Home Security Blog

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Hi DIYers! There's an unfortunate misconception in the security industry that wireless systems aren't as reliable as hardwired systems. A person may look down on wireless systems due to the the potential for hacking, wireless signal ranges and the limited battery life of wireless sensors.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security systemThe reality though is that wireless systems are just as reliable, if not more reliable, than their hardwired counterparts. Wireless systems also offer greater convenience and more flexibility both when setting up a system and when moving it to a new location. As a result, it's not much of a surprise that most new alarm systems are of the wireless variety. With a wireless system, a user will not need to run wires across the building, and installing equipment will be made much easier. Wireless systems also have the added benefit of requiring fewer add-ons than wired systems. But even with these positives, some people may still not be convinced that wireless systems are often the superior options. Today, we're going to break-down some of the biggest misconceptions against wireless systems and prove that they are truly a viable option for home and business security.

A major concern we often hear about with wireless systems is that they could be wirelessly hacked. The fear is that a potential intruder could use specialized equipment to takeover the sensors or the control panel that is used with the system. From there, the intruder could control or disable the system and enter the property uninterrupted. While this is extremely uncommon, it is a legitimate concern for those who require the highest level of security for their home or business. However, wireless hacking is really only possible with older, unencrypted sensors. Many newer alarm systems will support encrypted wireless sensors that are virtually impossible for outsiders to takeover or hack into, even with the most advanced equipment available. The way that encryption works is by having both the panel and the sensors know a unique encryption key. Any information that is sent out is encrypted for maximum security. Once the information is received, it is decrypted using the encryption key. This process is often referred to as a "digital handshake", and it allows for wireless sensors to be some of the most secure in the industry. Some wireless sensors that utilize encryption include the Honeywell SiX Series Sensors for the Honeywell Lyric Controller, the Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz Sensors for the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 and IQ Panel 2 Plus Systems, and the DSC PowerG Sensors.

The next misconception we hear with wireless systems is that the wireless signals are too weak to work reliably. Some users are afraid that even once the sensor has been paired with the system, its signal could weaken over time, and it might not work reliably. This could not be further from the truth. Once a sensor is paired with a system and permanently mounted within in range, it will always work with the system. The key is to not move the system or the sensors around, as it could disrupt the signals. But there's really no reason to do this.

Users should also remember that each sensor has a certain wireless signal range that should be kept in mind when planning the system. For example, Honeywell 5800 Series Sensors have a signal range of about 200 feet away from the system. On the other hand, a DSC 915 MHz PowerG Sensor will have a wireless range of roughly 2,000 feet in open air when used with an IQ Panel 2 Plus! Remember that walls and obstacles can reduce these ranges, as the wireless signal will have a more difficult time reaching the panel. Just make sure that the sensors work reliably from their final locations before you mount them permanently. If wireless range is an issue, then you may be able to overcome the problem by using a compatible wireless repeater. Some examples of wireless repeaters include the Honeywell 5800RP and the DSC PG9920.

A third concern we come across with wireless systems is that wireless sensors offer a limited battery life. Some users ask us what happens if the battery for a wireless sensor suddenly dies. They believe that their security system could randomly stop working all because a battery died. While it's true that not having to rely on batteries is an advantage of hardwired sensors, this does not make wireless systems any less reliable. A wireless sensor that uses batteries would not just suddenly stop working in most cases. Instead, there are multiple preventive measures put in place to keep the user safe.

Whenever a sensor battery is low, it will transmit a warning to the security system. The user will receive this alert on the panel and know to change the battery as soon as possible. In most cases, the user will have a week or longer before the sensor will die. This will give them plenty of time to replace the battery. And if a sensor does ever go offline entirely, the panel will alert the user to the loss of RF supervision. This way, they will know if a sensor is ever not being detected by the panel before it becomes any type of security concern.

