Home Security Blog

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Over the years, the home security industry has earned its reputation as being replete with scammers. It's a reputation that is well-earned, and every summer, as college students return home, many of them get recruited into bottom-of-the-barrel companies that push them to lie, cheat, and steal in order to earn their keep.

In recent days, there have been lots of reports out of Wisconsin, regarding phone call and door-knocking scams, but this report about Vision Security which is headquartered in Orem, Utah, is one of the more disturbing in recent memory.

According to a report on KUTV, there have been numerous individuals all over the state accusing the company of using deceptive sales tactics to get into their homes. These include claiming that they are from another company, or that they are here to swap out an old system and make updates. Often, before they leave, they get the homeowner to sign a new contract under the auspices of being part of being something that they need to sign from the company that already monitors their system. The cell phone video featured in the news report below, however, is disturbing as it shows that not only are these accusations from homeowners true, but that there is a full-on corporate culture within Vision Security that promotes the use of these disreputable sales tactics, even teaching them to students in a classroom setting.

This is the sort of problematic scam that Alarm Grid is working hard to get rid of. We are committed to making sure that you know everything you can know about your security system and the company that monitors it.

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Honeywell has told Alarm Grid that the non-WIFI version of the Tuxedo Touch is no longer available. The system was the hardwired version of the keypad, requiring a ethernet run to a router. And while some users liked the keypad because it was slightly cheaper than the TUXWIFI, it had some unfortunate drawbacks such as it wasn't always eligible for the flash upgrades that Honeywell released.

Honeywell is soon releasing a non-screen version of the Z-Wave controller that can be installed at the panel. So, for users who are concerned with the pricey system, the controller will allow much of the same Tuxedo Touch Z-Wave functionality, though it comes at the expense of the great looking screen. That said, Honeywell's alphanumeric keypads have come a long way as well as far as design goes, seeing a giant re-design in the release of the 6162 keypads.

So while we'll miss the non-WIFI version of the TUX, we're thankful that Honeywell has some great, much more affordable options coming down the pike!

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We started Alarm Grid with the idea that starting a company that put good service above sales would lead to 1) a passionate customer base and 2) more sales. We threw the contracts out, and we have put all of our efforts into building an incredible experience from your first interaction with us online to your final checkout. And if you get monitoring, you'll get to see how amazing our on-boarding process is.

In the two years that we've been building this company, I have to say that we have had so few bad customer experiences. That's right, just like you have bad experiences with companies not treating you right, companies have the occasional experience with customers not treating them right. If you have ever worked in retail, you know exactly what I mean. But at Alarm Grid, things are different. We have had so few bad customer experiences and so many happy customers, that we generally leave our offices satisfied and feeling fulfilled.

That said, we are especially touched when our customers leave reviews for us. We ask for them because they help us out. And as our company grows, it helps you out. The bigger we get, the more staff and resources we can devote to helping our customers get what they want out of their security.

Today, we were especially touched though, when we saw that someone had asked about us in one of the DIY Security Forum. We don't know who the person is (though we will welcome them as a customer). But what we were astonished by was the responses that they got from our users.

The question was simply: "Has anybody order from alarm grid? How did you like the company and service."

And our customers answered with some of the kindest words we've ever received:

"I'm very happy that I decided to go with Alarm Grid.... customer service is exceptional, and I'm paying about 40% less per month. I couldn't be happier. Thanks Alarm Grid!"
"Alarm Grid is amazing.... To this day I have had zero problems with their service and HIGHLY recommend them."
"I have been extremely happy with AlarmGrid. Their team is super professional."
"Before $1 changed hands, AlarmGrid worked with me to help me understand what would be involved in augmenting my old 50p.... All good, couldn't be happier, highly recommended!"
"[Sterling] has been nothing short of amazing... Great guy and great service."
"I have been with Alarmgrid, and did a lot of research about both them and Criticom... The idea of support has been taken wholeheartedly by AlarmGrid.... It seems that there are many other people who have been helped by AlarmGrid, and I second everything they have said so far."

These little compliments are like energy drinks to us. Thank you so much for the kind words. We hope that we continue to live up to the high level of service we have provided so far. We are proud to put our philosophy to work when servicing your account, and we do mean what we say when we promise to provide better service than has ever been seen before in this industry.

Anyhow, I wanted to write this post as a thank you to all the incredible, passionate people we've worked with over the last couple years. We are really glad that you have given us the opportunity to prove to you that good companies run by hard-working honest people really do provide better value. We hope that we can continue to live up to those incredible expectations.

