Sound the Alarm!

by Rory Milne on December 22, 2020

Are alarm systems smart?

Many South Africans have alarm systems as our security situation unfortunately demands it. Protecting property and people is an important and competitive industry. This competition has resulted in much development and innovation over the years.
But are alarm systems smart? Well they are very much fit for purpose, they do their jobs very well. But the information that that they use, like motion sensor readings, beams interruptions and user prescribed state (Arm, stay, disarm) is very much retained within the alarm system. Meaning it is difficult to get useful information from around your property unless you are standing in front of your alarm panel and watching the little lights. But let’s be honest, if that what it takes to get info out, then it’s not useful at all.

It would be useful to be able to integrate my alarm system with my home automation system. When I enter a room at night, why doesn’t the motion sensor turn on the room lights? When I drive into my driveway, why doesn’t the broken beam turn on the outside lights? When I open the front door, why inn’t a home coming scene activated? When I activate my alarm, why isn’t an away mode activated? Like turning off unnecessary lights, appliances and climate control. If we could access the sensors already dotted around the house, regardless of the alarm state, they could contribute to the automations that could be in place.

What is currently available?

There are a few companies that are giving you remote access to your homes alarm system, here are a few:

Olarm has become very popular in South Africa. They have a responsible and simple motto "It must work with leading alarm systems, be easy to install and have it’s own always-connected GSM uplink." This device connects to a number of alarm models and through their app gives you remote control from your phone. It will cost around R1200 for the hardware, then about R650 per year for a subscription.

IDS alarms have their own route to remote online access. The HYYP system connects their X-Series control panels to your the phone app via wifi connection. This module costs about R1500 or about R1350 for the non-wifi version. You can add R1000 to that for a 2-year prepaid usage subscription.

The Falcon alarm communicator brings remote control of your alarm to the Mifalcon App on your phone. FSK products is a firm favourite of security companies for remote alarm monitoring and responding. They support a growing range of alarm manufacturers and models. These systems are usually supplied via your security company, so you would have to enquire with them them to get accurate pricing.

None of these options actually give you the access required to properly integrate your existing sensors into Home Assistant or another Home Automation platform.

So how do we really smarten up the alarm system?

Well, first it is important to note that alarms are, and should, be a security first solution. Don’t do anything to jeopardise your security system, or interfere with the communication between the alarm and your security company. 

That said, if you are confident to tinker, Kenny has a great project here for you to smarten up your alarm – Using the equipment and process explained in his blog, Kenny was able to integrate his alarm into Home Assistant. Now with the alarm sensors present within Home Assistant, he is able to run amazing automations, using exiting equipment! 

If you want to try a short cut, and do it the Milney way, check out our store and we can help you make your home EPIC!!