Qolsys iq panel 2 at and t wireless security system with at and In addition to being more convenient and easier to install, there is one other major advantage that wireless systems offer over wired systems. That is, wireless systems cannot be as easily tampered with. A hardwired sensor can have its line to the panel cut by a potential intruder so that it no longer functions properly. Of course, when this happens, the hardwired system will recognize this and trigger an immediate trouble situation. This makes this a relatively minor security concern. But it would still be very inconvenient to have to rewire the sensor and make sure that its working order has been restored.

A user might even bypass the zone for the time being and leave the system vulnerable until they can properly address the issue. With wireless systems, there are no direct physical connections, and this is much less of an issue. In that sense, because there are no physical connections to cut, an encrypted wireless system might be considered more reliable than a wired system in many cases.

Modern wireless alarm systems offer excellent reliability for homes and businesses. Virtually all of the concerns or doubts regarding wireless setups are unwarranted and not of real concern. Therefore, wireless systems offer excellent reliability and protection for virtually any home or business. They make for a great option for anyone looking get into alarm monitoring. And once you have a wireless system, make sure to sign-up for an alarm monitoring plan from Alarm Grid. We offer varying plans based on the needs of the customer. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us at anytime through email at support@alarmgrid.com. You may also call us from 9am to 8pm EST M-F at 888-818-7728.

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Happy Halloween DIYers! It's that time of year again, and our entire team is ready. Our shipping team took the time to decorate the office and make everything spooky! We have bats, spiders and ghouls lurking in every corner. It sure has been fun setting up for the scariest day of the year!

Alarm Grid will be operating business as usual for Halloween. Our office hours will remain from 9am to 8pm EST, and our monitored customers can call us at 888-818-7728 for any activations or troubleshooting. Just know that your Alarm Grid support technician might be in costume as opposed to their regular uniform! If you need to speak to us after hours, please send an email to support@alarmgrid.com. And of course, your monitoring service will still operate as normal, and Criticom will be protecting your business around the clock.

Now with business out of the way, let's take a look at our office. Special thanks to the Alarm Grid shipping team for putting this together!

Our Halloween decorations are present as soon as you walk through our main entrance! A ghoul is lurking by our front door, and we put spider webs and Halloween-colored ribbons on our stairway. Our main Alarm Grid sign got in the spirit with spiders and webs. More webs are present around the railing looking above.

Employees who clock-in are greeted by a spooky bat that rests beside them. Each entryway has webs, spiders and bats. There's even a giant spider by the support room! And the bookcase in the planner room got the Halloween treatment as well.

We put bloody handprints on the window looking outside toward our parking lot. More spider webs were hung around the entrance to our back hallway. Our taller employees really enjoyed walking through these webs throughout the month of October! A ghoul is hanging around the Honeywell IPCAM-WIC2 in our support room. And all of our tech boards got covered in spider webs!

There was another entrance with webs that our tall employees really enjoyed passing through. The boards on the opposite side of the tech room also got the web treatment. Our conference room couldn't escape the fun, as it received a few bloody footprints on the windows. Lastly, a bat is flying around the writer's window (aka my desk).

We hope that all of you have a safe and fun Halloween. Remember to arm your security system if you decide to go out. And if you don't already have security cameras, you might consider purchasing some. They are a great way to see any trick-or-treaters who are at your door, and they can help you catch anyone who decides to play any nasty tricks! Our team is here if you need any help. Happy Halloween!



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Hi DIYers! We have exciting news today, as Honeywell has completed the spin-off of its security divisions into a brand-new company, Resideo. Although Resideo has a license agreement to use the Honeywell Home brandname for the next 40 years, we expect the name to soon transition to Resideo.

As for customers, we do not expect any major changes. Anyone who logs into Total Connect 2.0 will need to accept a new End User License Agreement (EULA). It is fairly standard, and it includes basically everything a user would expect to agree to when using a service like TC2. If you do not accept the agreement, then you will be unable to use the TC2 service. However, please feel free to read through the EULA when you have an opportunity. From what we can tell, it is no different from the EULA that customers agreed to when using TC2 from Honeywell.

