Is radio only alarm monitoring OK?

Reply

  #1  
Old 03-30-16, 08:39 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,947
Is radio only alarm monitoring OK?

hi folks Ė

I have an Vista- 50P alarm system (came with the house 14 yrs ago). The system is monitored. I had the system on a Verizon landline and the system also has a Long Range Radio as backup.

However, I have been at war with Verizon and finally told them to drop the landline. I think the POTS is disappearing in the neighborhood as Verizon is upgrading to FIOS. The landline has repeatedly stopped working over the last 18 months (3 times in just last 6 weeks), and each time I schedule a repair appointment with Verizon. A few days to a week later they find the problem somewhere a mile away. It then works for a week or two, and then it starts all over again.

(Iím not sure I even really need a landline, but since I have an excellent internet connection which has almost 100% availability, and Vonage isnít very expensive, I might try Vonage.)

My question is: if I am willing to use the Long Range Radio only as the only means of communication with the CS, is that normally something that would be acceptable to the typical CS, or would that normally be something they would not do? I would think if itís OK with me it would be OK with them Ė as long as I pays my money Ėlol.

I guess I can call the CS and ask them, but I thought Iíd run this by the experts here first to see if that is just a bad idea in general.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 03-30-16, 08:50 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 51,376
Upvotes Received: 206
Vonage is a VoIP phone service and may also be iffy for alarm monitoring purposes.

I'm guessing you have cable for internet service.
What long range radio do you have ?

Honeywell offers A GSM communicator that uses the internet and the cell network.

I have many of my customers on radio only and it's on a network called AES. It's a mesh network of shared radio and towers that talk to each other. It's only available from an alarm dealer.
 
  #3  
Old 03-30-16, 09:40 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,947
Pete Ė
Thanks for your response.

I have heard that connecting your alarm system using VoIP may just not be an option so I wasnít even contemplating using Vonage for that. But maybe I would check that out. It just seemed like that might be opening up another can of worms Ė lol. Is a VoIP interface something that the homeowner could troubleshoot with the CS, or would the CS only want to talk to a professional installer?

The radio in my attic looks exactly like the one on the bottom of the page linked here:

Fort Knox Security - Catalog

I did not open it up to look for a manufacturer and model number ID. I guess itís a Honeywell. Is there some reason they donít put any markings on the cover? Seems strange to me.
 
  #4  
Old 03-30-16, 09:48 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 51,376
Upvotes Received: 206
Do you have a servicing alarm company ?
The door on that transmitter is protected by a switch against tampering.

That may be a combo radio and internet communicator.
 
  #5  
Old 03-30-16, 11:47 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,947
Pete-

Yes I do have a servicing alarm company. They donít talk to me much because I believe they know they canít con me (lol Ė I am cynical).They installed the radio in the attic several years ago. I forced myself to leave them alone during installation, which was a mistake. All receptacles in my attic are on switches from downstairs and they just plugged the radio into a convenient receptacle in the attic. So now I must make sure I never turn the switch off. One of these days when I get time (haha) I will rewire the radio receptacle so it isnít switched.

They left absolutely no explanation, no documentation, no operating instructions, no nothing Ė about the radio. To me that is absolutely not professional. Probably a generational thing. They probably have a multitude of reasons why thatís OK.

So how the radio ultimately communicates with the CS is a mystery to me. Maybe the internet is also involved in some way.
 
  #6  
Old 03-30-16, 11:53 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 51,376
Upvotes Received: 206
You could remove the cover to locate the model number but put your alarm in "service mode" with the CS first.
 
  #7  
Old 03-30-16, 12:21 PM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Gainesville, FL, USA
Posts: 16,076
Upvotes Received: 21
Honeywell/Ademco cellular communicators basically have no user serviceable part. They _may_ be able to remotely reset your system to use the communicator as the primary communicator, but most likely, it will take a service call because some of the configuration requires plugging into the communicator unit with a programmer. They may even have to replace the radio. Some of the older models are being phased out because the RF spectrum they use is being sun-seted.

That would be a good time to transfer the radio power supply to an un-switched outlet.
 
  #8  
Old 03-30-16, 12:44 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,467
Upvotes Received: 16
The biggest problem with using VoIP for alarm monitoring is it may work 99 times in succession when testing and then fail on the REAL alarm. You just don't know when it will work and when it won't. Nor would I rely on an Internet link for any critical alarming functions. Cellular (through alarm systems contractors) are generally better than even a land-line as it is almost impossible for a miscreant to put it out of commission.

They left absolutely no explanation, no documentation, no operating instructions, no nothing Ė about the radio. To me that is absolutely not professional. Probably a generational thing.
This is typical of almost anything that has to be installed in a home. When Verizon installed the FiOS Internet in my home I was quicker than the installing tech when it came to cleaning up after the installation. That is how I got the manuals. When Frontier had to replace the Optical Network Terminal a few years later I wasn't quick enough and therefore did not get the instructions on the updated modules. I think it is policy of all companies that do home installs to not leave anything behind unless the homeowner specifically requests.
 
