Customer Reviews: GE Choice Alert Wireless Alarm System Control Center Starter Kit
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Style Name: Control Center Starter Kit|Change
Price:$56.57+ Free shipping
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on December 21, 2009
I bought this GE Home Security starter kit and several of the add ons to put in a security system to help protect our home. I've been fairly pleased, but there are a couple of issues to be aware of. In order to give my review a bit of structure, I'll attempt to break it down by component...including a couple of components that ARE NOT included in this basic kit, but that you may need to purchase to get the system to work, or elect to purchase to expand the system.

1. The conroller. The controler is small, easy to program and makes heck of a racket when the alarm system is triggered. My only slight complaint with the conroller is it does not include any provision to be wall mounted and it has limited range (more on that under "door/window sensor below". Turning the system on or off from the control pad is very easy. Each of first 3 zones can handle up to 4 sensors, allowing you to say, put all 4-exterior doors on Zone 1, and windows on zones 2 and 3. To do this, obviously you have to get more hardware than comes with the basic kit reviewed here.

2. Door/Window sensor. The advantage of the wireless door/window sensor is the ease of installation. A wired system would require many hours of running wires from each sensor to the controller to function. This is not practical in many instances. The wireless sensors are easy to place using a couple of screws to mount the contact plate and some double sided tape to mount the sensors themselves. Programming the controller to recognize the sensor is also easily accomplished. However, be aware that the sensors have limited some cases VERY limited range. In my installation, 2 sensors located near the front of the house would not communicate all the time with the control box. Another reviewer talked about how his control box will flash, reporting a low battery in a sensor, when in fact the battery isn't low. Well...the reason the controller is flashing is because it is not getting a good signal from the sensor. It cannot differentiate between a low battery and a poor signal. So, it will flash repeatedly and the documentation says that means "low battery" but it can also mean the sensor is too far from the controller. In my situation, my 2 sensors were only about 40-feet from the controller and I had this beware when GE sasy "up to 150 feet". If you have an issue, you will need one or more "range extenders" which are not included in the basic kit. However, I had to buy one so I reviewed it below.

My other issue with the sensor is how hard it is to take them apart to change the battery (at least once every 2-years per GE). The tabs on the side would seem to indicate a screwdriver can be used to take them apart, but they are too flimsy to do that. The only way I was able to get mine apart was to use a razor knife as a prying tool (kind of dangerous) to get the case apart and get to the battery. I see no way to replace the batteries without removing the sensors from the door frame...and they are secured with double sided tape, not that's going to be an issue in the future. GE needs to redesign the catches that hold the sensor body together. The ones I had apart, I shaved the tabs down to make them easier to get back apart later.

3. Range Extender - This deal plugs into an unused wall socket (tying it up forever) and will simply "repeat" any signals it recieves from sensors around it, hopefully communicating all the way back to the controller, so that sensors that can't otherwise function reliably will now begin working properly. It works, in a fashion, but be aware that the Range Extender itself still has a very short range. In my case, I was able to find a spot to plug it in half way between the front of the house and the controller that was close enough to the sensors to work and close enough to the controller to seemed to need to be within 15 feet of the sensors and 25 feet of the controller. I have NO IDEA if you can chain one range extender after another.

4. Window Decals and Yard Sign. I read up on this and most "experts" say that putting in decals and a yard sign are your biggest deterents to simple home break ins. None of what I'm talking about here is going to keep a determined thief from stealing your Monet, but maybe it will keep the doper kids down the block from targeting your house for meyhem if they need some money to buy more dope. I went with an extra pack of sticky stickers and put one on most of my windows and all of my doors. The yard sign? It is so flimsy it broke trying to take it out of the package. If I was GE, I'd be ashamed to have my name on it. It's a flimsy piece of plastic junk. I taped mine together with some clear tape and then couldn't get the plastic stake to drive into the yard, as it is so cheap and flimsy. Get the picture?

5. Other Sensors available. A motion detector and a water sensor are available. I didn't get them so I can't comment really.

