Home Alarm Systems Recommendations

What home alarm systems do people use around here, bonus points for ones with good integrations to HE or NR. I currently have Simplisafe, but recently it seems that the HE integration is broken (afaik Homebridge and Home Assistant integrations still work) so I am looking for another product that may be better as SS really has not impressed me.

I’d be curious if you expanded the conversation to security in general… Locks, etc. I haven’t ventured into that space yet. But don’t want to move onto that topic too quickly, not my topic to derail… just yet :wink: Currently my old-school key and security mesh seem to work fine, alongside semi-retired neighbours…

One more serious comment I have read recently, and tend to agree with is that dedicated security systems are still a more appropriate solution, with ties back into things like Core, HE, etc, rather than relying on the HA system to perform the dedicated monitoring and alerting function.

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Oh no…what have you done, just wait until @april.brandt sees this thread now… Hopefully the :steam_locomotive: stays on the track.

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She can comment all she likes, she currently holds our little gems in her hands… But hopefully I don’t distract her from the more important task of getting them to us… I see your point. Feel free to flag my comment… :slight_smile:

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AFAIK the go to locks are Yale and maybe Kwikset. Schalge also have some good ones though they are bulky if my memory serves correctly. There are also some more niche brands and brands for other regions but those are the big ones for NA.

I have an August lock which has Z-Wave that isn’t worth a damn (first thing I am testing with CORE), but the seamless look from the outside is hard to beat. Also I have no idea why it is not a standard feature of smart locks to have a built in contact sensor where you place a magnet in the door frame and the lock itself detects it. August does this and maybe they have a patent so that is why, but it is really frustrating because auto locking locks are USELESS without an accompanying contact sensor.

Also to make this worse, Yale sells a lock that has 4 versions: electronic, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wifi via August. AFAIK they are all the same hardware they just have a different radio module, but that feature I described above with the contact sensor is ONLY available with the August module for some reason, it is ridiculous.

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Yeah that is my preference as well, the problem seems to be finding one that actually has a good working integration, let alone one officially supported via an open API.

I have been looking at Ring, but with the recent issues with Alexa, I am not too confident in the reliability of any integrations.

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My only experience is what I would label an old-school system from (I think) the 90’s in Aus, so let’s say the 80’s in the US… It was basically a bunch of wired motion sensors in each room, back-to-base monitoring, a control panel and a key fob to put it in Away, Night and Unlocked (Home) mode… This all seems so familiar… :slight_smile:

I guess where I’m heading is that this type of system still seems ok to me, as long as you can have the system operate in this way alongside smart locks and any options to integrate with the alarm system, such as reading the current state, potentially arming/disarming it. Personally I like the prospect of a system that can work completely on it’s own, where smarts are an add-on. Proven, bulky parts that will just work and have been tested by people in the security industry for years, not those in IT like me focusing on it being smart and chasing an extra $…

The last thing I would say is the reason you get a security system is to improve the security of your home beyond locks on your doors and windows. Feel free to make them smart, that makes sense, and choose the popular products in that space. But when you step up to alarm systems, you are moving beyond the convenience factor of smart locks and the options they provide. Come 5-10 years, then yes, alarm system are most like going to move into the realm of more reliable smart options, but for me, not yet.

Enough of me, should let others chime in…

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Have you looked at those retrofit options like Konnected? They piqued my interest as our secondary property has an older alarm system from the mid 2000’s and making that smart and still being able to reuse all of the wired sensors seems like a no brainer if it works well enough (state, arm, disarm) while still maintaining the official monitoring of the dumb system.

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I have a zigbee Yale lock on my internal garage door and another (in box still) for my front door.
I have not had any issues with this lock since installing. ~10 months
I have set it to lock on my asleep/away mode and unlock on home mode.

As for security I have a 10+ year old NX-4 basic alarm.
Basically 2 interior wired pir sensors, internal screamer and external strobe.
When I get around to it, I need to reprogram the spare Channel to key switch mode, this will let me connect zigbee dry relay to arm/disarm panel…

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I guess in the end it’s hard to justify my original comment around the quality or reliability of a security system, aside form it’s smarts, without breaking into your own home… But that’s where I would place the biggest emphasis on which system to choose, obviously with some emphasis on the options to integrate into existing systems, but ultimately the purpose is to protect you, your family and your property, if you need to remember to do a few extract pushes of some buttons, then it’s worth weighing that up against the conveniences some may offer.

