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Mentor to help picking DSC components?

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  • Mentor to help picking DSC components?


    With our new home build in progress I'm trying to finalize the components to order for our security system. We are going with DSC and looking at the 1864. The 1832 would probably be enough but the price difference is pretty low to step up to the 64 and I'd rather not find myself wishing for more at a later date.

    I have done as much preliminary reading, youtubes, etc. as I can and feel I've got a decent list of components for what we want protected. But I'm still having trouble with the options to group things into zones. We're likely purchasing thru the AlarmStore because they will do some pre-config work for a small charge that will really help me get going quick, but that pre-config is still going to be based on what we ask of them. I have tried a couple times to reach out to them for some guidance prior to that but with no response.

    Is there anyone here that uses the DSC/Envisalink w/ HS that would be willing to give your opinion and guidance? I can share rough floor plans and where I am at currently in the decision process. We're doing our own setup and wiring of the security, HA, entertainment and networking when the framing is done so I'm trying to nail down the planning pretty tight in advance.


  • #2
    Do you have any specific questions? Your comment about grouping devices into zones confuses me a bit. Usually for wired devices each takes its own zone and for wireless devices each always takes its own zone. I suggest you really wrap your head around DSC programming. Here's a good video: I personally got my system from this company. They were very helpful in selecting components when I called them to place my order.
    Originally posted by rprade
    There is no rhyme or reason to the anarchy a defective Z-Wave device can cause


    • #3
      Typically each window/door has it's own zone, and for intrusion 1 or 2 PIR's per floor (depends on if there is access from outdoors). From an automation standpoint, it's much cheaper (and more reliable) to run PIR's everywhere you want to automate lights, etc; it's up to you how many you want to run and what you're wanting your HA system to do (easy to get carried away, though you can always just leave a prewire in place and forego the PIR if you change your mind later). I'd place just a few keypads as a backup (in case power goes out, the DSC has a battery). Run alarm wire to a few extra places for sensors (sump pump, water leak sensors (laundry room, basement, etc), garage (overhead doors, etc), and even run a few spare alarm + CAT5 to an outdoor junction box to run to future accessories (pool, shed, gates, outdoor sensors, etc). Structured wire panels are nice, but if you're doing HA you'll never have enough room for everything - I always run a panel box and then run all data into a wall-mount rack (which always runs out of room by the time it's all said and done).


      • #4
        Thank you both for the information. I had picked up an impression that if I had two monitored windows in a room, for example, those two would be wired together as a single "zone" on the DSC. TBH, sensor = zone is much easier for my brain. :-) That rules out the 32 but the 64 should be enough.

        I appreciate the link and will watch that video multiple items over the next week I'm sure.

        We have about a dozen windows on the house we'll monitor. Plus two garage doors and three exterior doors. The DSC smoke/heat and carbon detectors and probably two of their glass-break sensors. I was considering just a couple of their PIR as well, partly for security and partly for future automation value.


        • #5
          Note that with wired motion detectors multiple can be wired to the same zone but it isn't recommended for troubleshooting purposes. I have three on one zone in one large room in my house.
          Originally posted by rprade
          There is no rhyme or reason to the anarchy a defective Z-Wave device can cause


          • #6
            Originally posted by Beowulf View Post
            Thank you both for the information. I had picked up an impression that if I had two monitored windows in a room, for example, those two would be wired together as a single "zone" on the DSC. TBH, sensor = zone is much easier for my brain. :-) That rules out the 32 but the 64 should be enough.
            You can series-wire windows in the same room together to reduce the total number of zones and possibly a zone expander (depending on total zones). Home-run a wire for each window, then couple them together at the panel (if you loop it through to each window, you're lining yourself up for problems down the road). Personally, I prefer having each window on it's own zone, so you can tell at a glance and know exactly which window is open.

            I should also mention that it's best to avoid aiming PIR's at windows (at least for intrusion purpose) to avoid chances of false detection and better accuracy (IR reflects off glass, so imagine your windows are mirrors - motion in another room could trip the PIR if it's in sight of the window, and the PIR in sight of that window). Exterior wall corners are often the best locations, though sometimes you don't have a choice for placement due to structure and/or trim/cabinets/moldings.


            • #7
              Thanks, both.

              I'm looking to use these for most of the window/door sensors:

              Would you just run 18 gauge wire for these? Some runs could be over 100' considering turns and such. If this was part of the audio setup I'd use at least 16 gauge but am I find with the smaller wire for these?

              Also a zone question....the 1864 can handle 64 zones, but am I reading correct that it only supports 8 wired zones by default? I would need to buy expansion cards ( PC5108 ) for every additional 8 wired zones I want to use after just the first 8?

              That alone encourages some grouping of wires by room at least. It looks like the smoke/heat detectors can be chained and one zone for each floor (2 zone total) isn't bad. As you said motion detectors are best individual so that's 2-4 zones depending on what I go with. But CO, water leak, garage doors, and then the wired window / door sensors that even if grouped by room I'm still up to about 16 total. It's a bummer if I need to get an expansion card for that on a panel described to handle up to 64 total. :-(

              I've tried reaching out to AlarmSystemStore a couple times in the past with questions but they have never gotten back to me. So I appreciate feedback and guidance here!!!


