Help Please! Looking for a Security System

I’ve read about wireless security systems and home automation and learned just enough to get me really confused. I need a wireless security system first and foremost- one that has the regular bells and whistles like door, window and motion sensors and that will call out to a monitoring center. I’d like to be able to control this from my iPhone.

I read that MiCasaVerde interfaces so that I don’t have to pay some sort of subscription fee. But I’m on the site and I don’t see much other than security cameras. I need the whole security system, including the panel. I know I can use an app on my iPhone, but can I also use this app to turn off/on and monitor a security alarm/system?

Everyone is talking about Z-wave, but I don’t see any alarm systems that are Z-wave… mostly see X10. I’m assuming that if the main security control panel isx10, the z-wave mi casa verde devices are not going to alert the system to call out for help if there is a breach.

Eventually I want the thermostat and lights hooked up, and have room for expansion as I get more into this- just don’t have all the funds at the moment and want to start with the security system.

I would love for someone just to tell me what to get! Thanks!

Vera users have written plug-ins to interface Vera with their particular alarm system. I believe you can at least disarm/arm the system through Vera, but you may also be able to use the alarms door/window sensors to trigger Z-Wave(or other) events in Vera. Think of Z-Wave and Vera as the Home Automation and Monitoring Solution and the Alarm System as it own system serving that purpose.

Wireless alarm systems are many and most should be using the Honeywell Radio signal for all of the sensors (not Z-Wave). Some alarm systems like 2Gig Technologies use the wireless radio for the sensors, but also act like a weaker version of Vera and control Z-Wave (so when the alarm sounds, your front lights could flash or in the event of a fire, hall lights would light the way out of the house).

If you aren’t using 2Gig, then most of the other alarm systems will interface with Vera through RS-232 serial connection. There are plenty of posts showing which alarm systems people have working with Vera, you’ll have to search the forum, this page only shows the 2Gig:
Here are some plug-ins for other alarms, that should you started:

I suppose it’s not the end of the world if the two are separate systems… I think I was really hung up on that.

The 2GIG looks fine though… I don’t have anything at all right now so I have a blank slate. Only thing is that it looks like you have to use for monitoring… I was hoping to use a cheaper service like Alarm Relay, but I still don’t understand how the GSM thing works yet. I’ll call and find out. Thanks for the links. I didn’t even see the supported devices page earlier when I looked.

on the 2-Gig, you end up using BOTH (who does the higher level integration, and has the iPhone app, and alarm forwarding), AND, who is your “central station” (calls the police/fire etc). It costs about $35-$45/month, depending on what level of service you get. The signalling and control is done over the GSM modem (carriers availble are AT&T, T-Mobile or Rogers in Canada).

You have to call, to get PDF forms sent to you, as its not on their website yet. You pay as well…

UGH, ok, thanks! I was just looking into all of this right now. I do NOT want to pay 40 bucks a month to anyone if possible. If I do have to split them into separate systems… one for alarm and one for home automation, what can I use that will only require autorelay for just the alarm? I can use two apps on my phone… no big deal, right?

See this post:

I found a company that uses the “IP Bat” board for Honeywell/Ademco alarms, and has self-monitoring for $5,.99/month (you pay yearly), and if you want self and central station (both), its $14.99/month.

There are also people working on integrating the “AD2USB” device to Vera, once that’s done, that may expose the motion detectors and doors to Vera to be used for “scene control” (turning devices on and off), but that won’t get you “alarm monitoring”

You can also use almost any alarms systems RJ31X jack (phone line), alarmrelay has a device you connect to it, to do “IP alarming” over the internet. If course these are just very basic interfaces. I think alarmrelay is also about $15/month using the device they provide to you (and they will help you program it as well). If you have a phone line, alarmrelay is only $8.95/month for monitoring.

I thought 2Gig could be used without any monitoring or just a basic (free) option, possibly. The benefit of 2Gig is its use of Z-Wave, so you can start buying a few Z-Wave dimmers and try them out with 2Gig before committing to buy Vera. When you do buy Vera, then the Z-Wave side of the 2Gig becomes redundant, so you might have to think about the order you’d like to buy things and how long before you get to your ultimate goal. You may be better off with a serial controlled system if Vera is to be purchased soon.

you can certainly use the 2-Gig with 3 options:

  1. no alarm monitoring at all, just local speaker making noise, with the Zwave part, you could also turn on lights, etc, this might be good enough for most people.

  2. use a standard phone line, and not have access to the “iPhone” apps to control the panel, but you will have central station monitoring ( has this for $8.95/month)

  3. use one of 3 GSM modules availble, (AT&T, T-Mobile or Rogers), then you must have an account with “”, as they are the exclusive company that interfaces with and supports the 2-gig. Of course no longer sells account to indivduals, so you need to go through another company. a good choice is again “”. now since there are 2 companies involved, guess what? they each get their cut, and it runs anywhere from $26.95/month, to almost $45/month, depening on what level of service (control of the system) you want. There are charges for video, locks/lights, thermostats, or just basic control.