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We don't pull a lot of punches here at Alarm Grid. We aren't a huge fan of all the other company's business model. For more than 50 years, this industry has relied on the deceptive practice of tricking their users into signing long term contracts, even renewing them without notice. If you don't pay, they work their darndest to ruin your credit.

But apart from the typical bad behaviors that percolate the security installation industry, there are a lot more bad behaviors that should be considered on this earth day. We stand by the fact that the DIY security model is way more green than any other home security industry model out there, and here's why:

1) We only store information electronically

We do our best not to waste paper. Alarm Grid stores its documents electronically, in the cloud. Our office isn't filled with giant filing cabinets filled with reams of paper. Nope, we are just a group of people working hard giving you great service.

2) We don't have a vehicle fleet

Most security companies give their installers a giant vehicle filled with heavy-duty, power sucking equipment. Alarm Grid doesn't have anything like that. If you need help, you can get it easily and quickly from one of our techs over the phone. Unless you insist on it we will not send over a tech just to take some sticky tape off of a wireless door sensor and put it on a door's frame. Not only is that not efficient, it's not a good use of our tech team's time.

Which brings me to the third way we're more efficient than traditional security companies...

3) We do our best not to duplicate work...

For those that are ready to replace a door or window sensor, calling a tech over is incredibly inefficient. We are strongly opposed to explaining to every single person how to do the same, very simple procedure again and again. It's not your fault that you don't know how to install a door sensor. But it is our fault if we don't do our best to make it very simple to teach you how to do it since it's so easy. We subscribe to an intelligent customer philosophy: you are definitely smart enough to learn how to get your system up and running. For that reason, we have made hundreds of videos showing you how to use your system.

The one below is a little one on how to install a 5811:

It's not that we don't want to talk to you. We just want to make sure that the conversations we have with you are lively and filled with information that will help you with your unique situation. The other, easy stuff like programming sensors to doors, it's far more efficient when we make a video that hundreds of you can take advantage of! And we're glad to do it (even if it means that customers who are monitored by other companies get to take advantage of our resources).

4) We do our best to help you use the electronics you already have installed...

Alarm Grid doesn't hire a team of salesmen who work on commission. Our techs are instructed to give the best advice to the customer, and to work through any challenges that are encountered not simply by selling more and more equipment, but by using the equipment you have at hand. That doesn't mean that we never recommend new equipment, or that to get your system online, there won't be some small expenses you need to incur, but we believe very strongly in never recommending equipment that our customers don't need. That means we do our best to minimize your waste. As electronics fill up landfills all over the world, Alarm Grid is doing its part to make sure that the waste that results from your system installation is minimized.

5) Efficiency Everywhere

If you've read this much of the post, you probably aren't new around these parts. And if you've looked through Alarm Grid's site before, you know that we strive to be efficient in all aspects of what we do. We try to get you content efficiently, we try to get you checked out efficiently, we try to make sure that you get everything you need done quickly and efficiently. If you've checked out on our monitoring side, we hope that you've noticed how incredibly efficient that process is as well. You check out, you pick a date and time on a calendar, and then we get you signed up. The time we spend on-boarding you is small, and we hope that the frustration is nil.

If you think there are ways that Alarm Grid can be even more green, we'd love to know in the comments below!

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It's not compatible with the L5100, and as far as we know there are no immediate plans to make it compatible, but the technology is pretty awesome! The new WIFI Smart Thermostat that Honeywell is, reportedly, releasing in October takes interactivity to a whole new level, allowing users to actually talk to the device.

While it is the first consumer device that Honeywell will be releasing with such a capability, if it is successful, we're sure that the tech will begin seeping its way into some of Honeywell's popular security systems, ZWAVE thermostats and the like.'

CNET did a little video, and we thought it would be a great little introduction to the future. Hope you think it's as neat as we did, and let us know what you think in the comments below:

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Although the LYNX Touch has a built-in 95dB siren it never hurts to beef up your audible output in the event of an alarm. Sirens are a great way to scare off intruders and inform any neighboring parties that an alarm event is in progress. Before the release of Alarm Grid's LYNX-EXT external siren kit, compiling the necessary parts for installing an external sounder was complicated and cumbersome. Now you can simply pick up this kit and be on your way to adding sirens to your wireless alarm system. When it comes time to install, check out the LYNX external sounder installation manual which has a detailed wiring diagram. You can also check out our FAQ: How do I add an external siren to my LYNX Touch wireless security system?

