Number of Zones On a Hardwired System Cannot be Increased

Number of Zones On a Hardwired System Cannot be Increased


In this video, Michael from Alarm Grid explains how the number of zones on a hardwired alarm system cannot be increased. The number of zones that an alarm system is capable of supporting is built into its firmware, or system logic. This max number of total zones cannot be increased. That is why it is important to get a system that will support more zones than you think you will need, just in case you ever want to expand upon the system later.

For hardwired alarm systems, there is a special consideration. The number of zones that a wired system can support brand-new out of the box without any additional hardware is less than the total number of zones that the system has the capacity for supporting and exist within the system's logic. But not every system zone is accessible right away. This is because the only zones accessible without any additional hardware are the on-board hardwired zones that are associated with the actual panel. To access the other zones, you will need wired zone expansion modules for wired sensors, and/or a wireless receiver module for wireless sensors.

When you consider the total number of zones for a wired alarm panel, you need to remember that the number of wired zones plus the number of wireless zones can never exceed the number of total zones. Also, there are some zones that can only be wired, some zones that can only be wireless, and some zones that can be both. On-board panel zones are for wired sensors only. Wireless sensors cannot interface with those on-board zones. Conversely, key fob zones are for wireless sensors only. You cannot configure a wired sensor at a key fob zone, even through the use of a wired zone expander. For the remaining zones that can go either way, remember that when you set them for one zone type, you will lose out on the ability to use it with the alternative zone type. In other words, when you set one of those zones as wired, that means that you will lose out on a potential wireless zone. But conversely, if you set it as wired, then you are giving up a possible wireless zone.


Hi, DIYers. This is Michael from Alarm Grid. And today I'm going to be explaining how you cannot increase the number of zones on a hardwired security system. So the zone limit on any security system-- it's hard-coded into the system firmware. Now, today we're focusing particularly on wired systems, such as Honeywell VISTA system, or DSC PowerSeries Neo, pretty much any wired system. So out of the box, the system can only support the onboard hardwired zones that you connect the sensors to the onboard zone terminals. That's the only way to add zones to the system out of the box. If you want to use additional zones, then you have to either get hardwired zone expanders to support more hardwired zones or you need to add a wireless receiver to the system so that way you can begin adding compatible wireless sensors. Just to put it in perspective, the system has the logic to support more zones, but you need more ways to enroll the sensors with the system. You need methods for allowing the sensors to be set up with the system. Like I said, when the system's out of the box, the hardwired system's first-- brand new-- it's only going to be able to do the onboard zones. So like I said, you need a way to add other zones to the systems to use up the zones that are in the system's logic, the system's firmware, so to speak. So there are some restrictions for this. I'll talk about that in a second. But just to make things simple, the total number of zones on a wired system-- it's wired zones plus wireless zones. And what you cannot do is you cannot exceed the total number of zones. So you add up the wired zones, and you add up the wireless zones, and the total number cannot exceed what the system will allow. So there are some restrictions. Most zones can be used with either wired or wireless zones, but there are some restrictions here. Key fob zones-- those have to be wireless. You can't use a hardwired zone in a key fob zone slot. Now, key fob zones-- they're designed for use with key fobs, that's why they're there on the system-- but you can actually use them with wireless zones. Just to give you an example, on a Honeywell VISTA-20P, the key fob slots are zones 49 through 64. That's on a VISTA-20P. So those zones, they have to be with a wireless sensor. And if you want to access those zones in the first place, then the system needs an added wireless receiver. Remember, a hardwired system can't do wireless zones out of the box. You need to add support for it. Now, for the onboard zones-- and for VISTA-20P that would be zones 1 through 8, those are the onboard zones-- they must be hardwired. You cannot use wireless zones at those zones. So with that in mind, the 20P, for instance, has a total of 64 zones. And due to those limitations, up to 56 of them can be wireless and up to 48 of them can be hardwired due to those restrictions that I mentioned. Now, that means zones 9 through 48 on a VISTA-20P can technically be either wireless or hardwired. But let's say you make zone 20 a wireless zone. Well, that means that zone can't be hardwired. So you are taking away a possible wired zone when you do that. And the opposite is true-- if you make 20 a wired zone using a zone expander, then that zone can't be wireless-- so you're taking away a possible wireless zone on the system. So you need to keep that in mind. Remember, most of those zones, they're only accessible by adding a wireless receiver for the wireless sensors or by adding a zone expansion module for the wired sensors. So it's going to depend on the system you're using. So be sure to look at the specifications for your wired panel to figure out what you have. But that's pretty much the general rule to keep in mind. You cannot exceed the total zone limit. There is no way to increase the total zone limit, so what you get with from the start is what you're stuck with. You can open up the zones that might be locked due to the fact that you don't have a way of adding the sensors. So you add more zone expanders, you add a wireless receiver, and you can access those zones. But those zones were always in the system's logic. You're not adding to the system's logic there. You're not adding to the system's firmware. Those zones always exist, it is whether or not you can access them. And there's no way to increase it. So when you're choosing a wired alarm system, you want to choose a system usually with more zones than you think you will need. So that way, if you ever expand upon your system later, you'll be prepared. Because once you've reached the maximum zone limit-- the total zone limit-- you can't add any more sensors to the system. So definitely keep that in mind. And remember it will vary depending on the system you're using. So that's why you can't increase the zone limits on a wired system. Whatever the system's logic supports, that's what you're stuck with. If you have any questions about hardwired alarm systems or you want to learn about monitoring service, send an email to If you found this video helpful, make sure to give it a thumbs up below to like the video. And remember to subscribe to our channel for updates on future videos. We hope you enjoyed the video. Thank you.