118 of 121 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2013
EDIT 1/31/2014 - As user RP has commented below, the OBi will no longer support Google Voice after May of this year. I still love the OBi device and will look into changing to another service (they say these will only cost a couple of dollars per month with one-time fees available) when the time comes and will update this post with the best solution. For more information, look here: [...]
Let me preface this by saying that I was suspicious of the 30+ solid 5 star reviews. Surely SOMEONE found something to nitpick, right? Anyway, I originally thought I was going to be the one to reduce the average but I'm pleased to say that, for the price, this is easily a 5 star product.
In general, there is one major downside to installing your own security system: if someone breaks in, chances are that you are only going to know when you return home. The most competitive feature of these Fortress systems is the ability to call preprogrammed numbers when an alarm is triggered at home. In fact, for this reason, we did not even plug in the siren - when we are on campus, we could easily be home in minutes if there was an alarm.
The whole system took about 45 minutes to set up, including the amount of time I spent developing a plan for where to put the various sensors. It's a good idea to put the motion sensors in areas of your home where an intruder is unlikely to avoid. That said, the sensors are already programmed to the base station, so it's really a turn-on-and-go type of deal.
Originally I was upset that the auto-dialer would require a home phone line to operate, but I've found a no-monthly-fee solution. This OBi100 VoIP Telephone Adapter and Voice Service Bridge will let you use Google Voice (a free service) to route your alarm system over the internet. We don't even use the OBi to call out or anything - this forty dollar adapter is just for the alarm system. And with no monthly fee, I can be assured that even when we aren't home we always know the house is secure.
Lastly, the key fobs are nice because training my roommate to arm and disarm the alarm from the keypad every time would probably not work. The alarm is "tested" every once in a while because we will forget to disarm it and within seconds of opening the door our cell phones will start ringing.
I'm looking at upgrading the system at a later date for a couple more motion sensors, but all is well so far!
UPDATE 12/5/2013 - I have recently completed the security system install for the house, and I still love this product. If you need more motion sensors or door alarms, I recommend checking out e bay, as you can buy inexpensive (like ten dollar) motion sensors that will easily pair with this system. The only downside is that they are shipped from overseas, so it might take a few weeks to get them. Pretty much any 433mhz security products will work with the FORTRESS system, so simply run a search for "433mhz [window sensor OR motion detector]" and various local or overseas sellers will appear.
138 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2013
This system is packaged with care and is pre-programmed. If you know nothing about electronics or security systems, but can read a manual (or three),you can have this system installed and tested in an afternoon.
The most tools you will need are a drill (to sink "mollies" for mounting motion sensors and/or control unit)and a screwdriver. Since there are several reviews that go into detail on installation or talk about ease of installation, I will just give you a few random comments that may help you along the way.
Pre-1 - The most important thing you can do is think through what you are trying to accomplish with your system layout. I first thought about where to place devices to keep anyone from entering the house without an alarm. This is essentially your window/door sensor placement. If you are going to protect every entrance, you are going to have to buy enough sensors for EVERY separate window and door, including FOUR for a two-window set if it raises from the bottom and lowers from the top. It includes bathroom windows and that 12" square window in the basement. Lots of sensors (and consider broken glass sensors).
Secondly, I assumed that somehow someone breached the outside sensors. Once inside, I placed motion detectors in those rooms an intruder would have to traverse to get to another section of the house. They are placed so that any window/door breached should be detected by motion no later than the next room entered. So far all of this is for an empty house.
Thirdly, I assumed the intruders were able to get past the motion detectors. If no one is in the house, you just have to congratulate them on a job well done and hope they trip a sensor while moving around or getting out. If people are inside, you must have a plan as if you had not installed any devices at all. Dogs and guns for the "poor" like me, separate system sensors and safe rooms for others.
The best security system in the world is useless if your plan is bad.
1-There are multiple security items you may have in your kit. The one I installed had the control unit (which is probably called something else<G>), panic button, key fobs, door/window sensors, motion detectors, indoor siren, and outdoor siren. It is wise to test them several times (antenna out, antenna in, near other wireless sources, etc.) For that reason, I would suggest placing the items in the approximate place you plan to mount them, such as a window sill, and do all testing before mounting them.
For example, by placing the window/door sensors on the window sill near where you plan to mount them, you can test the alarm function and make any needed adjustment before drilling holes or mounting adhesive.
