How Do I Replace My Existing Wired Panel With the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F?

You can replace an existing wired panel with the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F by marking all zone wires to the existing panel. Next, carefully move the zone wires from the original panel to the Hardwire 16-F. Finally, enroll the module and zones with the panel, and test to be sure that they work.

NOTE: In order to support all features of the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F, including automatic 2-wire smoke reset, as well as siren activation and deactivation, the panel must have an RF PIC version of 11.1.4.G2 or Higher. To find the RF PIC Version, from the Home screen, swipe down from the top center, then select Settings > Advanced Settings > Enter Installer or Dealer code (1111 or 2222 by default) > About. Select "Hardware", and scroll down to see the RF PIC version.

When deciding to replace an existing wired alarm panel with a wireless all-in-one model, there is scarcely a module more helpful than a wired to wireless converter. There have been several variations on these modules provided by different manufacturers. But in this FAQ, we will concentrate on the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F. It is the only converter module as of August 2019 that allows you to use 2-wire smoke detectors. This means that the only type of wired sensor that cannot be used with this module is a wired carbon monoxide detector. All other types of wired sensors can be used. The wired carbon monoxide detectors can be replaced by wireless models.

All zones that will be connected to the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F will require the use of a 4.7K Ohm resistor. The proper resistors are included with the module. This means that if existing resistors are already in place, and they do not have a value of 4.7K Ohms, they will need to be removed and replaced with the resistors that come with the Hardwire 16-F. If the existing resistors are at the panel, this will not be difficult. But if they are at the end of the zone wiring where they are supposed to be, then the process becomes a bit harder. For this reason, this is something you should verify before you commit to using the Hardwire 16-F. If your system is monitored, be sure to contact the monitoring station or your alarm dealer and put your system on test before you begin working on the system. This will prevent possible false alarm dispatch.

UPDATE: In week 40 of 2019, Qolsys upgraded the Hardwire 16-F to support end-of-line resistor learning for resistor values ranging from 1k to 10k. This is available for every zone on the module, with the exception of Zone 16, which must always use a 4.7k resistor. For more information on EOLR learning for the Hardwire 16-F, please see this FAQ. If you want to check and see if your Hardwire 16-F unit supports EOLR learning, then please review this other FAQ.

Prepare the Panel

Once the question of resistors and carbon monoxide detectors has been sorted out, you're ready to begin. The first step is to get familiar with the existing panel and its hardwired zones. There should be a wiring diagram stuck to the inside of the alarm panel's metal enclosure, sometimes referred to as a can. If the diagram is missing, perform a search by the panel's model number and find the diagram online. Once you have it, study it to get an idea of which of the panel's screw terminals represent which of its zones. In many cases, you may not be familiar with the panel's zone layout. Maybe you have just moved into the house, and one of your first projects is updating the security system. If this is the case, one of the best things you can do is walk the system.

Walking the system is something that is most easily done with at least two people. One person stands at an alarm keypad, while the other person, preferably the person who will be doing the wiring work, walks around the house with a pad and pencil. Go to any area or opening that has a security sensor mounted. Open and close each door and window, and walk in front of each motion detector. If you have glass break sensors, carry a ring of keys with you. To activate the glass break sensors, tap the sensor then immediately jiggle the keys together in front of it. This is usually enough to cause a fault condition. Have the person at the keypad call out the zone numbers, and any descriptions they see as you fault each device. Write each one down as you go along. This will give you a list of zone numbers and descriptions to compare against the wiring diagram provided inside the alarm panel. It will also tell you if there are any zones that are not functioning properly.

Once you have a complete list of every device that exists within the system, come back to the panel. Compare your list with the wiring diagram. Don't be surprised to find that multiple devices are connected to a single zone input. This is often done out of necessity or convenience. Organize the list based on zone numbers. Carefully mark each wire at the panel to show its zone number. Most panels that support hardwired zones either require or provide an option for using resistors. Many installers choose to install the End-of-Line-Resistor (EOLR) at the panel screw terminals, instead of at the end of the zone where it should be. If that's the case with your panel, it will make your job easier. But please be aware that this is not the recommended wiring. For more information about resistors and how and why they are used, read this helpful FAQ.

In addition to the 16 zones supported by the Hardwire 16-F, a Tamper zone is also provided. This tamper zone is intended for use on those panels that have a Normally Closed tamper switch attached to the cover of the metal panel enclosure. If the cover is opened, the tamper zone is faulted. If your panel has one of these tamper contacts, wire it to the zone marked TAMPER (right next to the Zone 1 terminals on the Hardwire 16-F). If your panel does not have a cover tamper contact, you can either add one, or you can strap a short piece of wire across the tamper terminals on the module. The tamper zone is Normally Closed and is the only zone that does not use a resistor on the Hardwire 16-F. This zone can not be disabled, so if you don't intend to use it, you MUST strap it out.

