Wired Alarm. Are there smart WIRED sensors available? Or just Konnected?

project_security
project_sensors

(Rich Heimlich) #1

I have a Honeywell panel-based alarm system with about 16 sensors connected to it (not a small setup). I’ve just read up on Konnected as an option to essentially transform the entire system/panel into a smart system, but I’m not entirely sure I want to do in the system entirely.

Konnected talks about a cheap alternative and dumping all the keypads (I have three) and my system uses an Internet-based monitoring option so I can already control it via my phone. Plus I like that I can disable it when friends or family stop by if we’re not at the house. With Konnected it seems that the loss of keypads would prevent say, a family member from gaining easy access and being able to turn off the alarm. I wouldn’t want to force everyone we know to use the Smartthome app just for us.

So that all got me wondering. Aren’t there simply wired sensors out there that also are smart? Why not simply (and slowly) replace all my existing dumb sensors with smart sensors that are wired? I HATE the idea of moving to wireless sensors and having to check batteries continually at 16 locations, etc. Having them wired seems so much more efficient given that the house is already wired. The existing panel wouldn’t care as long as the sensor reports to state change electrically as it does not. The only difference would be, say, a z-wave radio to talk to the ST Hub to let it know a door or window is open, etc. That way I get the best of both worlds and, once the sensors are all replaced, I could then also later dump the panel out for something like Konnected when I’m ready.

Is this possible? Is it a bad idea?


Home Reno - wired or wireless motion sensors?
Wire contact sensors to SmartThings hub
(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Interesting Topic, but I think you’re conflating different problems together.

  1. Using a streamlined alternative UI for SmartThings (i.e., ActionTiles), you can provide an Arm/Disarm panel that is essentially the same as a traditional keypad. As cofounder of ActionTiles, this is, of course, a course I recommend. Our product offers much more functionality than just securely Arm & Disarm … for example, you can see all your Sensors at a glance it order to determine if a window or door has been left open, or if a motion sensor battery is dead, etc…

  2. Alternatively, there are “simple” arm/disarm keypads compatible with SmartThings: The IRIS (by Lowes) keypad, for example.


But the other question:

Aren’t there “wired” sensors that are also smart?

Well… that’s precisely the point of Konnected.io by @heythisisnate! By “wired” you are seem to primarily focus on “not requiring batteries” – a worthwhile goal. So, sure, you could adapt battery powered sensors to plug into the closest outlet with a DC power supply … several folks offer retro-fit kits to do this. But that’s a lot of ugly power supplies around your home, especially if you don’t have outlets at each door, window, and ceiling (motion sensors).

So it’s much cleaner to drive all such sensors by a single 12v DC power supply (often with battery backup) … i.e., the traditional home alarm central panel. And if you’ve done that, you might as well use Konnected to make them smart!

One thing Konnected doesn’t do (yet) is allow pass-through of the signal wires to the legacy alarm system … i.e., so you can view the sensors in SmartThings, but the status is still available for traditional central monitoring, legacy alarm, and, possibly, some degree of control with the existing legacy control pad. There are pros and cons to such a hybrid setup. It’s quite a bit of complexity and bigger risk of false alarms, but it might be the easiest way to leverage the legacy cellular connectivity … and run down the clock on a central monitoring contract, I guess.


So … I’ve maybe just added confusion…? :confused:

Let me rephrase:

What do you mean by “wired sensors that are also smart”? Can you express this in a different way? Do my comments have you rethinking the question and concept?


(Nate Clark) #3

There are lots of ways you can give a guest access to your home without having to give out access to SmartThings. Another great solution is a smart door lock with keypad. You can give out codes to your guests that simultaneously unlock the door and disarm the alarm.


(Rich Heimlich) #4

Thanks Nate. We bought the Kwikset 916 with keypad and it’s working via Z-Wave on the ST hub now using the Samsung app. I also bought RBOY’s stuff and am considering it if the this app isn’t good enough. So far it seems fine.

A few questions on Konnected. I’d like to get started and missed the kickstarter period. Plus I believe we have about 15 to 20 sensors (a few I can combine, but my extended Honeywell panel is a mess of combined sensors right now so I’m looking forward to undoing some of that).