  #9  
Old 03-30-16, 01:57 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,947
Thanks guys for the input.

Pete –

Thanks. I’m going to put the system in test mode with the CS and peek inside the unit to see if I can find the model id.

MrRon –

Thanks for your information.

They _may_ be able to remotely reset your system to use the communicator as the primary communicator, but most likely, it will take a service call because some of the configuration requires plugging into the communicator unit with a programmer.
Thanks. That is something I thought possibly would NOT be required. I guess I’m obviously overlooking something but I thought the radio could be used as is. It is just that when an alarm occurs the system would find the landline inoperable and thus the alarm would be reported via the radio backup.

In other words, it would be like operating with a permanently failed landline which I thought would be a real possibility. I did not think the radio would have to be designated as prime or backup in the alarm system. Obviously there is something here I am not understanding. (Probably a lot more also I’m not understanding-lol)

Furd-

Thanks. I understand what you mean about the reliability factor. When we built high reliability fault tolerant systems for the Military and FAA we built in schemes to continuously and automatically test the communication links to ensure they were there when needed and to handshake and poll hot/warm standby backup equipment at the highest rate possible without significant degradation to the operational system. Who knows what these residential alarm systems do – lol!


Well I think I won’t open up the radio box-lol. I was wrong and it does in fact say Honeywell on the box but there is no model number. There is a slot on the right side which I assume is for a screwdriver but using a fair amount of pressure the door will not open. So I’m afraid I’ll break something if I pry harder.
 

Last edited by zoesdad; 03-30-16 at 02:34 PM. Reason: added last para.
  #10  
Old 03-30-16, 03:17 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 51,376
Upvotes Received: 206
The newer style GSM units I'm familiar with use the internet as primary communication and back up by radio.
 
  #11  
Old 03-30-16, 03:25 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,467
Upvotes Received: 16
Eons ago, many alarms, especially fire alarms, used dedicated telephone wires leased to the alarm company, (some may have been owned by the alarm company) between the premises being protected and the central station. These lines were constantly "supervised" by having a constant DC voltage on them holding in a polarized relay at the alarm station. If the line were cut the loss of voltage caused the relay to drop out sounding an audible alarm as also a visual trouble alarm to notify the attendants that the alarm was no longer functioning. For a real alarm there was a "polarity reversal" relay at the premises that reversed the polarity of the voltage going to the alarm station and this not only caused the trouble relay to drop out but also energized an alarm relay with audible and visual notification.

Some time later refinements were made to the system where several site alarms would feed into a "transmitter" that had an electro-mechanical pulsing device that send a coded message over the leased lines that would actuate a code receiver in the central station. This allowed the attendant to know exactly which site alarm (fire in the attic, door jimmied, etc.) sent the alarm so the proper authorities would be alerted. There was a limit as to how many discrete alarms could be incorporated per transmitter encoding device, I think it was either ten or twenty, to reduce the number of leased lines to the monitoring station.

For the last several decades, especially as residential alarm systems started to be installed in greater numbers the industry moved away from the dedicated wiring to the autodialer that allowed using standard telephone wiring. The biggest downside to this is that anything to takes the telephone lines out of service will disable the alarm system and normally with no notification to the monitoring station. Bottom line was that any miscreant that wanted access to an alarmed house could simply cut the telephone wiring, which was almost always readily apparent and accessible on the outside of the house, and he could render the monitoring function of the alarm useless.

Since Internet access is usually via coaxial cable, telephone wiring or fiber optic that is just as accessible as the old telephone wiring the same holds true UNLESS the alarm function is constantly monitored for functionality. Often simply turning off the power to the house will render the Internet connection useless and IF the power loss is because of a wide-spread power outage the chances of the alarm company moving rapidly on troubleshooting and/or repair is slight. Cellular communication however is almost bulletproof.
 
  #12  
Old 03-30-16, 03:31 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 51,376
Upvotes Received: 206
Your "dating" yourself Furd.

Actually, I still have one account on a voltage reversing BA circuit. It's a remote controlled fire pump. What a job to get the phone company to keep the line working.
 
  #13  
Old 03-31-16, 01:33 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 223
There should be three tabs on one of the edges of the communicator (the bottom edge if they installed it right side up) and if you push them in, the cover should remove. It does have a tamper alarm but you can just disarm the keypad to acknowledge the alert when it occurs. The model number should be at the bottom right of the white sticker on the internal green circuit board.
 
  #14  
Old 04-01-16, 07:15 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 2,947
Sterling-

Thanks. I just looked on the bottom of the unit and can see the tabs (I see only 2 but without my glasses lol, but they are definitely there.) I thought I looked the unit over closely before but obviously I missed those tabs.

I have to put the system in test soon to change the smoke detectors (I think I’ll be back to ask for advice from the good folks here) and that’s when I’ll open the radio unit and copy the information.

Thanks again.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes