4 Alarm Communications Practices to Consider

Troy Barnes by Troy Barnes | 01.30.2014

Most alarm companies have already adopted a practice of using Internet, GSM or both on every installation.  How do you decide which is right for your customer?  To make this decision, four things should be considered:  Internet availability, GSM signal availability, level of security, and expected alarm traffic. 

Graph#1-Internet Availability
First, is an Internet connection available and practical?  If you are using a LYNX Touch 5100, the option of Wi-Fi connectivity is available.  For all applications, Internet connectivity is an option if it is possible to get an Ethernet connection from the premise Gateway to the alarm equipment.  Additionally, if using Internet only, battery backup should be provided to the Internet Modem and Gateway device.  An advantage to using an Internet communicator is lower cost of equipment and alarm transmission.  Additionally, when using Honeywell Internet communication products, you have the ability of programming the alarm panels remotely using Compass Downloading software, and the ability for the customer to operate their system remotely and receive notifications using Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services.  Above is a list of Honeywell AlarmNet GSM communication products.

#2-GSM Communications
The second option to consider that has been the most common choice is GSM communications.  It is important to make sure that the customer has adequate GSM Signal availability.  GSM communication is a quick and easy solution to alarm communication.  When using Honeywell 4G GSM communication products, you can program the alarm panels remotely using our Compass Downloading software, and your customers can operate the system remotely and receive notifications using Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services.  Above is a list of Honeywell AlarmNet communication products.

#3-Level of Security
Now we need to consider the level of security the customer needs or is expecting.  Will one path of communication suffice or do they require a backup communication path? In the past, our industry relied on POTS lines as the primary path and only provided Cellular communication as a backup.  Today, we use Internet as a primary and 4G Cellular as a secondary or backup communication path. 

If using the LYNX Touch 5100; install both the L5100-Wi-Fi and the GSMVLP5-4G communicators.  For other applications, use the iGSMV4G; this device provides Internet as a primary path and 4G GSM cellular as a secondary path for communication.  The iGSMV4G constantly monitors the Internet connectivity all the way to our Network Control Center and if a report is necessary during an Internet outage, the device automatically and immediately sends the report using the 4G GSM communication path.  It is important to note that backup power is still required for the Internet Modem and Gateway to have a reliable Internet communications path.

#4-Alarm Traffic
Finally, which should not be overlooked, is the amount of alarm traffic or reporting this system will be doing.  Most systems do not send many reports each month. However, systems which send open and close reports do.  For those with minimal reporting, GSM as a primary communications path will suffice without any extra reporting expense.  When sending reports over GSM, a data cost is incurred and this is built into the monitoring cost of the device.  When choosing a communicator for a high traffic customer, it is best to use Internet or Internet with GSM as a backup.  If Internet is not available and you have a customer’s system that is to send open and close reports, we have an option in programming called “High Usage”.  This option is available for Daily supervised and Unsupervised supervision levels and provides additional data for alarm reporting.  To enable this option for a GSM communicator, access the devices programming using AlarmNet Direct.    If Internet is available, it is a better option because no extra expense is incurred by any amount of Internet traffic.

If you are incurring extra costs because of GSM data overages, speak with your central station and ask them about methods of reducing these overages.  Additionally, you may reach out to your Honeywell Regional Technical Manager who could also work with you to understand your central station practices and how to manage your alarm transmissions.


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  1. Nick Markowitz jr. 02.02.2014/8:12 am

    I have been doing Internet with GSM at all sites where possible including land line or pots to give 3 levels when land line is available and it has worked well it comes down to careful placement of cell unit to get best signal possible .
    Just did a 5100 with wifi and GSM back up and love not having to run cable to unit but still have speed of internet communication. Your absolutely right about using internet as primary especially when using total connect services they operate much faster .

    • Troy Barnes 02.05.2014/4:27 pm

      Thank you for your comments. We see truly amazing speeds when reporting alarms and connecting remotely using Wi-Fi or Ethernet connected internet products.

  2. Blake Rosenthal 02.13.2014/1:59 pm

    Generally speaking, we find that cellular alarm communications are more reliable than internet/wifi but at the same time a little more expensive. With cellular communications there are instances throughout the year, in which the AlarmNet network goes down, but they are far and few between. That being said, to be able to have cellular alarm communications, you need to be within the adequate coverage map of the 3G or 4G services you have according to the type of communicator you own. You may find the map to search your address here: http://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html#fbid=5Q3caMjawwv

    With broadband internet, as we all know power outages without having a backup battery in place, would result in your security system being unresponsive and unable to communicate alarm signals.

    We are fans of the new WiFi alarm communicators, as they offer monetary value to the end user (less expensive to buy and monitor) and do recommend this path when cellular is not preferred or out of the AT&T coverage map.

    Blake Rosenthal

  3. Yesshu 02.20.2014/8:39 pm

    Can I use a WiFi thermostat to control Lynx 5100?

    • Troy Barnes 02.24.2014/10:04 am

      The Wi-Fi communication module allows for Alarm Transmission, Total Connect 2.0 interaction and local panel control via Andriod or iOS app, but does not communicate to the Wi-Fi Thermostat or other automation devices. To control Thermostats and other Home Automation devices we utilize the Z-Wave technology by adding an L5100-ZWAVE module to the system.

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