The Alarm.com System Enhancement Module or SEM is a revolutionary product designed to integrate Alarm.com monitoring services with compatible Honeywell/ADEMCO VISTA panels manufactured in 2005 or later. Normally, Honeywell Alarm Systems rely on the AlarmNet server to host communications. The SEM allows alarm panels like the VISTA 10P, 15P, 20P and 21iP to communicate with the robust Alarm.com platform.
The panel must be from 2005 or newer, and it must be running firmware version 3.1 or higher. If you aren't sure of the panel's firmware version or manufacture date, you can check the panel's PROM Chip. This is a small square black chip located on the panel's board. The chip should have a white sticker with a code that starts with "WA". The code should tell you whether or not the panel is compatible. Some branded equivalents like the First Alert FA168CPS can also support this module. Make sure your panel is compatible before purchasing an SEM.
Unlike AlarmNet that will support IP only setups, Alarm.com requires cellular communications. The beauty of the SEM is that it has an integrated cellular radio that can be registered using the Alarm.com dealer site. This particular model uses the Verizon 4G LTE network which offers incredibly fast data transfer speeds. If the LTE network is not available in your area you can purchase the ADC-SEM100-CDMA. This means that if you have an existing Honeywell VISTA-20P you simply purchase this single product and enroll with an Alarm.com dealer.
VISTA panels are traditional wired systems so the SEM will hardwire directly into the ECP bus. The incoming/outgoing data terminals as well as the ECP ground are landed on the VISTA panel. Then the SEM comes with a red wire that connects the 12V+ on your panel's backup battery to the SEM. There is a special fuse in line with this connection to prevent any shorts or back-feeding. Once these connections are made there are some programming steps that are required before enrolling in service.
The SEM uses keypad address 23 by default. This keypad address should be enabled and set to partition 1 before powering up. Alarm.com will generate a random master user code that needs to be locally programmed into the panel. Since this device allows alarm owners to manage user codes remotely via Alarm.com it requires that all user codes are wiped from the VISTA panel. Simply document your existing codes and delete them previous to the install. The alarm.com dealer will also have access to delete the codes for you during the process if that is easier. These codes can be pushed back to the system after the Alarm.com services are activated.
Historically, Honeywell panels were limited to services like Total Connect hosted by AlarmNet. The SEM is a game changer. Now you can setup Alarm.com service and experience the benefits of the third party integrations like Nest thermostats, Lutron lighting, MyQ garage door technology, and much more.