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Alarm Grid is proud to announce that the next generation Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS Security System is available for purchase on our site. Today, we're going to explore this new system and find out whether or not its worth buying. Let's take a deep dive into the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS!


We will cut right to the chase. The Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS from Resideo has been available on our site for a couple of months now. However, we have been hesitant to promote it due to one glaring factor. The system lacks support for local end user programming. This means that the system can only be programmed and configured by your monitoring provider. You will need to contact Alarm Grid, or whomever you are using for monitoring service, whenever you want to make changes to the system programming settings. You won't be able to enter programming locally and conveniently make adjustments to the majority of system settings and configurations. This goes against our primary principle as a DIY monitoring provider, and it is such a big concern that we have been reluctant to announce it.

Now, the news isn't all bad. Other than its lack of local programming, the PROA7PLUS is a very nice alarm panel. it's sleek, crisp, and it looks great mounted on a wall. The system turns heads with its gorgeous 7-inch full-color display screen that offers easy and convenient touchscreen control. And it wouldn't be complete without the panel's powerful features, which we will certainly be discussing later in this post. Plus, we have received a promise from Resideo that local programming support for the PROA7PLUS will be made available in a future update, which is expected to be made available sometime in the first half of 2021. For now, you are certainly welcome to purchase the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS from us, and we are happy to monitor the system and help you with setting it up and configuring it to your liking. But for the time being, it is not one of our top security system picks. If you want to learn more about some systems that we currently recommend purchasing instead of the PROA7PLUS, then please check out our 2020 Holiday Buying Guide for Alarm Panels, which includes the Honeywell Lyric, also from Resideo.

With that out of the way, we can begin focusing on the positive aspects of the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS. And there really is a lot to discuss in that regard. The system supports up to 127 zones out of the box, and it can support up to 250 with the proper add-on, which we'll cover later. There are also 32 key fob slots. The main sensors you'll be using with the PROA7PLUS are the Honeywell Home PROSIX Series Sensors. These state-of-the art sensors are built exclusively for use with the PROA7PLUS. They utilize top-of-the-line 128-bit AES encryption, and they boast a wireless range of more then 300 nominal feet. You can also use the Honeywell SiX Series Sensors, which were originally built for use with the Lyric, with the PROA7PLUS. But be warned, once you pair an original SiX Series Sensor with a PROA7PLUS, it will receive an update and then you will never be able to use it with a Lyric System again.

For this buying guide, we'll primarily be focusing on the PROSIX Sensors built exclusively for the PROA7PLUS. Let's check out the PROSIX Series Sensors.

Model Notes
Honeywell Home PROSIXCO
Carbon monoxide sensor. Emits 85 dB Temporal 4 sounder upon activation. Includes One-Go-All-Go functionality.
Honeywell Home PROSIXCOMBO
Combination smoke, heat, and carbon monoxide sensor. Includes built-in 85 dB sounder that emits Temporal 3 sound for smoke and heat, and Temporal 4 sound for CO. Includes One-Go-All-Go functionality.
Honeywell Home PROSIXCT
Door and window contact sensor. Magnet spacing gap of 0.75". Includes terminal block for single NC wired contact sensor. Has battery life of approximately five (5) years. Offers wireless range of 300+ feet. Measures 3.13"L x 1.61"W x 1.0"D.

Honeywell Home PROSIXFLOOD
Flood sensor. Sends alert to system within 15 seconds of detecting liquid. Comes with detachable Honeywell FP280 Probe that measures 15 feet in length.
Honeywell Home PROSIXFOB
Four-button key fob. Allows for dual-button inputs, for a maximum total of eight (8) inputs. Includes key ring for easy carry.
Honeywell Home PROSIXGB
Glass break detection sensor. Includes 25-foot detection range, and four (4) sensitivity settings. Honeywell FG701 is recommended glass break simulator.
Honeywell Home PROSIXMED
Single-button medical alert. Activation requires pressing and holding single button for three (3) full seconds. Only uses one (1) zone on system. Water-resistant. Includes accessory clip for device to be worn as wristband, lanyard, or belt clip.
Honeywell Home PROSIXMINI
Mini door and window sensor. Magnet spacing gap of 1.15" on wood, and 0.5" on metal. Has battery life of approximately five (5) years. Offers wireless range of 200+ feet. Measures. 2.44"L x 1.25"W x 0.45"D.
Honeywell Home PROSIXMINI2
Mini door and window sensor. Magnet spacing gap of 1.15". Has battery life of approximately seven (7) years. Offers wireless range of 500+ feet. Measures 2.9"L x 1.15"W x 0.75"D.
Honeywell Home PROSIXPANIC
Dual-button panic. Activation requires pressing and holding BOTH buttons for three (3) full seconds. Only uses one (1) zone on system. Water resistant. Includes accessory clip for device to be worn as wristband, lanyard, or belt clip.
Honeywell Home PROSIXPIR
PIR motion detection sensor. Has maximum detection area of 40 by 56 feet with 90° viewing angle. Supports pet immunity for small animals weighing up to 80 lbs.
Honeywell Home PROSIXSHOCK
Three-zone, all-in-one shock, contact, and transmitter sensor. Each function (service) can be turned ON or OFF as needed. Shock coverage area of about 10 to 12 square feet (5 to 6 foot radius). Four (4) sensitivity options for shock detection. Contact magnet spacing gap is 0.75" on wood surface. Wireless transmitter is for NC contact sensors only. Measures 3.13"L x 1.61"W x 1"D.
Honeywell Home PROSIXSMOKEV
Smoke and heat detector. Photoelectric smoke detection. Heat sensor activates at Fixed Temperature of 135°F, or Rate-of-Rise of 15°F in single minute when temperature is 104°F or higher. Emits 85 dB Temporal 3 sounder upon activation. Includes One-Go-All-Go functionality.
Honeywell Home PROSIXTEMP
Temperature sensor. Uses two (2) zones - one for low-temperature detection (COLD), one for high-temperature detection (HOT). Low-temperature detection activates when temperature falls below 45°F for ten (10) minutes. High-temperature detection activates when temperature rises above 95°F. Faulted zone restores when temperature is inside normal threshold for at least ten (10) minutes. Accurate within +/- 3°F.
Honeywell Home PROINDMV
Full-motion video sensor. Combines a PIR motion detection sensor with a full-motion video camera, and begins recording video when activated while the system is Armed Away and an alarm is triggered. Video is sent from Total Connect 2.0 to the end user via text and/or email. User cannot request a video clip or a live look-in from TC2. Provides a coverage area of 39 by 54 feet with a 90° viewing angle. Offers pet immunity for small animals under 80 lbs.

But the PROSIX Sensors and classic SiX Series Sensors are not your only sensor options for the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS. If you add a Honeywell Home PROTAKEOVER Module to the system, then your PROA7PLUS will be able to interface with wireless sensors from one (1) of five (5) selectable legacy sensor frequencies. The PROTAKEOVER Module has a dial that allows you to choose which one (1) legacy frequency you want to use. Your options include Honeywell 5800 Sensors, 2GIG 345 MHz Sensors, legacy DSC 433 MHz Sensors, legacy Qolsys & Interlogix/GE 319.5 MHz Sensors, and Bosch 433 MHz Sensors. In addition, this module is what allows the PROA7PLUS to support 250 zones. Of these maximum 250 zones, 127 are for use with PROSIX and classic SiX Series Sensors, and the other 123 are for the legacy sensors you can add after installing the PROTAKEOVER Module. One limitation of the PROTAKEOVER Module is that it should NOT be used to interface life-safety sensors like smoke detectors and CO detectors with the PROA7PLUS System.


There is one other important note about using the Honeywell Home PROTAKEOVER Module with the PROA7PLUS. Once you install the PROTAKEOVER inside the system, you will NOT be able to use the current Honeywell Home PROA7DM Desk Mount with the system. The PROA7DM is an accessory that allows you to conveniently rest the system upright on a table or desk, instead of hard-mounting it to a wall. In other words, you must choose between the PROTAKEOVER Module and the PROA7DM Desk Mount. Fortunately, you will still be able to mount the PROA7PLUS System on the wall like normal when using the PROTAKEOVER Module. The reason for this is that the PROTAKEOVER module comes with a replacement wall mounting plate which contains the antenna used for the legacy wireless devices. The PROA7DM also comes with a replacement mounting plate, but it does. not have the required antenna built-in. Resideo says that a new version of the PROA7DM Desk Mount will eventually be released that will allow you to use it with the PROTAKEOVER Module. Unfortunately, we do not have an estimated release date for the updated PROA7DM at this time.

One other option for adding sensors to the Honeywell PROA7PLUS Alarm System is to use a wired to wireless converter. This type of device will allow you to pair hardwired sensors with the system that otherwise wouldn't be able to interface. The way that this works is by having the wired sensors wire-in directly with the converter unit. The converter then sends a wireless signal to the alarm panel on behalf of the wired sensors. As far as the PROA7PLUS is concerned, it will just see the wired sensors as wireless devices and allow them to pair with wireless system zones. Resideo offers a special wired to wireless converter exclusively for the PROA7PLUS called the Honeywell Home PROSIXC2W. The PROSIXC2W transmits at the same encrypted wireless frequency as the PROSIX Series Sensors, making it extremely safe and secure. And it can communicate with the PROA7PLUS System from more than 300 nominal feet away. Overall, the PROSIXC2W is a fantastic option if you have existing wired sensors on an older system and you are looking to upgrade to a new PROA7PLUS Panel.


Now that we have discussed all the sensor options for the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS, we now want to discuss automation options for the system. The Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS has a built-in Z-Wave Plus controller, just like what is inside the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus and the 2GIG GC3e. This is an upgrade of the standard classic Z-Wave controller that is found inside the Honeywell Lyric. By using certified Z-Wave Plus devices with the PROA7PLUS, you will be able to achieve an extended wireless range and battery life. We strongly recommend checking out our 2020 Holiday Buying Guide for Automation to learn more about the Z-Wave Plus devices we recommend pairing with the PROA7PLUS. Additionally, it is expected that the PROA7PLUS will eventually be able to support Apple HomeKit, just like the Honeywell Lyric. Unfortunately, we do not have an ETA for when this will be made available. For now, we recommend using Z-Wave Plus devices for automation with the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS Security Panel.

Please note that up to 78 total Z-Wave devices can be paired with the PROA7PLUS, which includes 60 lighting modules, 6 garage door controllers, 6 door locks, and 6 thermostats. Any Z-Wave device used with the system will also be pushed over to Total Connect 2.0 for remote control, assuming that the PROA7PLUS System is monitored.


