There is a lot of confusion about how alarm systems work. Firstly, what is monitoring. Monitoring means there is a company dedicated to answering calls, alerts, responding to those alerts, and calling local police and fire. Self-monitored simply means that the system will notify YOU, the user, that something has occurred and it’s up to you how to proceed. Obviously, the small cost of having a monitored system is extremely beneficial. There are people handling the system 24/7 even when you sleep, are out of the house, or on vacation.  A monitored alarm system saves precious time in case of an incident and works for you around the clock. Obviously there are no guarantee with a professionally monitored alarm system. The police response and the actions of the perpetrator will play a large role in how things turn out.

Secondly, many people still think that most alarm systems use a telephone line (POTS which stands for Plain Old Telephone Service). Most modern systems are dual path – meaning that they communicate to a central monitoring station using internet AND cellular communication. It amazes us that many alarm companies still advertise that you don’t need a telephone line for their system. There are, however, still systems that use telephone lines. “Wireless” can refer to the fact that the sensors are not wired OR that the system communicates without a wired connection to a phone line.When trying to understand what someone is talking about a wireless alarm system it’s important to differentiate if they are talking about the communication method or the sensors. Wireless sensors can still be used on a system that communicates using a telephone line. Conversely, wired sensors can use wireless communication methods back to a central station.

There are still many companies that offer internet only monitored alarm systems. If the internet is out, the alarm is out. It’s a small risk but insignificant. Some suburbs such as University Heights, Beachwood, South Euclid, and Cleveland Heights are prone to frequent brown outs and other fluctuations in power which effect the internet.  It does save costs on monthly monitoring which is attractive to some customers. In our experience, it’s preferable to use a dual-path system.

There are advantages to wired and wireless sensors. In short, wired sensors are not defeated by cutting them. If anyone tells you that, run, because they don’t know enough about the alarm industry to try and sell you anything. The biggest downside is the cost and clean up of installing hardwired sensors.

 

In Summary of What We Provide

  • Installation of NEW wireless sensors
  • Installation of NEW hardwired sensors
  • Re-using some wireless sensors (some companies use proprietary sensors to prevent you from switching companies)
  • Re-using wired sensors/upgrading them
  • Panels that use internet AND cellular to communicate to the central station
  • We *can* do telephone line and internet only monitoring but advise against it

 

There are some industry terms, confusing marketing jargon, and ignorant sales people. If you have questions about alarm systems just reach out to us!

The Qolsys IQ 2 Alarm Panel is our go to panel for a residential security system. You may find that there is also a IQ2 Plus model. At this time, the only difference is that the IQ 2 plus model can also use Power G sensors.

Power G sensors are very good all around sensors for doors, windows, motion detectors etc. They do cost a little more than typical alarm sensors.

The main advantage of Power G sensors is their incredible range. The have the furthest range out of any wireless alarm sensor on the market. For larger homes that may need necessary. If a home doesn’t require the extended range Qolsys sensors will provide more than adequate performance and range.

Contact Lock Alchemy Locksmiths & Security today to learn more about our no contact alarm home monitoring solutions.

Lock Alchemy isn’t just “doing alarm system.” We’re disrupting the industry in several important ways.

Local

Recent events have taught us the importance of relying on local businesses. Frankly, large alarm companies will never care about your installation, system, user experience, and satisfaction like a local company. Local companies have less hoops to jump through to get in contact with someone about your issues and offer support. Research into large alarm companies will quickly reveal they have many upset customers.

Marketing

Large companies have huge marketing budgets and often times have aggressive sales tactics. You’ve probably received a number of sales flyers for an alarm system. Those ads cost money and that cost is passed on to you when you sign up. Large companies are notorious for door to door sales. They receive lists of recently sold properties and visit them trying to sell a new alarm system. These salesmen typically work heavily on commission. Meaning they only get paid when they sell you a system. They also make more commission when they sell upgrades and add-ons that you might not need or even understand.