The Honeywell 5800RL wireless relay allows you to place the siren power assembly in the included Meir metal cabinet where it is most convenient and effective without any wiring runs back to the panel. The included Honeywell AD12612 auxiliary power supply has a max output of 1.2 amps which can power the brawny Amseco SSX-52S outdoor siren/strobe. You may want to just keep it simple by connecting a bullhorn style siren like the Honeywell 702 in your attic or outside the premises. There is also an included Honeywell 1361 AC transformer and an Ultratech 1240 battery backup unit which will carry low voltage DC to the power supply and keep it from losing power during outages.

Forget piecing together a kit of your own. Pick up an Alarm Grid LYNX-EXT external siren kit today and save your precious time and money!

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Honeywell L7000It hasn't even been released yet, but Honeywell's newest intrusion detection system, the Honeywell L7000 is already making waves at ISC West winning this year's award for Best in Intrusion Detection and Prevention Solutions. The award is nothing to sneeze at considering the stiff competition presented by others at the security industry's biggest, most important conference.

While the system itself has yet to be released, this reward speaks volumes to the quality of hardware and software that Honeywell is putting out. Simply put, what it means is that when assessed against every other major security system, the L7000 comes out on top.

We still have no indication from Honeywell when the L7000 and the very similar, but slightly less full-featured L5200 are going to be released for public consumption, but the instant that they are, we will make the products available here. If you would like to be notified personally when the L7000 is released, please sign up for the newsletter on its page.

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For the last 2 years, the LYNX Touch L5100 has been Honeywell's state-of-the-art wireless security system. But as advancements in technology have come a long way, it has finally come time for them to begin obsoleting the system and putting out two new systems that are a little bit bigger and little bit better. There has been very little data released about the new L7000 and L5200 they are planning on releasing, though we are attempting to report everything that comes across our desk, which is why we were so excited to see what was in the notes on this morning's Total Connect 2.3.40 update.

Along with a host of bug fixes and updates, Honeywell has an entire section outlined in the "What's New" section under the heading: "The following features also available; supported only with LYNX Touch 5200 or LYNX Touch 7000 series systems." The following is the list of L5200 and L7000 only features that were just added to Total Connect.

  • Solar Scheduling (Sunrise/Sunset)
  • Ability to turn something on/off triggered off sunrise/sunset
  • Schedule Randomization
  • Ability to randomize a fixed schedule to turn something on/off +/- 30 minutes
  • Night Stays
  • Ability to Arm system in “Night Stay”
  • Selectable via panel to include a PIR(s) that will be active when armed in that mode
  • Automation Services – Door Lock Jam
  • Ability to detect when a Zwave controlled door lock is in a “Jammed” state
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One of the things I've blogged about before is the onslaught of companies attempting to fix the hardware problems in the home security industry. Generally it's outsiders looking in, and viewing the industry's problems as an un-nuanced set of issues that are easily solved.

Well, I hate to say it, but hardware isn't where home security companies or consumers, for that matter are lacking in choices. While, at the moment, Alarm Grid retails exclusively in Honeywell products, there are an incredible number of other brands producing high-quality security systems: 2GIG, GE, DSC, Napco, and more. While each of these systems differs slightly in functionality, the reality is that they are all very very similar. The industry has, for the most part, decided on what is needed on the security side and made them work.

In recent years, these systems have begun to do much more than just security as well. Some of them can be used as pool controllers, full-functioning home automation controllers, garage door controls, and more. Being an old-time Minnesota boy, I know about obscure companies like Val, which make a system called the Gain-Trac that monitors and controls poultry houses. Some of the technology that these little shops are making are really neat - the Lockitron comes to mind. But most of them fail to actually solve any of the problems that they claim to be solving. The Lockitron remotely locks and unlocks your doors, which is an amazing feature. They even give you a smartphone app if you want to do it remotely.

So what's wrong with that?

Well, it's fine, if all you want to do is expensively open and close the deadbolts on your house. There are a hundred reasons I can think of that a person might want to do that. But if you're going to spend the money to do that, why wouldn't you purchase a Yale Z-Wave lock and use an app that integrates all your devices? Do consumers really want one app for every single device in their home? The answer, to date, has been a resounding "no." That said, with relatively little effort companies like Lockitron could open up their technology to be Z-wave compatible. The fact that they haven't done that indicates to me that they don't intend to open their product up to that market. And while we wish companies like them the best of luck because we like the quality and kind of product they are making, their model is narrow minded and the result is that they have solved a problem that is too niche to matter to very many people.

