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Today, we're discussing the upcoming Qolsys IQ Hub Security System to share our thoughts and feelings on the much-anticipated alarm panel. Qolsys has regularly impressed us during their young tenure as a system manufacturer. Can they continue their hot streak with the new IQ hub?


To start our discussions on the IQ Hub, we first want to consider what it is. From what we understand, the IQ Hub is not necessarily meant to serve as a replacement or a successor to the wildly successful and versatile Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. Instead, the widespread belief is that the Qolsys IQ Hub will serve more as a budget or entry-level system, while the IQ Panel 2 Plus continues to serve as the main panel.

This line of thought is not shocking. Security systems have gotten sleeker and more slimlined in recent years, as aesthetics have become more important than ever for a panel designed to be placed prominently on your wall. When comparing the IQ Hub and the IQ Panel 2 Plus, the IQ Hub is the larger of the two systems. And its design looks more like something to come out of the mid 2010s than fresh out of the early 2020s. Indeed, the IQ Hub is bulkier, more obtrusive, and less adaptive to its surroundings than the IQ2+. From that perspective alone, it would be odd to see something like the IQ Hub take the reins from the current Qolsys entry.

We don't have all the details on the specifications and capabilities of the Qolsys IQ Hub at this time. Our understanding is that many of the great features from the IQ Panel 2 Plus will return to the IQ Hub. These returning features include built-in WIFI and cellular connectivity, integrated automation capabilities, disarm photos, optional automatic Bluetooth disarming, and the ability to interface with Alarm.com. While these features are great, they aren't anything new from what the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus already offers.

We are also unsure of some more advanced features returning, such as Alarm.com Camera streaming, facial recognition, the wellness platform, partitioning, and the ability to perform Alarm.com Smart Scenes right from the panel. Users might not need these extra features, so Qolsys offering a stripped-down version makes sense. In that way, the IQ Hub might indeed fulfill an important role. Sometimes we forget the fact that not every installation requires a superpower or beast of a panel. Being able to offer end users something simple and basic without all the bells and whistles is good once in awhile. With that in mind, we totally appreciate what the IQ Hub is supposedly going to offer.

We're also not entirely sure what automation will look like on the IQ Hub. Will it use 500-Series Z-Wave Plus, or the new state-of-the-art 700-Series? Will we be able to control devices and scenes locally at the panel, or will we be restricted to using Alarm.com? Will there be any important limits or restrictions on the number of automation devices that can be paired, beyond the standard 232 device limit? All of these are important questions that have yet to be answered.

Sensor compatibility is also still a question mark. From what we hear, the IQ Hub will only support the PowerG frequency sensors. This means that your only options will be to use wireless PowerG Sensors, and/or wired sensors through the PowerG wired to wireless converter, assuming that support for the module is added. In other words, non-encrypted, legacy sensor support will be dropped for the IQ Hub. This probably won't matter much for users starting from scratch, but it may discourage users with older wireless systems from upgrading to the IQ Hub. They will probably choose the proper IQ Panel 2 Plus model instead. Also, there won't be any taking advantage of sweet deals or discounts on older, non-encrypted sensors with the IQ Hub.

But besides all of this, the single most polarizing issue with the IQ Hub remains the big grey speaker on the front. It's very in-your-face and almost impossible to ignore. When we ask other people their thoughts on the speaker, they either call it ugly, or they simply don't care one way or another. But almost nobody we have asked has called it attractive. With that in mind, we beg Qolsys - please put the speaker to use. If you're going to have such a polarizing, glaring design feature, then at least make it functional. Have the system double as a Bluetooth speaker. That would be a cool feature. You have your IQ Hub on the wall, you pair your phone, and you begin playing music. To us, that idea sounds neat. The line between security and entertainment is becoming increasingly blurred anyway. Why not make this possible for the IQ Hub. And yet, we keep hearing that Qolsys has little interest in turning the IQ Hub into a mini boombox. We really hope they change their tune.

One other thing we have heard about the IQ Hub is that it cannot be opened. The replaceable battery slides in using a side compartment, and the panel is never designed to be opened up or for the panel's interior to see the light of day. That's fine, especially with all the struggles users have had closing the IQ Panel 2 Plus, but we do question the inability of the system to have its inner components replaced if something goes wrong. Is the IQ Hub really being seen as that disposable? The system's build-quality and final price point should determine that. But Qolsys is clearly taking a risk there.

Also in limbo is the release date for the IQ Hub. Originally, it was set for a Q1 2020 release. But with the pandemic, that date came and went. We (along with the rest of the world) had bigger things to worry about. Now our best guess is that it will hit the market early in 2021, roughly a year and a half after we first spoke of it in September 2019. Qolsys insists that it's still coming whenever we bring it up, and they seem genuinely enthusiastic about it. Here's hoping that we see it soon. And hey, with the 2GIG Edge also set for an early 2021 release, we expect that next year could be an ultra-competitive time for the security industry. Do you think we're excited? You bet we are!

