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We're checking out the best environmental sensors for our top security system picks for the 2020 holiday shopping season, which are the Honeywell Lyric, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the 2GIG GC3e. Environmental sensors include life-safety sensors, flood sensors, and temperature sensors.


If you haven't seen our alarm panel 2020 holiday buying guide or our security sensor 2020 holiday buying guide, then be sure to go and check those out, as they will give a nice introduction to this buying guide for environmental sensors. You will need to make the same compatibility considerations for environmental sensors as you do for security sensors. The sensors you choose must be compatible with your system and communicate at a wireless frequency that is accepted by the alarm panel you are using.

As a refresher, here are the compatible sensor lineups for our recommended systems. Just like last time, the sensor lineups that are italicized and underlined represent the encrypted sensors that provide extra wireless security and protection.

While security sensors look for signs of forced entry and unauthorized access, environmental sensors look for undesirable environmental conditions. Specifically, we offer environmental sensors that look for life-threatening conditions, such as a fire or the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. We also offer environmental sensors for detecting floods, water leaks, and unusually high or low temperatures that indicate a broken HVAC system. We will cover each type of environmental sensor in greater detail later in this holiday buying guide.

Adding environmental sensors to your system offers a few advantages. For one, it makes your alarm system more versatile so that it is looking for more than just security breaches. You will also be able to check off more boxes on your certificate of alarm (CoA), and that could lead to bigger savings on your home owner's insurance. Make sure to check with your insurance company to see if that is the case.

Life-Safety Sensors

Life-safety sensors monitor for unsafe environmental conditions that could result in a loss of life. Specifically, this group is primarily comprised of smoke and heat detectors and carbon monoxide sensors. There are also special combination sensors and listening modules that we will discuss further down the line.

First, we will take a look at some of our most popular smoke and heat detectors. These sensors monitor for both the smoke and extremely high temperatures associated with a fire. It is recommended that you have at least one (1) of these sensors on each floor of your building, particularly inside of sleeping areas and in central and connecting areas such as living rooms and hallways.

When checking out these sensors, you might also look for one-go-all-go functionality. This means that when one detector on the network activates, all of the other compatible sensors on the network will also activate their sounders. This can be very important for ensuring that everyone is alerted to the emergency. Certain jurisdictions may require one-go-all-go as part of building codes, so check with your local fire marshal to see if that is the case.

Here are our top picks for smoke and heat detectors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
Honeywell SiXSMOKE

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature and 15°F per minute rate-of-rise heat detector w/ 85 dB sounder. Supports One-Go-All-Go.
DSC PG9936

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector w/ 85 dB sounder. Supports One-Go-All-Go.
2GIG SMKT8e-345

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries encryption Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 15°F per minute rate-of-rise heat detector when fixed temperature is 104°F or higher w/ 90 dB sounder and freeze detection at 40°F.
Honeywell 5808W3

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Non-encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector w/ 85 dB sounder and freeze detection at 41°F.

Now let's look at carbon monoxide sensors. These devices respond upon detecting unusually high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. This gas is both odorless and tasteless, making it virtually impossible to detect without a proper sensor. The gas is extremely harmful to humans, and it can result in serious injury or death in a matter of minutes. We recommend installing at least one CO detector on each floor of your home or office. They are often installed outside of garages and furnace rooms where CO events are most likely to occur.

Here are our top picks for carbon monoxide sensors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption Notes
DSC PG9933

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
2GIG CO8e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries encryption 2GIG eSeries CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
Honeywell 5800CO

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Honeywell 5800 Series CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
2GIG CO8

2GIG 345 MHz Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 350 Nominal Feet None 2GIG CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
Qolsys IQ Carbon

Qolsys 319.5 MHz Series 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 300 Nominal Feet None Qolsys CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.

We also want to give some special recognition to some combination smoke and CO detectors from Honeywell. These sensors combine fire detection with carbon monoxide detection into one convenient life-safety device.

Here are our top picks for combination smoke and CO detectors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Notes
Honeywell SiXCOMBO

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector and CO detector w/ 85 dB sounder. Supports One-Go-All-Go.
Honeywell 5800COMBO

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector and CO detector w/ 85 dB sounder and freeze detection at 41°F.

