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Hi DIYers! We recently had a customer with an all too common story that is worth sharing. This customer obtained a Honeywell VISTA 20P System and was getting it activated with Alarm Grid. We had started the activation process, and began programming. But then the customer got cold feet.

Honeywell vista 20p wired alarm control panel

The customer then decided to explore their options and possibly have their system monitored by a different company. That's fine; we hadn't activated their system yet, and we always give our customers the option to cancel their service. We wished that customer the best and then moved on as if nothing had happened.

But a few days later, this customer decided to come back to us. They weren't happy with the service the other monitoring company offered, and they realized that Alarm Grid was the best option all along. We laughed it off, and decided to get started with the activation. The only problem was that the other company had actually locked the customer out of *29 communicator programming!

Because of that, we had no way of properly setting up their communicator for monitoring. The only options for that communicator were to activate it with the other company or to convince the other company to release it. There was nothing that we could do with that communicator, even though it was perfectly capable of being monitored just a few days prior. We couldn't even backdoor into programming, since only local communication programming was locked out. In the end, the customer had to buy a whole new communicator!

Admittedly, our technical support team found this pretty funny. The customer should have just stayed with Alarm Grid all along! But joking aside, there is a serious concern about users being locked out of programming. Companies often do this to prevent customers from taking their equipment elsewhere. They will essentially be locked in with that company. A company may also force a customer to rely on them for programming their system so that they are forced to pay extra service fees.

In this case, the customer was lucky. They were only locked out of communicator programming, and they only needed to buy a new communicator. There are deep-level programming options that could have permanently locked them out of system programming entirely. If that were the case, the customer would have needed to purchase a whole new system. It really could have been a lot worse!

Alarm Grid never locks its customers out of programming. We want our customers to be able to access every programming field so that they are empowered and can make their own system changes. We will also never brick equipment and make it proprietary for our use only. If you want to take your system elsewhere, that is your choice. We will cut all ties, and you can take your panel to a new monitoring company. That is the freedom you receive whenever you sign-up as an Alarm Grid customer.

We are not saying that every other alarm monitoring company will lock you out of system programming. There are certainly other honest companies out there. But what we can say is that we will never use such tactics. Your alarm system and communicator both belong to do, and what you do with them should be your business. With Alarm Grid, you can be absolutely certain that we will never keep you out of programming or brick your equipment. What the other guys do is none of our business.

If you would like to learn more about Alarm Grid monitoring services, we would love to talk to you! The best way to reach us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. If you prefer to speak with a live person, we have phone hours available from 9am to 8pm EST M-F. The number to call is (888) 818-7728. We also invite you to check out our alarm monitoring page for quick information online. You can even sign-up for monitoring right from the page!

We look forward to working with you and providing you with all your home and business security needs.

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Hi DIYers! Lately, we have heard reports of users having trouble enrolling their SiX Series Sensors with their Honeywell Lyric Systems. The problem has to do with Lyric Systems running older firmware versions that don't support the newer SiX Series Sensors with a newer MAC prefix.

Honeywell lyric controller encrypted wireless security system

As you may know, Honeywell SiX Sensors are encrypted sensors designed exclusively for use with Honeywell Lyric Systems. These are highly secure sensors that use bi-directional 128-bit AES encryption for added security. They learn-in with a Lyric System using a MAC address rather than a Serial Number. This MAC address is very important for determining whether or not the sensor will work with the Lyric System.

Older SiX Series Sensors had a MAC address that began with 00:D0:2D. If a SiX Series Sensor has this MAC prefix, then it will work with any Lyric System. However, SiX Sensors with this prefix are no longer manufactured. If you purchase a SiX Series Sensor today, it will most likely have a MAC prefix of either B8:2C:A0 or 8A:CB:A4. SiX Sensors with either MAC prefix will only work with a Lyric System that is running firmware version MR5 or higher. Honeywell actually never officially released updates for MR5 or MR6. Instead, they lumped those updates into the MR7 release, which is offered from Alarm Grid.

You can identify a new SiX Sensor by having the following yellow sticker on the box:

You can also check the MAC prefix on following white sticker on the sensor itself:


Newly manufactured Lyric Systems should already be running the latest firmware, and they will be able to support the newest SiX Sensors. But if you have an older Lyric System that hasn't been provided a firmware update, then you might be wondering why your new SiX Sensors will not work with the system. Alarm Grid recently attempted to address this by pushing down firmware update MR7 to all monitored customers with Lyric Systems that weren't already running that firmware version or higher. If you noticed that your Lyric System suddenly rebooted at one point, that is most likely why. For more information about firmware update MR7, click here.