  1. Is the DIY still viable, solid and a good way to go especially given my need for likely three core units?

  2. It’s unclear from what is on the surface as to how multiple modules hook up together. Can you point me to info on that?

  3. Is there a source for using tablets (I own several cheap Fire tablets already that I’m not using and need to replace at least two and optimally three old-style panels) that isn’t the visual mess you have in the video on using tablets? My wife would pitch a fit if I tried to replace the clean panels we have now with a tablet that includes a wire clearly sticking out, then a big converter and a visible hole. Wondering if someone makes a connector that can is at a right angle out of the tablet that can then be hidden behind and under the tablet with the power unit sitting in the wall behind it as well. Or is there a better option?


(Rich Heimlich) #5

Just so we’re on the same page, I haven’t used ActionTiles yet, but I believe that would absolutely be the way I’d go if I adopt Konnected as the solution.

I realized I’d goofed in my initial thoughts on this. I mistakenly assumed that the sensors were all drawing power and thus, every sensor location would have power already there so there’d be no need for a battery-driven sensor. Now that I realize they’re just an open/close loop (duh, and have an EE background though quite long ago now) this no longer would fit my argument.

A question for you that I’m unclear of. Much is made of Konnected not needing panels and such, but I see some benefits of doing so. If I have one of these panels, can’t a burglar essentially just see it and hit “Disable”? Sure, I’d get notified, but I’d much rather having the blaring sirens going to alert my neighbors.

FWIW, Konnected seems the clear way to go now to me and for panels we’d obviously want to use your app.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

Just like a traditional physical button arm/disarm keypad, in ActionTiles a PIN is required to disable the armed state. (This is optional, but recommended if the tablet is mounted anywhere obvious…).

Of course, there’s still vulnerabilities to cut power supply and/or internet; but it’s actually not super hard to put in redundancies for that too.

Reality is that overwhelming majority of home burglaries are not sophisticated heists. If there’s any indication a home has an alarm system, it is likely to be avoided or abandoned pretty quickly.


(Nate Clark) #7

Hey Rich, first of all you didn’t miss the Kickstarter period! There’s still 12 days to go!

To answer your questions specifically:

  1. You’ll be fine with an 18-zone konnected kit. guarantee it.
  2. The multiple module’s don’t hook together. They each operate independently and communicate with the ST API and your hub. SmartThings is the brains that ties it all together.
  3. You can absolutely hide the power adapter in a junction box in the wall. My video demo was just a quick and simple example. You can clean it up by putting a junction box in the wall and a nice tablet frame to hide the wire. You can get right-angle usb cables online, too.

You can put a PIN code on the arm/disarm button in ActionTiles.


#8

I’m seeing some confusion here because “wired“ sensors and “hardwired“ sensors actually mean two different things in this context.

A smart sensor needs to be able to do two different things: recognize a change in state, such as open instead of closed, and communicate that state to the controller.

With a wireless sensor, there’s a regular sensor inside the device, plus there is a radio which allows it to communicate wirelessly with its controller, in this case the smartthings hub. By convention, this is also a battery powered sensor. The battery is used both to power the part of the sensor that recognizes the state change and to power the radio and the radio actually uses quite a bit of power.

Next we have soft wired, or more accurately mains powered, smart sensors. They still recognize the State change, they still communicate by radio to the controller, but instead of getting their power from the battery, they are plugged into the mains. There are some zwave and zigbee sensors which can operate either from mains power or from a battery.

Note that there are some companies that will call these “wireless powered sensors,” because to them the “wireless“ means radio communication.

Finally, we have hardwired sensors. This actually doesn’t have anything to do with how the sensor is powered because often the sensors are not powered at all!. This has to do with how the sensor communicates with that controller, which is over a traveler wire very much the way the auxiliary switch works in a regular nonnetworked three-way set up. The sensor is wired to the panel.

There are different ways of wiring them, but it’s not uncommon To just have a little current that runs through them and if the contact is open then the current doesn’t come through and it is the control panel, not the sensor, that recognizes the state change. So this kind of hardwired sensor is really dumb. But they can also be used with many different control panels because they aren’t Formatting messages at all. So sometimes these are called “universal hardwired sensors.“

Anyway…While it is possible to have a smart hardwired sensor, that is a sensor with its own brain that can recognize its own state change and do something about it, you don’t usually see those in low-cost residential systems. you do see them on things like banks systems were you want a lot of redundancy and they can function as a kind of tamper alert.