As for now, all of the Honeywell equipment will retain its current name. But this could change in the coming months. Honeywell actually went through a similar situation back in 2000 when it purchased Pittway and its subsidiary of Ademco. Shortly after this, all of the Ademco equipment was rebranded as Honeywell. This included the Ademco VISTA Series, which became the Honeywell VISTA Series that is still being sold today. So it's very possible that the Honeywell Panels and Honeywell Sensors could soon be sold under the Resideo banner. We expect more information to be made available in the near future.

If you have any questions about this spin-off, please send us an email at support@alarmgrid.com. You may also call us at 888-818-7728 during normal business hours, which are from 9am to 8pm EST M-F.

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Hi DIYers! We are excited to announce that several Apple HomeKit compatible locks have been added to our site! These locks are great for iOS users who have already got started with HomeKit and those who are interested in the service. Other new products have been released as well.

With the increased popularity of smart home automation, Alarm Grid knows that there is now a stronger link than ever between security systems and smart home devices. HomeKit is one of the most popular smart protocols used today, and we know that many of our current and future customers appreciate using these functions on their iOS devices. This latest rollout of products from Alarm Grid is centered around smart locks that are compatible with the HomeKit service, which means they can be used with the Lyric, a HomeKit security system.

Please note that some of the products listed below are available in multiple colors. We would like to introduce the following HomeKit locks:

We are also now offering new cellular amplifiers. These devices are used to boost the signal strength of cellular communicators that are used with alarm systems. They can also be used to strengthen the cellular signal for smartphones that are used in the home. The following cellular amplifiers are now available:

Finally, we are now offering certified refurbished versions of select Honeywell products. These certified refurbished products offer the same great performance and functionality as new models, but at a more affordable price. The following certified refurbished products are now available:

If you have any questions about these new products, please not hesitate to reach out to us at support@alarmgrid.com. You may also call us at 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm EST Monday thru Friday.

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We have recently been made aware that the maximum range for the DSC 915 MHz PowerG Sensors is only 2,000 feet in open air when used with the IQ Panel 2 Plus. This is quite shorter than the 2 kilometer maximum range when these same sensors are used with DSC PowerSeries Neo Alarm Systems.

Qolsys iq panel 2 at and t wireless security system with at and Through testing, we have determined that the range of PowerG Sensors is noticeably shorter when they are used with a Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus instead of with a DSC PowerSeries Neo. This is likely due to the smaller antenna that is featured on the IQ Panel 2 Plus System. On a DSC PowerSeries Neo System, the sensors can achieve their advertised wireless range of up to 2km in open air. But the IQ2+ offers a considerably smaller wireless range, even with clear line of sight. The maximum range for a PowerG Sensor used with an IQ Panel 2 Plus is no more than 2,000 feet. This is much less than 2km. We also do not recommended trying to use the Power Sensors with an IQ2+ beyond 500 feet away in practice. This is especially true if many obstacles and walls are present.

Previously, we produced content that led some customers to believe that the maximum range of these sensors was 2km when used with the IQ2+. We have since learned that this is not the case, and we have adjusted our old content accordingly. These changes apply to all versions of the IQ Panel 2 Plus, regardless of which legacy daughtercard or cellular communicator is used. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused for our customers.

The only way these sensors can support a 2km signal range is when they are used with a DSC PowerSeries Neo System. These systems feature more powerful antennas that can allow these sensors to achieve their maximum possible distance. Alarm Grid does not sell any PowerSeries Neo Systems at this time, but we do offer compatible Alarm.com cellular communicators that allow us to takeover these systems.

That being said, 2,000 feet of open air range is still extremely impressive for any alarm system. Even customers with the largest of homes and should be able to utilize these sensors as they see fit. And if the range still isn't enough, a PowerG wireless repeater can be used to effectively double the range. This will boost it to more than 1,000 feet when used in most homes and up to 4,000 feet when used with an IQ Panel 2 Plus in open air!