              • #8
                Alarm circuits are very low current, so small gauge wire is not an issue. Yes, you need expansion cards to add wired zone. FWIW if AlarmSystemStore does not respond to any pre-sales inquiries they would not get any of my business. There are plenty of alternatives.
                HS 1990 Devices 1172 Events
                Z-Wave 126 Nodes on one Z-Net


                • #9
                  Alarm-specific wiring is typically FT4 22/4 station wire (I've done a substantial amount of residential installs over the years). No need to run anything heavier if you only use it for alarm equipment even on long runs - CAT5 can be used for keypads (for future expansion/upgrades/changes), but I always gang the pairs up.

                  And yes, the 1864 only comes with 8 hardwired zones, and only 8 zones per expander (which still baffles me why there's no 16 zone version). The only way to get more hardwired zones (16/board) is to go with a Maxsys system, but they're much more expensive and don't integrate well with other systems (can't use the EVL-4) - not worth the cost IMO. PC5108 zone expanders aren't too expensive (about $40CDN, likely less than that USD). I always just get a larger than anticipated box/cabinet for the panel to accommodate several expanders and their wiring comfortably and neatly. If you can keep the total number of zones under 32, you can save with an 1832 panel and use the extra money on expanders. I've only done 2 houses in the last 20 years that needed more than 32 zones, and they were 7000+ square feet projects.

                  Depending on your electrical code - check with your electrician - in Canada, smoke detectors are required to be hardwired and in each bedroom, and one in each common hallway - around here, the electricians take care of this in their contract on new builds. If you want to add DSC detectors in addition to the electrician's required equipment, it's up to you, but what I've been doing for several years is getting the electricians to run essentially an "extra" smoke detector next to the alarm panel, and install one of these: - it's a ~$20 relay that is triggered when the smoke alarms go off, and closes or opens a zone that you can program in the alarm panel. Suitability would depend on the brands of detectors the electricians use and if a similar module is available if so; but would avoid added cost and aesthetics of duplicate detectors. You can't "reset" the smoke detectors from the alarm panel in this setup as you can with the DSC ones though (not a big deal to me). This setup is just my own preference that I find works well here.


                  • #10
                    We have very similar rquirements on the location of smoke detectors as well and I was going to ask the electrician if he would install the specific ones I am interested in rather than his standard, if we pay the price difference. The DSC detectors are both smoke and heat and are standard 4-wire. But I was concerned that would require me to have the DSC panel in place prior to him doing his work and I wasn't sure if I would be before or after him on that point. So I like your suggestion regarding the relay if it comes to that.

                    I am doing the math again this week and if I come up in the low-20s on sensors I'll go with the 1832 for sure but maybe just pick up the larger box for it.


                    • #11
                      I highly recommend the 1864 over the 1832. You can saw through zones fast. You may start using your panel to detect other contact closure type devices. My bed occupancy sensor for example is wired to my DSC panel. You can connect a doorbell to the panel. Any of the things people do with the ADIO you can do with an alarm panel. If you get into wireless sensors the sky's the limit for what you can do. My small house for example has 15 windows and three exterior doors. That's 18 right there and that's just for the perimeter. 8 Interior doors. Want flood sensors? Smokes? Motion detectors? Fancy floor stress sensors? You could put over 64 of those flex sensors in all but the tinniest house. Maybe for security only you wouldn't need more than 32 zones but this is a home automation forum not a home security forum.
                      Originally posted by rprade
                      There is no rhyme or reason to the anarchy a defective Z-Wave device can cause


                      • #12
                        Great points!!!

                        We're not after a super-monitored interior of the home (though things will be discussed and added over time if it seems like a good option) but there isn't a reason to sell yourself short on expansion either. Especially for only about $100 difference.

                        I super appreciate real-world examples of what you are doing too.


                        • #13
                          Just want to chime in for any future readers that window sensors (at least on all windows) is overkill depending on what type of windows you have. If you have casement windows, then there's no way those puppies are being opened by Joe thief, unlike double hung windows. In a casement window scenario you would just get a glass break sensor covering a windowed area.


                          • #14
                            In the case of early on in new construction or substantial reno, I prefer having sensors on all windows - not for burglar intrusion, but for the convenience of knowing if any windows are open before leaving the house (insect/ weather intrusion). Cost is negligible for wired contacts; though for non-reno retrofits, I'd definitely agree.


                            • #15
                              All the above is great advise.

                              The station wire is is used for several reasons: It's really easy to strip and work with, handles routing 4 conductors through 1/4" holes and other tight spaces like around door frames and window jams where 18ga would be unmanageable. 4 conductors will be needed for most smokes, glass breaks and wired water sensors. The idea is one pair carries the power to the sensor and one pair caries the contact closure. Available in a few colors so you can color code your zones.

                              Optionally, might include pre-wire to exterior gates, doors, garage door and also to locations where you will want exterior motion detectors. You might consider running Cat6 along with it for cameras in each location. I used an Output on my 1864 panel connected to the garage door opener button so that the DSC keyfob can open and close my garage door. Handy when you are out shoveling snow.

                              With a 64 zone panel you can always find neat new uses for empty zones if you have the pre-wire. You'll need a wireless receiver for FOBs and motions. Wireless zones are part of the 64 count, not added on top of the 64. Also beware buying keypads not rated for the correct number of zones. RFK5564 is the correct keypad with wireless receiver.

                              You might also look at using End of Line (EOL) or Double End of Line (DEOL) resistors to your sensors for added security. The EOL or DEOL resistors help ensure the integrity of the wiring to the contacts. The 1864 manual covers that in more detail but the idea is if a zone with an EOL resistor gets shorted it will be considered a tamper. Zones with DEOL show tamper if cable is severed (open circuit) or shorted (closed circuit).