6. What isn't available. To my knowledge, you can't get any sort of dialer with this alarm system. Also, no home monitoring is included. To that extent this system represents a definite comprimise in security. To get it working, you are going to have to lay out some money, but you don't have an ongoing monitoring charge from a home security company. The comprimise, your home won't be as secure as it would be with a really top notch, monitored system.

7. Remote Siren - The remote siren is really loud and hopefully, being remote from the controller, will increase the chances that a passing neighbor will hear the alarm and take notice of the strange white van sitting in the driveway. It needs a receptical of its own and is also (I'm sure) limited in range. Mine would take a bit to find and disable...but that may not be too much of an issue for a thief as I summarize below.

OK...So...if I'm a thief and I'm not detered by the flimsy hard sign and the decals, I'm going to go right up to your house and bust open a door or window. IF that door or window is equipped with a sensor, there's really good chance it's going to trip an alarm. If you have the system set to "HOME" that means the alarm is going to go off immediately emitting a very loud (if your close to it) noise...that would alert anyone in the house and MAYBE someone outside of an intrusion. But honestly, that's a big Maybe. The determined thief now can follow his ears to the control box and disable it with a hammer (or even under heel) to little bits. That WILL make the alarm quit sounding. If you have the system set to "AWAY" it will just start beeping when triggered allowing the thief 45 seconds to enter the code to disarm it. Obviously he doesn't know the code so he'll just crush it to bits, again disabling the system. I've figured out a way to set my system to "HOME" even when I'm away. If you can figure out a way to exit your house without setting off a sensor, you can do the same thing.

This system, again, does represent good value, but the best you can hope for is the thief isn't "determined" and hopefully will go on down the street to the next house that has no alarm. You might consider putting in a yard sign from one of the "major" security providers to go along with this system. That would probably be an improvement. Even better would be a high-dollar WIRED system with home monitoring, but it's going to cost you a lot more and be more of a hassle. I've been called in the middle of the night at least 10 times when my mother's monitored home security system has been accidently I know there are hassles going that way too.
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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.
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on February 20, 2010
I just got done installing the Choice Alert system in our 1600 square foot split foyer. The components include the control center, one signal booster, one extra siren module, 3 door/ 3 window sensors, one garage door sensor, one signal repeater, and one motion sensor. Obviously, I don't yet have much experience with its performance, but I thought I'd share some installation thoughts.
Certainly the biggest problem is- what keeps an intruder from just unplugging/ taking the batteries out/ or just smashing the control center? The warning beeps in the "away" mode are obvious enough and give the intruder enough time to home in on the sound. My "Hack"? I just opened the Control Center and snipped the wires to the beeper/ siren. It works just fine like that, and it is totally silent until the siren module goes off. The upside of doing this is obvious, the downsides are- 1. You don't get the short beep when a door or window is opened when it is not armed (although I actually think that's a plus). 2. You don't get the warning beeps when you come home- if you forget, it will go off. 3. You have to buy a siren module. 4. I suspect GE would void the warranty. 5. You could mess up and snip the wrong wires.
If you decide to try it, here's what I did. I took the 3 screws on the back plus one in the battery compartment out. At that point I still could not completely open it up- the right side would not release. I pried the back open about an inch on the left side and examined it with a flashlight. After being pretty sure I had the right wires (2 brown ones that disappear into the beeper module) I snipped them with a pair of scissors. I then tested it and I got exactly what I wanted- total silence until the alarm sounds. I installed the siren module on top of our kitchen cabinet and ran the wire from the plug outlet used for our over-the-range microwave (my wife's idea). It is completely out of view.
All of the sensor modules seem to work as advertised. The most difficult part of the installation is getting the two sensor parts properly aligned on the doors. It would be nice if GE would include some shims to raise the small part off of the door, but the don't so I had to cut some pieces of wood.
All in all, I think the hacked system is a reasonable value for the money- the sensors seem to work well and the siren would certainly scare someone off. The non-hacked version has such a big problem with it giving the intruder 45 seconds to disarm it I would be hard pressed to recommend it.
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on August 22, 2009
First of all, to use this you need a Control Center GE 45129 Choice-Alert Wireless Control Center.