Overall, there is a lot to look forward to in regard to the Qolsys IQ Hub. If all goes well, it could definitely become the Qolsys System we recommend for users on a budget or in an apartment or starter home. Even if it doesn't become the new flagship Qolsys Panel, there are still plenty of things to like. Email us at support@alarmgrid.com with any questions or thoughts you have about the IQ Hub. We would love to hear what you have to say. Our team is here to check email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Today, we're going to discuss three (3) security and automation predictions that are almost certain to occur next year. As the title implies, these predictions aren't anything too bold or revolutionary, but they should get you prepared for next year. Let's get into predicting and discussing!


1. Continued Rush to Upgrade to LTE

One topic that we discuss very regularly in this blog is the 3G Sunset and the importance of upgrading to LTE as soon as possible. If you have been living under a rock, then the "Sunset" refers to the impending shut down of older 3G and CDMA cellular networks. Once these networks are shut down, any equipment that uses them will no longer work properly. This includes any cellular security systems. As such, there is currently a big rush to upgrade existing security systems to use LTE communication so that they can remain online and connected for monitoring service.

This obviously won't change in 2021, as cellular service providers remain determined to achieve their goal of completing the transition by the end of 2022. But what is going to be unique about 2021 is that it will be the final full year for users to make the transition, before there is inevitably a final scramble at the very end. If you thought that LTE upgrade talk was inescapable throughout the industry in 2020, well just look forward to 2021. Next year represents the final year for users to make the switch before they are considered to be doing it "last minute". AT&T is slated to shut down its 3G equipment in the first quarter of 2022. Verizon is waiting a bit longer, shutting down the CDMA network in Q4 of that year. Keep in mind that by upgrading early, you are not only saving yourself the hassle, you are also preventing yourself from being left behind later when a big chunk of procrastinators are all trying to upgrade at the last minute, and there just aren't enough resources and/or manpower to get everyone in before the cutoff. Long story short, do not wait to upgrade!


2. New "Big 3" of Alarm Grid Security Systems

Let's shift focus to something a bit more positive than the eventual shutdown of older technology. One thing you can almost bank on for 2021 is the rise of three (3) new security systems. These are the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS, the Qolsys IQ Hub, and the 2GIG Edge. While they probably won't replace the Lyric, the IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the GC3e entirely, there is a good chance that they will become our top recommended system picks by the end of next year. Whether or not all of them succeed remains to be seen, but we will say that the future looks bright. Though, we must admit there is still some uncertainty.

Of these "next generation" systems, only the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS is currently available. And until it gets local end user programming (supposedly coming early next year), we can't exactly give it a ringing endorsement. But with its sleek design, support for up to 250 zones, and Z-Wave Plus capabilities, the system is no slouch. It's also heavily rumored that it will soon gain Apple HomeKit support, much like its Lyric predecessor. Once that happens, the sky is the limit.

The Qolsys IQ Hub has more questions than answers at this time. Qolsys seems to get excited about it whenever it is discussed. But there is also this notion that it will end up being the "budget" system for Qolsys, while the IQ Panel 2 Plus remains their flagship alarm panel. And while there's nothing wrong with an affordable alarm system, it's hard to say whether or not we'll be able to recommend it over the IQ2+. But with PowerG Sensor support and possibly other features waiting in the wings, we won't count this system out just yet. We really hope that Qolsys puts that large, prominent speaker on the front to good use. To us, it screams Bluetooth speaker. Remember, if your security system is only used for security purposes in 2021, then you're doing it wrong. We look at the IQ Hub and see three things - Security Controller, Automation Controller, Bluetooth Speaker.


Lastly, the 2GIG Edge is the one shrouded in the most mystery. Apart from its edgy website, we still don't know a lot about it. 2GIG and Nortek Control have been mum on releasing pertinent information. We've even reached out to them personally via phone, and we keep being told to just "be patient". The air of unknown around it and the artsy promotion sure has 2GIG talking a big game, but we're really hoping they can walk the walk when it comes time. If there's one thing that's often true about the security industry, it's that gimmicky promotions and slick advertisements don't usually work on their own. People want products with proven reliability, strong performance, and quantifiable specifications. The 2GIG Edge looks like it's going to have its outer presentation down pact. Now we're ready to see what make it unique.




3. More 700-Series Z-Wave Devices

You can pretty much always count on Z-Wave smart home technology to keep moving forward. And while we saw some innovations in 2020 for Z-Wave - namely the rise of the s2 Security Protocol, and QR scanning becoming more commonplace - we didn't necessarily see the big leap into the 700-Series. In fact, the only 700-Series Z-Wave Device that we recall from this past year is the 2GIG STZ-1 Smart Thermostat.

Will 2021 be the year of the 700-Series? We're not entirely sure, but there's a good chance it will. There's no stopping the momentum that home automation carries, and as we move past an unprecedented 2020, smart home companies will be looking to get back on track this year. And what better way for Z-Wave to make a big splash than touting its next upgrade?