So it is even possible to have a “hardwired wireless batterypowered sensor” because hardwired refers to how the sensor communicates to the controller, wireless refers to a secondary communication method, and battery powered refers to where the sensor gets the power to run the radio for the secondary communication method. But again, you don’t see those in Low end residential systems. But they do exist.

Back to the question: does it make sense to swap out one sensor at a time?

OK, for the purposes of low-cost residential systems, “hardwired“ almost always means a dumb sensor with the physical wire connecting it to the panel and a tiny bit of current going through that circuit. No radio. No power required for the sensor itself – – sensor itself doesn’t even know if it’s open or closed. It’s the panel that determines that based on the current received through the traveler wire. Sometimes the sensors are a little smarter than that, but they still don’t have radios. So whatever power they need to run their brain they just get from what is called the “residual power“ on the wire that they are wired to. They don’t need a battery or a plug.

Back to the OP’s question:

If you just hate batteries, you can convert your standard wireless sensor so that it runs off mains power instead of off a battery. Lots of people have done that. But you can’t swap this in for a standard hardwired sensor because they just Communicate completely differently To the panel.

It’s not impossible that you could rig up a kind of a Rube Goldberg thing with dry contacts so that when the smart sensor detected something you sent a pulse message on a traveler wire to the panel, but it wouldn’t really make sense to do it that way.

It’s also really important to understand that your typical hardwired sensor is very small, very cheap, and carrying almost no power. These are often the size of a quarter.

But your typical “wireless“ sensor is also a smart sensor. It has to have room for a brain that recognizes the state change, for radio to communicate that state change, and for a power mechanism, whether it’s a battery or a plug, to power both the brain and the radio. That’s why the sensors are commonly the length of a finger. And generally cost much more than hardwired sensor, because they are a much more complex device.

You put all of that together and that’s why you don’t just swap out one sensor at a time in a hardwired system.

If you use something like konnected, what you are doing is swapping out the brain that monitors the dumb hardwired sensors.

If you start adding wireless sensors, then you are communicating via radio, not via traveler wire, usually directly to the hub.

So it’s an apples and oranges thing. All of these kinds of sensors are useful for different purposes. But once you have some hardwired sensors, you’ll generally only use the wireless sensors for specific locations where for whatever reason you don’t want to run wire. You can’t take a string of six hardwired sensors cut out sensor number four and replace it with a smart sensor. It just isn’t going to work that way.

Oh, and it used to be the “wired” was used interchangeably with “soft wired.” You had battery operated sensors, wired (plug-in) sensors, or hardwired sensors.

But as there have gotten to be more and more wireless sensor systems out there, more installers are starting to present the choice as “wired” (meaning hardwired) versus “wireless” (meaning either plug-in or battery operated, but communicating via radio ). So you do find the same terms being used different ways by different companies or even different installers for the same company. As long as you understand that part of the issue is the communication method and part of the issue is the power method, and that sensors that have radios need more power, you should be able to sort it all out.

I hope that helped. :sunglasses:

@tgauchat @heythisisnate


(Rich Heimlich) #9

Great info and much appreciated.


(Rich Heimlich) #10

Must have been looking at something else where levels were sold out. Glad I didn’t miss it, though waiting until February is a bit more than I was looking to do. hehe I suppose I can wait.


(Michael) #11

Rich, there are other options on this community where you integrate your existing panel with SmartThings. This depends on the model of your alarm panel though. So if you prefer to keep everything you have in place including the keypads and monitoring service, you can through other solutions such as the Alarm Decoder network appliance. That solution integrates all of your existing sensors with ST and the ST app becomes another keypad on your alarm system.

The Konnected solution is awesome if you have an incompatible or nonfunctional alarm panel but there are other options too.


