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It's that time of the week for a video recap! We have been busy getting started with our holiday buying guides, so we haven't had quite as much time for new videos. But we still managed to put up a few new ones for you to check out. Let's take a quick look at the newest Alarm Grid videos!

Time Needed to Activate My Alarm Grid System

I provide you with an estimate for the amount of time it will take to activate your new security system for alarm monitoring service. Our activation slots are scheduled for one hour in length, and the typical activation is completed in around 30 minutes. You can help us make your activation go smoothly by having your system installed with sensors programmed, being on-site and ready to work with your system, knowing the important system codes beforehand, and listening carefully to your activator.

Number of Zones On a Wireless System Cannot be Increased

I explain how the number of available zones on a wireless alarm panel cannot be increased. A wireless system has built-in logic, and the number of zones it can support is based on its internal firmware. There is no way to increase this limit, and once you run out of zones, you would need to get an entirely new system to add more. The good news with wireless systems is that all system zones are usually readily accessible right out of the box, with no extra hardware being needed. You just need to get compatible wireless sensors.

Honeywell Lyric System & Garage Door Control

Jarrett explains how the Honeywell Lyric can be set up for garage door control. To do this, you must get a Honeywell 5877 Relay. This unit will wire into your compatible garage door controller. Remember that MyQ Garage Door Controllers are not compatible. You can enroll the 5877 with your Lyric, and then the Lyric will communicate with the 5877 to control the garage door. You must also get a Honeywell 5822T to monitor the Open/Close status of the garage door. This setup will also allow for garage door control through Total Connect 2.0.

Activating a System for Monitoring with Alarm Grid

Jarrett discusses the importance of activating a security system for alarm monitoring service. The user will need to choose an alarm monitoring plan for their system. This will determine how the system communicates (IP, cellular, or both), whether the user has coverage from a central station, and what remote functions will be available for the user through an interactive platform like Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. Activating a system for central station service is the only way to get a certificate of alarm (CoA) for an insurance discount.

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


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

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

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

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

Honeywell Lyric Controller

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lyric is for you if:

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

Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus

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

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

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

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

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

The IQ Panel 2 Plus is for you if:

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

2GIG GC3e

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

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

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

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

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

The GC3e is for you if:

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

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

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Just last month, we announced that we were offering the Linear GD00Z-7 Z-Wave Plus Garage Door Controller. Well that product was short-lived, as it has already been discontinued and replaced by the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC Z-Wave Plus Garage Door Controller, which is now available on our site.

The GoControl and Linear brands are often used interchangeably. They are both used to identify automation offerings from Nortek Control, which is also the parent company of 2GIG. Whether the company decides to brand a product as GoControl or Linear usually isn't very important, as they basically represent the same product lineups from Nortek Control.

As you may recall, the various smart garage door controllers offered from Nortek through the years have usually been sold under the Linear banner. Some of these products include the Linear GD00Z-4, the Linear GD00Z-5 and, of course, the Linear GD00Z-7 that we mentioned earlier. From what we can tell, the introduction of the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC was only done to rebrand the product as GoControl instead of Linear. We say that because, from what we can tell, the Linear GD00Z-7 and GoControl GD00Z-8-GC are virtually identical, other than the name written across the front.

This isn't a bad thing though, as the Linear GD00Z-7 was an excellent product. All of the same great features return for the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC. It is a Z-Wave Plus garage door controller that is wired to your garage door motor. By pairing the device with your Z-Wave hub, you can open and close your garage door and check its current status remotely. This is done by using a compatible interactive automation platform for the Z-Wave controller, such as Alarm.com. You can also include it with smart scenes for automatic operation.

Just like its predecessors, the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC cannot check the open/close status of the garage door on its own. Instead, it interfaces with a tilt sensor that is installed on top of the garage door. This tilt sensor will relay status to the GD00Z-8-GC so that it knows whether the garage door is opened or closed. This tilt sensor comes included with the product, so you do not need to purchase one separately.

