How Do I Upgrade a Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE to Use LTE?
You can upgrade a Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE to use LTE by adding an LTE communicator and activating it for monitoring service. The VISTA-21iPLTE supports an exclusive plug-in LTE communicator called the Honeywell LTE-21V, which makes it easy to connect the system to a cellular network.
The Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE is a hardwired alarm panel that serves as the successor to the Honeywell VISTA-21iP. Just like its predecessor, the Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE includes a built-in IP communicator for connecting with the AlarmNet Servers. But if you want to upgrade the system to use cellular, then you will need to add a cellular communicator to the system. Luckily, the VISTA-21iPLTE supports the Honeywell LTE-21V, which is a convenient plug-in cellular communicator. The good thing about this communicator is that you will not need to disable the system's internal IP communicator to use it. By adding the Honeywell LTE-21V to the VISTA-21iPLTE, the system can utilize dual-path connectivity with both internet and cellular. If you have an existing VISTA-21iP Panel or any other VISTA P-Series System besides the VISTA-21iPLTE, then we recommend checking out this FAQ instead.
One of the best aspects of activating a Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE System for monitoring service and connecting it with the AlarmNet360 Servers is that you will also be able to control the panel remotely through Total Connect 2.0. If you aren't familiar with Total Connect 2.0, it is an interactive monitoring and automation platform that can be accessed using a web browser or through a mobile app on your smartphone. It makes it very easy to control your security system while you are away. By accessing TC2, you can arm and disarm your system, check its current status, control Z-Wave devices (Z-Wave controller required), and so much more. Check and make sure that the monitoring plan you choose includes access to Total Connect 2.0.
Like any alarm system, upgrading your Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE to use cellular communication is very important. While you can certainly use the system for IP-only monitoring, you should understand that an internet outage will take your panel offline if you don't have cellular backup set up. Internet outages are relatively common. Even if you have generally reliable internet, it is likely that you will still experience an occasional outage. But unlike internet connectivity, cellular service almost never goes down or becomes unavailable. As long as you have a decent cellular signal, you can count on your system to maintain its cellular connection at all times. This is why so many users take the extra step of getting their systems connected for cellular alarm monitoring service.
In June of 2019, Resideo (formerly Honeywell) stopped allowing activations for 3G and CDMA cellular communicators. As a result, only LTE communicators can be activated for alarm monitoring service. The Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE was released after this had already happened. With that in mind, it is virtually impossible to have a Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE System that is using a 3G or CDMA communicator. But fortunately, LTE connectivity represents an ideal solution for alarm system monitoring. Not only is LTE very reliable, it is also extraordinarily fast. In terms of speed, LTE is nearly as fast as IP. This makes it perfect for sending quick signals to the AlarmNet Servers. And since the VISTA-21iPLTE already includes a built-in IP communicator, you can continue to use internet connectivity with the system after you upgrade to LTE. The cellular communication path will just represent a valuable backup option in case your internet ever goes out.
Some users are concerned about LTE communication, as they are fearful that it will eventually be replaced in favor of more advanced technology. Specifically, most people point to 5G cellular communication as the eventual successor to LTE. The good news is that cellular service providers, including AT&T and Verizon, have stated on multiple occasions that they plan on supporting their LTE networks well into the very distant future. These companies have invested tremendous amounts of resources and capital into setting up and maintaining their LTE networks. They aren't planning on terminating or dropping support for these networks any time soon. In fact, LTE even stands for "Long-Term Evolution", indicating that it is truly going to be around for the long-run. Even as 5G networks become a reality in the near future, LTE networks will still remain in-service, and they will still be widely used in many applications. This includes for use with security systems that use LTE communicators. By upgrading your VISTA-21iPLTE to use LTE, you can expect your system to remain reliably monitored through cellular communication for many, many years to follow.
The premier cellular communicator option for a Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE is the Honeywell LTE-21V. This is a Verizon LTE Communicator designed exclusively for use with the Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE Security System. Resideo is also expected to release a Honeywell LTE-21A Communicator, for service with the AT&T LTE Network. But as of February 2020, the LTE-21A has not yet been released. This leaves the LTE-21V as the best option. We recommend checking coverage maps and making sure that the Verizon LTE Network provides adequate service in your area. If not, then you can most likely boost cellular signals using a cellular antenna or a cellular amplifier.
