Use old alarm and convert to Zwave

Hello Everyone! I’m new here but promise I looked over the forums and didn’t find anything quite like what I am asking here.

I recently have bought a Vera2 and have been slowly upgrading the house with modules. One thing that I must say that I am very interested in doing is utilizing the existing alarm that came with my house (or at least the door and motion sensors) and utilizing them with the Vera.

To better explain, I have a 10ish year old house that came with a built in GE alarm system. All of the doors, windows, and motion sensors I have hard wired into the house would be better alternatives for me than adding an additional Zwave module in each place (not to mention much more cost effective). Therefore I am looking to see if I can do one of two things:

  1. Buy another alarm like the tuxedo touch by honeywell and hope that it would allow me to see all of these sensors (however in digging a bit into that alarm it seems more like it’s a typical alarm that can just talk to Zwave… it won’t output a communication to my Vera2 to show if a given hard wire it tripped or not.) If I am incorrect on this alarm or if there is another alarm that will do this please let me know.

  2. Simply take the hard lines from all of the sensors and route them into a device that would sense the tripping of the sensors and communcate this to the Vera. This would cut the use of my alarm overall, which I didn’t want to really do, but I would rather have Vera ping me if a alarm was tripped than my alarm call the police.

I am open to any ideas or thoughts here and would love to hear if anyone has tackled a project like this already. It just seems silly to have to use a Zwave wireless sensor on each door and window when I already have a hard line sensor there.

Thanks for any help or advice and I look forward to talking to all of you as I build out this very cool automated network in my house.

Hello and welcome

Here is the list of compatible alarms. Note that it may not be complete.
http://wiki.micasaverde.com/index.php/Supported_Hardware#Alarm_Panels

I am not an advocate of trying to use z-wave as the first method of your home security. Z-wave does not have the range or reliability as a dedicate alarm system. Even some of the older panels can intergrate utilizing an interface… I would suggest the tuxedo is what you’ve stated.

I would recommend you stay with an dedicated alarm an upgrade your panel and intergrate it with Vera. You should in most cases be able to utilize the current hard wired security devices you have and update the panel and keypads to a newer model.

See thread below which addresses question about z-wave alarms.
http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,10763.15.html

If you are then considering an alarm there are factors or configuration questions that may assist you in your decision found here.
http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,10307.0.html

Thank you for the staring information. I have read quite a bit on the DSC alarm’s on this forum however I am not sure what the best or easiest one is to integrate with the vera2.

Your comments really hit home as I agree that while Zwave is great… it’s not always 100% reliable and probably not the best option for security. Do you know if the tuxedo can be upgraded to communicate the status of each sensor to the vera2? I have seen discussion of the DSC panels doing that and that is of a lot of interest to me, however I first need to figure out which alarm is best and second see which alarm is the cheapest that gets me where I want to be. I by no means have a huge house and thus can get by with a pretty simple alarm. I just want to use all these hard line sensors I have and not add Zwave onto them.

Again I really appreciate all the help here and hope I can get a nice new security system setup soon.

I doubt the tuxedo would be upgradable.

The DSC works great but there are GE options as well. See http://code.mios.com/trac/mios_caddxnx584.

If your system works fine, the cheapest option maybe to just upgrade your main alarm board with a newer version which there is a interface to integrate with Vera and a supporting plugin. That is what I would be looking at and I believe your objective to utilize the current hard wired zone you already have is the correct and potentially most reliale and the cheapest option.

I had a really old DSC alarm system and just replaced it with a new DSC PC1832 system to be compatible with VOIP phone lines, cell phone add-ons, computer programming, and Vera. It wasn’t exactly painless, but if you know a bit about this stuff or can learn then it shouldn’t be too bad.

The new DSC, and I suspect the GE, will come with a default configuration that you can start with. I wired mine up on the bench, just putting resistors in place of the zone wires, and then set it up by getting the PC link working and downloading the config from the panel. Then I made the changes I needed to match my house (which wasn’t much), saved it all, and disconnected the power. Then I unhooked my old one, hooked up the new one in it’s place (same wires for power, siren, zones, new keypad) and fired it up. I had to change the terminator resistors as the new alarm panel used a different resistor value to terminate each zone, but that was pretty easy.

By setting it up on the bench and playing with it some, it made it easier to figure out and I didn’t have to worry about alerting the neighborhood if I made mistakes LOL.

I agree that you want to use Vera or zwave as an accessory to the alarm system, not as the primary control or alerting system.

Good information. The EnvisaLink 3 seems to be a good option for DSC. Until I run wires between the panel and my network switch, I think I’ll use a WiFi bridge to get things set up.

For you future wiring consideration:
The EVL3 does not need to be with the panel. It is wired to the keybus, the de way you wire in a keypad. Therefore, it can be wired either directly to the panel as a direct run or alternatively wired in via the back or a keypad or another module. This being the case, it may provide option of how and where you run the wires to connect to your network.

E.g. the panel in secured in another annex of the house but there is keypad is 3 metres (10 ft) from the router. The 2DS would be wired via the keypad and placed right next to the router.

[quote=“Brientim, post:7, topic:172824”]For you future wiring consideration:
The EVL3 does not need to be with the panel. It is wired to the keybus, the de way you wire in a keypad. Therefore, it can be wired either directly to the panel as a direct run or alternatively wired in via the back or a keypad or another module. This being the case, it may provide option of how and where you run the wires to connect to your network.

E.g. the panel in secured in another annex of the house but there is keypad is 3 metres (10 ft) from the router. The 2DS would be wired via the keypad and placed right next to the router.[/quote]

Great insight. Thanks for the tip Sir.

You’re welcome.

What bridge did you end up using? I am doing the same thing now. Does anyone know what bridges work with the Envisalink 3 ?

I know this is an old thread, but it has a high priority on Google searches, so perhaps people are still monitoring it.

I am interested in the assertion by several posters that Zwave is not reliable enough for primary security. I’m currently considering the Costco Link security system, which offers central monitoring. The control panel and sensors consist of up to 48 zones, all Zwave. They claim over a million customers.

So, is the reliability concern related to Z-wave itself, and therefore present in this dedicated system too, or is it about using a general purpose hub such as Vera in place of a dedicated control panel?

I think general reliability of the Vera and Z-wave system could be a concern for some for a security system.
More important to me would be the cost. Z-wave sensors are more expensive than sensors for alarms in almost all cases and to my knowledge there is no really good Z-wave motion sensor.
The hardware for a security system is almost always cheaper and more reliable, and if you’re careful about what you buy, you can still tie it into your Vera system.

I am also looking at using Z-wave for security purposes.

As far as I can see, with the wall mounted Zipato RFID keypad, it is possible to setup a decent system. I feel there are some advantages to utilizing the Z-wave system for everything.

However, I havent been able to solve how to easily make a warning sound when entering a room with armed motion sensors (yet), but it should be possible at least with a net powered switch. If it can be done with a battery device I am not sure.