A few things to note that were not apparent until I bought this and a Control Center:

- the motion sensor can connect to the Control Center in two ways, either in one of the first three Zones (1, 2, 3) or in the fourth Zone (4) and the Control Center has a different behavior in these two categories.

- In Zone 1, 2, or 3: the motion sensor can only operate in Alarm mode, not in Monitoring mode. Other sensors apparently can be setup to either Alert, Chime, or just show an indicator light for its assigned Zone based on a switch on the Control Center (the switch has settings of Alert / Chime / Off); this setting is applicable when the Control Center is disarmed (not in AWAY or HOME alarm mode). But the Motion Sensor DOES NOT work in this way - it ONLY WORKS in AWAY or HOME alarm mode, when assigned to Zone 1, 2 or 3.

- When assigned to Zone 4: the motion sensor triggers an Alert only, which ignores the Alert / Chime / Off switch. The Alert cannot be silenced, only muted once it starts.

Since the alarm is overkill for what we want (monitoring our sleepwalking child), we plan on keeping it in Zone 4, and unplugging the Control Center without batteries in it to shut if off during the day. The Alert itself should be sufficient to wake us up.
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on October 11, 2011
This security system works well. Sometimes difficult to get programmed, but once programmed it works great and gives some relief of security and a good night's sleep. The motion detection works great and the other accessories go great with the unit. All accessories I added only made the system better.
This also can be set up for a chime on the front door or back door. if opened you will know.
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on June 14, 2010
this motion detector works really well at detecting any movement but then doesn't set off the alarm for about 30 seconds, all the while beeping as if to give an intruder directions to the home unit so he can destroy it before the alarm actually sounds. the time between activation of the motion detector and the alarm needs to be shortened.
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on September 26, 2011
I have two of these 45133 units. One is in the basement next to a hot water heater. The other in in a bathroom underneath the sink. They both respond promptly and loudly to a thimble full of water. The console unit, based in the kitchen, will wake the dead when it goes off. The downstairs sensor is 2 years old and just had it's battery replaced. The upstairs sensor is three months old.

I read the other reviews for this item and wonder what is going on. There's nothing wrong with this product that I can find. I wonder whether others are having a problem following directions - who knows?

I plan to buy 4 more in the days and weeks ahead.
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on April 26, 2013
It works like a charm. Simple door opener to extend to the complete unit.

Please keep in mind for those buying this that you need to buy the whole control center first @ $40. This is just another sensor of it.
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on January 7, 2009
I recently purchased this product (and 4 separate door/window sensors) to assist in securing out house at night. It was very easy to install and setup. It does have the "alarm and chime" options for entry, although there is an "off" option that will only allow the unit to flash the light of the unit opening if you desire. Once armed, the alarm is VERY loud. We actually used our firearms ear-protection to test all of the units once installed because it was so loud!

The only downside is that if you were to use it similar to that of a "Brinks" or "ADT" system, meaning a delay so that you can enter/exit the building and have the alarm on a timed delay, there is limited availability of this. Although it does feature this, it is audible and is limited to 45 seconds. I would like to option of no audible notice of the timer and the ability to change/lessen the time.

Overall, it is a wonderful product that will not hurt your wallet!
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on July 24, 2013
First... Read many reviews before purchasing.. Most of the low reviews (on many security products) seem to come from people who don't understand that your not going to get a $500 system for $50.

What This does? (and does NOT do).

Does do!:
- Full time NOTIFICATION center with ability to select from 3 different types of notification alerts (this is what the slide switch is for) 1) visual only/No sound = lights flash and no sound alert, 2) visual/chime = led's flash and 2 tone sound is played once, 3) visual/alert = led's flash and unit beeps every so often.

