August 12, 2018 at 9:40 am #150287
Summary: We decided to purchase a Qolsys system from SuretyDiy / SuretyCam. Both were outstanding choices. Here’s why:
We’ve had alarms in previous homes, so we were clear on what would meet our needs. We wanted one system that could manage both security and z-wave components. Wiring doesn’t look good after a few years – the glue and plastic coating yellows, and sometimes the wires in the attic are chewed on by stray critters. Still, as a former network engineer I also knew there was a risk of hacking into wireless systems. To date, no technology has been completely hack-proof. Block one path, and hackers find another. Finally, if you have lots of doors and windows, motion detectors cut down on the cost of the system. However, since our cats double as feline acrobats as they chase each other, we had to avoid even the most pet-friendly motion detectors.
Traditional alarm companies such as ADT and SafeTouch are pricey, and if even you’re not pleased with the service, you’re locked in for long periods. Putting their sensors on over 20 windows and 4 exterior doors gets expensive quickly. When we thought about it, we realized it isn’t that difficult to install an alarm system. Look at the popularity of the commercially advertised products. Good support would be critical if we went the DIY route.
With many of the systems we researched it seemed there were always trade-offs; perhaps the prices were slightly better but the support responses to tech questions were lame or took too long to arrive, or the system was way cheaper but the technology used was poor and did work with z-wave, or the prices, tech and support were good but the monitoring contract was with a company that had only one monitoring station in California – a state plagued with fires and earthquakes. It was not easy to find what we wanted.
After a LOT of research, we decided on the Qolsys system with encrypted sensor technology. You don’t find encrypted sensors in the products sold in stores like Home Depot or Amazon (not yet). We saw that many professional companies are now using Qolsys products in their installations. The military grade 2-way encryption between sensors and panels mean an extra level of security that the average burglar will not bypass with cheap frequency jamming tools. The Qolsys website provides clear documentation and videos of their array of products – from security to surveillance to safety. I read many good reviews on their products.
In addition to the various security components, we wanted to add smart-home components (e.g. z-wave lights, two-way audio/video door bells). The Qolsys system integrates with many of the best 3rd party lighting, appliance controls, and door locks as well.
What initially caught my eye with SuretyDIY was their technical forum. People wrote in with questions prior to becoming customers, and the SuretyDIY team responded quickly with clear and logical explanations. They were patient no matter how many follow-up questions were asked. They appeared to perform just as well with existing customers. If there are software/firmware updates to a system you purchase, they’ll let you know. If you are going the DIY route, you need good support. This company has it.
The SuretyDIY store carries many components made by Qolsys, though not all. Still they had no problem with my purchasing those other components from other vendors (or answering questions about those components). Something many other companies don’t carry, but SuretyDIY does, are extra magnets for sensors. Now we can even open windows to get fresh air, by opening them up to the second magnet level, and still be protected. Their prices are quite competitive on all the products they carry.
The final components that sold us on SuretyDIY were they use the reliable Alarm.com apps for self-monitoring, and the 24/7 central monitoring company they use – Avantguard Monitoring – is outstanding. You absolutely want a company with fully redundant, geographically distinct monitoring centers. The monitoring prices are half of what traditional alarm companies charge, even less than other commercial DIY alarm systems.
We ordered the system components, SuretyDIY pre-programmed the sensors at no additional cost, then shipped the system quickly. Within a week we had the components and did the installation. (Note: I didn’t read instructions carefully enough and missed seeing that there are small, raised triangles on the sensor and magnet that must be aligned. The support team was helpful and patient. 😊)
We’ve used the Qolsys system for about a month, as well as added a few non-Qolsys z-wave devices. Everything works as it should. The mobile phone Alarm.com app is designed well and helpful. Some features are only available using a web browser with the Alarm.com web site, but that isn’t a deal breaker. We set off the emergency alarm and had a phone call from the 24/7 monitoring center in under 10 seconds. Very impressive! Not quite as impressive are the pictures taken by the Qolsys panel when the system is armed/disarmed. The lighting where we placed the panel is not great, so the pictures are terrible. This is also not a deal breaker. We’ll be installing cameras soon and their quality is better than the panel, so we’ll have the info we need for security.
Prior to our purchase, it seemed that Qolsys and SuretyDIY ticked every box. After purchase, we are quite pleased and would not change a thing.August 13, 2018 at 5:41 pm #150511
We appreciate the feedback! I am glad to hear you have had such a positive experience so far. If we can help with any questions, do not hesitate to let us know!
We’ll be installing cameras soon and their quality is better than the panel, so we’ll have the info we need for security.
If you are installing Alarm.com Cloud Video cameras, Video to the IQ Panel 2 screen is newly released and available. See here for more information.
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