It should be noted that the Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE can technically support the other LTE communicators that were built with the other Honeywell VISTA Series Panels in mind. These include the Honeywell LTE-IA, LTE-IV, LTE-XA, and LTE-XV. In order to use one of those communicators, you would need to first disable the internal IP communicator for the VISTA-21iPLTE System. This is done by moving the appropriate jumper to the OFF position. You can review this FAQ for more information. Although that FAQ was written with the VISTA-21iP in mind, it can also apply to the VISTA-21iPLTE. However, using one of the aforementioned LTE communicators instead of the LTE-21V on a VISTA-21iPLTE System is strongly discouraged. The LTE-21V is much easier to install, and it doesn't require you to disable the system's internal IP communicator.
One last important thing to consider is that using cellular communication with a VISTA-21iPLTE System will require you to get a cellular monitoring plan. Cellular monitoring service is typically more expensive than IP-only monitoring service. This is to cover the costs associated with paying the cellular service provider and maintaining their cellular network. If keeping costs as low as possible is very important to you, then you can use the VISTA-21iPLTE for IP-only monitoring and skip adding a new communicator entirely. But remember, cellular communication is much more reliable than IP communication.
If you want the ultimate reliability for your VISTA-21iPLTE System, then adding a cellular communicator is an absolute necessity. Another thing to consider is that most cellular alarm monitoring plans out there will also include IP connectivity at no extra cost. And because the VISTA-21iPLTE has a built-in IP communicator that you can continue to use, you can take advantage of that with your cellular monitoring plan. Some examples of good cellular monitoring plans for use with a VISTA-21iPLTE include the Gold and Platinum Level Plans from Alarm Grid (Self or Full) and the Alarm Grid Cell-Only Plan. All Alarm Grid monitoring plans are no-contract, and they do not have any extra or hidden fees. It is advised that you shop around for different monitoring plans and choose the best one for your needs.
For this FAQ, we will assume that you are setting up an LTE-21A or an LTE-21V with you Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE System for cellular alarm monitoring service. Complete the following steps to upgrade a Honeywell VISTA-21iPLTE to LTE:
1. Power down the panel. Adding a cellular communicator to a VISTA-21iPLTE is considered to be a hardware change. You must power down your panel completely whenever you make a hardware change. You can power down a VISTA-21iPLTE by disconnecting its backup battery and unplugging its transformer. There should be no lights on the panel board, and any connected keypads should go blank once the system has powered down, unless the keypads have a backup power supply set up. A keypad with a backup power supply set up will display "Open CKT", "OC", or "ECP Error" after the system has powered down.
2. Install the communicator. The Honeywell LTE-21A and LTE-21V plug-in directly to the main system board. They are both very easy to install. We recommend reviewing the Honeywell Home LTE-21V Install Guide for more information on this process. Please note that the LTE-21A will follow the exact same installation process as the LTE-21V. You can power the panel back on after you complete the installation. Plug the transformer back in before reconnecting the backup battery. We also recommend writing down the IMEI number for the communicator during the installation. The IMEI number is a unique identifier for the communicator module. It is needed when activating the system. The IMEI number can typically be found on a white sticker on the communicator itself. It may also be found on the product packaging. Keep the IMEI number somewhere safe, as you may need to access it again sometime in the future.
3. Activate the communicator. Contact the alarm monitoring company you are working with and have them activate the communicator. If you are activating service with Alarm Grid, then you will schedule an activation slot to activate the communicator. An Alarm Grid technical support expect will then contact you at the scheduled time to complete the activation. Make sure that you have the communicator installed and ready to go before your activation slot. Also remember to have the IMEI number for the communicator handy, as the activator will ask you for that information. If you are activating monitoring service with a different monitoring company than Alarm Grid, contact them to complete the activation.
4. Check cellular signals. At the end of your activation, have your monitoring company check the cellular signals for your system. You want to make sure that the signals are strong enough for reliable and consistent monitoring service. Your monitoring company will be able to determine this. If they report that the cellular signals are weak, then it is likely that the system is being used far away from the nearest cell tower. You can usually remedy this situation by adding a cellular antenna or a cellular amplifier.
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