Our next topic involves communicator options for the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS. The system comes with a built-in WIFI card for IP connectivity. This means that you can get it monitored and set up with AlarmNet and Total Connect 2.0 right out of the box, with no additional add-ons. This is great for users who want low-cost IP-only alarm monitoring service from an Alarm Grid Bronze Plan or an Alarm Grid Silver Plan. But you should keep in mind that by doing this, your monitoring service and your safety will be dependent upon your internet connection. If you experience an internet outage, then your PROA7PLUS Alarm System will have no way of communicating signals to you or to a monitoring station.

That is why we strongly recommend upgrading to cellular communication. By installing a compatible cellular communicator inside the system. This will require upgrading to a more expensive cellular alarm monitoring plan, such as an Alarm Grid Gold Plan or an Alarm Grid Platinum Plan. But the advantage to doing this is that your system will stay connected with AlarmNet and Total Connect 2.0 even during an internet outage. You may want to review this post that thoroughly outlines our monitoring plans for more information. Remember, our Gold and Platinum Plans include BOTH cellular AND internet, meaning that you can set up your PROA7PLUS with what is commonly referred to as dual-path connectivity.

We currently have two (2) cellular communicator add-on options for the PROA7PLUS, and they are outlined below.

Model
Notes
Honeywell Home PROLTE-A
AT&T LTE AlarmNet Communicator for Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS.
Honeywell Home PROLTE-V
Verizon LTE AlarmNet Communicator for Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS.

The last thing we want to discuss are some miscellaneous accessories that you can use with the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS. These are just various replacement parts and add-ons that can improve your user experience. Some of the most notable products listed here are secondary keypads that you can use to control your security system from a second on-site location. This section also includes wireless external sirens that you can use to spread out your system's alarm sound across a larger area to ensure that everyone is alerted in the event of an emergency. These products don't really fit in with any other category, so refer to the notes to learn more about these devices. Without further ado, let's take a look.

Model
Notes
Honeywell Home PROSIXLCDKP Alphanumeric keypad controller for PROA7PLUS. Offers two lines of 16 characters each, for a total of 32 characters displayed on the LCD screen. Supports chime, but not voice. Cannot be used for automation commands. Includes transformer and backup battery. Uses PROSIX technology to communicate with the panel.
Honeywell Home PROWLTOUCH Portable touchscreen keypad controller for PROA7PLUS. Mimics the screen of the PROA7PLUS Alarm Panel. Suitable for both security and automation functions. Pairs with system across WIFI connection. Includes transformer and backup battery.
Honeywell Home PROSIXSIREN Wireless 85 dB siren. Emits Temporal 3 Sound for Fire, and Temporal 4 Sound for CO. LED light indicates current system status. Indoor use only.
Honeywell Home PROSIXSIRENO Wireless 85 dB siren. Emits Temporal 3 Sound for Fire, and Temporal 4 Sound for CO. LED light indicates current system status. For indoor or outdoor use.
Honeywell Home PROA7DM Desk mount for PROA7PLUS. Eliminates need for wall-mounting and drilling holes. Keeps panel upright at 30° or 60° angle. Comes with 8-foot power cord for panel. Currently cannot be used w/ PROTAKEOVER Module.
Honeywell Home PROWLTOUCHDM Desk mount and charging dock for Honeywell Home PROWLTOUCH Touchscreen Keypad. Keeps keypad upright so that it can be conveniently displayed. The keypad power supply can connect to a port on the unit so that the keypad charges while docked.
Honeywell HOME PROWLTOUCHWM Wall mount and charging dock for Honeywell Home PROWLTOUCH Touchscreen Keypad. Allows keypad to be prominently displayed on the wall. Mounting hardware comes included. The keypad power supply can connect to a port on the unit so that the keypad charges while docked.
Honeywell Home PROA7BARXUS
Prepared power cable for PROA7PLUS. Connects panel to transformer so that power can be provided. System does not come with cabling for the transformer, so purchasing this is strongly advised!
Honeywell Home PROA7XFMRUS Replacement transformer for PROA7PLUS. Rated at 9VDC, 2.5A. This is just a replacement transformer in case the original one is lost or broken.
Honeywell Home PROLTE-ANT Indoor/Outdoor cellular antenna used with PROLTE-A or PROLTE-V. Boosts cellular signals for users in areas where an adequate cellular signal cannot be otherwise obtained.
Honeywell Home PROWIFIZW
Replacement WIFI card and Z-Wave Plus module for PROA7PLUS. This is just a replacement module in case something goes wrong with the original one that comes pre-installed inside the panel.

Like always, if you have any questions about the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS or any of its accessories or add-ons, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a great email to use if you are interested in starting new monitoring service or if you simply want more information. Our technicians and security system planners are here to respond to incoming emails from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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The Alarm Grid holiday buying guide for the 2020 season continues, this time focusing on smart home automation. We will be covering our top picks for lights, door locks, and thermostats. As usual, our selections are compatible with our top security system picks for the 2020 shopping season.

If you haven't seen our earlier 2020 holiday buying guide releases, make sure to review them at some point. They will provide you with a good introduction before checking out our smart home automation offerings.

An automation device is a piece of equipment that you can have activate automatically based on a set schedule. These devices can also be controlled remotely from virtually anywhere in the world using a platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com and a simple app on your smartphone. When we talk about automation devices for alarm systems, we are mainly discussing lights that can be turned ON or OFF, dimmer modules that can adjust the brightness of lights, door locks that can be LOCKED or UNLOCKED, and thermostats that can increase or decrease the set temperature in the building when connected with an HVAC system. There are also some miscellaneous automation devices, including smart water valves, that we will also explore. Depending on the platform, you can also integrate these devices with smart home voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. We won't be exploring that too much in this buying guide, but it is something to keep in mind if you already have a smart home assistant set up in your house, or if you were considering setting one up in the near future.

To keep our automation section as simple as possible, we will be primarily looking at Z-WAVE PLUS automation devices. This refers mostly to 500-Series Z-Wave Plus devices, though you may occasionally see some newer 700-Series Z-Wave Plus devices thrown in as well. Using certified Z-Wave Plus devices with a Z-Wave Plus controller will ensure the furthest possible wireless range, as well as the longest possible battery life, when applicable. Using exclusively Z-Wave Plus devices on a Z-Wave Plus controller is also the best way to ensure the strongest possible mesh network. Another advantage to going with Z-Wave Plus is that your automation devices will pair directly with your alarm system, which will thereby serve as your central automation controller. This keeps things as simple and as organized as possible, and it will ultimately allow you to keep everything in the same app on your phone.


However, we will also be including a few Apple HomeKit products along the way. We understand that we have many customers who use iOS and are building around the HomeKit platform for automation. When looking at our top security system picks, only the Honeywell Lyric is compatible with Apple HomeKit. This is out recommended system if you are building around the HomeKit platform. If you are starting from scratch and you are not a dedicated iOS user, then you will likely prefer Z-Wave Plus, as you can keep all your system control and automation control in the same app, with virtually no crossover. But, if you have taken advantage of what Apple HomeKit has to offer, and you want to continue building around the platform, then we have you covered. Remember, of our top system picks, only the Lyric can support HomeKit, and even then, your HomeKit devices will not pair directly with the Lyric.


Of our top security system picks for the 2020 holiday buying season, both the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus and the 2GIG GC3e support Z-Wave Plus technology. Both of those systems have their own integrated Z-Wave Plus controller, and they will allow you to take full advantage of what Z-Wave Plus has to offer. However, our other top pick, the Honeywell Lyric only has a classic Z-Wave controller built-in. You can still enroll Z-Wave Plus devices with the Lyric, but they won't offer the same range, battery life, and security provisions as Z-Wave Plus. This makes the Lyric the weak link of the three if automation outside of Apple HomeKit is particularly important to you. But rest assured that every product listed here should work with any of our recommended systems. Its just that you will get the best possible results by using a Z-Wave Plus compatible system, like the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus or 2GIG GC3e.

With all of that out of the way, let's begin exploring our favorite smart home automation devices of the 2020 holiday season.


Smart Lights

Smart lights can be split into a few different categories. They are usually either in-wall modules that replace your existing, standard light switches, or they are plug-in module that you simply plug into a regular wall outlet. Lights can also be split into groups of ON/OFF switches that merely turn the lights ON and OFF, and groups of dimmer modules that can actually adjust the brightness of the lights. As such, you will see four (4) groups of lights listed below. There are in-wall switches, in-wall dimmers, plug-in switches, and plug-in dimmers. We know that may seem a bit confusing, but it should make more sense once you see all of the categories properly laid out and organized. Spoiler, if you're looking for Apple HomeKit Lights, then skip to the very end of this section.

We will start with Z-Wave Plus in-wall switches. These devices replace existing in-wall switches, and they are able to turn the lights ON and OFF. When installing one, make sure to cut power at the circuit breaker first. Then simply remove the existing in-wall switch, and install your new Z-Wave Plus in-wall switch in its place. Keep in mind that most of these units will require the use of a neutral wire. Most homes built in the 1980s onward will have this readily available, though older homes may be lacking this wire. It's also important to mention that all of the in-wall switches listed here should readily fit into single gang brackets. We will also be listing coordinating 3-way switches in the notes section when applicable.

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus in-wall switches.

Model Notes
GoControl WS15Z5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 600W for incandescent bulbs. Uses GoControl WT00Z5-1 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GE 14318 From GE. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GE 46201 From GE. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Compatible with CFL and LED bulbs. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GE 46562 From GE. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
Resideo Z5SWITCH From Resideo. Supports up to 1800W for resistive bulbs, or 960W for incandescent. Compatible with CFL and LED bulbs. Uses Resideo Z53WSWITCH as coordinating 3-way switch.

Next up are Z-Wave Plus in-wall dimmers. These units also replace your existing in-wall switches. The difference here is that these devices have the ability to adjust the brightness of your lights, in addition to simply turning them ON and OFF. You will want to make sure you are using these devices with dimmable light bulbs. Again, you will want to cut power at the circuit breaker when installing. Most of these units will require a neutral wire, though there is an exception here. You should be able to fit these units into a single-gang electrical bracket.

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus in-wall dimmers.

Model
Notes
GE 14299 From GE. Supports up to 600W incandescent. For dimmable bulbs only. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch. No neutral wire required.
GE 14294 From GE. Supports up to 600W incandescent, or 300W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs. Uses GE 12723 as coordinating 3-way switch.
GoControl WD500Z5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 500W of lighting load. Uses GoControl WT00Z5-1 as coordinating 3-way switch.
Resideo Z5DIMMER From Resideo. Supports up to 600W incandescent, or 150W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs. Uses Resideo Z53WSWITCH as coordinating 3-way switch.

Now we will look at some more DIY-friendly options, starting with Z-Wave Plus plug-in switches. Unlike in-wall switches that you have to install using a screwdriver, these devices simply plug into your standard wall outlet. Just plug one in, connect a lamp, and you now have smart lighting control. These units couldn't be more straightforward and simple to use, and if you're intimidated by having to install your own in-wall light switch, then these are a fantastic alternative. Again, these units are only capable of turning the lights ON and OFF. You can also technically use some of these units with other plug-in devices, provided that the connected device does not exceed the maximum load limit.