Additionally, we've found that these sensors cannot auto-enroll with an IQ Panel 2 Plus like most other compatible sensors. Instead, the Serial Number for the sensor must be manually entered. For the PowerG Sensors, this is called the "DL ID", and it can be found on the sensor's box. The user must also set the Source Signal to reflect that of PowerG. Please keep this in mind when enrolling a PowerG Sensor with an IQ Panel 2 Plus Alarm System.

UPDATE: We have since learned that you can auto-enroll PowerG Sensors with the IQ Panel 2 Plus. This post explains the process.

If you have any questions about the IQ Panel 2 Plus or DSC PowerG Sensors, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. You may email us at any time at support@alarmgrid.com, or you can call us from 9am to 8pm EST M-F at 888-818-7728. We look forward to helping you with your security needs!

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Hi DIYers! It has been awhile since our last video recap, but the last few days have been very busy for us! Since Monday, October 22nd, we have released seven new videos on YouTube. Once again, we have our technicians Joe and Jorge teaching users how to use their security systems.

Here are the new videos from October 22nd thru October 25th:

Adding an External Keypad to an Interlogix Simon XTi & XTI-5

Joe shows users how to add an external keypad to an Interlogix Simon XTi or Simon XTi-5 System. Adding an external keypad will provide a user with a second point of on-site access for their security system. This can be very useful if a user regularly enters their home from multiple locations, such as front doors, back doors, basement doors and garage doors. The best external keypad for these systems is the Interlogix Two-Way Talking Touch Screen Keypad.

Using Google Home with an Interlogix Simon XTi & XTi-5

Joe explains how a Simon XTi or Simon XTi-5 System can be used with Google Home voice commands. This is made possible through the use of Alarm.com. Any command sent from Google Home that is intended for the Simon XTi or XTi-5 System will first need to pass through the Alarm.com servers. This is because a Google Home device cannot communicate directly with an Interlogix Simon XTi or XTi-5. In order to access Alarm.com, a compatible cellular communicator must be installed with the system.

Getting Power to the Interlogix Simon XTi & XTi-5

Jorge demonstrates how a user can provide power for their Interlogix Simon XTi or XTi-5 Security System. Like all panels, these systems primarily rely on outlet power from a plug-in transformer. This will provide reliable power in most situations. If the power goes out, the system will automatically switch over to its backup battery power supply. The backup battery will slowly restore power while the system is running on its outlet power. This way, the system will be ready in case the electricity goes out.

Adding a Key Fob to an Interlogix Simon XTi & XTi-5

Jorge shows users how to add a key fob to an interlogix Simon XTi or Simon XTi-5 System. A key fob can be useful for providing a quick way to arm or disarm the system when you are coming or going. These devices can be conveniently kept in a pocket, purse or car and used whenever needed. Most key fobs offer options for disarming, arming stay, arming away and triggering panics. A great key fob to use with these systems is the Interlogix 4-Button Micro Key Fob.

Self-Monitoring an Interlogix Simon XTi or XTi-5

Joe explains how a user can receive self-monitoring services with an Interlogix Simon XTi or XTi-5 System. Self-monitoring means that the user cannot receive automatic emergency dispatch from a central station. Instead, the user will receive text and/or email alerts about any system events. It is then up to them to contact any needed emergency services. To use self-monitoring with a Simon XTi or XTi-5, the system must have an active cellular communicator and be set up with Alarm.com. The user will also need an appropriate alarm monitoring plan.

Wiring a TG-1 Express to a Wired Security System

Joe demonstrates how to wire a TG-1 Express Communicator to a hardwired alarm system. The TG-1 Express is a device that allows a security panel with a built-in phone dialer to be used for cellular alarm monitoring service. The panel will think that it is dialing out using a phone line. But really, it will be connecting to a cellular network. Any signals that are sent through this cellular connection will be first sent to Telguard. From there, Telguard will forward the signals to a central monitoring station.

Finding the Firmware Version on a 2GIG GC2 Panel

Jorge shows users how to find the current firmware version for a 2GIG GC2 Alarm System. This information is found within the System Toolbox. Upgrading the firmware can be important for using certain add-ons and functions with the system. There are two ways to upgrade the firmware for a 2GIG GC2. The easiest is to receive an over-the-air (OTA) update from a monitoring company. This requires that the system has active monitoring service. 2GIG also offers an updater tool that can be purchased separately. More information about the latest firmware is available on our 2GIG GC2 Firmware Page.