There is no other interface to the 2-gig, those are the 3 options listed above.

That’s very very helpful, thank you.

I was going to buy Vera to avoid all of the subscription fees, only because this is what I’ve been reading. But yeah, if 2Gig can do all of this then it is redundant, but in the long run, it’s cheaper to go without a subscription fee, so maybe I need to look at a different alarm system that has nothing to do with Z wave at all. They were married in my mind but I’m realizing they don’t need to be.

I do not have a phone line, it will be cell only. I am open to ANY security system. But since it’s a cell, I need central station monitoring

Right now, these are the things I’d like to be able to do:

1- have the alarm system call out to bring the cops
2- turn on/off my alarm from my phone, although everyone has FOBs so maybe I can drop this requirement

And these two things I thought were Vera alone, and did not require any subscription fees:

3- eventually control my thermostat and lights from my iphone
4- use a camera to look into my back yard from my phone when i am pulling in at night

I didn’t realize these were all different services. Doesn’t vera replace the home monitoring (not the security call-the-cops side of things)? I think I need to brush up on the basics again.

Vera is not an alarm system, but a “home control and automation” system. It can control your lights, appliances, adjust your thermostats, run door locks, etc, all via Zwave.

It is however, not an alarm system, though some use it as such. It has no central station monitoring capability, but can certainly notify you via text paging or email…

It is free, and there is a web page you can do all of this from as well.

There are also iPhone apps, that you pay for (iVera and SQ Remote come to mind), that make it easier to use, and friendlier, they each cost $30 or so, one time. SQ remote has the capability to run AV equipment as well, through their “SQ Blaster”.

Some alarms have been “integrated” to Vera, so their sensors can be used by Vera to fire off scenes, thats what the purpose of the integration is, so marry the 2 systems together, and avoid “duplicated” sensors (for example, if you have a motion sensor on your alarm, why get a separate one for Vera, to sense “occupancy” and turn on lights…)

Hope I have cleared this up a little bit for you :slight_smile:

You can do all of this from the 2-Gig, and there are dealers who will come and set it all up for you, but its going to cost you monthly for that service, and it doesn’t do much in the home automation area, other than simple on and off of lights, on an alarm event, or remote control via the iPhone app.

I use the DSC PowerSeries PC-1832 with Vera 2, and it is working great. Using these instructions, I was able to get it to work correctly.

If you are looking for monitoring service, then you can get it here for $8.95 per month. I have not used them and so cannot offer any feedback about the quality of the service.

The smarthome service I think is provided by, which is what I also use with my DSC system.
For installs without conventional phone lines they offer a GSM solution or an IP based solution that uses the panels POTS connection.

i’m looking at the GE Simon XT right now … though can’t figure out how it dials out. There are references to a GSM module but I don’t see one. I’m off the Vera topic now… They’ll be two systems, but it would be nice if Vera could turn the alarm on and off and send messages to my cell because it looks like that part of the monitoring system costs more. My relay is 14.95 for cell phones.

The DSC looks promising too and you have it working with the Vera… so that’s great. Not sure why I ruled it out earlier.

I appreciate all of the clarifications. I bought my first house and am gutting it, so every day I have to learn about everything from carpenter bees to marble tile. I’m researched out.

If you are truly gutting your house, call an alarm company, they will be glad prewire your house, and it might even be free :). The very best time to wire a house is before the drywall goes up. Don’t forget wired motions in the corner of every room (will come in handy to turn on the room lights with Vera, through the alarm later, via alarm-Vera zone integration)

Also, remember plenty of CAT5 and RG6 cable wire in each room. (I would do a minimum of 2 locations per room, usually with 2 CAT5 and 2 COAX per location)

It’s much easier and cheaper to get it done while walls are open


yyyeah, too late. walls are up, electric is done. the security system one of the last things I need to get and i had NO idea about home automation and all this stuff until a few days ago when i saw a thermostat that said “control it from your iphone!” and it opened up a whole new world.

I DID have the sense to put CAT5 in most of the rooms though… but not in the kitchen and something tells me the Jetson days are not that far ahead and I’m sure there will be a use for it in there soon!

As has been posted here already, Vera isn’t really a security system, but it can control many popular security systems. Vera is a home automation system, which is able to control many security systems to some degree.

Most alarm systems (those worth having, anyway) are designed for central station monitoring. Most of those are designed to me monitored over a POTS line. If you don’t have a POTS line, the most common solutions are either VOIP or cellular–VOIP is cheaper, but depends on your internet connection; cellular will cost more for monitoring but is probably more robust. Monitoring at (which I use) is $9/mo for POTS or VOIP (but VOIP requires a $150 one-time purchase of a VOIP module), and around $20/mo for cellular IIRC (plus the purchase of the cell module).