Thanks to this recent mass update push, all Alarm Grid customers with Honeywell Lyric Alarm Systems should now be able to use the latest SiX Sensors with the newest MAC prefix. Keep in mind that we can only push down a firmware update to our monitored customers. If you are not monitored with Alarm Grid, then it's possible that your Lyric is still running an older firmware version that is incompatible with the SiX Sensors with the new MAC address. In that case, you must upgrade the firmware to use these sensors.

The only way to upgrade the firmware on a Honeywell Lyric Controller is to connect the system with the AlarmNet360 Servers. This requires alarm monitoring service. The firmware can be requested manually from the panel, or it can be pushed down automatically by the alarm monitoring company. But either way, you will need monitoring service to gain access to AlarmNet360.

Since Alarm Grid is month-to-month with no-contract and no cancellation fees, an easy option is to just sign-up for a month of monitoring service with Alarm Grid. We can then push down and automatic firmware update to the system so that it supports the newest SiX Sensors. You also have the option of requesting a manual firmware update from the panel. If you no longer want to receive monitoring at the end of the month, you can simply cancel your service. By choosing our Self-Bronze Plan, this whole process will only cost $10.

Signing-up for a month of Self-Bronze monitoring will offer additional benefits beyond just upgrading your system's firmware. You can also use this opportunity to active Apple HomeKit for the system. HomeKit is great for iOS users, and it will greatly improve your system's automation capabilities. You will also be able to try out the Total Connect 2.0 Service and gain remote access to your Lyric System. If you like the service, you can certainly remain as an Alarm Grid monitored customer for just $10 per month. Many users appreciate the fact that TC2 offers features and capabilities that are not available through Apple HomeKit.

We invite you to reach out to us if you want to learn more about your options. The best way to reach us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. You may also call us at (888) 818-7728 to speak with one of our security system planners. We look forward to working with you!

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There are plenty of horror stories of people being locked into long-term security contracts. Many companies are more than willing to take advantage of customers and get them on the hook for thousands of dollars across a multi-year period. But there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Long-term contracts are an extremely common practice in this industry. This is because companies want the easy guarantee of a customer being locked into service rather than working hard to continuously earn and maintain their trust. By locking yourself into a contract, you are giving up your rights as a consumer. The company doesn't need to keep you happy because they have already locked you in! If you want to move or cancel your service early, you might need to pay thousands to get out.

Worse yet, we've heard of some dishonest companies promising to pay-off an existing contract in exchange for signing on with their company. The only problem is that they don't actually pay-off the contract. Suddenly the customer is locked into two contracts and paying outrageous fees for services they don't even need! If you do find yourself stuck in a contract, don't make the problem worse by locking yourself into two.

Here are a few tips you can follow so that you don't get locked into a contract.

Ask Questions

A legitimate alarm monitoring company should have no problem answering any questions you might have. While you will certainly want to ask about alarm control panels and sensors, you should also inquire about any terms of service. The two things you should ask about are agreement lengths and cancellation fees. A no-contract monitoring company will let you leave any time and have no cancellation fees.

If you're in talks with a security company, then make sure to ask questions. Particularly, you should ask if there is any minimum commitment period or if there are cancellation fees. These are both signs of a security contract. As a reference, Alarm Grid charges its customers monthly, and customers are always free to leave before their next monthly payment. There is absolutely no fee to cancel your service with Alarm Grid.

Do Your Research

You should always do your research before signing-on with any alarm company. A good monitoring company is transparent and has nothing to hide. Go online and read about the experiences of other customers. Make sure that others are getting the service and the experience that they expect. If possible, check out the company's rating with the BBB and check to see if they are a reputable company.

One thing to be wary of is door to door salespeople. We're not saying that all door to door security companies are out to trick you, but it's a lot easier to do research on your own time than if a stranger is right in front of you trying to win a sale. Never rush into an agreement with your security company. Take some time, wait a few days and do your own research. If possible, sign-up online rather than agreeing in person. And always read the fine print!

Know Your Rights

Always know your rights when dealing with a security company. Remember that you don't have to agree to anything that you aren't comfortable with. And keep in mind that the Consumer Protection Act puts various restrictions into place for your benefit. Security companies are forbidden from making false or misleading statements to attempt you to make a purchase. Also, if you ask a door to door sales person to leave, then they are required by law to leave.

If a salesperson seems over-eager or aggressive, then it's probably not worth your time. Ask for more time or politely decline. If an in-person salesperson refuses to leave, or if you are being harassed, contact the police. You might also want to be extra wary if you are an elderly citizen or incapacitated in any way. Many security companies will try to take advantage of these people to take their hard-earned money. Remember, there's no shame in asking a loved one for a second opinion before making an agreement.

