Qolsys IQ Remote Keypad - No Replaceable BatteryBy Michael Goris
Alarm Grid has offered the Qolsys IQ Remote Touchscreen Keypad for the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus System for a few years now. In the back of our minds, we have always wondered about its replacement battery. After checking with Qolsys, we have confirmed the worst. No replacement battery exists.
Like most wireless alarm system keypads, the Qolsys IQ Remote has a backup battery. This is what keeps the device operational during power outages. The keypad normally runs on AC power from a plug-in transformer, and the battery stores a charge in the background. When the power goes out or the transformer becomes unplugged, the battery kicks-in and keeps the device running. Then, when AC power is restored, the battery goes back to storing power to prepare for the next outage. This is all perfectly normal so far.
But where the Qolsys IQ Remote falls somewhat short is the fact that its backup battery is non-replaceable. Its battery is essentially married to the keypad. If you are familiar with batteries of any kind, then you understand that they have a finite useful life. Over time, a battery will slowly lose its ability to store a charge, and the battery needs to be replaced once its storage capacity drops too low. Manufacturers usually recognize this inevitable outcome, and they offer replacement options that an end-user can buy to extend the life of the product.
In most situations, just because a battery dies doesn't mean you should throw out or abandon the device. This is no different than if you needed to buy a new battery for something like a laptop or a smartphone that was still operating properly and running some of the latest technology. Security equipment, including alarm panels and keypads, have replaceable batteries to prepare for the reality that their old batteries will eventually need to be replaced. You buy the new battery, swap out the old one, and then don't worry about it until the next time a replacement is needed. In the world of security systems, most alarm control panels and keypads have batteries that last for about three (3) to five (5) years, though you will sometimes see security products with very dependable batteries that can last in excess of ten (10) years.
Qolsys decided against making the battery for the IQ Remote replaceable. After checking ourselves and also speaking with Qolsys technical support, we have confirmed what we have suspected for quite some time. There is no way to replace the battery for an IQ Remote Keypad. It is married to the keypad, and you cannot install a new one if the need arises. As security experts, this, quite frankly, is absolutely shocking to us, and there are many discussion points that arise from this.
Starting with the obvious, what should a user do when their Qolsys IQ Remote Keypad inevitably dies one day? It's exactly as you would likely expect. The keypad will display a constant low-battery condition that can never be cleared, and losing AC power - either from an electrical outage or its transformer being unplugged - will cause the device to immediately shut down. The user will need to decide if they can live with those issues, and if they can't, then they will need to replace the entire keypad. And the Qolsys IQ Remote Touchscreen Keypad isn't exactly a cheap device either. Anyone who is considering this keypad should absolutely ask themselves if its asking price is worth only one battery cycle. Because once that cycle is finished and the battery dies, you will be left with a crippled keypad. Imagine if your smartphone or your laptop had a dead battery and only worked while plugged in. It's the exact same situation here. Granted, you probably aren't carrying around your alarm system's keypad as much, but still.
We also want to wonder what exactly Qolsys was thinking with this design choice. Qolsys is still a fairly young manufacturer, but we have already come to expect strong and innovative products from them. It's not like they don't understand that batteries have a limited useful life. After all, a replaceable battery exists for the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 System. Even the original IQ Panel System in its glory has a replaceable battery. This tells us that when manufacturing these security systems, Qolsys expected that users would keep them operational beyond one (1) single battery lifetime cycle. And that's good, because we would hope that any serious alarm system manufacturer would have enough faith in the build-quality of their equipment to expect that it would last beyond the lifetime of their battery. Ironically, the original IQ Panel will soon reach its end of useful life for alarm monitoring service, as all of the original IQ Panel Systems have integrated and non-replaceable cellular communication modules that will stop working once the 3G/CDMA Sunset is complete. But to be fair, Qolsys probably thought that an integrated, non-removable communicator was a benefit at the time, and also the original IQ Panel was created a few years before there was any real worry or concern about a 3G/CDMA Sunset and the need to upgrade to LTE.