2-I know this is simplistic, but it is important. A major reason for testing window/door sensors before mounting is to gauge the sensitivity of the two devices which work together. Since their proximity is a major determinant of how sensitive they are to disturbance, you should make sure you mount them at the correct distance. The manuals say they should be mounted 1/2" or less apart. The closer they are mounted, the more "opening" or shaking required to set them off and the less likely they are to give a false alarm. If they are mounted further apart, they are very sensitive (a window shake may separate them enough to alarm)and more likely to give a false alarm.
3-As a part of the mounting process for any device that has an antenna, plan your mount with the antenna extended. You may not have to extend the antenna to have a strong signal, but if you do not plan for it, you may have to re-mount in order to use the antenna.
4-For the sake of your hearing, save the siren tests until last. You can tell if any sensor/alarm is working by looking at the readout on the control unit. Once all sensor units are working correctly, you can test the sirens from outside by using the key fobs to arm and disarm the alarm.
5-The components are all white and fairly large since they have a battery and electronics. If you have wood/color in the areas where you are installing the devices, using contact paper or non-permanent markers make them almost unnoticeable (to the male/husband eye<G>). The only thing to watch is not covering the sensors or status lights, and they are clearly defined.
6-You cannot successfully understand and install the system without three documents. Inside the box are a one page "Quick Start" manual and an OEM manual, probably translated from Chinese for technicians. The third document is a pdf in the Manuals section of the Fortress website.
Location is http://www.fortresssecuritystore.com/skin/frontend/base/default/images/S02%20system%20Manual.pdf
7-The advice to put the control unit in the "middle" of your sensors is good, conservative advice. In our case, a 2700 sq. ft. house with sensors in EVERY corner worked fine without even having the antenna extended. Moving it to the MBR in one corner of the house worked just as well. I am not sure if this is common or not. The frequencies used for communication are 315MHz and 433MHz, which generally allow more distance than devices in the GHz range.
8-If you have an answering machine or other device that picks up your telephone line, you cannot arm/disarm the security system by calling in. The ability to call in and listen to your environment through the control unit is lost in this case, but if there is an alarm and you have programmed the system to call you, you can THEN listen in. And that is when you need it most. If you have a fax machine that "answers" the phone and then passes the signal on if it is a voice call, all features will probably work fine
9-I will not tell you the specific 3-4 times I misunderstood the docs and had to redo/recover. Just make sure you read them fairly well before you start - all three of them. There are just enough "oddities" that you may miss something. If you are the sort of person who does not read manuals, you will still make it work - just a little later.
We have only used the system for a few days, but it has worked great in every test. I hope we never get to REALLY use it.
108 of 115 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2013
Just recently we had 2 separate break-ins in our neighborhood, and even though we had never had problems here before we decided it was time to do something to help stave off the potential of falling victim to these guys. We didn't want to get locked into a long contract that would have us paying $30-50 per month to a security monitoring company, so I looked into how I could set one up myself.
After searching high and low through every local store in our area it became very clear that the only way I was going to do this was to buy something online and pray it would work since it's such a pain to buy something online only to find out that what you bought is no good and you may or may not ever see your money again if you try and ship it back. After reading all the reviews regarding various wireless security systems and seeing that this company had rave reviews (which at first I suspected could only be written by the company itself), I finally took a chance and purchased the Fortress S02 A security system after calling them to see if they could deliver it in time before we were suppose to go on vacation. I spoke to the owner Michael this past Friday and I received the system yesterday which was Monday. When he heard my concern about how long it would take to get here he went above and beyond what his delivery schedule states of 2-3 business days and had it rush shipped from Washington state to North Carolina.
When it came to installation I couldn't believe how simple it was to install, and yet how effective it was when I tested it. All the windows/doors sensors and motion sensors came preprogrammed so all I had to do was put them where I wanted them and program the phone numbers I wanted it to contact into the base unit and I was done in less than 1 hour. The instruction manual was incredibly simple to understand so everything went like a charm. When testing it I couldn't believe how loud the alarm was so I have no doubt that not only will all my neighbors hear it if somebody tries to break in, but the thieves will most likely retreat as quickly as possible when they realize that they are not as stealth as they thought.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
Easy to install. The siren is LOUD! Made me wanna leave the house. The sensors are peel and stick with very strong double sided tape. The re-dialer works great. When the alarm goes off it calls who you want it to and they can listen in to see whats going on. For the price you can't beat this.