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus plug-in switches.

Models
Notes
GE 28172 From GE. Designed for lighting devices only. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, or 600W for incandescent lights.
Linear PS15EMZ5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, or 600W for incandescent lights.
Resideo Z5SWPID From Resideo. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, 600W for incandescent lights, or a 1/2 HP motor.
Resideo Z5SWPIO From Resideo. Supports up to 1800W for resistive lights, 600W for incandescent lights, or a 1/2 HP motor. Suitable for outdoor use.
Qolsys IQ Smart Plug From Qolsys. Supports up to 13A of power. Not just for lighting devices. Also sold as Qolsys QZ2101-840.

Our penultimate category of smart lights focuses on Z-Wave Plus plug-in dimmers. As you can probably guess, these are plug-in modules, but instead of just turning the lamp ON and OFF, you can also adjust its brightness. The use of dimmable bulbs is recommended. Again, this is an excellent DIY alternative if you don't feel comfortable installing your own in-wall dimmer switch. Just plug it in, connect a dimmable lamp, and enjoy your new smart lights!

Here are our top picks for Z-Wave Plus plug-in dimmers.

Model
Notes
GE 28170 From GE. Supports up to 300W for incandescent, or 100W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs.
GoControl PD300EMZ5-1 From Nortek. Supports up to 300W for incandescent lights.
Resideo Z5DIMPID From Resideo. Supports up to 300W for incandescent, or 100W for dimmable CFL/LED bulbs.

Lastly, we want to give special recognition to Apple HomeKit compatible smart lights. We're keeping things simple by only listing products from Lutron. These lights work by building around a centralized base station and then pairing lighting modules with that main unit. Our team at Alarm Grid is wholly impressed by what Lutron has to offer, and we can definitely recommend these lights for anyone building around the HomeKit platform. One other major benefit of Lutron Smart Lights is that no neutral wire is required as part of the setup. This can be very beneficial if you do not have a neutral wire in your home's existing electrical wiring. Please note that Alarm Grid only offers the Caseta lineup from Lutron, so that is what we will be focusing on in this buying guide.

The Lutron section of this guide will be split into four (4) categories. First we will look at the smart bridges, or central hubs, that we offer for Lutron. Then we will explore some bundled deals we offer as starter kits. From there, we will check out individual Lutron lighting devices. Lastly, we will examine some accessories for Lutron devices.


First up, we have the Lutron Smart Bridges. There are only two (2) here. You need one of these devices to start building a network of Lutron Smart Lights. You will notice a standard "non-Pro" model, as well as "Pro 2" model. The main difference here is that the "Pro 2" model can integrate with Alarm.com, while the "non-Pro" model cannot. This is completely irrelevant if you are building a HomeKit network around the Honeywell Lyric, as you will be using Total Connect 2.0 as your interactive smart platform instead of Alarm.com. But if you are using HomeKit separately with an IQ Panel 2 Plus, a 2GIG GC3e, or pretty much any other Alarm.com Security System, then this can really come in handy, as you can then integrate your smart lights in with the same network as your alarm system.

Here are our Lutron Smart Bridges.

Model
Notes
Lutron Caseta L-BDG2 "Non-Pro" smart bridge for Lutron. Does not support an Alarm.com integration. Supports up to 50 Lutron devices.
Lutron Caseta L-BDGPRO2-WH "Pro 2" smart bridge for Lutron. Supports an Alarm.com integration. Supports up to 50 Lutron devices.

But before you rush out and buy one of the aforementioned Lutron Smart Bridges, you may instead consider getting one of our Lutron Starter Kits, which all include a Lutron Smart Bridge and some compatible devices to get you started. This can save you a bit of money if you are just getting started with Lutron. Unfortunately, we only have starter kits based around the "Non-Pro" smart bridge. If you are wanting the "Pro 2" model for Alarm.com use, then you will need to buy that model ala carte, along with all the devices you want to pair.

Let's check out our Lutron Starter Kits.

Model
Notes
Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG1W Includes Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, In-Wall Dimmer, Pico Remote, and Wall Plate.
Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG2P Includes Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, Two (2) Plug-In Dimmers, Two (2) Pico Remotes, and Two (2) Mounting Pedestals.
Lutron Caseta P-BDG-PKG2W Includes Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge, Two (2) In-Wall Dimmers, Two (2) Pico Remotes, Two (2) Wall Plates, and Two (2) Mounting Pedestals.

Now we'll look at the actual Lutron Lighting Components. These are the individual, ala carte lighting devices that you pair with your Lutron Smart Bridge. The included notes should help you decide which devices are right for your Lutron network. Lutron keeps things relatively simple here, as the selection is short but sweet.

Here are individual Lutron Lighting Components.

Model
Notes
Lutron Caseta PD-3PCL-WH Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Module. Supports up to 300W for incandescent or halogen bulbs, or 100W for dimmable LED/CFL bulbs.
Lutron Caseta PD-5NE In-Wall Smart Dimmer for Electronic Low Voltage (ELV+) Lights. Supports up to 250W for dimmable LED/CFL bulbs, 500W for incandescent, halogen, or ELV bulbs, or 400W for Magnet Low Voltage (MLV) bulbs.
Lutron Caseta PD-6ANS-WH In-Wall Neutral Smart Switch. Supports up to 720W for incandescent, halogen, ELV, or MLV lights, 6A for LED/CFL, or 3.6A for a ceiling fan.
Lutron Caseta PD-6WCL In-Wall Light Dimmer Switch. Supports 600W for incandescent or halogen bulbs, or 150W for dimmable LED/CFL bulbs.

Last but not least, we have some Lutron Accessories. These include the Pico Remote that you can use a remote control for your Lutron Lights, as well as various wall-plates and some bundles. There are quite a few accessories to cover, and they make the perfect stocking stuffer for the Lutron lover on your gift list.

Here are Lutron Accessories.

Model Notes
Lutron Caseta PJ2-3BRL-WH-L01R Lutron Caseta Pico Remote. Small handheld remote that you can use to control your Lutron Lights. Includes three (3) buttons for turning ON and OFF and adjusting brightness. Can also be used to facilitate a multi-pole setup for your Lutron Lights.
Lutron Caseta PICO-WBX-ADAPT Lutron Caseta Pico Remote Wallplate Adapter Bracket. Allows you to mount your Pico Remote to the wall. Wallplate not included.
Lutron Caseta PJ2-WALL-WH-L01 Lutron Caseta Pico Wall Plate Kit. Includes a Pico Remote, Wallplate Adapter Bracket, and Wallplate.
Lutron CW-1-WH Single Gang Wallplate for Lutron. Double, triple, and quadruple gang wallplates also available!

Door Locks

Door locks are fairly straight forward. They replace the existing deadbolt lock on your front door, back door, patio door, pool door, garage door, or really any door with a deadbolt lock. You will then have smart control over that door, meaning you can LOCK and UNLOCK it remotely using a compatible interactive service platform. This also includes the ability to have the door LOCK or UNLOCK automatically with smart scenes. Most of the locks listed here will allow you to use a traditional key if you want, but you can also manually enter a code into the lock using push-buttons or a touchscreen. This can be very convenient for getting in if you forget your key or don't wish to carry one around.

Virtually any door lock will accomplish the same goal, so what you should base your buying decision on is how reliable the brand is, how you control the door lock locally (e.g. a push-button touchpad or a LED touchscreen), and which design you like. You will also need to decide whether you need a Z-Wave Plus door lock or an Apple HomeKit door lock. Most of the models listed here are Z-Wave Plus variants, but we did include a couple of HomeKit versions for good measure. Many of the door locks listed here come in multiple finishing options to give you some added customization. You will notice that we do not list too many brands here. We really wanted to focus on the ones we feel the most confident in offering.

Here are our top picks for door locks.

Model
Notes
Yale YRD216 From Yale. Push button Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 250 codes. Available in Polished Brass, Oil Rubbed Bronze, or Satin Nickel.
Yale YRD226 From Yale. Touchscreen Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 250 codes. Available in Polished Brass, Oil Rubbed Bronze, or Satin Nickel.
Kwikset 914 From Kwikset. Push button Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 30 codes. Available in Satin Nickel, Aged Bronze, or Polished Brass.
Kwikset Obsidian From Kwikset. Touchscreen Z-Wave Plus door lock. Stores up to 16 codes. Does not allow for traditional key locking/unlocking. Available in Oil Rubbed Bronze or Satin Nickel.
August Smart Lock Pro w/ Connect From August. Includes August Smart Lock Pro and August Connect, which makes integrating w/ Apple HomeKit significantly easier and more reliable. Supports BOTH Apple HomeKit and Z-Wave Plus connectivity. Also supports Bluetooth connectivity. Does not allow for traditional key locking/unlocking. Available in Dark Gray and Silver.
Yale YRD256 w/ iM1 Module From Yale. The integrated iM1 Module allows for use w/ Apple HomeKit. Lock itself can store 25 codes, pairing w/ HomeKit increases limit to 250. Available in Polished Brass, Oil Rubbed Bronze, or Satin Nickel. There is also a Z-Wave Plus variant of the same lock that does not support Apple HomeKit.


Smart Thermostats

Now we're really getting into exciting territory, as smart thermostats allow you to control the temperature in your home from virtually anywhere! This is perfect whether you want to keep energy costs low, or you simply want to ensure you arrive home to a comfy house. We all know how stressful it can be if you forgot to adjust your thermostat before leaving home. Well, now you can worry no longer! All you need to do to get started is cut the power at the breaker for your HVAC system, remove your old thermostat, and install your new smart thermostat in its place. This is easier than you might think! For this category, we will mostly be covering Z-Wave Plus thermostats, but we did include an Apple HomeKit thermostat in the listings as well.

Here are our top picks for smart thermostats.

Model
Notes
Honeywell T6 Pro Z-Wave From Resideo. Uses Z-Wave Plus technology.
Alarm.com ADC-T3000 From Alarm.com. Uses Z-Wave Plus technology. Compatible temperature sensor also available.
2GIG STZ-1 Thermostat From Nortek. Uses state-of-the-art 700-Series Z-Wave Plus technology.
Honeywell T6 Pro WIFI From Resideo. Uses WIFI to connect w/ Apple HomeKit.


Other Smart Home Devices


Alright, we're finishing this up with some great smart home devices that we couldn't really fit into any other category. Our main focus here will be on smart garage door controllers and smart water valves. These are super convenient and useful devices that make a great addition to almost any home. A smart garage door controller connects with your existing garage door motor so that you can open and close your garage door from anywhere or have it open and close automatically with smart scenes. Smart water valves are an excellent emergency tool that you can use to shut-off your water supply in the event of a flood or leak. Many users will pair them with flood sensors for inclusion in smart scenes. Unfortunately for Apple HomeKit users, we don't have any HomeKit devices for this section, and we will only be covering Z-Wave variants in this section.

