As far as common professionally rated
brand names offered in the market, I can only offer a personal opinion based on my
years in the business, and experience having installed most types of alarms. Bear in mind,
those companies which deal in a particular make will of course tend to see their equipment
as the best for you and always have some reason (real or otherwise) why other panels are
inferior. Also, every installer has his/her own favourite panel, and one which they use
for the majority of their installations (and I am no exception). Also bear in mind, the
area/country you live in will dictate the makes commonly available.
(Digital Security Controls of Mississauga, Ontario. - Probably the most common make
installed in this area of Canada. Most of the larger and medium sized companies use this
equipment and it is excellent, although not the most modern as far as false alarm
prevention features go. DSC supply the equipment for a lot of firms who put their own name
on it (called "OEM marketing - original equipment manufacturing - a common practice
in most industries). Their products run from the ho hum, feature poor, but adequate DSC
1500 / 1550 6 zone panel, up to the DSC 3000 16 zone version, through to the very capable and
more expensive and more modern DSC Power 832 hybrid panel, and expensive wireless panels.
The DSC 832 is the clear choice in their product line if you wish to add features such as
integrated intercom, voice response modules, X10 Pro home automation modules, or wireless
additions. A few years ago, they added the DSC 1555 "Classic" series of
upgraded panels in an attempt to "play catchup" with the competition. These are
excellent wired/wireless hybrid panels, and are priced competitively for the low end
residential and small business markets. A recent addition to their product
line is the totally wireless Envoy panel, designed for trailers,
condominiums and other places impossible to install a conventional wired
Most leased or "free" systems put in
in the past by
the mass marketers used the low end hard wired older technology 6 zone 1550 panels made by
DSC, although now the DSC 1555 is their clear choice. The 1550 line of equipment is the "Chev/ Pontiac" bottom end line of hardware
in the industry. Reasonable upload / download software, but no "event log", so
very difficult to remotely diagnose the panel. Impossible to remotely investigate alarms
without the help of the monitoring station. Virtually no false alarm features built into
the panel software.
Note: Recently, DSC was
purchased by Tyco. Since then, there has been a clear indication of lack
of quality control on new products coming out of the factory, based on my
personal experience in buying DSC products. It remains to be seen if this
is simply a "glitch", or reflects ongoing policy.
Security Systems of Montreal - the very best of equipment on the market
generally speaking, and this writer's clear choice of alarm panel for general residential
or commercial use (Spectra series). A very forward looking, responsive dynamic company,
truly concerned with quality control and quality products. Factory assembly line
techniques utilize the very latest board manufacturing techniques for top notch quality
control. The best upload / download software available in the industry with a 256 event
log. Feature rich, user friendly equipment !!! Definitely a "Buick" at Chev
prices. The older Esprit panels have given this writer the least amount of after
installation service troubles, and was the only line of equipment to survive the rigors of
the "ice storm of '98" virtually unscathed (short of a few minor problems easily
solved over the phone via the software). Viewed as difficult to program by many
Paradox have recently added two additional lines of panels - the
Spectra line, and the Digiplex series (which competes directly with the DSC Power 832 for
features and add-ons). Both lines have proven to be solid, reliable
performers, with the plethora of modern programmable features that typify
the latest lines of panels in the marketplace. However, any company
installing these panels should ensure they are properly uploaded via
computer, due to the complexity of programming inherent with these models.
The Spectra panel, with the high end LCD keypad, is now my standard panel
Until recently, this company had no wireless systems or components
available. Within the last couple of years, they have added a line of wireless add on components
which have proven to be as good as the rest of their product line.
Ademco - the largest maker of alarm equipment in the world, and
part of the Pittway corporation (a Fortune 500 company). Made in the USA, it is
good equipment, albeit very long in the tooth design wise!! Very comprehensive line of
equipment with extensive wireless offerings. Complete range of panel sizes and
configurations up to the very huge. Larger variety of keypads available than many
manufacturers. Only very basic upload/download software capabilities. Many of the larger
mass marketers in Canada use Ademco equipment because of the wireless capabilities.
Personally, I do not support this equipment, and generally replace it with
Paradox equipment when asked to "takeover" the
FBI - American equipment with boards that appear to be manufactured
using inferior assembly line techniques (in this writer's opinion). I stay away from
this obviously cheaply made equipment (although it is sufficiently rated to be able to be
hooked to a professional monitoring station). Ademco own the FBI line of equipment. My
personal opinion - stay away from it !!
Napco/Gemini - appears to be excellent equipment, although I have
no personal hands-on experience with this hardware whatsoever. Newest lines include wireless
capabilities. Well regarded by those who use the product. Apparently quite capable in the
area of compatibility with accessory home automation equipment. Quite common in the USA.
Latest models are excellent, with extensive sofware programming
Moose (Sentrol) - an excellent line of panels. Beautiful keypads.
Software appears to be reasonable as well, but still not up to the sophisticated level of
the Paradox panels. More expensive at wholesale level than most panels on the market
(which guarantees you nothing as a consumer). I do believe as of this
moment, they are no longer available for new sales and installations.
Parent company Sentrol is noted for its
quality products marketed to the security industry.
Older Moose panels are quite common in the marketplace (Moose Z900 and
others). My experience is limited with these, but others in the business report
"quirky" panels are common.
Linear - made in California, and noted for their wireless systems
and accessories. Good equipment as far as wireless goes (the professional versions
anyway). Also offer a full line of wireless components often used as wireless attachments
to a hardwired panel to service points not accessible with wiring.
Caddyx - appears to be excellent equipment. They have a lower end
series of panels, the Ranger 8600 six zone series (now discontinued) as well as the NX8
and NX8E high end series.These are excellent panels that are quite
superior in their ability to interface with other high end true home
automation devices. From personal experience, very difficult to program from the keypad - most installers use
the software and program remotely ! Ensure your installer has experience with programming these panels
as well as the download software before agreeing to purchase, or you may end up with an
unusable panel !!
Locally, one dealer uses their equipment
exclusively to discourage "takeovers" from other companies not
familiar with this line.