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We have received news that Honeywell's AlarmNet servers are temporarily down. During the outage, Total Connect 2.0 will be down. The outage is also causing some alarm signals to not reach the central station. We apologize for any issues or inconveniences that this may cause for users.

This is unprecedented in our history as an alarm company. We have never seen a partner fail to send signals through to a central station. We're relying on Honeywell to fix the servers quickly to make sure that your family is protected. At the moment, this error is affecting anyone who uses Honeywell's services (which is any company that monitors Honeywell equipment). We will be updating you about the situation as we hear more from the service provider.

We expect service to return shortly. Alarm Grid will update when more info is available.



"At 11:42 am Eastern time today, the AlarmNet network experienced a disruption of services that impacted the operations of AlarmNet, AlarmNet 360 & Total Connect services. During this period, all transmitted signals were queued (not lost) and began to be transmitted as the services were restored. This may have caused a spike in AlarmNet signals during the recovery period. In addition, during this period, AlarmNet 360 was not available and consumers were unable to use their Total Connect apps for remote services.

We have been monitoring the services since the recovery began at 12:42 and are comfortable that AlarmNet, AlarmNet 360 and Total Connect are fully operational.

AlarmNet signaling services, AlarmNet 360 and Total Connect are the foundation of our security solutions and we will continue to strive for 100% reliability. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you and your customers."

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Hi DIYers! We have great news for 2GIG GC3 owners. Nortek, the owners of 2GIG, has officially announced that the 2GIG GC3 now has partitioning support available. The update comes via the Firmware Version 3.2 release. This release makes the GC3 our first wireless panel with partitioning.

2gig gc3 diy wireless security system w slash 7 screenIf you aren't familiar with partitioning, it refers to the practice of sectioning off an alarm system into different groups that are called partitions. This allows zones within the designated partition to be armed or disarmed while the system zones outside that partition remain unaffected. For example, if a specific system partition is disarmed, then all of the zones within that partition will become disarmed. But the rest of the system will remain armed. Partitioning features are somewhat similar to bypassing zones, but it does not require each zone to be individually bypassed.

In the case of the 2GIG GC3, the partitions are referred to as "Smart Areas". Every Smart Area can be individually and set up for its own alerts and notifications. Any zone within a Smart Area be individually bypassed if needed. The system will support a maximum number of four different Smart Areas. Each Smart Area can be assigned its own set of access codes. This is excellent for restricting access to certain Smart Areas. The Smart Areas option for controlling this feature is easily accessible from the main screen of the 2GIG GC3 System.

Other features for 2GIG GC3 Firmware Version 3.2.0 include the support for up to eight wireless keypads (SP1, SP2 and PAD1-345), better support for Z-Wave smart home devices, fixes with the French and Spanish language options, updates to broadband network programming (Q33, Q34 and Q35) and general networking improvements.

To apply the update, download the current firmware file on this page. Extract the downloaded file, and save the firmware file to the root directory of a USB drive. Then plug the USB drive into the top of the 2GIG GC3. The system will ask you to confirm the update and provide either the Master Code or the Installer Code (default 1561). The system will then reboot and perform the update.

Additionally, Firmware Version 3.2.0 has received approval from Alarm.com, and the update can pushed down over-the-air (OTA) by an Alarm.com dealer. Please note that performing an OTA update will include added fees that may be passed on to the user. However, updating through a USB drive will not feature any added costs.

Update: This feature is also built-in standard on the newer 2GIG GC3e System.

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We have heard from Honeywell that some Lyric OC1 Cameras, also known as the IPCAM-WOC1, are experiencing temporary difficulties. Fortunately, no other Total Connect IP Cameras are experiencing any problems or issues at this time. Honeywell says that they expect to fix the problem shortly.

