GE Simon 3 and GSM monitoring

I'm looking for an alarm system for a remote vacation home. I'm trying to find something that is relatively inexpensive, but still a "pro grade" system so that it'll have fairly good reliability, operating temperature range (the building will be unheated), and a decent selection of sensors.

The other requirement is cell connectivity. It seems like this is a must-have for a remote location, even if you have a land-line. While cell connectivity seems to be growing in popularity, I'm wondering how traditional systems guarded against the line being cut? I seem to recall that local phone companies once offered a service where they could monitor for line cuts, but I haven't seen that advertised in a long time. I suppose an alarm monitoring company could get a dry pair installed to the house and do their own cut line monitoring, but that would be expensive, and if it once was common, it doesn't seem to be today.

So given this, I started looking at the GE Simon product line, which has a GSM module available and a good selection of reasonably priced sensors. I like the Simon XT panel best, but found a much better deal for a Simon 3 when including the radio cost:

Simon XT $90 + GSM $213 = $303 Simon 3 $70 + GSM $43 = $113

Then further research turned up that these GSM modules are really GPRS data transceivers that are designed specifically to work with the monitoring service, and are useless without that service.

Aside from the fact that the monitoring service costs 2 to 3 times ($20 - $40) what a basic monitoring service costs ($10 - $20), I was hoping to keep my options open to permit self-monitoring, which would require the ability to use the GSM radio to contact me directly (SMS, email, or voice).

That seems to suggest that my only option is one of the generic GSM boxes that simulate a dialtone for the alarm panel. I see RISCO Group makes one that can be had for about $235 and will work with a pre-paid cell service.

This ends up being more expensive than the Simon 3 solution, and gives up the remote control capabilities provided by the GPRS/ approach. Though I suppose most panels provide some remote control capability over the phone.

Are there any alarm panels on the market that offer integrated GSM like the GE Simon line, where you get both GPRS for the monitoring company and voice GSM for self-monitoring applications?

RISCO Group offers a version of their GSM box that integrates with their WisDom panel, supposedly making use of GPRS, but some have suggested that this version then precludes using it as a GSM voice notifier. (Also, I did a price comparison of the panel + peripherals and came to about $1000 for the WisDom, which seems less widely sold, compared to $500 ~ $700 for the GE Simon.)

Lastly, I've seen mixed indicators as to whether the Simon 3 supports direct voice notification of alarm conditions via telephone. Some sources say it doesn't. Some say you need the optional DTIM dialer (normally used with the Allegro). And yet some of the GE documentation indicates that it has built-in voice notification and the ability to accept at least one user-defined number.

The Simon 3 I'd be purchasing would be "unlocked." Perhaps what I'm seeing is more a reflection of the restricted way most alarm companies configure these for their customers?

I'm also considering the GE Allegro, but I can't find the Allegro panel priced as aggressively as the Simon line. Few places carry it. It runs about $127 for the panel and DTIM. Bundled with peripherals (including a generic GSM radio) it works out to be about $25 less than a Simon XT bundle that includes a $60 remote keypad, and almost $100 more than a Simon 3 bundle using the GPRS radio.


Reply to
Tom Metro
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Wow! You make a lot of assumptions.

Go back and look at everything you looked at before and do not assume any panel has anything it doesn't specifically say it has.

Reply to
Bob La Londe

Could you be more specific?

The point to the post is to get some of those assumptions confirmed or refuted.

But that's just it: The information is inconsistent. I have cases of the manufacturer's literature saying that a panel has a capability that other sources say it doesn't, as well as the reverse.

GE publishes both user guides and installer guides, and I don't have access to the installer guides. The user guides are written assuming the panels are being installed by an alarm company that is restricting access to some of the features, so I can't rely on such a guide as a definitive source of what the panel can do.