In addition to zone wiring, powered devices such as motions and glass break detectors will also have a positive (+) and negative (-) power wire. The Qolsys Hardwire 16-F has an auxiliary power output providing 12 Volts DC and 500 mA of current that is suitable for powering these devices. All powered devices, with the exception of 2-wire smokes, will have their power wires moved to these auxiliary terminals. You can see this in the diagram shown below:

Prepare the Module

Once the panel has been prepared to have all its wired zones moved to the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F, it's time to get the module ready for installation. The way that the Hardwire 16-F is made, it is assumed that the old wired panel will be removed from its metal enclosure, and the Hardwire 16-F will be installed in its place. This makes sense because all the original zone wires already come into the old alarm panel cabinet. In addition, it should also be mounted near a power outlet. The old transformer and its wires can be removed and replaced by the Hardwire 16-F transformer, which comes with its own pre-made wire. Connect the wires from the transformer to the +16.0V and GND terminals on the Hardwire 16-F. This module uses a DC transformer, so make certain you observe proper polarity when connecting the transformer wires to the module. The wire with the dashed line is positive. Do not power up the module at this time!

Next comes the battery. Because the Hardwire 16-F has its own connection to AC power, it requires its own backup battery. This is another reason installing it in the old alarm panel can makes sense. The cabinet will be large enough to securely house the battery. The specifications for the Hardwire 16-F call for a 12Volt DC, up to 5 Amp Hour (Max) battery. This is not included with the module. The UltraTech 1240 is the 4.5 Amp Hour sealed lead-acid battery that Alarm Grid recommends for this purpose, assuming you need to purchase a battery. It is possible that the battery used by the old panel is still good, and that it meets the specifications for the Hardwire 16-F. If that's the case, by all means, use it. It is not recommended to install a battery with a larger Amp Hour capacity than the maximum specified by the manufacturer.

You may be wondering why it is recommended to install a transmitter inside a metal enclosure. The Hardwire 16-F comes with an antenna. It screws into a terminal at the top of the module (see diagram above). As long as this antenna is outside the metal enclosure, the Hardwire 16-F should be able to get its signals to the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus. Obstructions within the environment such as large metal objects, metal duct work, large appliances, or mirrors can affect wireless range. Be sure to thoroughly test the transmission path once the Hardwire 16-F installation is complete.

Metal enclosure shown with the Hardwire 16-F antenna sticking through the top:

Prepare the Swap

Power the original panel completely down by disconnecting the leads from the battery, and unplugging the transformer. Disconnect all the zone wires that were marked when you prepared the panel initially. Be sure to also disconnect any power wires associated with motion detectors or glass break detectors. These power wires may be twisted together with power wires from keypads and other types of modules. You will need to sort them out. It should be relatively easy. The power wires for zones, which are usually black and red, should be within the same wire sheath as the two wires that connect to the zone terminals. These zone wires may be green and yellow, or green and white. Wires for keypads and other modules should all connect to the keypad or expansion bus, which is usually three (3) or four (4) terminals together in a row. You will not be using any of these keypads or expansion modules.

The existing panel may have a wired siren connected. It is possible you may be able to use this siren with the Hardwire 16-F. In order to determine this, you will need to know how much current the existing siren draws. To find this out, figure out how many sirens are installed, and the model number of the siren(s). From there, information on the amount of current drawn can be found online. For now, just mark the wires as siren wires and disconnect them.

After disconnecting the zone and siren wires, proceed to disconnect any remaining wires from the original panel. You can twist these wires together and mark them as unused. Any old keypads or expansion modules that were connected to the original panel will no longer be used once you switch to the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus and the Hardwire 16-F. Since the wires are already run, you can still leave them in place. You never know when they may come in handy at a later time.

The original panel can now be removed from the metal enclosure. Remove the screws that are holding it in place, and pull it from the can. Properly dispose of it through recycling. Whenever possible, the Hardwire 16-F should be mounted vertically with the antenna terminal at the top, as shown in the wiring diagram above. The printed circuit board for the Hardwire 16-F comes mounted inside a white plastic enclosure. This entire enclosure can be mounted inside the original panel's can. When the module is mounted inside a metal enclosure with a secured lid, there is no need to use the white plastic cover.

At this point, the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F should still be powered down. Carefully connect each pair of zone wires to an individual zone input on the Hardwire 16-F. Another unique feature of this module is that every zone has its own Zone + and Zone - terminal. No zone has to share a negative terminal with another zone. For this reason, it makes no difference whether you connect the 4.7K Ohm resistor to the positive or the negative terminal. As discussed before, each zone requires a resistor of this value. For zones with Normally Closed contacts, the resistor will connect in series. This applies to most burglary devices, including door and window contacts, motion detectors, glass break detectors, etc.

