DIY Security Systems Posts

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Hi DIYers! Are you looking to get started with a brand-new home security system? An alarm panel is crucial for protecting your family and for providing peace of mind. But with the many options available, the decision of which system to buy can seem overwhelming. But we are here to help.

Alarm grid inside security stickers

Our support team has worked with and tested many different alarm systems. Needless to say, we have a pretty good idea about what makes a great security panel. And while the perfect alarm system varies between different types of applications, there are a few things that almost any DIY user looks for. As always, having a system that is easy to use is very important, as it can save a user many headaches later on. This is important both for conducting the initial setup and for performing daily system tasks.

But there are a few other factors that have also come into prominence in more recent years. The design and aesthetics of a security system are more crucial than ever. An alarm system is no longer an anonymous metal box that you tuck away in the depths of your attic. New security systems have personality, and the best ones are pleasing in both appearance and function. The successful systems of today fit-in with virtually any decor, and they enhance the appearance of the home. Conversely, a system with a poor design can make a home appear old-fashioned or tacky. And while we love some hardwired systems like the VISTA Series, there's no denying that they just don't look as fun or exciting as a panel with a touchscreen.

Honeywell vista 20p wired alarm control panel

Finally, home automation is critical in 2018. And this goes beyond just being able to connect with an interactive service like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. The newest security systems can be controlled using voice commands sent through a smart home device. These voice commands can be used for performing both security functions and home automation functions. We've already encountered many cases where a buyer has based their purchasing decision on the automation features of an alarm panel.

Users should expect these home automation features and capabilities to expand in the coming years. Over time, they should become increasingly essential and standard for a new alarm system. Automation and voice operation will most likely become a way for security systems to separate from one another in the coming years, as the technology is only continuing to grow. The systems that innovate and push the boundaries, while still keeping their systems accessible to everyone will thrive.

Qolsys iq lightbulb dimmable z wave lightbulb for iq and iq pane

Just like in recent years, wireless systems are the way to go in 2018. This is no surprise, since wireless systems are easier to program and more pleasing to use and display than their hardwired counterparts. But what may be surprising to some user is that all of our top system picks were initially released last year or earlier. It just goes to show that these panels continue to impress, even as technology progresses further.

With al that in mind, here are our top 3 picks for security systems in 2018, listed in alphabetical order:

2GIG GC3

There's something special to be said about the 2GIG GC3. And it goes back to 2GIG itself. The name stands for "2 Guys In a Garage", and that's exactly what the company was at its onset. While the company has grown since then, their ideology remains the same - they believe that they can do it better. And 2GIG truly delivered with their GC3.

Compared to some other modern systems, the 2GIG GC3 isn't the fanciest or the most feature-heavy. It's the choice for users who want a sneaky solid and dependable option for home security. The GC3 design is modest and uneventful, and it's certainly not going to draw attention to itself. But when you do look at the system, you'll find that it actually comes off as very pleasing. The crisp white design with two prominent front buttons is simple, yet mature. It can surely fit in with almost any setting. And for many users, that's all they really ask for.

Another thing we like about the GC3 is the level of care that was put into it. The panel is one of the sturdiest pieces of security equipment we have ever come across. Same with the 2GIG Sensors. The latest 2GIG equipment has a certain "weight" to it that helps it feel more stable and secure. Just picking up the panel conveys a sensation of quality craftsmanship. You can certainly tell that 2GIG put a huge amount of love and care into designing their system. That alone makes it one of the top wireless security systems to consider for your home in 2018.

Now, the system isn't perfect. The system does not have any compatible encrypted sensors. Instead, it is forced to rely on the unencrypted 345 MHz sensors from 2GIG and Honeywell. There's nothing wrong with these sensors, but users who want a more secure sensor option will have to look else where. Also the programming menus can have a steeper learning curve for new users than the other systems presented here. And keep in mind that Apple HomeKit support is not available for the GC3.

However, the system can connect with Alarm.com to achieve home automation support with Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Alarm.com is an outstanding platform, and achieving a full smart home setup with the alarm panel is a relatively straightforward process. But a cellular communicator is needed to connect the GC3 with ADC. Having to buy a cellular communicator separately to access Alarm.com does turn some users away. But this is a necessary add-on for getting the most out of a 2GIG GC3.

Overall, the GC3 is your choice if you want a strong and sturdy system, and you don't necessarily mind not having access to every last frill presented by other panels.

2gig gc3 diy wireless security system w slash 7 screenHoneywell Lyric Controller

If the other alarm manufacturers are challenging the status quo, then Honeywell is the status quo. Honeywell has been in business for a long time. 112 years at the time of this writing. And while they haven't always been involved in the home security industry, they have certainly been in it longer than the likes of 2GIG and Qolsys. Honeywell's home security roots actually date back to the 1960s. These decades of experience prove that Honeywell is doing something right. And the company used their experience and expertise to create their latest offering, the Honeywell Lyric Controller.

The Lyric Controller pushed some boundaries, and it presented features that had never really been seen before when it was released in 2016. Starting with the design, there's a lot to like about the panel. Its display is large and colorful, and its touchscreen feels very satisfying to use. The white boarder with accompanying grey accents is pleasing, and its digital picture-frame feature allows users to add a personalized touch for when the system is idle. This is a panel you will be proud to display in your home.

But the Lyric is more than just a pretty face. It was one of the first alarm systems to have its own lineup of encrypted security sensors. The Honeywell SiX Series Sensors communicate using 2.4 GHz WIFI, and they are protected by 128-bit AES encryption. They are virtually impossible to hack or takeover, making them some of the most secure sensors on the market today. Other compatible sensor options for the Lyric Controller include the legacy Honeywell 5800 Series Sensors and the 2GIG Sensors. The Lyric Controller also was innovative for including both a WIFI card and a Z-Wave controller into the system as standard.

So what else makes the Lyric Controller stand-out? For one, it is able to connect with Honeywell's Total Connect 2.0 Service. This platform is designed exclusively for use with Honeywell Panels, and it is continuing to make strides in home automation. Honeywell recently announced that the service will work with Amazon Alexa devices, opening up a world of new possibilities. Additionally, the Lyric Controller is currently the only system that can be used with Apple HomeKit. This makes the Lyric essentially the default option for anyone hoping to use HomeKit with their alarm system. However, it is currently impossible to use Google Home with the Lyric.