Knowledge

Unfortunately, the sales people with these companies are often times not event the person who installs the system. This can create a breakdown in communication and expectations. We have knowledgeable staff that can educate potential customers, design systems, and install them. One point of contact. Because we are a full service security company we understand locks, doors, cameras, and other security issues. Everything is under one umbrella.

“FREE”

Is anything ever really free? Nope. Ads promise free sensors, cameras, and other perks. Read the fine print and you’ll discover that in order to use these “free” devices you need to upgrade to a more expensive package. Free is cheesy and deceptive.

Financing

Traditional alarm companies rely heavily on financing. No money down and free equipment actually just means that the monthly cost of your alarm system is unnecessarily high. Their return is all but guaranteed by their iron clad 3 year contracts that lock you in and have heavy penalties if you leave early. With our model, you own all your equipment day one. In fact, you could switch to another alarm company whenever you’d like. That’s why from day one we need to deliver as a company that will keep your support.

Purchasing all of the equipment at once can be a little expensive. We have a system to offer 6 monthly payments for the equipment. It’s not a lease or rental. You own your equipment day one.

Contracts

We’ve already mentioned the lengthy contracts and early termination penalties. We offer our service month to month. We mentioned that since you own your equipment you can terminate your service at any time or even switch to another alarm company. From day one we have motivation to make sure you are 100% satisfied with your system.

Another benefit of not having contracts is that it provides you another type of security – financial security. You can have services for one month or years then pause your monitoring in case of financial need. However, our low monthly rates are affordable enough that you probably wouldn’t notice the cost if you needed to save money on your monthly budget.

If you’re interested in a home security system contact us at info@LockAlchemy.com

Typically, we can install an alarm system the same day you call if your located in University Heights, South Euclid, Cleveland Heights, Shakers Heights, Beachwood, or other nearby cities.

Lock Alchemy Locksmiths & Security is now a provider of home and commercial alarm systems.

Residential: We’re very excited to provide home alarm systems. We are so excited because we’re doing something different from other companies. We’re happy to bring the same customer service and support we provide with our other services to the alarm industry. The alarm industry sometimes gets a bad wrap and often times, rightfully so. Pushy door to door salesmen, bait & switch tactics, and long contracts with heavy early termination penalties. We’re changing that. No door-to-door sales. Honest upfront pricing. No contracts – everything is month to month. We plan on releasing more articles about how we’re doing something really different.

Commercial: You can affordably protect your business while away. With remote camera viewing and analytics – you can visually check on your facility and receive notifications of unusual activity. Many businesses qualify for an insurance premium reduction with a qualifying alarm system.

Choosing Lock Alchemy as your alarm provider can reduce the difficulty of contacting multiple service companies and having them play the blame game. Alarm, access control, cameras, locks, doors, and internet cabling can be under one service provider.

Qolsys is a leading alarm panel manufacturer. They produce residential and commercial alarm and fire protection products. Their current main product is their IQ2+ panel that works with their own slimeline sensors and other sensors from other manjor manufactures. They also have products that help integrate hardwired alarm systems with wireless sensors.

The IQ2+ provides several features that set it apart from other manufactures. Firstly, it’s a quality product that’s worthy of providing home and business security. It has a built in cell transmitter that eliminates the need to buy a panel and a transmitter – which reduces costs. The Iq2+ can use power G transmitters that have the longest range available making them an ideal choice for large homes and large commercial applications. The large range of sensor that the panel often times completely eliminates the need to buy new sensors when switching companies.

Some Key Features:

7” HD Touchscreen Easy to use, Feels like your phone
Bluetooth Touchless Disarming Leave your phone in your pocket
Dual SRF featuring PowerG 4x Range, Encrypted, Takeover wireless, Hardwired
Live Answer, Live View Safely answer your door from the 7” HD Touchscreen
Built in 5MP Camera Disarm Photos with Face Recognition
Built in Glass Break Add value without adding cost
Z-Wave Plus Lights, Locks, Thermostats, Garage Openers

I’m not a fortune teller and I make no promises but I have a few thoughts about the impact of Covid-19 on the security industry.