An exception to the above rule is if you wish to have the garage door monitored by your burglar alarm system. The tilt sensor that comes included only conveys the garage door status to the GD00Z-8-GC, not to the alarm panel being used. So, if you want to monitor the state of the garage door as a part of your alarm system, then you will need to purchase a separate, compatible garage door sensor.

Also returning to the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC is the ability to utilize the S2 Security Protocol with Z-Wave Plus controllers that support S2. This security suite offers advanced levels of protection to keep your automation equipment safe. We recently did a great post on the S2 Security Protocol, which you can check out here. Keep in mind that the same compatibility restrictions of the older Linear and GoControl Garage Door Controllers also apply to the GD00Z-8-GC. This means that you cannot interface the unit with the Honeywell Lyric or the Honeywell LYNX Touch Panels. Make sure to check compatibility before purchasing.

If you want to check compatibility, or if you have any other questions about the GoControl GD00Z-8-GC2 or monitoring service in general, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We will check your email at our earliest convenience and reply back as soon as possible. Remember that our business hours for checking email run from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Our video team had a decent time last week, as five (5) new videos were released. This time, the videos feature myself and Jarrett. As always, we hope that you find them to be helpful, informative, and interesting. Remember, we make these videos to help you! Let's check out the videos.

Finding the Date Code On the FF345

I show you how to find the date code on the Encore FF345. The FF345 is a listening module for smoke detectors and CO detectors that alerts the system upon hearing the unique sound of an activated smoke detector or carbon monoxide sensor. The device is designed to be used with 2GIG Panels and Honeywell Panels. However, FF345 units from a certain batch had an error that prevented them from working with Honeywell Systems. Checking the date code is useful for determining if your unit is affected.


Cameras that Work w/ the Lyric and Total Connect

Jarrett explains which security cameras are compatible with the Honeywell Lyric and the Total Connect 2.0 platform. The only cameras that can work with TC2 are Honeywell IP Cameras. Of these cameras, only the legacy models that are no longer sold are able to interface with the Lyric for live-streaming on the panel. None of the current Honeywell HD Cameras can be streamed on the Lyric. One important note about the legacy IP cameras from Honeywell is that they had to be online to receive a critical firmware update to continue being used to this day.


The Lyric Built-In Camera Disarm Pictures Cannot be Used With HomeKit

Jarrett explains how the disarm photos that are taken using the front camera on the Honeywell Lyric will not appear on the Apple HomeKit platform. While there is a nice integration between the Lyric and HomeKit, it is only used for automation purposes and a very limited selection of security functions. Disarm photos are considered to be a security function, and they will not appear in HomeKit. The only platform that allows you to view disarm photos taken by the Lyric is Total Connect 2.0.


Night Stay On Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus

I explain how there is no Night Stay option for a Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. Night Stay is a special type of Arm Stay. Normally, when you Arm Stay, interior zones are automatically bypassed. But when you Night Stay, motion sensors that are designated for Arm Night will remain active, instead of being bypassed. The feature is available on most Honeywell Panels, but it is not supported on the IQ2+. But there is an okay workaround for the IQ2+ that involves using specific Sensor Groups for programmed motion sensors that you want to remain active when Arming Stay.


Number of Zones On a Hardwired System Cannot be Increased

I explain why the number of zones on a hardwired alarm panel cannot be increased. The maximum number of zones that a system can support is built into its logic, and it cannot be increased. For a wired panel, only the on-board zones are initially accessible. You will need to add one or more wired expansion modules and/or a wireless receiver to open up the other zones. This will allow sensors to connect with the zones and interface with the system.

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If you are a Honeywell VISTA System user, then you have likely heard about the Honeywell Home Tuxedo Keypad. The Tuxedo serves as a touchscreen keypad controller, and also as a Z-Wave Plus hub. But one limitation for the unit is that it cannot be configured as a secondary Z-Wave controller.