Like the GC3, the Lyric does not readily include a built-in cellular communicator. One will need to be added separately if a user wants to receive cellular monitoring. But the Lyric has a few advantages here. While Alarm.com requires a cellular communicator, Total Connect 2.0 can be accessed over WIFI alone. In other words, the system can connect with the interactive service straight out of the box.

If a user is confident in their WIFI setup, and they feel they can forgo cellular service, then the Lyric is an ideal selection. Keep in mind though, if the power goes out or WIFI goes down, then the Lyric will be a sitting duck. For the record, Alarm Grid encourages users to use cellular monitoring if possible. But we won't stop you from using WIFI only. And if a user does decide to install a cellular communicator for the system, there is a convenient side slot for this purpose.

Overall, there are many reasons to choose the Lyric Controller. It is currently the only system that can be used with Apple HomeKit. So if you want to use HomeKit this is the system to use! And the Lyric is arguably the best option for users who are content with an IP monitoring plan and no cellular backup. The Lyric is also ideal for users who trust the Honeywell name. After all, it's hard to top an ongoing legacy of 112 years.

But if you want to use Google Home, or if you like Alarm.com more than Total Connect 2.0, then you should look elsewhere.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security systemQolsys IQ Panel 2

Qolsys is a rather interesting company in the security industry. Its unique name is short for "Quality of Life Systems", implying that their systems will improve the quality of one's life. Qolsys is by far the youngest system manufacturer featured on the Alarm Grid website, having just been founded in 2010. So while Qolsys might not yet offer major-name recognition, it does offer lots of ambition! The young company maintains its headquarters in San Jose, California, and its West-Coast ideology certainly shows in its products.

At face value, there is a lot to love about the IQ Panel 2. We have never encountered an alarm system that comes as loaded and as stacked as this innovative piece of hardware. For starters, the IQ Panel 2 is the only system to date that comes with a built-in cellular communicator standard. Yeah, nearly every system has special packages that include a cell module. But only the IQ Panel 2 comes with this standard. The cell module is not an "add-on". It is a basic component here.

That is exactly the type of forward thinking we have come to expect with Qolsys. They know that cellular service is the optimal communication path for an alarm system. So rather than forcing a user to buy this simple accessory separately, Qolsys decided to give the people what they want. Most users will choose between the AT&T and the Verizon versions of the system to access a cellular network. We recommend going with whichever service works better in the area.

And we mean it when we say the IQ Panel 2 is stacked. Beyond the cellular module, the IQ Panel 2 also has a built-in WIFI card and a built-in Z-Wave controller. Right out of the box, the system is ready for dual-path communication and full home automation control. The system connects with Alarm.com, making it compatible with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa. But unfortunately, it cannot be used with Apple HomeKit. However, it is the only alarm system we know of that allows for Bluetooth disarming.

Moving on to sensors, there is actually a lot to discuss with Qolsys. The company produces its own sensors that operate at the 319.5 MHz frequency. This is the same frequency used by the Interlogix/GE Sensors, which have been around for many years. The Interlogix/GE Sensors can be used with the IQ Panel 2 System just fine. As for the Qolsys Sensors, they are split into two categories. These are the standard unencrypted Qolsys Sensors and the encrypted Qolsys S-Line Sensors.

Again, both Qolsys Sensor types will work with the IQ Panel 2. And the S-Line Sensors are the only encrypted 319.5 MHz sensors that can be used with the IQ Panel 2. But it must be mentioned that the S-Line Sensors use rolling code encryption. They are not as secure as the SiX Sensors that use 128-bit AES encryption when enrolled with the Honeywell Lyric Controller. But the S-Line Sensors are still more secure than anything offered from 2GIG, at least at this time.

But, it actually gets a lot more complicated than that. In the very near future, Qolsys is planning to release various daughtercards for the IQ Panel 2 System. These daughtercards will essentially serve as wireless receivers for the system. So the type of sensors that can be used with the system will depend on the daughtercards that are installed. The panel has slots available for two daughtercards, but they cannot be mixed freely.

The first slot will have one of the following cards: 319.5 MHz (the traditional Qolsys/Interlogix/GE option, outlined above), 345 MHz (for use with Honeywell 5800 Sensors and 2GIG Sensors), or 433 MHz (for use with legacy DSC Sensors). Then, in the second slot, a user can choose between an image sensor module card or a PowerG 915 MHz daughtercard.

And we need to stop and talk about PowerG for a second. PowerG Sensors are the most advanced security sensors we have ever seen. They boast a remarkable range of 2km in open air, and they are protected with full 128-bit AES encryption. This makes them extremely versatile and highly secure. Range should not be an issue when using PowerG Sensor. But if it ever is, DSC makes a PowerG Wireless Repeater to further expand on this ridiculous range.

So, long story short, a new buyer of an IQ Panel 2 can use PowerG Sensors and one other type of wireless sensors in a 300-400 MHz frequency. That is, unless they use an image sensor module, in which case they cannot use PowerG with the IQ Panel 2. This might seem very complicated (and it is!), but the point is, once Qolsys releases these upcoming daughtercards (very soon!), the IQ Panel 2 will be unparalleled in terms of sensor compatibility. Needless to say, we are looking forward to it.

And regardless of which sensor type you choose, learning the devices in is very easy on the IQ Panel 2. The system has an extremely intuitive programming process that is very easy for new users to learn. In fact, we'd even go as far to say that it is the easiest pairing process we have ever encountered for an alarm system. Let's put it like this - GC3 programming is easy, Lyric Controller programming is easier, and IQ Panel 2 programming is the easiest. This makes the IQ Panel 2 ideal for beginners.