The 700-Series of Z-Wave promises to be the most efficient and most powerful yet. With the right hardware, users will enjoy extended wireless range, better battery life, and security that can be trusted. Whether or not we see alarm panels adopt 700-Series technology next year could be a different story. But for individual devices and dedicated automation controllers, this upcoming year seems to be the prime time to get heads turning. Don't be surprised to see some 700-Series lights and locks, as well as some more thermostats. And from there, it won't be long before alarm panels also get in the game.


We hope you found some amusement out of these three (admittedly, not so bold) predictions. If you are surprised by anything we said here, then 2021 is really going to knock your socks off. Technology is only getting better, and more innovations are on the way! Remember to email us at support@alarmgrid.com if you have any questions about what's coming soon to the exciting world of security and automation, or if you just want to learn more about our monitoring services. Our team is here to check email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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In order to reboot a router remotely using a VISTA P-Series Panel, you will manually activate an output, which will fault a zone. The zone fault will be programmed to activate a Z-Wave switch, which is powering the internet router or modem. A cellular connection is required to do this.

And there you have it, that's how you do it! Just kidding! We're going to cover exactly what you need to do. Alarm Grid had this scenario come up recently and thought it would make a good case study to cover.

First, we wrote an FAQ that covers how to manually control a programmable output through the keypad. But then we thought that putting the FAQ together with information outlining the exact problem that we resolved by using the manual output command might add some much-needed context and show how this command can really come in handy. This also outlines one of the reasons why a cellular communicator is so important to have as a backup to an internet connection!

Let me set the scene: The hero in our case study spends several months each year away from his primary residence. The system installed in this residence is a Honeywell VISTA-20P with a Honeywell Home Tuxedo installed, as well as an LTE dual-path communicator. The Honeywell LTE-IA or the Honeywell LTE-IV are equally suitable for use in this scenario. In addition, any of the compatible automation controllers, such as the Honeywell VAM or the older Tuxedo Touch WIFI, could be used instead of the newer Honeywell Home Tuxedo.

The Problem

While our hero is enjoying his time away, he discovers that his internet connection at home is down. Of course, if he were at home, the first thing he would do, after verifying that his ISP isn't experiencing an outage, is reboot his router to see if the connection comes back up. But he's not at home, and furthermore, there is no one he can send to his home to perform this task for him. Now, since he has a dual-path communicator with the cellular connection enabled and active, he doesn't have to worry that his panel won't be able to communicate a signal if the alarm goes off. He's safe in that regard. However, in addition to the alarm panel's ability to send signals through the internet when it is available, the Tuxedo also uses the internet to provide a communication path to Total Connect 2.0 so that he can control his Z-Wave automation devices remotely. This is a problem, and it's the problem we're here to solve.

Just to recap, we have a VISTA-20P Panel that is working, and it can communicate alarm signals via the cellular path. It can also be controlled via Total Connect 2.0 through the cellular path. We have a Honeywell Home Tuxedo that is working, and it can communicate with the panel through its hardwired keypad bus connection, but it can't communicate to TC2 through the internet. This means there is no way to remotely control Z-Wave Automation devices. Finally, we have an LTE dual-path communicator that is working on the cellular path, but not on the internet path.

The Solution

Basically, what this requires is a way to send a command from Total Connect 2.0 to the VISTA-20P Panel through the communicator's cellular connection. This command must be something that the panel can perform based on an entry from a keypad. In this case, we are going to enter a command via the TC2 keypad that will cause a programmable output to change state. This output is connected to a zone on the panel. When the output changes state, it will fault the zone. Then, based on the programming in a scene, the Tuxedo will turn the Z-Wave Module that is connected and providing power to the router OFF. This will drop power to the router. After a few seconds, another command will be entered through the keypad which will restore the zone, and a second scene will tell the Tuxedo that a restore on the zone causes the Z-Wave module to turn back ON. This will restore power to the router.

Here are the full details for this solution:

The first step in setting this up is making sure that you have an available zone to use as your triggering zone. If you have one of the hardwired zones on the panel available, then you can actually use Output 18, Trigger 2 for this purpose. Any of the hardwired zones 2 thru 8 can be used with this trigger. You can also use Output 17, Trigger 1, but it provides more current than Trigger 2, so we recommend that you save it for other potential uses. If you don't have one of these zones available, then you can use a zone on a Honeywell 4219 or 4229 8-zone expander, but this will also require the use of a relay instead of a trigger. If you are using the 4229, it has two (2) programmable relays built into it. If you are using the 4219, then you will need to add a Honeywell 4204. It is also possible to use a zone input from a wireless zone, such as a Honeywell 5816, along with one of the above mentioned relays.

One reason we love using Trigger 2, Output 18 for this is because it's so simple. Output 18 is already enabled in panel programming location *79, and as long as its programming hasn't been changed from the default, no additional programming is required for the output to work. However, there is still the matter of programming the zone to be used. In our example, we show Output 18, Trigger 2 connected to Zone 03. As you can see in the diagram below, we have connected the trigger to the Hi side of the zone, on terminal 12. As mentioned before, you can use this configuration on any of the Zones 02 thru 08, connecting the trigger wire to the Hi side of the zone. The reason you can't use this on Zone 01 is because the Zone 01 negative is completely isolated from all other negative terminals on the board. In order for the trigger to work to fault the zone, it must be common to the zone negative when the trigger is activated.


