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HiVolt
Premium
join:2000-12-28
Toronto, ON
kudos:21
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

Alarmforce, any opinions?

Looking to set up an alarm system in the house... Alarm Force seems the cheapest and also the system is wireless, i dont feel like chewing up the house by running wires.

Is anyone a customer and can share pro's & con's? Being wireless I'm assuming the sensors need periodic battery changes, does the system alert you that a sensor needs a new battery? Are the batteries somewhat standard or proprietary?

Thanks.
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milnoc

join:2001-03-05
H3B
kudos:2
Is that the company who plays those ads that try to scare the living crap out of you? If it's them, I have to say no thanks. I don't like fear mongers.


HiVolt
Premium
join:2000-12-28
Toronto, ON
kudos:21
I don't care about their silly commercials... What i do like is their history of not raising rates and that the system is wireless.
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Wolfie00
My dog is an elitist
Premium
join:2005-03-12
kudos:8
I wouldn't worry about the wiring -- if anything, it makes the system more reliable. I had a house wired by ADT once (it was free, IIRC, but of course they stick you with a contract) and it was painless. The last house I bought already had a wired system and, again, there was no harm done in the running of wires, everything was neat and tidy. It was actually quite amazing how well it was done. I ended up using the system (which was hooked up to a loud siren) in unmonitored mode.


Thane_Bitter
Inquire within
Premium
join:2005-01-20
Reviews:
·Bell Sympatico
reply to HiVolt
I prefer a wired system, granted its more work to install, I think it makes up for it when it comes time to replace one only one centrally located battery. On the more traditional systems the battery is a typical little 12v 7Ah or higher sealed lead acid battery, the type a UPS might use; very simple to find and replace.

Think about leaving a margin for expandability, you might want to add additional functions (temp alarms, leak, heat sensors), and ones that offer multiple user codes with separate zoning rules (i.e. the dog walk needs only have access to locations the dog is in, not have the whole run of the house).

I am not convinced how well wireless systems and the sensors are interlocked to the station base, and if you have many sensors that also means a lot of batteries to replace.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to HiVolt
said by HiVolt:

i dont feel like chewing up the house by running wires.

My guys have always wired it up well enough that there's no chewing of anything, you just see contacts at the windows & doors and motion detectors in various areas if you're looking for them.

I wouldn't trust my security to wireless.


Guspaz
Guspaz
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-05
Montreal, QC
kudos:23
reply to HiVolt
We use AlarmForce at our office, both because it was way more affordable than the competitors, and because they had a very good price for their cellular option.

Our office is VoIP-only, so we can't rely on the telephone-based part of the alarm. We have it connected, so it can use it if it's working, but the alarm system has the cellular radio to use if the VoIP line is down.
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Latest version of CapSavvy systray usage checker: »CapSavvy v4.2 released!


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
The telephone portion of most alarms will function just fine using VoIP. If your equipment is all on a UPS it'll be almost as reliable as a regular phone line.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON

1 edit
reply to HiVolt
said by HiVolt:

Looking to set up an alarm system in the house... Alarm Force seems the cheapest and also the system is wireless, i dont feel like chewing up the house by running wires.

Is anyone a customer and can share pro's & con's? Being wireless I'm assuming the sensors need periodic battery changes, does the system alert you that a sensor needs a new battery? Are the batteries somewhat standard or proprietary?

Thanks.

If you're interested you can do a DIY alarm and use wireless sensors. Look at aartech.ca and a little homework and you can do a self monitored and managed alarm in addition to remote monitoring if you choose.

If you have any technical skills, there tons you can do with Home Automation, remote management and the like. Quite frankly I'm monitored and the only two times the alarm has gone off by accident I have been able to respond far faster than the monitoring company.

I have a ZWave sensor installed at my front gate that allows me to hit a trigger that will commit the following actions:

1) Open the gate
2) Disarm my alaram
3) Disable the sprinkler system if its currently active, for 20 minutes
4) Turn on entry lights if its night, and specific interior lights
5) Open the appropriate garage door depending on the car entering
6) transmit an authorized entry SMS to my phone, and my wifes phone.

I used to have a $ 50,000 Creston system that did most of this for me, but I got sick of hiring installers to come and re-configure so I researched a bit.