If you are looking for an honest, no-contract security company, we hope that you will do your research and look into Alarm Grid. We encourage you to read through our monitoring page to learn more about what we offer. You are certainly welcome to talk with us before signing-up. Our security planners are happy to answer all your questions and let you know exactly what you are getting. We want to eliminate any confusion you might have so you know for sure that we are right for you.

Getting in touch with an Alarm Grid planner is easy. The best way to reach us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email regularly, and we will get back to you as soon as possible. If you prefer to talk on the phone, you may call us at (888) 818-7728 from 9am to 8pm EST M-F. Our team looks forward to working with you so that you can determine the best option for your security needs.

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Throughout the years, there have been many security companies that have offered alarm systems that will only work with their monitoring services. These are known as "proprietary systems", and they greatly reduce the freedom and flexibility that a consumer has in choosing a security plan.

There are many tactics that companies use when providing proprietary systems for their customers. One common strategy is to entice users with a "free security system" in exchange for signing-up for monitoring services. Although a free security system certainly sounds exciting, it doesn't give the user very many options if it will only work with that particular monitoring company. If the user wants to use that system, then they essentially become married to that monitoring company. This presents them with very little flexibility in the long-run.

Another common tactic for these monitoring companies is to lock their customers into contracts so that they are obligated to pay for service for an extended period of time. If a user tries to cancel their plan, they might be on the hook for heavy cancellation fees. Then when the contract expires, the user will still not be able to choose a different monitoring company, as their proprietary system will only work with that company. Again, the user is still married to that company if they want to keep using that system. Make sure to always read the terms carefully before signing-up for monitoring service to ensure that you don't lock yourself into a contract. It can be very tricky to get out once you are locked in!

Not all monitoring companies that offer proprietary systems use these tactics. The important thing to remember is that the system will only work with their particular monitoring service. If a user tries to bring that system to a different company, then it will not work. Some companies will even up the game by using proprietary sensors that only work with their system. These sensors cannot be recycled and brought over to a new system, which means a user looking for a new monitoring provider has to start from scratch. Another strategy is to use a proprietary alarm system communicator. In some cases, it is possible to simply replace the communicator so that the system itself can be taken over. But it isn't always this easy.

We strongly encourage everyone in the market for a new security system to obtain non-proprietary equipment. It's very important to conduct proper research beforehand to make sure that you know exactly what you are buying. You should also obtain monitoring service that does not require you to lock yourself into an extended contract. That way, if you are ever dissatisfied with your monitoring company, you can easily take your system to a new company. You will not have to replace your existing equipment, and you will be able to make a seamless transition to a new company.

Alarm Grid only supports non-proprietary systems, and we never lock our customers into contracts. Our customers are free to terminate their service at any time if they believe they can obtain better monitoring services somewhere else. All of the systems we support can easily be taken over by a different monitoring provider if a user decides that switching is in their best interest. While we don't offer any free security systems, we will do our best to perform a takeover of existing equipment if possible. But keep in mind that we cannot do this with proprietary alarm systems, as they will not work with our services. While we would love to takeover existing proprietary alarm systems and equipment, it is simply impossible for us to do so.

If you ever need help choosing or designing a security system, we invite you to send us an email to support@alarmgrid.com, or call us at (888) 818-7728 during our normal business hours of 9am to 8pm EST M-F. We have a team of security experts who are happy to help you find the perfect non-proprietary alarm system for your needs. We also invite you to check our monitoring page for more information. The entire Alarm Grid team looks forward to providing you with top-quality monitoring service, while also ensuring that you always have the freedom of choice that you deserve as a consumer.

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At some point or another, you may have come across some type of "no-fee" monitoring service that promises home or business protection at absolutely no cost. Like most things that are too good to be true, this one is as well. Any type of "no-fee" monitoring service is a bait and switch.

So how do these scams work? Well, it is usually as simple as a classic bait and switch tactic. A company may offer a product, such as a home alarm system or a security camera, that promises certain functions and features at no additional cost beyond the initial purchase price. Although there may be advanced and additional features available beyond this base level, there's still a level of trust put into place here. The customer bought the product expecting to be able to use it for certain functions and features, without having to pay any type of additional cost or fee.

However, the switch occurs when the company decides to convert these free features into a "premium service". Suddenly, what was once free now costs a monthly or yearly subscription plan. In other words, cold hard cash. It goes without saying that many of the early customers would not have purchased the product had they been aware of the company's plan from the beginning. Unfortunately, they now have sunk cost involved in the product. The customer might feel obligated to pony up money for the reoccurring subscription service, even though this was never their original intention. While "no-fee" was the original promise, the customer received the exact opposite.