If you need to use a relay instead of the trigger, you will need to wire the relay to the zone so that when you turn the Relay ON, it faults the connected zone, and when you turn the Relay OFF, it restores that zone. The way this must be done will depend on the type of zone it is being connected to. When using a 5816 with the input terminals, you will need to wire one terminal of the transmitter to the relay's Common (C) and the other terminal to the relay's Normally Closed (NC). If you're using an expansion zone on a Honeywell 4219 or Honeywell 4229, then the wiring used for this zone, and whether or not an End-of-Line Resistor (EOLR) is used, will depend on how the rest of the zones on that expander are configured, as well as on the age of the expander. Earlier versions required an EOLR for each zone, while newer versions provide an option not to use the EOLR, based on the setting of a dip switch. The important thing to know here is that when a 4204 or 4229 relay is OFF, it has continuity between Common (C) and Normally Closed (NC). When it is ON, it has continuity between Common (C) and Normally Open (NO).


With the output wiring out of the way, we can move on to programming the zone. We're not going to go through the entire zone programming process. You can find information about how to program a zone on a VISTA-20P Panel in this FAQ. The two important things to know when it comes to zone programming are the Zone Type and the Hardwire Type. The Zone Type should be set to Zone Type 23, No Alarm Response. This Zone Type was specifically created to allow the panel to activate outputs based on a zone's change of state. Basically, Zone Type 23 allows the panel to recognize that a fault and/or fault restore has occurred on a zone, without it having to display a fault for that zone, or take any other action with regard to the zone itself. Zone Type 23 will never show a fault, and it will never cause an alarm condition. The Hardwire Type should be set to Normally Open (Entry 2 when prompted). Again, see the FAQ linked above for full details on zone programming. The Hardwire Type programming of Normally Open is specifically meant for use with the trigger connection shown above. If using a relay instead of a trigger, the Hardwire Type or Input Type setting may need to be different, depending on your wiring configuration, and the zone number.

The next step is to pair the Z-Wave module with the Honeywell Home Tuxedo. As always, we recommend that you first Exclude or Remove the Z-Wave device using the Tuxedo, before attempting to Include or Add the device. The reason we always recommend doing this is because devices are often joined to a Z-Wave network at the factory as part of Quality Assurance (QA). In many cases, once the device has been successfully joined to the test network, it is never cleared, and is simply packaged and sold as it is. Once a Z-Wave device has been paired with a network, it holds onto that network information until it receives a command telling it to forget the old network so that it can join a new one. The process of Excluding or Removing, is what tells a Z-Wave device to forget the old network. It's fortunate that any Z-Wave controller can tell any Z-Wave device to forget its old network!

A word about which Z-Wave module to use. You can use either an in-wall switch, or a plug-in module. If your Z-Wave Automation Controller supports Z-Wave Plus, then we always recommend using a Z-Wave Plus device. Although any Z-Wave controller can support just about any Z-Wave module, a Z-Wave Plus module loses its Z-Wave Plus attributes, including extended range and battery life, when used with an older Z-Wave controller. We like the idea of using a plug-in module, as it allows you to easily move your router if you begin to have range or interference issues.

Once the Z-Wave module has been learned into the Tuxedo, VAM, or Tuxedo Touch WIFI you then need to create a scene which will tell the module to turn OFF when Zone 3 (or whatever zone you choose to use) is faulted. You will need to program a second scene to tell the same module to turn ON when Zone 3 is restored. The easiest way to perform this programming is through Total Connect 2.0. We like to program scenes using the website, the examples that follow will assume that is how the scenes are being setup.

After logging into Total Connect 2.0, choose the menu option for scenes. If you do not see this option, contact your alarm dealer, and be sure that your account is properly configured, and that your monitoring plan includes access to Automation. For Alarm Grid customers, this would be our Silver Plan (Self or Full), or higher. After clicking on Scenes, choose Create Scene.


This will take you through a scene creation wizard. The first step is to name the Scene. This should be something easy to distinguish from other scenes, such as "Router Off". After choosing Continue, you will see where you can choose how the scene will be triggered. In our case, we want Triggered by a device, and when we expand this option, we then want to expand the section titled Sensors. Under Sensors, we see Zone 3, which we have named Router. When we expand this option, we can choose that this scene will activate when Zone 3 is Open (faulted) or Closed (restored). We intend to turn OFF the Z-Wave device when Zone 3 is faulted, so we will choose "When it is open".


After choosing which zone(s) you want to trigger the Z-Wave device, you will be taken to Step 3 of the scene creation wizard. In this step, you will choose which device (or devices) you want to control, and whether you want them to turn ON or OFF. This is our Router OFF scene, so we set our action accordingly.

