Are Honeywell Vista Intrusion Panels The Most Complex?

I recently wired up a Vista 20P panel for the first time for use in a new series of upcoming tests. 

Given that Vista panels, and specifically the 20P, is used so commonly in easily tens of thousands of systems, it is a solid candidate to start evaluations with.

One thing that surprised me was how complex it was to commission.

Specifically, programming and indexing/addressing the system was significantly more of a chore than with the current deluge of DIY products on the market. Most everything in security is web or client configurable via GUI, but Vista programming is still chugging through a serial keypad using codes.

I understand it is unfair to compare Vista and DIY on many attributes, as Vista is far more extensible and certified for commercial uses.  But on the issue of getting the system up and going, the 'higher end' Vista system is simply weaker.

So with that said, is Vista the most complex?  How are other intrusion systems like DSC, DMP, Napco, or 2GIG?

 

 

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Compared the Honeywell Lynx 5200/7000 it is more complex to program. Lynx panels now you can program via Alarmnet 360 on an app. We still use the Vista panels for light commercial, pre-wires for residential but I have moved us over to Lynx panels for most of the house installs. Before, the Lynx 3000 (non touchscreen) weren't the easiest to program so we mainly stayed with the Vistas back in 2010-11 time frame.  Easier programming than the Bosch B-Series panels via RPS but that's not say much. I can't say for the other brands. 

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Not even close to the most difficult.  

There are tricks like everything else. 

Many installers wire the panel to the defaults.  So, Zone 1 is delay, 2-7 are burg, 8 is fire ..... or whatever it is now. 

Enter the central station phone number and account and test signals.  Change code for user.  

Try a BOSCH 9412Gv4 sometime.  Then you will know the difference between zones and points, areas and partitions, delays, timers and skeds.....

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No way. Vista's aren't easy compared to a DIY, but they are easy in the commercial alarm world. UM2 mentioned Bosch above, but there's no doubt to me that Bosch is the most complex. 

Familiarity is key, and it doesn't take but a few times through it to get that familiarity.

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So having never wired up a Bosch panel, how does it/did it compare to Radionics?  Did it get easier when Bosch took over?

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The name changed. 

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We just started with Bosch's new G Series panels which are loaded with features: standard zones (points), addressable (points), fire, access control, automation, mobile access and integration into other systems.   

Now that they added the P2P secure remote access it makes remote programming and remote mobile access secure and easy to setup.  They just need to update RPS software to something more modern and user-friendly. 

I would really like you to test the ICT WX panels.  They have fully integrated access control (not basic alarm access control) and alarm system which programmed and managed from embedded web browser.  

 

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Because you are still using the multiplexer/vcr setup of the alarm world. 

im sure im gonna get slammed by old schoolers on this but if you want non-complexity, using a wired system is not the way to go. use wireless systems, even the "dealer only" wireless systems are ridiculously easy. 

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Are you talking about a residential or commercial system? 

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I get your point and maybe I was too harsh referencing multiplexer/vcr.

But Brian compared it to DIY products and their is no way a wired system with a big ugly circuit board and 1980's style keypad will be near as easy as the streamlined wireless systems out their by 2GIG, DSC, etc.

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Every product has a place.

DYI stuff meets the millennium model and wired systems meet UL Commercial requirements such as .... oh, UL2050.  Some people still appreciate the hidden beauty and no batteries of a wired system.

Wireless has encroached on UL864 but only detection and not notification.

2GIG, Lynx and others were created to meet the needs of the volume installation dealers.   The benefit of wireless in that model moved more dollars back to the manufacturers.

Hardwired volume dealers were buying a small control panel, battery, ground clamp, RY31x jack and cord, wired motion detector, indoor siren and 3 wired door contacts for $52.00 many years ago.  

That race hit bottom so manufacturers figured out a way to move labor costs into material costs. 

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I had to do some work on my first Vista system recently, system was installed ~15 years ago. The site had a dedicated PC with Compass software installed for programming. I didn't find the Compass software overly complex. The software was really old (the PC was running Windows XP) and I would hope that the latest version of the software would be more intuitive.

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I personally do not feel the newer versions of Compass made things all that much easier. Not harder either, I feel about the same.

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Honeywell should be described as the most complicated. Actually, I take that back, Bosch is the most complicated but Honeywell isn't far behind. Most traditional alarm systems out there are too complicated and typically intended to be programmed remotely from a PC. This is why IMO alarm.com and DMP are seeing real traction right now, their systems (alarm.com is compatible with Honeywell) can be programmed via a web interface or an app for DMP making it much easier to get running. 

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We had our customer service manager who has no in-field experiance take home a DMP XTLplus, install and program. He did it in less than 30 min and it works great. I tried to keypad program a vista one time and I ended up throwing it away. 

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Sorry for all the posts but you can't edit comments anymore...here's a photo of the DMP app from DMP for techs to program in the field. Green means go.