Now a days you can do all this with a Raspberry Pi and $ 400/500 of hardware, depending how crazy you want to get. A DSC alarm if you wanted to do it yourself (or just hire a wiring guy) is about $ 150. $ 50 for a Wifi monitoring system.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
reply to urbanriot
said by urbanriot:

My guys have always wired it up well enough that there's no chewing of anything, you just see contacts at the windows & doors and motion detectors in various areas if you're looking for them.

I wouldn't trust my security to wireless.

You must be shaking in your boots then, because your police, ambulance, and fire are all dispatched via wireless.


Maxx2006

join:2013-02-02
Cambridge, ON
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy Cable
·TekSavvy TekTalk
·voip.ms
reply to HiVolt
I recently did a home setup with Lorex. It is capable of 8 cameras, recording, setting alarm zones and remote monitoring. It also has a an android app for your phone that works well. I have it setup to always record and one camera is set for motion and takes a picture and emails us. We are running 4 cameras as of now. This was a purchase from Costco.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to CanadianRip
said by CanadianRip:

You must be shaking in your boots then, because your police, ambulance, and fire are all dispatched via wireless.

I highly doubt their wireless useless unlicensed spectrum that relies on a bunch of little non-self recharging batteries to function properly.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by Gone:

I highly doubt their wireless useless unlicensed spectrum that relies on a bunch of little non-self recharging batteries to function properly.

I have two wireless motion sensors in addition to my wired. The battery lasts over a year. I replace them annually when I refresh all my smoke detector batteries. The panel will show a code if one of the batteries is low.

Would I prefer wired, yes. However there's certain applications where wireless may be your only feasible option. It's plenty reliable as long as you know how to replace batteries.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to CanadianRip
said by CanadianRip:

said by urbanriot:

My guys have always wired it up well enough that there's no chewing of anything, you just see contacts at the windows & doors and motion detectors in various areas if you're looking for them.

I wouldn't trust my security to wireless.

You must be shaking in your boots then, because your police, ambulance, and fire are all dispatched via wireless.

Do you walk when going left or have you ever scratched your head? Those two options are as related to each other as your comment to my post.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by urbanriot:

Do you walk when going left or have you ever scratched your head? Those two options are as related to each other as your comment to my post.

How so? You're talking about security and not trusting wireless. If your alarm goes off, are you going to put out the fire, scare away the prowler, or resuscitate yourself?

No you're trusting wireless technology so that someone qualified can respond to that alarm for you. An alarm blaring away with nobody doing anything about it does not make you secure.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4

1 edit
said by CanadianRip:

No you're trusting wireless technology so that someone qualified can respond to that alarm for you. An alarm blaring away with nobody doing anything about it does not make you secure.

Just because something is wireless does not mean it is in any way, shape or form related to something else that is wireless. Attempting to draw a parallel between a wireless alarm system and the managed licensed wireless digital trunk networks that EMS, fire and police is, [wrong]. The parallel is so bad that it causes one to lose credibility in this conversation.

I completely agree with urbanriot - I wouldn't trust a wireless alarm system. Not only do you have the battery issue to worry about (... and not all batteries are created equal, even among a specific model of a specific brand) but you've got interference to contend with as well, particularly if they're ISM and fighting to be heard among every other 900MHz and 2.4GHz device in the area.

You might also want talk to someone about the NRPS about when their wireless digital data network stopped working due to interference from an industrial elevator on the US side of the border. Even emergency responders aren't immune to the limitations of wireless.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by Gone:

I completely agree with urbanriot - I wouldn't trust a wireless alarm system. Not only do you have the battery issue to worry about (... and not all batteries are created equal, even among a specific model of a specific brand) but you've got interference to contend with as well, particularly if they're ISM and fighting to be heard among every other 900MHz and 2.4GHz device in the area.

You might also want talk to someone about the NRPS about when their digital trunking system stopped working due to interference from an industrial elevator on the US side of the border. Even emergency responders aren't immune to the limitations of wireless.

Except in reality the interference in your home is known, and of non issue. It will sync on a clear channel, and if it breaks the alarm goes off. Much in the same way that if a sensor was disconnected.

I think in your under the impression that an alarm is far more fail-safe then it is. Any seasoned criminal walks around your house, finds where your power gets into the electrical box. The alarm box is generally installed right there, walks up with a sledge hammer and does their own dispatch.

