tracked. As a pseudo-CRM we picked Highrise. It's not as full featured as a Salesforce, but we didn't need all the functionality of something like that. We needed something simple that would allow us to make sure that our users were served well by any member of our staff.

For those of you who are curious let me give you some fun facts about Alarm Grid's traffic, then I'll get back to lauding the merits of Highrise.

  • During the month of November, 2012, 29% of Alarm Grid's traffic came from "Returning Visitors" but accounted for 47% of all of the site's pageviews.
  • Returning Visitors looked at 86% more pages during every visit than new visitors.
  • Returning visitors spent 160% more time on the site than new visitors.
  • Nearly 35% of all our on-site interactions (like those using the chat widget for example) were used by returning visitors.

Ok, so what does that all mean? Well, Alarm Grid is doing something right. Our ratio of new visitors to return visitors increases a little bit more every month. We're proud of that statistic because it means that people who come to our site are finding it to be an useful resource. We don't make any money when you are looking through product manuals. We provide them for you because we believe that their usefulness to you is invaluable and that when you need new products, services, or anything alarm related, you will remember the experience you had with us and come back. Whether that's one year from now or five years from now. To date, we've done our best to support everyone who has asked for help whether they are under contract with one of those other alarm companies ;) or whether they are our client. As we grow, we may have to start changing how we do support, but we promise that we will do our best to make sure anyone and everyone can get the resources they need.

So that brings me back to Highrise. Highrise is a simple, nearly featureless (I mean that, it's really scaled down) CRM. It has integrations with Olark, Onsip, and a bunch of other neat applications that we will probably be using. When you make a call to us, a note is made in Highrise and gets added to you if you are a returning visitor. When you are done chatting with us, that chat gets pulled into Highrise so that when you come back, we can pull it up and continue the conversation where we left off. And like I said, about 1/3 of our conversations are people who have been here before. People making decisions about purchasing an alarm system oftentimes take a few weeks to decide what they want to get out of their system. Whether they are looking for a brand new wireless security system or maybe they just want some new sensors for their Honeywell Vista 20P and are trying to decide how they could make it compatible with wireless sensors since it's a wired system, Highrise allows us to store your conversations with us so that when you return you don't have to re-explain yourself. When you make an order, it gets imported into Highrise, sends it to our shipping department, and they can take it from there to make sure that your orders are going out error-free(ish).

Oh, and again, as we grow, the beauty of a good CRM is that as we bring competent people into the Alarm Grid fold, you can receive tech support from any of our techs and it won't be like starting from scratch. If we can achieve that goal, my guess is that far more than 29% of our sites traffic will be return visitors. I'm hoping that we see a community form around Alarm Grid and that number creeps up to somewhere around 40%! I think we're about a year away from those kind of numbers, but I'll be sure to keep you updated.


ScribdA lot of the alarm system documents are a bit hard to find for some reason. We decided to change that. We try to post a complete set of every single products pdfs: their manual, data sheet, install guides, and whatever else might come with the unit. That way, when you are at home getting ready to install your brand spankin' new alarm, when you need help, you can jump right into the manuals. The truth is, we want to make sure to support you in the way that is best for you. If you want to talk to someone, you can call us and ask questions; if you just want a quick answer to a simple question, the chat is very helpful; if you have a question that is pretty popular, we've probably posted a short FAQ about it, and you can either read the FAQs or ask us directly (we're just going to read the FAQ to you); on the other hand if you're the kind of person who starts a road trip in Minnesota to get to Florida, accidentally ends up in Oregon, nearly gets eaten by a bear, and still refuses to ask for directions because your so fiercely independent we have these manuals. For you, you do not need to ask any person any questions. You can maintain your dignity by anonymously perusing the documents of whatever product your having trouble installing. What's more, the manuals are beautifully displayed, functional, and they will work on any device you are using on Alarm Grid. All of that is thanks to Scribd! Now, we're not going to be held liable if Mr. Fiercely Independent accidentally sticks his screwdriver into the wall's electrical socket before setting the breaker to off... but it's good to know that the documents are there if you need, or even just prefer them.

Spree (Now Solidus)

SpreeWe gotta give a big online high-five to Spree. Our developer is in love with Ruby on Rails, and for good reason. Spree out of the box is like a beautiful factory made corvette. It's got a lot of horsepower, but it's rims aren't really chromed and it doesn't open up quite the way we want to. As we've customized it to our needs, it's becoming an unique, aftermarket, roaring machine that could win in a street race against any of those chintzy Ferraris.

I'll admit, I know nothing about cars. But what has been done with this site is nothing short of remarkable. As our new design is being prepared (we're putting racing stripes on the site), the awesomeness of what we have built will become more and more apparent. While a lot of companies build solutions for their stores from the ground up, we have received the incredible benefit of the internet's open source community. The store you see in front of you is the result of the Alarm Grid development team's hard hard work and many hundreds of hours of development, as well as the thousands and thousands of semi-anonymous developers who have contributed to the Spree project. So while Spree is listed lowest here, it's hard to express how highly we think of the project and its contributors. Of our partners, this is probably the most important reason Alarm Grid can do what it does. it is the backbone of our store, and your experience.