Now that we have created an initial scene, in order to add the second scene (the one that will turn the router power back on) we need to click the + symbol in the upper right of the Scenes screen.


The programming for this scene will be almost identical to the first scene. We still want to trigger by device. The device is Sensor 3, which we named ROUTER, and we want the Z-Wave device to be turned ON when Sensor 3 is Closed, meaning the fault on the zone is restored. Here's the summary for the second scene.


That is the end of the programming and wiring for this solution. The final step is for our hero to manually activate Trigger 2, Output 18 through the keypad screen in Total Connect 2.0. Do this by entering the following command:

4-Digit Code + [#] + [7] + [18]

By entering this command, we're telling Output 18, Trigger 2 to activate. When it activates, it connects to ground. This ground is common to the Lo side of Zone 3. This causes a short on the zone (which is why we programmed it as Normally Open), which in turn causes it to fault. The fault on Zone 3 causes the Z-Wave device being used to power the router to turn OFF, powering the router down.

After around 20 seconds, our hero should enter the following command to restore Zone 3:

4-Digit Code + [#] + [8] + [18]

By entering this command, we are telling Output 18, Trigger 2 to deactivate. When it deactivates, the trigger disconnects from ground. This opens the circuit on Zone 3, causing it to restore from a faulted condition. This in turn causes the Z-Wave device being used to power the router to turn it back ON, powering the router back up. Once more, keep in mind that this option is only available because the customer in question, our hero, chose to use a dual-path communication method. If he had chosen to use an IP only connection, there would be no way for him to initiate the keypad command through Total Connect 2.0 that gets this ball rolling.

If you happen to be using a relay instead of the trigger output, there will be a few minor tweaks that you will need to make to this process. One of those tweaks will be the output number that you will use when performing this command. The FAQ that we linked in the second paragraph above goes into more detail on how to set this up using a relay, including covering the programming required in programming location *79.

If you need further assistance using this setup with a relay, feel free to reach out to us at support@alarmgrid.com. Our technical support staff are available M - F from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern. We will have some closures soon due to the holidays, so pay attention to our blog for information about when those will be. As always, we look forward to hearing from you!

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If you recall last week, we put out our 2020 holiday buying guide for smart home automation. Today, we wanted to focus on a very small aspect of that buying guide and explore some quick possibilities on how your can use some smart automated plug-in modules around the holiday season.


Plug-in modules couldn't be more convenient. You simply plug one into your standard outlet, enroll it with your smart home network (we like Z-Wave Plus), and connect the device(s) you want to control. And just like that, you can take virtually any connected device, and turn it into a smart device. The possibilities around the holiday season are particularly cool.

But before we get into some creative ways to use your plug-in modules, let's take a look at a few of our favorites. You should recall all of these from our buying guide if you read through that, but it never hurts to reintroduce them.

And we also want to give an extra special shout-out to the Resideo Z5SWPIO Z-Wave Plus Outdoor Plug-In Switch. Unlike the other three plug-in modules mentioned here, the Resideo Z5SWPIO is the only one that can be used OUTDOORS. This can certainly come in handy around the holiday season with lighting displays set up outside for the world to see. We can imagine many of you out there will want to bring smart automation to the holiday lights you've worked so hard on. You may as well do things right with an outdoor smart plug-in switch!

But across the board, the name of the game here is scheduling. If you want to have your lights turn ON and OFF automatically on a set schedule, then Z-Wave Plus plug-in modules are the way to go. Sure, you could rely on traditional timers and relays, but this makes things so much easier! And assuming you have your plug-in modules set up with your monitored security system, then all of this can be conveniently done through Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. All you need to do is build a smart scene that sets a time for your devices to turn ON, and another for them to turn OFF later on. It's that simple.

Now, let's think about what you can include in these scenes. We'll start simple. How about your Christmas tree? Turn it into a Z-Wave Plus Christmas tree! This can be very nice if you are away from home for the holidays. By having your Christmas tree turn ON and OFF automatically, you can make it appear like someone is home, even if not a creature is stirring. If you have some other electronic holiday gear, then there's a great chance that it can be included in this setup as well.

If you really want to make things extra special, then get that Resideo Z5SWPIO Outdoor Module we talked about earlier, and use it to put your home's entire holiday lighting display on a schedule! Even if you're away seeking warmer weather, you can still have the best holiday display on the block. With Z-Wave Plus technology, you can ensure that your home lights up the cul-de-sac at night, and then safely powers down once morning arrives. You can even set specific scenes for sunset and sunrise to make scheduling a bit more customized.

And you don't even have to stop with the lights. If you have one of those giant inflatable outdoor snowman, then put that on your plug-in module too. As long as you don't exceed the load limit, then you're good to go! A few plug-in modules will really allow you to get wild. And it's all super easy to set up! If you have any questions about automation, then forward them over to support@alarmgrid.com, and we'll be happy to help. Our team is here from 9am to 8pm ET M-F to answer your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Today, in this final part of our 2020 holiday buying guides, we will be checking out various accessories for the Honeywell Lyric, the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, and the 2GIG GC3e. Specifically, we will be looking at compatible cellular communicators, security cameras, keypads, and desk mounts.