That leaves you deterring with two functional uses: 1) knowing your home has had an intrusion before you walk in. 2) In the event of fire and you're not home a far better chance of a dispatch event. Depending if the fire breaks out near the alarm box, even that isn't going to help you.

So wireless interference and forgetting to change batteries are really marginal points of failure in the grand scheme of things. The other thing you may be surprised to find out, is the engineers at Tyco are aware of wireless interference and failed batteries and have actually designed their equipment to work under those constraints.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
Actually I do not and have never considered alarms fail-safe. By the time someone gets into a building and trips the alarm they will already be long gone with what they want (or after they hear the siren/klaxon) before anyone responds. 99% of the people who would break in aren't seasoned criminals, they're just smash-and-grab types looking to make a quick buck for their next fix. The only benefit to a monitored alarm in my mind is so that you know something has happened inside and can get there to secure your building and clean up shortly after instead of the next morning/weekday. This is why I have no issue running an alarm monitoring dial-out over VoIP, as anyone serious would have already cut the cables coming into the building anyway. People who want an alarm as a true fail-safe have dedicated alarm circuits that go right to the police or a dedicated monitoring centre. Not only do these alarms trip when one of the sensors detects an event, but they trip if the line is cut. When people have systems like those they mean business, and they'd probably be the types who have to contend with true seasoned criminals.

Still - when all things are considered and knowing the caveats that already exist - why would I risk dealing with wireless? Why would I throw even more interference onto the spectrum to contend with when I'm trying to run other stuff on those same bands? In a pinch I can understand going wireless, but in all honesty if the price isn't much different you're far better off going wired for a whole multitude of reasons. Why risk not having the klaxon sound because a sensor had a dead battery while you were away for a week?

Of all things to cheap out on - the thing that trips the klaxon to scare people away - this probably isn't one of them.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by Gone:

Still - when all things are considered and knowing the caveats that already exist - why would I risk dealing with wireless? Why would I throw even more interference onto the spectrum to contend with when I'm trying to run other stuff on those same bands? In a pinch I can understand going wireless, but in all honesty if the price isn't much different you're far better off going wired for a whole multitude of reasons. Why risk not having the klaxon sound because a sensor had a dead battery while you were away for a week?

I think a hybrid system is actually a best practice.

You may recall a fire that killed 4 in an East Gwillimbury fire recently:

quote:
Wieclawek also said there was no smoke alarm on the main floor of the house where the fire first started, and that the wiring of the homes smoke alarm system was compromised during the fire.

So even wired isn't impervious to failure. In fact in my home there's a chance that the main floor fire-detector could have its wiring burn out prior to it detecting smoke due to its proximity to the alarm box. This is why I have two additional wireless unit, and I didn't want to mess up the conferred ceiling. So wireless it was.

Again while I too prefer wired and see its convenience. The spectrum issues you raise or of non-issue in practice. Unless you're in an apartment/condo in which case you either already have a built in building security system or well have other reasons not too have an alarm at all.

As I mentioned there are also areas that simply may be unpractical to wire but would benefit from an additional sensor or panel.

My main point here is wired, wireless, its certainly better then nothing and you can't simply discount wireless as useless. Especially since there's no evidence to suggest that they are worse.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to CanadianRip
said by CanadianRip:

Any seasoned criminal walks around your house, finds where your power gets into the electrical box. The alarm box is generally installed right there, walks up with a sledge hammer and does their own dispatch.

No, not at all. Obviously you're talking out of your ass here as that's not at all how it would work.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by urbanriot:

No, not at all. Obviously you're talking out of your ass here as that's not at all how it would work.

Is that so? Please enlighten me as to where an alarm box is usually installed if not right beside the electrical box?


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
... so in your made up scenario, a thief has teleported inside a home and smashes the alarm box before it communicates with the monitoring company?


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by urbanriot:

... so in your made up scenario, a thief has teleported inside a home and smashes the alarm box before it communicates with the monitoring company?

They gain entry and disable the alarm box prior to it completing its call to the provider, assuming they haven't just cut the phone wire which is also sitting right there near the electrical in of the home.

But now a days with GSM modules being more popular they disable the unit just in case. My made up scenario is based on advice from a Tyco employee who's been there for 2 decades and has forgotten more about security then you or I will ever know.

