Use Your Existing Alarm System With a New ServiceBy - 01/24/2019
Let me guess, you’re here because you moved into a house with a pre-installed, wired security system, and now you’re wondering, “How can I activate it?” Or perhaps you own a wired system and you’re not satisfied with the service provider backing the system. We get questions related to these two scenarios a lot, and we have a few suggestions for you. But before you dive head first into choosing a new monitoring company, you should ask yourself one questions: Should I reactivate or replace?
Reactivating A Wired System vs. Getting A Wireless System
If you follow our reviews, you know that we typically recommend wireless security systems over wired ones. However, in a scenario such as this where you already own a wired system, reactivating your existing system is a perfectly fine choice. In fact, it’s an economical choice. As the system is already in place, you can save on upfront equipment and installation fees. The only issue is that wired systems are susceptible to wire cutting. The good news is that some security companies offer cellular modules to convert your system from landline monitoring to cellular monitoring. The module transmits alarm signals to the monitoring center using cellular signals, so even if your landline is cut, your security system will still work.
Of course, you should also consider other factors when deciding whether to reactivate or replace your existing system. For example, the age of the system. Systems that are less than ten years old are most likely reliable. If the system is over ten years old, you should strongly consider replacing it. Most sensors have a lifespan of 10 to 20 years, and that’s assuming they’re well-maintained. Unfortunately, if the pre-installed system is over 20 years old, there’s no question. You need to replace it.
Another thing to consider is what features you want from your security system. Do you want security monitoring without the bells and whistles or added features like home automation and mobile app access? Unfortunately, what you can do is contingent on the wired system you own. Even if you want home automation and mobile app access, some older systems can’t accommodate such features. The best thing to do is to check with your system’s manufacturer before getting your hopes up. Alternatively, many of the providers we recommend below can help make a recommendation based on the system that you own.
How To Reactivate A Wired Security System
If you’ve decided to reactivate your system, there are three ways you can do so.
Option 1: Contact The Original Service Provider
If your wired system was previously used with a monitoring service, you can contact the company that originally provided service and ask them to reactivate it. The advantage to this approach is that they know your system inside out. The disadvantage is that you won’t get much of a choice when it comes to features and pricing. Sure, most security companies offer three or more monitoring plans, but what if those plans don’t fit your needs? I also advise you to research the company’s reputation before committing to this option.
Option 2: Third-Party Alarm Company Takeover
If you can’t find the original service provider or you’re not interested, you can contact a third-party alarm company to takeover your system. Unfortunately, not all alarm companies can takeover wired systems, and those that do don’t support all types of systems.
Keep in mind that the takeover process varies depending on your existing system thus using a third-party company to takeover your alarm monitoring could cost less than a hundred dollars to well over $300. Below, we’ve listed some of the options for alarm system takeover, in no particular order.
1. Link Interactive
Link Interactive can takeover several types of existing wired and wireless security systems. They mostly support systems with a Honeywell, Cadxx, or DSC control panel. If your existing control panel is made by another company, you can still check with Link for the final word on compatibility. Also, take note that even if your control panel is supported, other components such as security cameras and smoke sensors might not work with Link.
In most cases, Link Interactive’s takeover program requires the use of a System Enhancement Module, which is a takeover module powered by Alarm.com. It enables your system to talk to Link Interactive’s security platform. Prior to sending the module, they will require that you take a picture of your system’s control box.
To get more information about Link Interactive’s nationwide service, give them a call at 1-800-340-7727.
Although not shown on their website, Brinks can also potentially takeover existing wired systems. I recently secret shopped them and asked if they could takeover a Honeywell Vista 20P (one of the systems compatible with Link Interactive) wired system. They said they could by using a $135 “cell card,” which is kind of like a takeover module that uses a cellular signal to connect your system to their monitoring center. You simply place the cell card in the control box, and all the sensors and the control panel will connect to Brink’s monitoring center. The good news is that you will also get automation and smartphone control features if you choose the right monitoring plan. They even offered me the cell card for free.
Unfortunately, not all takeovers are this easy. Most hardwired systems require a new panel and a translator module where you would move the wires from your current box to the new box. If you’re interested in more information, the best thing to do is to contact Brinks using their live chat feature.
Xfinity is another company that can takeover existing wired security systems. However, beware. Some customers claim that instead of taking over their existing system, Xfinity installed a new one. On a thread found on forums.xfinity.com, an employee of Xfinity explained that this might be due to a lack of compatibility between Xfinity’s system and the customer’s existing wired system. That said, if you’re employing Xfinity to takeover your system, make sure they can use your existing security system before agreeing to service. Also, Xfinity is only available in select regions.
To get started, you can contact Xfinity through their website and request a quote for a wired security system takeover.
4. Alarm Relay
Alarm Relay is a company focused on security monitoring. They can easily takeover just about any wired or wireless system for as low as $8.95/month. The catch? That’s the introductory price for landline monitoring. As we’ve discussed, landlines run the risk of being cut. If you want cellular monitoring, you’ll have to pay more per month and buy the cellular chip from a third-party manufacturer. We’ve outlined pricing and upgrades in our Alarm Relay review.
For a list of supported security system brands, you can check out Alarm Relay’s FAQs under compatibility.
Option 3: Converting To DIY Self-Monitoring
Converting a previously monitored system to a self-monitored system is the most difficult option to execute. This option requires you to do your own research and all the work. A self-monitored security system doesn’t send signals to a professional monitoring center. Instead, it will send you an alert via text, email, or app notification. You’re responsible for calling the police should a break-in occur.
If you’re interested in this option, I recommend taking a look at the SmartThings Community forum as the topic has been discussed many times. Of course, most of the solutions in the forum require a SmartThings Hub, a third-party module, and coding knowledge. Also, as the solutions provided are self-developed by SmartThings’ users, don’t expect SmartThings support or support from your alarm system manufacturer.
Another option is the Konnected Alarm Panel. It’s a takeover module that replaces your wired control panel. However, instead of connecting your security system to a monitoring center, it connects to third-party smart home platforms.
Konnected is compatible with SmartThings, Home Assistant, Hubitat, and OpenHAB, which means you need the right Konnected module and a hub. If you don’t own a hub, our recommendation is the SmartThings Hub ($67.84). Monitoring of your system is done via the app that corresponds to the hub of your choice. For example, if you choose SmartThings, you will use the SmartThings app.
Konnected also works with Noonlight, a panic button app and connected safety platform that will protect you even when you’re away from home. The integration takes the panic button features to the next level by allowing Konnected to send data to Noonlight’s first responders. For example, it can send information on the state of your smoke detector or presence detector in addition to the information that Noonlight naturally sends like location.
Konnected Alarm Panel started on Kickstarter, but you can order it now from konnected.io. A wired system conversion kit sells for $89.00.
As it’s a new device, reviews on its ability are limited but our editor has finished testing a Konnected kit. You can read her hands-on review here.