Home Security Blog

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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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Hey DIYers, it's Sterling here with my weekly column, "Ask Sterling." Every week I'll answer one of your questions and feature it here on the blog.

This week's question comes from John in Washington. John asked a basic, but important question, "How do you turn on a Honeywell L5100?"

Since the panel does not come with an easy power cable like the LT-CABLE by default, that's a solid question!

In the following video, I show John how to open the L5100 control panel and connect the LT-CABLE to the L5100. I also show how to connect the other end of the LT-CABLE to the LYNX Touch power supply.  Oh, and, of course, how to power it on!


Also, if you have any questions you'd like to see answered in Ask Sterling, ask below in the comments!

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Sometimes Alarm Grid's customers send us pictures of their DIY projects and how we helped or how we made a positive difference in their lives. Today, we thought we'd share a particularly cute one with you all since it warmed our little hearts.


After getting her Alarm Grid security signs and security stickers  this mother decided to use the box to pack her daughter up and send her to us. We're still waiting for the young lass to arrive in the mail, but we are all very excited about having a little girl to keep around the office. And before you get upset by the idea of sending your 3 foot tall child to Alarm Grid (which will fit perfectly into one of those boxes), just look at how happy she is.

Oh, and here's another great little picture of an Alarm Grid sign weathering the great Minnesota winter.


We feel bad for the sign, it looks awful cold and we're against subjecting these beautiful billboards to the elements; we're pretty sure that it's shivering. We asked the homeowners if they could get out there and put a jacket on it. We're hoping they do. If they don't, this sign's got a rough 6-8 months ahead of it.

Is that right? Minnesota has snow on the ground until September?

It's pictures like these that make us happy that we're in Florida. But we're proud of the fact that our Alarm Grid tendrils stretch all the way to the frozen tundras.

If you have a picture of an Alarm Grid sign, or if you have shoved your son or daughter into a box and want to show us, feel free to send your pictures to us at support@alarmgrid.com   If our signs look good in your yard or If we think your kid is cute enough, we might even add the picture to the blog!

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Mid-7HA few years ago, Honeywell released an Android keypad made by Coby called the Mid-7H. Like most Android tablets, it was pretty enough, but the system was plagued by its slow processor, low resolution screen, and a generally poor public reception. To be honest, it is a bit of an inelegant addition to their wireless LYNX product line. That said, the app for controlling your L5100 which is installed on the device is well-loved by users and if that's what you were looking for, you might be sad to see it go.

Then again, it's not gone quite yet. So if you are desperate to get a Mid-7H for yourself, we will carry them until the product line is exhausted.

The good news for those of you who just wanted the L5100 software, Honeywell has told us that they are going to be making the software available in the Apple store and eventually will make the program available for download on Androids. We're not sure when that will happen, but in the meantime, go ahead and get your hands on one of the few remaining Mid-7Hs. These things are going to be a collectors item like pogs, beanie babies, and old Barbie dolls.

We anticipate that once the world hears of the tablets demise, collectors will scramble to get their hands on one like WalMart shoppers looking for Tickle-me-Elmo the day after Thanksgiving.

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Hi guys and welcome to our first technology post.  As head of development, I'll be going over some of the cooler and more unique stuff we're doing at Alarm Grid.

Today I want to address a very serious concern, and a very appropriate one for an alarm monitoring company: security.

By now, I'm sure most of you know what SSL (Transport Layer Security / Secure Sockets Layer) websites are.  You know, the ones that start with https:// and have a pretty little green box in the address bar.


You'll generally notice these, or at least look out for them, when you're doing something that should involve privacy.  You know, like checking out from an e-commerce store (wait, you go to store other than Alarm Grid!?) or logging in to your favorite social network

But have you ever noticed some sites like Facebook and Google make the entire site SSL?  If so, ever wonder why?

It's because of a nasty little thing called session hacking.  That's when you're logged into a site and a user can steal your cookie and suddenly be logged in as you without ever even typing in your password!

I know what you're thinking.  It's what we all think when it comes to hacking.  Pff, that only happens to other people. 

Well, you'd be suprised how easy it is and how out of your hands it is.  Have you ever logged in to a non-full SSL site at a coffee shop?  Then you're vulnerable.   

There's actually applications out there any one of you, no matter how little of a tech background you have, could use to session hack.  (Google it.  Just don't tell them I sent you.)

Even if you login to a secure part of the site and go to a single non-secure part of the website, that cookie (unless they specify it's only for secure pages) is likely out in the open.  Suddenly, you just gave a hacker access to that site as you!

That's why Alarm Grid we decided to make the entire site SSL secure throughout the whole page from day one.  Just try finding an insecure page.  We dare you.

So why don't other companies?  Generally, because it's complicated and expensive. But we take your security seriously.  Both your home's and your identity's.

If you have any questions for me, please ask me below in the comments!  

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