Our final praise for the IQ Panel 2 System comes in the form of its design. It is incredibly sleek and modern, and its thin profile helps it stay out of the way when not in use. But when you are using the system, it is a beauty. The screen is large, bright and very colorful. The touchscreen controller is also very responsive, and it feels like a joy to use on a daily basis. Whether you're operating Z-Wave devices, programming the system or just arming and disarming, using the IQ Panel 2 will be breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to the IQ Panel 2 design. It is a more flimsy system than the likes of the GC3 and the Lyric Controller. Don't get us wrong, the IQ Panel 2 is built well enough for users who don't abuse their equipment. But it doesn't feel as sturdy as other top systems. Qolsys is a young company, and their build-quality might not be quite there yet. This can come into play when opening up the system for wiring purposes or for providing power to the system. Opening up the system is somewhat of a challenge, and closing it properly can be difficult at times. We hate to describe a system as "flimsy", but that is sometimes the case with the IQ Panel 2. As long as you're careful with it, then it should be fine. But don't expect a total tank like the GC3.

All things considered, there are many reasons to choose the IQ Panel 2. If you want a complete and total system right out of the box, it is perfect. If you are intrigued by the DSC PowerG Sensors, the IQ Panel 2 will be your best bet once the daughtercard is released. Its thin-profile and sleek, modern design make the IQ Panel 2 ideal when aesthetics are a factor. It's also the perfect match for users who want to use equipment from an exciting newcomer in the security industry like Qolsys. And the system is perfect for new DIY users because of its incredibly easy programming process.

But keep in mind, the system can be flimsy at times. If you can take good care of your equipment, then this won't be an issue. But if you want something sturdier, go with the GC3 or the Lyric Controller instead. Users should also choose the Lyric Controller over the IQ Panel 2 if they hope to use Apple HomeKit with their security system.

Qolsys iq panel 2 at and t wireless security system with at and

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When it comes to home security, houses aren't the only residences that require adequate protection. Apartments are also vulnerable to being taken advantage of by intruders and burglars. Thankfully, with advances in alarm systems, it has never been easier to achieve a DIY security setup.

Because of their smaller size and limited entrances and exits, most apartments don't need as many security sensors as a fully outfitted home. Just a few door and window contacts and a motion sensor can often do the trick. But that said, there's no reason that an apartment resident can't also take full advantage of the exciting home automation capabilities that a modern alarm system has to offer. This handy guide will cover everything needed to obtain a complete security system for an apartment.

Honeywell 5800mini interior wireless door and window sensorHoneywell 5800pir res wireless pet immune motion detector close up

Choosing a Panel

Like any security setup, it all starts with the control panel. This device serves as the central hub for the rest of the alarm system. Any sensors that are used with the system will report to the panel to let the system know when an event occurs. The panel is also the device that will send outgoing alerts to a central monitoring station or to the end user. Finally, most system arming and disarming is done right at the panel itself. Since the user will typically interact with their panel on a daily basis, it's very important to select one that is reliable and easy to use. Luckily for users, there are many tremendous options to choose from.

For an apartment, we strongly recommend choosing a wireless security system. These panels are remarkably easy to set up, and they are excellent choices for DIY users. A wireless panel is an all-in-one device that includes its own touchscreen display and wireless receiver for interacting with wireless sensors. Most newer wireless systems also come with a built-in communicator and an integrated Z-Wave controller. A user can also obtain a desk mount for their wireless system. This will eliminate the need to mount the panel to the wall, which is often forbidden by apartment policies. In fact, with a wireless system and wireless alarm sensors, it is possible to achieve a total setup without drilling any holes whatsoever. And if the user decides to move out of their apartment, they can easily take their wireless system with them to their new residence.

Alarm Grid offers some outstanding wireless panels that are great for apartments. One fantastic option in particular is the Qolsys IQ Panel 2. This system features a fresh, sleek design that is sure to fit in very well with any modern apartment. The system is simple to operate, and the menu options come across as very straightforward. The device also comes included with its own desk mount for easy setup. The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 will function with all Qolsys-branded wireless sensors, including the fully encrypted S-Line of sensors. Additionally, the IQ Panel 2 is one of few panels to come with a cellular communicator that is already built-in to the system. It is also WIFI ready right out of the box.

Qolsys iq panel 2 classic kit verizon wireless security system wAnother panel option is the Honeywell Lyric Controller. The Lyric is the flagship alarm system from Honeywell, a company that has served as a leader in the security industry for decades. It comes WIFI ready, and it can interface with an impressive lineup of different security sensors. This includes the encrypted SiX Series Sensors, which are designed exclusively for the Honeywell Lyric System. The menus are easy to navigate, and getting started with the system is a breeze. With just a WIFI connection and an appropriate monitoring plan, a user can sync their Lyric with Total Connect. This service allows users to arm and disarm their system remotely and check the current status of their security sensors at any time. A special desk mount for the Lyric is available for purchase separately. This will allow the user to avoid mounting the panel to the wall.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system

We also encourage users to check out our alarm system kits that include everything a new user needs to get started with a security system for their apartment. By going with a kit, a user can save a decent amount of money versus purchasing each component of the security system individually.

All About Sensors

The only types of alarm sensors that are used in most apartments are door and window contacts and motion detectors. Although other alarm sensors can definitely be used as well, they are usually unnecessary for an apartment. Just like with security panels, we advise users to install wireless sensors in an apartment. Wireless sensors are easy to program with an alarm system, and most are mounted using double-sided foam tape. This will prevent the user from having to drill any holes in their walls. Most wireless sensors will function for three to five years before requiring a simple battery replacement. If you are purchasing alarm sensors individually and not with a kit, make sure that the sensors you choose will interface with your alarm system.

A door and window contact is used to let the system know whenever a door or window is opened. These are very simple devices that are easy to understand. Basically, a door and window contact consist of a sensor and a magnet. The sensor is applied on the frame of the door or window, and the magnet is applied on the door or window itself, within a half-inch of the sensor. Double-sided foam tape can secure both of these components. When the door or window is opened, the magnet will separate from the sensor. This will cause a reed switch inside the sensor to activate. When this happens, the sensor will send an signal to the alarm system to let it know about the event. The alarm system will then respond accordingly, based on the programmed Response Type for that zone. For apartments, we recommend using surface-mount contacts over recessed contacts. This is because recessed contacts require holes that are drilled into the door or window frame. If you are purchasing door and window contacts individually and not part of a kit, make sure that they are compatible with your alarm system. Putting a contact on the front door is an absolute must. Many users also place them on windows and interior doors.

