Alarm.com Tested

By Brian Rhodes, Published on Jul 13, 2017

Alarm.com has become the dominant force in smart home / remote service platform, with ~70% market share, combining their own traditional offering plus their acquisition of rival iControl business units.

But how well does the platform actually work? For this test, we connected the most interesting Alarm.com compatible and Z-Wave smarthome devices together to see how well they integrate.

Our system included:

Inside, we detail our findings on how well the system operates, where it is weak, and how it compares to other connected systems.

Key **** ********

*** **** ******* **** Alarm.com's ********* ********* ******* is * **** ********* in ******* *** ********, including:

  • **** ***** ***********: *** *** **** intrusion *******, ***'* *********** is ***********, ******** ******** management ** ***** ******, doorbell ********, ******** *** thermostat ********, *** **** 'non ********' ******* **** lawn **********. ** **** cases, *** ******** ******* additional ********** ******** *** offered ** *** ****** itself, **** ******** *********** in *** **********.
  • ******** *****.*** ***: *****.***'* ********** *** is ****** ** ********, sleeker, *** ** ********* more ****** **** *** web ****** *** ** Push *************, ***-****** ******* access, *** '****** *****' viewing ** ****** *** doorbell *****.
  • ** ****** ***** ***** Notifications: ** *** ****, the ****** *** *** fail ** ****** ** intrusion ***** ********** ** when * ********* ****** or ****** ****** * setpoint. *** **** ********* was *** ***** *******, whose ******** ** **** connections *** ***********, *** overall ** *** ***** system *******, **** *** Alarm.com ******** ************ ********* it ** *** ****.

*******, *** **** ****** system ********** ****** ********** that ***** ** *** problems *** *********** *********:

  • ***** ***** ******** *** Laggy: ***'* **** ***** surveillance *********** ***** ******* or ****** *****, ******* entire ****** ** ******* more **** ** ******* behind ****-****.
  • ****** ****** *********** ***** Performer **** ******: ******* ***** **** 'direct *********' *********, *******, or ********** ********** ********* took ** **** ** 20 ******* **** ** communicate ** ******** ******** to ******* ********** ********** through *** ***** ***** panel ** * **********.
  • *** ****** ****** ******** To ***: *** ***** ****** to *** ********** ** limited ** ******* **** controls, *** ********* ** more ********* ** ******** and *** **** ********* functions, **** ****** ******** events ********* **** ****** applications.
  • *** ******* ****** *******: *** ***** ** camera ****** ********* ** ADC ** ******* ** a *** ***** ***** with * ******* ********** of ***** *** ***** focal *******. ****** ******* residential ************ ** *** goal, *** ********* ****** likely *** *** ***** for **** ********* ****** and ******** ********** ************.

Alarm.com ********

*** (*****.***)** * ******* ***-** to ********* *** **** automation *******, **** ***** sold ** * '********' product **** ******** ******** recurring ********** *** ****** management *** ********* *******. The *** ******** *****.*** claims ** ******* ******* and ********** ** ********* alarms, ***** ************, **** automation **** *********** *** Z-Wave, *** ***** ****** residential ****** ******** ******* like ***** *********, **** locks, *** **** ********** systems.

*** ****** ******** *** available ****** ******* * web-based ****** ** ********** app *** ******, *** premise **********. *** ***** appearance ** *** ******** interface ** ***** ** the ***** *****:

    

** ****, *** ** not * ******* ******* monitoring ******. ***** **** service ** ***** ****** with ***, ** ******* the *********** ** *** dealer, *** ******, **** to *** ** ******* alarms **** * ******* station.  ** **** *****, Alarm.com ***** *** ********* professional ********** ** ******** remote ****-**********, *** *** products, *****, *** ******** do *** ******* **** existing ******** ********** ******** ** *******.

Uses *** ***** ******* ******

*****.*** (***) **** *** offer ***** ****** *** the **** ********* *** automation ***, *** ****** supports ******** *** ***** offerings.   *** **** used ****'* *** *****, which ** ******** ** depth ** *** **** ********* ******** (*** & *** ****** ******) ******, ******** *** ***** used ** * *********** percentage ** *** *** alarm ******* *************. **** panel ** * *****-***** appliance, **** * *********** keypad *** ******** ****** integrated **** * **** mounted *********. *** ******* and *-**** ******* *** connected ** **** ***** first, *** ********** ** ADC *** * ******** connection ******:

*** *****.*** ***, *** system ** **** ** a ******* ******* ********, but ** *** ******** communicator *** ****** ***** into * **** **** on *** **** ** the ****:

**** *** **** ***** up **** *****.*** *******, users *** ** ** smartphone **** ** *** portals ** ******** ***** devices, *** ** ***** configuration ** ********.  **** panel ********** *** ** done **** *** *** or **** * *** clicks ** **** **** 5 *******.