The easiest system for you to install would probably be the DSC Alexor–it’s completely wireless, except for power to the control panel and the VOIP connection if you use VOIP. The keypad and all sensors are wireless. I’m not sure, though, if the Vera plugin will work with that–it would depend on whether the IT100 card is compatible. Every other wireless system I know of either has the control panel as part of the keypad (making it easy for a burglar to smash as soon as he comes through the door) or requires wiring at least a keypad or wireless receiver.

Another option would be the DSC 1832 or 1864 with a wireless receiver, which is compatible with the IT100 card (which is required for the Vera plugin). I wouldn’t recommend an Ademco system at this time if Vera control is important to you, as the plugin just isn’t there yet.

If you can wire any sensors, it will save you a fair bit of money, especially if you can do the work yourself–wireless door/window sensors cost roughly 10x what wired ones do, and smokes are about double. Even if you can only wire a few, you may well be money ahead.

Check out for lots more alarm information.

Anyone know if Vera can talk to the Viewsonic? Several companies have suggested that one.

I’m realizing Vera’s not a security system, but I really wanted to bypass paying a fee to a central monitoring station for sending me updates to my phone and allowing me to control things from my phone.

I’ll have to look into VOIP. It’s been around forever but yet another piece of technology I’ve ignored.

The DSC scares me. I’m looking at the model numbers people are suggesting and it’s just a box, or worse, looks like a motherboard. I have no experience with this stuff. Is it the panel or the wireless reciever that would have this iT100 card? If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love it if you/someone could just list out the pieces parts that I’d need to buy to get this thing hooked up via GSM and to the Vera.

I talked to Alarm Relay today and they are telling me that the Viewsonic panel needs a cell sim with a data plan, that could cost an extra 20 bucks a month.

Also, I DO have hardwired fire detectors. how does that integrate into a wireless system?

Thanks again.

Hardwired smoke alarms (i.e., hardwired to home power) aren’t supposed to integrate with a home security system, and I think that most building/fire codes specifically prohibit that. That’s not to say that it can’t technically be done, but it shouldn’t.

For a “traditional” alarm system, the basic components are a control panel, an enclosure for that panel, a wall-wart transformer, a backup battery, one or more keypads, one or more sirens, and any sensors you’d want to use (door/window contacts, glass-break sensors, motion detectors, smoke/heat detectors, etc.). Most control panels have a dialer built in to call a central station over a POTS line. If you want to use wireless devices, you’ll need to add a wireless receiver.

[ul][li]The control panel is the “brain” of your system, and everything connects to it. It’s mounted inside a metal enclosure which should be somewhat hidden, and some distance away from the entry door(s). A burglar shouldn’t be able to easily find it, or he could destroy or disable the alarm before it sent a signal to the monitoring company.[/li]
[li]Alarms are designed to have battery backups that will last for several (preferably 24+) hours. These also mount inside the metal enclosure.[/li][/ul]

Often alarms are sold as kits, with additional sensors and devices available to meet your particular needs. Here’s an example of a kit which would go a long way toward getting you started:

It includes all the items I mentioned above, plus 3 wireless door/window sensors, 1 wired motion detector, and 1 wireless keyfob (so you can arm/disarm your system remotely, without using the keypad). To it I’d recommend adding a PK5500 keypad, which sells on that website for $97. That keypad has an alphanumeric LCD, which will make programming much easier. You would also add whatever other wired or wireless sensors you wanted to use–wired sensors can be of any brand, but wireless would need to be DSC.

If you wanted to control (arm/disarm, get text message notifications, etc.) the system through Vera, you would need to add an IT100 card, which would mount inside the enclosure with the control panel; it costs about $65.

If you have broadband internet at your home (and if you don’t, you won’t be able to effectively use Vera to control the system anyway), you can use VOIP for alarm monitoring, and you don’t need a cellular communicator.

I don’t really know anything about the Visonic system, though it looks like the control panel and keypad are all in the same box. This isn’t the best arrangement, as a burglar could easily just smash the system to disable it. I don’t recall hearing of a Vera plugin that would work with that system, either.

Setting up an alarm system isn’t especially difficult, but there are a lot of parts involved to do a good job of it. Again, I’d recommend a lot of reading at to get started.

That was what I needed, THANK YOU. I missed that kit earlier. I was only coming up with the other DSC kit which someone else (or you) said they weren’t sure if it would work with Vera or not.

So in addition to the 3 hardwired smoke detectors I still need to get a wireless one if I want the fire department to come?

I don’t have VOIP so I’d need a GSM module. I’m not sure I trust Comcast enough to be responsible for my home security. The internet goes out too much and if there was a power outage and the internet went down, wouldn’t that essentially kill my ability to call out for help?

I’ll try building a kit… I don’t think I can do a wired motion sensor- it would be all way across the house from the panel, and you recommended a different keypad than the one that’s included.

But this is great. More than great… Am I going to be able to program this thing myself or should I try to find someone to do it? That would be my next question… the only installers I know do their own equipment and want the subcripton fees. Any hints on finding someone just to program and install?