In the last year, I can think of four different projects that have been crowd-funded to solve the problems inherent in the alarm industry. For the most part, however, the problems they are attacking are not that significant. Some of them claim they are making aesthetically pleasing security systems, others claim that they are giving you power over your devices. But almost none of them are UL certified, almost none of them can be turned into an actual monitored system, and in numerous small-market systems, you have to change the batteries in your sensors multiple times a year. Other companies that claim they are solving problems in the security system do it by making a proprietary system that can ONLY be monitored by them. So while they seem to have a good understanding of the industry's breakdowns, their solution is nothing more than veiled participation in the industry's problems. If they claim that the industry suffers from dishonest alarm monitoring contracts that require a fee when you try to get out of them, how have they solved anything by forcing you to buy a system that is useless if you don't use their service? What do you think happens when you leave them? You have to buy a brand new system. $500 to get out of a contract... $500 for a brand new system.... Their customers seem to feel better about the proposition, but the math is the same, and on the other end, the amount of money spent to get out of the service is almost the same. Those companies will say that they are "doing away with contracts." But they don't tell you that they are trapping you with a system that is a no better than a brick if not being used on their network.

So why does it matter?

Whenever one of these companies comes to market with a security product, I'm regularly asked, "what is going to happen to Alarm Grid?"

This is what I say: "Alarm Grid is setting out to solve the industry's real problems: dishonest sales techniques, bad customer service, a lack of access to information about your system, constant scams, and more. We are not focused on competing with companies to create a new piece of neat hardware or forcing companies to use our service."

And we stand by that. Check out our reviews. You will see that Alarm Grid's only goal is to make our customers very happy with the service they have received. Our website is replete with information, not because we don't want you to call or ask a tech, but because most of the time, you don't need to. Our goal is to advocate for our consumers, by empowering them with information. How can you make a good decision about what hardware you should use to protect your family and property if you don't know anything more than how to arm and disarm your system?

And that actually is the reason that most of these hardware companies never get off the ground in a significant way. Their systems are nowhere near as advanced as the systems that already exist. The problem with the systems that exist is that consumers don't know how to use them.

Luckily for all of you, Alarm Grid is out to change all that!

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Last week, Yahoo made a change to their DMARC policy. DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance. It is an email authentication method meant to curb spoofing of email addresses and other abuses. On the surface, this change seems like it might be a positive one. After all, who among us does not hate email abuse? But in practice, the change had a lot of unintended consequences.

The change that Yahoo made no longer allows their emails to be sent from outside of their system. What that means in practice is that if you send an email from a yahoo address to an email address whose provider checks against DMARC (which is most reputable email providers), the email will not get through.

You may never be affected by the DMARC change, then again, you may have already been affected and not even known about it. If you sent an email from a yahoo email address in the last week to Alarm Grid, for example, we didn't get it. The reason is that when you send an email to support@alarmgrid.com, the way it works is that it goes from your email to a ticketing system, that ticketing system then forwards your email to our techs who use Gmail. Gmail sees that your email was sent from a Yahoo address, but that it was forwarded from our ticketing system, checks the DMARC policy, then rejects your email because it wasn't sent directly from the Yahoo address.

As you can imagine, this has been a major headache for us being that we are absolutely 100% about customer service, and this change has caused us to miss a massive numbers of questions and requests from our customers. So we wanted to apologize to anyone who sent us an email in the last week from a Yahoo address. We were not trying to ignore you, we simply did not see your email. If you are one of Alarm Grid's customers that this affected, you should be receiving a response to your message promptly as they are sitting in our ticketing system and we are auditing missed messages as we speak.

That said, since Yahoo seems to be uncommitted to resolving the havoc-wreaking issue caused by their change, even lauding this adjustment as a pioneering change that the rest of the industry is sure to follow, we recommend that you strongly consider changing your email from Yahoo to a provider that, as of yet, has not made unilateral decisions that break the way most people use the internet. Internally at Alarm Grid, we use Gmail. It is free, its storage capacity is incredibly large, and it's functionality is better than any paid service we have yet seen. Even so, there are plenty of other services out there that are both free and very functional. Going forward, while we will do our best to make sure that all emails are answered, it is our belief that your life will be made much easier if you begin the search for a new email provider.

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