Check out these miscellaneous smart home devices!

Model
Notes
Honeywell GDCK Garage Door Controller Kit From Resideo. Garage door controller kit that includes Honeywell 5877 Relay Module, Honeywell 5822T Tilt Sensor, and a SSA-1 Siren/Strobe. For use w/ Lyric and LYNX Touch only. Cannot be used with LiftMaster MyQ Garage Door Motors
GoControl GD00Z-8-GC Garage Door Controller From Nortek. Z-Wave Plus Garage Door Opener. Includes tilt sensor for detecting current position of garage door. Cannot be used with Lyric or LYNX Touch.
Alarm.com ADC-SWM150 Smart Water Valve & Meter From Alarm.com. Z-Wave Plus Smart Water Valve w/ Meter. Water valve allows you to shut off the water supply in the event of an emergency. Meter tracks your water usage for energy savings and efficiency. Typically installed by a plumber.
Alarm.com ADC-SWV100 Smart Water Valve From Alarm.com. Z-Wave Plus Smart Water Valve. Used to shut-off the water supply in the event of an emergency. Typically installed by a plumber.


Reach Out to Us!

Got any questions about which smart home devices are right for you, or are you not sure about compatibility? Reach out to us! Our team is happy to help you make your holiday shopping season as easy and as stress-free as possible. The best way to contact us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. And as always, we look forward to hearing from you!

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We're checking out the best environmental sensors for our top security system picks for the 2020 holiday shopping season, which are the Honeywell Lyric, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the 2GIG GC3e. Environmental sensors include life-safety sensors, flood sensors, and temperature sensors.


If you haven't seen our alarm panel 2020 holiday buying guide or our security sensor 2020 holiday buying guide, then be sure to go and check those out, as they will give a nice introduction to this buying guide for environmental sensors. You will need to make the same compatibility considerations for environmental sensors as you do for security sensors. The sensors you choose must be compatible with your system and communicate at a wireless frequency that is accepted by the alarm panel you are using.

As a refresher, here are the compatible sensor lineups for our recommended systems. Just like last time, the sensor lineups that are italicized and underlined represent the encrypted sensors that provide extra wireless security and protection.

While security sensors look for signs of forced entry and unauthorized access, environmental sensors look for undesirable environmental conditions. Specifically, we offer environmental sensors that look for life-threatening conditions, such as a fire or the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. We also offer environmental sensors for detecting floods, water leaks, and unusually high or low temperatures that indicate a broken HVAC system. We will cover each type of environmental sensor in greater detail later in this holiday buying guide.

Adding environmental sensors to your system offers a few advantages. For one, it makes your alarm system more versatile so that it is looking for more than just security breaches. You will also be able to check off more boxes on your certificate of alarm (CoA), and that could lead to bigger savings on your home owner's insurance. Make sure to check with your insurance company to see if that is the case.

Life-Safety Sensors

Life-safety sensors monitor for unsafe environmental conditions that could result in a loss of life. Specifically, this group is primarily comprised of smoke and heat detectors and carbon monoxide sensors. There are also special combination sensors and listening modules that we will discuss further down the line.

First, we will take a look at some of our most popular smoke and heat detectors. These sensors monitor for both the smoke and extremely high temperatures associated with a fire. It is recommended that you have at least one (1) of these sensors on each floor of your building, particularly inside of sleeping areas and in central and connecting areas such as living rooms and hallways.

When checking out these sensors, you might also look for one-go-all-go functionality. This means that when one detector on the network activates, all of the other compatible sensors on the network will also activate their sounders. This can be very important for ensuring that everyone is alerted to the emergency. Certain jurisdictions may require one-go-all-go as part of building codes, so check with your local fire marshal to see if that is the case.

Here are our top picks for smoke and heat detectors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
Honeywell SiXSMOKE

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature and 15°F per minute rate-of-rise heat detector w/ 85 dB sounder. Supports One-Go-All-Go.
DSC PG9936

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector w/ 85 dB sounder. Supports One-Go-All-Go.
2GIG SMKT8e-345

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries encryption Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 15°F per minute rate-of-rise heat detector when fixed temperature is 104°F or higher w/ 90 dB sounder and freeze detection at 40°F.
Honeywell 5808W3

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Non-encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector w/ 85 dB sounder and freeze detection at 41°F.

Now let's look at carbon monoxide sensors. These devices respond upon detecting unusually high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. This gas is both odorless and tasteless, making it virtually impossible to detect without a proper sensor. The gas is extremely harmful to humans, and it can result in serious injury or death in a matter of minutes. We recommend installing at least one CO detector on each floor of your home or office. They are often installed outside of garages and furnace rooms where CO events are most likely to occur.

Here are our top picks for carbon monoxide sensors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption Notes
DSC PG9933

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
2GIG CO8e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries encryption 2GIG eSeries CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
Honeywell 5800CO

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Honeywell 5800 Series CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
2GIG CO8

2GIG 345 MHz Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 350 Nominal Feet None 2GIG CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.
Qolsys IQ Carbon

Qolsys 319.5 MHz Series 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 300 Nominal Feet None Qolsys CO Detector w/ 85 dB sounder.

We also want to give some special recognition to some combination smoke and CO detectors from Honeywell. These sensors combine fire detection with carbon monoxide detection into one convenient life-safety device.

Here are our top picks for combination smoke and CO detectors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Notes
Honeywell SiXCOMBO

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector and CO detector w/ 85 dB sounder. Supports One-Go-All-Go.
Honeywell 5800COMBO

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Encrypted photoelectric smoke detector and 135°F fixed temperature heat detector and CO detector w/ 85 dB sounder and freeze detection at 41°F.

Lastly, we want to mention a pair of listening modules. These devices actively listen for the Temporal 3 (T3) sound of an activated smoke detector or the Temporal 4 (T4) sound of an activated carbon monoxide sensor. These are commonly used with wired smoke detectors and CO detectors that would otherwise have no way of interfacing with an alarm system. If your smoke detectors or CO detectors are one-go-all-go, then, a single listening module can take over your entire wired detector network.

Here are our top picks for smoke & CO listening modules.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
Encore FireFighter FF345

Encore 345 MHz Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Offers both T3 Detection for Fire & T4 Detection for CO
Interlogix SLX-AD-T3
Legacy Interlogix 319.5 MHz 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 200 Nominal Feet None Only offers T3 Detection for Fire. Not for use with CO detectors.

Flood Sensors

Next, we'll be looking at flood sensors. These devices use probes to detect water caused by a flood or leak. It only takes a small amount of liquid to activate one of these sensors, so your system will be alerted before any serious damage occurs. Many of these sensors double as temperature sensors, so expect to see quite a bit of cross-over with that section as well. For best results, use your flood sensors in low-plane areas where leaks are likely to occur, such as underneath toilets, water heaters, and in basements. You might also see that some flood sensor have a reporting delay that is used for false alarm prevention. This will be listed in the notes section in the table when applicable.

Let's check out our top picks for flood sensors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
DSC PG9985

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG Flood Sensor w/ 6-Foot Detection Probe.
2GIG FT6e-345

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption 2GIG eSeries Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.
Qolsys IQ Flood-S

Qolsys S-Line Series 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 600 Nominal Feet Qolsys S-Line Encryption Qolsys S-Line Flood Sensor w/ 6-Foot Detection Probe. Has a 1 to 3 minute reporting delay.
Honeywell 5800FLOOD

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Honeywell 5800 Series Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 45°F. Has a 25 second reporting delay.
2GIG FT6-345

2GIG 345 MHz Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 350 Nominal Feet None 2GIG 345 MHz Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.

Temperature Sensors

The final type of environmental sensors we'll be checking out are temperature sensors. These sensors look for unusually high or low temperatures that indicate a broken HVAC system. When a temperature sensor is used for high-temperature detection, it should not be confused with a heat detector that looks for extreme temperatures only associated with fires. Instead, the high-end for a temperature sensor will usually activate at around 90°F. When a temperature sensor is used for low-temperature detection, it will sometimes be referred to as a freeze sensor. On the low-end, a freeze sensor will typically activate at a slightly higher than the temperature at which water freezes, which is 32°F. This is done to give the end user a bit of notice so that they can take action before the pipes freeze. You can typically expect a freeze sensor to activate between 40°F and 45°F. Most temperature sensors will offer both high and low temperature detection. And just like in the previous category, there is a lot of crossover with flood sensors, so you may see some repeats from the previous selection.

Here are our top picks for temperature sensors.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
DSC PG9905

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG Temperature Sensor w/ customizable high and low temperature detection.
2GIG FT6e-345

2GIG eSeries
2GIG GC3e
350 Nominal Feet
2GIG eSeries Encryption
2GIG eSeries Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.
Qolsys IQ Temp-S

Qolsys S-Line Series 319.5 MHz IQ Panel 2 Plus 600 Nominal Feet Qolsys S-Line Encryption Qolsys S-Line Temperature Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 100°F and Low Temperature Detection at 40°F.
Honeywell 5800FLOOD

Honeywell 5800 Series
Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet
None
Honeywell 5800 Series Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 45°F. Has a reporting delay of 25 seconds.
2GIG FT6-345

2GIG 345 MHz Series
Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+
350 Nominal Feet
None 2GIG 345 MHz Flood Sensor w/ High Temperature Detection @ 95°F and Freeze Detection @ 41°F.

Contact Us

Remember to contact us if you have any questions about environmental sensors or their compatibility. The best way to reach us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a good email to use if you are interested in starting new monitoring service. Remember that we are available to check email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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You have likely heard us talking about the benefits of PowerG Sensors at one point or another. Today, we figured we would break down the benefits of these sensors and explain why we like them so much. Let's take an in-depth look at PowerG Sensors and all of their wonderful benefits.


PowerG Sensors were originally designed for the hardwired DSC PowerSeries NEO Systems. By adding a compatible transceiver unit to your PowerSeries NEO, the system will be able to support PowerG Sensors. Johnson Controls, which you may know as the parent company of DSC, took the technology associated with PowerG Sensors, and brought it over to the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 System. This move was not a major surprise, as Johnson Controls also had partial ownership over Qolsys at the time, and Johnson Controls has since bought out Qolsys entirely.

The addition of PowerG support for the IQ2 marked the beginning of the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, which is how the system is still marketed and sold today. PowerG support is also available for the DSC Iotega, though that panel has largely flopped due to its lack of local end user programming. Today, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus represents the most popular panel for supporting PowerG. All versions and variants of the IQ Panel 2 Plus support PowerG Sensors, and their exceptional performance makes them the go-to choice for IQ2+ users who want equipment with the best versatility and protection.