Setting up a hub as a secondary Z-Wave controller involves pairing it with a separate Z-Wave hub, which will serve as the primary. When you do this, all Z-Wave devices paired with the primary controller will be automatically pushed over to the secondary, as long as they are compatible. These devices will also remain on the primary controller, meaning that you can operate them from both hubs.

If you decide to use this type of setup, it is advised that you clear all Z-Wave devices enrolled with the secondary controller, and instead enroll them with the primary controller beforehand. Then perform the process of setting up the secondary controller to the primary. This will ensure that all of the Z-Wave devices you want to use are available on both controllers.

Remember, Z-Wave devices paired with the secondary controller will not be pushed over to the primary. When you get a new Z-Wave device, you must enroll it at the primary Z-Wave controller, not the secondary. In most cases, Honeywell Z-Wave Hubs are used as secondary controllers, and Z-Wave devices paired directly with the primary controller are then shared with the Honeywell Z-Wave Controller. One of the most common primary Z-Wave hubs to use for this type of setup is Samsung SmartThings. Other popular third party Z-Wave hubs should work just as well.

Being able to set up a Z-Wave hub as a secondary controller, is technically one of the more advanced Z-Wave functions that you would ever try to perform on a smart home automation network. But while it is quite advanced, it is also very standard. It is somewhat unusual to encounter a Z-Wave automation controller with no primary and secondary configuration options. But that's exactly the case with the Honeywell Home Tuxedo. You can't set it as a secondary Z-Wave controller, which is a big letdown for anyone who wants to use the device in conjunction with a different Z-Wave hub, such as Samsung SmartThings.

According to Resideo, the ability to set the Tuxedo as a secondary Z-Wave controller will come from a future firmware update. At this time, we do not have any estimate for when such a firmware update would be made available. If you want to learn more about firmware updates for a Tuxedo Keypad, please refer to this FAQ.

However, we can speculate that once the feature is available, you will be able to configure Tuxedo primary/secondary options by starting from the main keypad screen, and choosing the Devices option, followed by the Z-Wave Setup button at the bottom of the screen, and then selecting More in the lower-right corner. If you do that now, you will notice that the "Learn Mode" option currently does not exist.


Remember to stay tuned to our blog for future updates on the Honeywell Home Tuxedo. We will be sure to let you know about any new features made available for the keypad. If you have any questions about the Tuxedo or Z-Wave home automation, please feel free to email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email from 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Network security is more important than ever, as hackers constantly strive to expose vulnerabilities and steal personal information. If your alarm system is associated with an interactive platform, then a flaw in network security could give an intruder easy access to your home or business.


The key to protecting your network and your personal information is to have multiple layers of security in place. You shouldn't just rely on one single security method, even if that one method is known for being very secure. If a vulnerability or an opening is ever exposed within that method's framework, then you could be left vulnerable.

An example of this can be seen in a vulnerability that was discovered in SonicWall Network Security Appliance (NSA) devices last month. This left more than 800,000 VPN appliances vulnerable. A patch has since been applied to these affected SonicWall devices, but that doesn't change the fact that many users were running unsecured VPNs for quite some time. Another example occurred last September, when it was found that FortiGate VPNs are vulnerable to Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attacks when used in their default configuration.

This doesn't mean that using a VPN is a bad idea. Having a VPN in place is a great way to protect your network and your personal information. But it's important to understand that a VPN should be one of multiple protection layers keeping you safe. That way, even if your VPN fails, you will still have other mechanisms providing protection.

Network vulnerabilities can have severe consequences. Hackers can use vulnerabilities to access your personal information, including your passwords, credit card info, browsing history, and virtually all other data that you have shared with your network. In the context of a monitored security system, this can include information associated with an interactive service platform, such as Total Connect 2.0 or Alarm.com. Keep in mind that if an intruder accesses your TC2 or ADC account, they can disarm your system at-will and freely access your home or business. Having access to TC2 or ADC is basically the same as having a system code!

