Advice on New System

I’m on the fence. I’ve done my homework and researched Qolsys and 2GIG panels. I have no faith the GC3 will actually be out in November, so the question is, for those of you with experience, if you could build a new alarm system from scratch right now, would you go Qolsys or get the GC2 and upgrade to the GC3 later (cost isn’t a driver), if appropriate?

My needs are “small” with 10 D/W, 3 motion, and 2 S/H sensors. Exclude video for now since I have an extensive video system that serves my needs. Maybe in the future as my system gets outdated though (not a driver though). And, my home automation needs will be pretty light (lights only and ~5).

I’ve had my hands on a Qolsys and I like it, but one factor I see, the accessibility of 2GIG components compared to GE for sensors (i.e. Amazon, Newegg,…). Should that be a factor?

In the end it is your call.

The biggest factor to consider is the cellular module In the end. With Qolsys it is integrated and not upgradeable. 3G will be obsolete soon, and an upgrade will entail entire panel replacement.

With 2GIG the cell modules are upgradeable, and all the panel needs is a firmware update for LTE. Rumor has it that the new GC3 will support 3G/4G LTE. Most likely 2016 will see new LTE cell modules for the Go Control.

2GIG has regular firmware downloads that you can flash to panel for free.

If you have a Qolsys panel, and can’t get the Dealer to release/unregister the cell module, then you are SOL.

2GIG also supports other backend providers such as Telguard and Uplink.

The secondary factory to consider is the lack of a real secondary panel for Qolsys.

With 2GIG you have the TS1 and PAD1. Qolsys has a converted 7" tablet.

Also, some would say having had Ireland based Tyco buying a controlling interest in Qolsys is a plus, I think the opposite is true. Tyco likes to make their security/fire system stuff proprietary (e.g., SimplexGrinnell, Brinks/Broadview, and the recently spun off ADT for example).

Also, Qolsys, last time I checked, was running off a variant of 2.3 Gingerbread (which is a very old unpatched, and security vulnerable version of Android).

I don’t have much faith the GC3 will ship in November either. The Qolsys IQ panel is newer and not as tried and true as the old 2GIG Go!Control and we’ve seen some glitches in it since it’s release but they put out free firmware updates via the Internet to address them. The Qolsys panel feels nicer and is easier to program than the Go!Control. I don’t think Verizon CDMA communication will be obsolete “soon”, I think 2021 is a better estimate. But the 2GIG panels having changeable cellular modules is definitely a benefit. I think the Android OS is a positive, not a negative for Qolsys.

2GIG Go!Control panels can use Interlogix/GE sensors if you get the 2GIG-DREC2-319 receiver. I would hope the GC3 will have similar capabilities but we’ll see when it’s released.

Calling Qolsys IQ2 secondary panel not “real” because it’s common Android tablet hardware doesn’t make sense. That’s just smart engineering. Why re-invent the wheel and design custom hardware for no reason? If any of those 3 are not a real secondary panel it’s the 2GIG PAD1 which I don’t recommend. The 2GIG TS1 is very nice.

The Qolsys IQ Panel is a step up from the 2GIG Co!Control and the GC3 will compete head to head with Qolsys. I assume the GC3 will 1-up Qolsys in some ways since it gets the advantage of second to market. I hope it comes soon. The prototype GC3’s I’ve played with are pretty sweet.

Calling Qolsys IQ2 secondary panel not “real” because it’s common Android tablet hardware doesn’t make sense. That’s just smart engineering. Why re-invent the wheel and design custom hardware for no reason?

Doesn’t it mount to the wall with Velcro?

. I don’t think Verizon CDMA communication will be obsolete “soon”, I think 2021 is a better estimate

So essentially the best case scenario is that in 5 years or so, the Qolsys panel will require replacement as the cellular module will be defunct.

Ohh, almost forgot… another thing bout the IQ Qolsys $175 “secondary panel”…

It connects to the panel through the WiFi (not directly). So if there is an issue with your WiFi/wireless in your home, the secondary panel loses its ability to communicate with the main panel. (other secondary panels usually connect directly to the main panel so there is no loss of functionality if local network/internet goes down, but this is a tablet, so must go through the WiFi/internet).

QOLSYS used a rather inexpensive 7" third party android tablet, threw (what appears to be) a custom build on it, and sells it with instructions for attaching to walls with Velcro (leaving power cord dangling down wall) as a stop gap measure because they lacked a proper secondary panel. I wouldn’t call it “smart engineering” as it was more ad hoc (i.e., ‘makeshift’) than anything.

Quoted from Jason @SuretyCAM Feb, 3, 2015

I’ve been told this is actually a stop-gap solution for dealers for installations where a secondary keypad is desired. (I would agree that this is not a flattering solution)
https://suretyhome.com/forums/topic/iq2-keypad/#post-14932

Qolsys IQ2 “panel”:

IMO, you could save yourself $100 by getting a cheap $50 kitkat/lollipop android 7" tablet from Bestbuy (or just about anywhere), $2 Velcro tabs, and install the alarm.com apk app, and pin the screen to the app view with it set to never turn off display. Basically the same functionality at a fraction of cost.

In a nutshell, the IQ2 secondary panel is essentially a mobile device attached to your wall to provide remote interactive capabilities.

Just for the fun of it, I created my own 7" WiFi/cellular connected “secondary” panel using a Nexus for my 2GIG panel (cheesy, huh?):

Doesn’t it mount to the wall with Velcro?

Yes but I don’t consider velcro mounting a problem. I’ve seen higher-end and more expensive home automation systems with touch screens that were simply iPad or Android tablets running specific software wall mounted with industrial grade velcro. In those systems it was considered a feature because they could easily be taken down and used as a portable tablet.

