Who can open my doors and . . .

Hey guys,

It is time for a new security system, and I’m leaning very hard for a DIY suretycam solution with remote control access. My wife is convinced that someone at the central station or affiliated with the central station (alarm.com…) could, if necessary have the same remote control to door locks and thermostat as we do. I’m hoping that this isn’t true, I really like the idea of remote control but it will be a tough sell if the technology allows any of our service providers the ability to do what we do.

What say ye.

Nobody has the ability to control your home but you. Not us and not Alarm.com. The system was designed specifically to protect your security. We have limited ability to program and see the status of your system for remote troubleshooting purposes and maintenance but we can’t control your system at all. For example, with door locks we can see whether your door locks are properly communicating with the control panel via z-wave but we can’t lock or unlock the doors. With cameras, we can see whether the cameras are properly communicating with Alarm.com through your broadband connection but we can’t see the video at all. We can’t arm or disarm the security alarm.

In addition to the strict remote technical limitations in the system, everyone that works here holds a security alarm agent license and has passed a federal background check with a clean record. If we ever did catch anyone trying to find a way to remotely circumvent a customer’s security, which we haven’t, they would be fired on the spot, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and crucified by me.

Ryan,

Thank you for a timely answer. I’m still debating the GE Simon system vs 2GIG. Can you give me your take on the two (I know you provide 2Gig, and it is OK to be biased, I have no doubt about your honesty) and point me to where I can find other objective information on the two?

I prefer 2GIG over Simon XT or Simon XTi. Here’s a brief explanation why.

http://suretydiy.com/forums/topic/designing-a-system-for-a-vacation-property/#post-2265

The only reason I can come up with that people are installing Simon panels today is that there are some security dealers that have long standing relationships with GE/Interlogix and it’s easier for them to just stick with the Simon. Even the new Interlogix panel planned for release later this year to obsolete the Simon XTi doesn’t impress me much. 2GIG and Qolsys are the interesting players in my opinion.

Thanks again. Here are some more questions, about monitoring and configuration.

On the first floor, I have 16 double hung windows, and 5 doors.

Panel:
Currently I have three keypads located at garage back door, one downstairs hall, and one in the Master bedroom. We won’t be doing keyfobs. Do folks just get a single panel and use their phones? Or are there keypads to extend the functionality of the controler in other rooms? Not even sure I said this right.

For the double hung windows, do I need 1 or 2 sensors? (I have 16 windows, I really hope I only need 1). Brand new windows, so I want the low profile RE11 mighty mouse sensors.

For the doors, all but one will be sensor’ed only, the main entry door will have remote control. So do I use the RE11’s for the doors too, or is there a more recommended sensor. For the main entry door, do I need remote control and sensor?

I want to automate both of my thermostats. SuretyDIY carries the 2GIG Z-Wave Remote Controllable Thermostat (CT100). There are many other models on the market although they are more expensive (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=zwave%20thermostat&sprefix=zwave+%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Azwave%20thermostat). I’m not itching to spend more than I need, but want to buy the right one to start with. Anything you can say to help me evaluate these is appreciated.

Smoke and Carbon Dioxide seem self explanatory. If there is something there not obvious to the Novice let me know.

Monitoring & Remote Control:
I know I need the Alarm.Com Gold interactive. What does adding the central station do. Can you help me understand what functions/features I gain with the central station and what I miss without?

Video Monitoring: Not sure I want to do that, but pricing makes sense. It is for the service, not per device correct?
Video Storage: I presume this is for when an event was triggered. How much functionality comes with base storage (minutes of recording per device…) and when do you need to upgrade?

Arming Schedules: So I currently have a programable thermostat, that is capable runing a couple day/time based routines? Is this what this is? Does it apply to “all” the sensors, such as HVAC, lighting, arming . . .

Extra Sensor Activity Monitoring: What is the difference between security monitoring and activity monitoring and how do I know when I need it?

Smart Energy Management: What is this?

Wellness Home Health Monitoring: What is this?

Extra Image Sensor Events: SO I read up on image sensor and think I understand this. Is this apart from “Extra Sensor Activity Monitoring”. Is this per event, meaning you are pre-paying .08-.20 cents per image delivery as a result of an event? How important is this, when should it be considered or avoided?

As I learn more I’ll probably have more questions. I’m technical, and this is still a lot to get my head around.

I’ll chime in on the last few questions, as I’m assuming Ryan will be tackling the first few shortly.

Arming schedules: This allows you to set schedules for automatic arming and disarming. We’ve found this feature thus far to be used almost entirely by businesses who do not want to give all employees codes for the alarm. The use of notifications, geo-fence reminders, temporary user codes, and remote arming and disarming make arming schedules unnecessary for most other users. I believe what you would be interested in for the thermostats is smart energy management.

