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A Quick and Dirty Guide to DIY Home Security

Updated on December 29, 2013

Van Gogh self-portrait (wouldn't you like that on your wall?)

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Many people spend their entire lives working to build a dream home filled with amenities that enjoy. Whether it's jewelry, a big screen tv, expensive China or some priceless art hanging on your wall, personal property is worth protecting. But not everybody wants to go through the rigmarole of having a handyman come to their house and installing one of those clunky security systems. First off, allowing a stranger into your home can feel a bit like an extreme invasion of privacy, which is ironic since those are the very feeling alarm systems are supposed to save you from. second, a lot of home security diy-ers love to discover the ins and outs of their personal security system.

Whoever you are, learning a bit about your personal security system is a great way to understand both its strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, not everyone wants a full-blown security system, nor do they necessarily need one.

Which Security System is Right for Me?

Ok, great question.

There are so many choices, and most of them aren't any better at protecting your home than any other. The advantages of the more expensive systems are luxuries, oftentimes adding a bit of home automation which is awesome but not necessarily helpful with regard to aiding your home security efforts.

While Alarm Grid deals with Honeywell products, there are all sorts of brands to choose from including GE, DSC, Honeywell, 2GIG, and more. We like Honeywell because their hardware is second to none. There isn't a better, more reliable product on the market. And, for that reason, we have included a couple of the more popular Honeywell panels in our description below. These panels are state-of-the-art, and represent the best of the best. They are easy to use, and both come with their advantages and disadvantages, whether it's cost, or whether its installation, let us help you understand which panel would be best for you.

First thing you need to do when creating your system is pick your home security system panel. So let's go ahead and check out a couple good options.

The Honeywell Tuxedo Touch in all it's resplendent glory
The Honeywell Tuxedo Touch in all it's resplendent glory | Source

What the Tuxedo Touch can do

Monitor your home's energy usage using the Tuxedo Touch

Wired Systems

Check out the Honeywell Vista 20P. This hideous little box will get the job done. Unlike its more colorful, fully functional counterparts like the wireless L5100 unit featured below, this ugly thing has exactly one function: protect your home from boogie men. It will allow you to program 48 zones of protection, and a whole log more.

The advantages of having a wired system, if one's home is already wired up, is that the sensors are cheap cheap cheap. The disadvantage of this system is that programming it is inelegant. With a price tag just under $150, the Vista 20P is perfect for the budget conscious alarm system buyer. What you see is what you get and what you get is a big tan box with a circuit board on the inside. So as long as you aren't too worried about the attractiveness of your system, the price of the Vista 20P is perfect. Now, the 20P is the brains of the unit, and with it, you can get a few keypads including the 6160, the 6162, or the beautiful Tuxedo Touch.

For obvious reasons, The Honeywell Tuxedo Touch is our favorite alarm system keypad. It does EVERYTHING. While we recommend the WIFI enabled version, both versions are every bit as amazing - one just has an extra feature - which is nice when you're getting ready to splurge anyhow.

Should you be in the market for one of the more expensive keypad, you'll find yourself spending between $400 and $500 depending on whether you spring for the more expensive WIFI option. This machine is not only an incredible alarm keypad, it also makes home automation a breeze. It's a handsome wired keypad with an incredible number of options.

For those who have dreamed of a home as smart as C3PO, this is your chance to get what you want. The Tuxedo Touch integrates with your home's computers and, if you decide to utilize the built-in Z-Wave technology, you can automate your home's outlets, lights, locks, cameras (if you have them), and more.

If you are an obsessive engineer-type that wants to optimize your monthly expenses, combining the Tuxedo Touch with a Smart Grid application can turn your home into an incredible experiment in saving money by turning on and off devices. God knows your wife will probably hate you because you insist on keeping the house too hot, but you can smile all the way to the bank on your way to saving millions of dollars over your lifetime because of how uncomfortably you were willing to live in your 30s.

Beautiful little control panel that does everything you need and a little bit more.
Beautiful little control panel that does everything you need and a little bit more. | Source

Wireless System

For those who don't want to spend a fortune on wiring your home and buying expensive keypads like the Tuxedo, there are options that are not only more affordable, but pretty awesome as well. For about half the price of Honeywell's incredible wired system + Tuxedo is the Honeywell L5100 Lynx Touch Control panel. While the Vista 20P is the sort of machine you might use to monitor a NASA space mission, the Honeywell L5100 is more of a traditional alarm monitoring panel. The difference is that it's easier to use, and incredibly customize-able in spite of any limitations.

If you'd like to turn your Honeywell L5100 into a WIFI enabled panel, you can add an "AlarmNet LYNX Touch WiFi Alarm Monitoring Communicator". This is a huge advantage, since the VISTA 20P has absolutely no means of being monitored with WIFI. While the VISTA can use the 7847i communicator and a CAT 5 to be monitored over the internet, the ease of having a simple wifi communicator is priceless. No wire runs, no issues with distance from your modem, no super expensive long ethernet cables. Just a simple pairing to the wireless router in your home with the click of a few buttons.

This control panel will set you back about $250. The Honeywell L5100 WIFI add-on will cost another $80 or so. Like the Tuxedo, this system will allow you to enroll ZWAVE devices, which means that you can add a number of home automation type features to the L5100 as well. All that you will need in order to add such an integration is the L5100-ZWAVE module which will make your system instantly capable of communicating with Z-WAVE devices.

If what you need is an amazing panel that does about 95% of what the twice-the-price panel does, then to hell with the Tuxedo keypad and Honeywell's wired VISTA systems. The L5100 will be perfect for you.

© 2012 alarmgrid

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