I have Konnected, and it works great. A little spendy , but less than retrofitting all the sensors.

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I think you’d need to expound on exactly what a “home alarms system” means to you, and what you expect to get out of it. If your talking a ‘traditional’ system that includes monitoring and emergency service dispatching, than your options are very limited (in terms of decent integrations). ADT has alway been open to integration (currently ADT pulse/ring) so I think that would be your best bet.

If your looking what I would consider ‘home deterrent system’ (“let’s go to the next house”) Ring is decent, and integrates well when Alexa and the internet work. I’ve set up their “security system”, and it works ok, but internet dependant.

Personally I use good outdoor LV lighting, Reolink/Ring/Hikvision cams, and plenty of motion detection to make our home a “less attractive” target.

As far as locks, garage doors, and such I’d consider those more “convenience” items than security. To any would be thief I doubt a “smart lock” is going to be the deal breaker. If anything these add extra vulnerabilities, and little “security”. Aside from convenience, they only add a tiny bit of security allowing your to lock, or check that you locked, from afar.

Not trying to be Debbie downer, just one persons simple opinion.

That’s a cool solution. Keeping the moot separate from the gate as much as possible is ideal.

Add a dog, plus the occasional sound of gunfire coming from the property, it works pretty good. Especially when the semi-retired neighbors are family. Still need to get around to putting up a couple POE cameras one of these days tho

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I really have to disagree with this. ADT is the absolute worst system choice for integration with anything. That’s like saying Google Nest or Ring are great options for integration… They only integrate with their chosen partners and it’s pure cloud based.

For actual security systems my go to is Elk M1 panels. Elk offers wired and wireless options with choice of wireless receivers for Elk, Honeywell or GE/Interlogix frequencies and choice of sensors. Integration with Elk is supported by all major control systems and the API is wide open for any platform to integrate with. Next up I would go with a Honewell (Resideo) Vista panel if Elk is too expensive. Same deal with integration.

I agree to a point. Locks only keep honest people honest and don’t really stop criminals. However a wide open garage door is just an invitation. Knowing the status of locks and especially the garage door is important. Ability to control those locks and close the garage door then becomes convenience.

This is important but camera choice is very important if the need arises to use the footage for an investigation. Having cheap cameras that can trigger motion and turn on lights is great. However having actual usable footage for police investigations is also good so don’t cheap out on the cameras or the NVR. Setup a decent system and storage. Blue Iris is a popular choice for many but there’s other systems as well which are very good and not that expensive if you grow them slowly. Digital Watchdog Spectrum is a good software NVR with more features than Blue Iris and supports the AI built into a lot of cameras which offloads the computer meaning you save cost on not needing a beefy server like Blue Iris often requires.

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Yeah this is basically what I have been thinking. But Simplisafe and Ring alarm meet these requirements as well so these features do not seem to be specific to the custom companies anymore. Basically my 3 requirements are: professional monitoring, good integration, and wireless sensors.

I am pretty sure that they have a cellular and battery backup which is basically what every “traditional” sytem has had as well (that or landline and battery backup).

Very interesting, are both of those options available for US/NA? Do you know of any integrations to HE or NR, or do you know where their API is? Also is the communication local or still cloud based?

Edit: Jeesh those Elk M1 systems are pricey. The backend hardware doesn’t seem massively expensive, but the contact sensors are $60+ each and the motion sensors are $120+ EACH, which seems insane to me.

I have a Danalock which worked pretty well so far. However this is my second one, as the first went bonkers as soon as I updated the firmware the day I got it. Right now it’s working so I’m not taking any chances to upgrade it.

I use HE for security and pass it to homekit. So all my automations are on HE and I pass the controls to homekit. As far as what I use, I have a ton of the old iris Motion and contact sensors. Highly recommend. Way better than what you can get now. A lot smaller too. I have a Yale lock with august connect module going to homekit and HE, and unifi cameras. Works well. Iris was fantastic. It’s all rebranded centralite stuff and is amazing.

Edit. Old iris stuff is hard to find since going out of business but I got all mine in bulk off of eBay for a few bucks a piece.

API documentation for Elk is available on their website elkproducts.com if you can’t find it I have a copy somewhere.