They're generally fast enough to disable the unit before it can transmit an alarm, and certainly faster then a response could occur.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
Okay, so somehow this master thief has cut the phone line, blocked cellular for those that use it as a backup, cut the internet lines for those that use that as a backup, bypassed the window or door triggers and was able to slip through the motion detectors and then made it into the basement to smash the alarm system...

Yea, sure, that happened all the time on Leverage. They could even bypass lasers!


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to CanadianRip
You're assuming the kind of people who would break into your home aren't already so strung out that they couldn't recall their own first name, let alone where an alarm box would be, what it looks like and how to get to it and disable it quickly enough before it notifies the monitoring station.

It'll never be a "seasoned criminal" who would ever break into any one of our homes. We are simply not important enough of a target for those people to bother with. The people who they would bother with have alarm systems far more sophisticated than anything we're discussing here.

The people who will break into our homes are the morons who will grab the first thing of value they can find and run to sell it on the street for a quick buck to get their next fix.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
said by Gone:

It'll never be a "seasoned criminal" who would ever break into any one of our homes. We are simply not important enough of a target for those people to bother with. The people who they would bother with have alarm systems far more sophisticated than anything we're discussing here.

Depends on the neighborhood you live in.

You`re also making a lot of assumptions about my home.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
said by CanadianRip:

Depends on the neighborhood you live in.
You`re also making a lot of assumptions about my home.

If you live in the kind of neighbourhood and have the kind of valuables that a seasoned criminal would bother targeting, you wouldn't be putting in your own wireless alarm system. Simple as that.

You're either foolish, or more paranoid than urbanriot.


urbanriot
Premium
join:2004-10-18
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Cogeco Cable
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

The people who will break into our homes are the morons who will grab the first thing of value they can find and run to sell it on the street for a quick buck to get their next fix.

Exactly. Plenty of people have most of their doors and windows set to instant alarm in away mode so a blaring alarm would either force them to stop the second they cracked a window or result in a person trying to grab the first immediate thing they see.

said by Gone:

You're either foolish, or more paranoid than urbanriot.

Three attempted break-ins in the past 20 years, one disrupted by my trusty dog, another disrupted by a baseball bat and a third disrupted by an alarm system.

There may have also been a fourth. I once lived on a street where I was the only house on my side of the street that wasn't burgled between 11 houses, presumably because my dog was barking like a maniac (I wasn't home).

My car is often rifled through in my locked garage once in a while but there's nothing of value in it or the garage so I really don't care.


CanadianRip

join:2009-07-15
Oakville, ON
reply to Gone
said by Gone:

If you live in the kind of neighbourhood and have the kind of valuables that a seasoned criminal would bother targeting, you wouldn't be putting in your own wireless alarm system. Simple as that.

You're either foolish, or more paranoid than urbanriot.

There you go making more assumptions.

Who said my system is purely wireless, or that I did it all myself. Some people like having a solid understanding of their home, and have a DIY inclination. Will a seasoned pro target my home, well based on events in my neighborhood they may.`

It`s like assuming people don`t buy Apple product because they`re poor.


Gone
Premium
join:2011-01-24
Fort Erie, ON
kudos:4
reply to urbanriot
said by urbanriot:

Three attempted break-ins in the past 20 years, one disrupted by my trusty dog, another disrupted by a baseball bat and a third disrupted by an alarm system.

There may have also been a fourth. I once lived on a street where I was the only house on my side of the street that wasn't burgled between 11 houses, presumably because my dog was barking like a maniac (I wasn't home).

My car is often rifled through in my locked garage once in a while but there's nothing of value in it or the garage so I really don't care.

Oh, I've had break-ins, albeit having people go into a car (... or steal a car all together ) has been far more likely in my experience. I still don't run an alarm at home though, because the only benefit it would have would be to let me know that someone has smashed something and gotten into the house so that I can get there and make sure my cats are safe, because whoever got in is already long gone with the first thing they could grab to get a buck.

Is it your opinion that the people doing this are seasoned criminals, though? You know, the kind who can cut through glass and deflect lasers and all that stuff? Or, rather, is it the kind of people you'd find at the corner of Morrison and Victoria who need a quick buck?