Other ********* ******

*******, **** ******* ***** from **** *** ********* by ***'* ********** ********. Other****** *******:

** ***** ** ******, each ** ***** ****** produce ***** *********** ********* and ******* ********** ********* panels, *** **** ********** with *****.*** ** ******* the '******' *** '***** controlled' ******* ** ***** systems. *** **** ***** of ************* *** ******* of *-**** *******, ** any ***** ********* ********** devices, ***** ******* ** this '******' ****** **********.  

** **** ***, ** asked ******* '*****.*** ******** * ********* Lines. ***?' ** * ****** discussion, **** **** ******* expressing ******** ******** ***** the ***** ** ******* because ** *** *********** in ********** ********* ****** or ****** ******* ****.

ADC ******** *******

*** ****** ******* *** plugins *** ******** ** 'SEM *******', ********* *** Honeywell ****** ***** *** legacy *** ******, ******* expanding *** ***** ** compatible *** ***** ******.

*** ~$*** *** ****** also ** * *-**** hub, ****** ********** ** otherwise ********* ** ***-********** intrusion *******.

Cloud ***** ********

*** ** ***'* '****** app' ******** ** ****** video ****** ******, ******** users ** *** ****** happening '** ****' **** the **** *** *********** their ********* ******.  ************* for *****.***, *** ******* shows ***** ************ *** of *** ****** ***** of *** ********.  ** look ** *** ***** interface ** *** **** footage *****:

    

************ *** **** *******, ADC ***** ****** ** be **********, ********** ******** frames ** ******, *** unreliable *** *********** **** some ****** ***** ********* but ******* ******* ******.

** ****, *** ********** most ***** *** ****, independent ** *** ****** intrusion *****. **** ***** video **** ********* ******* *** WiFi ********. *********** ** constrained *** ******* ** coverage ***** *** ********* bandwidth ** *** ********* WiFi *******, ***** ** not ************ **** ** ADC, *** ** *** test **** **** ***** coverage *** ****** ** capacity, ***** *********** *** lackluster.

***'* **** ****** ***** buffered, ************, ** *** not ******** ********** ****** placed ******* ****** ** feet ** *** **** router.  ** **********, *** same ****** ** **** to ****** *********** ** WiFi ***** ******* ** equal ** ******* ********* in ***** **** **** *** *** ****.

Limited ****** *********

*** ******** ***** **** private ******* **** ******* and ********, ***** * quick*** *** ***** **** as ***** ************ ** Vivotek.

*** ****** **** ****** types, *** ****** *** three *******, *** * four ** ****** ******* analog *******. ************* ****, while ********** ** ******* to **** ** ***** and ***** ****** *** fixed, **** *** *********** for ******* *********** ************, but *** *** ******* and ***** *** **** modest ********** *******.

******** ** ****** ** the ***** **** **** bullet**** ** **** *** Indoor/Outdoor ******. ******* *** box *** ****** ******* clarify *** ********* **** range, ** ******* *** camera ********, *** * typical **' - **' away **** * ******** router ******* ******* ******** walls.  ** ********* *** camera ***** **** *.* and * ***, **** no ********** ***********.

 

*** ********** **** ** tested ** *** **** generally ****** ** *** the ********* ******, ******** the ******-**** ** *** plastic **** ****** *** offer ****** ******* ** functionality ***** ******** ************.

App **. *******

*** ***** ******** **** different ******* ******* ** ADC ***** **** *********** usability ***********. ** *******, the ********** *** *** easier ** ******** *** offered **** ******** ******* over ********** *** ******* than *** *** ******* portal.

**** * ******** *** layout **********, *** *** (image *****) ***** **** all ***** ******* *** accessible ** ********* * single ****** ** ** a ****** ******** ****:

********** **** *** *** portal, ***** *** ******** are ********* ** * tabbed *********, ********* ********* several ****** ** ******** to *** ******* ********:

***** *** *******, **** pushed ***** ************* *** easy ** **** ** the *******, *** ******* features ** *** ***. From *** ***, ***** ************* are ****** ** *** top ********** ** **** other ******** *** **** is **********, ** **** if *** ***** ** idle.  *** **** ***** below ***** *** **** notifications **** **** **** outside *** ****** *** app:

 

***** *** ******* ******** an ***** *** ** a ****** ** *** main ********* ******, *** alarm ****** *** *** pushed ** ******* *** must ** ******* *** specific *****.