Fortunately, there are multiple security provisions you can set up to protect yourself. A strong VPN is a nice start. You should also set up firewalls as an added layer of security. And of course, always use secure, difficult-to-guess passwords, and never share them across different websites. You may also want to consider using two-factor authentication when available. Just yesterday, we made a post about two-factor authentication on Alarm.com. That is also an excellent way to keep your account protected.

Remember, protecting your network is your responsibility. Nobody else will do it for you. But we're here to help you. If you're monitored with Alarm Grid, feel free to reach out to us for more tips on keeping your private data safe. You may also contact us if you are interested in starting new monitoring service. Emailing our team at support@alarmgrid.com is the best way to get a prompt response. Keep in mind that we check our email from 9am to 8pm M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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We have learned that Alarm.com now allows users to receive two-factor authentication (2FA) links via email when logging into the Alarm.com website. This is in addition to the two-factor authentication via text message when accessing the Alarm.com platform. You can set up the feature in ADC.


When two-factor authentication is enabled for your Alarm.com account, your login process will have an added layer of security. Upon logging into your Alarm.com account via the website or mobile app on a device that you haven't saved, you will need to verify yourself by providing a secret access code. You will get this code via text message or email, depending upon how you have set up the 2FA feature. In other words, accessing your Alarm.com account on a new device will require your username, password, and access to either your phone or email. This is great for keeping your Alarm.com account as secure as possible.

Remember, 2FA will only be required when you access Alarm.com from a new device. For example, if you frequently access Alarm.com using the same web browser on your computer, and you tell Alarm.com that the device can be safely trusted, then you will only need to perform 2FA the first time you login, as well as anytime you login after clearing your cookies. Some users are hesitant to enable 2FA, because they don't want to have to go through the inconvenience of entering a secret code every time. Fortunately, that isn't a concern, as Alarm.com can remember your usual devices and skip the process for these trusted devices. You can also tell Alarm.com to trust your phone so that you will only need to perform 2FA if you get a new phone or if you are using a different mobile device than usual to access your account. Whenever you access Alarm.com through a new device, after completing the 2FA process, Alarm.com will ask you if you want to save that device so that you do not have to complete 2FA every time. This protects your account, while still maximizing convenience.

If you want to enable two-factor authentication for your Alarm.com account, start by logging into the Alarm.com website. Choose Settings on the left-hand side of the screen, then choose Login Information, and then Two-Factor Authentication. Then set up the feature through email address or text message by following the on-screen prompts. If you have questions, email us at support@alarmgrid.com. This email is also great if you are interested in starting new monitoring service for access to Alarm.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Security, Sales, & Integration recently published an article outlining the 3G Sunset and the importance of upgrading to LTE. One question we are often asked is how long LTE networks will be kept in-service. Thanks to this informative article from SSI, we now have a pretty good estimate.


According to the information presented in the article, LTE networks are expected to have a lifespan that extends through at least the mid-2030s, if not longer. We have said many times before that LTE networks should be kept in service well into the very distant future, and now we have somewhat of a more precise timeline. It is also important to note that we understand this "mid-2030s" estimate to be on the conservative side. There is a good chance that the LTE networks might be supported even beyond that point in time. But given that we are in the year 2020, and have a "mid-2030s" estimate for the LTE lifespan, we can say that anyone who purchases an LTE communicator for their security system at this point in time should expect it to work for at least the next 15 years.

We need to stress here that this is nothing official. This is just information being published in an SSI article. This is not an official statement from a cellular service provider, and we advise taking it with a grain of salt. But given our understanding on the subject, this mid-2030s estimate strikes us as legitimate. The article also states that all 3G cellular networks will be shut down no later than December 31, 2022. This also lines up with what we have been hearing. At the time of this writing in late October 2020, we are slightly more than two (2) years away from the final end of 3G. We have said it many times before, and we will say it again. You need to upgrade to LTE as soon as possible to avoid a loss of monitoring service.