Adding various accessories to your system can improve your overall experience and make your system easier to use. Most accessories are optional, though there some that are required for setting up new monitoring service. We'll be sure to discuss these factors along the way. The other very important thing to keep in mind is that compatibility is usually based on system. Check and make sure that any accessory you want works with your system.


Cellular Communicators

We'll start by looking at cellular communicators for our top alarm panels. All of our top security system picks have built-in WIFI for communicating right out of the box. But only the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus comes with a built-in cellular communication module. For the Lyric and the GC3e, you must add a cellular radio if you want one of these systems to use a cellular communication pathway. Keep in mind that this is optional for Total Connect 2.0 Systems like the Lyric, as TC2 allows system to be set up with IP-only service. But for Alarm.com Systems, having an active cellular communication set up is required. This means that you must buy a cellular communicator for a 2GIG GC3e to get it monitored. Keep in mind that using cellular communication on any system will require a monitoring plan that includes cellular service, such as an Alarm Grid Gold or Platinum Level Plan.

A good thing about the cellular communicators listed here is that they are all LTE communicators. The term LTE stands for "long-term evolution", and the associated networks and cell towers are expected to be kept running and in-service for a very long time. This will remain true even as 5G networks are rolled out, as LTE is positioned to serve as a valuable and reliable backup option to 5G. At this time (December 2020), 5G communicators for alarm systems do not yet exist. This makes LTE far and away the best option for cellular communication on alarm systems at this time.

You will notice that there are no cellular communicators listed here for the IQ Panel 2 Plus. This is because the IQ Panel 2 Plus comes with a cellular communicator that is pre-installed. It cannot be removed or replaced. This means that the entire panel must be replaced in the event that its cellular radio fails. You will also see that carrier options for AT&T and Verizon are listed here. You should simply go with whichever carrier provides better service in the area where the system will be used. You can also check coverage maps if you are unsure. Remember, this choice will have no impact on your monthly monitoring costs, and it has nothing to do with the carrier for your personal phone. And just to restate it one last time, this is required for the GC3e, and optional for the Lyric.

Here are our top picks for cellular communicators.

Model Notes
2GIG LTEA-A-GC3
AT&T LTE Communicator for 2GIG GC3e. Requires system firmware version 3.2.3 or higher.
2GIG LTEV1-A-GC3
Verizon LTE Communicator for 2GIG GC3e. Requires system firmware 3.1.3 or higher.
Honeywell LYRICLTE-A
AT&T LTE Communicator for Honeywell Lyric. Requires system firmware version MR3 or higher.
Honeywell LYRICLTE-V
Verizon LTE Communicator for Honeywell Lyric. Requires system firmware version MR9 or higher.


Security Cameras

Next, we will be taking a look at various security camera options for your system. Broadly speaking, these devices can be split into two (2) categories. There are security cameras for Alarm.com and security cameras for Total Connect 2.0. If you are building around a Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus or 2GIG GC3e, then you will want to get Alarm.com Security Cameras. But if you are building around the Honeywell Lyric, then you should get Total Connect 2.0 cameras. Remember that using any camera will require a monitoring plan that includes video surveillance, such as an Alarm Grid Platinum Level Plan. The only exception is for a SkyBell Video Doorbell, which we will be discussing later.

The cameras listed here are all IP cameras, meaning that they connect to the internet for remote access. You can use the Alarm.com Mobile App or the Total Connect 2.0 Mobile App to get a live look-in for your camera from pretty much anywhere in the world. Most cameras connect across wireless WIFI, but some use wired ethernet connectivity. For those using wired ethernet, you will often see them listed as Power over Ethernet, or PoE. This means that the camera can get both power and network connectivity from the same connection. Cameras that use WIFI will typically just have a plug-in transformer for power.

Let's start by exploring the Alarm.com Cameras. These are what you want if you are building around an IQ Panel 2 Plus, a 2GIG GC3e, or any other Alarm.com Security System.

Model Notes
Alarm.com ADC-V522IR

Alarm.com Indoor 1080p camera. 113° Field of View. IR Night Vision range of 15 feet. Uses WIFI or ethernet connectivity, but does not support PoE.
Alarm.com ADC-V523
Alarm.com Indoor 1080p camera w/ High Dynamic Range. 117° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 15 feet. Uses WIFI or ethernet connectivity, but does not support PoE.
Alarm.com ADC-V622- WELL

Alarm.com Indoor Wellness Camera w/ 1080p recording. 180° Field of View. IR Night Vision Rang of 15 feet. Uses WIFI or ethernet connectivity. Supports PoE if ethernet is used. Doubles as Bluetooth speaker for two-way audio.
Alarm.com ADC-V723