*** ***** ***** ************ the *** *********** ******* the *** *** ******* portal, ********* **********, **********, and ******** ***********:

    

Doorbell ***********

*** **** *****, ** integrated ***** ******** **** be * *** *******, performance ** ************ ******. Alarm.com ******** ******* *********, including *** ******* ******, a ******* ***** ***** unit *** *** ***** puck-shaped ******* **.

** ***** ** ******* performance, *****.***'* *** **** tightly ****** ************* **** the ****** ** ****** or ****** ** ********, compared ** *** *** portal **** **** *******. The *** ****** *** remote ***-*** ***** ************* to **** ***** ** an *****-***** *******.  *** individual *********** *****, ***** our ******* ** ****** ****** *** ******** **** at *** ******* ** Slim *****, **** ***** below:

****** ********* *** **** connected ** *** *** bypasses **** ***** ***** panels ** **** *** standalone ****. ***** ****** performance ** **** **** using ***'* ***, *** recorded ***** *** ****** in *** **** ******* 'saved' **** ****** ** the **** ** *** connected *******, *********** ******** quite ********** ** ****** and ********.

***** **** ********* ** basic, **** **** ** answer **** ****** *** 'hold ** ****' ****** being *******.  ** ******** VMD ** ***-*****/** ************ features *** ********* ** the ***.

No **** *******

*** ******* ******** **** the ******** ******* ** support ** **** *******, specifically **** *** **** ****** ******* ****** than ******* **. *** lack ** ******* ******* to ** * ******** decision *** *** * technology **********, ***** **** Skybell *** **** ******** operate ********* **** * internet *******. 

Thermostat ***********

******* ********* '********* ****' feature ** ****** ******* and ****** ** ***********. We ********* *** ******* *-**** ******* ********* ** ** our ****** *** **********. The *********** *** ********** with *** ** **** method *** ***** *** reliable **** ** ******.

*** ***** ***** ******** the ********* ** *** thermostat, *** ***** ********* devices, ** **** *** app *** *** ******. In *******, ********** *********** and ****** ******* ** these ******* *** **** and ******* ******** *****:

    

Schedules ** ***, *** **********

*** *********** ****** ** the ******** *** **** device ********** *** ***** better ** *** *** app **** ** *** device *****.  *** *******, creating *******/******* ********* ** a **** ******* ** most ***** ***********, *** only ******** *** *** ADC *** ******** ** the **** *****. *** image ***** ***** *** 'Rules & ******' ****** shown *********** ** *** browser ******, *** ** entirely *********** ** ** unconnected **********:

Price *** ********** ********* 

**** * ********* **** perspective, *****.*** ******** *** about ***** ** *********** like ***** *******, **** a ******* ******* **** of $** - $** per *****.

*** **** ********** *** smaller *****, *** ******* cost ** *** **** be ****** ** $**, while ***** ******** ******* connecting ***** ** ******** panels *** ** ** or ****. ** *******, features **** ***** ***** and ******** ******* *** to ***** *****, *** the **** ********* ****** may **** **** * factor ** *** ********* adding ******** **, ***** native ******* ** *-****, Zigbee, ** ***** ************.

******** ************ ** *** include *** ****** *******:

****(******** ***********)

** **** ********, *** faces *** ******** *********** from ****.  **** ***, Moni ******** **** * number ** *********, ********* the **** **** *** Qolsys ******, *** ******** with **** ** *** same *******, *-**** *******, and ******* *******. **** ADC, **** **** ******** a ********** *** ***** console, ** ********** ****** and ******* *******, *** even ***** *********** ************ not ********* **** *** like **** *** ******.

*******, ** ***** ** existing ***********, *** *** a **** *********** ******** base *** *********** ** financially ******* ****** ******* new ***********, ******* **** more ********** ** ******* players *** *** ****** away ********* ********* *** dealers.

********* [**** ** ****** available]

** ***** ** *** ********* ***** ******* *.* Reviewed ****, *** ***** ********** competition **** * ******* installer **** ** *** Ademco *****. **** * functionality ***** ** ****, ADC ***** ******* *********** of ***** *******, ********* limited ****** ******* *** Z-Wave **** (*** ******) automation.

*******, *** *** * distinct ******* **** ********* in **** ** ** not ****** ** ******* with **** *** ***** of ********* *****. **** a ***** ******** ***** of ****, *** *** operate **** *** *********** take **** * **** number ** ******* ******** to ***** *******.  ***** connected ********** *** * growing ***** ** ****** every ***** ************, *** has *** ********* ** potentially ******* **** **** accounts.

