Home Security Scams Posts

Posted By

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments


Posted By

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.

Tags:

Comments


Posted By

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.

Tags:

Comments


Posted By

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.

Tags:

Comments