DIY Retrofit Your Existing Wired Alarm Security System

We often have homeowners reaching out to our Customer Support Team, asking what they can do with the existing hardwired security systems already installed in their homes. Either they recently moved into a house with an alarm system in place, or they currently have their system actively monitored with a traditional security company like ADT or Rogers.

They ask questions like:

  • How can I keep my home protected without paying crazy high monthly fees?

  • Should I upgrade the control panel and/or the entire system?

  • What are my security options when I’m finally out of my long-term contract?

  • How can I monitor my wired security system myself on my phone?

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Many of us move into a house that has an existing alarm security system installed already. The most common systems are DSC (ADT is DSC) or Honeywell brand.

Sometimes these systems have been sitting idle for years, but the cables are still in great condition. Often it’s the case that the systems are still working. You might have event accidentally armed and set it off before! This may have got you thinking about how you can put it to good use or give it an upgrade with the help of a smart device.

Your options are:

  • Use an existing home alarm system with a traditional monitoring company;

  • Abandon the existing system and replace it with a brand new system;

  • Retrofit & self-monitor your existing home security alarm system with Safe by HUB6

This article focuses mainly on option 3: how to do a DIY retrofit so that you can monitor your security system on your phone. However, we’re going to touch on all the options. It’s important to know what you can do with your existing home security system so that you can choose the best one for you.

1. Use an existing home alarm system with a traditional monitoring company

If your existing alarm security system is still in good condition, you can use it as is. For example, if you have an ADT system already installed you can sign up for their monitoring service. For some people, this option is a straightforward way to protect their homes. The downside is that you will most likely find yourself committed: to a long-term contract, a few years of monitoring service, plus expensive monitoring fees.

Here’s a look at how a traditional monitoring company works:

The basics of home alarm monitoring are standard across all security companies. The alarm system set up in your home is programmed to communicate with a signal receiver at your security provider’s central station. When an alarm goes off in your home, the information relayed from your alarm system to the central station is:

  • Your name and address,

  • The type of alarm signal,

  • The zone(s) or device(s) that triggered the signal.

The central station accepts the incoming alarm information, and a dispatch operator is notified. In order to reduce the chance of a false alarm, the operator is required to manually call through your provided list of emergency contacts to verify if the alarm is real. If there is no answer at any of the numbers called, the operator then calls the police and/or fire department.

When you pay your monthly fees to large companies like ADT and Rogers you aren’t paying for “active monitoring”. You’re paying for the dispatch operator to call through your emergency contact when your alarm is set off.

You can learn more about how traditional monitoring companies work here.

2. Abandon the existing system and replace it with a brand new system

You home alarm system may still be under a contract with a monitoring company. Before you abandon the existing system it’s important to see if you are. Contact the monitoring service and be prepared to share details on:

  • Services included in current contracts

  • Total costs like activation and monthly monitoring fees to reactive the existing alarm systems

  • Termination date and renewal clauses of the current contract

  • Warranties and after-sales services

Now, you can rebuild your entire system from scratch. Similar to the first option, creating a brand new system can be costly and time-consuming. That’s why we often recommend option #3...

3. Retrofit & self-monitor your existing home security alarm system with Safe by HUB6

Upgrading your existing security system to something that can be monitored your phone is a great solution if you don't want to be locked into a contract or pay expensive monitoring fees.

At HUB6, we believe that there is a better way to achieve home security – an affordable, customer-centric approach that protects the people and things that you love the most.

We set out to create the Safe by HUB6 security system with 3 core goals in mind:

  1. To be transparent about fees, and give our customers ultimate freedom from long-term contracts, installation costs, and unfair charges.

  2. To provide the peace of mind that comes with true, secure protection and rapid emergency response time.

  3. To leverage our customers’ existing home security technology and community networks to save on monitoring without sacrificing protection.

We created the Safe by HUB6 system to help homeowners cut unnecessary, expensive monthly fees. Why pay $40-$60 each month for a stranger in a call center miles away to call your list of friends and family in an emergency? You can take back control and directly receive your alarm notifications. You or a trusted neighbour can call emergency services if necessary, and lose the middleman that’s not actively protecting you.

Safe by HUB6 transforms your existing home security system into a smarter system for an affordable, one-time price. Our system leverages the community networks you already know and trust to keep your home protected.

Here’s how Safe by HUB6 works:

  1. Safe by HUB6 connects to the existing security system hardware already installed in your home.

  2. It redirects alerts triggered by your system to the HUB6 app instead of a security monitoring centre.

  3. You or a trusted neighbour added to your neighbourhood can assess the alarm and contact emergency services as needed.

The Safe system is compatible with most DSC and Honeywell home security systems and works with other smart home products including Google Assistant, Alexa, and ecobee through IFTTT.


Final Thoughts

Moving into a house installed with alarm or security systems could help cut down installation and equipment cost up front and beef up home security. Contemplating those possible options to deal with existing and wired alarm system kits carefully and conducting thorough research before taking any further steps are always a safe call.

A home security update shouldn’t be intimidating nor costly. Finally, homeowners can be empowered and free themselves from monthly monitoring fees – without sacrificing protection.

Ready to get started? The Safe by HUB6 kit comes with everything you need to install the system yourself. No expertise or special tools are required, and all you need is 30 minutes or less. We include step-by-step instructions. Take a look at how easy it is.

About HUB6 Home Automation

We empower safer, smarter communities. At HUB6, we integrate the most powerful home automation technologies to help you create a home that takes care of the people and things inside it. We create beautiful smart devices that work seamlessly with your home.


Verified Alarm Response – What You Need to Know

This past September 2018, the Toronto police announced that they will no longer respond to home security alarms unless evidence of criminal activity is provided. The new requirement – called “Verified Alarm Response” – is the result of an internal police review that found 97 percent of home security system activations in 2016 were false alarms. The policy change aims to cut down on the number of false calls and make emergency responses “more efficient”, said the police.

Home security providers are currently reaching out to customers in regards to how Verified Alarm Response requirements will affect monitoring moving forward. ADT, Rogers Home Monitoring, Vivint, and more are attempting to communicate that their services are still valuable. But are they? We take a look.

The policy change raises valid concerns over the effectiveness of “active monitoring” by large home security providers. In emergency situations, time is the most important factor in getting help when it’s needed most. “I think it would be hard to prove in a timely manner,” said Ric Amis, secretary of the Parkdale Residents Association, to the Toronto Star on the extra step dispatch operators must take before contacting police.

Read more on Verified Alarm Response – What You Need To Know

Addison Gill