On that note, it's also fair for us to begin thinking about what lies beyond LTE. It's no secret that 5G networks are being rolled out across the country, and they will soon become the norm for cellular communication. At this time, we have not heard of any alarm manufacturer offering a 5G communicator, though we wouldn't be surprised for it to happen soon. But it's not a sure thing that a 5G communicator would be available before the end of 3G. That is why we are pushing so hard for users to make the upgrade to LTE. We don't want any of our monitored customers to be left behind in the transition. While the eventual promise of 5G might seem exciting and flashy, the important thing here is keeping your security system working and having your home or business stay protected. And from what we can tell, LTE will provide exactly that until at least the mid-2030s, possibly even beyond that.

If you are interested in getting starte with alarm monitoring service, or if you are needing to upgrade your existing system to LTE, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. 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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We actually missed this about a month ago, but it appears Alarm.com has updated their website camera video feed viewer to use native browser streaming. This replaces the old Adobe Flash video viewer. This change does not come as a surprise, as Adobe Flash will soon reach its end of life.


Being able to live-stream the video feed for Alarm.com Security Cameras is one of the most important features of these devices. This can be done using the Alarm.com website or the mobile app. The change being discussed here affects streaming through a web browser and the Alarm.com website. Before, it was only possible to stream Alarm.com Cameras on the website by using the Adobe Flash video viewer. The update provides support for native browser streaming. This will make it easier for most viewers to access their camera feeds.

With Adobe Flash reaching its end of life by the end of the year, this update was basically a no-brainer for Alarm.com. Users will still have the ability to view their cameras using Adobe Flash until the end of the year. At that point, only native browser streaming will be supported for camera streaming through the Alarm.com website. Native browser streaming is easier to maintain, and it does not require users to install and update a Flash plug-in. Native browser streaming support was actually made available towards the end of September, but we never covered the news in our blog prior to now.

When you access your Alarm.com account through the website, the Video section will appear on the left if Video Surveillance has been added to your account. By clicking on this section then Live Video, you will be able to choose a camera for streaming. In the upper-right corner there will be a toggle bar for you to enable or disable the "New Viewer. When the bar is blue, the New Viewer is enabled, and native browser streaming will be used. This is the default option. You can click the toggle bar to turn off the New Viewer and use Adobe Flash streaming. This will only be available until the end of the year. After that, no Flash streaming will be available.


Please note that the New Viewer and native browser streaming only allows the live video stream to be maintained for a few minutes at a time. After that, you will get a message that the stream has "timed out". You will need to refresh the stream to resume viewing. This is normal, and it's just a limitation that comes with Alarm.com Camera streaming. Simply click the "Play" button that appears on the screen to refresh the stream and continue watching.

Also note that while the camera viewer now has native browser streaming available, the streaming video recorder (SVR) timeline page still uses Adobe Flash. Native browser streaming is not yet available for SVR functions on the Alarm.com website. We expect that to change in the near future, as Alarm.com continues to make their transition away from Flash. We do not have an ETA on when that will become available, but we will be sure to provide an update once we learn more.

If you have any questions about Alarm.com Camera streaming, or if you are interested in monitoring service to gain access to Alarm.com, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. Remember that Alarm Grid customers need either a Platinum Level Plan or a Video-Only Plan to gain access to Alarm.com for camera streaming. Our team is happy to address any questions or concerns you may have via email. We check our email during our usual business hours of 9am to 8pm ET M-F. We look forward to hearing from you!

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If you have been keeping up with Z-Wave home automation lately, then you have likely at least heard about the S2 Security Protocol. The security suite offers an advanced level of protection to keep smart home devices safe. Today, we're checking out the S2 Protocol to learn more about it.