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Here at Alarm Grid, we know first hand how effective a security system can be. There is nothing more rewarding than getting a call or email from a new customer telling us about a successful apprehension or a thwarted burglary.

However, it's also nice to have some statistical proof that burglar alarms really do prevent burglaries. We just read about a recent study conducted in three different Pennsylvania suburbs that concluded that homes with a security system installed had 1.4% chance of burglary. The homes without a security system in those same suburbs had a 2.3% chance of burglary. Aside from the conclusion that Pennsylvania suburbs appear to be pretty safe, it's clear the security systems are helping. The study did not look at the differences between security systems that are monitored by a central station and security systems that are not monitored. I would be willing to bet that homes with a monitored security system have virtually no chance of being burglarized.

Another interesting finding from the same study, was that businesses in the same Pennsylvania suburbs had much higher likelihood of burglary. The businesses with a security system had a 4.2% chance of burglary, while the businesses without a security system had an 18.2% chance of burglary. We find it very interesting that businesses in these areas seem to benefit even more than homes from having an installed security system.

The L5100PK LYNX Touch wireless security system is a great fit for a home or a business so if you have a business that is not protected now, please call us today at 888-818-7728 to speak with a security expert that can help you design the perfect Honeywell security system for your business.

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We are proud to now be a member of Telular's Telguard Advantage Program (TAP). 

Telular's Telguard division has been providing wireless alarm communications to homes and businesses for over 25 years. While Telular does not manufacture alarm control panels or security systems, they are experts in alarm communications. Telguard has a complete line of cellular alarm communicators that provide a wireless link between a security system and a central station. Cellular is the most secure and reliable method of alarm monitoring available as there are no lines that can be cut by the intruder, and the cellular communicators use the alarm control panel's backup battery so that a power outage will not stand in the way of your alarm signals reaching their destination. Also, as cellular phones continue to push regular phone lines to extinction, the nationwide cellular network will only get larger and stronger. 

Telguard stands apart from other alarm communication providers because of their focus on educating alarm dealers about the upcoming changes in cellular technology. Nearly all cellular alarm communicators installed today operate on the older 2G cellular network while the current cellular phones use the 3G and 4G cellular network. Cellular phones require so much bandwidth that cellular carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile are being forced to cannibalize the older 2G network to be able to provide the necessary throughput. In fact, AT&T has formally announced that the 2G network will be completely shut down by the end of 2016. While other alarm communication providers continue to sell 2G cellular communicators, Telguard has been exclusively selling 3G/4G communicators since the beginning of 2012 to protect all alarm owners that choose to go cellular.

Here at Alarm Grid, we recognize that the 2G shutdown will be a major event in the alarm industry and we feel that every alarm owner deserves to know the truth about cellular. That is why we have partnered with Telular's Telguard division and why we recommend the TG-1 Express cellular communicator to all customers that do not have a Honeywell security system. The TG-1 Express is compatible with the 3G and 4G cellular networks so you can be confident it will work well into the future. Also, the TG-1 Express is compatible with Telguard's interactive service which allows you to remotely control your security system from a computer or a smartphone and provides you with instant emails and/or text messages directly from your security system. The Telguard interactive service is compatible with nearly any alarm control panel so that you can now get the next level interactive services that were once only available with the top brands in the industry.

Alarm Grid's partnership with Telguard is an important step for us as we aim to provide the most advanced and secure alarm communications to every alarm owner in the country!

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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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The Honeywell L5100PK-WIFI-4G is the perfect choice for anyone that wants the most secure and reliable alarm monitoring communications available. In the past, Honeywell did not have an option for dual path alarm monitoring using the wireless all-in-one LYNX Series alarm control panels. There was no dual path alarm communicator compatible with the LYNX Series alarm control panels and you could not install both an internet alarm communicator and cellular alarm communicator inside a single LYNX system. Therefore, you had to choose between the faster, less expensive internet communications and the more reliable cellular communications. This was a disadvantage of the easier to install LYNX Series wireless alarm control panels and forced people over to the VISTA Series alarm control panels which were compatible with the discontinued 7845-iGSM and the iGSMV dual path alarm communicators.  

Now however, with the Honeywell L5100 LYNX Touch system, you can use the L5100-WIFI internet communicator in conjunction with the GSMVLP5-4G cellular communicator for a true dual path alarm monitoring option using a LYNX Series wireless alarm control panel. If the internet connection ever goes down (due to a power outage or service interruption), the system will switch over to the GSMVLP5-4G and your alarm signals will go out over the AT&T cellular network. 

The L5100PK-WIFI-4G includes the same (3) 5816 wireless door and window contacts, 5800PIR-RES wireless motion detector and 5834-4 wireless key fob that are included in the L5100PK LYNX Touch security system kit, but it also comes with the L5100-WIFI and GSMVLP5-4G AlarmNet communicators so you can get the peace of mind that only dual path alarm monitoring can provide. 

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