Starting with the range, PowerG Sensors can be used from up to 2,000 feet away from the IQ Panel 2 Plus when they are used in an open air environment. By open air environment, we are talking about a perfect setting with a direct line of sight, and no obstacles between the sensor and the alarm panel. Most homes and businesses do not provide the ideal, "open air" environment, as there are usually walls and metal appliances present. When you see us mention that 2,000 feet open air range, take that with a grain of salt, because in practice, the range is likely a bit less. But still, we can undoubtedly say that PowerG offers arguably the best wireless range in the security industry. Even if its nominal range isn't quite as far as its "open air range", it is still a very powerful signal that can help you overcome the range issues that other sensor lineups may experience. It is great for use in detached garages, barns, multi-building complexes, and even just large industrial buildings.


To make matters even better, there is also a PowerG Repeater, the PG9920. This device will effectively double the range of any PowerG Sensor and help you overcome range limitations caused by thick walls and other obstacles or signal disruptions. The repeater works by taking the signal sent out from any PowerG Sensor and sending it out a second time with just as much power and force as when it was first sent from the original sensor. By strategically placing the repeater, it's theoretically possible to double the useful wireless range of these sensors. That would mean that they can be used from up to 4,000 feet away from the IQ2+ in an open air environment. And if your building is particularly large, you may even have repeaters going away from the IQ Panel 2 Plus System in different directions, including up and down in building stories above or below.

But PowerG Sensors offer more than just an impressive wireless range. They are also known for their exceptional security. This is thanks to their military grade 128-bit AES encryption. To put this as simply as possible, the PowerG Sensor and the panel share a unique encryption key at the time of pairing. The sensor must provide this encryption key to the panel whenever it transmits a signal. Additionally, the panel must then provide a return response with the encryption key as verification in order for the command to go through. In the past, we have referred to this two-way communication process as a "digital handshake". Because of this encrypted pairing process, a PowerG Sensor actively knows whether or not it is currently paired with a panel. You may need to factory default a PowerG Sensor before you can pair it with a new system.


PowerG Sensors also take proactive measures against RF jamming. When a wireless sensor communicates with an alarm panel, it does so at a certain wireless radio frequency (RF). When we talk about RF jamming, we are referring to any malicious technique that prevents wireless signals from reaching their intended destination. This is accomplished by blocking the receiver with a stronger signal at the same wireless frequency as the device that is legitimately trying to communicate with it. When this is done on an alarm system, the system doesn't receive the incoming signals from faulted sensors, and no action is taken during a security breach or an unfavorable environmental condition. Early wireless sensors did not take this into account, and this made RF jamming an effective way to defeat an older wireless system.

The way that PowerG Sensors overcome RF jamming techniques is through a process called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS). This process involves splitting the RF bandwidth into multiple channels. Each independent channel represents a unique radio frequency for wireless communication to occur. The transmitter (the PowerG Sensor) and the receiver (the alarm panel) both agree on a set of channel hopping sequences that will take place. These sequences are encrypted and time-based for them to occur seamlessly. Since the transmitter and the receiver are both synchronized, they can switch between channels very rapidly. A potential intruder would never be able to re-tun an RF jamming device to keep up. In the case of the PowerG Sensors, the frequency hops occur between 912 MHz and 918 MHz. There are 50 different unique frequency channels that are used, and frequency switches occur 64 times per second. More information on FHSS is available here.

One other benefit of PowerG Sensors that we have never discussed previously is their Adaptive Transmission feature that helps them conserve battery life. This is why you will often see a PowerG Sensor with a very long expected battery life, sometimes more than ten (10) years). Adaptive Transmission involves two-way communication between the PowerG Sensor and the alarm panel. The alarm panel will tell the PowerG Sensor how well its signal is being received. The PowerG Sensor can then adapt its outgoing signal so that it reliably reaches the panel, without expending too much energy. The sensor and the panel regularly exchange this information so that the ideal amount of energy is always used in signal transmissions. This saves battery life in the long run.

We have also found that PowerG Sensors are extremely easy to enroll and they offer the reliable and effective performance that you should expect out of your security system. We wholeheartedly recommend them for use on the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, as well as any other compatible alarm system. It is expected that the upcoming Qolsys IQ Hub will also be able to utilize PowerG Sensors, so look forward to using PowerG Sensors on that panel once it is available.


For now, if you have any questions about PowerG Sensors or the systems that support them, or if you are interested in signing up for new alarm monitoring service, then please reach out to us by emailing support@alarmgrid.com. We'll be available to check your emails from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Last week, we took a look at three of the best alarm panels in the industry. These were the Honeywell Lyric, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the 2GIG GC3e. Today, we are checking out the sensors that you can add to support these systems. Here is our 2020 Security Sensor Buying Guide!

Sensors are accessories that are added to alarm systems to report specific activity. Each sensor has its own job of looking for a certain type of activity in its designated location. All of the sensors on a system communicate with a single centralized panel or hub. This panel is actively listening for any sensor that is triggered due to a potentially important system event. Adding new sensors is perhaps the best way to expand upon an existing system, and they make awesome gifts and stocking stuffers for the security enthusiast in your life.

Broadly speaking, sensors can be split into two main categories, which are security and life safety/environmental. Security sensors look for activity that suggests potentially unauthorized entry into a monitored and protected location, such as a door being opened, movement in a room where nobody is supposed to be present, or a window being broken. Life safety/environmental sensors look for activity associated with unwanted or potentially harmful conditions that affect the well-being of those in the area, such as a flood, an extreme temperature, a fire, or the presence of CO gas. We'll be taking a look at life safety/environmental sensors another time. Today, our focus is on security sensors.

Wireless Sensor Basics


Before we dive into specific security sensors for our top panel picks, we're going to start by giving you some general, generic information that can be applied to any sensor out there. First, understand that this post is focusing only on wireless sensors. These are almost always the sensors chosen for use with wireless alarm systems. Wired sensors can also technically be used with wireless panels but a converter module is almost always needed. Not to mention the fact that wireless sensors are significantly easier to install, especially for DIY users. The only time you will realistically see wired sensors used with a wireless panel is if a user is upgrading from an older wired system and bringing over their old wired sensors, or in new construction where a user wants to integrate the sensors in with the building. But if you're expanding upon a wireless system by getting new sensors, then the new sensors will almost certainly be wireless.

The important thing to remember when choosing wireless sensors for a wireless alarm panel is making sure the sensor is compatible with the system. It doesn't matter if a sensor has all the specs and features if it doesn't work with your panel! The way to determine compatibility is to look at the lineup that the sensor is from. Petty much every wireless sensor out there is part of a larger grouping of sensors that will all have the same compatibility.

To make it easier for you, we have the three panels we mentioned before (well, make that five, as the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus actually comes in three versions), and all their compatible sensor lineups conveniently listed. We hope that this sheds some light on your options. The only caveat is that for any panel listed here that supports the Honeywell 5800 Sensors, we must be clear that this is only for the uni-directional sensors with one-way communication in the lineup. Any bi-directional Honeywell 5800 Sensors with two-way communication will not work with any of the aforementioned systems. The bi-directional Honeywell 5800 Sensors are only compatible with the Honeywell LYNX Touch and VISTA Systems, which were not included in our buying guides.

With that out of the way, here are compatible sensor lineups by system:

You will notice that some of the sensor groups listed above are italicized and underlined. That is done to identify the lineups of encrypted sensors. These encrypted sensors have special protection measures put in place to make them more secure and less prone to being hacked or defeated by malicious attacks. Encrypted sensors tend to have more restricted compatibility. They may follow a special enrollment process. Encrypted sensors often use bi-directional communication so that the sensor knows that it is actively paired with the system. Many encrypted sensors may only be paired with a single system at any given time, and the sensor will need to be deleted from its existing system before it will work with a new one.

It's okay to use non-encrypted sensors with your system, especially in zones that are less likely to trigger an alarm, like a second story window. Many users will opt to use a mixture of both encrypted and non-encrypted sensors. Other users feel comfortable using entirely non-encrypted sensors. It really comes down to your level of comfort. Non-encrypted sensors are secure in most situations, and they are still tricky to defeat. But going fully encrypted is recommended for anyone seeking maximum security. One tip if you do decide to go with some non-encrypted sensors is to avoid letting others know what wireless frequency your sensors use or what type of system you have installed. Knowing the frequency and the system being used makes it much easier for a savvy intruder to defeat a sensor.

Door & Window Alarm Sensors


Now that you know some basics that apply to almost all wireless sensors, let's start talking about specific types and models. Door and window sensors will let a system know when a door or window has been opened or closed. These are some of the most basic and easy to use sensors on a security system. These devices work by using a larger sensor portion and a smaller magnet portion. The sensor is placed on or inside the door or window frame, and the magnet is placed on or inside the moving portion of the door or window. When the door or window is opened, the magnet will move away from the sensor. This will trip a metal reed switch inside the sensor, which will tell the sensor to alert the system to the opened door or window. All of the sensors we've listed here follow that same method of operation.

Door and window sensors can be split into two (2) main categories. Surface-mount door and window sensors are mounted outside the door or window and its accompanying frame on the surface. The advantage to surface-mount door and window sensors is that they are very easy to install, and they can usually be mounted using double sided foam tape. But some users may not like how they are visible on the outside of the door or window. If you don't like the appearance of visible surface-mount door and window sensors, then you might instead consider recessed door and window sensors. A recessed door or window sensor is installed inside a door or window and its frame, so that it is hidden and cannot be seen from the outside. Recessed door and window sensors are more difficult and time-consuming to install, because you must drill holes in both the door or window and its accompanying frame. Whether you decide to use surface-mount door and window sensors, or recessed door and window sensors is up to you. Most DIY users and Alarm Grid customers in general will use surface-mount door and window sensors.

Now let's look at some door and window sensors.:

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Installation
Notes
Honeywell SiXMINICT

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 200 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES Surface-Mount Premier mini encrypted door/window Sensor for Lyric.
DSC PG9303

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Surface-Mount PowerG encrypted surface mount door/window sensor.
DSC PG9307

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus
2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Recessed PowerG encrypted recessed door/window sensor.
2GIG DW10e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption Surface-Mount Encrypted surface-mount sensor for 2GIG
2GIG DW20e

2GIG eSeries
2GIG GC3e
350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption
Recessed Encrypted recessed sensor for 2GIG
Qolsys IQ DW Mini-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption Surface-Mount Encrypted surface-mount sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.
Qolsys IQ Recessed Door-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ 2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption Recessed Encrypted recessed sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.
Honeywell 5818MNL

Honeywell
5800 Series
Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Recessed Non-Encrypted recessed door/window sensor for 345 MHz systems.
VERSA-2GIG

2GIG 345 MHz Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Non-encrypted surface-mount sensor for 345 MHz systems.
VERSA-GE

Legacy GE 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Non-encrypted surface-mount sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.
VERSA-DSC

Legacy DSC 433 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Non-encrypted surface-mount sensor for 433 MHz systems.