The truth is that "no-fee monitoring" is impossible. It is a myth. It can't exist because monitoring services cost money. Also, data and information storage costs money. A company is not going to offer these services to a customer without receiving something in return. A recent lawsuit proves this exact point. One company thought they could lure in customers with "no-fee" promises that they ultimately couldn't maintain. Now their customers are upset because they were wrongly promised something that was too good to be true.

Countless people would love the possibility of receiving monitoring services at no cost. But this will never happen. Remember, it costs money to maintain central monitoring stations and to keep data servers operating. At the end of the day, these costs will always trickle down back to the customer. The best thing you can do is get on board with an honest, transparent alarm monitoring company that will treat you right and provide you with the services you need. That is where Alarm Grid comes into play.

If you are interested in Alarm Grid monitoring services, please press the orange "Alarm Monitoring" button at the top of this page. You may also email us any time at support@alarmgrid.com. If you would prefer to speak directly with a security professional, please call (888) 818-7728 during our business hours of 9am to 8pm M-F. We look forward to working with you and keeping your homes and businesses safe.

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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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It's no secret that the Home Security industry is full of companies willing to say anything to get you to sign a multi-year contract with them. It's one of the many problematic practices that resulted in the founding of Alarm Grid. It's a practice that nearly every single member of the industry does. When we started Alarm Grid two years ago, and we mentioned that we were going to try this whole thing by treating customers well and not making them sign contracts, we were laughed out of rooms and told that it would never work. Well, here we are two years later: one of the fastest growing security companies in the United States.

The industry incumbents aren't any better, unfortunately. Over the last year, we've seen tons of home security scams where companies are claiming to be ADT or another known security brand and tricking customers into signing up. Rightly, most of the brands whose names are being misrepresented are working hard to make sure that those companies are squelched. That said, if ADT thinks that tricking customers is such a bad idea, then why is it that they were just found reprimanded by the FTC for misrepresenting their advertisements by paying for spokespeople to discuss their product glowingly?

In the FTC's release, they wrote the following:

As part of its ongoing crackdown on misleading endorsements in advertising, the Federal Trade Commission has charged the home security company ADT LLC with misrepresenting that paid endorsements from safety and technology experts were independent reviews. Under an agreed-upon settlement, ADT is prohibited from misrepresenting paid endorsements as independent reviews in the future....

“It’s hard for consumers to make good buying decisions when they think they’re getting independent expert advice as part of an impartial news segment and have no way of knowing they are actually watching a sales pitch,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “When a paid endorser appears in a news or talk show segment with the host of that program, the relationship with the advertiser must be clearly disclosed."

While we find the practice of undisclosed paid endorsements reprehensible - especially when these endorsement deals are hundreds of thousands of dollars - it's unfortunately commonplace in this industry. You don't have to look too far online to find a company or two that always shows up at the top of what looks like a legitimate resource for consumers doing research on systems.

We find it odd that companies like ADT who go far to try to keep other companies from dragging their name through the mud (they offered $20,000 bounties for footage of companies training their employees to do what we described at the beginning of the article), would turn around and disrespect consumers in the same way. 

You will never find Alarm Grid faking reviews. Every Alarm Grid review online is 100% real. It is common for us to ask customers to leave those reviews, but they do it without any compensation. Our on-site testimonials, as we've stated numerous times before, are given to us in exchange for a free month of monitoring, but only after a client has worked with us for at least 6 months. But that's it. If you find our name on a blog, or on some rating site, we will very clearly disclose if we paid for it to be there - you have our word.

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While the old-style of home security trapped users into long-term contracts, dishonest pricing, and rates that never stop going up, it's becoming more and more clear that since the 90s, the trend in home security is the proprietary system scam.

According to a press release, Vivint is the newest entrant into the proprietary system market, saying that they are going to begin with their newest system, "SkyControl." Here are the problems with the proprietary system model:

You can't leave the company you're with... ever

Forget contracts! Since proprietary systems have come out, once you have the unit in your home, you can't do anything about it. Generally, those systems are built to be used with one company and one service.

Almost always, these systems are touted as being good for the customer. Alarm Force has made their own system, SimpliSafe is a newer entrant that has built their own system, Lifeshield makes their own system, and now you can pile Vivint's system onto the ever-growing pile of proprietary systems. While most of these companies still make you sign a contract, the fact that their system is proprietary means that even if you tried to exit your contract with them, you'd STILL not be able to simply leave their service.

Why?