Yes the Elk branded wireless sensors are pricey. This is why I like to use Honeywell 5800 series for wireless sensors. Reliable, cheap and lots of options.

Cue the takeover/derailment :stuck_out_tongue:

To any real thief, that is not a thief of convenience, locks are absolutely ZERO deterrence.

Let’s be real about home security for a moment… There really isn’t any such thing.

Windows are defeated by a rock, you can buy a bump lock gun online for $10 that will open just about any lock out there, door chains you can defeat with a shoelace, guard dogs love steak and pheromones… even if you eliminated the windows and doors, unless your walls are reinforced with concrete/steel/etc someone can be through any wall and into your home in under 3 minutes.

Home security isn’t actually about securing your home, its about keeping normally honest people honest and making your neighbors house look like an easier target to the real criminals out casing neighborhoods.

A couple fake cameras with a bright red led that remains active, a couple protected by signs, and a maintained lawn will likely do far more to protect your belongings overall than any security system.

If we look at the security arena and accept its really more about peace of mind and convenience than actual security our options and its usefulness expand drastically.

Since the original question is what do we use, I should share my current setup, and this is where the takeover/derailment may actually happen. Apologies in advance if it does, and yes I am aware for someone who holds my beliefs on home security my setup could be considered overkill or on the paranoid side :rofl:

My “Security and Alarm” system is a roll your own solution. Some parts can be bought, some parts are homebrew. Does not rely on internet connection to function, only needs internet access to send notifications, and allow remote viewing.

Systems:
Core - Ties everything together, runs Z2M, NR, HA, everything but the video processing.
Google Coral Mini PCIE - Handles Real Time “AI” video processing
My regular PC - Houses the coral and runs the video processing programs because I was unable to obtain a USB coral, otherwise I would be using that along with a secondary core to handle all of my NVR and AI needs.

Devices: the majority of this was already in place just from normal home automation and xmas decorating
UPS Battery Backup
Wyze Cam v2s using RTSP firmware
Iris Zigbee Contact sensors
Iris Zigbee Motion sensors
Google minis
Wifi light bulbs flashed with tasmota
LEDs addressable and non, WLED/ESPHome running on esp8266’s
2 - 600lb holding force maglocks
Smoke/Co2/PM sensors, ESPHome on esp8266’s

Programs/Applications:
Node-Red - Handles the logic processing - Will be replace with Core’s logic/state engine when it releases
MQTT Server - Used for inter program communication by the video processing programs
Deepstack/DoubleTake/Frigate - Handle all the video processing, detection, classification, and general NVR functions including rmtp re-streaming for desktop/remote viewing.
Home Assistant - Remote Monitoring/Control Desktop because I’m lazy - will be replaced with cores remote connect and dashboards once released

Types of Monitoring/Detection: Smoke, Co2, Air Quality (PM), Motion, Door/window states, AI video based monitoring/detection and recording: Vehicle, Person, Face, package, animal, device*

Basic Deterrents: easily visible cameras with active led indicators that cover all approach vectors to the home and driveway. external lighting triggered on motion or camera object detection, audio notification that there is no need to knock the doorbell is automatic when you get 3 ft from the door

Intermediate Deterrents: brief flashing of external lights in white and audio alert stating you are trespassing and alarms will go off if you do not cease your current activities and leave the property.

Advanced Deterrents: All external lights including the addressable leds in all my windows and in my permanent decorations begin flashing patterns of red and blue, every google speaker on my property inside and outside along with my home theater system begins blaring Intruder Alert Police Assistance Needed over and over again.

Physical Deterrents: Standard keyed knob locks, and smart deadbolts. 600lb Mag-Lock on each external door. (mag locks where actually installed to keep granny in the house in the case of midnight dementia episodes, but also bounces me off the door if i slam into it while its engaged so its definitely a security feature)

Other features: Mobile notifications w/ optional image if a video detection or person recognition event occurs, auto disarm and arm based on presence and video identification, package delivery alerts, automatic doorbell notification with visitor identification (if already in system) emergency services notification (many emergency systems now accept text messages so you can actually send a request for help via text, and those that don’t there are ways to automate an outgoing per-recorded phone call)

Describing everything my setup is capable of or that I am testing that can relate to security would take forever so if anyone wants more details on anything feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

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