We also want to share a selection of outdoor door and window sensors with you. These surface-mount contact sensors are specifically designed to withstand the conditions of an outdoor environment, including intense rain, wind, dust, and sunlight. You can see them listed below.

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Installation Notes
Honeywell 5816OD

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Outdoor contact sensor from 5800 Series.
DSC PG9312

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Surface-Mount PowerG Outdoor Contact Sensor.
2GIG DW30-345

2GIG 345 MHz Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 350 Nominal Feet None Surface-Mount Outdoor contact sensor from 2GIG 345 MHz series.

Motion Sensors


Motion sensors use passive infrared (PIR) technology to detect movement within the sensor's coverage area. This is done by looking for the changes in infrared (IR) energy that occur when a person, animal, or object comes within the sensor's field of view. Standard motion sensors are typically PIR only. These are appropriately called PIR motion sensors.

Some motion sensors will also use microwave technology in addition to PIR technology. This involves having the sensor send out microwave signals and seeing how the signals bounce off of objects in the area. Movement will change the pattern of these microwave signals, and the sensor will be able to detect this. These motion sensors that use both microwave and PIR are called Dual-Tech motion sensors. The purpose of using both PIR and microwave together is to prevent false alarms. A Dual-Tech motion sensor will only activate and alert the system if both its PIR sensor and its microwave sensor are triggered. A microwave sensor is not vulnerable to the same environmental issues that may cause a false activation on a PIR. You will not find a motion sensor that uses microwave technology without PIR detection, as microwave alone would result in too many false alarms without having PIR to confirm movement.

One feature that you will often see listed on a motion sensor is pet-immunity. A motion sensor that has been set up for pet immunity can be configured to not "look" in the areas close to the ground where pets and small animals walk. Instead, the motion sensor only looks in the areas higher up, where humans move while walking upright. A pet immune motion sensor is not impervious to small animals, and you must position it carefully so that it works as intended. Pet immune motion sensors normally have a weight limit, where animals under that weight limit should avoid triggering the sensor, assuming that the sensor is installed properly. Please note that most pet friendly motion sensors will require you to set the sensitivity for the sensor to the lowest possible setting.

When it comes to motion sensors, mounting them carefully is very important. A motion sensor may cause false alarms on the system if it is not installed properly. These sensors should not be facing any vents, air ducts, ceiling fans, or curtains that may cause the sensor to activate without any movement. If you are using the motion sensor for pet immunity, then it should also not be facing any furniture or stairwells that your pet could use to get within the sensor's field of view. You will likely want to perform a Walk Test of your motion sensor to make sure that it responds properly when movement is present, and does not respond due to other external factors when there is no movement. You should also have any pets participate in the Walk Test to ensure that pet immunity is working properly.

We recommend reading the following FAQs to learn more about motion sensors:

Below are some of the most popular motion sensors for our recommended systems:

Sensor Name Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Coverage Area
Detection Type
Pet Immunity Notes
Honeywell SiXPIR

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES 40 by 56 Feet
PIR Up to 80 lbs Encrypted PIR Motion for Lyric.
DSC PG9914

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Up to 39 Feet PIR Up to 85 lbs PowerG Encrypted PIR Motion.
DSC PG9984P

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Up to 50 Feet Dual-Tech Up to 40 lbs PowerG Encrypted Dual-Tech Motion.
2GIG PIR1e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption
30 by 50 Feet PIR Up to 55 lbs Encrypted PIR Motion for 2GIG.
Honeywell 5800PIR-RES

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 35 by 40 Feet PIR Up to 80 lbs Non-encrypted residential PIR motion for 345 MHz systems.
Honeywell 5800PIR-COM

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz, IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 60 by 80 Feet PIR None Non-encrypted commercial PIR motion for 345 MHz systems.
Honeywell 5898

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 35 by 40 Feet for Pet Immunity Dual-Tech Up to 100 lbs Non-encrypted Dual-Tech motion for 345 MHz systems.
Qolsys IQ Motion-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption 30 by 40 Feet PIR Up to 40 lbs Non-encrypted PIR motion for 319.5 MHz systems.

There are also certain outdoor motion detection sensors that are better-suited for use in an outdoor environment. These outdoor motion sensor models are typically more expensive than indoor variants. You can see some of our most popular ones listed below:

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility Range
Encryption Coverage Area
Detection Type
Pet Immunity Notes
DSC PG9994

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES Up to 30 Feet PIR Up to 40 lbs PowerG Outdoor PIR Motion Sensor
Honeywell 5800PIR-OD

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 40 by 30 Feet PIR None Honeywell 5800 Series Outdoor Motion, 1st ed.
Honeywell 5800PIR-OD2

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None 40 by 30 Feet PIR None Honeywell 5800 Series Outdoor Motion, 2nd ed.
Optex FTN-RRIX

Legacy Interlogix 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Up to 16.5 Feet PIR None Optex Fitlink Outdoor Motion Sensor for 319.5 MHz Systems
Optex FTN-RR2G

2GIG 345 MHz Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Up to 16.5 Feet PIR None Optex Fitlink Outdoor Motion Sensor for 345 MHz Systems.
Optex FTN-RRDS

Legacy DSC 433 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Up to 16.5 Feet PIR None Optex Fitlink Outdoor Motion Sensor for 433 MHz Systems.

Glass Break Sensors

The last type of security sensors we will be discussing are glass break sensors. These sensors include built-in microphones, and they actively listen for the unique sound of glass breaking. Most of these sensors will need to hear both the high-pitched shattering sound of the glass breaking, as well as the low-pitched sound of an object striking against the glass in order to activate. This design choice is to prevent false alarms caused by similar sounds. Most users will use glass break sensors to monitor windows, but they have also been known to work effectively on protective glass display cases that store valuables, such as what you might find in jewelry stores or gun shops. Most types of glass will work with glass break sensors, though there are some exceptions. For example double and triple pane glass windows won't work reliably. The same is true for coated or "safety" glass. Refer to the manual for the exact glass break detector you are using to determine compatibility.

A single glass break detector can monitor multiple windows or display cases, as long as the glass it is monitoring is within its detection range, which is typically 15 to 25 feet. Any glass that is being monitored must have a direct line of sight with the sensor, with no obstacles blocking the path that sound will travel through. When testing your glass break sensors, it is strongly recommended that you us a glass break simulator. These devices will mimic the sound of the glass breaking and activate your glass break sensors without actually breaking any glass. Remember to refer the instructions of your glass break simulator for more information. When choosing a glass break simulator, it is best to use a simulator from the same manufacturer, if possible. We have a Honeywell Glass Break Simulator and a DSC Glass Break Simulator available on our website. If you get one of the 2GIG Glass Break Sensors mentioned in this buying guide, then the Honeywell Glass Break Simulator is best for testing. Otherwise, just match the manufacturer.

Below are some of our most popular glass break sensors:

Sensor Name
Product Lineup
Compatibility
Range
Encryption
Notes
Honeywell SiXGB

Honeywell SiX Series Lyric 300 Nominal Feet 128-bit AES SiX Series Glass Break Sensor for Lyric
DSC PG922

PowerG All IQ Panel 2 Plus 2,000 Feet Open Air 128-bit AES PowerG Glass Break Sensor
2GIG GB1e

2GIG eSeries 2GIG GC3e 350 Nominal Feet 2GIG eSeries Encryption Encrypted glass break sensor for 2GIG.
Honeywell 5853

Honeywell 5800 Series Lyric, GC3e, 345 MHz IQ2+ 200 Nominal Feet None Non-encrypted glass break sensor for 345 MHz systems.
Qolsys IQ Glass-S

Qolsys S-Line 319.5 MHz IQ2+ 600 Feet Open Air Qolsys S-Line Encryption Encrypted glass break sensor for 319.5 MHz systems.

Reach Out to Us!


Remember that you can reach out to us with any questions you might have about planning your system and determining sensor compatibility. The best way to contact us is to email support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a good email to use if you are interested in starting new alarm monitoring service with Alarm Grid. Our team checks for new email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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If you're planning to give the gift of security this holiday season, then we're here to help! Today, we're looking at the best alarm panels available for the 2020 holiday season. Finding the right panel is the first step to building the perfect security system for your home or office.


The panel serves as the central hub for an alarm system. All sensors programmed with the system will communicate with the panel. The panel is also the piece of equipment that communicates with the outside world, namely a central station and/or a monitoring platform. To do this, the panel must have a communicator that is installed and activated. Some alarm panels come with a communicator already built-in, while others will require you to purchase one separately.

Today, most alarm panels are wireless, all-in-one devices, where the panel itself serves as the keypad for controlling the system. There are still hardwired panels available, but these are less common due to the sheer convenience and ease of wireless all-in-one panels. For the purpose of this buying guide, we will only be focusing on wireless panels, as most new users today opt to go the wireless route. We especially recommend wireless panels for anyone looking to save money by installing their own system without hiring a professional installer. It's easier than you might think, as many installations are done using a screwdriver as the only tool!

The panel you choose will affect virtually every other aspect of your security system. Your panel selection determines sensor compatibility, available communication paths, the user interface (UI) for the system, what accessories you can use with the system, and even the interactive platform you use when controlling your system through your phone. In a way, the panel itself IS the system. It's such an important decision, so you really want to get it right.

Today, we're going to be presenting you with our three (3) most favorite alarm systems available for the 2020 holiday season. What's great about all these systems is that they are all extremely DIY-friendly, and they can be taken to virtually any monitoring company, whether that is Alarm Grid, or someone else entirely. With all of that out of the way, let's get started!

Honeywell Lyric Controller

The Honeywell Lyric Alarm System still represents our favorite alarm panel from Resideo, and it is the most popular system for use with Alarm Grid monitoring services. It is the oldest panel on this list, and it doesn't support some of the more high-tech features offered by the other panels presented here. But when it comes down to choosing an all-around great system for alarm monitoring, the Lyric is hard to beat.

There are three (3) things that the Lyric can do that are impossible for the other panels on this list. If you choose the Lyric, it's usually because of one or more of these aspects. The Lyric is the only panel here that can be set up with an IP-only communication path, without cellular. While cellular is always recommended, some users opt to go internet only for alarm monitoring. The advantage of doing this is that the user can obtain monitoring service at a lower monthly rate. A Lyric System user can sign-up for an Alarm Grid Bronze Plan with central station service for just $15 per month. But a user with a system that requires cellular monitoring will need to pay a minimum of $25 per month for the Alarm Grid Cellular Alarm Monitoring Plan. That $10 monthly saving equates to $120 annually. The user should understand that an internet outage will take their system offline and leave their home or business vulnerable in that situation. But if a user is confident enough in their internet service, then they can certainly take that chance. Of course, the Lyric can be upgraded to use cellular at any time, but if you are trying to save money by setting up IP-only monitoring, then the Lyric offers you that option.