Reply to
Tom Metro

On Aug 8, 10:40=EF=BF=BDam, Tom Metro wrote:

Tom, you're not going to find too many really professional installers who will use this kind of equipment. You're also likely to not get anyone to nickle and dime the cost of parts either. Most professionals with pick a product line and pretty much stick with it in their installations. The type of equipment you're talking about is more in line with the "lick and stick" alarm companys. Their goal is to get in and out of the installation as quickly as possible. Security, reliability, protection are not their primary objective. It's how many installs they can do in a day. How small they can keep the installation ( because they make as much money per month on a small installation as they do on a more compicated one.) They are in the recurring income business not the security busines That's why these panels exist. You're trying to join a cheap and uncomplicated panel with a back up system, which is not what usually happens. Usually the people who want/need backup reporting also want and can afford the more professional panels, not the low end, "all in one" panels. Oh, and something else, I think you said you wanted the cellular back up to send your cell phone a message ( I think I remember reading that) That's not the way it works. Cellular or radio back up goes through a company who controls the network and directs signals to centrals station that get charged for the service and who, in turn charge the installing company for the service. I don't recall anyone offering Cellular or radio back up, direct to end users or cellular direct to a cell phone. But, who knows, I could be wrong. Today you can find almost anything.

Again, most professional installers are not going to set their customers up to monitor their own system on an unreliable cell phone. We're talking about life and death and the value of your home and family. We're called in to professionally help people who are concered about REAL safety. They're usually not nickel and diming half baked self contained panels.

But what ever the installation is, once protecting all of these important items, having it dependent upon you forgetting your cell phone or being out of range or whatever else might happen to a self monitored system, is not a option that a professional would be interested in promoting to his client. We're talking about the surest and least likely to fail way to protect all the imprortant things in a persons life.

All in one, lick and stick, nickel and dime, self monitored systems are not in the picture. YMMV

Reply to

Sure, I can see that. Even the literature from the manufacturers' of these wireless systems boast to installers about the greater quantity of systems they'll be able to install per week.

OK, but as with most industries I'm sure high-end features flow to the low-end of the product line over time. With the feature set of products these days being so dependent on software, plus the usual cost reduction of electronics, it seems reasonable to think that things like integrated GMS/GPRS receivers will become common on all-in-one panels.

So if you don't recommend these "lick and stick" class systems, are there a few make/model panels you can recommend? Are there any wireless ones? I'd prefer to use a hardwired system, but I just don't have the time to do the installation in this case. I also would need something that can be purchased by a non-professional.

For this modest system with 2 doors, 3 PIRs, and 3 smoke detectors, I've budgeted about $400. To which I might add $75 for a remote keypad, and $250 for GSM backup. I'd be willing to pay a premium over that for better quality, but if a pro-grade system is going to cost over $1000 just for the basic panel and sensors, then I wouldn't get enough value out of it to justify it.


Yes, I noted that. I learned that is used for the GE Simon alarms.

Yes, I mentioned in my post that RISCO Group does, and I've seen others as well. They basically provide a dialtone for the alarm panel, and the phone wiring loops through the GSM box, so normally notifications go out via land-line when it is available.

Sure, but security isn't that black-and-white. There is a continuous spectrum when it comes to the level of risk. Compared to having no alarm system, having one that is being self-monitored is an improvement.

The objective is to design a system that can scale up or down as the budget dictates, while still providing utility. A system designed only for commercial monitoring becomes a costly doorstop if you decide the monitoring service is too costly.


Reply to
Tom Metro

Don't do the Allegro or Simon XT, use a Simon 3 with an cell unit which allows remote control

Reply to

I haven't see any mention of a cell interface for the Allegro, but there is one available (for about $200) for the Simon XT that supposedly works with

The quandary I'm dealing with is that the Simon 3 has an inexpensive cell adapter available ($43), but Simon XT seems to be a much nicer panel (LCD display, full keypad, named zones), and I may end up using Internet monitoring instead of cell. (I need a to pay for a net connection to support security cameras anyway, and the Internet monitoring is a bit less expensive than for nearly the same functionality.)

If I'm not going to use the cell option, I'll probably opt for the Simon XT. Either that or the Abbra Professional bundle with monitoring service sold through Though all the Abbra (Visonic) accessories are more expensive than the GE equivalents, and I have no reason to believe they're any better.


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