#12

Right. :sunglasses:

If anyone would like to see some of the projects that other people have done to integrate with existing security systems, there’s a “security“ list in the project reports section of the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki which has most of them. :tada:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section#Quick_Browse_Links_for_Project_Reports.2FQuestions


(Rich Heimlich) #13

I have the standard Vista 20P panel. I have zero love for monitoring as it’s a total rip-off (used to work with a partner for one of the larger companies and saw how shoddy it all is up close). I assume you’re referencing the “AD2PI Network Appliance”? If so, two issues with that one. It’s more expensive than going the Konnected route and it states it’s for use with the Raspberry Pi.

It is nice to know there are other options. I did sign onto the kickstarter, but I am still looking at other options.


(Rich Heimlich) #14

Nate, one curious question:

I moved my existing system 18 months ago to use a product called Envisalink (v4). It just replaces the phone line piece with an Ethernet option. As such I have an Ethernet run to my panel. Are you looking at any option that might support Ethernet over WiFi? I can see why not to do it. Sort of hoped the Node piece you used would support both, but clearly it doesn’t. The “benefit” for me would be zero issues with WiFi signal or need to remove the metal panel.


(Nate Clark) #15

Sorry Rich, it’s Wi-Fi only at this time. But since you already have ethernet going into the panel, you could easily put an AP in there to create a really strong signal for the Konnected devices.


(Rich Heimlich) #16

Thanks. Just tickling the creativity a bit on this side. Already have an AP in the master bedroom (our panel is in the closet of that room so doing all the install is going to be a fun cramped affair when it arrives in 2/18).

WiFi makes total sense.

While you’re here, on the tablet setup I ordered the converter and a nice right-angle connector that’ll hide everything nicely. I’m wondering if the tablet has any means of working in the way our Ecobee does. What I mean is, do you know if the tablets have any means of seeing us pass by and coming out of sleep then?

Or are they either always on or sleep until touched?

Thanks…(and sorry for being a distraction)


(Nate Clark) #17

Check out the “Fully Kiosk Browser” app. The pro version has the feature you describe. It uses the front-facing camera on the tablet to detect someone approaching.
http://www.ozerov.de/fully-kiosk-browser/


#18

If your system has a relay or if you can add one, you can just add a z-wave dry sensor that will connect to ST. It won’t allow you to control anything but you can trigger things. See my post below (as well as the wiring correction I added right below), different alarm but same principle.

If you need to add a relay, a power source and the ZW097 sensor, you are looking at less than $100 for a light integration in ST. If you already have a relay with a free switch (ELK 924 are commonly used with alarm systems and have 2 switches) just connect the ZW097 to the NO and COM connectors.


(Manny) #19

I am almost in this exact situation. My vista 20p has a zone expander and a ton of wires including 2 batteries and 2 16.5v transformers. I have 3 keypads, an (radio) internet communicator, two “voicelink” speaker devices, several sensors including CO2/smoke and heat, plus 3 motion sensors and 3 door/window contact sensors.

I’d like to be able to use most of that equipment without spending a ton of money and having to get a degree in EE to hook it all up. I don’t care for monitoring at $45/mo and multi-year contracts. I am so done with that. In a couple of months I’ll be switching to self-monitored or maybe something like Scout. I know I won’t be able to use the voicelinks but that’s why I bought a few indoor cameras with 2-way audio. For the audio part I’ll just have to use the separate app made for the cameras since I can’t do audio via the ST app, no big deal.

The alarm company installed my current panel and they made it seem like the panel belongs to them and will not be giving me the installer code at the end of the term which means I’ll be trying to get that reset somehow. For now, I’ve been using the Honeywell TotalConnect DTH/smartapp to arm/disarm the system based on ST presence but sometimes it can take 30 seconds to perform those actions because it has to go out to the web via an API call on the Honeywell servers and back home.


#20

I don’t know Vista but if your alarm panel is able to call a landline and has an RJ11 out connection you can then have the alarm call programmed numbers like your cell phone directly, that way bypassing the professional monitoring. If you do not want or can’t wire the alarm to your landline then you can use a GSM terminal. That’s what I used since I don’t even have a landline service and it improves security as the bad guys can’t cut the phone wire. It just costs me about $3 a month to maintain the prepaid cellular account.

If you are not able to get into the programming then you will have to buy a new panel, I doubt you can reset it as it would be a security backdoor. You can try the standard installer code, they may never have changed it, that would be in the user guide or get in touch with the manufacturer.