Alarm.com Outdoor 1080p camera w/ High Dynamic Range. 117° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 40 feet. Uses WIFI connectivity. Does not support wired ethernet.
Alarm.com ADC-VC726
Alarm.com Commercial outdoor mini bullet 1080p camera. 86° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 95 feet. Uses wired ethernet connectivity. Supports PoE.
Alarm.com ADC-VC736
Alarm.com Commercial outdoor large bullet 1080p camera. 86° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 260 feet. Uses wired ethernet connectivity. Supports PoE.
Alarm.com ADC-VC826
Alarm.com Commercial outdoor dome 1080p camera. 108° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 95 feet. Uses wired ethernet connectivity. Supports PoE.
Alarm.com ADC-VC836
Alarm.com Commercial outdoor turret 1080p camera. 108° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 95 feet. Uses wired ethernet connectivity. Supports PoE.
Alarm.com ADC-VDB770
Alarm.com Video Doorbell 1080p Camera. 150° Vertical Field of View. 115° Horizontal Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 15 feet. Uses WIFI connectivity. Does not support wired ethernet.
Alarm.com ADC-SVR122
Alarm.com Stream Video Recorder. Used to facilitate 24-hour continuous recording. Supports up to 2TB of storage w/ proper hard drives. Not an actual camera.
Alarm.com ADC-CSVR126
Alarm.com Commercial Stream Video Recorder. Used to facilitate 24-hour continuous recording. Supports up to 16TB of storage w/ proper hard drives. Not an actual camera.


Next, we will be looking at the Total Connect IP Cameras. There are only thee (3) models available, but they are the ones to use if you have a Honeywell Lyric set up with the Total Connect 2.0 platform.

Model
Notes
Honeywell IPCAM-WIC1

Total Connect 2.0 Indoor 720p Camera. 135° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 16.5 feet.
Honeywell IPCAM-WIC2
Total Connect 2.0 Indoor 1080p Camera. 110° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 33 Feet.
Honeywell IPCAM-WOC1
Total Connect 2.0 Outdoor 1080p Camera. 117° Field of View. IR Night Vision Range of 65 Feet. Does not record audio.

Lastly, we want to give special recognition to the SkyBell Doorbell Cameras. These camera replace your existing doorbell, and you can receive push notifications on your phone when someone rings your doorbell. They can also begin recording upon detecting movement, making them ideal for monitoring the front of your home. What's also unique about these cameras is they do not require true video monitoring service. Up to five (5) can be added on a TC2 account, while those with ADC can only use one (1), unless they upgrade to a true video monitoring plan. Make sure to use one designed for TC2 or ADC depending on the interactive platform you are using. Please note that only the TC2 version can be used with the native SkyBell App. You cannot use the SkyBell App with the ADC models.

Model
Notes
Honeywell SkyBell DBCAM-TRIM
SkyBell Slimline Video Doorbell Camera for use w/ Total Connect 2.0 and SkyBell App. Up to 1080p recording quality. Uses WIFI connectivity. Available in Satin Nickel or Oil Rubbed Bronze.
Alarm.com ADC-VDB101

SkyBell Round Video Doorbell Camera for use w/ Alarm.com. Up to 1080p recording quality. Uses WIFI connectivity. Available in Satin Nickel or Oil Rubbed Bronze.
Alarm.com ADC-VDB105
SkyBell Slimline Video Doorbell Camera for use w/ Alarm.com. Up to 720p recording quality. Uses WIFI connectivity. Available in Satin Nickel or Oil Rubbed Bronze.


Alarm Keypads


Our next topic concerns alarm keypads. These devices serve as a secondary on-site controller for your system. Some of these are very basic devices that are only useful for minimal system arming and disarming and showing status. Others offer complete touchscreen displays and allow you to perform a robust selection of security and automation commands. The important thing to pay attention to here is compatibility. Each keypad listed here will only work with the system that it is intended to be used with.

Some common locations for secondary alarm system keypads are near back doors or garage doors, as a user might want to arm and disarm from those locations as they are coming and going, without needing to go all the way to their primary alarm panel. They are also popular for use in master bedrooms, as having a keypad by your bedside can be a convenient way to call for help in the event that you hear someone breaking into your home.

Here are the available keypads for our top system picks.

Model
Notes
Honeywell LKP500
LCD Keypad for Honeywell Lyric. Used for basic arming and disarming. Provides two lines of character display, with 16 characters per line. 32 characters total. Supports chime. Honeywell LKP500-DK Desk Stand is also available.
2GIG PAD1-345
Push-button Keypad for 2GIG Systems, including the 2GIG GC3e. Used for basic arming and disarming. Can also be used to trigger a panic during an emergency. No display screen. No chime or voice.
2GIG SP1-GC3
Touchscreen Keypad for 2GIG GC3e. Supports full suite of security and arming functions. Pairs w/ GC3e across WIFI or using a local Access Point (AP). Offers chime and voice. Mimics screen of GC3e once paired.
Qolsys IQ Remote
Touchscreen Keypad for Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. Supports full suite of security and automation functions. Pairs with IQ2+ across WIFI. Mimics screen of IQ2+ once paired.