But to not give the IQ Remote, the flagship keypad device for the IQ Panel 2, a replaceable battery is a bit baffling. The fact that batteries have a finite and limited useful product life is not new or obscure knowledge. Any manufacturer, regardless of the industry, who expects that their product will continue to be used and remain useful even after its original battery has reached its expiration date will almost certainly make the battery replaceable. This is why cars have replaceable batteries. This is why most of the electronics around your home or office have replaceable batteries.
By making the decision to not put in a replaceable battery for the IQ Remote, Qolsys is essentially telling consumers that no, the quality of this keypad is not good enough to last an entire battery cycle. They are saying that either the keypad should be disposed of at the conclusion of the battery cycle, or, even worse, they don't expect the keypad to even last that long in the first place!
For whatever reason, at least in the eyes of Qolsys at the time the IQ Remote Keypad was initially manufactured, the keypad was not perceived to be of high enough quality to last beyond the duration of its battery's life cycle. As a result, it was simply easier for them to not put in a replaceable battery, and instead just make the entire keypad disposable. Similar logic is why you will frequently see carbon monoxide sensors and standalone heat detectors without replaceable batteries. Carbon monoxide detectors have a limited useful life (usually around 10 years), so making their batteries replaceable isn't a big concern. Likewise, heat sensors are often one-and-done devices that must be replaced after activation. Again, this means that a replaceable battery is often seen as unnecessary for those devices. But the Qolsys IQ Remote Keypad is marketed as a high-end touchscreen keypad for a modern, state-of-the-art security system. Surely, it's a device that I would want to keep using even after its battery has reached its expiration date? But alas, Qolsys seems to be sending a different message.
From what we have seen from our own personal testing and out customer interactions, the Qolsys IQ Remote Keypad is, indeed, a high-quality and well-built product. It's a device that, had the battery been replaceable, would almost certainly be used for many, many years, possibly for even decades, in some installations. As long as the IQ Panel 2 System used in any given installation remained operational, we would expect any accompanying IQ Remote Keypad controllers to continue serving it well. The vast majority of users would be perfectly happy to make a quick and easy battery replacement so that they can continue using the keypad for a long time. But without a replaceable battery, that logic goes out the window. Instead, Qolsys is telling us that with the expected wear and tear that is associated with regular device usage, the IQ Remote Keypad is not worth operating or maintaining beyond a single battery cycle. Of course, Qolsys would never come out and say that, but that is what is being implied here. Either that, or Qolsys simply made a very foolish design choice here.
In their defense, Qolsys insists that the non-replaceable battery installed inside the IQ Remote Keypad is very long lasting. Their words were that the battery should last "quite some time", with the general expectation that it can last for 10+ years if cared for properly. And to be fair, a ten (10) year battery life is quite impressive. The company also claims that they have not yet received any excess reports of battery failures, even for the initial batch of IQ Remote Keypads that first hit the market more than five (5) years ago. Maybe they think that a ten-year product life for a highly advanced and capable wireless touchscreen keypad is adequate? Maybe it was just a case of "we'll worry about it later" thinking, and making the battery non-replaceable was simply the easiest decision at the time? We can't say for sure.
But what we can say is that an unfortunately premature end of life for early Qolsys IQ Remote Keypads is coming. Maybe not today. Maybe not next year. But it is coming. And it could have been avoided if Qolsys had just made the battery replaceable. Hindsight is 20/20, so it will be Qolsys' pill to swallow when that time comes. To anyone considering the Qolsys IQ Remote Keypad for their home and/or business, please take this aspect into account. Once the keypad's battery dies, you cannot replace it. You may not have to worry about this for "quite some time", but eventually, you will be left with a keypad that only works when it is plugged in.
And most importantly, to anyone associated with Qolsys or working for the company, if you happen to read this message, we urge you to please consider updating future iterations of the IQ Remote, plus any other alarm system keypads manufactured by your company, to support replaceable backup batteries. This is a very important feature that will help to ensure a long, happy life for all your products, and your customers will be grateful.
Anyone with questions about the Qolsys IQ Remote Keypad, or any of the other products available on our site, should please email Alarm Grid at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is also a great email to use if you want to learn more about the monitoring services that we offer for homes and businesses just like yours. We're here to check your emails and answer your questions from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!