It connects to the panel through the WiFi (not directly). So if there is an issue with your WiFi/wireless in your home, the secondary panel loses its ability to communicate with the main panel. (other secondary panels usually connect directly to the main panel so there is no loss of functionality if local network/internet goes down, but this is a tablet, so must go through the WiFi/internet).

This statement is entirely misleading. The Qolsys panels communicate through WIFI but not through the Internet. If your local WIFI network actually stopped working then it would stop communicating. If your Internet connection went down it would still work fine. I think using WIFI instead of a proprietary wireless channel like 2GIG does is a better decision with much better throughput and higher reliability. Just use a decent WIFI router and an UPS to keep it reliable.

I’m actually not happy with the current state of the Qolsys IQ2 panel. I think it’s lacking in some features and I don’t like the how their proposed mounting mechanism doesn’t hide the power cord. I’m not impressed with what they delivered and I am clinging to hope that it was intended to be a stop gap solution until they deliver something better. However, I think the end goal for that better solution should be off-the-shelf Android tablet hardware like they use now with better software and a mounting solution that hides the power cord. The good news is they can easily release software updates for already installed IQ2 panels. There is nothing special about a secondary control panel for an alarm system that makes the 2GIG TS1 hardware better than commonly used Android tablet hardware. In fact, I think the opposite is true.

There is a big difference between software on the IQ2 communicating directly with the main control panel via local WIFI and just installing the Alarm.com app on a tablet which communicates all the way back to Alarm.com. A lot more data is sent back and forth between the local panels vs going through Alarm.com, enabling things that aren’t possible through Alarm.com. It also happens a lot faster locally. Acting as though it’s the same thing makes no sense.

2GIG has delivered a better user experience with the TS1 than Qolsys has with the IQ2 panel. I really do like the TS1. But that doesn’t make every decision Qolsys has made wrong or the IQ2 panel not “real”. It just means 2GIG put more effort into designing a complete user experience with their secondary panel than Qolsys did and Qolsys needs to step up and fix it with software updates.

I also think Qolsys should release their IQ2 software so it can be installed in any Android tablet instead of only selling it as a pre-installed system. That would reduce the price tag probably get a lot more people using Qolsys.

I think using WIFI instead of a proprietary wireless channel like 2GIG does is a better decision with much better throughput and higher reliability. Just use a decent WIFI router and an UPS to keep it reliable.

I am not quite sure that this was the best route to go (but since the IQ2 is basically just a repurposed WiFi only tablet, there was no other options).

Let’s imagine for one moment that you are having a medical emergency or home invasion, and make it to that secondary IQ2 panel, but your WiFi router is glitching/malfunctioning, and needs a periodic reboot to work optimally, or has been unplugged, disabled or is suffering from power loss… you are SOL. It is wonderful that the IQ2 panel has battery power and will be on, but if it loses connection to the panel it is useless.

Most people buy a dirt cheap basic wireless router (or rent one from their internet provider), and don’t even know how to properly configure them. In fact most probably use the default settings, and WPS which can result in your network being hacked in less than 15 min or so, by a kid with the free Reaver app who is within range of your SSID broadcast (setting up and using WPS is just about the worst thing you can do).

Router issues means non-functional secondary panel, and hacked network could potentially result in a compromised secondary panel/system.

And as for a uninterruptible power supply, it is unlikely any average homeowner will be utilizing it. So, power loss to your home network WiFi router, means non-functional secondary panel.

I like the TS1 (original version in any event) because it has backup battery power capability (I use rechargeables in mine, and rotate them as the TS1 will burn through AAA’s like crazy), I don’t have to worry about loss of connectivity for WiFi/router network issues, or loss of connectivity in event of a power loss.

I also like the convenience of the PAD1. 5 year battery life, basic keypad with emergency/panic buttons. I use it in the Master bedroom as a secondary backup, and as it is close enough to main CP, I can hear the confirmation tones for arming/disarming with it. I dont have to worry either about whether it will work or not in an emergency die to unforeseen/uncontrollable WiFi router/network issues, or power loss events.

Each keypad has it’s place for optimal use. The trick for me is to minimize downtime/or issues that can result in my system operating less than optimally. I don’t mind the idea of using WiFi/broadband as secondary path, but to rely on it as primary is just asking for complications and trouble (and I deal enough with that with the cameras).

Isn’t that the whole premise behind alarm.com’s prohibition against WiFi only remote interactive services? Why they require cellular as primary communication path? WiFi is unreliable. The IQ2 secondary panel’s sole reliance on WiFi makes it unreliable.

There are trade-offs either way. WIFI lets you transfer a lot more data. People often ask for 2-way voice on the TS1 but it’s not possible with the low-throughput wireless signal the TS1 uses to communicate with Go!Control panel. It’s very possible with WIFI. It would just take a software update from Qolsys to make it happen. With WIFI they could show camera video in the secondary touch screens as well. That’s not possible with the TS1.

I doubt it matters much whether most people use a cheap WIFI router or whether they use an UPS. If someone is investing in building a home automation system they might also be willing to use a decent router and an UPS. It’s not expensive relative to the cost of the whole system. Even setting up a dedicated WIFI network with a battery backup just for the IQ2 panels isn’t that expensive compared to the overall system.

To many people communication with secondary touch screens is more about convenience than it is about security. If communication with the secondary panel is lost the security system still provides the main security function.

Alarm.com refuses to allow broadband-only connections for alarm signaling. It has nothing to do with WIFI. It’s that broadband connections go down a lot so they want the alarm signals to use the cellular networks.

I’ll bet we’ll see WIFI become the standard way most home automation systems communicate with the secondary control panels. Z-wave & Zigbee are a great fit for low data rate low power communications like sensors and actuators. WIFI is a great fit for user interface devices. I’m hoping 2GIG utilizes WIFI more in the GC3.