According to Honeywell, the problem is affecting newly activated Lyric OC1 Cameras. These cameras are currently failing to steam live video. However, the cameras are still successfully enrolling with TC2 and notifying users about any motion that is detected. We expect the issue to be resolved in the near future.

Alarm Grid apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause for our customers. If you have any questions about this issue, please reach out to us at support@alarmgrid.com, or call us at 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm EST Monday thru Friday.

Update: Honeywell has informed us that the problem has been resolved. If you enrolled a new Honeywell IPCAM-WOC1 yesterday and it's not streaming through Total Connect 2.0, first delete the camera from your TC2 account. Then press and hold the reset button on the camera to restore it to factory defaults. Then re-register the camera with TC2. It should now stream video properly.

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Hey DIYers! So you have central station monitoring from Alarm Grid. Great! Now you can receive automatic dispatch to your home or business during a break-in, fire or medical crisis. You and the people around you are now truly more protected! But can emergency services find the building?

Alarm grid inside security stickers

First, it can be helpful to consider how exactly central station alarm monitoring works. Every alarm system consists of multiple sensors and a centralized control panel. Each sensor is assigned to its own individual zone on the alarm system. When a security breach (e.g. an opened door or a broken window) or a life-safety event (e.g. a fire or an outbreak of carbon monoxide gas) occurs, a sensor will be activated. The sensor will send an alert to the control panel. Based on the programming settings for that zone, the system can be instructed to send out a remote signal that will ultimately reach a central monitoring station. The central station operates 24/7/365, and a highly trained operator will be immediately notified of any distress signal that comes through. The operator will have access to the user's account information, and they will contact the local emergency authorities in the user's area. The local authorities will then send out the appropriate emergency responders based on the type of alarm that occurs.

A sometimes-overlooked aspect of central station monitoring is that human responders must be able to successfully locate the home or business where the crisis is taking place. In order to receive a fast emergency response, you will want to make it as easy as possible for the police, fire department or medical technicians to find your property. Sometimes it can be very clear where the trouble is occurring (e.g. a large fire, an obvious break-in), but more often than not, this is actually not the case. While emergency responders are highly trained in locating the correct property, you can still help them out by making your home or business easy to find.

Alarm Grid understand this concern, and we ask customers to provide us with as much information as possible. This allows us to offer the best possible home and business alarm monitoring services every single time. Any information that we receive will be forwarded to our central station monitoring partner, Criticom Monitoring Station (CMS). By doing this, any operator at CMS will be able to relay the most accurate information to the local emergency personnel.

CMS Logo

Many of our customers wonder how they can make their home or business easy for others to find. Obviously, we take down basic information like an address. But this isn't always enough for an emergency responder to quickly locate the property. One way we help is by asking our customers to provide us with the nearest major cross-streets. This can be very helpful for pointing responders in the proper direction. At the very least, this is the basic information we require.

But many of our customers go beyond these basic guidelines. This comes in the form of "special instructions" that we can provide to CMS. These special instructions can be anything that would help someone locate the property. For example, the special instructions might say "the yellow house on the corner" or "take a left upon entering the neighborhood". It is also crucial that any customer provides us with the gate code for their residence if they live in a gated community. Although special instructions are optional, they can be extremely valuable when emergency personnel are trying to find your home or business Remember, during a real emergency, every second counts!

One of our customers, Brett, recently shared a great idea with us. Brett installed large, easy-to-read numbers that illuminate at night on his mailbox. This way, any emergency response team that arrives at his residence will be able to quickly verify his house number. We think this is an excellent idea, and we encourage all of our customers to follow Brett's lead by making their homes easier to locate.

If you are new to alarm monitoring, or if you would like to update the special instructions on your CMS account, please do not hesitate to reach out to us! You can always email us at support@alarmgrid.com, or you can call us at 888-818-7728 from 9am to 8pm EST M-F.

We would also like to offer special thanks to Brett for allowing us to use his picture in this post. Thank you Brett, we are very proud to help keep you and Shadow the Cat safe!

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