Lastly, we want to mention a pair of listening modules. These devices actively listen for the Temporal 3 (T3) sound of an activated smoke detector or the Temporal 4 (T4) sound of an activated carbon monoxide sensor. These are commonly used with wired smoke detectors and CO detectors that would otherwise have no way of interfacing with an alarm system. If your smoke detectors or CO detectors are one-go-all-go, then, a single listening module can take over your entire wired detector network.

Here are our top picks for smoke & CO listening modules.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
Encore FireFighter FF345

Encore 345 MHz Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Offers both T3 Detection for Fire & T4 Detection for CO
Interlogix SLX-AD-T3
Legacy Interlogix 319.5 MHz 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 200 Nominal Feet None Only offers T3 Detection for Fire. Not for use with CO detectors.

Flood Sensors

Next, we'll be looking at flood sensors. These devices use probes to detect water caused by a flood or leak. It only takes a small amount of liquid to activate one of these sensors, so your system will be alerted before any serious damage occurs. Many of these sensors double as temperature sensors, so expect to see quite a bit of cross-over with that section as well. For best results, use your flood sensors in low-plane areas where leaks are likely to occur, such as underneath toilets, water heaters, and in basements. You might also see that some flood sensor have a reporting delay that is used for false alarm prevention. This will be listed in the notes section in the table when applicable.

Let's check out our top picks for flood sensors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
DSC PG9985

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG Flood Sensor w/ 6-Foot Detection Probe.
2GIG FT6e-345

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption 2GIG eSeries Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.
Qolsys IQ Flood-S

Qolsys S-Line Series 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 600 Nominal Feet Qolsys S-Line Encryption Qolsys S-Line Flood Sensor w/ 6-Foot Detection Probe. Has a 1 to 3 minute reporting delay.
Honeywell 5800FLOOD

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Honeywell 5800 Series Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 45°F. Has a 25 second reporting delay.
2GIG FT6-345

2GIG 345 MHz Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 350 Nominal Feet None 2GIG 345 MHz Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.

Temperature Sensors

The final type of environmental sensors we'll be checking out are temperature sensors. These sensors look for unusually high or low temperatures that indicate a broken HVAC system. When a temperature sensor is used for high-temperature detection, it should not be confused with a heat detector that looks for extreme temperatures only associated with fires. Instead, the high-end for a temperature sensor will usually activate at around 90°F. When a temperature sensor is used for low-temperature detection, it will sometimes be referred to as a freeze sensor. On the low-end, a freeze sensor will typically activate at a slightly higher than the temperature at which water freezes, which is 32°F. This is done to give the end user a bit of notice so that they can take action before the pipes freeze. You can typically expect a freeze sensor to activate between 40°F and 45°F. Most temperature sensors will offer both high and low temperature detection. And just like in the previous category, there is a lot of crossover with flood sensors, so you may see some repeats from the previous selection.

Here are our top picks for temperature sensors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
DSC PG9905

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG Temperature Sensor w/ customizable high and low temperature detection.
2GIG FT6e-345

2GIG eSeries
2GIG GC3e
350 Nominal Feet
2GIG eSeries Encryption
2GIG eSeries Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.
Qolsys IQ Temp-S

Qolsys S-Line Series 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 600 Nominal Feet Qolsys S-Line Encryption Qolsys S-Line Temperature Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 100°F and Low Temperature Detection at 40°F.
Honeywell 5800FLOOD

Honeywell 5800 Series
Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet
None
Honeywell 5800 Series Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 45°F. Has a reporting delay of 25 seconds.
2GIG FT6-345

2GIG 345 MHz Series
Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+
350 Nominal Feet
None 2GIG 345 MHz Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.

Contact Us

Remember to contact us if you have any questions about environmental sensors or their compatibility. The best way to reach us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a good email to use if you are interested in starting new monitoring service. Remember that we are available to check email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Actress Anna Faris, known for her comedic roles, suffered from a not-so-funny incident over the recent Thanksgiving Holiday. The actress and 12 members of her family were the victims of a carbon monoxide (CO) gas incident. The incident occurred in a North Lake Tahoe cabin they were renting.

Qolsys iq carbon

A representative from the North Tahoe Fire Protection District stated that the vacation cabin had carbon monoxide levels as high as 55 parts per million (ppm). Long-term indoor exposure should be no higher than 15 ppm. The structure did not have any carbon monoxide sensors installed to indicate such danger. Nevada state law requires CO alarms in all family dwellings.

