Hi DIYers! Today, we're going to discuss why dual-path alarm monitoring is so great. Simply put, it is the most reliable alarm monitoring available. This fast and reliable communication path offers all the benefits of both IP monitoring and cellular monitoring in one convenient package!
Dual-path monitoring means that the security system uses two communication paths for alarm monitoring service. The vast majority of the time these two communication paths are IP (WIFI or ethernet) and cellular. While it is technically possible to use POTS (plain old telephone service) connectivity as one of the communication paths, this is becoming increasingly rare due to to the poor performance of phone lines. For our discussion, we will assume that dual-path is referring to IP and cellular connectivity being used together on the same system.
Depending on the system, dual-path monitoring is performed in different ways. Panels that use Alarm.com will send out all alerts and notifications across both IP and cellular paths at once. These outgoing signals will be sent to Alarm.com, where they will be processed and forwarded to the monitoring station and/or to the customer via text, email or push notification. The first message received by Alarm.com is processed, and the other message is discarded. In this way, Alarm.com assures that each individual signal uses the fastest path available. An important note here is that Alarm.com requires a special cellular radio to communicate with their service. This is why Alarm Grid customers who want Alarm.com must sign-up for a Gold Plan or higher.
Alarm panels that use AlarmNet and Total Connect 2.0 behave a little differently. These panels supervise the IP connection. As long as the IP connection is available, all signals are sent via this path. If the panel senses that the IP connection is down, it will then revert to the cellular path. AlarmNet receives these signals and sends them to the central monitoring station and/or Total Connect 2.0. From there, TC2 forwards the appropriate notifications to the end user's phone or email address based on the user's notification settings.
While it's technically true that an alarm system only needs one active and reliable communication path for monitoring, using a dual-path setup with two active communication paths offers some key benefits. Whether your system uses Alarm.com or AlarmNet/TC2, dual-path connectivity will let you be sure that your alarm signals are always received and processed successfully.
A dual-path connection can be a saving grace if one signal path fails. While having an IP or cellular signal fail to reach its intended destination is quite rare, it certainly happens every once in awhile. But with dual-path connectivity, it's okay if one signal doesn't make it through. As long as the other signal still reaches its intended destination, the end user's monitoring service will continue to work as intended. Signaling on either path will accomplish the same goal. Whether both paths are utilized at the same time or only the cellular path is used due to the IP path being down, either will provide the same information. Whichever signal reaches the destination will be processed.
More often than not, it's the IP signal that fails to reach its intended destination. Most people will still experience short and temporary internet outages from time to time. Additionally, a power outage can knock out a router and cause the internet to go down. If this were to happen during an alarm event, and your security panel only used an IP communication path, you would certainly be in a very troubling situation. For that reason, you will definitely want that cellular backup to keep your home safe! In fact, this is why we generally view modern cellular service as superior to IP connectivity.
Cellular communication is extremely reliable and consistent, making it perfect for alarm systems. Cellular towers almost never go out of service, and coverage maps are continuously increasing in scope. This allows cellular to reign supreme as the single-best communication path. You might be asking yourself - why not just use cellular only? That is because IP connectivity is still technically faster in most cases. Plus, in the highly unlikely event that cellular service is ever down, you can actually use your IP service to back it up. While it's incredibly rare for a cell tower to be out of service, it has happened before! Also, our cellular monitoring plans already include internet anyway.
So what do you need to achieve a fast and reliable dual-path communication setup? You just need a compatible system and a Gold Level Plan or higher from Alarm Grid. Your system will need an IP communicator and a cellular communicator both installed. Currently, the only system we sell that is both WIFI and cellular ready right out of the box is the Qolsys IQ Panel 2. This also includes the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus Systems. Most other alarm systems can also be configured to use a dual-path setup. However, you may need to purchase an IP communicator or a cellular communicator separately. We also advise checking out our kits, which often include both communicators.
If you're looking to get started with monitoring service, we invite you to check out our alarm monitoring page for more information. Remember, you will need a Gold Plan or higher for a dual-path setup. The Gold Plan is listed as "Cellular Monitoring", but it includes internet connectivity as well. If you have any questions, you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For users who prefer to speak on the phone, you can call (888) 818-7728 to talk with one of our security planners. We operate phone hours from 9am to 8pm EST M-F. We look forward to working with you and helping you achieve your security goals!