Desk Mounts

Our final category is desk mounts for alarm panels. Using a desk mount allows you to position your panel upright on a sturdy desk or table, instead of wall-mounting or just laying it flat. These devices are often preferred by DIY users who don't want to drill holes in the wall. They are also great for renters who have restrictions on drilling holes.

Of our top security system picks, only the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus comes with a desk mount included. However, the included desk mount is relatively small and flimsy. There is actually a more robust desk mount for the IQ Panel 2 Plus, which is included on this list. Using a proper desk mount makes it possible to perform a complete system installation with nothing more than a screwdriver in many cases.

Here are desk mounts for our top security system picks.

Model
Notes
Honeywell LCP500-DK
Desk mount for Honeywell Lyric. Allows for positioning at 30° or 60°.
2GIG CP-DESK
Desk mount for 2GIG GC3e. Also compatible with other 2GIG Wireless Alarm Panels.
Qolsys IQ Stand
Desk mount for Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. Sturdier option than the standard table stand that comes included with the system.


Reach out to us!

This concludes our final buying guide for the 2020 holiday season. Make sure to check out our earlier buying guides on alarm panels, security sensors, environmental sensors, smart home automation, and our special guide for the Honeywell Home PROA7PLUS Panel. If you have any questions regarding compatibility, or if you are interested in starting new alarm monitoring service and you need help planning your system, please email our team at support@alarmgrid.com. We will help you every step of the way, from ordering the right equipment, to activating your alarm monitoring service. Our team is available to help from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. As always, 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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Alarm Grid is thrilled to announce that the brand-new Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 Doorbell Camera is now available! This is a state-of-the-art video doorbell camera that provides all the tools you need to monitor the front of your home and quickly and conveniently respond to anyone at your door.


There's so much to discuss when it comes to the Alarm.com ADC-VDB770. But a great place to start is with its recording capabilities. This fully functional doorbell camera has the type of specifications that you would expect out of a high-end security camera. It offers Full HD recording capabilities, with max resolution topping out at 1440 x 1920 pixels. Its High Dynamic Range (HDR) helps recordings appear deeper, while also allowing for superior color detail. And with an astounding Field of View (FoV) of 150° Vertical and 115° Horizontal, the doorbell camera will capture more activity in the front of your home so that you stay informed. It even has IR night vision of up to 15 feet for capturing high-quality and detailed footage in the dark.

What makes the Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 even better is that it supports the use of Alarm.com Video Analytics. If you haven't heard about Video Analytics for Alarm.com, then you really are missing out. You can use Video Analytics to set up special recording rules and alerts based upon the type of activity that is detected. For example, you can easily set up a customizable detection zone that will trigger a video recording when a vehicle pulls into your driveway, but not when a person is walking by on the sidewalk. You can even set up multiple detection zones for added customization. For the ADC-VDB770, the video analytics feature will have the following limitations: One (1) Video Analytics recording rule can be set up per VDB-770, only Ground Zone rules can be created, and only people can be detected. You will most likely want to set up the Ground Zone rule directly in front of your door to detect a person as they approach. This is the ideal resource you need for producing video evidence of a package thief right in the act. Please note that the ADC-VDB770 does not have a conventional motion sensor, and it relies upon Alarm.com Video Analytics for all motion-based triggers and detection.

Of course, you will also receive alerts from the Alarm.com Mobile App on your phone whenever someone rings the ADC-VDB770 Doorbell. You can then connect to a live full portrait video of the person at the door and communicate with them in real-time using two-way audio. This is perfect whether you are away at the office or downstairs in your basement and don't feel like walking all the way upstairs to answer the door. If it's your friend, then you will know to let them in. But if it's just a pesky solicitor, then you can tell them you're not interested without having to go all the way to the door. This is super convenient, and it can really make your day-to-day life easier. You can even use this feature to prevent a possible burglary by answering the doorbell and appearing to be home if a potential intruder tries to ring the doorbell while you are away. Many intruders will first ring the doorbell to see if anyone is home, so this can really come in handy!

The Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 connects with your local WIFI network for pairing with the Alarm.com servers. WPS pairing is supported to make the process easy. One important thing to note is that if you do not have full video monitoring service for your Alarm.com account (e.g. if you are signed up with one of Alarm Grid's Gold Plans), then you will be restricted to using only one (1) ADC-VDB770 device with 1,200 monthly clips and 1,200 total clips. These limits cannot be increased unless you upgrade to full video service (e.g. an Alarm Grid Platinum Plan). If you have full video service with an Alarm Grid Platinum Plan, then the ADC-VDB770 will simply count towards you camera limit and your regular clip limits. More information about all our monitoring plans can be found here. The doorbell camera is eligible for Alarm.com Video Analytics, regardless of whether it is used with a non-video plan or a full video surveillance plan.

The Alarm.com ADC-VDB770 is available for purchase on our site now! If you have any questions about this new doorbell camera, including compatibility requirements, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. This is also a good email to contact us at if you are interested in signing up for new monitoring service or upgrading your existing plan. We check our email 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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