24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2013
With alot of choices out there, it requires major homework as to what works best for you. Having a wired/monitored system installed by a pro is still probably the preferred system, but most require a contract with a small install charge ( $99 ) & monthly fees of $30-$50 depending on what's being monitored, ( smoke/fire etc.) More & more systems being sold to the DIY's are the wireless variety. Once you install the system, programming & operating are fairly strait forward. I basically chose the Fortress SO2 system, mainly because I have an Amazon acct. & the system seemed to have good reviews. ( which we all know can be slanted ) You have have to feel out each review & decipher the wording/phrasing etc. & decide for yourself if the review is authentic. Which is what i did & felt pretty comfortable. Also, at $130.00, it's three times cheaper than some iphones. Anyway, I bought it & got it & started to map out where each sensor would go & start the programming (which is not much as the sensnsors come pre-programmed by number. Here's where I stumbled a little. I think that the manual had some verbage that did not jive with the panel, so I cussed just a little & finally called the Support number. I'm sure you've read of "Mike" the ownner. He personally answers most calls & knows the answer before you ask the question. I'm fairly competent, but I got stumped again on a couple progamming issues. Boom....called Mike & he walked me through some zone issues. Again........WATCH THE VIDEOS. Even prior to purchasing. They are very good. I had to watch a few over & over, & soon it all comes together. Knowing what I know now. I could install & program the system ( I have 8 window/door sensors & 2 motion detectors ) in an hour. It's a little complex at first, but work through it & nothing else can touch this system. A couple issues: 1} I have had one motion detector have three random trips. Mike suggested swapping it out , which I will. 2) When alarm is tripped, you cannot dial out on land line ( 911 etc. ) because the system is dialing out to stored number. Suggest call 911 on cell, ( I do not have mine programmed to dial out to police ) 3) I recently discovered that when my system trips (testing etc. ) it opens my neighbors garage door. Definetly gotta work on that tomorrow. PS: EVERYTHING IN THIS REVIEW IS AUTHENTIC FROM EDMONDS, WA.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2013
The system was pretty easy to install. Everything is synced right out of the box. A little unfriendly to set-up the preferences, but I've seen worse.
Two issues that keep this at 3 stars for me.
1) the motions sensors are battery hogs! I wishful here was a way to adjust the sensitivity on the units. Maybe that would save some battery life. I was able to adjust a set of jumpers inside the unit to turn off the status LED. That may save some battery life.
2) this is a big one for me. I get that this is an "affordable" unit, so I can't expect everything. But there is literally on "on/off" switch on the side of the unit. It's easy to find and easy to turn the alarm of, even if the siren is going off. No way to bypass it either. OEM suggested putting a screw in it, but I'm worried I may short out the whole unit. And that loud siren, well it's connected with a basic headphone style connector. So if it's going off, you can just yank out the plug. (Or hit the above mentioned ON/OFF switch.
Overall it's a good alternative to an expensive ADT style system. Would be so much better without the mentioned short comings, but still a good buy.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 18, 2013
Worked as described - easy to set up - calls me on my cellphone when there is an alert. I use in conjunction with security camera monitoring. No need to pay a monitoring company ! ! ! !
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2014
So easy to set up and such a good thing to help you sleep at night. For me, I hate subscription anything, so this was a great choice! Plus there is a home mode (turn on while you sleep) and a away mode (when you are gone). The home mode disables the motion sensors which I have at certain pathways a burglar would have to travel. Since we get up at night to get a drink or go to the bathroom, it doesn't set it off and we rely on the door/window sensors that work 100% of the time. The away mode makes it impossible for a burglar to rob you without setting off the alarm. For us, just having the loud siren go off should deter, 99% of thieves without having to place calls to a security company. If a thief ignores the screaming siren and robs me anyway, he deserves it, because it is LOUD! I feel safe, no contracts, no subscriptions! What could be better?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2013
This is a nice alarm system at a good price. Setup was fairly easy, though as many pointed out, the manual that comes with it is horrible. The website, however, has some nice videos and a manual that actually makes more sense. The door sensors use sticky tape, and I did find this a problem with one sensor that fell off the door several times. As others have pointed out, the main panel, as well as the motion sensors have an on/off switch on the side which seems kind of odd for a security system. Overall, it appears to be a great system, and I will definitely check out more of their products in the future.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2014
I think all of the 5-star reviews for this product are a little deceiving. For the price it's an OK alarm system, but there are a lot of small problems that majorly detract from it. Perhaps one of the most annoying is the setup process which is extremely arcane. As long as you follow the user manual precisely then you'll be ok, but if you deviate in any way, or lose track of what step you're at, then you're stuck in the weeds.
Having an alarm with no adjustable volume setting is also extremely irritating. The thing went off randomly while I was trying to set it up and it was so piercingly loud that I was practically incapacitated. I could barely think straight enough to rip the alarm cord out before my skull exploded. I'm terrified to plug it back in.