Honeywell 5816 wireless door window sensorQolsys iq dw mini extended s front


Motion detectors are also commonly used in apartments. Simply put, these devices recognize when motion is present, and they let the system know about the activity. A motion detector will certainly come in handy if an intruder is ever able to get inside the apartment without setting off a door or window contact. Most motion detectors operate using passive infrared (PIR) technology. This detection method involves looking out for the infrared energy given off by a potential intruder. When a PIR motion detector is activated, it will take a quick reading of the current infrared energy in the area. If a person or large object suddenly comes into the picture, it will cause a change in infrared energy. This will cause the motion sensor to activate, and the device will then send a signal to the alarm system to perform the programmed response. For most apartments, one motion detecting sensor is usually adequate. We recommend installing an apartment motion sensor in the main room for optimal sensor coverage.

Honeywell sixpir lyric smart sensor motionQolsys iq motion s encrypted motion sensor for iq panel 2 qs1230

Other alarm sensors are typically not as important for apartments. Glass break sensors can be used to monitor glass windows, but this is usually covered using window contacts and a motion sensor. However, some apartment residents may use a glass break sensor to monitor a glass casing or artwork. Most apartments already come included with a smoke detector. This means that purchasing a separate smoke detector for the alarm system is unnecessary. But a user may want to integrate the conventional smoke detector with their alarm system. For that, we recommend using a smoke detector takeover module, such as an Encore FireFighter FF345. This device will actively listen for the sound of an activated smoke detector. If it detects this type of sound, it will send a signal to the system and trigger an alarm event. If you do use a takeover module, make sure that the model you select is compatible with your alarm system. Finally, most apartment systems will not require any flood sensors since any failed HVAC unit or serious water leak is typically the responsibility of the apartment management.

Honeywell 5853 wireless glass break detector exteriorEncore firefighter ff345 circular smoke detector takeover module

Communication is Key

Unless you plan on staying home 24/7, you will want an alarm system that can send outbound signals in some way. For monitoring plans, there are two primary options. These are central monitoring plans and self-monitoring plans. The primary difference between these two types of monitoring plans is who is contacted when an alarm event occurs. With self-monitoring, the user will receive a text or email alert letting them know about the alarm. It is then up to the user to contact the appropriate authorities. But with central station monitoring, the alarm event is forwarded to a dedicated central station that operates 24/7. The central station will then request emergency help on the behalf of the user. Regardless of which type of monitoring is used, the alarm system must have some way of sending outbound alerts and reports.

Most alarm systems rely on cellular services or an internet (IP) connection as their primary communication path. Some alarm systems will use both of these communication methods for added reliability. The type of communication that is used will have an effect on the user's security setup and their monitoring plan. Cellular communication is considered to be more reliable than IP communication. This is because cellular service is almost never down, and it will still continue to operate in the event of a power outage. Also some interactive service platforms, like Alarm.com, require that the panel utilize a cellular connection, and they cannot be accessed using WIFI alone. But the advantage with IP communication is that it is usually less expensive than cellular monitoring. Additionally, while many panels already come WIFI ready, only a few can use cellular communication without a separate cellular communicator being added. Overall, the choice between IP and cellular comes down to the type of alarm system the user has and how reliable they want their system to be.

Honeywell lyric lte a at and t lte cellular communicator for the

Additional Features and Possible Add-Ons

Some apartment residents might want their alarm system to go beyond just performing security tasks. Many newer alarm systems come complete with a Z-Wave controller for operating Z-Wave home automation devices. However, most apartments will only allow users to take advantage of Z-Wave lights. These lights can be operated right from the alarm panel or using an interactive service like Total Connect or Alarm.com. Other popular Z-Wave devices include Z-Wave thermostats and Z-Wave door locks, but these are less likely to be used in apartment. A Z-Wave thermostat allows a user to adjust the temperature inside their residence from virtually anywhere. But many users might not feel comfortable replacing their apartment's standard thermostat with their own. Z-Wave locks allow users to lock or unlock their doors remotely. They can also unlock the door and disarm their system simultaneously by entering in a valid system code into the keypad on the Z-Wave door lock. Unfortunately, most landlords will not allow apartment occupants to change the locks on their doors. With those considerations in mind, Z-Wave home automation is often skipped by apartment residents. Still, the features are always available if the user ever does decide to use them.

Alarm dot com t2000 smart thermostatQolsys iq lightbulb dimmable z wave lightbulb for iq and iq pane

A greater number of apartment residents will take advantage of an interactive service with their system. These services allow users to access their alarm systems from anywhere using a convenient and easy to use mobile app. By accessing this type of service, a user can arm or disarm their system, check the status of sensors and control their Z-Wave devices from almost anywhere. These services are also used to contact the user during an alarm event. Two popular interactive service platforms for alarm systems are Total Connect and Alarm.com. Total Connect is designed exclusively for use with Honeywell Alarm Panels, while Alarm.com will work with systems from many different companies, including Qolsys and 2GIG. To access the Alarm.com service, cellular communication is required. Bu with Total Connect, an IP connection or a cellular connection can be used. Both services offer similar functions and features, so the one that is used will really depend on the alarm system being used. Most monitoring plans include this type of service, so the user should take full advantage of it.

Finally, some users may decide to use additional add-ons with their security setups. That said, these are also less commonly used with apartment systems. A secondary keypad can provide an additional point of access for an alarm system. But since most apartments are relatively small, this is usually unnecessary. A wireless repeater can extend the range of wireless sensors. But again, since most apartments are quite small this is also usually not needed. If the setup is based around a hardwired system, then a wireless receiver is needed to use wireless sensors. For apartments though, we strongly encourage users to use wireless systems instead of hardwired panels. Finally, some users may want to use security cameras with their setup. These devices are easy to use and install, and many indoor cameras don't require any drilling. However, a user will most likely need to upgrade their monitoring plan if they want to use security cameras.

Honeywell lkp500 wireless keypad for lyric controllerHoneywell lyric c2 wifi indoor 1080p hd total connect security c

Conclusion

Getting started with an apartment alarm system is very easy. In most cases, fewer sensors and add-ons are required. A wireless panel and sensors will make it for easy for DIY users to setup their systems without having to drill any holes or perform any wiring. Once everything is setup, a user will receive complete piece of mind in knowing that their residence is fully protected. Now is a better time than ever to get started with home security. Get an alarm system for your apartment today!