Series wiring shown. In Series wiring, the resistor will connect with only one side of the zone:

Some special applications may call for a burglary device to be wired Normally Open. Additionally, Smoke Detectors, which are considered Life-Safety devices, must be wired Normally Open. Any Normally Open devices must have their 4.7K Ohm resistor connected in parallel. The Qolsys Hardwire 16-F can support up to ten (10) 2-wire Smoke devices on Zone 16. The smoke detector models that are supported are the System Sensor 2W-B, 2WT-B, and 2WTA-B. Smoke detector models should not be mixed.

Parallel wiring shown. In Parallel wiring, the resistor will connect with both sides of the zone:

Once all zone wires have been connected properly with the 4.7K Ohm resistors, all power wires for powered devices have been connected to the Aux Power output, and the 2-wire smoke zone has been connected with the resistor in parallel, it's time to power up the module.

For full details on using the Hardwire 16-F siren output, read this helpful FAQ. It is recommended that you complete all wiring to the module before the initial power-up. Connect both battery wires from the module to the battery, making sure to observe proper polarity. Finally, power up the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F by plugging in the provided transformer.

Program and Test

First, pair the module with the Qolsys IQ Panel 2. Pairing the Hardwire 16-F to the alarm panel allows the panel to supervise the tamper on the Hardwire 16-F. It also allows the panel to control when the siren output is active. And it allows the panel to reset the 2-wire smoke zone after a fire alarm. To pair the module, follow these steps:

  1. Start EOL learn. Press and hold the EOL LEARN button on the module for one (1) to two (2) seconds. All zone LEDs should flash, and then turn off. Any zone that doesn't have a 4.7K Ohm resistor connected, or that the module can't see because the zone is open, will remain lit. The EOL CAL LED will light and stay lit. This indicates the Hardwire 16-F is in "Auto-Learn" mode.
  2. Start panel learn mode. On the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, swipe down from the top center, go to Settings > Advanced Settings > Enter the Installer or Dealer Code (1111 or 2222 by default) > Installation > Devices > Security Sensors > Auto Learn Sensor. The panel is now in learn mode.
  3. Learn in the module. Fault the Hardwire 16-F by either opening and closing the lid of the metal enclosure (if a tamper contact exists), or by loosening one side of the tamper circuit and pulling the wire loose to open it, and then returning the wire to normal and tightening it back down.
  4. Program the zone. On the Qolsys IQ Panel 2 Plus, accept the serial number learned in from the Hardwire 16-F. The Sensor Type should be "Hardwire Translator", and the Sensor Group should be "13-Takeover". By default, the Sensor Name will be Hardwire Translator, but this can be changed if desired. Chime Type is None, Voice Prompts are Off, and Source should be S-Line.

Once the Hardwire 16-F has been paired with the panel, then zones 1 - 16 also need to be paired. Following the same steps as shown above, activate each zone connected to the Hardwire 16-F. Once the appropriate serial number has been learned, accept the serial number by pressing OK on the panel touchscreen. Then program the parameters for each zone. Every zone will learn in as a Door/Window by default, so be sure to make the appropriate changes for each one. As each zone is tripped, its zone LED will come on and stay on until you exit the "Auto Learn" mode on the Hardwire 16-F. This will help you keep track of which zones have been paired.

To pair the 2-wire smoke zone with the panel, press and release the test switch on one of the smokes connected to the Hardwire 16-F. The appropriate serial number for that zone should appear on the panel. Program the remainder of the zone appropriately for a smoke detector zone. Sensor Type should be Smoke Detector, and Sensor Group should be 26-Smoke-Heat. Sensor Name is completely customizable, and Source should be S-Line. Once all zones have been programmed into the Qolsys IQ Panel 2, press the EOL LEARN button again on the Hardwire 16-F to exit "Auto Learn" mode. The EOL CAL LED will go OFF. Finally, press the Home icon at the bottom of the panel screen to return to the home page.

The final step in this process is walk testing all sensors connected to the Qolsys Hardwire 16-F. With your system still on test with the monitoring station, arm your system, and activate every security point. Make sure that you see an alarm on every point. To properly test the smoke detectors, you should perform a functional test. This means to either use canned smoke to set off the smoke detectors, or use a smoldering cotton ball or a punk stick to set them off. Once all alarms have been tested and the system has been silenced and reset, contact the monitoring station to verify that all alarms you have seen on the alarm panel were also received by the monitoring station. Once you have verified alarms received, then you have completed your testing and you can request that the system be taken off test mode.

If you are an Alarm Grid monitored customer, then you can contact us at if you need further help completing this process. We will provide technical support for any step you have trouble with.

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