Top critical review
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Great for a low budget system.
on November 27, 2010
As my title says, the system is great for the price. But the biggest reason I gave it only 3 stars is because of one really stupid design flaw that could have easily been avoided with one simple mute switch.
As others have mentioned, the problem is while the system is giving the 45 second delay after a sensor has been triggered to give you time to disable it, it gives off very loud beeps with no option to mute it or at least turn it down. The problem here is obvious. If the intruder has any determination at all, all he has to do is follow the beeping sounds to your system and smash it to bits before the alarm goes off. Yes, I know he can still do that after the alarm goes off, but most intruders are going to take off when suddenly and unexpectantly a very loud alarm goes off. I understand that many people like an audible reminder that their alarm has been triggered so that they will remember to turn it off. But how hard would it have been to give me the option to turn the beeps off? I would rather take my chances on maybe occasionally forgetting that I have my alarm system on and letting the alarm go off, than directing an intruder straight to my system so he can disable it.
Here's how I worked around that problem. I located the base unit in my storage room in my garage locked up behind a door that swings out.(can't easily be kicked in) Also convenient for when we drive up into the garage, we simply go into the storage room to disarm it without triggering the system and then have to beat the clock. In this location, if the intruder is in the house he won't hear the beeps. If he breaks into the garage, he can hear them but he still won't be able to get to it. At least not in 45 seconds, if at all. You might be thinking, what good is the alarm siren if it's muffled out in your storage room? To get around that, I added 3 separate alarm sirens. One mounted high on a wall where it is not easy to get to in the main part of my house. The other two in the attic facing directly out the gable vents. Now I have plenty of indoors and outside siren coverage. A big added benefit to adding a separate siren is once the alarm goes off but a very persistent intruder still destroys the base unit, the separate siren(s) will continue to go off independently from the base unit. If you locate them where he can't get to them as I did, he won't be able to shut them up. Even if he is able to pull the power cord, it has battery back-up. You can add as many as you want to maximize coverage area and/or loudness. I had to wear ear muffs while testing mine.
Now for another common complaint and somewhat of a work around. The motion sensors only work in the "Away" mode. Their logic behind this is when you have it in "Home" mode you can walk around your alarm coverage area without setting off the alarm, while all other sensors (doors, windows, etc) will still instantly set off the alarm. Again, why not have a simple "Ignore motion sensors" option switch, so that otherwise, the motion sensors will also instantly set off the alarm like all the other sensors. The only work around I came up with for this problem will only work as an alert and not a full alarm. Simply put the system into "Test" mode then put the switch on the side to off (lights only), chime, or alert (multiple beeps depending on zone triggered). Set up like this the motion sensors will work like all the others. Two points to remember when in test mode and depending on motion sensors for instant alerts. One, the system will automatically cancel out of test mode and return to normal operation after 5 hours, so if you want to keep it set up that way you have to remember to keep putting it back into test mode within every 5 hours. Two, also remember that once a motion sensor detects movement, it has to see NO movement for about 20 seconds to reset itself to be ready to detect again. In other words, for example, if someone walks by and triggers it, then 15 seconds later someone else walks by, the second person will not be detected. Or if there's continuous movement like tree limbs moving in the wind, it won't be able to reset itself. It has to have that 20 second "no movement" time period to reset itself. This issue doesn't matter for triggering a full alarm because once it senses that first time, the 45 second countdown is on.
One other thing concerning the motion sensors that someone else wrote about that I also experienced, suggesting that it must be a common problem. The battery connector, specifically the positive side, wasn't making a good connection, causing the sensor to intermittently work or not at all. To check for this and fix it, connect just the positive side to see if it feels lose. If it is, disconnect and then carefully bend the sides of the connector in so that it will then snap on tighter.
The other common complaint that I will back up is the 150 ft. range claim. Even though that may technically be true in a perfect line-of-site no obstructions condition, in real world conditions it's highly exaggerated. If this is a problem, the only thing you can do is make sure the sensor batteries aren't weak, add signal repeaters, or move the base around to different locations until you find one that works.
Finally, battery replacement in the magnetic switches is another issue. If you use the double sided tape to mount the switch, when it comes time to replace the battery you're going to have to rip the sensor lose from the tape, no doubt messing up the tape and probably pulling paint off. Although I haven't had to do it yet, I've read that it's also a pain to snap the cover off to access the battery.
With all this said you're probably wondering why I gave it 3 stars. Here's why. For less than $200 I have the base unit, 3 sirens, 2 motion sensors, and a magnetic sensor. The system was very easy to set up and operate and is working great for my situation. I also like how easy it is to make the complete system as small or as big as you want it to be, depending on your needs and budget. And as I said at the beginning of this review, the only reason I gave it only 3 stars is for the really stupid countdown beeps with no option to turn them off. Considering the price, I have no problem with having to figure out work-arounds or living with the flaws I can't do nothing about. Otherwise, I could spend a lot more money on a different system and it will probably also have some design flaws and glitches.