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Replacing POTS monitoring for CADDX with cell

JimS

Active Member
Looking at dropping the POTS line.  Have another VOIP line that works well and our cell phones.  This means I need to change my monitoring to cell.  Any tips, recommended cell communicators, etc.  I could upgrade the alarm system at the same time but pretty happy with basic alarm and have an expander in another building so replacing both would likely be more than I want to spend at this point but might consider it.  All my sensors are wired, 3 keypads.
 

JimS

Active Member
They send me some info on the Alula BAT connect.  Is this a good piece of hardware and reliable?  $189 from them or I can purchase elsewhere.  Allows cell with internet backup.  And an app for control.  Not wild about internet apps for this sort of thing because of security concerns but it would be convenient.  And there was some note about Z-wave with an interface card.  Don't have any z-wave stuff but it sounds interesting.  Any links to info on what is needed and other details?
 

JimS

Active Member
Just was poking around the web and found some not so flattering reviews of both the equipment and the work environment there.  Hoping for some feedback from others here who might have direct experience.  I am guessing this has to connect to the keypad bus to control the system.  Need to locate some manuals and read up some more.
 

JimS

Active Member
I am not aware of any TCP/IP interface.  The manual for the Alula shows connections to the phone line connections and keypad bus on the alarm panel.  Alula allows either internet monitoring or cell with internet backup.  Alarm relay charges something like $15/mo for internet and $20/mo for cell with internet backup.  I am planning to do the cell option.
 

ano

Senior Member
Been using the BAT Connect as I explain here,  http://cocoontech.com/forums/topic/32736-safehomecentral-anyone/
and it works excellent.  As soon as I remove the Ethernet cable, it switches to cellular in about 20 seconds.  
 
A had a communicator with Alarm Relay, but it was going to need to be replaced because of 3G sunsetting.  To continue with Alarm Relay was much more expensive than to switch to Safe Home, and Safe Home monthly charges are less.  
 

JimS

Active Member
Thanks, Ano!  Just read your other thread.  I too have been happy with Alarm Relay but might be open to switching and will check out Safe Home.  Where did you find the Alula for $110?  I don't know how good a Verizon signal I have but know that ATT is good signal so am planning to go with the ATT version.  For the $21 a month from Alarm Relay they say that is cell with internet backup - noticed you said that price was for cell only.  Has this changed?  Might explain the difference. 
 
Also noticed you said internet was primary and used cell for backup.  That seems reasonable and best but it was described to me as cell with internet backup.  That would be more cell traffic although I don't expect much traffic. 
 

ano

Senior Member
So with Alarm Relay I had cellular only for $21.  A few months ago, the cell signal (AT&T) would go out for hours at a time.  When that happened my panel beeped.  It would go on a few hours, and off a few hours, and repeat.  I've had cellular go out at 3am, but it comes back in an hour or so.  I assume cell site maintenance. 
 
So my Alarm Relay communicator was 3G, but supposed to be active to Feb. 2022.  In any case, I called Alarm Relay and they weren't much help. 
 
The new one is $16.95 cellular & IP, or $14.95 IP only.  Plus 15% discount if you pay for the full year. Yes, IP is primary, and cellular goes on if IP goes down.  Its cheaper for them that way.  Personally I don't care as long as it works.  Unlike some communicators, it switches to cellular when IP is removed.  Many wait until the panel needs to communicate, THEN the cellular starts.
 
I went with Verizon this time.  I added an external antenna to the BAT Connect because my phone is only 1 bar here, but it indicates Verizon is 4 bars with the little external antenna, so good sensitivity.  
 
Search for the BAT Connect. BUT DON'T power it before your account is established.  
 

JimS

Active Member
Got my Alula Bat Connect from Alarm Relay on Monday.  I was all set to get it installed as my POTS line number port was scheduled for the next day.  As I recall they said they would schedule the install once I got the unit - I don't recall exactly but their details on the whole process weren't well spelled out in retrospect.  So I had Monday evening free and figured no issue.  Called and they said setup had to be scheduled.  First opening was at 3 PM the next day.  So I arranged to work from home and waited for the call.  Service guy was friendly enough and even though I missed his call due to poor reception where I was at the moment a quick call to them got me connected to him.  I put the unit in a higher location and ran wires prior to the appointment.  I had disarmed both partitions and when I asked if two partitions would be an issue he said they just needed to be disarmed.  I doubt he would have mentioned anything about partitions if I hadn't asked.  Had me hook it up and went through several steps.  Asked about lights on the unit and I said I needed to go look at the unit because it wasn't at the panel.  He seemed surprised and I said I just extended the wires and he said ok.  Initially he asked if the unit came with wires attached and I said it did.  But they were only a couple feet long and for better reception I replaced the wires. 
 
Once it was connected to the panel he had me go to the keypad.  Suggested I try a few common installer codes and I informed him I had the installer code as I installed it myself.  So he went through a long list of "what numbers do you see?"  "press these buttons" to change some programming in the panel.  I asked about the app and he said I would get an email which I did.  It came with a link and my user name and temp password ( a bit of a security hole in my opinion but it was just temporary although it doesn't automatically force you to change it.)
 
So it does work with the first partition.  No idea about the second partition operation although it still works through the keypad.  Need to contact them about the second partition.  I mentioned having 2 partitions at the start of the install call but it got overlooked when testing.  Not sure how or if I can access the second partition from the app so need to look into that. 
 
Also wondering about other capabilities of the Bat connect that are touted in literature - zwave, etc.
 
Overall I am a little disappointed with the whole process - it could have been a lot better.  I got the Bat connect and the box had been opened to put their wires and several alarm relay stickers on it.  They could have thrown in a sheet outlining the process and saying you need to call for an install appointment.  The installer just assumed I knew how to hook up the wires and that was about it.  I guess that's what they have to do but I would have liked to have a sheet of what locations needed to be changed and other details.
 
Anyone know if the details of panel programming for use with the bat connect are available?  I am thinking these details may be limited to dealers only. 
 
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