Honeywell Total Connect 2.0 Reviewed

By Brian Rhodes, Published Apr 01, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Historically, a key part of Honeywell's security business has been selling low cost residential intrusion alarm equipment. Honeywell has recently introduced a way to use those inexpensive alarm panels to blend video monitoring, alarm system management, and home automation features into a cloud based service named 'Total Connect'. In this note, we examine this service, compare it to other remote video monitoring services, and detail system pricing and service costs.

Overview

Honeywell's Total Connect 2.0 [link no longer available] interface allows for converged remote access and monitoring of common types of security systems.  A single interface is designed to make central management easy for the following systems:

  • Intrusion Alarm
  • Video Surveillance
  • User access administration and event alarms
  • Home Automation

Total Connect is a cloud service, designed to be processed through alarm panel hardware. While processing power is limited by this design, Total Connect requires no computer workstation for service. Total Connect exclusively uses GSM to communicate with the central 'cloud' monitoring station and no POTS connection are needed or supported. A key feature of the cloud based system is interfacing through web connected smartphones and mobile devices. Free Total Connect Apps are for the major mobile OS, including Apple, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile.

Total connect requires it's own recurring monthly service and an Alarmnet subscription in order to work. Alarm panel monitoring can still be done through a 3rd party monitoring company, but all panel reporting must be forwarded to Alarmnet in order to be supported by Total Connect.

Overview

Intrusion Alarm: End users access their systems through web connected PC or smartphone apps. Total connect allow users to arm/disarm their intrusion systems and receive email or SMS notifications when an event takes place. The system can be configured to send event logs noting when doors are opened, when the alarm system has been disarmed, or when motion detectors have been tripped. 

Video Surveillance: Using specifically branded Total Connect cameras and a GSM module in the alarm panel, end users can remotely see and playback recorded video. When cameras are hung adjacent to alarmed doors or PIR detectors, the end user can have video verification of alarm events through a common interface. Recorded video storage is limited to 100 MB of storage for up to 6 cameras per GSM module. A residential customer with a one or two cameras might not be bothered by this limitation but this small storage capacity is exceeded by even the smallest DVR based systems.

Total Connect supports a limited number of camera types whose performance specifications are low-end compared to commercial surveillance cameras. The eligible cameras are SD resolution, and lack important features like true Day/Night, WDR, and local SD storage. Most models are intended to be WiFi connected to the accompanying router, which results in distance and line-of-sight restrictions on camera placement. Honeywell offers an encoder until (HoneyWell ACU) that permits the use of analog cameras, but the output resolution is limited to SD quality.

User access administration and event alarms: For small business owners, panel code permissions and multi-site panel administration is possible through a common interface. Reporting events linked to specific users can be helpful in determining when and where a specific employee disarms an alarm panel. The reports, coupled with the wide variety of sensors available, provide a small business owner visibility of events like when door open for business, delivery notification, office temperature adjustment, water/leak detection, and perimeter intrusion detection.

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Home Automation: Turning off lights and thermostat controls through the interface are existing home automation features. Support of Z-Wave enabled appliances and devices is roadmapped for future releases. When paired with Tuxedo Touch keypads, other multimedia features like video playback and weather alerts notification are supported.

Comparison

Sweeping comparisons between Total Connect and other service offerings are difficult. Remote access of video, alarm panels, and home automation is not unique, however the method of achieving through one interface is.

Companies like Alarm.com sell cloud based alarm, video, and home automation services that communicate via cloud to central monitoring. However, central monitoring options are limited, and the DIY nature of the installation business limits dealer support nationwide.

Axis AVHS is a cloud based video surveillance solution that provides cloud storage beyond 100 MB. Like Total Connect, remote playback and viewing is web based, but no integration alarm systems or home automation is possible. Axis AVHS also bills according to a monthly subscription, but offers GB worth of video storage for even the lowest tiers. Pricing depends on reseller, pricing for a single AVHS camera tends to be between $15 - $25 per month. Service is more expensive on a 'per camera' basis than Total Connect.

Pricing

Total Connect is targeted at the low-end of the market, and has been designed to work with inexpensive alarm panels like the Vista 10P [link no longer available] and 20P systems.

A GSM communication module ( around $160) and a monthly service cost (<$10) must be added to the alarm panel in order to be eligible for Total Connect service.  In addition a monthly subscription to Total Connect and AlarmNet must be purchased. Up to 6 cameras can be added for a flat cost of $6 per account.

Specific 'Total Connect' compatible cameras are limited for use in a Total Connect system. Model selection is based on application, not performance attributes:

  • IPCAM-WI2 [link no longer available] (Indoor wireless cube): $120
  • IPCAM-WO [link no longer available] (Outdoor wireless cube): $220
  • IPCAM-PT [link no longer available] (Indoor Pan & Tilt 'intrusion' camera): $230
  • Honeywell ACU [link no longer available] (1CH analog encoder): $100
  • Total Connect WAP Appliance [link no longer available] (required to network cameras): $80

Once all service costs have been accounted for, a 'Total Connect' system (including video support, GSM service, and alarm panel monitoring) cost dealers $20 per month. Street pricing for the basic Total Connect packages can be found as inexpensively as $30 per month.

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