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At Alarm Grid, we often encourage users to "roll with what they got" and get as much as they can out of their current system. But there are some cases where enough is enough, and upgrading to a brand-new panel is the best option. Here are 5 reasons for you to make a system upgrade.

1. You don't know the Installer Code. Virtually every alarm system comes equipped with a default Installer Code that is absolutely necessary for providing basic programming functions. We recommend leaving this code at the default because it can be very difficult to get into programming if you lose this code. Additionally, you might not know the system's Installer Code if it was monitored by a different company that intentionally changed the code.

Some systems will technically allow you to get back into programming even if you lose this code. However, this can be a tedious process, as you may need to reset the system to factory default settings. This would require you to reprogram every sensor for the system. And some systems don't even allow this. So if you lose your Installer Code and can't get back into programming, sometimes the best option is to just start fresh with a completely new security system. Depending on the system you choose, you may even be able to keep all your old sensors as well.

Honeywell 5816 wireless door window sensor

2. You want more reliable communication. Nearly every alarm system on the market today is capable of achieving a dual-path communication setup with WIFI and cellular connectivity. This type of setup will provide ultra-fast speeds and excellent reliability. Even many older systems can be upgraded to achieve a similar setup. Cellular connectivity in particular is highly important for anyone who is serious about receiving reliable alarm monitoring services.

Unfortunately, some older systems are stuck using phone line monitoring, and they cannot be upgraded to a superior communication path. Using a phone line is extremely discouraged, as it is an outdated technology that offers unreliable service and slow connection speeds. Not to mention, phone service has some serious issues of its own. So if you're still using an alarm system with phone line connectivity, and you want more reliable and faster monitoring, it might time to make a change.

Honeywell lyric lte a at and t lte cellular communicator for the

3. You want easier daily access. Many older alarm systems are controlled through touch-button keypads that are wired in with the system. While this is fine for many users, it doesn't necessarily compare with the convenience of a touchscreen controller. This type of control will make it much easier to perform daily tasks like arming and disarming from the panel. And while there are certain touchscreen controllers for certain systems (e.g. the Honeywell Tuxedo Touch for VISTA Panels and the Interlogix Two-Way Talking TouchScreen for Interlogix Panels), they are often very expensive in their own right.

Many users often find that the best option is to simply ditch their hardwired system entirely and upgrade to a new wireless one with a touchscreen. And even if you have a large number of hardwired sensors, you can probably bring them over with a compatible wired to wireless converter. For example, the Honeywell 5800C2W will allow hardwired sensors to be used with a new wireless Honeywell System.

Honeywell 5800c2w hardwire to wireless system 9 zone conversion module4. You want more advanced sensors. Alarm sensors are continuing to become more and more advanced over time. And eventually, certain features that are added will simply be incompatible with an older system. An example of this involves the Honeywell SiX Series Sensors and the Qolsys S-Line Sensors. These sensors are both protected by 128-bit AES encryption, which makes them virtually impossible to takeover or hack into. However, this encryption limits their system compatibility. For the SiX Series Sensors, they can only work with Honeywell Lyric Panels. Meanwhile, the Qolsys S-Line Sensors will only work with the Qolsys IQ Panel 2.

It's not to say that older legacy sensors are bad or anything. They will work just fine with a security setup. But they aren't always going to offer the same advanced features and capabilities as newer sensors. So any users who want to incorporate more advanced system sensors into their setup may need to make an upgrade.

Honeywell sixpir lyric smart sensor motion

5. You want to obtain a smart home. Older alarm systems are often limited in how they can be controlled remotely. They are also sometimes restricted in their functionality with smart home applications, such as Google Home and Apple HomeKit. Most of this is done through an interactive service platform, like Honeywell's Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. In fact, most security experts would agree that an alarm system is fairly outdate if it cannot connect with an interactive service platform.

An interactive service is usually accessed through a web browser or through a mobile app on a smartphone. There are some useful basic features that come with virtually any interactive service. These features include arming and disarming the system, checking the status of sensors, controlling Z-Wave home automation devices and viewing the live feed of programmed security sensors. So with access to an interactive service platform, these actions can be performed from nearly anywhere in the world.

Most smart home devices follow a certain protocol when interacting with an alarm system. In these cases, an interactive service platform typically acts as a "middleman" between the smart device and the security system. Any command that is is sent through the smart device (e.g. a Google Home device or an Amazon Alexa device) will first be sent to the interactive service server (e.g. Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com) and then to the system (e.g. the Honeywell Lyric Controller or the 2GIG GC3).

However, this type of access can be impossible for older alarm systems. So if you want to obtain a smarter home security setup, upgrading your system may be a good first step.

So, which system is right for me?

If you're in the market for a new system, we generally recommend choosing a wireless system. Most users find that wireless systems are easier to program, and they will provide all-in-one access for the user. These systems are also compatible with some of the most advanced sensors on the market, and they can all be used with an interactive service platform.

Our most favorite systems are the Honeywell Lyric Controller, the 2GIG GC3 and the Qolsys IQ Panel 2. These are all outstanding wireless systems that will provide tremendous functions and features for an end user. They are also each compatible with certain smart home applications. Make sure to check compatibility before making your decision if you want to achieve a smart home setup. But regardless, you can't go wrong with any of these outstanding systems.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system 2gig gc3 diy wireless security system w slash 7 screen Qolsys iq panel 2 at and t wireless security system with at and
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Not every area you monitor is going to feature perfect lighting. In many situations, a camera must record an important event in a dark or low-light setting. If you have the right camera for the job, then this will be no problem. But if your camera doesn't have night vision, then the resulting pitch-black and vague recording will offer you very little value. With that in mind, if you ever plan on monitoring a dark area, you better make sure that your security camera offers night vision.

Fortunately, Honeywell designed all of their new Lyric Security Cameras with night vision capabilities. This lineup includes three state-of-the-art security cameras that each perform exceptionally well in low-light settings. These cameras feature advanced light-detection sensors that automatically adapt to the brightness to achieve the best recordings possible. Their special infrared (IR) LED lights enhance low-light performance, making even the darkest area appear clear and illuminated in the recording.