Because their system is a simple, effective way to lock you into their service.

The systems are rarely good

Think about the number of companies that have been building systems for the last 50 years, and even more hardware-only security system manufacturers have entered in the last 10 years: Honeywell, 2Gig, DSC, GE, Elk, and many many more. The systems these companies make are top of the line. We sell Honeywell generally because we think they are the best systems on the market. That said, the other choices are pretty darn good. So why would a company, like Vivint, which has been installing the 2GIG Go!Control panel abandon their partnership in order to install their own panel? While I can't say for sure, I would venture a guess that it has very little to do with quality control.

A Security Company Can't Simply Release Their Own Panel and Expect Consumer Adoption.... So How Is Vivint Getting Their System Into Homes?

This goes to the history of Vivint. Vivint has become a huge company in the last 10 years. Formerly APX, they changed their name, which got the company away from a sullied reputation. Though, Vivint still has more than 2000 BBB complaints, and the history of government actions taken against the company tell a more complete story about how the Vivint grew into the behemoth that it currently is:

In 2010, the "State of Arkansas Attorney General's Office filed a complaint in the circuit court of Pulaski County alleging that Vivint, Inc., formerly known as APX Alarm Security Solutions, Inc. violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Home Solicitation Sales Act.... Vivint agreed to pay $125,000 for the costs of the investigation and prosecution of the complaint."

In 2012, "the Wisconsin Attorney General's Office announced a Consent Judgment with Vivint, Inc. The consent judgment requires the company to pay refunds to consumers who were misled about their ability to cancel their alarm service contracts, as well as consumers who were misled about false alarm charges."

In 2013 the "Kansas Attorney General entered into a Settlement Agreement with Vivint, Inc. According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the company was accused of using a variety of deceptive practices while going door-to-door offering to install new home security systems or replace existing systems." Again in 2013, the "State of Ohio Attorney General's Office entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance Settlement Agreement with Vivint, Inc. According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, consumers filed complaints that the company made representations to consumers that its home security equipment was free, but failed to disclose the existence or amount of installation, activation and monitoring fees associated with the system." 

Under APX, their reputation wasn't any better. While these actions are a strong indicator of Vivint's internal philosophy, which is to grow-at-all-costs, they do not tell the full story. Vivint's known for aggressive selling practices, sending young men and women into customer homes, and acquiring new customers by getting them to setup installations and having new consumers sign lengthy contracts. The consumer actions above outline an incredibly sketchy history of deception. Even so, Vivint has grown and grown and grown. In 2012, they were purchased by one of the world's largest investment firms, Blackstone, for around $2 billion.

The reason that Vivint can simply release a new panel, and know that consumers will adopt it is because their consumers are already under contract. Via many of the practices outlined above, Vivint became one of the country's fastest growing security companies. And now that they are in your home, they started Vivint Solar (C- rated by the BBB), and are now reportedly throwing their hat into the ISP ring. So unlike Comcast which is in the home of millions of consumers, and as a result decided to get into home security, Vivint has taken the opposite path, getting into the homes of consumers through security, and moving into providing internet.

All of that said, before you consider allowing a proprietary security system to be installed on your wall, consider what you are doing, especially if you also have to sign a contract. Not only are you locking into that company by way of the contract, you are locking into that company by way of the equipment as well. Should you want to leave at the end of the term of your contract, the expense will involve swapping out the security system in its entirety, sensors and all. And that, depending on how big your home is, can be an expensive proposition... a fact that proprietary system makers are counting on.

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Over the years, the home security industry has earned its reputation as being replete with scammers. It's a reputation that is well-earned, and every summer, as college students return home, many of them get recruited into bottom-of-the-barrel companies that push them to lie, cheat, and steal in order to earn their keep.

In recent days, there have been lots of reports out of Wisconsin, regarding phone call and door-knocking scams, but this report about Vision Security which is headquartered in Orem, Utah, is one of the more disturbing in recent memory.

According to a report on KUTV, there have been numerous individuals all over the state accusing the company of using deceptive sales tactics to get into their homes. These include claiming that they are from another company, or that they are here to swap out an old system and make updates. Often, before they leave, they get the homeowner to sign a new contract under the auspices of being part of being something that they need to sign from the company that already monitors their system. The cell phone video featured in the news report below, however, is disturbing as it shows that not only are these accusations from homeowners true, but that there is a full-on corporate culture within Vision Security that promotes the use of these disreputable sales tactics, even teaching them to students in a classroom setting.

This is the sort of problematic scam that Alarm Grid is working hard to get rid of. We are committed to making sure that you know everything you can know about your security system and the company that monitors it.

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