 

Comments (10)

Great report. I actually did quite a bit of research into the access control piece since my wife yells at me for leaving our front door deadbolt unlocked sometimes. Picked up a great Schlage unit as you really just need a zwave device for it to work. Of the 100s out there make sure you check the list as there are only a limited amount that come 128 aes encrypted by default.

 

https://www.google.com/amp/www.csoonline.com/article/3024217/security/ez-wave-z-wave-hacking-tool-capable-of-breaking-bulbs-and-abusing-z-wave-devices.amp.html

Also got a zwave controller for garage door and it's pretty cool to open and close it.

I've been using Alarm.com paired with Qolsys at a small commercial building in downtown Vancouver, WA, with about 10 authorized users with differing levels of access rights. Mostly a pretty good experience altho there is a genuine annoyance with the Alarm.com notification logic: if an internal sensor (e.g. motion, smoke, etc) goes off and then times out , the next time an authorized user opens any door to the building, the normal panel time delay is no longer active, so the alarm goes off immediately before the user can enter his code. Then, that user is challenged directly via the panel for the "secret password." Even authorized users don't necessarily have that info. Subsequently, instead of contacting me first to verify, the central station (Livewatch) just calls the cops. This has cost me $150 in false alarm charges from my local PD.

Also of note (nothing to do with Alarm.com) is that Qolsys support for third-party sensors is a bit dicey: I had repeated false alarms with the Interlogix water leak detectors when interfaced with the Qolsys panel. The problem went away when I swapped those out for Qolsys leak detectors. I've also had a couple of times when the wireless magnetic door sensors have mysteriously failed to detect the open door, resulting in alarms being set off by the interior motion sensor. That problem fixed itself, equally mysteriously.

This should not be the case as Alarm.com does not call the cops. It has to be tied to a central station. I suggest you call your central station and find out why they are dispatching.

You're right, I should have been more clear and will edit my original comments. But I did call the central station (livewatch) back when this first happened, they blamed Alarm.com, and claimed that this logic couldn't be changed. Even tho I specifically have myself on the call tree before the cops.

Who is your central? A good central station will respond to conditions however you want them to providing it is not illegal or counter-code to do so.

LiveWatch is owned by Moni.  Not sure who used to monitor them (LiveWatch) prior to the acquisition and/or if they've transitioned.

Good report, except you kind of glossed over the Z-Wave device support, door locks, lights, etc.  You can unlock a door from the video doorbell screen which is a very cool feature.  Also impressive is the Liftmaster Garage door integration and NEST themostat integration.

The weakest part about ADC is definitely video.  They have THE WORST laggiest rebranded low-end Vivotek cameras that literally need to be within 20 feet of a wifi router with 90% signal strength - however that may all change with their brand new hard-wire POE cameras which are just rebranded HIK cameras.  Now I know this is terrible to say on IPVM, but HIK cameras are probably the best overall camera out there in terms of quality, pricing, features and compatibility/reliability.  We've ordered one of the new HIK ADC cameras to play with, and in conjunction with the ADC Stream Video Recorder (SVR) this may become ADC's killer app for the home market.  Lots of people want cloud storage and easy setup, but are also limited by internet speed/reliability.  HIK ADC cameras with SVR DVR's could be a game changer.

ADC is an amazing service - and they're not overly inexpensive, so I'm surprised they don't have more competition.  Would be interesting to see a writeup on the other 30% of this market that ADC doesn't own.  Are they any good?  

Good report, except you kind of glossed over the Z-Wave device support, door locks, lights, etc.

Good point, except I tried to separate the panel hardware characteristics (that may vary depending on the panel) from ADC. So Z-Wave support, and how well it works, could be a mixed bag depending on which hardware piece you are using.

However, with that said, I agree that 2Gig and ADC have the Z-Wave part down cold and it works well.  Not a foregone thing, when considering IoT hubs like Wink fumble around with it.

Now I know this is terrible to say on IPVM, but HIK cameras are probably the best overall camera out there in terms of quality, pricing, features and compatibility/reliability. 

IPVM routinely evaluates Hik hardware, and often finds it a good performer and high on the variables you mention.  IPVM calls no fouls on factual statements.

Would be interesting to see a writeup on the other 30% of this market that ADC doesn't own. Are they any good?

We are testing Honeywell's Total Connect 2.0 coming up.  Stay tuned for that.

I havent seen if adc can support multiple hvac in a larger house? 

 

Depending on the thermostat, Alarm.com supports up to 8 - 16 thermostats per account.  

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