Second, the Lyric is one of the very few alarm systems that is able to interface with Apple HomeKit. This is the premier automation platform used with iOS devices, and many users have existing HomeKit networks that they build around. If you already have HomeKit devices in your home, then it is natural that you would want a security system that can also integrate with that network. It's important to note that the HomeKit integration isn't perfect, as Apple HomeKit can only provide specific alerts for a limited selection of system activity. But the integration makes it possible to perform some basic commands through HomeKit. The integration also allows you to set up automations so that your HomeKit devices activate automatically with activity on your security system. Overall, it's a great feature, and we often recommend the Lyric over other systems just for this feature.

Third, the Lyric is the only system on this list that uses Total Connect 2.0 as its interactive monitoring platform. This is the service that you will use to control your Lyric System remotely through a web browser or an app on your smartphone. The platform allows you to arm and disarm, check the current status of your system, and control automation devices. Remember that you will need to upgrade to a Silver level plan to take advantage of these great features. We think Total Connect 2.0 works just as well as any other monitoring and automation platform, but we have heard of users specifically choosing the Lyric to use this platform over the other ones out there.

You have no shortage of sensor options for the Lyric, as the system has its own lineup of encrypted wireless sensors in the Honeywell SiX Series Sensors. It is also backwards compatible with the widely popular Honeywell 5800 Sensors. As we mentioned earlier, the system is a bit on the older side, and it lacks some of the more advanced features like partitioning and automatic Bluetooth disarming. The panel does technically support camera streaming, but that's only for older legacy cameras that are no longer being manufactured. Also, the system only offers classic Z-Wave functionality, so you won't be able to take advantage of the the extended wireless range and longer battery life of Z-Wave Plus. If you want Z-Wave Plus, and you have the Lyric, then you will need to replace the panel entirely. There is no way to upgrade the existing classic Z-Wave firmware for the Lyric and make it Z-Wave Plus. But if you need HomeKit compatibility, or if you are trying to keep your monthly monitoring costs as low as possible, then the Lyric is almost certainly your best option. With its support of local end user programming, the Lyric is the best system from Honeywell and Resideo as of late 2020. There is a good reason why it remains the most popular Alarm Grid security system.

One last note is that while a plug-in transformer comes included with the Lyric, no power cable for connecting the system to the transformer is included. We recommend purchasing a Honeywell LT-Cable for this purpose.

The Lyric is for you if:

  • You want to save money by going IP only.
  • You want compatibility with Apple HomeKit.
  • You want to use Total Connect 2.0 as your interactive platform.
  • You don't need automatic Bluetooth disarming, partitioning, or Z-Wave Plus functionality.

Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus

The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus is without a doubt the most feature-packed system we offer at this time. It has totally changed the game with its advanced features like automatic Bluetooth disarming, camera streaming from the panel, partitioning, facial recognition, and a super innovative wellness platform. The IQ2+ offers a seamless integration with Alarm.com, which serves as the interactive monitoring and automation platform used with the system. It is also currently the only system where you can perform Alarm.com Smart Scenes directly from the main panel. We also love the system's UI, as automation devices like lights, door locks, and smart thermostats can all be accessed from the main panel screen. It is easy to navigate, and we find that it is arguably the most intuitive panel for users who have never used a security system before. Really, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus is the system we almost always recommend for any user not needing HomeKit functionality or low-cost IP-only monitoring.

Since this system, communicates through Alarm.com, you must have a cellular connection set up with the system. The good news is that you won't have to buy a communicator, as the IQ2+ already has one built-in (AT&T LTE or Verizon LTE). The bad news is that monitoring for this system starts at $25 per month, assuming you get service with Alarm Grid. And if you want central station service and the ability to do cool things through Alarm.com, such as arming and disarming remotely and setting up automated smart scenes, then the minimum cost jumps up to $35 per month for our Gold Plan. You may want to review this post that explains our monitoring plans in more depth.

One other awesome aspect of the IQ2+ is that it supports DSC PowerG Sensors. These wireless sensors are some of the best in the industry. They can be used from up to 2,000 feet away from the IQ Panel 2 Plus in an open air environment, and they utilize 128-bit AES encryption for advanced protection and security. You also get the choice of one of three (3) legacy sensor frequencies (319.5 MHz, 345 MHz, or 433 MHz). If you are upgrading from an older system, this is fantastic, as there is almost certainly a version of the IQ2+ that will let you bring over your old wireless sensors.

But even with all its bells and whistles, the IQ Panel 2 Plus is still not a perfect alarm system. We aren't blown away with its build quality, as some users have reported struggles in properly closing the panel after opening it up. And having an integrated communicator might seem like a good thing, but it also means that the entire panel must be replaced if the one inside fails for any reason. The same will hold true when the inevitable LTE Sunset occurs, though that should be years into the future. All that being said, if you are looking for the most feature-rich alarm system on the market today, you would be hard pressed to find a better option.

And unlike the other systems listed here, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus comes complete with BOTH a plug-in transformer AND a power cable for connecting. It is ready to be set up and powered on using nothing more than a screwdriver! Also included is a small table stand for keeping the system upright if wall-mounting is not desired.

The IQ Panel 2 Plus is for you if:

  • You want a system with the most advanced features.
  • You want easy access to smart home automation.
  • You want to use PowerG Wireless Sensors.
  • You can accept a system without replaceable components.

2GIG GC3e

The 2GIG GC3e is the current flagship system from 2GIG, though that might soon change with the 2GIG Edge on the horizon. This panel was introduced in 2019, as 2GIG was a fairly late arriver to the encryption game. But it's here now, and it's ready to support 2GIG eSeries Encrypted Sensors, while still being backwards compatible with older 2GIG 345 MHz Sensors and Honeywell 5800 Sensors.

If we're being completely honest, we rarely recommend the 2GIG GC3e over the Lyric or the IQ2+. The Lyric offers some unique features (HomeKit support and IP-only monitoring) that make it the best option in many cases, while the IQ2+ is the most feature-rich system we offer. The GC3e just doesn't have any one particular feature that helps it stand-out from the other two. We usually only steer people toward the GC3e if they want an Alarm.com System, but don't want the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus for whatever reason. We must also admit that the GC3e local end user programming is a bit more cumbersome than the Lyric or the IQ2+. People who choose the GC3e are usually those who are accustomed to the 2GIG panel, and are upgrading from an older 2GIG GC2 or 2GIG GC3.

That doesn't mean the GC3e is a bad system. The truth is that it actually has the best build-quality out of any system listed here. The panel just feels well-made and durable, especially when compared with the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. And while you don't get fancy features like panel camera streaming, Bluetooth disarming, or Apple HomeKit support, you do get a nice partitioning suite, and Z-Wave Plus functionality with the ability to create localized smart scenes. Also, unlike the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, you can actually swap out the cellular communicator in the GC3e. It is rather inconvenient that you have to buy a communication module add-on to get the system monitored, but this is a good thing if you ever need to replace your system's communicator for whatever reason.

This is matter of subjective personal opinion, but I can say one very nice thing about the GC3e. Out of every panel we offer, the 2GIG GC3e looks the nicest on the wall, and has the most fluid and satisfying touchscreen controls out of any panel I have personally ever used. And sometimes, that alone is the selling factor. There are users out there who don't care about fancy technical features or easily accessible automation menus, and they just want a high-quality system that looks good and does what they need it to do. If that is you, then maybe you should consider the GC3e.

Remember that while the 2GIG GC3e includes a plug-in transformer for providing power, it does not include a power cable for connecting the transformer to the panel. Just like with the Lyric, the Honeywell LT-Cable makes a fantastic power cable for this purpose.

The GC3e is for you if:

  • You want the panel with the best build-quality.
  • You don't care about fancy extra features.
  • You want an Alarm.com System with a replaceable communicator.
  • You can deal with programming that is a bit more cumbersome.

We hope that this post has given you some insight into choosing a new system for alarm monitoring. Stay tuned to our blog, as we will soon present a buying guide for the various security sensors you can choose from. Remember to email us at support@alarmgrid.com if you have any questions. We are available to respond to emails from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Alarm Grid is proud to offer the Honeywell Lyric LCP500-L24 with 24-Hour Backup Battery. This deal comes with the same great Honeywell Lyric Alarm System that is loved by thousands of Alarm Grid monitored customers, plus an extended LCP500-24B Battery for longer runtime during power outages.


Like most security systems, the Lyric uses a backup battery to stay running when the system experiences AC power loss. This can occur during electrical outages, or when the system's plug-in transformer has been disconnected. Traditionally, the Lyric System comes with a standard 4-hour battery called the Honeywell LCP500-4B.

But with our special Honeywell LCP500-L24 deal, you can get a Lyric System that includes the Honeywell LCP500-24B 24-Hour Backup Battery. This bundled deal is less expensive than buying the Lyric System and the LCP500-24B separately a la carte, so taking advantage of this offer is strongly advised. The battery is advertised to keep the Lyric Alarm Panel and its connected accessories running for at least 24 hours during power outages.

Normally, the Lyric comes with the 4-hour LCP500-4B Battery pre-installed. When you order the Honeywell Lyric LCP500-L24 Deal, your Lyric System will arrive with no battery installed. The 24-hour LCP500-24B Battery will be included in the package separately. You will need to open up the Lyric Panel and connect the battery during setup. We recommend doing this prior to powering on the system using its included plug-in transformer. For more information on powering the Honeywell Lyric, please see this FAQ.

In addition to powering the Lyric, the LCP500-24B will also keep any connected system accessories running. Most notably, this includes the system's communicator that is used for monitoring service. The Lyric has a built-in WIFI card for connecting to the internet, and you can also add a cellular communicator to provide an additional communication pathway for the system. This is important because an internet outage, which often accompanies a power outage, would otherwise take your system offline, even if the panel itself remains powered on with its battery backup during this time.

Available cellular communicator options for the Honeywell Lyric include the Honeywell LYRICLTE-A AT&T LTE Communicator and the Honeywell LYIRICLTE-V Verizon LTE Communicator. Alarm Grid also sells the Honeywell LYRICUPGRADE-A and the Honeywell LYRICUPGRADE-V bundles that include the Lyric System and one of the aforementioned cellular communicators. Keep in mind that our Lyric LTE bundles only come with the standard 4-hour battery, so you must buy the Honeywell LCP500-24B Battery separately if you want to provide an extended backup power option for your Lyric. Remember that you will need a monitoring plan that includes cellular service in order to use a cellular communicator with your Lyric System. Examples of monitoring plans that include cellular service are the Alarm Grid Gold Level Plans, the Alarm Grid Platinum Level Plans, and the Alarm Grid Cell-Only Plan. More information on all our monitoring plans can be found here.

