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.
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 Using a phone line is extremely discouraged, as it is an outdated technology that offers unreliable service and slow connection speeds.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.
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.
4. 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.
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.