All of these cameras can capture video in full HD quality, and their built-in SD cards ensure that recordings are saved whenever WIFI is down. They can all connect seamlessly with Honeywell's Total Connect Service, making them very easy to get connected to the network. Each of the three cameras is best utilized in certain types of applications. You should consider where and how the camera will be used and strengths of each camera before making a purchasing decision. Overall, the Lyric Cameras are fantastic for any Honeywell user who wants to get started with video surveillance. And if there's ever any trouble in the night, your camera will be ready.

First up is the Lyric C1, also called the IPCAM-WIC1. This is an indoor camera that can be placed on any table or desk for a quick setup. Its IR LED lights prove the device with an IR range of 16.5 feet, and the camera will automatically adjust based on the current lighting. The Lyric C1 can record footage up to 720P HD in quality, which is fine for most uses. The camera also includes a built-in microphone for capturing audio. While this isn't the most robust camera in the Lyric lineup, it is a great camera for monitoring a smaller area of a home, such as a bedroom or a foyer. The Lyric C1 will work exceptionally well in any indoor situation where basic recording is needed.


Next is the Lyric C2, or the IPCAM-WIC2. This camera offers twice the night vision range of the Lyric C1, boasting an IR range of 33 feet. Just like the other cameras in the lineup, its included sensors will help it adjust to the current brightness level. The Lyric C2 comes attached to its own stand so that i can be placed conveniently on a desk or table for a quick and easy setup. The camera also comes complete with full 1080P HD recording quality and a built-in microphone for capturing audio. Overall, the Lyric C2 is notably more robust and powerful than the other indoor camera in the lineup. If you ever require higher-quality recording capabilities or if you need to capture footage in a larger indoor area, then the Lyric C2 is certainly up to the task. It is recommended for larger rooms, like a living room or a garage.


Last but not least in the Lyric Camera lineup is the Lyric OC1, also called the IPCAM-OC1. This is the only outdoor camera in the lineup. Its tough, weatherproof and water-resistant design will keep it safe in almost anything that nature can throw at it. The camera comes with its own mounting plate that allows a user to install the device on a wall or ceiling with relative ease. Out of all the cameras in the Lyric Camera lineup, the OC1 features the strongest night vision capabilities. Its IR LED lights will illuminate recordings up to an incredible 65 feet away. And of course, its built-in light-detection sensors allow the camera to automatically adjust its recording based on the brightness level in the area. And with its 1080P HD recording quality, you're sure to achieve crystal-clear recordings every time. The one downside to the OC1 is that it does not have a built-in microphone. Also, at this time, an external microphone will not function with the device. However, a later firmware update may change this. But if you're looking for strictly video recording in an outdoor environment, then the Lyric OC1 is second to none.


All three of these cameras are available on the alarm Grid website right now. If you're a Honeywell user who needs to monitor a low-light setting, look no further!

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I'm sure many people were disappointed to see the Lyric MR4 firmware get released last month and have the firmware update NOT include the Lyric / Apple Homekit integration that has been promised since the Lyric first debuted at ISC West back in 2015. We've been as frustrated as our users and potential customers have been that have been waiting anxiously for the Homekit integration to the Lyric system, and since Honeywell was at the mercy of Apple releasing the approval for the functionality to be made available, even Honeywell wasn't sure exactly when it was coming.

With all that said, we're excited to announce that as of this week, a Lyric running MR4 firmware can now integrate with Apple's Homekit!

We just found out about the release and we haven't been provided with all the details on the functionality the integration allows but once we get more information from Honeywell and do some testing ourselves, we'll be posting more about this awesome update to the Lyric system!

In the mean time, if you want to confirm your Lyric can do Homekit, just press Security > Tools > enter Master Code > Advanced and if you're on MR4, you should see a Homekit Reset button that wasn't there previously.


If you aren't seeing that button, you should check the System Information tab to see if you're on the MR4 firmware (01.04.07178.491) and if you aren't you can either ask your alarm monitoring company to remote upgrade you or if you have the right firmware version to allow a local firmware update request, you can go to Security > Tools > enter Installer Code to see an option for 'Update firmware' which will get you up to the latest version.

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Recently, Honeywell re-launched Total Connect 2.0 with a new, sleeker user interface. The new site, which leaves Flash behind, and uses HTML5 instead, has a more modern look and is, somewhat uncharacteristically, a truly collaborative undertaking on Honeywell's part.

As TC2 is updated, Honeywell provides an "About" screen showing version information, and a "What's New in Total Connect 2.0" link. When you click the link, you get a list of recent additions and fixes, as well as a link to provide feedback directly to Honeywell. They seem to be taking this feedback to heart, and continually make improvements based on customer suggestions.

The new user interface is much cleaner than the original. Gone is the dark blue background, with the cartoonish icons. One of the great things about HTML5 is that you can access the TC2 site from just about any browser, on any device, including Windows mobile devices. This wasn't possible on the flash based site, and since there was no app for Windows phones or tablets, users with these devices couldn't take advantage of all that Total Connect 2.0 has to offer.

Another improvement is the fact that both the web page, and the iOS app, offer the same capabilities. You can admin users from both the web page, and the app. You can sync zones and automation devices from either location. The Android app does seem to lag a bit behind the iOS version. There are a few things you can't do on it that you can do from the web site. The good news is, you can log into the web site from the browser on your phone, making it a non-issue.

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Last month, Honeywell released a new critical firmware update for the Lyric Controller - 01.04.07178.491 for the American version (shown below) and 01.04.07181.491 for the Canadian LCP500-LC version:

You can request the update on your Lyric system, if you aren't upgraded already, by pressing Security > Tools > entering your Installer Code and then pressing Update Firmware. If you are an Alarm Grid monitored customer, you can also have us send a firmware update to your system remotely. This MR4 firmware brings new functionality that our users have been asking for since the Lyric Controller was first released, new features that were not yet available and fixes to some known bugs.

Quick SiX Programming Mode

While this new feature won't help those that already have their Lyric system fully setup, the addition of a new SiX sensor enrollment mode allows new Lyric users to greatly reduce the time it takes to program SiX Series sensors to the system. Of course, the new SiX Programming option would certainly also be helpful for anyone that has an existing Lyric and is looking to add multiple new SiX devices to their system.