The Honeywell Lyric is one of the top security systems on the market today. We love the Lyric and its 7-inch touchscreen display, support for 128 wireless zones, local end user programming, built-in Z-Wave, Apple HomeKit compatibility, and its ability to interface with the Total Connect 2.0 platform for controlling the system remotely though a mobile app or web browser. This is truly a state-of-the-art alarm system, and it gets even better with its extended 24-hour backup battery to stay running when it matters most.

If you want to learn more about Lyric, or if you are interested in starting alarm monitoring service, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We will review your message at our earliest convenience and reply back as soon as possible. Our team checks emails during our usual business hours of 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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We have some new offerings from 2GIG that have just been added to our website. These include the 2GIG STZ-1 Z-Wave Plus 700-Series Thermostat, the 2GIG CO8 Wireless Carbon Monoxide Sensor, and the 2GIG CO8e Encrypted Wireless Carbon Monoxide Sensor. All three are available as of now!


Starting with the 2GIG STZ-1, this is a smart thermostat that uses the latest Z-Wave Plus 700-Series technology. This represents the next generation of Z-Wave Smart Home Automation after the 500-Series of Z-Wave Plus. The 2GIG STZ-1 is actually one of the very first 700-Series Z-Wave Plus devices we have ever seen. You may also see this protocol referred to as Z-Wave Plus V2. Although we haven't encountered many 700-Series Z-Wave controllers or hubs quite yet, we are sure that they will begin to pop up before too long. This new generation of Z-Wave will provide even better battery life and wireless range capabilities than ever before.

For the time being, you will have no trouble using the 2GIG STZ-1 with Z-Wave Plus controllers like the 2GIG GC3e, 2GIG GC3, 2GIG GC2e, Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and Honeywell Home Tuxedo. However, 2GIG has stated that the STZ-1 Thermostat is not compatible with their older 2GIG Go!Control GC2, which only has a classic Z-Wave controller. Therefore, you may want to refrain from getting the 2GIG STZ-1 if your automation network is still centered around a classic Z-Wave hub. But the good news is that you can take advantage of advanced features like SmartStart QR Code Pairing and the S2 Security Protocol when using it with the latest Z-Wave Plus hubs.

The 2GIG STZ-1 is also no slouch when it comes to controlling an HVAC system. The thermostat supports 3-Stage Heating and 2-Stage Cooling, humidity and fan control, and the ability to be used without a "C" wire connection and rely solely on battery power. Like any Z-Wave thermostat, you can include the 2GIG STZ-1 with smart scenes so that it automatically begins heating or cooling your home or office on a set schedule. This is great for keeping energy costs to a minimum, while also ensuring that you stay comfortable!

Meanwhile, the 2GIG CO8 and the 2GIG CO8e serve as the latest carbon monoxide sensors from Nortek Control. The 2GIG CO8 joins the always popular 2GIG 345 MHz Sensor Lineup, while the 2GIG CO8e is part of the 2GIG eSeries Lineup of encrypted sensors. The 2GIG CO8 is a non-encrypted wireless sensor, and it is compatible with a wider selection of alarm systems, including all of the 2GIG Panels, the 345 MHz Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the Honeywell Lyric on Firmware Version MR3 or higher. The 2GIG CO8e is only compatible with the 2GIG GC2e and GC3e, but it uses encryption for better wireless security and protection.

Whether you go with the CO8 or CO8e, you will be providing valuable carbon monoxide detection for your home or office. Carbon monoxide (CO) gas is odorless and tasteless, and it kills hundreds of people every year in the United States. Most CO-related deaths occur in the winter months when heaters are more frequently used. With the winter quickly approaching us, now is a great time to get started using carbon monoxide sensors. You will have peace of mind in knowing that you and others around you will be alerted in case a CO gas situation occurs. And with central station monitoring service, help will be automatically sent to the location in the event of a carbon monoxide alarm. Remember to check out our monitoring page if you are interested in learning more about alarm monitoring.


If you have any questions about the 2GIG STZ-1 Thermostat, 2GIG CO8 Carbon Monoxide Sensor, or 2GIG CO8e Encrypted Carbon Monoxide Sensor, please email our support team at support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Alarm Grid is thrilled to announce that our Honeywell Lyric LTE Upgrade Kits now feature the Honeywell LCP500-24B 24-Hour Backup Battery. You can pick between the LYRICUPGRADE-A with AT&T LTE and the LYRICUPGRADE-V with Verizon LTE. Rest easy in knowing that your Lyric will stay connected!


Our Lyric LTE Upgrade Kits represent the ultimate option for anyone who wants to be sure that their monitored security system will always stay online and connected. These systems come with built-in WIFI and added communication modules that provide cellular backup. Even if your home or business experiences an internet outage, the cellular backup will keep your system reliably monitored. Cellular connectivity almost never goes down, so you will have peace of mind in knowing that you are consistently protected. This is crucial for receiving the most reliable and dependable alarm monitoring service available!

But these aren't just any cellular communicators. These are LTE cellular communicators that will receive network support for many years to come, possibly for even decades. As older 3G and CDMA networks are soon being shut down in an event commonly referred to as the 3G Sunset, users are being urged to upgrade to LTE as soon as possible. The term LTE stands for "Long-Term Evolution", and cellular companies like AT&T and Verizon have promised to support their LTE networks well into the very distant future. These networks are expected to remain running as important backups to the 5G networks, which you have likely heard about. With an LTE communicator like those included in these kits, you won't have to worry about making any communication upgrade to your Lyric any time in the foreseeable future.


The new change to these LTE upgrade kits is that they now include a 24-hour backup battery instead of the prior 4-hour backup battery. Your Lyric Security System will rely on this backup battery to stay running when the electricity is out and AC power is unavailable. The backup battery represents the last line of defense for a security system in staying powered on and connected for monitoring service in these crucial moments. Being able to keep your Lyric Alarm Panel running and connected for 24 hours versus 4 hours will give you much more confidence and peace of mind when a sudden power outage occurs. And even during an extended outage, your home or business will be protected. This is the perfect complement to LTE cellular connectivity, which works perfectly when your internet router is down and unable to provide WIFI service for your system.

Of course, these kits wouldn't be complete without the state-of-the-art Honeywell Lyric Alarm System. This security panel includes a full-color 7-inch touchscreen display, support for up to 128 panel zones, the ability to interface with Honeywell SiX Series Sensors that use military-grade 128-bit AES encryption, built-in Z-Wave capability for smart home devices, and full compatibility with Apple HomeKit, the robust and powerful automation platform for iOS users.


Both the Honeywell LYRICUPGRADE-A and the Honeywell LYRICUPGRADE-V come with a brand-new Honeywell Lyric Alarm System with plug-in transformer, an LTE communicator, and a fully prepared Honeywell LT-Cable for conveniently providing system power. Whether you choose the LYRICUPGRADE-A with AT&T LTE or the LYRICUPGRADE-V with Verizon LTE will not make much of a difference. This decision will have no impact on your monthly monitoring costs, and we have found both cellular networks to work great when adequate signal coverage is obtained. Just go with the network that provides the most reliable and consistent coverage in your area. If you aren't sure, coverage maps are widely available. Remember that this decision has nothing to do with your personal phone. You can have an AT&T Phone and get a Verizon Communicator for your system, or vice-versa.

Also keep in mind that you will need a cellular monitoring plan to take advantage of all the cellular communication capabilities of your new Honeywell Lyric LTE Security System Kit. Examples of compatible monitoring plans include the Gold and Platinum Plans from Alarm Grid. We advise checking out our monitoring page for more information about signing-up. And if you have any questions, you can always email us at support@alarmgrid.com for extra assistance. We check our email during our usual business hours of 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you get started with your new Lyric System!

Update: These kits no longer include the 24-hour battery. They once again include the standard Lyric 4-hour battery. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

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While many alarm panels have been outfitted with LTE cellular communicators to accommodate the 3G and CDMA Sunset, one system that is being left behind is the Honeywell L5100. Luckily, we have two (2) great panel upgrade options if you want to continue receiving cellular alarm monitoring.


Without getting too in-depth, the 3G and CDMA Sunset will leave the Honeywell L5100 with no functional cellular communicator option. This is because any Honeywell GSMVLP5-4G units that are currently activated for monitoring service will stop working once the associated AT&T 4G Network is shut down. If you are still using a Honeywell L5100 with a GSMVLP5-4G for cellular monitoring, then it is crucial that you upgrade to a new system as soon as possible. This is the only way that you can continue receiving cellular monitoring service. Remember, cellular connectivity represents the most reliable communication path available for an alarm system. We strongly urge you to not wait until the end of the 3G/CDMA Sunset.

Unless you have some specific knowledge of security systems, then you may have trouble determining which alarm panel you should get to replace your Honeywell L5100. That is where we are able to help. We have two (2) recommended systems if you are needing to upgrade. Both of these system options will allow you to continue using the majority of your existing sensors, and they will provide some great new features that you can take advantage of. We will briefly discuss both of these options so that you can make an informed decision.


Honeywell Lyric


If you want to stick within the Honeywell banner, then the Lyric is a great option. It has two (2) excellent LTE cellular communicator options in the Honeywell LYRICLTE-A AT&T LTE Communicator and the Honeywell LYRICLTE-V Verizon LTE Communicator, and it can readily support all of the one-way Honeywell 5800 Sensors used with the L5100. This system is preferred by users who want to continue using Total Connect 2.0, as well as any Honeywell IP Cameras. The makes the Lyric the go-to option if you are currently using security cameras with your L5100. The Lyric is also preferred if you are a regular iOS user, and you want to integrate your security system with your Apple HomeKit Network.


Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus 345 MHz

For L5100 users who don't necessarily feel married to Total Connect 2.0, and who also don't really care about HomeKit compatibility, jumping ship to a different manufacturer is an option. The Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus 345 MHz is hard to ignore. It can also support your existing one-way Honeywell 5800 Wireless Sensors right out of the box. You will need to make the switch from Total Connect 2.0 to Alarm.com, but this transition is fairly seamless if you don't have cameras set up. And while the IQ2+ might not have HomeKit, it does offer its own unique benefits like Z-Wave Plus functionality, automatic Bluetooth disarming, and partitioning support. You won't find any of those features on the Lyric. Just remember to choose the 345 MHz IQ2+ in the silver and white box to continue using your old Honeywell 5800 Sensors.


We're Here to Help!

There isn't a truly one-size-fits-all solution for existing Honeywell L5100 users. For some, the Lyric is the best option. But other users can get more mileage out of the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus 345 MHz. Although we gave you some general guidelines and considerations above, you may still want some more advice on which move to make. Our security system planners are happy to help you determine which system is right for you.

Upgrading early is the best way to ensure that you do not experience any interruptions in your monitoring service. If you are a Honeywell L5100 user looking to plan for the future, feel free to email our team at support@alarmgrid.com. We will check your email during our usual business hours of 9am to 8pm ET and respond back at our earliest opportunity. We look forward to helping you plan out the long-term security solution for your home or business!

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