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I've worked with these for 20 years and they're no more complicated than anything else in their class.  We use the Compass downloader so the field tech just has to confirm connection.  Newer Lynx and other all-in-ones are way easier to field program but are meant for a different market.  A large residential or commercial for us might have 4 keypads and 50-100 zones (Vista 128 or 250).  I might mention that some of those systems I installed 15-20 years ago are still in service and parts are still available to service them.

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When I entered the industry I learned Honeywell systems, primarily the Vista series panels but also some Lynx... I haven't installed a Honeywell panel in over 7 years but I could still do it without any problem.  In the past 7 years we have installed mainly 2Gig systems along with some DSC.  For me Honeywell is much simpler than DSC but 2Gig (especially the GC3 Panel) beats both of them. 

Looking forward to your upcoming intrusion systems tests.

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can he Vista V128 intrusion panel and 6160 keypad be used in a UL2050 listed IDS for a federal DOD subcontractor's offices?

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Absolutely not. 

DMP XR550 is where you will want to look. 

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We tested the XR Series here: DMP Intrusion Tested (XR Series)

We also test DMP's residential wireless system here: Testing DMP XTLPlus / Virtual Keypad Vs Alarm.com & Honeywell

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This .pdf says Vista 128BPs are UL2050 compliant. Not sure the 6160 endangers it, although using a wireless keypad might!

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1.) I challenge anyone to find a reputable UL2050 installer who will agree to install a Vista panel of any kind in a UL2050-certified environment. I have a feeling it will be extremely difficult to do. I can't recall the specific reason and don't have the time to go look it up, but the Vista128BP no longer met the entire UL2050 guidelines starting in the 2010s. If the specifics come to me or I have time to dig into the details, I will update here.

2.) There may be others that have been introduced recently, but I know 100% for a fact that for a period of time in the past 3-5 years, the DMP XR500/XR550 were the only options for UL2050 / CRZH installations without an exception being granted. I have heard that the new B-series of Bosch panels may be approved, but I would have a question about where they are manufactured since I know that is one of the big keys with DMP --made in the US.

EDIT: And just to be clear -- I am specifically referring to UL2050 / CRZH / "DOD" installations that fall under NISPOM. I am *NOT* referring to the "UL certification" that, say, a jewelry store or a bank might require that all products installed be UL-listed. Big, big difference (which I know that Brian R knows -- I'm just pointing out for the record for anyone that might not).

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Thanks to you and Brian for the replies ... I think the Vista 128 panel they have has been there for a while and the new tenant (a DOD contractor) is taking over the space and is adding 4-5 more doors of ACS as well as wanting to set up for a possible (but not currently needed) UL2050 compliant space.

There is no SCIF or any other classified space at this time, so the 4-5 new doors of ACS could be anything and they are thinking of using Honeywell NetAXS for the doors, but not sure why other than it is not very expensive for a small system and doesn't require any server software licenses.  I suppose they could also be thinking that the NetAXS integrates with the Vista 128 ... does it???

 

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NetAXS integrates with WIN-PAK, and Vista integrates with WIN-PAK, but NetAXS and Vista don't directly integrate. 

And using WIN-PAK would eliminate the web-based advantage of using NetAXS. So not too sure why they're looking for this combo.

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It was suggested by their friendly neighborhood integrator that has the same name as a company that makes tools and begins with an "S"!

I think the end user is trying to save some money by reusing as much of the Vista 128 panel as possible if they choose to add a couple more points to it.  For the new ACS doors though, it looks like the integrator "S" may be familiar with the NetAXS system and just went ahead and proposed it.  I know the end user isn't expecting to have to buy WinPak software and provision a server/computer to run it.

Thinking about future proofing the customer and if they are looking at future UL2050 needs, nothing they have now will be re-usable anyway since something like a SCIF build-out inside their office suite would require an entirely new and separate IDS/ACS anyway.  

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After testing intrusion systems for over a year, I still think Vista programming is a chore via keypad.  But most systems programmed via keypad are.  

I learned pretty quick if you're installing these systems as a dealer, you're going to use software or an app to do it, regardless if it is Vista, DMP, Bosch, DSC, or any conventional panel-based system.

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Putting this out there as a possible post for your intrusion alarm series:

UL2050

1. Why it's needed and possible customers

2. Application and testing requirements for certification

3. What separates UL2050 from typical intrusion alarm installs

4. Recertification

5. Associated costs with the process

 

I recently had to find all this information and it is not easy or readily available. There are still parts that require more research on my end. The info's out there don't get me wrong, but I haven't found a good consolidated place for it all. 

If I didn't already have an account for this site, I would have paid for one just to get all of the above information and save some time.

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This is something I'll add to the queue to publish.  Thank you for recommending it!

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Great thanks Brian!

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I prefer DSC Neo. I look at security area from IT perspective and I can tell that Honeywell is absolutely technician and user non-friendly. It's a disaster, the more I know it, the more I hate it. Technology from the last century with all the cons like poor UI/UX, a non-intuitive interface of the software and keypads, troubleshooting is not a simple task at all. Don't forget tech support which is available after 30-60 minutes of waiting.

So, I'd go with any modern panel like interlogix ultrasync. If you want something old style, use DSC Neo.

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