Before we get into the specifics of Security 2 (S2), it is important to understand which Z-Wave setups will support it. In order to achieve a proper S2 setup, the Z-Wave controller and the paired device itself must both support the S2 Protocol. If either end is not S2-compatible, then the protocol will not be used. If you pair a non-S2 device with a controller that supports S2, then the device will simply pair using the S0 Protocol instead. Likewise if you have a hub that does not support S2, then none of the devices on the network will use S2, including those that technically are capable of supporting the protocol. Not to worry, if you do have an S2-compatible controller, then it is certainly possible to have a mixture of S2 and S0 devices on the same Z-Wave network.

The S2 Security Protocol is optional for 500-Series Z-Wave Plus devices and hubs. In other words, some 500-Series Z-Wave Plus smart home devices and controllers will support S2, while others will not. You need to check the specifications for the exact device and hub that you are working with to see if it is supported. In some cases, it may be possible to perform an over-the-air (OTA) update for a 500-Series accessory or controller so that it can support the S2 protocol, even if it did not previously. An example of this is when you upgrade the Z-Wave firmware on the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus to Version 6.81.03. That is the first Z-Wave firmware version for the system that supports S2. Older versions do not. The panel firmware should be on version 2.5.3 or higher when using S2.

But for 700-Series Z-Wave Plus V2 equipment, support for S2 is required. In order for a device or hub to be certified as 700-Series by the Z-Wave Alliance, it must support the S2 Protocol. Therefore, if you see equipment listed as 700-Series, then you will know for certain that the technology is supported. As of October 2020, we have not seen many Z-Wave Plus V2 controllers or devices available. One 700-Series device that is available now is the 2GIG STZ-1 Thermostat. We hope that more 700-Series equipment will be hitting the market soon.

Looking at what S2 actually entails, you should understand that it isn't just one aspect or factor that makes the protocol what it is. There are many different components coming together to create a single protocol that is extremely secure. But perhaps the single most crucial aspect of S2 is that it is readily built into the Z-Wave framework for use by software developers. This makes it very easy for a developer to implement the technology into any given Z-Wave Plus device. Prior to the introduction of S2, there was no security built into the Z-Wave framework. The only option for a developer was to implement their own security protocol, and this was completely optional. Many develops would elect not to provide any security and just leave automation devices vulnerable. But when a device is listed as S2, you can be absolutely certain that it is meeting an advanced standard of security and protection.

Just like many other secure protocols, S2 makes use of an asymmetric key exchange, which at the simplest level involves a public key and a private key. Any command can be encrypted using the public key, but only the specific private key can unlock it. This ever-crucial private key is protected using Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) technology. Thanks to this advanced method, the task of deciphering the key is all but impossible. Additionally, different devices on the same network can be separated into different groups. Each device group can be assigned its own set of encryption keys. Often, devices that require greater security, such as door locks, are included with more secure groups that also require authentication during the network inclusion process. Meanwhile, the support of a highly secure TLS 1.1 Tunnel for all Z-Wave Over IP (Z/IP) traffic removes almost any possibility of cloud vulnerability. For the record, the S2 Protocol is rated at 128-bit AES in terms of overall security level.

One other big factor for the S2 Protocol is that it makes use of a single-frame transmission, which is a massive improvement over the three-frame transmission used by the S0 Protocol. Simply put, single-frame transmission is significantly more efficient than three-frame transmission. The improvement in efficiency allows for extended battery life, enhanced reliability, and a huge cut-down on latency. This means that a device using S2 technology will require less maintenance, including fewer battery changes. It will provide more consistent performance, and experience shorter operation delays. This alone makes S2 vital for anyone looking to achieve the most efficient automation network possible.

Understanding this technology in advanced detail may seem a bit daunting. But you just need to know that S2 makes Z-Wave home automation more secure, faster, and more efficient than ever before. If you have any further questions about S2, or if you want some tips for getting started with home automation, please email us at support@alarmgrid.com. We check our email from 9am to 8pm Eastern Time M-F. Also remember to check our monitoring page if you are interested in learning more about the monitoring services we offer. We look forward to hearing from you!

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