Thankfully, Anna Faris and her family are okay following the incident. However, two of her family members visited the local emergency room. Doctors diagnosed them with CO poisoning, and they were perfectly fine after receiving some care. Firefighters from the North Tahoe FD immediately rushed to the cabin and saved Ms. Faris and her accompanying family shortly thereafter.

According to North Lake Tahoe Fire Official Erin Holland, the CO levels indicated inside the building would have caused a "fatality in a short period of time" had the rescue team not intervened. Faris made sure to send her sincere gratitude to the North Tahoe FD following the incident.

Honeywell 5800combo smoke heat and co detector

We have spoken about the dangers of carbon monoxide gas many times on the Alarm Grid blog. The odorless and tasteless gas kills hundreds of people every year in the United States. If it weren't for the quick work of local firefighters, a talented actress and her family may have fallen victim as well. They are lucky to be alive, and the rescue team deserves praise for the fact that any exposure was kept as minimal as possible.

As you know by now, it is crucial to have carbon monoxide sensors installed in your home. Ideally, you should have CO detectors enrolled with your security system. By pairing these devices with a system that has active monitoring service, you and/or a central station can receive alerts regarding any of your CO sensors that activate while you are away.

If your home has hardwired high-voltage CO sensors (as is required in most jurisdictions), you can indirectly integrate these devices with your alarm system using a wireless takeover listening module. We offer variants for 345 MHz, and 433 MHz wireless alarm systems. And if you don't have hardwired CO detectors in your home, then we sell plenty of standalone units that pair directly with alarm panels like any other sensor.

Encore firefighter ff345 circular smoke detector takeover module

When traveling, make sure that all on-site CO sensors and smoke detectors are working properly. If you have any doubts, ask the building operators to perform a test. This is a reasonable request that any property manager should be able to accommodate. Please note that we ARE NOT suggesting that you bring canned CO gas or canned smoke on an airplane for testing purposes. That could get you into a lot of trouble. Make arrangements for on-site testing, without bringing your own supplies.

It may also be a good idea to buy a cheap conventional battery-operated carbon monoxide sensor when you get to your vacation site. It may turn out that the place you visit does not have CO detectors. This was the case with Anna Faris and her family. We do not sell standalone battery-operated CO detectors on our website. But you can get most models between $10 and $20 from most department and hardware stores. Some models will even show you the detected parts per million for CO gas! If you are staying in a larger property, you may want to obtain multiple sensors.

Remember that our goal at Alarm Grid is to keep you and your loved ones safe. If you ever need help choosing a carbon monoxide sensor for your system, or if you would like to learn more about how we can monitor your home, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. You are also invited to call us at (888) 818-7728 during our usual business hours of 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Alarm Grid has been working tirelessly to launch the full line of Qolsys's panels. These panels are state of the art, built on Google Android, and they look great. They are built to work on Alarm.com, and have already come out with a line of encrypted sensors. This distinguishes the line from the GC3, which has the capability of communicating with encrypted sensors, but 2GIG has not yet release the compatible encrypted sensors.

Just like the 2GIG GC3 or the Honeywell Lyric, the Qolsys is simple to use. We have tested it extensively and we are comfortable offering this line to our customers. Like our other panels, we will be putting together a full set of FAQs on the Qolsys panels so that our DIY folks can do most of their own installation and programming.

Qolsys has two panels, despite having only been around a little while. Their first one, the IQ Panel, made a big splash. Built on Android, the system function astoundingly well, standing up to the major players in the space. The IQ Panel 2, however, is on a different level. It's clean, thin, made of glass. The system joins the pantheon of modern systems as a great looking item to have on the wall of any home.

Armed with all the basic features of a security system, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 comes with it some amazing little extra touches that neither Honeywell nor 2GIG have added to the Lyric or Go!Control lines as of yet. The ease of updating this system is unparalleled, and its got some great diagnostic features to help setup Z-Wave sensors. In-all, it is the perfect panel for the avid DIYer, and it won't disappoint anyone who is used to the Honeywell and 2GIG quality,

For those who don't like the look of the Qolsys's sensors, Alarm Grid is making available a new sensor. The Alarm Grid 319.5 MHz sensor which is reliable, cheap, and looks great. We are selling them as single units, in packs of 5, and in packs of 10.

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