Thermal Cameras: I need to address this first.  Every manufacturer is going to try and sell a fever detection system. Companies have already been caught faking the technology and accuracy of these products. There are going to be a lot of snake oil salesmen looking to make money off of this. Quality thermal camera systems with fever detection will exist. At the moment there are a lot of claims and marketing hype. Is something better than nothing? Maybe. But only if purchasers fully understand the limitations of the product.

Touchless Buttons: We’re going to see a lot exit buttons on doors, ADA openers, light switches, and other controls. The technology available right now is good and most products still have the ability to manually press the button. I believe this is a sensible, cost-effective, high ROI thing for bushiness to do.

Anti-Microbial Finishes: Anti-microbial finishes for locks have been available for a while. Aside from medical buildings, prior to Corona virus an anti-microbial finish was an after thought and if brought up during a sale, would sound like someone is trying to oversell. An anti-microbial finish now sounds very appealing. I don’t foresee many businesses switching out all of their hardware. I would imagine the installation of hand sanitizer stations would be more attractive. However, I think these products will play a larger role in new construction. There has been some controversy about their effectiveness with Covid-19. One major manufacturer has explicitly stated that their anti-microbial does not work against the Corona virus.

The Time in House Factor: The more people are inside and have time to think I believe they’ll make a mental list of things they’d like to have fixed. I think this goes well beyond locksmithing – I believe the entire home renovation industry will see a boom. New carpet, new floors, new cabinets, new counter tops. People are going to be tired of things and want upgrades.

Undoing Lack of Socialization: People are by nature social creatures. We crave interactions with other humans. As much as people joke about enjoying staying inside and watching TV most people do enjoy going outside and at least being around other people. When the quarantine and stay at home orders are lifted I believe there will be a huge swing in people wanting to be part of social gatherings and where people congregate. How we still need to protect ourselves from the virus will likely influence if people choose to be a part of large crowds.

Home Security Systems & Security Cameras: Uncertain times always make people more interested in security. Home alarm system sales are already up. People will naturally feel strange living their homes after being home so long. Many people will want to be able to monitor their homes when they’re away. Smart home integration with alarm systems continues to become more robust and people will enjoy the interconnectivity that systems offer.

Firearms & Safes: Firearm purchases always go up during difficult times. Gun owners are interested in securely storing their firearms to prevent unauthorized access and to prevent them from being stolen. Gun safes and bedside gun storage unit sales will increase.

 

Working with SFIC locks requires learning a new skill set and terminology. It’s a different way to think about locks. One point of confusion is the difference between machine and stamped caps. The LAB pinning kit comes with both machined and stamped caps and both types are readily available from suppliers. So which ones should you use and why? If you don’t care for the details – machined caps win.

How do you cap SFIC cores?

First, we need to understand how caps are placed in the chamber. They are either pressed in or struck lightly with a soft mallet. When I use a mallet (for mobile SFIC core production) I use a raw hide 2 oz mallet made by Garland. It’s around $20, works well, and reduces the risk of damaging anything. At the shop, I use an arbor press and a LAB SFIC Annex. A-1 made a press that would cap 7 at a time, however they’ve gone out of business. There have been rumors going on that someone has/will purchase the company and resume production. That remains to be seen. Aside from buying a used press the only other option right now it buy a BEST original capping system which is around $2,000.

So what is actually the difference between the machined and stamped caps?

They’re the same in diameter, the machined ones are flat on the top and bottom, the stamped ones have a slight taper on one side. The taper allows them to enter the chamber easier when using a hammer. Machined stamps can also be hammered into place but might be slightly more difficult – but it works.

Does the Brand of the Core Make a Difference?