The Lyric has always offered a batch enrollment mode, available within the Zones programming screen, that allows you to learn in a group of SiX devices by simply powering on or activating each sensor. However, you would then need to go in and manually edit each zone by selecting the zone number and clicking Edit, tweaking each programming option and then saving the changes as you would if you were learning in one single sensor.

Now, with the new SiX Programming mode (found by pressing the down arrow once you enter programming mode on a Lyric with the MR4 firmware)


(SiX Programming option on second page of Lyric programming)

you can simply power on (either pull the battery tab or insert batteries) or activate each SiX sensor you want to learn in to the panel to have them all auto learn to the panel and show a screen with all the new learned in devices


(SiXCT and SiXPIR activated in SiX Programming mode)

and you can highlight and click Edit right from that screen to bring up a new screen that shows you all of the device settings so you can set all of your new zones and settings much more efficiently.


(SiXPIR and SiXCT edit screens in SiX Programming mode)

The new SiX Programming mode can save you hours depending on how many SiX devices you need to learn to your Lyric. Keep in mind though, just like with the batch enrollment mode, you can't enroll a SiXFOB to your Lyric using SiX Programming. You still need to use the Keys section of the Lyric programming to enroll a SiXFOB.

Easier Instant Arming Mode

For as long as we can remember, Honeywell systems have supported an Instant arming mode which allows a user to arm the system so that the system's alarm activates as soon as a zone is triggered, even if the zone is normally an entry/exit zone. Instant arming is helpful for ramping up the security of your system when you know that no one should be entering the home (at night or when you go on vacation for instance). Instead of an intruder being able to open your main front door without the alarm going off right away, Instant arming ensures that the Lyric goes into full alarm mode as soon as any door or window is opened. As long as you remember to disarm from a key fob or TC2 before an authorized user needs to enter the property, Instant arming is a great way to enhance your protection at key times.

When Honeywell developed the Lyric they didn't provide an Instant button on the Security screen and many users lamented the loss of Instant arming. The Lyric does in fact allow for Instant arming if you use the Arm Custom option which gets you to a screen where you can de-select the Entry Delay and arm the system so that delayed zones activate the alarm as soon as they are violated but it isn't a great user experience. We had a good amount of feedback from users that had upgraded Honeywell systems that supported Instant arming to the Lyric and were disappointed that arming in that way was more difficult on the Lyric. Thankfully, Honeywell has heard our cries and with the MR4 firmware, you'll notice when you hit the Security icon on your Lyric screen there is an Entry Delay: On/Off toggle at the bottom left of the screen.


If you want to arm Instant (motion detector zones turned off but all other zones active with no entry delay even if programmed as an entry/exit zone), simply tap the Entry Delay words until it shows OFF and then tap Arm Stay and enter your code. If you want to arm Maximum (all zones active with no entry delay even if programmed as an entry/exit zone), simply tap Arm Away with the Entry Delay set to OFF and then tap Arm Away and enter your code.

Skybell Doorbell Chime

You may have noticed if you press Tools and enter your Master Code and then the right arrow, there's a Skybell Setup button. If you did, you probably have wondered why pressing it does nothing. For some reason Honeywell released the Skybell Setup button on a previous Lyric firmware but didn't add the true functionality of the button until the new MR4 firmware. You could still pair a Skybell with a Total Connect 2.0 account but the Skybell wouldn't integrate with the actual Lyric system at all.

Now, pressing the Skybell Setup button allows you to integrate your doorbell camera (the round Skybell HD and Skybell Slim HD) to the Lyric Controller so that if someone presses your Skybell's doorbell, the Lyric sounds one of it's unique Chime tones. You can choose which Chime sound you want during the Skybell Setup process.

Smoke Maintenance Signaling

With MR4 firmware, the Lyric can now trigger a maintenance trouble signal if a connected SiXSMOKE detects that it's sensing chamber has too much dust or dirt for the detector to function properly. Similar to programming a loop 2 maintenance trouble zone for a 5808W3 smoke detector, you'll now know in advance if any of your connected Honeywell smoke detectors need cleaning.

Support of Yale Assure Locks

The Lyric's Automation controller provides support of Z-Wave locks so that you can program the system to auto-arm when you lock your door or auto-disarm your system when you unlock your door. If you have Total Connect 2.0 you can even remotely lock/unlock your doors. We recommend Yale, Kwikset and Schlage locks when connecting Z-Wave locks to your Lyric and with the MR4, the Lyric now officially supports Yale's range of Real Living Assure Locks, the YRD216, YRD226 and the key-free YRD246. We'll have these new Yale Z-Wave locks up on our site in the Home Automation section soon.

Fixed Lyric Keypad Bug

Sometime prior to MR4, we found that if you had an LKP500 Lyric keypad connected to your Lyric system and you had the Lyric's Voice setting disabled, the Lyric keypad would not provide the expected entry tones (beeps when you violate an entry/exit zone warning you that you need to disarm the system to avoid an alarm activation) even if the Entry Tone feature was enabled in the keypad settings.

Once your Lyric is on the MR4 firmware, if you like your system's Voice setting disabled, because you don't want to hear the main panel's voice announcements, you'll still be able to have your auxiliary keypads beep at you to warn you that you must disarm your system when coming home. As it's easy to forget your system was armed if your keypad doesn't beep at you, this is a critical fix for any Lyric user that prefers not to have the Voice setting enabled.

Fixed Lyric Thermostat Bug

We had a customer that noticed that once he connected his Lyric thermostat to his Lyric system, the Lyric was excessively pinging out to the Honeywell servers. We reported the strange IP behavior to Honeywell's engineers and after some testing they were able to replicate the issue and assured us that a fix would be coming. Our customer decided to remove the Lyric thermostat integration from his system for the time being.

Once MR4 was released, we had our user test the Lyric thermostat integration to his Lyric system and this time there was no unusual pings from the panel on his network so we are confident that this Lyric bug has been squashed.