If its plugged in (or on battery back up) it is considered to be in notify mode.. the alert type you select with the slide switch will continue until the sensor is closed. The mute button allows you to mute the notification (that's its basic use)

- When "Armed" (home/away) the slide switch has no use at all and if an intruder slides the switch to off or hits the mute button they have no affect. Once armed it can only be destroyed or disarmed to stop it.

*note: Most home and even professional systems have an entry/exit timer when set to "away mode"... Please stop complaining about it (or don't buy this system... OR try to find one without it.... good luck ;) ).. Again the issue is your not going to get $500 system with adjustable everything and unlimited range for $50

- When Armed in "Home" mode... It assumes you may still wish to walk to the bathroom or around your house (so NO the motion sensors do not work)... That's SMART... Not stupid (sure the $500 system lets you set a schedule of events and even the sensitivity of motion sensors.. but this system is 10% of that cost.. So be happy to even get 60% of the features, this is actually a great little unit).

In home mode ANY opened sensor will immediately get a response and closing the sensor has NO affect (Unlike cheap ones where if you close them they stop the alert).. You must destroy or disarm the base device. (or else RUN RUN RUN!!!!)

- When Armed in "Away" mode the machine beeps for 45sec on exit so you can leave the house without setting off the alarm... and it beeps for 30sec on entry before going to full alert (which is ruthless loud btw). All sensors are active in away mode including motion sensors

This is standard behavior for a security system of this type (in away mode).. Again you get what you pay for.

___________________ Summary (and does not do:)

This system is an absolute steal for the price these days. The ability to add up to 16 sensors across 4 zones makes this little box a big deal. ANY system can be defeated.. especially the $50 kind. (but if your neighbors have the $0 dollar kind... your house wont be the one robbed and that's the point).

ANY security system (especially with added "warning this house protected" type signs) will reduce your chances of being a target.. That's all you can do.. reduce your chances.

I can easily say this system is far above its price in value and piece of mind (need more piece of mind.... spend more money don't write 1 star review unless product is actually non working or faulty.. its misleading to the rest of us)

This system works terrific as an alarm/alert system and I had no issues what so ever during set up or installation (and yes you WANT other people to hear your system arm itself in away mode.. that's a small daily audible deterrent to anyone in earshot who may be waiting for you to leave the house)

What the system doesn't do:

- Call/text/email alerts to your cell (Now your looking at a $100+ system)
- 24hour surveillance (Again call ADT or similar and ask for a quote)
- Adjustable sensors (the motion sensors work great for me.. just don't use cheap batteries)
- Multi week scheduling... stuff like "dawn to dusk" settings are for the higher end systems (read: more $$$)

So in short this is a "dummy" system to keep the dummies off of you.. get some signs and let them listen to you arm it everyday and they get the point (if you live in an apartment complex on that not perfect side of town... THIS IS FOR YOU... BUY NOW!!!)

If you need a "smart" system and live in a really nice house in the suburbs (stop being cheap and writing bad reviews just call the right guys and pay the cost.. plus you get a deal on your insurance since your buying a REAL system)

I guess Im just saying this is a terrific system for me at my level... BUT if you've got really nice stuff (statues and rare Russian eggs and epic 1 of a kind artwork).. just go buy the right system for your needs.

I personally use a 2 tier set up where I have this as audible... and a set of wifi ip (nanny type) motion detector cam's. So while they search and destroy the audible part of my system (sorry choice alert) they actually trip the motion camera's and I get push notifications and email snapshots (right on my iphone).. So they can clear me out and burn the place down (me, the cops, and youtube will get the video baby!)

Sooo you see its all about what and how you want to use it (but dummy systems always need overlaps or multiple tiers imho)... That said my system seems great to me and works every time I use it (its on notify mode 24hours a day here and doesn't miss a beat)..

@ other Amazon reviewers: Please write honest reviews based on your personal experiences and stop writing 1 star reviews for items that you buy and didn't bother to read the box (unless they are actually faulty items this is misleading to other buyers). I for one am very pleased with the purchase and the set up (in the way Im using it)... understanding its limits at the price point is paramount (stop expecting $500 system for $50)

Thanks so much for reading
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