Yes, no, and it depends. I try to use BEST original cores when possible. One, it’s a quality product that I can trust. Two, it costs me money and reputation having to return to fix something. However, the cost is more than double then “aftermarket” cores. This can add up to a lot more money and make a big difference to the customer. I always offer the option of BEST original or aftermarket explaining the difference. There are lot of aftermarket SFIC core manufactures.  GMS, KSP, Medeco and others just to name a few. When ordering from suppliers you often don’t have a choice in what you receive, they send what they have in stock. I’ve had bad luck using stamped caps with GMS cores. It’s almost impossible to get them to seat correctly.

The Verdict

It’s fairly inexpensive to try both out with your cores and see what works for you. In my experience, the stamped cores go in slightly unevenly and provides a less polished look. There also seems to be a little brass half oval that’s created when pressing them down due to them not being completely parallel. Machined stamps seem to win hands down.

Pictures

Here in the lab, we capped used BEST SFIC 7 pin cores using all machined caps on one and all stamped caps on another. It’s difficult to get clear pictures of them so close. An overhead and side view of each core was taken.

machined

machined SFIC cap

machined

machined SFIC cap

stamped

stamped SFIC cap

stamped

stamped SFIC cap

 

Our businesses has been deemed essential (security and network infrastructure). In order to promote the safety of our workers and the general public we are still in minimal operation in the field. We are only taking high priority service calls: lockouts, lock and key issues for essential businesses, fixing hazardous door issues, fixing security cameras etc. We are not taking service calls for projects that can feasibly wait until after the shut down has been lifted.

The Corona virus has resulted in the temporary shut down of many buildings and businesses. We are available to secure buildings during this time. We are able to change exterior keys to prevent employees from entering the building during the shut down. We can also install additional security upgrades to minimize potential break-ins and vandalism during the shut down.

The shut down provides a unique opportunity for businesses to address issues with their lock and door hardware. We are also able to address issues on exterior and interior doors that may not be typically easily accessible due to a high volume of foot traffic.

Many business owners don’t typically have time to sit down, plan, and discuss their building’s security. We are meeting with business owners online to discuss locks, door hardware, electronic access control, alarms, and security cameras.  In some instances, such as a building being closed, we can complete larger jobs. This is different than completing non-essential work in areas that are currently occupied by people.

We’ve always taken personal safety very seriously. We are using protective gloves, masks, and using appropriate cleaning products.

On a personal note, we’d like to thank you all of the essential employees still operating as normal to reduce the amount of disruption in our life, provide us utilities, and keep us safe. I hope this all ends very soon but that we don’t lose the valuable insights we gain during this difficult time.

 

The founder of Lock Alchemy is now an IPVM certified Video Surveillance Installer. The 6 week course consists of bi-weekly online classes, reading assignments, homework, and a final exam.  This thorough class and certification will help consumers understand that we are not just a company that “can do cameras.” Rather, we are passionate about professional design, installation, and maintenance of systems. Security cameras are more complicated than most people would imagine. We want our customers to be satisfied knowing that they are choosing to do business with a company that won’t settle for “good enough,” and seeks constant education and training.

IPVM is an independent testing and review company for security cameras, video analytics, VMS, IP networking, and access control. IPVM does not accept money for advertisements or reviews. Rather, the businesses model is providing real value to people who pay for membership.

SFIC cores are a type of interchangeable lock. An operating key opens the door and a special key called a control key removes the lock core from the the lock itself – without needing to disassemble the lock.

The ability to remove the new old lock and put a new one in has several advantages. 1) a property owner can rekey their on locks instantly. 2) the locks are high quality and very hard to pick 3) the keys are not easily to duplicate. 4) it takes a lot less time to switch over a large facility, say, 30 plus doors.

Some people find it hard to understand how SFIC locks work. That makes sense until you demonstrate it. It almost looks like magic.

While thinking about SFIC systems I realized something interesting. Traditional keys offer savings but you need a locksmith to change them. Electronic Access control is more expensive but users can add and eliminate users quickly. SFIC systems are really the middle ground between these two systems.