Dealer Branding

The last change that MR4 firmware brings to the Lyric system is the new dealer branding feature. With this new feature, a Honeywell Lyric dealer's company splash page will show as one the Lyric slideshow images as long as the feature is enabled. Any Alarm Grid monitored client will see this image scroll through on their slide show:


In addition to the slide show page, the dealer branding also shows up as a small company logo on the bottom left of the Lyric home screen that you can click to get to a contact information page in case you need to get in touch with us for support.

If you have any questions about this feature of any of the new features and updates and fixes that the latest Lyric firmware brings to Honeywell's aware winning system, please let us know in the comments below or email us at support@alarmgrid.com.

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Alarm Grid is excited to announce that we are now selling a brand new security panel, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2. This state-of-the-art system is an excellent option for any DIY user who is looking to get started with home security. The panel offers a sleek and modern look, and it comes fully loaded with everything a new user needs to get an alarm system up and running. It is also very easy to use, and its intuitive programming process makes setting up the system a very simple task.

Qolsys iq panel 2 at and t wireless security system with at and

The IQ Panel 2 is the first-ever system offered on our site to come pre-included with a built-in cellular communicator. This means that an end user won't have to purchase a cellular communicator separately. Users can choose between an AT&T version and a Verizon version of the panel. This has nothing to do with the user's personal cellular service, and we recommend choosing whichever service works better in the area. Both versions provide lightning-fast LTE speeds, which will surely provide a tremendous user experience.

The IQ Panel 2 also comes WIFI ready, allowing the user to take full advantage of the exceptional speed and reliability of a dual-path communication setup. This will definitely come in handy if the system ever needs to communicate out to a central monitoring station. In order to use cellular communication, a user will need to obtain a monitoring plan at either the Gold or Platinum level.

We expect that users will thoroughly enjoy navigating the IQ Panel 2. The system boasts a beautiful, full-color, 7-inch touchscreen display with large and easy to identify buttons and menu options. Our early experience is that new sensors integrate with the system with ease, and the quick learning curve will be appreciated by new users. This truly makes it a great panel for both new users of alarm systems, as well experienced users looking for a new wireless system to get up and running.

The other exciting aspect of the IQ Panel 2 is the amount of features and capabilities that the system is ready to use right out of the box. The panel is Z-Wave ready, making it a fantastic choice for any user who is looking to get started with home automation. It can also sync with the Alarm.com interactive service. This allows users to arm or disarm their IQ Panel 2, check the status of security sensors, and even control Z-Wave devices from virtually anywhere in the world. This is all possible thanks to the Total Connect Mobile App, which is available for free on Android and iOS devices.

A unique aspect of the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 is that it is designed to interface with its own lineup of Qolsys security sensors. These wireless sensors communicate at a frequency of 319.5 MHz, making them compatible exclusively with Qolsys Systems. In addition to standard, uni-directional sensors, Qolsys also offers its S-Line of security products. The S-Line Sensors are fully protected by 128-bit AES encryption, making them impossible to be hacked or taken over by others. This is great for any user who wants to achieve a setup with the strongest level of protection possible. Up to 128 different wireless zones can be used with the system, providing the user with outstanding programming flexibility. Additionally, Qolsys also offers its encrypted Hardwired 16-S, making it easy for users who want to bring older hardwired sensors over to their new Qolsys IQ Panel 2.

The IQ Panel 2 is available for purchase right now on the Alarm Grid website. Now is a better time than ever to upgrade to a brand-new wireless alarm system. Order yours today!

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While the recent Honeywell Lyric security system MR3 firmware release brought enhanced functionality and improved performance to the Lyric controller, Honeywell's engineers unearthed a strange occurrence where the Lyric system would send a false APL report after the first system disarm following a system reboot.

Certain conditions had to be met for the false APL alarm to occur. The Lyric Controller had to have a Lyric-3G or Lyric-CDMA cellular communicator installed and activated. Also, the system's arm away, arm stay and disarm reporting had to be disabled (that reporting is on by default and here at Alarm Grid, we always encourage leaving that reporting enabled). As this was a unique anomaly with a very specific and unique configuration that had to be present for it to occur, Honeywell didn't realize the bug until after the MR3 firmware was released. As the firmware causes the panel to reboot once the update was complete, their technical support team quickly heard reports of the phantom APL alarms once the MR3 was released and the engineering team worked quickly to implement a patch fix.

You may have noticed that your Lyric system wasn't allowing you to update to MR3 firmware between when that firmware was released and today. That was because they pulled that firmware back once they uncovered the APL bug.

The new firmware version 01.03.06586.482 which was released today implements the patch fix to the bug and all Lyric controllers should be able to be firmware updated once again.

We encourage all Lyric users (especially those that did get the MR3 firmware update before it was pulled back from Honeywell) to update their system firmware and we've been told Honeywell will start forcing firmware updates to all installed Lyric panels over the coming weeks.




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With heavy hearts, we are sorry to announce that the Total Connect 2.0 service, powered by Honeywell, no longer supports the slide show feature.

While most Total Connect 2.0 users probably never even knew this feature existed, it was a pretty cool option for turning a LYNX Touch security system (models L5100, L5200, L5210 and L7000) into a digital picture frame.

From the TC2 Locations module, you could edit the house icon and click on the 'Edit Slide Show' button to upload images to your account from your computer. Honeywell's servers then download to the LYNX Touch system associated with that TC2 account/location (as long as the system had an ILP5 or L5100-WIFI internet communicator installed and online). Once the images were downloaded to the system, you could use the master programming mode (Security > More > Tools > enter Master Code) to go to the Slide Show option and setup your images to display on the panel's touchscreen when the system was sitting idle.

Honeywell indicated that the feature was removed due to "cyber security concerns" and while you can no longer use your LYNX Touch system as a digital picture frame, the new Lyric Controller does still offer the Slide Show feature. You just have to use a USB stick to load the images to the Lyric locally as the feature has been removed from Total Connect 2.0 on all systems. We have an FAQ on how to use the slide show feature on a Lyric system online at https://www.alarmgrid.com/faq/how-does-slide-show-... and if you have a LYNX Touch system now that was using this feature and want to discuss upgrading to a Lyric, we'd be happy to help. You can email us at support@alarmgrid.com or call us M-F 9-9 EST at 888-818-7728.


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