Extra Sensor Activity Monitoring: This is for activity monitoring, not security monitoring. All sensors that your panel will support (i.e. 2GIG supports up to 48 wireless sensors) will be security monitored regardless of the package you select. Activity monitoring is an added feature with Gold Interactive that gives you the ability to check the status of sensors regardless of alarm status. So for example, you can check to see that a door or window is open or closed now, even when the alarm is off. And you can set up notifications for these sensors, such as every time the alcohol cabinet door opens. Activity monitoring does not apply to all sensors, for example the smoke detector is either activated or not activated (regardless of the alarm status) so there is no need to view its current status. 10 sensors are included with Gold Interactive, which is more than enough for more users, however whether you would like more is really dependent on how you choose to use the system. (Personally, I’m not interested in whether my windows are open or closed, but I am interested in when the front door opens and closes, and in what rooms my motion detectors are active during the day, since neither my dog or dog walker should be exploring my office or bedroom while I’m at work.)

Smart Energy Management: This thread gives some detail on the smart energy management add on – http://suretydiy.com/forums/topic/whats-alarm-com-smart-energy-management/

Wellness Home Health Monitoring: This article on our website for our full service divisions discusses the wellness home monitoring- http://suretycam.com/home-health-care/

Extra Image Sensor Events: 40 “events” are included in the Gold package. Based on your settings of when your image sensor takes a photo (whether when the alarm is disarmed, or you “peek in”) and again, your desired usage, 40 may be enough, or you may want to include more. If you have used all 40, then you can not “peek in” again that month, but alarms triggered by the sensor will continue to cause pictures to be taken.

Hope that helps!

People get the TS1 secondary touch screen to replace additional keypads. You don’t need them, you can certainly use your phone/tablet instead. The TS1 allows you to hear voice chimes and entry delays in other areas of the house and arm/disarm from other locations. It’s also more responsive than your phone or tablet because it communicates directly with the control panel whereas the mobile app goes through Alarm.com to communicate with the control panel.

For your double hung windows, I can’t say how many sensor you “need” but I can tell you what adding additional sensors gets you.

First of all, since you said it’s time for a new system, I’m guessing you already have a system now? Do you already have wired sensors for those windows? If so, I would use a super switch takeover module and use those wired sensors. If there are only 2 wired loops/zones you can even get away with an RE201 as a lower cost option and use the 2 wired inputs it has.


A window contact will detect someone prying the window open. If you can fit it between the 2 window panes than you can detect both he upper and lower panes being pried open with 1 sensor. If not, you have to mount them on the sides and you would need 2 sensors to detect both panes being pried open. The bottom pane is almost always the one that gets pried open and is often the only pane that CAN be pried open so most people just monitor the bottom pane.

Window contacts don’t detect someone breaking the glass. You need either motion detectors, glass break sound detectors or glass break shock sensors to detect someone breaking the glass. I usually prefer motion detectors as they are the most cost effective way to cover a large area but if you have cats or very large dogs that may not be an option. If you use motion detectors you may not even need to use window contacts at all because motion detectors will detect someone coming in no matter whether they pried the window open or broke the glass.

You can use RE211 mighty mouse sensors on doors as long as you keep the small antenna on the sensor from touching metal. The antenna on the RE211 is a thin gold wire that’s exposed. Most other sensors have the antenna inside their plastic cases so this is only a consideration with the RE211. If you have a metal frame (rare but possible) then I would use something other than the RE211. The same goes for windows, the RE211 antenna can not touch metal. The 2GIG-DW20R-345 recessed door contact is another option for doors.

When you say the main entry door will have remote control, do you mean a z-wave door lock? If so, then yes you still need a sensor along with the door lock.

The CT100 is a great choice and cost effective. The only times I recommend against the CT100 are if 1) you need relative humidity control or 2) you need remote temperature sensors. The CT100 doesn’t have either of those. Here’s a post about relative humidity control if that’s something you need.

http://suretydiy.com/forums/topic/thermostat-with-humidity-control/#post-2730

and here’s a z-wave thermostat that can use remote temperature sensors, although I haven’t tried it with 2GIG yet.

http://www.rcstechnology.com/pages/products/thermo-z-wave.html

The only thing I would say about smoke detectors is that I’ve recently learned about this new product that allows you to monitor all of your existing wired smoke detectors with your 2GIG panel using a single, low cost wireless sensor.

http://encorecontrols.com/products.php

We’re trying to get some of these in stock ASAP and try them out. If so, that would be more cost effective than buying a bunch of wireless smoke detectors.

Central station monitoring means our operators call you when an alarm occurs and dispatch the police or fire department for you, if necessary. Without central station monitoring you would just get automated alerts from Alarm.com and you would have to dispatch the police or fire department yourself. Central station monitoring is really the key feature of having an alarm system in the first place so I highly recommend it, but some prefer to “self monitor” without central station monitoring.

Yes the video pricing is for the service, not per camera. This post does a good job explaining the Alarm.com video storage space.

http://suretydiy.com/forums/topic/alarm-com-video-storage-space/